spring tonic

March 17th, 2010 | Uncategorized

Holly had the bright idea to tap some of our maples. I know in theory of course that sap starts running in the spring, and that if you collect maple sap and boil it down, it makes syrup. I’ve visited sugar houses and seen the whole thing happening. But even so, when I saw sap dripping out of my own trees and bubbling into caramel on my own stove, it was the most staggering miracle.

Later today, after making this video, I went to my acupuncturist. He makes maple syrup every year and we’ve talked about how putting a tap in a tree is kind of like putting an acupuncture needle in someone.


191 Responses to “spring tonic”

  1. Anna in Albuquerque says:

    That point is Pericardium 6, which protects the heart like the bark and under layers of the tree protect the sap flow, if you think of sap like blood.

  2. Acilius says:

    There’s a tree, and a cult figure whose body is pierced. Easter must be on the way!

  3. Very interesting post! I always wondered how people get sap from trees. Thanks for demonstrating! It was almost as much fun as watching Mr Rogers.

    Anyhow, now to acupuncture. I have cerebral palsy. I have speculated that acupuncture might relieve my muscle pain. However, I am too afraid of needles to try it. I admire your bravery!

  4. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Acilius (#2)

    AB as cult figure gets bonus points… no stigmata from accupuncture.

    @Believer1 (#3)

    I’ve never had accupuncture but I’ve had a bunch of nerve transduction studies done on both arms/hands, part of which involves accupuncture-like electrodes inserted into various points so they can determine the speed and attenuation of nerve transmissions. It’s not bad at all, the needles are so small you don’t feel them until they are directly poking in nerves (and I’m not sure if accupuncturists actually hit nerves in their points). Also, there’s usually no blood, which seems strange at first.

    The only part of the tests I hated were the ones where they zapped me with electricity using some big electrodes, sort of like a scientific electric cattle prod. Uncomfortable, but not painful.

    I’m wondering if transdermal electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) might help you. I had e-stim as part of my hand rehab, it seemed to help with pain, and it’s controllable by the user (you get to twiddle the dial up/down as needed).

    Basically, you apply adhesive electrode patches to the appropriate areas, plug the electrodes into the battery pack controller (size is about a deck of cards), turn it on with the dial at minimum, and crank it up. A heat pack (Hydrocollator) applied concurrently seems to allow the setting to be cranked higher, and tolerated for longer.

    You can try out TENS at your physical or occupational therapist, and if it helps, your doctor can write a prescription for the unit so you can do it at home as needed.

  5. hairball_of_hope says:

    Correction… that should have been conduction, not transduction. I must have trans on my brain.

  6. Anne Lawrence says:

    I have always thought of acupuncture as rather masochistic superstition. If I want pain relief I would rather aim for the barbiturates.

    If you are going to stick yourself in the arm anyway, you might as well have something exciting to inject.

  7. Tori Poppy says:

    Yum, making your own maple syrup. Guess I found making my own beer from barley, hops, yeast and water a similar wonder. Yeah… you can buy the stuff cheep and easy, but you can make it yourself too!

    Acupuncture? IMO it works. (Period) Sodium Seconal does too (a barbiturate) but I’m not mature enough to use those levels of pain killers in anything like chronic pain and not slip into the “recreational” addict stage… so beer for me!

    Well and maple syrup on waffles with sausages, yum!

  8. Tori Poppy says:


    Why do you have “trans” on your brain?

    Trans-America” was years ago.

    The gender binary of the census making you ponder such a simplistic perception? LOL

    My spouse, youngest son and I had an interesting conversation about that this evening. Even provoked Linda to go get the forms to read/quote.

    If you do have thoughts of transition, may I suggest Andrea James site (oh dear, I’ll get spam blocked?) well here goes: tsroadmap with the usual in front and the com thing after.

    Finding that site was most likely a watershed kind of turning point for me.

  9. i am a needle phobe but once i tried acupuncture i was hooked because it worked like mad. yep it hurt too, for a minute or two in some spots (instep, ear) but then the high would hit and i invariably went to sleep. even with a horrible needle stuck in me.

    i had no idea you could drink raw sap or that it was clear, i thought it was pale amber. wonder what the trees think/feel about being tapped for their chi. will have to find an ent to ask.

  10. chriso says:

    When I was a kid growing up in New Hampshire my public school class would always take field trips to local syrup manufacturers to learn about the tapping process. My favorite part was when we would scoop up clean snow in paper cups, pour fresh, hot maple syrup on it and chow down. Delicious! And maybe the only thing I miss about living somewhere with winter.

  11. Mona says:


  12. I know, it doesn’t seem right to take the sap from the tree. But oh well. My acupuncturist says he’s careful to not tap all the trees all the time, and leaves some fallow, as it were.

    Somehow I always forget, until I’m lying on the table and the doctor’s swabbing my wrists with alcohol, that I’m going to get needles stuck in me. The discomfort is very brief, and often more of an interesting than a painful sensation. Sometimes it’s an ache, sometimes it’s like an electric shock. But once the needle is in, it doesn’t hurt. Unless you get up and reach for your cell phone to take a picture, in which case you can feel your muscles and tendons sort of clenching around the needle.

  13. NLC says:

    Ah, I see now. It’s an acupuncture needle.

    (Glancing at the second picture after reading the first part of the article I just assumed that AB was having a hep-lock installed to make it simpler to meet her minimum daily requirement of maple syrup.)

  14. hairball_of_hope says:

    Since NLC brought up a medical device, I thought that would be a good segue into today’s news that LGBT are often excluded without rationale from some medical trials.


    Quoting from the article:

    Gays and lesbians are excluded from many medical studies involving issues of sexual health such as impotence or low sex drive, a new report finds.

    “Our study indicates that it’s more prevalent than one might have guessed.” said Roland Dunbrack, Jr., co-author of the report, which appears in the March 18 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

    “It’s an exclusion that in many cases, maybe in most cases, doesn’t need to be used,” said Dunbrack, an associate professor at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia.

    [… snip …]

    However, out of 243 studies that included the words “couple,” “erectile dysfunction” or “hypoactive” (referring to low sex drive), 37 excluded non-heterosexuals in some way.

    “It’s not that every study we looked at should be rewritten,” Dunbrack said, but there should be reasons given for the exclusions, and “we don’t know for these studies what these rationales would be.”

    Those most likely to restrict people in same-sex relationships were industry sponsored trials, multi-regional studies and phase 3 clinical trials (the phase before drugs are typically submitted for FDA approval), the team found.

  15. maxine says:

    fyi…bran muffins fresh from the oven, saturated with maple syrup…are awesome…

    Had them at Highland Lodge.

  16. NLC says:

    in re maxine#15’s bran muffins:

    Another maple-syrup delicacy are Snails; basically cinnamon rolls baked with a layer of –real Vermont, naturally– maple syrup in the bottom of the baking dish. (The syrup both soaks up into the rolls, and forms a kind of sticky “icing” on the bottom of the rolls.)

  17. --MC says:

    All right, I could stand the snake, but the needle picture pinked me a little. We’re facing all the phobias here, kids ..
    Next I expect AB will post about the Paramount TV closing logo with the scary music .. my personal phobia. Here it is:

  18. Hayley says:

    @maxine#15…I am in a huge bran muffin phase; churning out 20 a week. How were they served with the maple syrup?

  19. @MC #17, does the Law and Order opening sequence with slamming doors freak you out as well?

  20. --MC says:

    Maggie @ #19: I’ve never watched the show .. I sort of renounced tv and its works and ways a while back, and only watch DVDs now.
    I can tell you that I was a little wigged by the credits to “Get Smart” when younger.

  21. NLC says:

    OK, one last maple-sweetness plug then I’ll stop.

    If you ever make Penuche (that is, “Brown Sugar Fudge”) Maple Sugar makes an amazing substitute for the brown sugar.

    (Maple sugar, for those not lucky enough to have experienced it, can be thought of as “Maple Syrup boiled all the way down”. It has a long history in Vermont and throughout the NE, from way back when it was put forward as an alternative to “slave sugar” –i.e. regular cane/white sugar, whose primary source at the time were the slave colonies of the West Indies and elsewhere.)

  22. Kat says:

    Maggie, are there many Ents in Austin??

  23. Kat says:

    Maple sugar is delicious, and my family essentially buys up the Bay Area’s entire stock of it at Christmas time…..I’m pretty sure that my mother’s whole bedside table drawer is filled with the stuff….

  24. Feminista says:

    Re: accupuncture. I’m a fan for over 20 years. It can treat chronic health issues which western medicine cannot,and it has no side effects. Like Maggie,I usually fall asleep. Some insertions are a little painful,but you can tell your clinician which areas to avoid and she/he can find an alternate site.

    Now what I’d REALLY like is to have an acupuncture tx at the dentl clinic prior to dental surgery (I’ve had three in the last 7 months). I asked my acupuncturist about this,and she agreed this was a great idea; however,it’s not something acupuncturists are authorized to do in the U.S.

    I’m fortunate to live in a city with several alternative medicine colleges, as well as a network of community acupuncture clinics. The clinics charge from $15-35/session,much cheaper than private clinics. Google community acupuncture clinics to see if there’s a clinic in your area. These clinics follow the Chinese model of group sessions.

  25. Ian says:

    I think your acupuncturist is right – take it in turns to tap the sap each year.

    A friend of mine has worked with ‘Mayan’ (for an overarching term) peoples in Ecuador. She said people offer libations to their equivalent of Ceres (please pardon my Eurocentric terminology here) to gain good wishes from her so the corn will grow.

    If it feels wrong, maybe you could make an offering to the trees as a thanks for the sap? Maybe a bit of your favourite drink at the roots? A garland of flowers for a branch? Something to help the tree grow strong? Basically making an exchange for the sap.

    Fuck. I am SUCH a hippy!

  26. Marj says:

    Just want to add my voice to the “accupuncture works!” chorus. Accupuncturists I have visited have also been highly skilled and subtle diagnosticians.

  27. Pam I says:

    Acupuncture – I resist any credence to all the mumbo jumbo – but I have one great acupuncture story. Skip this if you’re eating. I once had a huge egg-sized boil/swollen gland erupted on my neck. I was treating it slowly with herbs, when it went into overdrive (strangely, it was the first time my then GF had gone away for the weekend with her other GF…). I saw my doctor, thinking I could get some nice antibiotics or therabouts, instead she sent me to Casualty. They booked me in for surgery the next day, their solution was to be good old allopathic slash+burn. I had to sign consent forms and work out who was my next of kin (off with the other GF…). Herbalist gave me a tenfold dose which let me cancel the surgery, but I was still very flu-ey because of the infection.

    I picked an acupuncturist out of a book, and had two (diagnostic) treatments which did very little. On the third session, she needled a spot between two fingers. It hurt like crazy like a fierce electric shock that travelled zap up my arm. Two minutes later my nose began streaming with snot, and the whole damn boil shed itself in minutes. Of course I don’t believe in all that mumbo jumbo, but why did sticking a needle in my hand dislodge a neck problem?

  28. makky says:

    Here are my 2 cents regarding acupuncture:
    Once, when I was just starting with acupuncture, a needle went in and it was excruciating, I doubled over in pain, but I intuitively knew the acupuncturist had hit the motherlode(a block?) and that it was a good thing.I was conscious enough to be careful not to let the needle get dislodged.(it could have been that pericardium pt.) The pain cleared in a minute or so and I felt a very, very good flowing of energy.

  29. Pam I says:

    PS @ Mrs Ascillus, there are ways around needles – eg acupressure/massage, or moxibustion which uses heat near the points. In my case even that superfine needle (they are hair-thin) was painful but only when it hit the critical spot. Apparently the more it hurts/resists, the more of a blockage there is which needs releasing.

  30. @HOH#4
    Thanks for the info! I think I have seen a TENS unit. My dad used one for his sholder. I tried it for a sec and it did seem to help. I may try it if insurance ever lets me go to PT.
    Wow. I might actually be able to convince myself to consider it for real.
    Ouch, just reading that hurts. Note to self, if I ever try acupuncture I won’t move. Thanks for the warning.
    Heat sounds great. Sometimes a heating pad works. Maybe I will look up moxibustion. Thanks.

  31. Tori Poppy says:

    Ian #25 I like your idea of an offering! Where I live a slow running hose for 10-20 minutes is a pretty big present for the trees. I live in the southern most extent of the what was once a vast Monterey Pines forest. Last of only two old growth patches of these trees. It is so sad to watch the forest slowly die as climate changes, (or whatever you believe.) But we hug them, take care of them and plant or nurture new little ones, and who knows?

    In Vermont perhaps some nice iron rich fertilizer might be much appreciated? (For you organic folks bury some old rusty metal junk very shallow in the drip line)often in areas that get lots of rain iron is a scarce yet critical nutrient.

  32. Bechadelic1 says:

    Ow, all this talk of needles deliberately stuck into someone is giving me the creeps. I have no problem when my cats scratch and bite me even if they draw blood but a simple blood test makes me go all trembly just before the fateful poke. Knowing in advance that someone is going to stick me with a needle is never a good idea.

    That said, the video of sap tapping is ultra-awesome. I loved it. Mother Nature does indeed provide some of the most beautiful thrills in life. So simple yet so fascinating.

  33. Ginjoint says:

    Bleh, I used to be just fine with needles, for the occasional blood test or inoculation or whatever. But now that I’ve been through cancer twice, needles and I are enemies. All the sticking I’ve been through has made me way more sensitive than I ever was.

    I’m reading a great book (thanks Alison!) called Called Back by Mary Cappello, a breast cancer patient. In it, she states, “Cutting and injecting are the culture’s modes of care, but while the cutting is obvious and expected, the injections always take me by surprise. Don’t ever think again that a noninvasive technology, a procedure as blithely named as a ‘scan’ (a brush?), won’t entail injection. It always does.” Hell yeah.

    In other puncturely news, on Monday I had my ovaries sucked out through my belly button. I am not making this up. Laparoscopic surgery is supposed to be so much better than traditional surgery. My ass, it is. I’m in pain, over here, and the Vicodin, whilst wonderful, eventually made me throw up. Also, because I know the people here will appreciate this bit, they injected air into my abdominal cavity – all the better to see and nab my little stones. However, since the air isn’t in my G.I. system, I can’t dispel it via…traditional means. Why am I telling you all of this? For I am cranky, and apparently colicky! Also, I’m always up for any fart jokes anyone thinks up.

  34. Kat says:

    Ginjoint, I hope you’re not horrified by this:
    “I had my ovaries sucked out through my belly button” kind of reminds me of reading about the ancient Egyptians and “eeeewww, they pulled the brain out the nose!!”

    A friend of mine ended up with air in her abdominal cavity after surgery a few months ago…it was apparently quite painful.

  35. Acilius says:

    Gosh, Ginjoint, I hope you get well soon. What you went through sounds like something that would be done to a garden rather than to a person. Are you 100% sure it was an MD you went to and not a gardener?

  36. Ian says:

    I’ve never heard of ovaries being removed via the belly button before. Somewhere in there is a comment about fertility being removed via the remains of the umbilical cord, that means of nourishing future life.

    Actually, going with my mum for her chemotherapy and various medical treatments for cancer has helped me to overcome, partially at least, my own needle-phobia. I’m still very tense at blood tests, but at least I can do them now! Sitting there for hours with someone who has a shunt in her hand just tends to do it – exposure therapy I suppose.

  37. Dr. Empirical says:

    When I had surgery last year, they put me, for reasons no one could adequately explain, on an insulin drip for two days. As a result, I had nurses coming into my room every hour on the hour to check my blood sugar. This involved jabbing my finger with a tiny blade to get a drop of blood. No big deal to do it once, but being woken up at 3AM to get jabbed after finally getting back to sleep after my 2AM jab was crankiness-inducing, to say the least. By the time they took me off insulin my fingertips looked like hamburger.

    At least I can confidently predict that I’ll never have to get my ovaries sucked out through my bellybutton!

  38. Maxine says:

    @Hayley#18: The muffins I had were just completely saturated with the maple syrup. I would guess they were baked and then maybe poked with a toothpick a few times to facilitate the soaking, then just poured straight over. Just do it!

  39. Alex K says:

    @37 / Dr Empirical: Don’t be so sure.

    Male oophorectomy / oophorosuction is probably the next big thing.

    Science is coming up with bigger advances EVERY DAY, and all one can do is try to duck.

  40. Dr. Empirical says:

    Alex @39: But first you’d have to get an ooplantation! We’d be like plain-belly sneetches, putting them put in so we could get them removed!

    Paging Dr. McMonkey McBean!

  41. Ginjoint says:

    Well, I guess the GIGANTIC FREAKING BRUISE on my stomach looks something like a star.

    {rolling my eyes}

    Sheesh. I should’ve known better than to expect sympathy from the boys here. (I say this with all due affection, of course.)

  42. Bechadelic1 says:

    @ Ginjoint
    Really sorry to hear about the pain. Heal well. Heal soon.

    @ Dr. Empirical # 40
    I’m really curious. I have to know. Was that a dig at the famous Dr. McDreamy and Dr. McSteamy? Has some woman being getting your goat with their adulation of these two characters? LOL.

  43. Ian says:

    Awwwww Ginjoint, I’m sorry. I forgot to mention the sympathy and sending positive healing vibes and hugs through the ether.

    Although all I can think of is that scene in the Matrix where Neo gets bugged, literally. And where Trinity well, debugs him, so to speak. Ugh and ew.

  44. Male oophorectomy = testiculectomy, since ovaries and testicles begin as the same organs and are only differentiated later in fetal development — if differentiated at all. We all have “stones”, but women keep ours inside and develop a different substance from them.

    Ginjoint, fucking OW! And yeah, residual abdominal “insufflation” is reported to be quite painful and slow to resolve. Maybe you should be reading astronomy, i.e. gas giants, for symbolism you could use to visualize your way through.

    Those ovaries they removed held all the eggs you had left, which were formed in your tiny body while you were still in your mama’s womb. Thus, every egg that makes a human being has a direct “I was there link” to the grandmother of whoever comes from that egg.

    I should remind you, arnica is great for bruises and tissue healing.

    And, if they gave you conscious sedation instead of general anesthesia, the amnesic effects of those drugs can hammer you just as much, though differently, than supposedly “lighter” medications. Detox, baby. My sympathies.

  45. Dr. Empirical says:

    Sorry, Ginjoint. My sympathy often takes the form of mockery. Of course, lack of sympathy also takes the form of mockery, and the difference can be indiscernable to the untrained eye. Enjoy the vicodin!

    Bechadelic (42): In the Dr. Seuss story The Sneetches, stars were applied to and removed from the Sneetch bellies at progressively increasing prices, by one Sylvester McMonkey McBean.

  46. Nel says:

    Wow, I don’t log on for a couple of days and I come back and my worlds have collided! It’s slightly disconcerting. As an acupuncturist who gets acupuncture from a colleague every few weeks, I am humbled each time, and often say something like, “Damn, I can’t believe people actually pay me to do this to them.” And then I feel better in some physical or emotional way and I make another appointment. I don’t think it’s the end all and be all for everyone, and it is a lovely system of medicine and often efficacious where Western Medicine offers little support- particularly for chronic conditions and often for odd and acute ones, as stated.

    I think people have done an admirable job explaining how it feels- people have a wide spectrum, really, of experiences. In Chinese they call it “sensation”, not pain. Some points are achy, some dull, some sharper or more nervy feeling, some just interesting. They don’t hurt for long, if they do at all, and yes, I often have people sleeping on my table. I also have the occasional sort who answers their cell phone or wants to know what it feels like if they do a Yoga pose with needles in and these are often not good outcomes. I don’t know that anyone has taken a self-portrait, however, Alison! I’m grateful for that. There are also types of treatment (Japanese, Toyohari in particular) where you don’t even insert the needles into the skin. I often recommend this for children or people frightened of needles or those who are too sensitive.

    Pam I (#27) I love stories like that, and since I spend my days hearing about peoples mucous, bowels and discharges, I can read it WHILE I’m eating. I suspect the point you had done is between the thumb and index finger? If so, it’s called Ho Ku, or Joining of the Valleys and it’s one of the top 10 acupuncture points- it connects the lung and colon meridians and connects to the nose and besides being indicated for any wind/heat condition in the head/face/neck, it is also used for Mumps.

  47. Anonymous says:

    Sucking ovaries from your belly button is uncomfortable. Taking them directly from your uterus is just as bad. Either way, you are not a winner. Gas is gas…it will be be there.
    Welcome to my world. I am an OBGYN, surgeon. I try to use holistic medicine when it’s appropriate but it isn’t always. I believe that I have been given a talent that I try to justify and I do try to make my own patient’s as comfortable as possible. I believe that modern medicine is here to protect all of us and I welcome anyone who has a better solution to the problems that women face.
    I am in a state of constant learning and I welcome anyone’s input into this subject. Provided, you have the standards to protest.
    As far as ‘sweet’ syrup goes….I don’t eat anything much that contains sugar. For some reason, I don’t like sweet things. I don’t care for desserts…I simply don’t care for sugar.
    That’s me and you are you. Nuff said!

    Ginjoint…..have you had your follow up yet? What did YOUR doctor say to you?

    Thank you, Betsy and Acilius A few blogs ago you made me feel welcome. Not sure if I do now but I’m trying to fit in. Cliques aren’t always good, you know? Especially when we all have the same goals.

    Enjoy your evening, everyone! I know I will 🙂

  48. MaggieGrace says:

    The last comment was left by me. I am soooooo tired that I forgot to add my name. Long day today and an even longer day tomorrow. I’m so trying to get the hang of this blogging thing.

  49. Marj says:

    Oh Ginjoint, ouch! Wishing you well.

  50. @Bechadelic1#32

    I totally agree with your point about nature. Very well put.


    I can identify with you when you talk about how going through a lot makes you more sensitive. I have had several orthapedic operations. These experiences have left me gunshy around doctors. This bothers me sometimes, but then I try to focus on the ways in which it had made me strongger. For example, even though I am often scared at the dotor’s office, I am beter calming myself. Part of the credit for this gose to my assistance dog Phoenix. I often tell myself to stay calm so he does nit worry. I wish you the bset.

  51. Renee S. says:

    I’ll make the pancakes.

  52. Acilius says:

    @MaggieGrace #47: I certinly hope you do feel welcome. It’s scary how quickly cliques can form, quite often we need reminders about that around here. Thanks for giving us one!

    @the Believer #50: I thought you put this very well the other day when I was trying to cheer you up before a doctor’s appointment. “You’ve been through worse,” I said. “Yes, that’s the problem,” you replied.

  53. Ginjoint says:

    Hey all, thanks for the good wishes! They DO help. And Ian and Dr. E, no worries – I was laughing at your comments. I’m no delicate flower when it comes to sarcasm and/or mockery! My doc did take photographs of my ovaries (which he was so kind as to show to my mother in the waiting room, which she tried to politely appreciate.) He was already in another surgery by the time I woke up, so I haven’t seen them yet. I did want to keep the ovaries – use ’em as fertilizer for a new tree or something (Ian, who’s a hippy now?) – but they had to go to a pathologist. Bummer.

    With regard to my doctor, I’ve had my internists (all female) do my pelvic exams for the last 20 years. However, I needed a surgeon to perform this procedure. I was leery of going with a male, for a lot of reasons I’m not going to go into, but this doc was very kind and thoughtful. He’s Jewish, and his parents are from Iraq!

    Maggie, it was general anesthesia, which I’ve grown to hate. (I figured out that since I had cancer the first time, this was my tenth time being put under.) I believe it takes away, temporarily, my desire to read. Or rather, the concentration/attention span needed to read. I know you can relate to all the side effects, physical and otherwise, of being snared in Medical Land.

    MaggieGrace, I hope you feel welcome here! And good on ya for being a doc and for being open-minded. I didn’t mean my post to be a whiny thing about modern medicine, though I can see how it could be read that way. I do have a follow-up in a couple of weeks, but I’ve already spoken to my doc twice because of the difficulty breathing and pain I had the night of the surgery. It was the extra air – it was pushing on my diaphragm, and the pain would refer to my shoulders! The tops of my shoulders were killing me – I definitely could’ve used an acupuncturist, if only to puncture my stomach and release the air. (Kidding!) Then I would fly crazily around the room. Which would be awesome.

  54. Ginjoint says:

    Also, I didn’t realize one could drink that syrup straight up like that. Bacteria! Or not?

    Mrs. Believer, you’re right in that I’m better at calming myself than I used to be. But…like you, I know what else can happen.

    Maggie and Ian, I forgot to say that your points about the symbolism involved deeply touching. This procedure was very hard on me for a number of reasons, and you got it. And Maggie, I did have a mitochondrial DNA test performed once, along with my birth grandmother (long story there), and I’ll never forget the results. They stated the test showed we “shared a common maternal ancestor.” How cool is that?! From my great-great grandmother (from eons passed, actually), to my great-grandmother, to my beloved grandmother, to my mother (whom I unfortunately never got to meet), to me. Never did I feel so connected. It was sweet and wonderful. O.K., now I’m shutting up.

  55. Bechadelic1 says:

    @ Dr. Empirical # 45
    Whoops, my bad, and a completely incorrect reference too. Thanks for clarifying that. Dr. Seuss wasn’t so much a part of my childhood as much as Enid Blyton 🙂

    @ Mrs. Believer1Acilius
    Thanks. A large part of my childhood also consisted of much tree climbing, paddling in shallow rivers, making mud pies, collecting wild flowers, tapping touch-me-nots, looking for four leaved clovers and eating fruit plucked directly off trees. Living in a concrete jungle today, all that seems so far away. Then the video posted by Alison brought all those simple pleasures rushing back into memory.

  56. Pam I says:

    @ Nel #46 – it was about twenty years ago, so details blur – but I recall that the point was on the back of my hand, between middle and ring fingers? Could that be it? Or maybe between index and middle?

    I used to work with acupuncturists (in their parcel-packer disguise) and the Ho Ku point got a lot of action after spending too much time in the pub then going home in our van with less than perfect springs. Or was it Stomach 36, a palms-width down the calf? As a non-believer I recall effect rather than cause.

  57. Nel says:

    Pam I, #56- Ah, for the motion sickness with the excess pub-bing, probably Stomach 36, or else the one Alison is showing off so nicely, Pericardium 6. Often used now for motion sickness via brands such as Seabands.

    Ginjoint, I wish you ease in gas deflating. I’ve had two abdominal/pelvic surgeries, one laparoscopic, and I remember well the combination of gas pain/narcotic irritation/anesthesia yuckiness. As someone who works in complementary medicine and who has a profound respect for Western medicine and particularly surgery when needed, I take everything- I found that I did way better with Demerol than Vicodin or Percocet which made me so crazy and irritated I almost bit off the noses of my kind caregivers. A healer friend also recommended homeopathic Carbo Veg for the gas. I think it helped. And Arnica, for bruising, as Maggie recommended. I often do acupuncture for people, post surgically, to get rid of drugs/anesthesia effects, to get bowels moving, to regain peace of mind. If it’s available and you can handle the thought of needles, it might serve you.

    I still sweat like a pig when I go to the doctor, or any practitioner where I have to tell my full medical story and while I am less shaky than I used to be, it’s still incredibly vulnerable. I try never to forget that as I do intakes with patients. It is so easy to feel judged and made wrong.

    MaggieGrace: Thanks for mentioning the clique thing. As a shy person, jumping in to a continuing conversational blog feels akin to forcing my way in to a small group conversation of the coolest people at a cocktail party. I’d much rather stand on the periphery and read the book titles or check out the spice racks in the kitchen. Then leave early.

  58. Pam I says:

    @ Nel of the spice racks – what’s that song about knowing the sleeve notes of West Side Story off by heart?

  59. Andrew B says:

    Ginjoint, hope you’re starting to feel better. FWIW, my father had minor laparoscopic surgery a few months ago and found that the recovery was more painful than recovery from similar surgery using a full incision. You’re not the only person to have had that experience.

  60. Ginjoint says:

    Cool people? Where? Nuthin’ but geeks here, Nel!

  61. “Nel of the Spice Racks.” Coolest instant moniker ever, I’m jealous.

  62. hairball_of_hope says:


    Seconding what Ginjoint said, whole lotta geeks here. I’m wondering just how cool or uncool we’d seem in person at the real party vs. this virtual one.

    This literate crowd would be plenty intimidating reading the book title spines. Probably a bunch of us would be having conversations around the spice rack, discussing the virtues of Tellicherry vs. Malibar peppercorns.

    The truly shy would likely retreat to the small cadre of folks doing serving and cleanup. That’s where I’ve always found shy persons engaged in conversation, using work as an icebreaker.

    (… goes off singing that newfangled country music classic, “I Was A Geek Before Geeks Were Cool” …)

  63. hairball_of_hope says:


    Sending you good vibes and wishes for gaseous diffusion.

    I’m wondering why the surgeon can’t unpressurize the abdominal cavity after pumping it full of air to facilitate mucking around with the laparoscopic instruments. How hard would it be to deflate on the way out, either via a suction thing or simply applying pressure before suturing the opening for the laparoscope?

    I won’t take Vicodin. It makes me woozy, and shortly thereafter I vomit. Not a good combination, and the only way that helps with pain is it momentarily makes me forget how damn much I hurt as I attempt to clean up the vomit.

    No knock on the medicos here (shoutout to MaggieGrace, welcome aboard), but sometimes I think MDs, and surgeons in particular, are so focused on OUTCOME that they forget about what the patient endures along the way, and don’t consider the potential actions that could make the process easier for the patient, such as removing the introduced abdominal air.

    Granted, the patient (at least me as a patient) simply wants everything to be as it was before all the medical intervention, and that’s usually unrealistic. I’m not going to wake up and it will be as if nothing happened, a bad dream, nothing more.

    What the patient usually gets, if s/he is lucky, is decent restoration of function, repair of an injury, removal of a threatening condition, or some extra time on the planet.

    And a pile of bills and so-called “Explanation of Benefits” which explain nothing, except that the US system for health care and health insurance is good for no one but insurance companies (and the politicians they schmear to keep the status quo rigged in their favor). I wonder what the ICD-9 code is for “wallet-ectomy.”

    (… goes back to marveling at the first day of spring, pinching herself that winter has ended and life begins anew amid the blooming crocuses and daffodils …)

  64. Feminista says:

    Happy Spring! Tulips now in full bloom. Hooray!

  65. Kate L says:

    Ginjoint! Ow, indeed! My sympathies, and welcome to the world of hormone replacement therapy! 🙁

    MC (#17), Maggie Jochild (#19)
    I always thought that the Law & Order sound effect was the tap-tap of a judge’s gavel! Btw, did you know that Law & Order’s Sam Waterston (“DA Jack McCoy”) was once a pitchman for the Old Glory Insurance Company? It’s true! Just watch (may take a moment to load)…

  66. Dr. Empirical says:

    Hairball, I’m sure the surgeon vents as much gas as they can before removing the endoscope, but there are going to be bubbles left. There comes a point where the bruising caused by trying to get the bubbles out become worse than the effects of leaving them in.

    I prefer not to do vicodin either. For me, it causes auditory hallucinations. The murmuring demonic voices keep me uo all night. If I could have understand what they said, I’d have done whatever they told me.

    MaggieGrace and Nel, you’re not the first to mention the cliquishness of this board, but I’ve never seen it that way. I’ve never seen anyone made to feel unlwelcome who wasn’t already openly hostile. Contribute what you have to contribute, take away what’s here to be taken, and don’t worry too much about staying on-topic. Welcome!

  67. Feminista says:

    Ginjoint: You’ve been through a lot. Hope spring is good for you.

    Re: Law and Order. I first saw Sam Waterson in the excellent TV series I’ll Fly Away set in the 1960s southern U.S; he played a somewhat liberal white attorney.Other outstanding actors portrayed his Black housekeeper Lily,her daughter and her father.

  68. Mentor says:

    [Nel and MaggieGrace (and, indeed, others):

    I think I speak for all when I say that I truly hope that I’m not reading too much into your notes above and that you don’t, in any way, feel unwelcome on the Blog. Thoughtful, intelligent comments (as yours) are always, and will always be, welcome.

    As far as clique-ishness, well, in any public forum there will always be topics that will be discussed –and those who will post– more than others. It’s part of the nature of the beast and, all told, not a bad thing. But I’ve always felt that it help to think of this as being at a party of friends: If you don’t find a conversation that interests you at the moment, then a good way to deal with that is start one that does.

    And finally, concerning shyness, I can only say that this is certainly an issue many of us contend with. (Good grief, I hope you don’t think name is really “Mentor”!) But I hope that you –and everyone else– will always feel safe here. As I say, you are among friends. –Mentor]

  69. HoH, MaggieGrace can speak more definitively to this, but from what I’ve read, surgeons DO routinely desufflate that which they have insufflated. But air sneaks into all the visceral cavities, etc, and it’s not as simple as it sounds.

    Surgeons are in particular not well-regarded for bedside manner or good communication skills or, frankly, empathy. They have a particular and highly demanding skillset, and other attributes take lesser priority. In my experience, this is NOY true of internists and OBGyns who do surgery as part of their practice but also handle other aspects of patient care.

    The real work of nurturing and communicating around a surgery is delegated to nurses, who would be far better at it if they were given the time and equipment to do their job in a human manner. But cuts in hospital budgets are taken from the nursing and tech staff first, typically, and a profit-driven health care system managed by insurance companies has been disastrous for America.

  70. konagod says:

    I’ve never had acupuncture or been very keen on needles. But after falling 3 weeks ago and breaking one side of my face up pretty good, I had a hunch I was going to see more needles this month than I’ve seen in 30 years. My face hurt so bad I didn’t even feel the tetanus booster I got on 3/2.

    Then came the surgery to nail my bones back together this past Thursday evening. Having never had an IV setup before, much less general anesthesia, I really didn’t know what to expect. The surgery went well. I made a joke prior to surgery that I’d rather have it done without anesthesia and deal with the pain later.

    Lordy, that wasn’t far from the truth. I feel like I spent 18 hours strapped to a slab of rough concrete, and every part of my body from the neck down hurts like nothing I’ve ever imagined. I honestly was about to call the doctor this morning to tell him I think I’m having multiple organ failure before I did research and figured out the friggin’ anesthesia does this!

    I had to have my partner Sheldon come pull me off the sofa this morning — I couldn’t even get up on my feet because of anesthesia-related agony!

    At least the Vicodin hasn’t made me throw up. (I’m not too keen on that either.. throwing up is just one notch below being punctured with a needle.) It does cause me to have some of the most twisted dreams though.

    Surgeons are pretty clever though. While I wasn’t surprised by the earlier comment about having ovaries sucked out through the belly button, I was quite shocked that my surgeon was able to fix a broken cheek bone and screw in a plate by going in through my mouth.

    I’m glad I don’t have a video of it. He had to have pried that sucker OPEN!

  71. hairball_of_hope says:

    Re: blog-clique

    Here are a few of the “insider” references to demystify some of the perceived clique-ish-ness (aka de-clique-ification):

    Bacon. Philiacs and phobes abound on this blog, but nearly every thread manages to include a bacon reference. And the bacon-philiacs outnumber the bacon-phobes.

    Maple syrup. We’re nearly all junkies for the stuff, and the bacon-philiacs put maple syrup on their bacon. Extra points if you’re into grade B maple syrup. Some of us use maple syrup in sex play. (Don’t ask.)

    Cats. I think some felines post here, certainly their humans do. Fortunately, there’s been a respite from LOL-speak, all those catspeak posts gave me a headache. Or perhaps it was from my feline whacking me in the head, demanding that I feed or play with him in the wee hours of the morning.

    Michigan. Not the state, the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. This topic could start a riot.

    Guys. Colloquially used as a generic person reference, this one could also start a riot.

    Food. An awful lot of us are foodies, and some of us can actually cook and bake. But we can’t spell worth a damn when it counts, which is how a recipe for cake became Maoist Orange Cake, complete with a cup of red peril and I forget what else.

    Math. There’s a pretty good-sized bunch of geeky science types on this blog, and more mathematicians than I’d ever have imagined. They factor polynomials for fun.

    Geology. Also well-represented are the rockhounds. They dress in plaid, and no matter their sexual proclivities or gender, the plaid seemingly marks them as lesbians. Who knew that plaid was the secret lesbo code of the 1970s? (Rummages through her plaid workshirt collection and laughs at that one.)

    Women in male-dominated fields. Quite a few here (I’m one), and there’s lots of talk of the overt and covert sexism in engineering, science, math, construction, etc.

    Disability. To paraphrase the old New Yorker cartoon, “On the Internet, no one knows you’re a crip.” Lots of awareness of disability here, some of us have physical, motion, hearing, and vision challenges that you would probably notice in person but not on a blog. Which is why this virtual party is so much nicer than the real one where shy persons retreat to the spice rack; differently-abled persons probably couldn’t access that venue at all, and once there, it can be hard for folks to get beyond the cane, the chair, the dog, and the other outward signs of our abilities.

    Music. Lots of musicians and music-lovers here. Everything from opera to womyn’s music. Also at least one instrument maker, she uses cigar boxes as resonant chambers for stringed instruments to surprisingly good effect.

    Snow. You’ll see plenty of references to snow. Alison lives in Vermont, where there’s lots of snow. There’s a Minnesota contingent, a Canadian bunch, and some Coloradoans who also have lots of snow. While some of us are enjoying the arrival of spring, these folks are still shoveling snow. But they get to have “Sugar on Snow” (maple syrup on shaved ice or snow) with a pickle. I don’t know why they eat a pickle with it, the foodies here will probably explain it as the traditional sweet/sour or sweet/salty combination, and the neuroscientists here will likely have a biochemical or PET scan study to reference. And more than a few of us are likely to read the study and actually understand it.

    Words/language. Lots of word mavens here, and more languages spoken/read than you’d imagine. It’s not uncommon for Latin, Greek, French, Spanish, German, Portuguese to make their way to these posts. Oh, and we’re fairly anal about grammar and spelling. We clamored for a ‘Preview’ function to be added to the blog for this reason, and Alison (AB) hired Alison Abreu-Garcia (AAG) to do it, along with post numbering.

    Librarians. There’s a solid librarian contingent here, and those who love librarians. Count me in the latter group. Now to find one in real-life to love…

    PTTWTTBOPH (Plastic Toy Thingy With The Teased Bright Orange Polyester Hair) A reference to the troll toy of the 1960s, used in the current context of blog trolls. Thankfully, Mentor is on the job banishing trolls to spam-hell, so we try to follow the rule of not responding to trolls, knowing that by early morning Eastern Time, Mentor will have hit [DELETE] and blocked the IP address. (Thank you Mentor!)

    Basically, what you’ll find here is a community of folks not unlike the DTWOF characters, with a slightly higher proportion of science and music types than in the strip. (Someone correct me, but I don’t recall any musically-inclined characters in DTWOF.)

    Ok, now I’ll shut up. In blog-life as in real-life, I am loquacious.

  72. Hayley says:

    Ginjoint…thinkin’ of you and now that you mention it…fart jokes. I love fart jokes. Wiki flatulence humor…there is a lot of history between the cheeks. Feel betta.

  73. Khatgrrl says:

    Ginjoint, best wishes for a speedy recovery. I’m not good with vicodin either. I’ll take pain over vomit! Wife had surgery last year and also had issues with the air. Her shoulders bothered her for days. Thankfully the doctor and nurses prepped her for what to expect, so she knew that she wasn’t having a heart attack. There is much to be said for good communication. Hope that you feel better soon!

  74. Andrew B says:

    Nel, MaggieGrace, you do realize that most of us have to google half the stuff that gets mentioned here, don’t you? E.g. I did not get any of the Dr Seuss references in this thread, and I still have no idea what song Pam I was referring to in 58. If you were thinking that all of us know all this stuff already, believe me, we don’t.

    On the topic of shyness, there’s a great Garrison Keillor piece from the ’70s called “Shy Rights: Why Not Pretty Soon?”. If you’ve never read it, it’s worth digging up. He’s trying to write an incendiary manifesto on behalf of shy liberation (remember, it’s the ’70s), but he’s too shy to impose on people. It’s in his collection Happy to Be Here, and I’m pretty sure I first saw it in a humor anthology edited by Mordechai Richler.

  75. Betsy says:

    re: insufflation. @ Maggie and Dr. E: Unfornately I have assisted on many GYN and abdominal surgeries in which the surgeon (more than one) has not removed the air before pulling out the trochars (used in laparoscopic surgeries). I’ve always been frustrated by this when it is done but I didn’t have any say in the matter at the time.

    Sometimes makes me glad to be a clinic-based clinician now. Although it’s ‘Western’ medicine, I advocate for acupuncture and the wonderful other alternatives as much as I can.

    BTW, with respect to the common topics, I’m in the Michigan-loving, music-loving, cat-loving, woman-loving, veg-therefore-not-bacon-loving, Minnesota-based group who wouldn’t mind learning more about math and land formations.

  76. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Andrew B (#74)

    That’s why shy persons eat Powdermilk Biscuits, in the big blue box. So tasty and expeditious.

    They give shy persons the strength to get up and do what needs to be done.

    YAH, go ahead, Google Powdermilk Biscuits or read the Wiki on Prairie Home Companion.

  77. Heavens they’re tasty.

    HuH, bless you for the decliquefication. Interesting to see it all spelled out like that. I bet newcomers wonder why the hell someone would choose a screen name like Hairball of Hope but are too shy/polite to ask.

    Betsy, thx for the correction about insufflation, good info to have for the future.

    Konagod, welcome! This is the partner of Sheldon, y’all, the man whose visits to my home keep me alive and fed. Dinah, my infamously human-phobic cat, has decided Sheldon is all right (I won’t lapse into Lolspeak) and in fact finds him interesting, breaking her habits of 8 years. I bet one of the chemistry geeks here can explain why Vicodin mucks about with dreams.

    When I was in the ICU post surgery and on lovely, lovely Demerol drip, I had nonstop hallucinations for at least two days. Folks emerging from and disappearing into walls, floating apparitions and strobe lights and voices, and the frequent presence of a pale little girl in a bonnet and long dress. Despite my chattiness at the time, I didn’t tell anyone what I was seeing — I knew it wasn’t real but it didn’t bother me (nothing bothered me on Demerol) and I had enough trouble keeping the fucking hospital chaplain from trying to talk to me, I figured a psych consult would find way too much material to work with.

    On another note, I keep wondering what the maple sap tasted like besides AB’s comment of “sweet”. Is it resiny? Earthy? The Milky Way smells like raspberries, they say. What is the essence of mapledom, once you’re past the hit of sucrose?

  78. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Maggie (#77)

    Ok, I’ll add to the de-clique-ification…

    My nom de connexion hairball_of_hope comes directly from one of AB’s DTWOF strips, episode #526:


    I lurked here for many years, read DTWOF for years before that on PlanetOut, bought and read all the books, etc.

    The day of Obama’s inauguration, I watched the ceremony over lunch at a local Greek diner. On my way back to work, I decided to stop in the library for the free wireless so I could see what the blogosphere was saying about the historic event.

    One of the blogs I read was DTWOF. And for some unknown reason, after a hiatus of nearly a decade, I decided to start posting again. (I was burned out by a dozen years of forum moderating, so I had taken an extended online sabbatical.)

    No forethought involved at all in the process (and it shows by my choice of handle). When I stared at the username box, I knew I could leave it blank and post as Anonymous or leave my self-imposed online exile and create a user handle. The username hairball_of_hope flowed from my fingers. Well, not exactly flowed, I still had trouble typing with my rehabbed gimp hand, but you get the idea.

    So there you have it. R2A asked a while back what my username would be in American Sign Language, I said it would be the signs for CAT + VOMIT.

    Let that be a lesson to you all. Pick a name that doesn’t make you want to dive under the table in polite company.

  79. Pam I says:

    @ Andrew B#74. After wasting several days looking up the origins to my reference to West Side Story, I can only conclude that it must have been part of a stand-up comic’s riff that resonated with me. Instead, I offer you this with the lovely Kirsty McColl on backup. Warning, it will leave you with an ear-worm.
    *claims extra points for going two blog-posts backwards*

  80. Shy-ish says:

    HoH (78)–I have often wondered whether you had changed from a previous handle when DTWOF 526 came out but have been too shy to ask. So glad to have that question answered!

  81. Andrew B says:

    Yes, “Shy Rights” is by the same Garrison Keillor who went on to fame and fortune with “A Prairie Home Companion”, but otherwise the piece has nothing to do with the radio show. It contains no nostalgia of any kind.

    All this talk of drugs has reminded me of one of my favorite dtwof episodes: the one where Sydney is recovering from breast surgery. Her parents start clawing at each other in the recovery room. Sydney takes a hit off her morphine pump and tells Mo, “This thing is great. Too bad I didn’t have one when I was growing up.” Ah, yes…

    Number 417, which appears not to be available online. (The PlanetOut archive seems to be defunct.)

  82. MaggieGrace says:

    I am not shy by any means. Sometimes I tend to say what’s on my mind and sometimes it gets me in trouble. I guess you could say that I am frustrated most of the time. I don’t mean to be, but it is what it is. I don’t own and operate the health care system. I wish I did. I work at various hospitals and clinics. My organization is a Mercy Clinic in every sense of the word. I work for next to nothing and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I treat folks that don’t have health insurance and don’t have the funds to pay for their care. (Gay or straight, doesn’t matter to me. People are people.) I depend on the state, outside organizations and friends to fund our group. It was much easier to get the funds before I came out publicly. (Not by choice, either. My ex-husband found out and made a mockery of me) I live in the ‘Bible Belt’ of NC. Can you imagine trying to squeeze dollars from folks who already oppose you because of who you are? It ain’t easy! Thank God (Yes, I’m a Christian/Lesbian!) I have connections away from here. I am constantly calling financial supporters in other states to help pay for the use of a hospital. In the end, they come through. I have to charge a fee whether I want to or not. I usually state that my fee is $1. I look at it this way. If I can get fully paid for at least one operation or birth a month, I can pay my bills. I consider myself a humanitarian. I don’t care who you are. I don’t care what your religion is (or isn’t) or what your sexual preference is. I just want to help people.
    I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve. I get my feelings hurt easily. It’s who I am. Sorry if I caused any problems on this site. Oh, and I’m not that good at punctuation either!
    I am trying my best to move out of this area. I’ve stayed here as long as I have because of my two children. They are grown now and both in the medical profession. My daughter works at one of our clinics as an RN. My son is currently attending medical school. I’m ready to move on with my partner and I’m ready to leave this judgmental area. If I can’t get a job that already exists, I’m pondering the idea of a Mercy clinic elsewhere.
    It’s been a very hectic day for me. If I had the time to hop on here while at work, I couldn’t. Simply because everything that an employee does is monitored. Tomorrow is my day off and I’m spending it with my daughter and my 4 year old granddaughter. We’re going to the zoo!
    Again, sorry if I caused any problems on this site.

  83. Kate L says:

    hairball (#71)We had several inches of snow here yesterday!

    I wish my father could have lived to see this day, as health care reform is about to be approved by the U.S. House of Representatives. Back in the 1960’s, in his Sam Waterston way, he would happily expound on how what he insisted on calling “socialized medicine” would be good for Americans. OMG! Feminista (#67), does that mean my daddy was a social-ist???

    Oh, and another thing. A few minutes ago, I stopped myself just in time before I put sour cream on the bagel and lox I was preparing!!! I went back to the ice box (uh, refrigerator) and got the cream cheese out, instead. OMG! hairball, does this mean I’d never be allowed to enter New York???

  84. Kate L says:

    A.B. We can read your palm! You seem to have the same fork in your lifeline that I do. When I was growing up, my sister would tell me that someday I would reach a decision point in my life. One path in life would result in long life, the other in an early death. I’ve always wondered when that moment of decision would happen to me. At my age, I’m increasingly sure that it already has!

  85. hairball_of_hope says:

    @MaggieGrace (#82)

    No apologies necessary AT ALL. Bless you for your work. Hang in there and don’t let the daily grind wear you down.

    I know the realities of professional licensure in another state make relocation decisions complicated; you may find reciprocity in other jursidictions, or you may have to sit for part of or a full licensing exam. Depending on your partner’s profession, she might have the same issues.

    I don’t recall what area of NC you’re in (Charlotte? Fayettevile?), but I do recall you mentioning Asheville as a decent place to live in an earlier post.

    A long-ago chum of mine (straight) relocated to Asheville area in the early 1980s as a nurse-midwife and loved it, although we’ve lost touch in the ensuing three decades, not sure if she and her husband are still there. (Ducks out for a quick Google… I see she is still there, and she’s now a public health nurse at the county health dept.)

    But if you want your daily dose of maple syrup directly from the tree (sans hep-lock!), you’ll have to head to the northeast, NC is pine country, you’d be drinking turpentine if you tapped those trees.

  86. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Kate L (#83)

    Last time I checked, you could get anything on a bagel around here, even (you guessed it) bacon. We’re not bagel fundamentalists, you can put anything you want on a bagel, but we have definite ideas about the bagel itself. It has to be a real bagel, boiled and then baked. Chewy high-gluten bagels, not those imitation white-bread-like imitations.

    Sour cream would be a bit messy on a bagel, but flavor-wise it does go with lox. You could have a low-carb indulgence sans bagel: Snip some fresh dill in the sour cream, and let the flavors meld for a few hours. Roll up small pieces of lox or nova with capers and slivers of red onion. Dunk in sour cream/dill. Eat. Repeat until sated, or the lox runs out.

  87. hairball_of_hope says:

    So much for the ‘Preview’ function… Department of Redundancy Departments at work there in #86, doubling up on “imitation.”

    (… goes back to enjoying spring weather, before the rains kick in tonight …)

  88. cybercita says:

    i sprained my ankle while training to be an alexander teacher and limped for years afterwards, especially when it was going to rain. one of my teachers approached me around year three and told me that alexander technique teachers should not limp. he sent me to an acupuncturist who could barely speak english, had a filthy, cramped office with no privacy in a dicey part of town, didn’t take appointments, {you had to walk in and wait until he was ready to see you, and there was always a line} and charged almost nothing for his services {hence the line}. he used alligator clips to attach a TENS unit to the needles, and giggled when i shrieked because the current was too strong. it hurt like hell and i hated every minute of the five 30 minute treatments it took to get me to stop limping forever.

  89. Nel says:

    What a lot to respond to- I’ll try to be brief.

    @Ginjoint (#60) In my book, geeks are the cool people. Don’t usually like people who aren’t geeks, personally. In my house we play a game called “Who is the nerd now?” Rotating winners depending on what arcane bit of info one is googling, thinking about, or wants to discuss.

    @MaggieJochild (#61) I love “Nel of the Spice Racks”, too. Thanks Pam I.

    Mentor, and all (#68) No, no, I was never made to feel unwelcome and did not feel that way. Any not belonging feelings were of my own making. As someone quite low tech, pretty private, and who has never included myself in a blog, I just didn’t know how to enter myself in to what seemed like a really long, very fun conversation with people I already liked. In real life, I’d say I’m an introvert with good social skills. I can pull it together at parties and people don’t know I’m shy. But I had no idea of etiquette here. Thanks for everyone’s responses.

    HofH (#71 and #78) What a digest. That should be archived somewhere.
    Here’s me, if you want to know where I stand: love bacon, am like many who sneaked it when I was a vegetarian. Allergic to cats, and have come to appreciate their utter… catness. Still can’t get used to how you can’t get them to do anything they don’t already want to do, though. As dog person, wondered why you couldn’t just tell them not to wake you up at 3am while walking on your head. Yes, to foodie- do cook, pretty well, and often, even for myself. Just started baking a lot with almond flour as on a grain-free diet for numerous health related things. Yesterday made biscuits with almond flour and a cherry/almond cake. Not as good as Powdermilk ones, I’m sure, but pretty good. Can spell. Must write it down, though. Very kinesthetic learner. Brings me to math. Good until we came to X’s. Could not figure out how to feel it in my body. Would love to start math curriculum again with someone who can teach me how to touch it. Drove my teachers crazy. Fairly in tune with disabilities and love what I learn here. Music lover with catholic tastes- opera, folk, rock, world, classical, cabaret, showtunes, women’s- pretty much everything but so loud rock or metal or too screechy. My Ipod on shuffle is eclectic to say the least. Drives my classically trained partner nuts. Love words and language and have caught myself a librarian, or at least one who has worked at the library of an illustrious academy of higher learning for a very long time.

    Andrew #74- Must find that article. I give clients one called “The Care and Feeding of an Introvert.” Saves some relationships.

    Pam I (#79) Love the back up singers and sentiment. Would love to get that tune OUT of my head soon, though.

    Kate L (#83) I was missing my Dad today re: health care reform passing. Though plenty of times in the past year I thought he would have blown a gasket or killed someone listening to what went on on the way here. I come from a lineage of reactors. His Dad threw a glass ashtray through the TV set during the McCarthy hearings, never set a word, cleaned it up, and went out and bought a new TV. Or at least that is the story I heard. He died before I was born and I’m named after him. Could have just been uncontrolled diabetes and bad temper, or excellent politics, or both.

    MaggieGrace (#82) Yes, thanks for your work, heart and tenacity. Inspiring. I’ve always wished I was in the financial position to just put out a hat and let people pay what they could pay.

  90. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    GInjoint, just think how few people get to have their ovaries slipped out via their navels. It’s a bragging point!

    As to the early conversation about needles, I shoot myself up every morning with a sub cutaneous shot of a brilliant immunomodulating drug called Copaxone. And if I have to have an IV or a blood test, I tell myself, this is not the first needle of the day, and I relax a little.

  91. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Therry (#90)

    I just happen to have the package insert for Copaxone sitting here (not mine, a friend asked me to translate it for him into normal English).

    Looking at the injection site picture, it must be pretty tough to get to all seven sites in a week unassisted. It would be nice if there were more than seven sites available, so you could rotate them a bit. I also note the belly button is numbered #1, but there are two #1 choices, one on either side of the umbilicus, each apparently equivalent, so that’s the only rotation available. Ouch.

    Clever the way Copaxone works by faking out the immune system. After they figure out how to keep the autoimmune response in check, I’ll bet the next wave of research will be on getting myelin to regenerate, probably by turning on genes for Schwann cells.

  92. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Nel (#89)

    Kinesthetic learner… hmmm. I’m wondering if that’s a manifestation of synesthesia. Have you read “The Man Who Tasted Shapes” by Richard Cytowic?

  93. Wow, a newsflash that combines geekdom AND maple syrup:
    URI pharmacy researcher finds beneficial compounds in pure maple syrup
    “University of Rhode Island researcher Navindra Seeram, who specializes in medicinal plant research, has found more than 20 compounds in maple syrup from Canada that have been linked to human health, 13 of which are newly discovered in maple syrup…Several of these anti-oxidant compounds newly identified in maple syrup are also reported to have anti-cancer, anti-bacterial and anti-diabetic properties.” Tap on!

  94. Alex K says:

    Health care! Good for you, Americans!

    Now: Get rid of that Hyde amendment, why doncha?

  95. Ginjoint says:

    Amen, Alex. Henry Hyde actually came from my state, and he was a revolting human being. I askeed my mom this morning if she remembers such vitriol going around when Medicare was passed in 1965, and she said no way – the country was different then, and so was the media.

    Konagod – OUCH! Jesus, that sounds painful. I hope you’re getting through it O.K. The Vicodin did make me throw up (and like you, the DREAMS), so I had to stop taking it. Best wishes for a smooth(er) recovery. And thanks to Sheldon for looking out for our Maggie J. Maggie, I have fond memories of the Demerol in my I.V. when I was going through chemo. Suh-WEEEET!

    Nel of the Spice Racks – I too consider geeks the cool people. In my experience, traditional “cool people” are usually poseurs with a marked lack of cleverness or creativity.

    Kate L, I’m going to tell you something you’ll find either touching or creepy! When you hadn’t posted for a while, I actually went to Kansas City’s newspaper’s site, to see if there were any articles about a woman found injured or dead! I was really worried that that weird stalker guy had harmed you. I was frightened. So I was very glad to see you posting again. Maybe I need to get away from this city, where someone(s) is killed every damn day, for a bit. Well, no. What some may consider paranoia, I consider healthy awareness!

    Thanks again to everyone who posted well wishes to me. This procedure was a rougher one than I expected, akshully (sorry HoH!), and coming here was a balm.

    Also, MaggieGrace = awesome.

  96. judybusy says:

    @ Maggie #93. I find it so funny the nutrition pros keep finding out all the benefits of, uh, _real_ food. Amazing that all this stuff people have eaten for thousands of years is healthy for us! I wish everyone had money and time to eat real food most of the time, and that food weren’t treated like medicine. I just like to eat, without thinking of it as a therapy…I also try to eat as little of “edible food-like substances” (thanks, Michael Pollan!)

    I also just want to welcome formerly quiet members–it’s always great to hear fresh voices! I will admit that I haven’t been reading here as much, because the same 6 or 7 people make 90% of the comments, and it gets awfully cliquey. Thanks especially to MaggieGrace for sharing your story. Hopefully, with HC reform, your job will get easier, with expanded coverage! So, to all the newbies, please keep posting!

  97. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Ginjoint (#95)

    *Actually*, I am trying to get rid of that bit of annoying sloppiness in my writing, but it has proven difficult. It has crept into my speech (must be hanging out with the wrong crowd), and my speech is wired to my scribe side, so it’s in there tight. Like trying to scrape barnacles from the boat hull.

    I imagine if I spent less time with folks who overuse the word, I would have an easier time with it. I’m reminded of a Gary Larson cartoon, the guy utters “DUH” at a Mensa meeting and all eyes are upon him in horror. I guess I should get to a Mensa meeting. 😉

    re: Hyde Amendment… Hopey/Changey wussed out and promised an Executive Order that would backdoor Hyde-type restrictions in the new legislation.


    Note that insurance and health care company stocks are up today. Ultimately, this bill will be a moneymaker for them, and will fall short for ordinary people.

    Where’s my damn health care that doesn’t depend on my &%(#%$# employer?!? Oh yeah right, if I leave this job I have to purchase it myself from some “exchange” under threat of penalty. Oh goodie. Change I can believe in. NOT. Excuse me while I cough up a giant hairball of hope.

  98. little gator says:

    Havnt hd maple syrup in years, since the price more then doubled as i ot poorer.

    i’ve had sap once. The sugar shack said we woudlnt like it an dh=gave tiny paper cups just for our curiosity. I’d have guzled much more if i could.

    clear sweet, watery, like living sweet ice water.

  99. Ginjoint says:

    HoH: wait, what? That “akshully” thing was just a nod to the fact that you don’t like LOLspeak; “akshully” is LOL, so I was apologizing to you for sneaking it in. No more, no less.

    Also, I’m still happy that we’re at least moving, moving toward universal health care. Is this perfect? No. But it’s farther than we’ve ever been. Considering the rabid hysterics he’s up against, I think “Hopey/Changey” deserves a little credit.

  100. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Ginjoint (#99)

    LOLspeak or English, the overuse of “actually” annoys the crap out of me, especially since it’s wormed its way into my own speech and writing. At least I’ve managed not to sound like a 20-year-old.

    I shouldn’t bash all 20-year-olds. Rental daughter #1 turns 20 this year, and she has had a marked change in speech patterns in her first two years away at college. She sounds so MATURE and ADULT and INTELLECTUAL it’s scary. I mentioned to Mom at Thanksgiving that daughter #1 was speaking in complete sentences all the time. She dropped nearly all the space-filling interjections (“You know” “Really” etc.), except when she was using them for effect on daughter #2. Must be an impressive crowd of 20-year-olds she hangs out with at school.

    Referencing something Tori Poppy wrote in the last thread, the 20-ish gen has a very non-chalant view of sexuality and gender; all the LGBT issues that we geezers struggle/struggled with are such non-issues to them (at least the ones I’ve been talking to). They have much more exposure and understanding of the human continuum and don’t seem so fixated on binary definitions. This gives me much hope for the future, if these kids are representative of the future gen.

  101. MaggieGrace says:

    As a health care professional, I’m still waiting to hear how it affects me personally, and our clinic’s. As usual, we’re the last to know.
    I don’t need a lot of money to exist. I’ve learned a long time ago how to make it with very little. It can be done. I have always had faith, and that faith has seen me through.
    Kate L: It’s not what you eat, it’s how much you eat. Bagels are good, I live off of them! I eat real butter but I can’t say that I love Jelly of any kind. I don’t care for sugar. Just me! Let’s just say that bread is my downfall. I love homemade breads and I have had to ween myself off of it. It hurts, but it’s healthy. Years ago I was 30 lbs overweight. I signed up for a ‘winning points’ program with weight watcher’s. I thought I knew it all until that program. I still count my numbers to this day and I have maintained my weight. Eat what you want, just do it in moderation. We all cheat and we have to live at some point. Enjoy life. BTW, I love meat. Does that make me odd? A good, thick, juicy steak can do wonders for you.
    hairball_of_hope: I live in the central part of NC. To be exact, I live 30 miles southeast of the Triad. That consists of Greensboro, High Point, & Winston-Salem. I’m locked in this Bible Belt. I love the country and I love where I live but apparently, I’m not as accepted as I feel I should be. This is how it is. Folks come to you when they are in need but when they aren’t, they are on their high horse…you don’t matter and they would shove you under the bus in a NY minute.
    My partner is a paralegal in an office in Raleigh. She is working hard and still in school. Between her and I, we have plans but we both have to sit back and wait until the time is appropriate. I do believe that better days are coming if we can be patient.
    Nel: We’re as broke as hell…but we’re surviving. That’s what it’s all about.
    judybusy” Thank you!

    I am not as computer literate as I should be. If there were a way (that I knew of), I’d post a picture of my day with my daughter and granddaughter. It was awesome. Love the NC Zoo in Asheboro. It’s especially nice when the temps are cool and the critter’s are out. Today was a good day. It warms my heart to see my family smile.

    I only have a few hours left of my day off and I’m waiting for my love to come home. She’ll be here in about an hour and a half. Her name is Lydia and she is awesome. She was the one that came to me in the beginning and she is the one person that has turned my life around. I don’t know how I ever existed without her. Love to you all. May the rest of your day be a good one.
    Maggie Grace 🙂

  102. Feminista says:

    @hoh–Please ‘splain “rental daughter.”

    MaggieGrace: Welcome!

    [Freed from spam-limbo. –Mentor]

  103. Feminista says:

    @hoh 100: Please ‘splain “rental daughter.”

    Maggie Grace: Welcome!

  104. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Feminista (#102)

    Rental children/mom nomenclature…

    The two kids are the daughters of a dear old (straight) friend who has had lots of relationship drama in her life (to put it mildly). I’ve been the adult they could turn to when they didn’t want to deal with Mom/Dad/boyfriend(s).

    When they were really young, we joked that I could be a rental mom, all of the benefits of motherhood and none of the hard work, when I got tired of them I handed them back to Mom. The kids immediately picked up on this and started calling me their rental Mom. Mom’s parents “adopted” me (and I have a laser-printed certificate they made for me to prove it!), so I am both Grandma’s and Grandpa’s “adopted” daughter and the kids’ rental mom.

    They’ve turned out well, despite some very trying circumstances. Daughter #1 is on scholarship at a very good private liberal arts school, daughter #2 is still in HS, slogging her way through SAT prep, and kvetching about her chemistry homework to me.

    Actual dialogue verbatim:

    “But this is stupid!” she says. “When am I EVER going to need this?”

    “Uh huh, I heard that last year about geometry, and the year before that about algebra. Next!”

    And so it goes.

  105. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    @H_o_H (#91), getting to all the sites used to be very difficult, but then I decided to cheat. I have a comfortable amount of sub-cu fat in some very easy to reach places, and they stand in for the back of the arm and the thigh shot, which always used to bleed. I bet a lot of Copaxone users cheat, in between blessing their doctors for prescribing such an awesomely effective MS drug. It doesn’t prevent exacerbations so much as it repairs the damage to my myelin.

  106. MaggieGrace says:

    Therry and St. Jerome:
    Doctor’s prescribe only what they are allowed to prescribe.
    I’ll bet you didn’t know that.
    We are bound. We don’t have options in this US of America.
    If I had the power, ….and I don’t. I’d change so many thing about our health care. I am only one person and believe me when I say that I am sitting on the edge. I fully to expect to have my license revoke at any time.

  107. Anonymous says:

    I meant to say that I’d change so many ‘things’ about our health care. Also, I meant to say that my license would be ‘revoked’! I don’t proof read ordinarily. Today, I am.
    Lydia! Where are you?
    I’m waiting!!!

  108. MaggieGrace says:

    Chit! I can’t even remember to post my own user name. Anonymous is me. Sorry!

  109. Acilius says:

    @Kate L: I was worried about you too, though I didn’t go as far as Ginjoint and look up homicide reports. I was afraid that the Kansas Department for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice had blocked DTWOF from the state completely.

  110. Feminista says:

    @104: It takes a village! How lucky these young women are to have you be a long-term,stable part of their lives.

  111. LondonBoy says:

    Just a quick note to congratulate all of you in the United States for finally making progress on health-care.

  112. Ginjoint says:

    LondonBoy, good to see you! Where’ve you been?

  113. Calico says:

    #71 HOH:
    The usual sugar on snow party in VT goes like this:
    Eat the maple syrup on snow (usually poured in strips over snow spread out over long tables)
    Eat a slice of dill pickle to cut the sometimes overbearing sweet taste of the semi-frozen syrup
    Finally, eat a plain donut to even out the taste of the pickle.
    I now live in QC and sugar on snow (Tire) parties are a big thing here too, but without the pickles and donuts ritual.

  114. Feminista says:

    Well,if you don’t happen to live in a snowy area and lack ready access to maple syrup,there is another alternative. Today is Free Cone Day at Ben and Jerry’s!

  115. Kat says:

    Does anyone remember the scene in Little House on the Prairie where the Ingalls family poured molasses onto snow to make a frozen-ish treat similar to what Calico (#113) described?

    A friend and I tried it once when we were kids, but considering that we’re Californian, it was “pancake syrup” on crunched up ice cubes…..MASSIVE fail.

    Feminista, free cone day, you say??? Hm…..guess I know where I’m going after work!!

  116. Kate L says:

    Londonboy (#111). Thanks! To give you an idea of what President Obama worked so hard to bring about, one of the private insurance company practices that is illegal as of today is denying coverage for a pre-existing condition (an injury or illness that was diagnosed before being insured by a particular company). Back in the 80’s when I worked for (Big-Name Multinational Oil Company), the private health care insurance that all employees of this company were required to pay for would not cover treatment for the pre-exisitng condition of the wife of one of my co-workers. She went untreated, and died as a result. As of today, a company that does this is breaking the law. Also illegal as of today is a private health insurance company telling its customers that they have a life-time maximum amouont of care, usually something like $1 million, sometimes as low as $250,000 – for all medical treatment of all sorts for their lifetime. If an insured person hit that maximum with an illness or injury, they would have a difficult time getting health coverage from any other company. As of today, that is also illegal for insurance companies to do.

  117. Kate L says:

    Earlier today, the Kansas legislature considered an amendment to the state constitution that would have banned President Obama’s health care reform from taking effect in Kansas. It was rejected 🙂

  118. DeLand DeLakes says:

    This has nothing to do with anything above, and who knows if you’re even listening, but–
    Alison, I had a dream about you.
    Don’t take that the wrong way. Here’s what happened:
    In the dream you lived in my Minneapolis neighborhood, and I walked over to your house to put a letter in your mailbox. I looked through your front door and spotted you working. You saw me, and we commenced some polite chit-chat through your screen door.
    Next, a shifty old man walked by, tugging a blanket around a newborn baby in his arms. Alison, you turned a fire hose on him, because we understood, in that way you understand things in dreams, that he’d stolen the baby from the hospital so he could molest it.
    Then I think Alison got shot in the leg, but the dream gets fuzzier at this point and the leg thing probably has to do with my own recent “issues,” that and a recent screening of Inglorious Basterds.
    Interpretations? Go nuts, everybody!

  119. lh says:

    @ 63 HOH: I don’t know about wallet-ectomies, but I’ve secretly thought about getting a vanity plate with something like 569.42 or one of the V69’s.

    (If you don’t know what we’re talking about look here: http://www.icd9data.com/2010/Volume1/520-579/560-569/569/569.42.htm

    Re: Maple Syrup. It’s been a long time since I tasted sap. I think I’ve reminisced about it here before. [Sigh]

    Re: Bacon. I’m a vegan, my wife is an omnivore. Last night we gave the dog a choice between a plate with a smidge of bacon grease and a plate with a smidge scrambled tofu. (It was a breakfast-food-for-dinner night.) The dog immediately went for the bacon, but a few minutes later I went back to the kitchen and caught her licking the tofu plate. She quickly switched back to bacon with a guilty glance in my direction, apparently trying to conceal her embarrassing veggie-sneaking tendencies.

    [There was small problem in the URL above which prevented the URL from being clicked on. I’ve taken the liberty of correcting the problem. –Mentor]

  120. Kate L, and all of us — yes, it’s illegal to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions. But that doesn’t mean they can’t deny coverage for made-up reasons. And there is no cap on the premiums companies can charge, that got taken out of the bill at the last minute. We have to get coverage from them but they can charge what they want, and the subsidies are not designed to keep track with inflation, for instance. As far as I can tell, it will be up to the consumer to investigate and come up with enough proof to lodge a complaint, because they are not dealing with a governmental agency with channels to follow. they are forced to be a consumer from a massive, obfuscating private industry. Who knows how long it will take for an investigation to run its course? Then, if the insurance company is found to have violated the law, as Michael Moore pointed out, the maximum fine they’ll be assessed is $100 a day. If an insurance company had decided last year that I was a poor risk (as ( demonstably was), illegally denying me coverage and paying $36,000 in fines a year would still be a bargain compared to paying for my needed medical care. Which tactic do you think they’ll choose? Who is going to monitor and stop their behavior — since we are NOT in fact getting government-run health care, despite the rants of the nutwing right.

    The poor and sick will be stalled until they die or give up. Yes, there are a few good portions of this bill — children’s coverage in six months, regional health centers — but mostly it’s an $800 billion give-away to the private industry who were the major donors to Obama’s campaign (seven times more donations to him than to McCain), denial of any health care to undocumented immigrants, and disastrous remifications for women who need legal abortions. It’s a pathetic first step and will actually make things WORSE for a measurable percentage of the population (I’m one of them). It has to be built on, first with a Medicaid buy-in, then Medicare for any who apply.

    The long-term good news is (1) the Republicans will continue to blow their reputations trying to destroy Obama in this area, (2) the lunatic Teabagger contingent will now give up any semblance at legislative routes and turn to the militias and violence they most believe in, which will at last bring in DOJ and law enforcement pushback against their terrorism (though innocent people will die first) and possibly return Fair Use regulation to hate radio, and (3) once people accept they have a “right” to something, in this case the notion of universal health care, over time they will demand the real thing. And elect people who will actually get it for them, instead of selling them out in secret deals.

  121. DeLand DeLakes says:

    …aaaaannnd commence with the despair that anything good will happen in this country, ever. Goodnight everyone!

  122. hairball_of_hope says:

    @lh (#119)

    569.42 = Pain In The Butt… I love it! I’m with you on that, also on V69.4 (Lack of Adequate Sleep).

    @Maggie (#120)

    Agreed… I’ve tried to explain this to a bunch of folks who were oh so thrilled when this disappointing piece of legislation passed. This is what we waited a year for? Oh please. The ensuing year allowed the opposition to pick off select Congressional and Senate reps, and to water the bill down to nothingness.

    Obama should have taken a page out of the FDR and Reagan playbooks, move quickly and decisively when first elected to get as much legislation rammed through as quickly possible in the first few months, while there was still momentum from the general election (the so-called mandate for change) and the opposition hadn’t organized an effective obstructionist assault on change.

    Imagine that you have a pre-existing condition, such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc. You can’t be denied insurance, but the insurance companies can effectively price you out of coverage, legally. Insurance Co. A charges $3000/month, Co. B charges $2900, Co. C charges $3100. They will all claim their rates are based on actuarial data. That’s not choice, that’s extortion. You as the consumer don’t have an option to buy into Medicare/Medicaid. You can be hit with financial penalties for not carrying insurance that far outweigh the penalties the insurance companies pay if they are proven to have denied coverage in the first place. Good luck getting a lawyer to take that case on in the first place, even if you as the sick person have the resources and energy to pursue a case.

    Contrast this to the Federal Employees Health Benefit plan, which covers Obama, Congress, and everyone in Federal employment from Cabinet members to toilet scrubbers and letter carriers. Insurance companies cannot deny coverage for pre-existing conditions under FEHB, but most importantly, they cannot charge different rates depending upon the person’s medical condition. Under FEHB, the consumer can choose from dozens of plans, many of them reasonably priced. Check it out here:


    Obviously the insurance companies aren’t going broke selling insurance to Federal employees, they actively compete for the OPM contracts each year. There’s no reason they can’t offer similar plans and rates to the general public.

    What we really need is an FEHB-type plan, with a Medicaid/Medicare buy-in option.

    And then there’s that damn Hyde Amendment, which restricts legal abortion coverage to FEHB, Medicaid, Medicare recipients. I’m still waiting for the Congressional legislator with the balls submit a bill or amendment which ties abortion restrictions to limitations on erectile dysfunction drugs, which are really the new recreational pharmaceuticals of our times. Watch how soon that amendment will fail, but it would be an interesting debate. Dennis Kucinich, are you listening?

    (… goes back to billing for her 569.42 and V69.4 diagnoses …)

  123. Nel says:

    @HofH (#92)
    I have read “The Man who Tasted Shapes” and was fascinated by it. I’d never thought about my math challenges in that light, though as soon as I read your post I thought, “Of course.” I have always co-mingled colors and numbers, and I do taste in shapes, amusing my oenophile friends during wine tastings no end. “Ah, the chenin blanc is all triangular.” I always wanted to be able to put numbers in my mouth to feel their shape, or rub them on my skin. I was referring above to learning systems which determine which sense one learns best through- auditory, visual, kinesthesia but I’ll play with the synesthesia idea.

  124. Dr. Empirical says:

    What a bunch of glass-half-empty bellyachers!

    Sure, the new rules are far from perfect, but we are undeniably better off than we were a week ago. Let’s build on that.

  125. Aunt Soozie says:

    Acupuncture is good stuff…. try it, you’ll like it. The needles are so fine you, generally, barely feel them going in… and like others have said, the very few times I’ve had any discomfort were related to the doctor hitting points that were very active or sensitive and if the discomfort is too much he would remove the needles from those points. Ginjoint, acupuncture is excellent for post operative pain and discomfort and can get you off of the nasty pain meds quickly.. of course, your insurance may not cover acupuncture…
    Westerners tend to use acupuncture more for chronic conditions… when they have tried everything else to no avail… but it is excellent as a treatment for acute pain… like I said, even if you don’t like needles… these needles are SO fine they aren’t even really needles… there, have I convinced you yet? just try it once and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

  126. --MC says:

    Lh @ 119 — oh, that’s a medical diagnosis number. I thought it was a Dewey Decimal System number. Looked it up — 569 is the Fossil Mammalia section ..
    If I drove, I’d get a plate that had 741.59 on it.

  127. Ginjoint says:

    Sorry Maggie and HoH, I’m still feeling good that SOMEthing was accomplished and the whole thing didn’t go down in flames. I think it’s because I have PTSD from Shrub’s reign – after that, any signs of any policies favorable to quality of life for any humans makes me smile.

    I’m not even quite sure yet how this bill will help me (I’m caught betwixt a rock n’ a hard place when it comes to insurance), but hey, millions of people now have easier access to health insurance. Am I worried about all the pork deals that were tacked onto this bill? Ya, sure, you betcha. But if anyone expected a bill that totally usurped insurance companies, well, I think that’s kind of hopey. But hey? With the momentum of this behind us now?…

    DeLand, I left a couple of voicemail messages for that cop whose name you posted. I was calm, matter-of-fact, businesslike. I never received a call back. I’m shocked, I tell you, simply shocked.

  128. DeLand DeLakes says:

    Thanks for that, Ginjoint. Since it’s pretty clear that the city of Minneapolis has no interest in helping us with this, I’m speaking with a lawyer about the next steps. I hope I will have good news to report in the future.

  129. DeLand DeLakes says:

    I know I’ve started arguments on this blog before, and I want to make it clear that it’s not my intention to be disrespectful–or for that matter to be the object of one of the three-page rants that seem to inevitably result from disagreements in this forum.
    But I say this as a person who worked for health care reform–and was pretty disappointed with the final incarnation of the bill–that the suggestion that this bill exists as a means of stalling the poor and the sick with negligence unto death is more than just hyperbolic. It is in fact EXACTLY what the lunatic fringe was shouting at the top of their lungs in town hall meetings and on the DC lawn, and, yes, in Congress.
    There are many real flaws in the bill that need to be addressed, but to suggest that the bill constitutes a kind of conspiracy between the government and big insurance companies to kill the disadvantaged more efficiently sounds like one of Glen Beck’s wet dreams.
    As for the assertion that the poor will have no help on premiums, that’s not true either, although I admit much more needs to be done: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2010/mar/18/top-10-facts-know-about-health-care-reform/

    Finally, I would agree that poor women are, indeed, worse off under this bill when it comes to reproductive rights–or, should I say, abortion access, because new access to prenatal care will likely do wonders to bring down our abysmal infant and maternal death rates in this country. But I don’t see the evidence that the poor and uninsured are somehow now worse off than they were before. You can argue about their being “forced” to buy health care coverage (again, a script right out of the Right’s playbook), but the fact remains that this bill provides vouchers and opportunities to form health care groups–like what Congress has–to make health care affordable for people who couldn’t get insured before.
    I should add that I say all this as a person with a pretty good health insurance policy–but it’s not one I will have for much longer, and my investment in passing health care reform was personal. If we want changes–and I know I do–then we’ve got to apply political pressure to make them happen. Elf-boy Kucinich is not going to do it for us, especially because he’s anti-choice! http://www.thenation.com/doc/20020527/pollitt

    [Freed from spam-trap limbo. –Mentor]

  130. NLC says:

    To take a slightly different perspective on the Health Care vote, –i.e. with regard to viewing it as hopeful, despite its shortcomings– Paul Krugman made an interesting point.

    The Wingnut/Neocons have good reason to be scared of this victory. Their long-standing technique, of what some have called “Death-Paneling” (i.e. the whipping of their rank and file into a hysteria of fear by ceaselessly repeating trivially obvious lies, lies that don’t even pass the smell test, lies that are, or should be, obvious to anyone over the age of five, combined with the cowardice of the Democrats in refusing to stand up to these lies –think the Swiftboat campaign, or the shameful ruining of Max Cleland, even the “Al Gore claimed to invent the Internet” series of lies; take your pick, there are plenty of examples) has, by and large been very successful for them.

    But this time it didn’t work.

    We might (properly) find short-comings in the Health Care bill that was delivered. But this very fact –the fact that it passed at all– is hopeful in and of itself.

  131. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Nel (#123)

    You’re a multi-synesthete, and a rare one at that; taste/shapes is not as common as the grapheme/color and sound/color varieties. (Full disclosure, I’m in the grapheme group, numbers/colors.)

    The different learning systems tap into our sensory modes and the different neural pathways; Luria’s “Mind of Mnemonist” is a pretty extreme example of a synesthete using the merged sensory info.

    You don’t have to be a synesthete to make use of this, of course. Music happens to be a very powerful way to learn and memorize material. I recall an interview with Charo (yes, *that* Charo, she of the cuchi cuchi) in the 1960s where she discussed how she memorized the US Presidents and other material for her US citizenship exam; at the suggestion of her then-husband Xavier Cugat, she made songs of them (she demoed by singing the US President mnemonic song).

    That’s why we can remember song lyrics from decades ago that we haven’t heard since the 1960s, but can’t remember what we heard or read five minutes ago. It’s also why advertisements have musical jingles, to get us to remember the product.

    I really admire (and envy) teachers who can figure out how to impart material and information to students with different learning styles. It’s not easy.

    Thinking about visual learners, rental daughter #2 is a visual learner. The previously mentioned kvetch session about her chemistry homework involved me giving her a visual mnemonic for the filling order of atomic suborbitals (1s, 2s, 2p, 3s, etc.). I drew a little chart that looked like this:

    2s 2p
    3s 3p 3d
    4s 4p 4d 4f
    5s 5p 5d 5f
    6s 6p 6d
    7s 7p

    Then I drew 45 degree diagonal arrows through the orbital chart, indicating fill order: 1s, 2s, 2p, 3s, 3p, 4s, 3d, 4p, 5s… (I don’t think she’ll need beyond 5s for HS chemistry). Then I wrote the fill electron values, s=2, p=6, d=10, f=14.

    She *got* the fill order once she went through the motions of making the chart, drawing the lines, and then writing down the order and values.

    We went through a few elements to see if she could do the fill order, she did ok (e.g. carbon = 1s^2, 2s^2, 2p^2, silicon = 1s^2, 2s^2, 2p^6, 3s^2, 3p^2).

    I told her to make the litle chart on her scrap paper before the exam begins, before her brain gets all stressed out and nothing looks right. Ditto for writing down all the formulas and constants she has memorized. Let’s see if she can do this in the pressured exam situation.

    Molecular orbitals should be fun…. :(. And no doubt I’ll hear her familar refrain, “But I’m NEVER going to need this, why do I have to learn all this stuff?”

    For the kinesthetic tactile learner, I’m wondering if some of the techniques used to teach math to blind/visually impaired would work for you. A blind acquaintance of mine said she was taught math using something called the Taylor Slate, but she never really *got* math until she learned the abacus. I asked her how higher math was taught, I don’t know the name of the system, but there are some doodads they use to represent the variables and abstractions/functions such as X, square root, exponents, etc., and they get to feel trig functions and graphs via a grid thing with a bendable/malleable piece that serves as the graphed function line.

  132. hairball_of_hope says:

    @MC (#126)

    So much for the 741.59 Dewey clasification (Indo-European graphic works)… I’m perusing the PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature catalogue that arrived in the mail and there’s not one mention of the graphic form in any of the events. Foo.


  133. MaggieGrace says:

    I’ve been doing a LOT of reading and what I’ve discovered is this. For health care specialists, it doesn’t matter what field you are in. Neurology, Heart, Gastronomic, OBGYN…pick a field. We are no longer able to charge a rate that we have in the past.
    Now, keep in mind that I don’t charge! Our patients are billed on their ability to pay. Most can’t pay a dime.
    If I’m reading this right, I might actually make a living. It could be good but it could backfire.
    According to what I have read, we will have to wait until the year 2014 to really see what this reform has done.
    I have mixed feelings, but that’s just me.

    I wonder what our future medical students will do at this point. They have spent a lot of dollars and a lot of hard time to reach their goal.
    Is it worth it to them? You’d have to put yourself in their place to answer that question.
    It’s a long, hard road.

    Forgive me, but I believe in speaking in layman’s terms. Something had to be done. I don’t know if this is it…only time will tell.
    I’m still reading and learning what my role will be. It’s a long bill…and it’s not even complete as of yet.

  134. MaggieGrace says:

    Dinner is done and I just had an afterthought.
    Malpractice insurance….what about that? It is a factor in where a doctor will practice.
    Where I am, it is high and one of the main reasons a specialists will not settle in this area.
    Address that, Mr. President. I’ll be waiting for an answer.

  135. MaggieGrace says:

    Nobody should give me a night off because I get too brazen! I’ve got the night off. I am NOT on call!
    I must confess that I am an American Idol fan. I have been watching the show since day one, along with my 5 sisters and my father.
    Here is a link to my profile on that site:

    Just less than an hour and I’ll know who the top 10 will be. I have been going to their concerts since the very first season.
    I have to admit that no one has reached me until Adam Lambert this past season. He’s gay and he’s proud!
    Shoot me, but we all have a vice!

    I think it’s time to take a break from being too serious.

  136. Judybusy says:

    Deland, thanks for writing what you did. I didn’t have the time/patience. I’m still amazed this got passed!

  137. Andrew B says:

    NLC, 130, agreed. I think the flip side deserves emphasis too: the Democrats, particularly Pelosi and Obama, who looked like they might just fold after the Massachusetts special election, instead showed some backbone and did some politicking and got something done in spite of Republican stonewalling, lies, and hysteria. That is what I hoped to see out of this administration. I never had high hopes for the substance of Obama’s positions, but I thought at least he would fight for them. It looked like even that would prove false, but now maybe he will.

    MaggieGrace, 134, I think health care reform does nothing about that. Malpractice reform has been mostly a Republican issue. Docs might want to ask themselves whether their interests were well-served by having their party posture and isolate itself rather than get involved in writing the legislation. (Some of my family members are doctors, so I don’t say that scornfully.)

  138. --MC says:

    Too right, Andrew. The GOP acted like a cranky toddler. GOP, do you want to help write the legislation? NO! So do you want to help vote for it? NO! Do you want to go sleepy? NO! WAAA!

  139. Betsy says:

    wait….Andrew B #137 I’m confused. When you said,
    “Docs might want to ask themselves whether their interests were well-served by having their party posture…”
    Are you saying that doctors and GOP are the same?
    In my practice of 7 medical providers, 6 of us are staunch liberals. Most of the docs I know outside of my practice are liberals too….

  140. Alex K says:

    Shift of topic, if I may, to a BHO “willed blind spot” that troubles me deeply.

    Sunshine, light, follow the traces where they lead — truth as disinfectant. In Ireland, the United States, and Germany / Austria, the Catholic Church being called to account. Consensus, as I read it, that this is a Good Thing.

    And BHO declines, again and again, to order an enquiry into torture as a US policy tool.

    That’s not change, and it’s no cause for hope.

  141. lh says:

    DD’s not the only one who’s dreams are being affected by this blog. I just had one (it’s 5 am here) wherein I started eating CD’s. I think this came from the “tasting shapes” thread. Most of the CD’s I ate were mine, but I was really worried that I had eaten a Lita Ford album belonging to my wife. I was frantically trying to replace it on eBay when I woke up. She was awake when I woke up so I “confessed.” I was sleepily informed that I was okay as long as I didn’t start eating her vinyl, and even then only destroying vintage Runaways albums would *really* get me in to trouble.

    One other weird thing. In the dream I *had* my mp3 player, and had even remembered to put the earbuds in my pocket.

  142. Nel says:

    #131 HoH- Thanks for the info. I had no idea I was rare. (I don’t talk about my tasting shapes oddities much.) I once said that a wine was trapezoidal and the look my Mother gave me was so shocking, like…”oh, she’s even weirder than I thought. How could that possibly be?” However, about 20 minutes later she said, “I actually get the trapezoidal thing.” So maybe it’s genetic?

    I might look into teaching Math to the blind- I’d love to feel a cosine or an X! Or put a polynomial in my mouth.

    Acupuncture school, which involves a huge amount of memorization in English and Pin Yin/Chinese, brought out the peculiar and distinct learning styles of everyone. My roommate made up songs about all the meridians and he sang them a lot. A friend drew pictures of everything that covered the entire apartment he lived in on huge newsprint. My dearest friend, auditory, and dyslexic, needed a lot of support and I needed to move, so we walked a thousand miles with me saying the info out loud, and feeling them on myself. We must have been a sight. I also drew a lot of pictures.

  143. Dr. Empirical says:

    I think I take the oposite approach to learning and memorization. I’m very verbal, so learning something usually involves writing a description that makes sense to me. But the test to make sure I really have it is to draw a picture, or better yet, a vector diagram. If I know it well enough to communicate it visually, I know I REALLY know it.

  144. Calico says:

    #123 – That is really interesting.
    I’ve heard of people who visualize the alphabet, caps and lower-case, in certain colors – for example, “A” is always red, and “a” is green, for example.

  145. Calico says:

    #142 – In the article I read about the phenomenon with letters being a certain color to some, a Dad and his daughter were arguing about what color a certain letter was – they both had the same manifestation, so perhaps it is indeed genetic.
    I’ll bet you are a very good wine taster as well-I wonder if Robert Parker and the world’s best Sommeliers have the same mind-construct and the 3-dimensional tasting ability that you have.

  146. Andrew B says:

    Betsy, 139, no, doctors and the Republicans certainly aren’t the same. My father is a doc, a life-long Democrat, and by conventional standards a liberal. The Republicans are the doctors’ party in the sense of the previous sentence: “Malpractice reform has been mostly a Republican issue”. Every doctor I know, even those who disagree with the Republicans’ specific proposals, thinks our present system of malpractice law needs to be reformed.

    In addition, although I have to admit it’s just hearsay, my understanding has been that the AMA and other medical groups have tended to give their financial support to Republicans, and the trial lawyers’ organizations have tended to give theirs to Democrats.

  147. --MC says:

    The talk of the colors of letters sent me looking for my spine-sprung copy of “A Voice Through A Cloud” by Denton Welchm and this passage.
    I saw Ray’s coloured alphabet gruesomely transformed. Instead of the bright picture of an apple after ‘A’, I saw printed the agonized, extraordinary noises Ray sometimes made when he tried to say this vowel. And after ‘B’ was no charming picture of a bee sucking the nectar from a Morning Glory flower, but the threatening question, ‘What is “B”?’ repeated several times in print that enlarged itself hysterically with each repetition.

  148. DeLand DeLakes says:

    Ih: Dang, I would marry your wife, if she weren’t already married to you, that is. All of my Runaways albums, are, sadly, on CD, and even then I had to order most of them from Japan, where they knew how to appreciate Joan, Cherie, Sandy, Lita, and Jackie’s sheer awesomeness. (And no, I haven’t seen the movie. The combination of the _Twilight_ cult of perpetual virginity and Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-cherry bomb in the strange bastard that is Kristen Stewart’s Joan Jett was just a little too much cognitive dissonance for me.)

  149. Kate L says:

    Just that I’d throw this in… the name of the defeated anti-health care reform amendment offered in the Kansas legislature was the “Health Care Freedom Act”. I believe that Jon Stewart once said something about how Republicans like to label legislation by what it’s NOT.

    I had a dream. I had a dream. I was walking through the New England snow, but I can’t remember if I was going to see A.B. or a nice lesbian couple I know who retired to Maine.

    A teacher upped and quit in my department, a few days before his 8-week course on historical geology was set to begin. I have never taught this course before, but I was asked to be his replacement. I mentioned this to the man who, years ago, was my historical geology lab instructor, and he asked me “do students actually get credit for taking courses from YOU?”. Wow. I also found out that I’m making less than the man I replaced, even though I have a doctorate and he had a master’s. It looks like the 1970’s came early this year! Hey, did anybody hear President Carter’s speech to the nation last night? I watched it on my brand-new color tv!!!

  150. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Kate L (#149)

    Does the addition of the unexpected historical geology class to your course load now make you at least 50% full-time-equivalent, and thus eligible for health insurance? That might be worth the lesser amount of pay, although I’d be questioning why someone with a lower degree got paid more than you in the first place, no matter what the course load. LGBT discrimination?

  151. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    Quick blog quick hijack — @HoH, did you get to see Hamlet in HD simulcast from the Met this afternoon? It was wonderful! Simon Keenlyside was brilliant, a true singing actor — the sight of him covered in bloody red wine was chilling, and Marlis Petersen’s mad scene was striking. I <3 baritones, I truly do. And Jennifer Larmore made a great Gertrude. I enjoyed the score, and the set was appropriately bleak. Good addition to the repertoire.

  152. Kate L says:

    (hairball #150) Actually, I already put my foot down about health insurance. The university had me at 50% of Full-Time Equivalent, but because the word “faculty” was not in my job title, I was denied benefits, including health insurance. This was back when they needed me to teach two intro classes on 10 days notice (teachers keep quitting from this school, for some reason). I said, give me health insurance or no deal. They caved, and how they activated my benefits was interesting. All they did was add the word “faculty” to my job title. There was no change in my duties or my full-time equivalency, but adding that one word gave me health care. I would have been hard-pressed to afford even my hormone replacement therapy without it (Americans pay the world’s highest prices for precription drugs, the same ones that are sold much more inexpensively abroad).

    I’m working on my lecture slides for my four (count ’em, FOUR) courses next week. I’m doing this from home because our department is too close to the student bar district, and this is collegiate basketball madness time in the USA. I saw three police patrol cars as I walked from my office to my car in the campus parking lot before coming home, and two of them had made stops of cars entering or exiting the bar zone. Anyway, I made it home safely. As I type this, I’m at my kichen table wearing a white flannel nightshirt. I’ve often wondered about the circumstances in which our blog community regulars post. Right now, that’s mine!

  153. Anne Lawrence says:

    Should you wish to fight for the American military, new rules installed by Robert Gates have made it more difficult to dismiss homosexual soldiers according to the BBC. Congratulations. I do not approve of the military or its designated purpose, but this is still progress of a sort. If only Clinton’s policy could just be repealed…

    (Dunno how to make links here)

  154. Ian says:

    @KateL: I’m sitting at a table, drinking Peppermint Green tea in an IKEA pot, sweetened by Agave Nectar, which promises to be an “all-natural sweetener”. I already don’t buy anything with aspartame in it. Apart from the mental health risks, Donald Rumsfeld owns shares in the company that makes it, which is enough to send you mad anyway.

    @AnneLawrence: I remember Mo’s rant to Thea about Pride in the early 90s[?] wondering why any LGBTQXYZ person would even want to be in the military. I’d never be accepted into the military on physical grounds anyway, but I distinctly remember when the ECHR forced Britain to accept LGBT soldiers, I was so disappointed as there went my cast-iron excuse!

  155. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Therry (#151)

    I listened to the Met Opera simulcast on WQXR, and I wondered why Renee Fleming told Simon to take a shower after the interview, until Margaret Juntwait explained he was *dripping* in what looked like blood. The mad scene was great, especially since Petersen was a last-minute replacement for Natalie Desay. During her intermission interview, she said she rehearsed with Met coaches using Skype because she was in Europe until two days ago. The wonders of technology brought the HD simulcast to you and the Met coaches to her.

    I like that the Met is doing some rarely-heard operas, even if I don’t like them all. It was getting so tiresome to hear the usual Puccini, Rossini, Verdi, Bizet, and of course, Wagner. Next year’s Ring is supposed to be a new and interesting production, not that I would sit through the Ring marathon, it’s just too damn long and I don’t really like Wagner that much.

    Actually, I never understood the Ring at all until I heard the late great Anna Russell explain it in her own inimitable way, “I’m not making this up, you know!” If you’ve never heard Russell’s explanation/synopsis of Der Ring (and it’s dead-accurate), get a copy of one of her albums and start howling. Also very funny are her DIY Gilbert and Sullivan, and the bagpipe routine (“A most unsanitary instrument!”).

  156. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Kate L (#152)

    I thought about you with the two Kansas teams in the men’s basketball bracket, I was wondering which of the two you rooted for (that is, if you had a preference at all). KU got knocked out (shocker for the #1 seed), so now you don’t have to choose.

    Circumstances: Semi-horizontal, WQXR playing in the background, barefoot, in sweats and T-shirt, about to make some tea in a large mug. No sweetener, I don’t sweeten tea or coffee (with occasional exceptions for good honey in tea if I’m sick).

  157. Lurk-A-Lot says:

    @ Bechadelic1 #55: Enid Blyton – my best friend when I was a child.

    @ Kat #115: In one of the Little House on the Prairie books, Laura Ingalls Wilder, described cooling boiled maple syrup on snow packed into patty pans. Don’t know why this would be changed to molasses on the television series.

    @ Ian #154: Agave Nectar is an all natural sweetner. It comes from a cactus and is considered a whole food. It’s main virtue is its low glycolic rating. However, it is extremely high in fructose.

  158. Renee S. says:

    Saw a great performance by Tret Fure this evening.

  159. Bechadelic1 says:

    @ Lurk-A-Lot # 157
    Her books were great friends with my imagination. The really sad part is (and bear in mind I’m not white and I grew up nowhere near Europe or America), that though conditioned and educated through various media and personal experiences, on racial prejudice, and bigotry, I don’t remember Enid Blyton’s books being a part of that conditioning or education. It was strange to grow up and learn about some of the controversy surrounding her stories and characters.

    Needless to say, I never went back to re-read them and see if they would sound / feel different to me. Part of me feels guilty for protecting her that way and yet, I don’t want to change what I remember – the wonderful way she could transport me with words to whole different worlds.

  160. i filled out my census form this evening. name, age, race, address, do i own or rent, am i married, have i given birth. very little of it was my core identity — even the name was one most of the people who know me wouldn’t recognize. nothing about what i’ve really done on this earth — the women i have loved, the child of another womb i helped raise, my class identity and refusal to pursue upward mobility, my race traitorship, my passion for language — no boxes to check for the way i have defied this culture’s definition of white trash female. what will a researcher 100 years from now be able to glean from this meager record? no wonder i’m driven to write, otherwise i’d be invisible to all time.

  161. Kate L says:

    (hairball #156)

    Oh, hairball…last night I should have been working all alone in my creepy department building on campus, the one where the wooden floorboards creak in sequence like someone’s sneaking down the hallway to my office door when I know I’m there all alone… but no. My building was too near the local student bars for comfort on a night when there might have drunken riots in the streets. That’s basically what happened during the Saint Patrick’s Day “celebration” a few weeks ago. What do the irish think of Americans turning their patron sain’t day into a drunken mob scene? But, no, the Final Four flows unvexed once more to the sea, minus any team from Kansas. As it was, I fell asleep on my sofa in front of the television, which was on all night. I kept waking up long enough to see bits and pieces of each episode. I woke up this morning with the impression have having spent the night with D.A. Jack McCoy.

  162. Kate L says:

    “i” tried to proof and correct my “typ’s” in the last posting as it posted, but it was too late. To more fully answer hairball’s question, having earned my doctorate at KU and my undergraduate degree at K-State, I did wonder what would happen out here if KU and K-State were both in the championship game.

  163. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Kate L (#162)

    In localities with professional sports teams involved in competition, the colloquial name of the event usually refers to some mode of transportation between the two, e.g. the Subway Series in New York when any of the baseball teams plays one another (don’t forget there used to be three major league baseball teams here, the Giants were originally from NY and the Dodgers from Brooklyn). I guess a game between KU and K-State would be the I-70 Smackdown, the Battle of I-70, or something similar. You’d hit the alma mater trifecta (sort of)… the Final Four games are being played in Indiana. Yeah, Indianapolis not Bloomington, but close enough.

    Of course, there is the precedent set by the 1989 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics, originally nicknamed The Battle of the Bay Bridge or the Bay Bridge World Series. A 6.9 earthquake hit the area minutes before Game 3 of the Series, resulting in major damage to the Bay Area and causing part of the Bay Bridge roadway to collapse. The 1989 World Series is often called the Earthquake World Series.

    (… and there is no joy in Mudville, for Kansas has struck out …)

  164. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Kate L (#161, 162)

    I liked the typo “sain’t”. Perhaps it’s short for “say it ain’t so.”

    An Irish colleague of mine says that St. Pat’s Day is the day that all the amateurs come out. He also says they can be easily identified, they are drunk. A real Irishman can hold his liquor, according to him.

    I’ve observed the amateurs are often vomiting, and whatever it is, it’s typically green. Unless they’ve been drinking wheatgrass juice, this is a sure sign of an amateur.

    (… goes off looking for a Pied Piper to drive away the snakes infesting Congress …)

  165. Alex K says:

    @Ian / 154: Yes yes yes. Agave syrup. Peppermint tea. IKEA.

    So generic.

    What Kate (and many other enquiring minds) want, wanted, to know: ARE YOU WEARING PANTS ? ? ?

    And if so, boxers or tightywhities?

    And if boxers, in what pattern?

    Thank you.

  166. Acilius says:

    Basketball talk even here. The missus stayed up til 2 this morning watching the Gonzaga Lady Bulldogs lose a game and thus end their run in the women’s tournament. Women’s college teams differ from men’s college teams in that they actually play basketball, while the men content themselves with staging all-in wrestling matches. The tournament is virtually the only time you can see iwomen’s basketball on basic cable, so we’ve been watching lots of it. I’d have been watching last night, but at 9 PM I cease being a fan of any sport and begin to crave sleep.

  167. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Acilius (#166)

    Agree with you on the differences between the women’s vs. men’s games… the women play real basketball, setting picks, rebounding, and good ball control, vs. the showboating and dunks of the men’s game, along with their over-acted falls for imaginary fouls.

    I’m shocked the Tennessee Lady Vols lost to Baylor. I was hoping for one of those classic Final Fours with Tennessee facing the UConn Lady Huskies in either the semis or the finals.

  168. Kat says:

    Hairball, you should rent “Sing Faster: the Stagehand’s Guide to the Ring Cycle.” It’s awesome.

    I remain skeptical that a new Ring will actually be interesting, if only because as far as I know, there’s never been a production of a Wagner opera that actually involved anything more than “stand here. sing. lather, rinse, repeat.”

    Since the Ring is based on mythology, I always wish that directors would stop being so damned literal with the interpretations.

  169. Kate L says:


    I should add that the universities here in Kansas do have thriving women’s basketball programs. And, a name for a KU – K-State rivalry? The Wheatgrass Showdown!

    (Kate L looks at the cable television schedule for next weekend, hoping that Detective Olivia Benson will be featured in one of those all-night Law & Order marathons my subconscious seems to find so comforting. Or, has that dreamy Jack McCoy caused me to switch teams at this late stage in my life???) 😮

  170. Dr. Empirical says:

    I’m just home from watching the First Lady of Philly Theater, Mary Martello, perform her one-woman show, Happily Ever After, in which she provides ample justification for calling her the First Lady of Philly Theater.

    I’m looking forward to seeing Kathleen Turner next month as Molly Ivins in Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins. No dis to Ms. Turner, but Mary Martello could play the Hell out of that part.

  171. hairball_of_hope says:

    @Dr. E (#170)

    Whoa! A show about the late great Molly Ivins?!?! Gotta see that. It’s in Philly? When? Where?

    @Kat (#168)

    Wagner based Der Ring des Nibelungen on the same Norse mythology that Tolkien used as the basis of The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings, but I much prefer Tolkien to Wagner. And then there are the politics of Wagner and his descendents… ugh.

    His grandson Wolfgang died about a week ago. If ever there was someone who took the score literally into the lather/rinse/repeat cycle, it was Wolfgang’s stagings at Bayreuth, which his obituaries politely called “conservative.”


    @Kate L (#169)

    Perhaps it could be called “The Yellow Brick Road Showdown,” I-70 standing in for the famed Oz path. The image of over-alcoholized college kids puking wheatgrass-green on the sidewalk just doesn’t do it for me.

  172. Ian says:

    @Alex K(165):


    Blue and white stripes.

    I missed out the string vest, the bottle of Jack and the silk kimono that’s actually from Japan, the macho spit on the wooden floorboards as I return to the keyboard once more to extract the bitter poison from my soul and attempt to transform it into hard-edged, blade-thrusting prose that will turn the literary world upside down.

  173. Dr. Empirical says:

    Kick-Ass patriot is running through April 25th at the Suzanne Roberts Theater.


    I’m planning to go on the 15th.

  174. Lurk-A-Lot says:

    @ Bechadelic1 # 159

    Same here: I’m not white, not originally from North America etc.

    You know what the criticisms of Enid Blyton are, I know what the criticisms of her are. Makes no difference to my childhood, and I believe, I can make an argument against several well respected authors along similar lines.

    Tolkein, one of my favourites, used asians as a model for the way orcs look because he thought asians were the most unattractive race.

    Gotta say, if ol’ J.R.R. were around today, I’d like to tell him that nothing in the history of our world resembles his elves and their world (based on Celtic people, I think) more than the beauty and graceful esthetic of the Chinese and their art.

    The one criticism that I do agree with is, the simplistic style doesn’t hold up to re-reading when you are an adult, like say… L.M. Montgomery (I’m thinking that I’d like to have the Ann of Green Gables series with me in my coffin [if I were to look at my burial like a pharoah, I would add a few more beloved items]).

    I took this from the wikipedia entry on Enid Blyton:

    Blyton is the fifth most translated author worldwide: over 3544 translations of her books were available in 2007 according to UNESCO’s Index Translationum;[1] she overtook Lenin to get the fifth place and is behind Shakespeare.

    Apparently, children know what they like.

  175. Dr. Empirical says:

    I’m ashamed to admit, I’m not familiar with Blyton at all. Some of the stuff I loved as a kid, like The Three Investigators, doesn’t hold up on revisiting. Others, like The Phantom Tollbooth are like catching up with an old friend. I suspect that for the current generation, Harry Potter will fall into the latter category.

    Kids authors I think stand the test of time:

    L Frank Baum- hopelessly old-fashioned, but so charming I forgive him.

    Lewis Carrol- So much better than ANY of his adaptations.

    Edward Eager- As excrutiatingly polite as anything from E. Nesbitt, but so much more fun.

    Robert Heinlein- His “juvenile” stories always respected his readers.

    Jean Craighead George- Iread My Side of the Mountain over and over in my early teens.

    I’m sure I’ll think of more the moment I hit “post”, but I’d love to see some recs from this crowd. A great kids book is a joy forever!

  176. --MC says:

    Lewis Carroll, sure. The 1933 “Alice In Wonderland” film is out on a new DVD, a clean clean print (I had only seen it at the old Neptune, a print that looked like it had been stored in a gravel bed) .. slow moving, but you get Edward Everett Horton as the Mad Hatter, WC Fields as Humpty Dumpty, Cary Grant as the Mock Turtle .. the end of the film is taken from the second Alice book and is frighteningly effective. The image of the White Queen’s head sinking into a teapot is like something out of David Lynch.

  177. Kat says:

    @ Hairball (#171),
    Agreed on all points. I think a large part of the problem with interpretations of Wagner is the sort of cult of personality that sprang up around the composer (and that his ethically-and-morally-very-questionable descendants have fostered)

    It’s his fault, by the way, that we have to sit quietly and in the dark during performances. He wanted opera to be like church.

    @Dr. E (175),
    I love Phillip Pullman’s “Sally Lockhart” trilogy (Ruby in the Smoke, Shadow in the North, Tiger in the Well). I first read them in about 5th grade, and have re-read them every couple of years since. They’re Victorian murder mysteries and have a young female protagonist who kicks major butt.

    His other (more famous) trilogy is “His Dark Materials,” which is also very good. Fantasy, this time. The first one, called “The Golden Compass” in the US (“The Northern Lights” in the UK) was made into a movie a year or so ago.

    When I was in middle school, I read a lot of Cynthia Voigt, but I have no idea how well those would hold up to adult readings.

    One of my favorite books from middle school, though, has the unfortunate title “Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes.” It’s by Chris Crutcher, is set, I think, in the mid-80’s. The themes are friendship, child-abuse, fat acceptance, religious intolerance, gay rights…..Like I said, unfortunate title, but really quite good.

    As a younger child, I loved Frances Hodgson Burnett, who wrote The Secret Garden and the Little Princess. I’m not sure there’s much need to reread them as an adult, but somewhere I do have the lovely hardcover illustrated editions.

    Wheeeee! Books! One of my favorite topics!!

    If we’re going all the way to picture books, my current favorite kids’ author is Mo Willems. His most famous books are probably the Pigeon ones (Don’t let the pigeon drive the bus, Pigeon wants a hot dog), but my favorites are the Knuffle Bunny books and Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed.

    okay, maybe I should think about, you know, showering and going to work and stuff…..

  178. Dr. Empirical says:

    Kat, the only author on your list with whom I’m familiar is Pullman. I just read The Golden Compass a month or two ago. My girlfriend is currently reading the second book in the series. I’ll read it when she’s done. She’ll be glad to learn of the Sally Lockhart series, as she enjoys murder mysteries. I’m not as big a fan.

  179. Pam I says:

    Philip Pullman’s latest, adult, book is out in the UK this week. The Canongate Myths series has a whole string of established writers revisiting traditional stories – eg M Atwood on The Penelopiad (vs Odyssyus’ account). Pullman has taken on the gospels. ‘The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ’ has brought him dozens of letters already telling him he will burn in hell. Go, Phil baby.

  180. Bechadelic1 says:

    @ Lurk-A-Lot # 174
    Your comment reminds me of why they say ‘ignorance is bliss’, because that’s the state I was in, when I read JRR’s books.

    I read ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’ just a couple of years ago, after watching the first in the trilogy of movies. So my idea of orcs was already deeply colored by Hollywood’s rendition of them. I had no idea of Tolkein’s philosophy of ‘beauty’ and strangely I must admit, even knowing that now, more than a feeling of indignation and anger, I am wondering what image I might have bestowed on the orcs, in my own imagination, minus the help of Art Directors and Filmmakers. I am confident that it would have been nothing close to any Asian or non-Asian – he made them sound so inhuman – so he probably failed himself in portraying his own bigotry.

    I’ve never read the ‘Ann of the Gables’ series, so I’m going to put that in my notebook and look for it the next time I visit a bookstore.

    @ Dr. Empirical # 175
    If you’re ashamed of not having read just one famous kiddy author, I don’t know just how low to hang my head in shame 🙂 I haven’t read any of the books you mentioned, nor have I read any that Kat mentioned. I did see ‘The Golden Compass’ movie though.

    For me it was a common reading progression that I went through – it started with ‘The Faraway Tree’, ‘Noddy’ and other stories and series by Enid Blyton, went on to ‘The Famous Five’ by her also, a little later it was ‘The Secret Seven’ and then a deviation into ‘The Three Investigators’ and the ‘Nancy Drew’ and ‘Hardy Boy’ series and I think at that point we started to actually grow up and everything changed. In between there was a smattering of local lore and and global fables, fairytales and other such interesting and scary stuff. And of course, comic books – always comic books. I still read comic books.

    @ Kat # 177
    I’m making more notes. The ‘Sally Lockhart’ trilogy sounds fascinating.

  181. Ginger Pye/Pinky Pye, The Moffats, and The Bully of Barkham Street are all books I read as a kid which not only held up to time but revealed profound thinking about class and bullying — the first two by Eleanor Estes, the latter by Mary Stolz. Estes also wrote The Hundred Dresses, one of the best books about girlhood and class ever written.

    Mistress Masham’s Repose is fabulous for all time, by T.H. White.

    I was also hooked on the so-called boy’s adventures by Troy Nesbit (The Indian Mummy Mystery, Sand Dune Pony, The Jinx of Payrock Canyon) which were ripping good yarns but had more cultural depth than most. Turns out, Troy Nesbit was a pseudonym used by a leftie named Franklin Folsom.

    One beloved series which is now painful to read are Booth Tarkington’s Penrod books. He captures small-town childhood so beautifully, but the shocking “humorous” racism interwoven through it made them books I could not pass on to my own daughter.

  182. NLC says:

    Lurk-A-Lot #174:
    Tolkein, one of my favourites, used asians as a model for the way orcs look because he thought asians were the most unattractive race.

    LAL: I’d be interested in following this up. Can you give a source for this?

  183. Dr. Empirical says:

    Bechadelic1, add The Phantom Tollbooth to your list. It concerns a young boy’s quest to restore Rhyme and Reason to their rightful thrones in the kingdom of Wisdom. It bogs down a bit at the end with Lessons to be Learned and all that crap that grown-ups go on about, but it’s as wonderfuly imaginative as The Wizard of Oz or Alice’s Adventures Under Ground.

  184. Bechadelic1 says:

    @ Dr. Empirical # 183
    Just scurried off for my notebook and pen. Will definitely check that out. I may even have an adult need for the lessons and morals of that story, given that I’m currently wondering why ‘rhyme and reason’ are not ruling in several aspects of my personal and professional life 🙂

  185. --MC says:

    #183: comix content: the illustrations for “The Phantom Tollbooth” were by Jules Feiffer.
    Nobody’s mentioned Louise Fitzhugh? A book of hers that actually helped me is “Nobody’s Family Is Going To Change” ..

  186. Ian says:

    I used to love the Faraway Tree series when I was growing up. Sadly, Enid Blyton is not one of the authors whose work has transferred well into adulthood. The Secret Garden did. And Susan Cooper’s Dark Is Rising sequence which I still re-read on occasion.

  187. Kat says:

    Maggie, the Moffats!! Yes! My mom was a big fan, and managed to find copies for me with I was a kid. I bet it’s long out of print now….

    Every time I make apple pie I think of the Moffats, because of the scene when the girl is helping her mother peel apples, and her mother can get long ribbons of peel, but the girl can only get chunks with apple flesh still attached, so she pops them in her mouth…

    Bechadelic, I went through Nancy Drew in about the 2nd grade, so I had to find lots of other things to keep me occupied for the rest of childhood.

    Thanks, Pam I, I’ll look out for the newest Pullman to come out here (or just order from British Amazon). He got all sorts of sh*t for the Dark Materials, too, since it’s essentially about a couple of kids who try to dismantle God…

  188. freyakat says:

    One of my special childhood books was “Loretta Mason Potts” by Mary Chase. When I was 7 years old I saw my mother reading it in bed, a clever thing to do (not that I really needed an incentive to read books) because I thought it was a book for adults, which made me especially eager to ‘borrow’ it. I LOVE this book — my childhood copy is right next to me –, but I have a horrible feeling that it’s not very easy to find.

  189. Andrew B says:

    Did anybody else like Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain books? X, The Black Cauldron, The Castle of Llyr, Taran Wanderer, Y. I can’t even remember the names of the first and last books in the series, but I loved them when I was a kid. They are retellings of Welsh legend, as you might guess from “Llyr”. I have never returned to them as an adult, so I have no idea how they would stand up. I’d be interested in hearing if anybody else read them and if so what you thought of them.

  190. Dr. Empirical says:

    I’ve read the first two Prydain books, Andrew, but only as an adult. Good stuff, but of course they’re no Phantom Tollbooth. I have some of the others, but I’m waiting to get them all before I start reading. I’ve also read several of Alexander’s non-Prydain books and enjoyed them. He lives near here, I think.

    @–MC#185: I got Jules Feiffer to sign my copy of Phantom Tollbooth! He turned up his nose a bit at the tattered and yellowed tome, but I explained that it was the copy my great uncle gave me when I was eight, and since he was the smartest man in the world(TM) I could never replace it with a mere mortal edition.

  191. Lurk-A-Lot says:

    @NLC #182

    I don’t remember where I first learned about the Tolkien/orc thing, but you can find a reference to it in one of his letters. Try googling Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, #210.

    @Dr Empirical #175

    As a child:
    * Richard Scarry
    *Enid Blyton:
    The Magic Faraway Tree,The Wishing Chair (anything with Fairies,Pixies,Brownies etc.)
    Mallory Towers, The Twins at St Clair (the boarding school series)
    The Famous Five, The Secret Seven, The Five Findouters (a group of children solving mysteries AND having lots of picnics- which are described in full detail – along the way).

    – Fairy tales
    – Comics- My grandfather was the largest importer of comics in the small developing country(which was still under British rule, at this time) I come from – so every comic available in the store!
    – Little Women

    A bit later on:

    Judy Blume in the 70’s
    S.E. Hinton
    The Cat Ate my Gymsuit etc. by Paula Danziger
    The Pigman-Paul Zindel
    A Hero ain’t Nothing but a Sandwich – Alice Childress
    Dinky Hocker Shoots Smack -M.E. Kerr
    Tomboy – Hal Elson
    The Metamorphosis by Ovid-discovering the Greek myths
    by way of the Roman poet
    Bagthorpes Unlimited- Helen Cresswell

    Much later on,
    The Little House on the Prairie series,
    L.M. Montgomery

    And lots more that I can’t think of right now…