Friday, April 30, 2004

I put some links on my blog this morning. I linked to all of your blogs and a few sites of interest. I linked to the Burning Man site because I secretly would like to do something like that just once. And to think -- my voter registration card still says "Republican" on it.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

What the heck is up with my banner ads? Early this morning I logged on from home and was happy to see ads for commercial dumpster rental services. Now I'm back to having "help for seniors" displayed up there. Damn! How humiliating! Well, maybe it's not that inaccurate. I have had a false-alarm cardiac scare and a false-alarm cancer scare in the past three years -- and I'm only 41.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Dangit! I want to go diving. Now!

I last went underwater last summer, when I was at a conference in South Carolina. I had a kayaking tour scheduled for the built-in day off, so I was forced to play hooky for a day to go out on the dive boat. I was kind of stoked because I had just picked up the items I had purchased on lay-away. I had my Zeagle buoyancy compensator, my Dive Rite computer, and, best of all, my Poseidon regulator. Poseidons are Swedish and expensive. I like them because they have a powerful, easy airflow, and I'm a heavy breather underwater. Anyhow, I hooked everything up to the tank and -- low and behold -- the Poseidon was leaking air. Fortunately, the captain had a spare regulator onboard, so I just used it.

The dives that day were kind of a bummer. I lost a lot of dive time due to an informal diving protocol requiring snorkels. I didn't bring my snorkel along; they really aren't used in the Gulf of Mexico. Then my dive buddy, who was even less experienced than I was, panicked when he couldn't see the anchor line running from the boat to the bottom, so he surfaced and went back to the boat. I had been descending free-form about 2-3 feet from the line, something that isn't done there. Again, I was following my training in the Gulf. The second dive went much better, and I saw some pretty little fishies.

The previous summer, I dove in Lake Powell, Arizona. That was interesting. Lake Powell is a desert canyon that was dammed and filled with water. Diving there is kind of like hiking, except you're underwater and there are fish. It was neat swimming inside little mountain canyons and ravines.

Anyway, I've got a hankering to go down again. But I have neither the time nor the money right now, so I'll have to content myself with taking that kayak in the garage on its maiden voyage.

Monday, April 26, 2004

I came across something interesting in my meditation workbook last night. The author was discussing how sleepiness interferes with meditation practice. According to the author, some people cannot stay awake during meditation because they have feelings they are unable to face head-on. When their minds start to calm and those feelings emerge, they simply fall asleep. My wife thought this was obvious, and she reminded me that she occasionally sleeps off the blues. I know that some depressed people sleep long hours, but I hadn't made the connection between depression and sleep as a subconscious avoidance mechanism until last night.

Recently I've reflected some on the topic of anger. A relative is going through a period of intense and totally justifiable rage at the moment. My instinct here is totally the opposite of how I tend to be. I try to smooth everything over with everybody and keep things calm, pretty much at any price. In this relative's situation, however, my instinct is to be a sounding board and to help him vent vicariously via sending videos of my favorite televeision show. I may even drop my copy of Fight Club into the next care package. Reflecting on this, I realize that there are times we need -- even deserve -- to be angry with others.

Of course, I love everybody who reads my little blog.

Friday, April 23, 2004

I went jogging along the riverfront and through the French Quarter at noon today. Tied up at the dock is a gorgeous 4-masted sailing vessel from the Spanish Navy. The ship is steel and not wood, but it's still a sight to behold. One funny moment -- I overheard someone asking what country the ship is from. There is a huge Spanish flag on the stern. Oh well. The sailors were in their dress whites and disembarking for shore leave when I went past. Woo hoo! Sailors on leave in the Quarter. Lock your doors; hide your women (if the occasional reader of this blog who lives down there is reading this post, beware!). Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum! That sounds kind of good on a Friday afternoon, come to think about it.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Another year, another prostate exam. Well, actually, it's been two years and a blown-off PSA. So I get to the clinic and the nurse looks at my chart. She moved me to the ultrasound room, "just in case." Great! Cattle-prod time!

I had a prostate biopsy in August 2001 for what turned out to be a benign growth. Eight slices into the prostate through the anal wall -- and with no anasthetic. Soooooo painful. After it was done, the nurse brought me one stinking Tylenol.

So the new urologist comes in. He examined me and found nothing at all unusual. I don't need to do any more PSAs or prostate exams until I'm 50 years old. Hooray!

Middle age kind of sucks.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Today I have google banner ads for LDS online dating services. To hell with that, I say. If I'm going to sign up for a dating service, I want someone who will put out on the first date.

What's that, hon? Oh, I'm just discussing the Iraq situation with my fellow bloggers here. Nothing interesting. Wait, don't read that. Uh, no, I'm not thinking of signing up for anything. It's all hypothetical, you see. Why are you throwing books at me? Owww! That's my head!

Saturday, April 17, 2004

I find myself feeling conflicted about a political tug-of-war that will affect my children. On one side is the residential facility my oldest son attends (which is a good place) and all other residential centers (most of which are bad). They've historically had the upper hand with the state legislature. On the other side are the advocates of community-based care, who want to empty the residential facilities and provide supports for the MR/DD population to live at home.

I have one child in each situation right now. There is a bill in the legislature that would phase out all of the facilities and move the residents into community-based situations. The bill also would also open more "slots" for kids on the MR/DD services waiting list (it's about 8-9 years long now). Between medications, respite care/personal care attendants, and other costs, raising autistic kids is extremely expensive. We get very minimal state-supported services at home for our younger son right now; the full array of MR/DD services is probably about 6 years away. Older son's residential services, OTOH, are fully funded via the Medicaid program. We had anticipated a 4-6 year wait to get him into his facility; however, their waiting list suddenly moved. They have a long waiting list there too, as there's a moratorium in place on expansion of residential treatment facilities.

My concerns about the bill are these: 1) it would close down the good facilities along with the bad ones; 2) the legislature would commit to opening slots for kids on the waiting list, but as the kids coming out of institutional care would suck up all the money, the new slots would not be funded, making the wait even longer; 3) the community-care agencies are already understaffed and their employees are poorly paid, and there would not be adequate assistance available for everybody to have their needs met; and 4) local school systems will be unprepared to provide educational and ancillary services to the wave of MR/DD kids that will hit them. Fortunately, my fourth concern is inapplicable to my own local school system.

I have always leaned towards community-based care so that we can keep our kids at home. However, I see my oldest son doing well in his new setting. Moreover, my suspicion is that the groundwork hasn't been done here to really make that work and that the community-care advocates are seeing pie in the sky as far as funding goes. On the other hand, the advocates of facility care need to realize that the national trend is moving in the opposite direction and that many families would like to have their loved ones out of the institutional system. I would hope that some kind of compromise could be reached that would keep the good facilities open and allow those who wish to transition back into the community to do so.

We should know in the next few weeks how this political battle will shape up and shake out. I'll probably be writing to my legislators about this. They'll be baffled, as I've already taken both sides of this issue in letters to them in previous legislative sessions, albeit with qualifications.

Politics. Shit.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

We had quite an interesting Easter weekend. DW and I decided that our boys needed to see each other after 6 weeks apart, so yesterday we packed up Younger Son and a load of Easter presents and drove to Alexandria, LA. YS and I played hard in the motel pool and at McDonald's last night. This morning we drove to Older Son's school for Easter Mass. I expected that YS would be ga-ga over seeing OS again, but that OS would ignore YS. I was half right -- they both totally ignored each other the whole time we were together.

YS really wanted to put his hands on the crucifix that was carried in the processional. He ran over to the door before the processional began, then tried to run up the center aisle during mass itself. Nobody minded him running around, as the service was designed for MR/DD children. YS also tried to get to the keyboard, but DW stopped him in time. OS stayed quietly with me the whole time. The reading for the service didn't come from the scriptures, but from a large picture book about Easter. As the nun read from the book, I could swear I heard OS say "Jesus" a couple of times during a string of his jargon. My favorite part of the service was when the priest walked up and down the center aisle with a mic, letting the kids say whatever they wanted. The music was nice, and one of the female students sang a couple of simple solos. It was the first church service we've been to together as a family since May 2001, and maybe the first one ever to hold the kids' interest the whole time.

After church, we went to WalMart and McDonalds, then back to the school. OS sobbed and cried when we got back, but he put my hand on the seatbelt buckle and said "bye-bye, car!" to let me know he wanted the separation to go quickly. I really hope that the crying and sobbing phase goes away quickly. He's fine 10 minutes after we leave, but it kind of leaves a hole in my heart to see that. The dorm mom thinks our departures are a little harder for OS because he's much closer to us than some of the other kids are to their parents. She's nice, that gal.

Friday, April 09, 2004

A group is doing something akin to the stations of the cross outside my window right now. We just watched Jesus surrounded by Roman centurions, standing on the back steps of the U.S. Court of Appeals building. I wondered if someone was going to deliver some kind of anti-judicial diatribe, but I didn't hear anything like that. I only heard singing about Jesus and peace. My impression was that the courthouse steps were just a convenient place for the group to do their thing.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

This morning I was having a relatively pleasant drive into work when I was struck by a stark reminder of world affairs. The sky is cloudless and blue; the swamp is greening up; and traffic wasn't too bad. I had to bail from the Interestate and cut through the funky Bywater and Marigny neighborhoods, then through the French Quarter. I was in the midst of a neighborhood known for its laissez-faire attitude towards sobriety, sexuality, and a whole host of other issues (btw, not everybody who lives in N.O. is a besotted libertine). I turned from Dauphine Street onto Tolouse Street and looked straight ahead. Moving parallel to the river was a parade of sand-colored armored personnel carriers onboard rail cars, heading east. Presumably those APCs are destined for service in Iraq. Behind the parade of APCs was a festively decked-out riverboat. The contrast was striking to me, anyway.

Monday, April 05, 2004

DW and I made an emotionally draining visit to our Older Son yesterday. The ride up was unpleasant due to Younger Son's tantrum after we left him with the sitter -- his behavior was so bad that we turned around to go back. However, he calmed down in time for us to turn back around again. All the turning around made for an unpleasant ride for the first hour or so.

We arrived in Alexandria, LA, after 4+ hours in the car, only to find that O.S.'s dorm was on an outing. We hung around for an hour or so before somebody explained exactly where they were and when they would be back. We drove to the restaurant, only to find no kids. We went back to the school and the kids were being unloaded from the van. O.S. saw us and began crying. The crying didn't help us feel any less guilty for placing him there, which might have been his point.

O.S. looks pretty good, but he's lost enough weight that he actually needs a belt now. Neither of the belts we sent with him were in his closet and his pants were falling down. I made a hoo-ha about the situation and the trainer who came on after the shift change was apologetic. She got busy looking for a belt right away. Meanwhile, I dug out some shorts with a drawstring and put them on O.S.

O.S. began crying again when we got back to the school after our little outing. I had to change his clothes due to a poopy incident at McDonalds. DW told me that while I was in the bathroom trying to figure out what to do with the dirties, some of the other boys in the dorm came over and hugged O.S. to help calm him. One misconception about autistic children is that they are incapable of showing affection and positive emotion. I've not seen that with my boys, and we're seeing quite the opposite in the dorm at the St. Mary's school. Another example -- yesterday, one boy who is considered to be extremely autistic walked up and shook my hand when I called him by his first name.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Y.S.'s sitters took him to the beach in Mississippi. We had taken him there Saturday, so he's getting bronzed for summer. One of the sitters told us that they took Y.S. to his favorite beach spot, then took him for french fries at a Burger King that's right on the beach. When they finished there, he made it clear that he wanted to go back to the beach, so they took him to a different spot. At first, they wanted to take him to the park on the way back to our town, but when one of the sitters noted the time and said it was time to go home, Y.S. reportedly said "home!" If that happened, it's a miracle. He's been totally nonverbal up 'til now.

Got back just in time for "The Sopranos." Nobody got whacked, unless you count Tony's cars. Tony himself totaled one, and Christopher shot the other one up in a fit of rage.

Friday, April 02, 2004

The blogosphere sure is an interesting place. One of my blogging coworkers recently discussed the statistical significance of some poll numbers that a political blog posted to demonstrate that a certain Senate Minority Leader is in political trouble. My coworker is apolitical, from what I can gather, so he had no ax to grind. His discussion was more mathematic than political, and was sparked by a law professor's claim (on the professor's blog) that the poll numbers posted on the political blog were insignificant. The political blog is citing my coworker's discussion to make the point that the candidate's poll slippage may be significant. So it's a closed-end loop -- blog 2 questions blog 1, and in turn is questioned by blog 3, which is cited by blog 1 to support blog 1's original point.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Last night, I watched next week's Sopranos preview again, read some posts in the Television Without Pity forum, and looked at the HBO website today and I think I've got next week figured out. Christopher leaves town on business and whacks somebody we don't even know. A rumor about Adriana floats around the family and Tony has a dream in which he executes Chrissy. That dream drives Tony back into therapy with Dr. Melfi. Nobody big dies.

This is the first time I've gone to so much trouble to figure out what's going to happen on a TV show. It was kind of fun but I doubt I'll do it again.