Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The Initiation

Much to my son's dismay, there was no wine to be drunk out of skulls. No pentagrams, arcane knowledge, or mysterious handshakes were shared.

Instead, there was a speech by a gentleman who had participated in the Ironman Triathlon. I have yet to figure out exactly HOW that connects to the National Honor Society (the group he'd been asked to join). But it does illustrate the power of sports here in Boomer Sooner Land.

Even the cake afterwards did not make up for the lack of ritual, mystery, or scholar-related activities...

Monday, April 25, 2005

Middle Aged Women

Rog and I went to see Kung Fu Hustle last night. It's funny (sometimes extremely funny) in a weird, sly, and goofy way. The film takes those kung fu movie stereotypes and turns them on their heads. If you're open to a little weirdness (okay, maybe a lot of weirdness), you should see this one.

One of the characters is a cranky, middle-aged woman with a cigarette hanging out of her mouth, who mostly appears wearing curlers, robe, and houseshoes. She terrifies the people around her but at the same time apparently cares deeply for them while rarely ever showing any softer side.

She is a tiger.

I like that. I would like to have that kind of inner strength. But I suppose there is strength in gentleness, too.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Return of the Art Field

Anne and I went back Friday night for another round of volunteering at the Arts Festival. We no longer wonder about the lack of volunteers for that time period!

Anne came with all three of her kids -- Gamine Marti, Emmy of the Amazing Hair, and Tyler (also known as Mr. Smartypants). Gavin got new games for his birthday and was glued to the computer, so I brought Mr. Laidback instead -- since I'd agreed to bring 4 volunteers with me --silly me thinking this would be a fun way to get to know each other.

It was a madhouse. There were a few wonderful kids and parents like those we'd had Tuesday night, but as time wore on, more and more parents were pushy and more and more kids were whiny, screaming, or demanding (sometimes all three -- and sometimes the parents were right there with 'em). It was all we could do to explain the crafts, dole out scissors, pens, glue, and other supplies, and STILL manage to assist the kids.

However, by the end of it, Mr. Laidback (or Rog, since I like him enough to let him have a real name now) admitted with a laugh that he'd had a wonderful time, and could he see me again?

Yes, yes, YES!

Friday, April 22, 2005

More Skeletons

Hah -- it's finally out -- Mr. LaidBack has a deep, dark secret too, which he reluctantly confessed Wednesday night.

He's a Trekkie.

He's been to several conventions and even has the uniform...and a phaser...and since he's tall and slender, I bet he probably looks good in all that lycra.

Plus he loves bad puns (although he didn't have to tell me that -- I'd already figured it out).

This has the potential to be even better than I thought. :D

Thursday, April 21, 2005

What the HELL is that?

The tiny, skinny towheaded boy sat on the floor in a pool of sunlight, totally absorbed in play. In front of him, a favorite toy, a knitted jute octopus about the size of a grapefruit. Off to the side, a giant pile of green plastic army men.

One by one, the chubby fingers pick up a Joe and set it in front of the octopus, like a supplicant. And then the singsong chant..."What the HELL is that?"

And one by one, the entire pile of Joes pays homage to the octopus, each with the same refrain, "What the HELL is that?"

And mom, barely able to contain her amusement, comes a little closer to absolutely losing it with each repetition, finally having to run into the backyard to indulge in a fit of snorting laughter.

Much later that day, Gavin and I had a discussion about Barbarian Words and why we don't use them...but I wouldn't have missed that performance for anything.

Happy birthday, Gavin! 16 today and still marching to the beat of a different drummer...which in your case probably includes steel drums and marimbas.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The Art Field

Last night, my sister and I (not to mention 3 of our kids) volunteered at the Festival of the Arts. We were relegated to the "Children's Art Field" which actually is not a field at all, but a tent full of stuff guaranteed to spark a child's interest.

Anne is 6 years younger, taller, and, much, much thinner than I am (she's a size 3 -- between us we would make two average sized people), with curly brown hair and a pretty heart-shaped face. She also has what my daughter calls a "butt chin" -- which, for all you more adult people, is a cleft chin. (my daughter has one too, so I suppose she is entitled to call it anything she wants) Anne's also much more serious and I think she worries enough for both of us. Even so, she is absolutely adorable and doesn't have a clue that she is.

We wound up at the headband/necklace table. Since the other volunteers had made their own (they claimed "to spark the kids" but I know better), we did too. Anne started off with a simple headband with a couple of chenille stems sticking out like bee antenna...but as time went on, she kept adding to it until at last she had a flower garden waving and nodding above her head. And she never stopped smiling the entire time.

The kids had fun too (Gavin had a chenille handlebar villain-style mustache suspended from his glasses) but not nearly so much as Anne and I did.

So we signed up again for Friday night. I can think of worse dates, and not many better ones.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

It's Official...

I'm now old.

Despite the over-the-counter and prescription pain relievers, the pain has increased to the point that my MD decided to give me a temporary handicap permit for my car.

This is a good thing because the parking garage at work is 5 stories tall, there's no elevator, and anyone who arrives late (like me) winds up parking far, far away.

So I got my permit today. The doc also told me to get a now all you young whippersnappers better look out.

Um, are there old whippersnappers?


9:02 -- That's the exact time of the 10th anniversary of the bombing, and the time I will close my door and probably have a good cry.

It's also posted over the entrance to the OKC memorial; a giant gateway though which everyone passes to enter the park.

Inside, there is a still pool, that even in this windy city is never ruffled. 168 copper colored chairs -- 19 of them small -- glow against the green grass. And off to the side is the Survivor Tree, an elm which was blackened and broken 10 years ago but has grown and thrived year after year.

At the end of the park is another huge gate, and this one is labeled "9:03".

It was almost impossible to get to work this morning; Clinton and Cheney are in town and most of the main roads have been blocked off so their motorcades can get through safely. And I guess they couldn't tell the good citizens of Oklahoma City because that might have put them at risk.

The ceremony at the Memorial this morning is "by invitation only"; but the hearts and thoughts of many here are downtown anyway.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

In the Pink

People who love me have taken to giving me flamingos.

Not the real, feathery kind, but odd things...the somewhat creepy folk art painting of a moonlit witch flying over a field full of flamingos is probably my favorite.

Several years ago, my friend Bev told me that she'd always wanted a plastic yard flamingo. Bev was born on Christmas Day, and hadn't had much in the way of birthdays as a now birtdays are a VERY big deal for her.

So, at the end of summer sales I bought her a flamingo. Actually, I bought her FIFTY flamingos, one for every year old she was going to be and hid them in my garage.

Christmas eve, my friend Dean and I (more than a friend then, but not now) stole out to her house and stuck all fifty flamingos in the frozen ground in front of her house (not as easy as you'd think in the middle of the night and the cold).

She was awakened the next morning with her partner making a crack about flamingos on the lawn. She figured that I'd come through with her plastic yard flamingo and opted for breakfast instead of looking out in her front yard...and then started getting, as she put it, strange calls from her neighbors.

Once she did look outside, she says she laughed for the rest of the day...and a week later, 49 of those flamingos had mysteriously migrated to MY lawn.

The next month, 48 of them flew back to her house....and then to mine...and back to hers...and finally we decided that maybe they needed to visit another friend...and another friend after that...

Until we'd had a year of fun with them. I'm not sure where they've flown off to now, but I hope someone else is enjoying them as much as we did.

The funny thing, though, is that no one is buying Bev flamingos...they buy them for me. Not that I mind. :D

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Herbal Remedies vs Traditional Medicine

There's a lot of negative rhetoric on either side of this when really, the whole point should be "what can we do to help this patient?".

One of the problems is that both groups appear to be so insecure in their beliefs that if they were to give any credence at all to the other side, then somehow the other side would "win".

So, one group eschews manufactured medicines because they are not natural, and therefore suspect...those manmade chemicals cannot possibly be as safe as those active ingredients found and used in their natural state. The other group avoids herbal remedies because they have not been through the rigorous testing required for manufactured drugs and are therefore suspect, because how can you really know what it does unless it's been studied and quantified?

And these folks are the rational people on either side of the debate; it's really fun when either side jumps in with the paranoid conspiracies, which (have you noticed?) are becoming increasingly common in our society.

Those herbal remedies are being studied more and more. Some of them are just as wonderful as promised. Some are turning out to be placebos or actually harmful. But at least someone is taking the time to see what good is being done with herbals. One of the problems, though, is that it is hard to quantify the strength of an herbal ingredient unless it is refined (which leads back to that whole manmade thing). Two plants of the same species may have differing amounts of the active drug, depending on how or where it was grown...which makes it difficult for the investigators to quantify how much of the active ingredient is being utilized by the individual patient...and if the amounts are different, is that why Patient A did better than Patient B?

The other side has been villified for so long (remember those days long ago when MDs were gods and no one else mattered?) that it is very hard to trust anything from the medical establishment -- and because they have been excluded from the medical establishment, they don't follow the medical it's hard to get acceptance. And after years of no acceptance...well...there are a lot of people who simply no longer care whether those remedies are accepted or not. I know people who will trust an untested herbal remedy over a tested pharmaceutical, simply because the herbal remedy is "natural". Well, deathcap mushrooms are natural, too.

At the same time, when I have a patient who has trouble sleeping, I have them try the 1/2 turkey sandwich & milk before bedtime; failing that, a cup of chamomile tea; then tryptophan; and only then go to the prescriptive sleep aids.

It's a lot like those liberals and conservatives. Both sides unwilling to give in, despite the fact that a combination of both may be what's needed for the good of all.

What brought this up? Today I'm researching a homeopathic remedy which one of my investigators wants to test for use in oral cancer patients, post radiation, to possibly help with mucositis (horrible mouth sores). If we do a study with it -- whether it works or not -- I see it as a gain for both sides.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Alex and Emily, woodland sprites... Posted by Hello