30 September 2008

Living with Chronic Illness

Or call it invisible disability, if you will. Here's one of the best definitions I've seen, from a New York Times article by Abigail Zuger:
Are you sick? Are you well? You are on a small island in the middle of the river, with lovely views of a rock and a hard place. And yet, you wake up in the morning, and you feel pretty good.
Today, two days ago, the day before that, and backward for the last few months, I went out running. Maybe next week, maybe not for another ten years, allergy or infection will almost certainly once again trigger an asthma attack that will leave me quite literally breathless. Without breath, everything else gets awfully difficult. I take three medications every day to keep the breathing going, and that regime lends me what looks, feels, like good health. Am I sick? Am I well?

19 September 2008

Recycling Electronics

Getting rid of your old TV and replacing it with one that gets the new digital signal? Don't put it out with the garbage to go to the dump; recycle it. Go to Earth 911 to find out where.

(From EMagazine. You can subscribe here.)

17 September 2008


"Every breath is a prayer."

"Did you learn that at Hebrew school?"

"No, they say it at synagogue.

"Oh, right. They do, don't they."

The Offspring makes me think fairly often, but this one blew my mind pretty good.

After a pretty tough spring with six or eight weeks of troubles with asthma, I've identified myself as disabled at work so as to be able to teach on line if necessary and, hopefully, do a better job at keeping up with my classes. I'm having a tough time with going through this process, which isn't the point of this post, and maybe I'll get back to it another time.

At any rate, having The Offspring quote the liturgy at me got me really thinking.

If every breath is prayer, what does that do for the breaths that are "invalid" (yeah, go ahead and read that both ways), the ones that I get so angry about when they occur in my body, the ones that make me grieve when they occur in the body of The Offspring, to whom I've given my genes for this disease, among other things?

Are the imperfect breaths, then, imperfect prayers? I'm pretty sure all of my prayers are imperfect. It occurs to me to be more grateful for the good breaths, the easy breaths, the ones I take for granted, to try to move away from being so angry and so afraid when breathing fails.

05 September 2008


Ronald Reagan nominated Sandra Day O'Connor to the Supreme Court and appointed Jeane Kirkpatrick as U.S. representative to the United Nations. Bill Clinton made Madeline Albright Secretary of State, nominated Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the supreme court, and made Janet Reno attorney general. George Bush appointed Condoleezza Rice as his National Security Advisor and hired as White House legal counsel Harriet Miers, whom he also (perhaps regrettably) nominated to the Supreme Court . Shirley Temple Black served in various capacities under presidents Nixon, Ford, and George. H. W. Bush (the dad). The English elected Margaret Thatcher, another conservative.

Here's a list of some other "Notable Women in U.S. Government."

In other words, there are plenty of qualified women, many of them conservative, who have been out there working in various high-profile positions for a lifetime.

But the best qualified woman McCain could find to nominate as Vice President is Sarah Palin. That speaks volumes about his judgment.

Given more years in state government, perhaps a term or two as a U.S. Senator, she could have developed into a mature politican worthy of respect and of the vice presidency. Today, however, her experience consists solely of a brief stint as governor of Alaska, whose entire population is less than that of Memphis, Tennessee -- the eighteenth largest city in the U. S. Before that, she served as mayor of Wasilla, a suburb of Anchorage incorporated as a "city" (a term the media are using rather loosely, in my opinion) way back in 1974 whose population, according to the town's web page, is just over 7000.

Neither the town of Wasilla, nor the city of Anchorage, nor the state of Alaska bears much resemblance to the geographic and ethnic diversity of the rest of the nation: Anchorage, the largest city, has fewer than 300,000 inhabitants, and the state's population is just over 3 percent each Hispanic and African-American.

Palin can boast of being a bear hunter and a hockey mom, but really, how relevant are those things to international diplomacy? Or even to the majority of Americans, at least 75 percent of whom live in urban areas?

There's no dearth of commentary out there. But one of the best pieces is Judith Warner's New York Times commentary, "The Mirrored Ceiling."

Staycation Jet Lag

I'm not a morning person.

Before Child, I saw 5 a.m. fairly regularly, but it was because I was still up from the night before. (I'm a workaholic, not a party animal.) When my son came along, let's just say I tried hard to appreciate the many sunrises to which I was exposed. As he's grown, we've tried to adjust his bedtime so he doesn't wake up too early in the morning, but he generally leaps out of bed, fairly early, ready to face the day.

Some months ago, we adopted a dog. The dog wakes up at the crack of dawn, if not a little earlier. We try to keep him up late too, try to make sure he gets lots of running during the day, but it doesn't do much good.

Thank god the fish isn't a morning person.

04 September 2008

Tooth Fairy

The Offspring lost his first tooth at breakfast this morning, then went off to school and swimming lesson, so he got home only in time for dinner. And at the dinner table, it occurred to him to wonder if the tooth fairy had already left something under his pillow. I explained that the tooth fairy comes at night so nobody will see her. Maybe, he thought, she came while Daddy and Mommy were out doing something. Nope, we were home all day.

Oh, Mommy, is the tooth fairy nocturnal?


03 September 2008

Another Reason to Bring My Own Lunch

When I buy lunch, there's a whole heck of a lot of waste, and it's not just the dollars trickling out of my wallet. I bring my own cup for water and coffee, and I keep a fork in my desk so I don't have to throw away another fork every time I eat a meal, but still: I always end up with a whole lot of unrecyclable plastic whose trip from the refinery to the factory to the landfill is interrupted only briefly by a few moments of useful life.

01 September 2008

Not In the US Media....

... but the BBC reports that "a spokesman for Mrs Palin had also confirmed that her husband had been arrested for driving under the influence in 1986."

Okay, he was in his 20s, and a lot of people make dumb mistakes when they're young (see: Mrs. Palin's daughter). But a lot of people don't get arrested for drunk driving, even when they're young.

This and That

People whose names I envy: Francine Prose, Sarah Vowell.

Favorite element from the Periodic Table: Dysprosium.