Friday, December 26, 2014

The Usual Post-Christmas Blahs

Take a good look. You will not see many more "tinsel teeth" pictures of me. Actually, I don't think I have the full set on yet in this picture..

The flu came and went quickly as type B influenza comes and goes thanks to a timely presciption of Tamiflu, but I'm still not exactly bounding with energy to make great changes in the world. For now, I'm spending a whole lot of time in my room. Fortunately for me, my room at home is a thoroughly un-depressing place. I only have to crawl five steps from my bed to be at the seat of my Kawai grand piano just in the unlikely event that I'm inspired to play something. Right now I'm so energy-depleted that a visit out of the grave from J.S. Bach himself probably couldn't make me play a note.

I need my aunt to redecorate a bit more in my space at school to give it a similar feel. It's asking too much for her to make it identical to my room at home, and it's already much nicer than a dorm room, but it still needs something. What that something is, I'm not quite certain. I usually leave it to my aunt to figure out these sorts of things.

It seems that some of my readers have missed out on the lovely Semonski sistrts, AKA Seamonsters. from post-Lennon Sisters Lawrence welk reruns. tune in to PBS somewhere around 7:00 p.m. on a Saturday night if you're feeling especially masochistic. i must warn you that you may never be the same.

My friend Alyssa is supposed to be here by now. I hope she isn't caught in traffic. She's traveling with me to Utah next week to take part in the alleged winter frivolity. Most of my frivolity will probably involve Guinness. It's too damned coled to frolic in the snow, although I may take a few runs down on both ski and snowboards, and if there's snow in the neighborhood, we may take advantage of it to use the snowmobiles. Otherwise, it's just me, my favorite weight-gaining beverage, and anyone who chooses to join me.

The latest word is that my braces may be coming off in February. I'm rather excited about this.

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Judge and I

the judge looking particularly distinguished

Months ago a wrote a preamble to my tribute to Judge Alex, yet real life got in the way of writing the actual tribute. I'll give it a try now, though I fear my efforts will be a bit lame.

Judge Alex came into my life at a time when I was nearly fifteen and heavily into the throes of adolescent rebellion even if I wasn't physically there yet. I used up an insane amount of the family TV's DVR space so that I wouldn't miss a single episode of his TV program. On the rare occasion that something went wrong and the day's episode didn't get recorded, I would go into a tirade.

I was eventually allowed to have a Twitter account. Soon thereafter, I discovered that Judge Alex had one as well. I doubted the authenticity of his contributions to the account, but still I read his every word, and responded at a rate that I felt he wouldn't consider overly pesky or obnoxious. As far as I could tell, he ignored my tweets, though he later said that he read and continues to read all tweets but just didn't and still doesn't have the time to respond to all of them. That's certainly understandable.

The first clue I received that Judge Alex had noticed my existence was when I announced that I would be on hiatus until final quarter grades were released because one of my A's had a minus behind it on my mid-quarter progress report. It was a teacher I did not like, and my goal had been to score the lowest possible A I could possibly earn so that it would cause the instructor great pain to give me the A.  He got even by putting a minus after the A even though on official grades, minuses and pluses could not be entered. It was really a dirty trick on the instructor's part, because he knew my parents would overreact and take away privileges, but I own my part in the debacle, as I should not have cut it so close. For what it's worth, I aced the course at quarter and semester and had the highest score in the class.

Anyway, I knew about the minus after the A before grades were entered into the computer, so I announced to Judge Alex via Twitter that I would be absent from Twitter for awhile untile either my parents grew brains or until new grades were posted. He responded with, "We'll miss you, Alexis." That was all it took. It was the cyber-equivalent to feeding a stray cat. Everyone knows that once you feed a stray cat, it never goes away. I was hooked on Judge Alex for better or for worse.

Judge Alex got me through many difficult times. A few in particular stand out. My father and I were fighting over whether or not I needed to get a flu shot. My dad wanted me to have it. I, of course wanted no part of anything that involved sticking a needle into my skin. I solicited the judge's opinion as to whether or not a fifteen-year-old (I think I was saying I was sixteen at the time; I have a habit of lying about my age to make myself seem older) should have the right to make his or her own decision concerning medical matters such as flu shots.  The judge gave the classic noncommital answer that it depends on the situation and the maturity of the kid, and that it should be on a case-by-case basis.  My father ended up taking mattters into his own hands by sneaking into my bedroom at 5:00 a.m. and injecting me with the dreaded serum. I'm pretty sure I woke up the entire neighborhood with my tantrum. To top it off, I got a really nasty case of the flu that turned into pneumonia that year. So much for parental wisdom. The judge was kind enough to commiserate with me after the fact.

Another time in particular in which I sought the judge's assistance was a situation that sounded as though it was a plot line in a really bad sitcom -- the kind that runs for six episodes before the ratings are so low that it disappears from the airwaves forever, never to be seen or heard of again.  A highly cognitively challenged but quite attractive cheerleader had asked my brother to the prom. The prom in our high school was not typically a girl-ask-boy thing, but I'm not putting the cheerleader down for bucking tradition in that regard, and I see nothing wrong with the idea that a girl asked a boy to the prom. It wasn't even my issue that this cheerleader in particular invited my brother, brain-dead though she may have been. The issue, which concerned my parents far more than I, was that A) this girl was known for giving freely of sexual favors, and B) the word on the street, which reached my mother through the faculty gossip grapevine, was that this promiscuous cheerleader intended to use prom night as a means to gain access to my brother's seed, so to speak. She felt that with her looks and  Matthew's brains (intelligence is relative; to this bimbo, Matthew seemed like a bona fide Rhodes scholar) and looks, the two of them could have produced a perfect physical and mental specimen. In short, the plan was for her to seduce my brother and bear his child.

Any sane parents on the planet would have told their son he needed to find another prom date, but the bimbo cheerleader was from the wrong side of the tracks, so to speak, and my parents did not wish to be perceived as snobs. Their solution was that Matthew and his date would double date with me and my escort. While this seemed a perfect solution to my parents, my brother and I were having conniption fits over it. I offered all sorts of alternatives including offering to buy a pack of condoms for Matthew at my own expense, or having my dad give Matthew chemical castration pills for a week under the guise that they were anti-acne meds, which he would have gobbled down as though they were Skittles. Finally, in sheer desperation, I pled with Judge Alex to reason with my parents and to try to explain to them that brothers and sisters simply do not double date to a prom unless they live somewhere deep in the Ozarks or Appalachia. The judge's response was something to the effect of, "I feel your pain, Alexis, but this is really your parents' call to make."  Even though he didn't intercede on my behalf, it was comforting that he even read what I wrote and took the time to respond.

As it turned out in my soap opera-like existence, weeks before the prom, I had a freak hurdling accident with multiple broken bones including a compound tibia-fibula fracture, and was wheelchair-bound at prom time.  My proposed date, not wanting to be seen at the prom with a gimp, unceremoniously canceled our date in a cafeteria full of students, not including me.  My brother got even with the jerk by having his baseball teammate through a ball  at the non-date's bac during a situation drill in baseball whe the creep was running in the wrong lane. My best friend and her date doubled with my brother and the bimbo, and my brother's seed didn't get close enough to bimbo's intended target to even do a quick tango, much less to conceive the perfect physical and mental specimen.

Judge Alex became my personal Ann Landers or Dear Abby, sometimes offering advice and sometimes not, because he couldn't possibly respond to everything. He helped me through the hardships of developing later than my peers, of getting braces at a late age, and of going off to medical school before I was quite sure I was ready to leave the nest. He did all of tis without ever undermining anything my parents said. As a result, my dad is also now a fan. I think my Dad was more upset that I when "Judge Alex" the TV show was canceled.

I suppose at times what I really wanted was to run away to Florida and to be adopted by the Ferrers because they would have been such cool parents as opposed to the oppressive mother and father to whom I was born. I know now about the grass always seeming to be greener elsewhere, and that a 
person needs to be careful about what he or she wishes, and all those other cliches. My suspicion is that the Ferrers probably wouldn't have been any less pushovers as parents than my own parents were, but no one could have told me that back then.

Once when I was feeling somewhat ignored by the judge and  commiserated to Jaci, a friend I met through the judge, that I had been relegated to persona non grata status as far as the judge was concerned, Jaci mentioned it to him and he asked for my cell phone number and actually called me. Even had the rest of the year been a disaster, which it wasn't as I passed my senior violin recital with highest honors graduated from university at the age of 19 with technically a triple major and was accepted into my first-choice medical school, the personal phone call from Judge Ferrer alone would have salvaged the year. 

My friend Knotty wrote about how you can pay a specified amount and Merrill Osmond will call a person and talk the person of a ledge of a tall building or some such thing. I didn't need to be talked off the top of a multi-story building or anything of that sort, but just the same, I'd rather have a call from Judge Alex, even if I'd had to pay for it, than one from Merrill Osmond, and the call from Judge Alex didn't cost me a cent.

The judge even told me to keep his phone number and not to do anything stupid like publish it on the Internet but to call him if I ever really needed to talk. I haven't abused the privilege, but if the time comes when the course load becomes overwhelming and I feel like climbing to the top of a tower and ending it all, or even thinking of quitting med school, I'll probably call him first before resorting to drastic measures.

Some of the judge's followers may feel competitive in regard to his attention, but I don't. Some of my closest Internet allies -- paarticularly Jaci and Becca -- are people i met through the judge. I think I may even have met Marianne through the judge. Through my friend Knotty, I was introduced to the judge's wife's brother, who responded to one of my posts.

I'm still physically very much in the thick of adolescence -- if I were a male, my voice would be cracking all over the place  -- but mentally and emotionally, I'm an adult.  The first time you either cut into a cadaver or deal with a seizing patient until more competent help arrives because you're the only person there,  you  either grow up or get out.  I chose to grow up. 

Adolescence was painful in many ways, and I had a few curve balls thrown at me that no girl should have to face. Still, that which does not kill you truly does make you stronger. I'm not certain I could have withstood all the hurdles, both literal and metaphorical, were it not for the attention of Judge Alex. I am forever in debt to him for his kindness when I needed it most.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty I'm Free at last!" (with apologies to the Reverend dr. Martin Luther King)

The fat lady done belted out "Merce Dilette Amiche" andleft the stage. This quarter is kaput.

I survived my finals. At the risk of sounding boastful, I passed them with rainbow array of dancing and flying colors. Everyone in both of my study groups -- I consider Matthew's study group mine as well since they study at my condo often when I'm present, and i usually join them -- also did relatively well. I was especially proud of my brother, who scored at the very least in the top third in each of his classes. Rankings don't count here, but they really do count if you read between the lines. Someone is keeping track.

It isn't officially announced to the rest of the group when someone fails to make the cut, but my best guess is that bimbo with a big mouth who thinks my boobs are too small didn't make it. I'm making this prognostication based on her reaction after each final. The again, maybe her grandmother died or something of that sort happened to her. Time will tell, but it's really not my problem.

I caught Type B influenza, but didn't stzrt with the symptoms until during my very last final. I was going to say my final final, but to have done s would have seemed a bit redundant. I got on Tami-flu right away, which seems to have shortened the duration.

Because I was feeling quite yucky, Jared took the train here to drive me home in my car. I could have ridden with my brother except that would have left me without  car for the duration of my vacation. Rafael showed up to say good-bye as Jared arrived to pick me up. That wasn't awkward[irony font]. 

I smoothed things over pretty well, explaining how Jared had my name tatooed on his arm to avoid serving a mission. Rafael has cousins who are LDS, so he could totally relate, and said he would have done the same thinf if he'd been in Jared's position.

It's almost too bad they don't live closer to one another, because I believe I just set up a bromance between the only two guys on the face of the Earth who will go out with me. Perhaps we should arrange a triple date of some sort. Jaci if you're reading this, don't  tell me that it's called a menage a trois; I"m not that srt of girl. 
(For the record, I've never yet agreed to an exclusive relationship with anyone. Also for the record, I'm reaonsably certain they're both straight, whihch matters only on th sense that I'm dating them and do't want to be sonme guy's beard.)

Anyway, Tamiflu seems very definitely to shorten symptoms. I was down for the count fr four days, but now I'm just a little weak, and I have the luxury of restingas long as I want in my cozy bed.

In addition to being sick, another reason i didn't go home last weekend was that my parents were hosting their friends, the Ratzlaffs. Weird though they mat be it's not that I could't have possibly tolerated their presence, but Baby Boy Ratzlaff would have been stivk sleeping on a sofa had I been there. He had to sleep in a girly-girl room,  but the bed was far more confortable than a sofa would have been.

I woulsn't have minded hanging out with BabyBoy (whose actual name is Michael, but he didn't receive that name or any other  until kindergarten registration time, because school officilas refused to register him as "Baby  Boy"), but Matthew was home, and Matthew took him places to make the weekend more bearble forthe poor kid. Here's the link to the blog devoted to the Ratzlaff family.
This explains more clearly than I could ever say again just why it was that I spent the weekend up north evn though i've been paroled from school for a few weeks.

Peace out, whatever the hell that means.

This video might almost be amusing if chances were not that the food supply for the entire family -- or perhaps a fate even worse -- would likely happen to any one of these children who made the slightest error. I did find the head bobbing quite a trip, though.  It's too bad Lawrence welk s no longer around. He could've made stars of these North Korean children. They would either have fit in well with the Semonski Sisters, or perhaps they could have replaced them.

Here are the lovely Semonski sistters at their loveliest. Seriously, Lawrence could have walked into any Mormon ward across the U.S.  and found a group of  sisters of the same number or larger who could have sung better than these seamonster did.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The salvation army, complete psychotic episodes, cadavers, and other aspects of med school finals

Once again i should probably be either sleeping or studying, but I've studied practically until my face is turning purple, and going to sleep isn't as easy as it sounds. Once this ordeal is completely finished, I'll have a nice long pseudo-hibernation, much like that of a bear. (Bears don't experience technical hibernation, you probably know. Their core temperatures don't drop,and they wake from time to time during the winter months.)

This isn't exactly my first round of finals. Some of my classes last only half the quarter. I took the final exams for three of my classes weeks ago. I've completed "Cells to Tissues" (more interesting than it sounds,and more complex than one would expect an introductory course to be), "Molecular Foundations," and "Biochemistry."   Since biochem was one of my majors, it came the most easily to me, although medical school biochemistry doesn't begin to compare even to the graduate level biochemistry course, which I took.  Still, a really solid foundation is an asset when the real thing comes along.

Even though we've theoretically had "finals" earlier, and they were the last exams of those courses, they actually seemed more like midterms compared to now. The finals I'm now experiencing seem very much like the real thing.

Last week I took my independent practicum-like final on the "Standardized Patient" portion of my "Practice of Medicine" course. Because I feel that I nailed it, after the fact it seems almost as though it was fun, although I probably was sweating blood from every pore throughout the exam. The school brings in actors to simulate patients,and you have to deal with them. There's a limit to how far we need to go in diagnosing them, as we haven't gotten that heavily into the curriculum to be expected to know whether or not it's lupus. What we're graded on is our interpretation of the patient's vital stats, our ordering of the right initial tests, and our overall treatment of the patient. 

If nothing else, I learned that I could portray a patient reasonably convincingly and pick up a few quick bucks that way if med school ceased to be an option for me. With my medical history, I'd be a natural as a portrayer of a patient. Becca, you, too, would be great at this. Mrs. Ferrer, wife of Judge alex, would also probably be quite good at this, not that she's in dire need of earning whatever pittance itis that the university pays.  i suspect that most of the patients we treated were starving actors from either ACT or Berkeley Rep.

i've completed my :developmental biology" final as well as my "Practice of Medicine" final. Tomorrow is"Genetics."  I'm almost (but not quite) looking forward to that one because i found the course fascinating. Then there's one more on Thursday, and it's a wrap.

The more intelligent of my two semi-tormentors (I use the term "semi" because I never really let them get to me all that much0 cried during and after one final,and the less bright knockout of the two hasn't made it through any final yet without breaking down.  in the case of the former, I don't really know what it means. in the case of the latter, with my not particularly charitable nature, i'd love to think it could meanI'll soon be seeing the very last of her. I'm not lighting candles or rubbing the bellies of Buddha statues with the hope that she'll flunk out, but neither will I shed any tears if she does not make the cut.

Once this whole fiasco of a quarter is kaput, I'm going to take a nice long nap. Then "Rafael" and I are going out for a movie. On Friday, assuming it's not raining,  I'm traveling to SF and taking my violin and going either to Union Square or maybe to the SF side of the Golden Gate Bridge. I'll play Christmas songs and Irish jigs. I have not been able to play my violin nearly enough this quarter. If there's a Salvation Army bell ringer, I'll position myself near him or her. If not, I'll open my violin case and accept donations, and drop them into the nearest Salvation Army kettle I can find. Chances are that either people will contribute because of my music or will pay me to stop playing. 

Perhaps I'll even find the time to organize a flash mob of some sort.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Finals Are Upon Us

i wouldn't begin to compare myself to Alexis Bledel in the looks department, but the sentiment remains.

It's finals week here in The Land of Medical School. One final is history. I have three more to go. As of some time midafternoon on Thursday, this quarter, along with final exams, will join the annals of my history.

One could argue that the very last thing in the world I should be doing right now is blogging. /if I 've done all the studying I can do, I probably should be sleeping. Sometimes, howevr, sleep eludes all of us. i do have two highly reliable alarm clocks, one of which is not dependent upon electricity, along with a brother sleeping in the room across the hall, who never oversleeps and has to take the same final exam tomorrow morning that I have to take.

All of this studying causes me to wonder about the capacity of the human brain, or at least about the capacity of my brain. is there a limit to the amount of information that can be stored in the human brain before it either explodes, implodes, or simply leaks out previously acquired knowledge? i know medical school is doable because too many people before me have done it, but can I do it?  I don't really think it's the cognitive aspect of studying, learning, and memorizing as much as the psychological impact of wondering just how many more facts one can memorize before one strips off his or her clothing, paints himself or herself some neon glow-in-the-dark color, and runs around his or her neighborhood nude and barefoot in the cold (at least there's no snow here) , all the while screaming obscenities.

One would think Matthew might be more of a candidate than I for doing something totally crazy simply because learning and memorizing don't come quite as easily to him as they do to me. alas, such is not the case. Matthew has the better disposition [if not the cognitive ability] of the two of us both to be a medical student and to be a physician or surgeon. Matthew studies long and hard, and then is able to put his books down and say, "Enough is enough. if I pass, great. If I don't, this probably wasn't meant to be."

I, on the other hand, think another half hour of studying will always accomplish a bit more. I never know when to say when. I'll  likely outscore Matthew on every exam we'll take, but since there are no class rankings at this juncture of our med school careers, at what cost as long as he passes, as I'm reasonably confident he will? 

Who will bew the better doctor of the two of us. That's a wash.  If we choose our specialties wisely, we'll both be good at what we do. I can see Matthew walking away from the job at the end of a day or a shift concluding that he did the best he could while he was there, and going on to enjoy his time off. 

I, on the other hand, am a bit more obsessive, as is my father. I can see myself waking up in the middle of the night and thinking of some additional test that should be run, and ging in to a lab to run it myself right then rather than waiting until a sensible hour, because I wouldn't be able to sleep, anyway. My father has the luxury of having underlings to call to run the tests, which is a privilege i will not have for quite some time. I will, in fact, for a few years be one of his flunkies unless I change my mind regarding specialties. Still, my father is so anal that he sometimes leaves the house in the wee hours to run the tests himself.

Is this any way to live one's life? I'm not sure my father would be happy with any other life. i'm not entirely sure about myself. My father has a wife. I'll likely someday have children and a husband. Even if he's a really good husband, though, he still won't be a wife. With changing times and the crossing of lines in terms of gender roles, there's still a big distinction between a husband and a wife.

Fortunately for me, I still have roughly four years before I must make a final decision regarding specialization. And even then, the decision is never totally final. People change specialization and even entire careers all the time.  Nothing would stop me from doing the same were I to find myself unhappy in a particular branch of medicine.That's assuming I make it through med school without painting my nude body a glow-inthe-dark neon color and running around my neighborhood screaming because I simply cannot take any more facts into my brain.

Late Thursday afternoon cannot arrive soon enough for me.

Thank you all for the birthday greetings. I appreciate the thought. As for the non-milestone/milestone birthday, I've had better and I've had worse, so I can't complain all that much. I don't feel any diferent at 20 than I felt a just over week ago at s.19.

I hadn't really considered it as such, but it was a milestone birthday, I suppose, in the sense that I'm no longer in my teen years. My adolescence may have been less traumatic and painful than those of others, but just the same, I don't mind having passed that hurdle and moved on to my 20's.

Listening to Matthew's groupies sing "Happy Birthday" to him in every class did little to lighten my mood, but I've survived worse. Life goes on if one is lucky.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Happy Fucking Birthday

I  have another of those non-milestone birthdays coming up soon. I will turn 20  on Tuesday. 20 is not much of a big deal. I get to change the digit in the "tens" column of my age. Isn't that so incredibly exciting that I'm practically having a tonic-clonic seizure over it? 

Actually, the answer to that is no. There is absolutely no excitement that I can discern that is associated with changing th numeral in the "tens" column of my age. No new privileges will come with turning 20. No magic changes will happen to me. My braces will still be there when I wake up on Tuesday morning and look at myself in the mirror as I brush my teeth. I'll still be a stick figure. 

The only significant thing about my particular birthday whatsoever, and the significance of it is so old that it is no longer relevant, is that had I Matthew and I been born a few hours later, we would have missed California's kindergarten cut-off date and would be one year behind where we presently are in school. Some parents would have kept us out of kindergarten for the year anyway because I was so undersized and Matthew had all the common sense of a fruit fly, but since we could already read, my parents chose to send us off to kindergarten anyway. I don't know if they regret that decision or not. I wouldn't be in the situation I'll be in on Tuesday night if I were still an undergrad, but would I be any happier? Probably not.

My pseudoaunt's birthday is tomorrow. We have a long-standing tradition of meeting the day between our birthdays to celebrate both of our days. Her brother is flying home on a charter flight on Monday morning, and she offered to bring the baby and fly to my school to celebrate with me, but I told her I don't want her to come. Her baby is only 30 days old tomorrow. I know babies fly all the time, and it's at least not a commercial flight, but I would feel horrible if he got an earache because he took a totally unnecessary flight. Jillian called me a  martyr. Scott said it's a sign that I'm growing up when I'm willing to put someone else's interests ahead of my own.

There's a tradition that the other members of the class take the class member with a birthdy and buy him or her just enough beer to get a buzz, but not roaring drunk. Of course that tradition doesn't apply to me since i cannot legally enter  bar, muchless drink beer there. In theory it doesn't apply to Matthew, either, but he could easily walk into just about any bar and order a beer without anyone giving him a second glance. He'll probably go out for a few beers with the group. At least I already know I don't like beer, so I know I'm not missing anything really special.

The only real consolation to any of this is that the acne fairy has yet to pay me a visit. My mom tells me I should be more grateful for that than I am. She actually brought it up at the table at Thanksgiving dinner in front of the entire group of people in attendance, totally humiliating me in the process. Was she ever almost 20? Why doesn't she remember more about what it was like, and how someone this age doesn't like having attention called to physical attributes. Even calling attention to one's few positive traits is only a back-door way of referencing the negative ones -- the ones I supposedly shouldn't be dwelling on.

I decided I'm not babysitting because it's truly pathetic to have so little in common with everyone around you that the only think you can find to do on your birthday is to babysit. Even if you're doing nothing but staring at the walls, it's still better thn having anyone else know that you're babysitting on your birthday.Timmy said he would take me out to dinner except that he has to work. He said on his next night off, which will be God knows when, he'll take me to dinner.

Next year, when I turn 21, I'm going to a bar even if I have to go by myself. I'll get significantly drunk, but not so intoxicated that I will risk alcohol poisoning.

This post probably reads like I'm begging people to tell me "happy birthday" when the day comes in 1 1/2 days, but that's really not the issue. It's more of a snapshot of where I am at this particular moment in my life. 

A conspiracy Theory to Beat Most Conspiracy Theories

This is a reasonable facsimile of Bradford.  He actually looks like this guy except that Bradford has no facial hair, per instruction from the suits in Salt Lake City. Also, Bradford wears white shirts and ties at all times during his waking hours. Jesus apparently wore white shirts and ties at all times, aong with no facial hair,  so LDS men in good standing should be likewise facially shorn and clad in white shirts with ties.

My paternal cousin Bradford -- son of  Mahonri and Marthalene, has been into conspiracy theories for as long as I can remember. He's maybe six years or so older than I am . The truth of the matter is that I have so freaking many cousins on that side of the family -- sixty-one first cousins on my dad's side alone, and that doesn't even count my brother and me because, obviously, we're not cousins to one another, that it's tough enough to keep track of the cousins' names,  much less their ages. 

Furthermore, I don't think the verdict is entirely in on that number. Cristelle, the youngest child of my grandparents, and mother of the famous Blitzen Manx and Antarctica Meringue (otherwise known by the nicknames my dad has given them, which are Mutt and Kitty Carry-all), says that she's finished and has even sealed the deal surgically. As far as the other aunts are concerned, though, several are still presumably fertile. They belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose unofficial stance on the matter is "keep  poppin' ;em out until your ovaries have shriveled to the size of raisins and  no eggs could be forced out of them if they were squeezed simultaneously with  Irwin VISE-GRIP pliers by resurrected versions of Brigham Young's henchmen."

Chances are that even as I am typing , at least one of my paternal aunts is in some stage of gestation, unbeknownst to me. In my dad's family, miscarriages are common enough (can you imagine the size the extended family would be if all those babies who didn't make it to viability had survived?) that it's become traditional to withhold announcement of one's pregnancy for at least six weeks or  so after the dipstick has come back with two little parallel lines or whatever the indicator positive for pregnancy is present on a particular brand of home pregnancy test. 

This is actually one of the few traditions in my dad's family that makes at least a modicum of sense. News of pregnancy typically travels much faster and further than does the word concerning termination of a previously announced pregnancy. It's most upsetting to the former mother-to-be, in addition to awkward for anyone else present, to be asked about a pregnancy that didn't make it much past the middle of the second trimester. If the pregnancy had advanced much further along, it's usually obviously enough to everyone that what was previously a pregnancy is no more. No one I know either personally or through the media who has borne as many children as my aunts have, makes it into her 20th week without being visibly with child, with the possible, and quite far-removed as time goes, exception of Ethel Kennedy, whose petite body managed to conceal pregnancies for a remarkable interval considering her size and the number of children she had birthed.

Speaking of Ethel Kennedy, she offers a segue back to the topic from which  I have so egregiously digressed. The Kennedy family is involved in this most recent conspiracy theory of Bradford's. That Bradford would come up with a new conspiracy about the Kennedys or about anything else is far from surprising. He has conspiracy theories about everything from the space shuttle disasters (inside sabotage jobs according to Bradford), to 9-1-1, also an inside job as evidenced by then-President George W. Bush not reacting and being more interested in finding out how Make Way for Ducklings than in the crashing of airplanes into the world trade Center.  He also believes that there is a large conspiracy concerning Walmart not being allowed into in certain cities. He refuses to consider that some cities have standards and refuse to allow in a large corporation that, becqus of the sheer volume in which it deals and to the shamefully low wages and benefits it pays its employees, is able to underprice its competitors, thus forcing the competition out of business in many places. 

He obsesses on the Lost Tribes of Israel. According to Bradford, they're not hiding inside the center of the Earth via a hole in the North Pole, as some of the lDS church's more eccentric adherents believe. I'm inclined to agree with Bradford on this one tiny sliver of a point. His solution to the quandary, however, is no more plausible than is the "journey to the Center of the Earth" theory.he more extreme Mormons believe.  Instead of the more commonly held yet still quite bizarre theory of the Lost Tribes hiding out in the center of the Earth, perhaps clothed in heat-resistant suits to protect them from the extremely high temperatures of the Earth's core (or then again, maybe the magic underwear alone does the trick), they are hiding in plain sight, in only slightly out-off-the-way locations, such as the Basque regions of Spain and France, parts of Appalachia (the particular inhabitants are known as Melungeons  by others, but Bradford knows that "Melungeon" is just a code name for one of the Lost Tribes), Prince Edward Island, the Azores, wherever the Gypsies reside (Gypsies are members of the Lost Tribes of Israel), the Lapland region of Scandinavia, and Antarctica (unknown to the rest of the world, there ARE humans indigenous to Antarctica, and they, too, are of the Lost Tribes of Israel). 

There are other locations of the Lost Tribes I have neglected to mention, primarily because I've neglected to memorize them all. Bradford purchased beach ball at The Dollar Tree that is essentially an inflatable globe. Whenever inspired, he prays over his geographically decorated beach ball,  then points with his eyes closed. Wherever his middle finger lands (both he and his father possess the idiosyncracy of using their middle fingers for pointing, thus giving the impression that they are flipping off whatever or whomever at which they're pointing) is where the Lost Tribes are. We're not quite sure how he found the Gypsies using this method, as Gypsies are spread far and wide in a geographical sense, but no one asks Bradford about this because no one wants to hear his convuluted answer.

The preceding  are  merely illustrations  of the weirdness that surrounds Bradford's conspiracy theories. The totality of his theories would comprise an encyclopedic volume. You're not any more interested in reading about all of them than I am about writing of them. Still, the most recent obsession is interesting enough that I will share it with you.

Bradford believes that there were and are no such people as the Kennedys. I suppose if there's someone who lives across the street from you who owns and operates a sanitaion company or some similar business who happens to have the surname of Kennedy, that person and his or her family might be real, but the Kennedy family who contributed a president and two  U.S. senators to our nation is nothing more than a myth. They were all Hollywood actors hired for their toothy facial resemblance and taught the Boston accent by a team of speech pathologists.  They were never married to their supposed spouses. The offspring are also Hollywood actors hired for their prominent teeth that even years of expensive orthodontia could not quite overcome. 

JFK himself wasn't even a Hollywood actor. He was a mannequin -- a rather high-tech mannequin for his time, but a mannequin nonetheless. Voice actor Von Meader provided the voice-overs for JFK's speeches and press conferences. 
The nation was actually being run by K. LeMoyne Billings, a former "Kennedy" confidante and "JFK" aide, according to Bradford. Before K. LeMoyne Billings came into the picture, the myth of the Kenndys didn't actually exist. Joe, Rose, Honey Fitz, and the rest were invented retroactively and history was rewritten. (The Mormons aren't the first, according to bradford, to rewrite history.)

There was no conspiracy surrounding for JFK's supposed 
assassination, according to Bradford. Oswald really wanted "the mannequin otherwise known as JFK" (of course Oswald didn't know he was a mannequin) gone for whatever reason, and acted alone. The only conspiracy in the whole operation, according to Bradford, was making it look like a legitimate assassination when it was a mannequin and not a human body that was shot. It took major Yankee ingenuity to come up with fake blood on the fly, Bradford explained.

JFK. Jr., despite being a mere Hollywood actor (for some reason they chose to hire an actor that more closely resembled the fake spouse than the fake Kennedy, which ended up working to the conspiracy's and to JFK Jr. himself's detriment), was gaining too much momentum, according to Bradford. He had political aspirations of his own, according to Bradford, and possibly just enough looks and charisma to succeed politically. The system wouldn't work if a fake Kennedy with a brain found himself in an actual position of power. That's why his small plane was surrounded by other planes producing fog and jamming the communicative abilities of his instruments that might have allowed him to successfully land his plane in the fog.

Maria Shriver was never coinsidered enough of a threat that she faced any danger by way of conspiracies to stop her. The powers that be trusted both her and her Austrian-born husband to screw things up for themselves without the necessity of any help from the insiders actually running things. The same is true of the male faux offspring of Robert and Ethel Kennedy.

Bradford believes Karl Rove may now be controlling the
Kennedys, now a much less significant task,  though he's not certain who held the reins between the days  of K. Lemoyne Billings and Karl Rove.

My mother believes Bradford is a full-blown schizophrenic.   My dad thinks he's chip off the old block known as Mahonri except that he's  less dangerous. He may be spouting compete madness, but he's at least not stealing toilet paper, toothpaste, and condiments from the home of every relative whose home he's allowed to enter. My parents have agreed to disagree on this one as long as we all keep our distance from Bradford. We didn't tell anyone in that branch of the family our address when we last moved, although Mahonri mysteriously found us anyway. My mom sent out "we've moved" cards with a new fake address on them, and she hung a sign on our front door that says "The Pretaskys." (She found the sign at a yard sale, and the name seemed too obscure for someone to invent.)

I don't really think Bradford is homicidal, but I'd hate to have him find me purely from the nuisance standpoint. I'm glad none of the Utah branch of the family  knows about our condo. my medical school is a large place. Bradford or any of his almost equally loony siblings would have a hell of a time trying to track me down even of they showed up at the right university, which is a good thing, as I don't want to deal with messy matters such as restraining orders.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Popsicle Toes

A song Knotty recorded reminded me of a particularly disgusting memory. Because I  have no access to study materials, I am bored. I have no alternative other than to share my boredom and, hence, my disgusting memory with you,  my readers. (The word hence isn't commonly used, but you may remember that it appeared several times in Jonbenet Ramsey's bogus ransom note, as well as in numerous communications written by the late Jonbenet's [may the poor little soul rest in peace]  late mother. So it appears that, until Mrs. Ramsey's death due to ovarian cancer, only Patsy Ramsey and I commonly used the word. Still, I think it's a good word and will continue to use it.

I attended high school on the edge of the northern Central Valley of California. In many high schools in central  and north-central California, agriculture is a major area of curricular study and extra-curricular activity. When we were freshmen, my close friend Megan decided for god only knows what reason that she wanted to become an aggie. She enrolled in Animal Science 1 and joined the Future Farmers of America. Megan tried so very hard to persuade me to join her in becoming an aggie, but it was something I had even less than absolutely no desire to do.

I participated in academic decathlon. As humiliating as it is for me to acknowledge this, as I've taken so many shots at cheerleaders and their stereotypically deficient intellects, I will for the first time in this blog admit that I even did a brief stint as the flyer for the cheer squad when my parents were out of the country for six weeks one autumn. (They never would have agreed to it for safety reasons.) My cousin Kevin, who was my temporary legal guardian during that interval, probably would have signed papers allowing me to quit school and join up with the U.S. Marines if I had asked him to do so. Being the flyer was fun while it lasted, though I'm really not cheerleader material.

If I'm not the cheerleader type, though my cheerleading service was short-lived, I supported my school in many other ways. Everyone should do his or her part, and I did. The Academic Decathlon was a breeze for me, as it was a perfect fit for my interests, so my participation in it could hardly even have been considered a sacrifice. I played my violin, sousaphone, and piano in the name of school spirit. Though I'm the ultimate morning slug, I dragged myself out of bed for 5:00 a.m.  diving practices. Our school had a heated pool, but it was  heated only to 80 degrees, and eventually we had to get out of it to dive again. Pre-dawn in February in northern California is freaking cold. We were within bike-riding distance [for really serious bike riders, anyway; I'm not claiming to have riden the distance myself] of the place where many members of the Donner Party perished many years ago due to cold and starvation. Many people think of California as balmy and almost tropical, and in some places it is. In other parts of California, there are two seasons: hotter than hell, and colder than whatever is the opposite of hell.

I played the piano and violin. At the time I played tennis, dove, and hurdled. I accompanied the school choir on the piano (there was financial compensation for this, though I charged less than I would have charged had I been accompanying any choir other than my own school's choir), and occasionally helped the marching band by playing ther sousaphone. I now have a slight case of scoliosis, which is very likely due to trekking up and  down streets with a sousaphone [which weighed almost as much as I weighed] resting on my left shoulder during my formative years. 

I hurdled for the school track team,  once suffering a serious injury in the process, literally leaving tissue from my body on the track of a competing school after the ambulance had carted me away. I was true to my school -- just not to the school's ag department.

So when Megan called me one fall night to beg me to go with her her to the school's animal quarters for her once-every-six-weeks turn at feeding the animals in the wee hours of the morning, I could have come up with at least a quadrillion reasons not to accompany her. I had a cold. My mom was sick, and turning the alarm off at 4:45 would have awakened her, which I didn't want to do when that time of the morning was probably the only decent sleep she was likely to get all night. Megan's dad's car was needed a new muffler, and he'd probably wake up the whole neighborhood with his noisy car. The bottom line was that A) I didn't partcularly want to get my lazy butt out of bed at that hour; and B) even if I wanted to get up before the sun did, I didn't wish to spend the time with farm animals. 

Megan, however, was one of my very best friends. Her dad would drive her there, but he had no intention of getting out of the car and traipsing into the animal enclosures with her. She was scared to go there all by herself, particularly in the dark. In the end, friendship trumped laziness and my concern for the proper sleep of my mom and the rest of the neighborhood. At 4:45 sharp that morning, I heard the distinct rumble of megan's dad's noisy muffler as his car approached my cul de sac. I disarmed the alarm, grabbed my backpack with books,  exited the house through the front door, and got into the back seat of Megan's dad's 1990-something Chevy Impala.

The school farm was located on the extreme west side of campus, only partially within the city limits. The entire facility was darker than dark, as even the moon chose not to cooperate with the illumination situation on that early morning. 

Megan had been given the key to the circuit breaker box in which the light switch was located. She unlocked the box, flipped the light switch, and instantly the place became lighter but not a whole lot less creepy. 

I first stood and watched as she took a bucket and filled it with whatever it was she was supposed to feed the sheep. She refilled the bucket and emptied the contents into different bins. It soon occurred to me that, as little as I desired to get my hands and shoes dirty with the filth of both agriculture's products and its by-products, we'd get out of there a whole lot sooner if I helped her. We went next to the poultry area, which was easily the most foul-smelling place in the entire animal care facility. I distinctly remember vowing to toss the shoes I was wearing, which had been a favorite pair, into the rubbish before I entered my house again.

We went next to the cow enclosure. A paid staff milked the cows in the off-hours, but that had happened hours earlier, and the paid workers were long gone. We gave the cows their hay and whatever else (silage, I think) that they were supposed to be given. One cow licked my hand, which grossed me out, but at the same time I thought it was kind of sweet.

Last we made it to the pig pen. We began filling pails with corn and silage. (There's a difference. I'll explain it someday if anyone really cares.) Megan dropped some of each mixture into one bin, as I did the same into another. She moved to a third feeding station when something startled her to the extent that she screamed. A smarter person than I would have run as fast as I could have run in the opposite direction, but on that particular morning I was more curious than prudent. I tiptoed over to see what had caused Megan to scream. 

In the enclosure of a Hampshire pig (black on both ends with a large white stripe around the midsection) and her four piglets were two reclining human bodies. We soon recognized them as April Underhart and Danny Binger, two senior Aggies.  One or the other of them(I can't for the life of me remember which one, nor can I remember whether or not the award was actually received)  had just been nominated for the American FFA Degree, which was apparently a huge deal in FFA circles. (The name always sounded redundant to me: American Future Farmer of America Degree; What other nation's degree would the Future Farmers of America confer? The Canadian Future Farmers of America Degree? The Belgian Future Farmers of American Degree? Or perhaps, for the sake of variety, the American Future Farmers of Kuwait Degree; I just always thought that for such a supposedly prestigious award, a few aggies could have put their heads together and could have come up with a better name for it. ) 

Both Danny and April were partially clothed.  Danny's toes were in April's  mouth. The two of them had apparently fallen asleep that way. They had slept through the turning on of the lights and the noises we made as we went about giving the animals their breakfasts. It was only when Megan screamed that they were awakened. It took longer than one might have thought necessary for April to disengage Danny's toes from her mouth.

Megan's dad had heard the scream and had gotten out of the car to see what the problem was, but stood back when he saw that it was only a couple who couldn't find a more comfortable spot than a pig pen for their coupling activity. 

April and Danny were apparently worried that if this incident were reported to authorities, all sorts of bad things might happen to them. I'm not sure if Megan had any intention of reporting it anyway (I personally didn't consider it any of my business, as I was merely along for the ride), but when Danny and April offered to cover Megan's early-morning feeding duties for the remainder of the year in exchanged for her silence, she didn't hesitate in the least in taking them up on their offer. She handed the keys to the light and circuit breaker box off to April, and we headed back to Megan's house to eat breakfast in leisure in the roughly two hours before school was to start.

Is it any wonder, then, that anytime I hear the song "Popsicle Toes,"  my mind instantly travels back to that chilly October morning when Megan and I came across April and Danny in a moment of rather crass intimacy. Incidentally, a month or so later, April developed a rather serious case of E. coli, from which, fortunately, she made a complete recovery. Her doctors assumed she picked it up from something at the school farm. Megan and I could have clued them in on a likely more specific cause, but we didn't because a deal is a deal.

Monday, November 24, 2014

How can a sane person with taste buds dislike Grape Crush?

Fluid of the Gods

Jared came over to my house for awhile tonight. I just found out that he doesn't like Grape Crush! I suppose I could take the attitude that it just leaves more for me, but I'm not certain I'm willing to be quite so laissez-faire about such a fundamental issue.  He could like the Dodgers and I would probably live with it. I supposed I'd be Ok with his being an atheist as well as long as he were not overly evangelistic about it, which most atheists I know are not. I could probably even be tolerant of a preference for Bosendorfer pianos over Steinways, although I'm not sure he plays well enough to know the diffewrence either by touch or by sound. (For the record, if he announced that he was signing on with Warren Jeffs' crew, that would be a deal-breaker. One has to draw the line somewhere.)

But not to like Grape Crush? What's not to like? It's basically the fluid of the Gods, particularly in bottled form. Does that mean a person who dislikes it has Satanic tendencies? I'm just not quite sure what to make of this. I would understand his point if he were avoiding carbonated beverages for health reasons, but he downs Dr. Pepper as though the stuff has acne-fighting properties. 

I may need to take a closer look at Rafael.

P.S. If you have not guessed, I have too much time on my hands. My mother took away my textbooks for two days. I could go into my brother's room and get his, as she didn't confiscate his for the obvious reasons, but I am either, depending upon how one views it, either living in or a guest in her home. I'm going along with her "no studying for two days" plan. It may very well kill me, but I pride myself on being a gracious guest.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Nineteen Kids and Subtracting

There but for the grace of God  I could have gone.

   At "The Original Duggar Family Blog, a post appeared     
   under the heading "Support the Duggars." readers of the 
   blog were encouraged to post messages of support to the 
   Duggars and to their program, 19 Kids and Counting.     
   The following response appeared. 

I LOVE this show. I cant go a day with out watching it. I watch every show and then watch them again. I feel like ive known the family my entire life. I dont know what i would do if they canceled the show.

I didn't respond to the comment at the blog because the site is heavily moderated, and my  response would never have seen the light of day.

I would, respectfully or otherwise, respond here to the original responder that he or she would be well served by acquiring a life of his or her own so that his or her own mental and/or emotional well-being were not dependent upon the continuation or cancellation of 19 Kids and Counting.

Unsupervised Babies Sleeping in Cribs and other Bizarre Cautionary Tales

I have a week off from school and am back at the homestead, or at least in the general vicinity of such. I went to babysit my Godchild this morning because he kept his mother up most of last night and she is exhausted. I held the baby and played with him for an hour or so, but he eventually fell asleep, so I swaddled him (it's a new technique all parents must learn now; it's amazing that I survived almost twenty years without ever once, to the best of my knowledge, being swaddled; I don't think my mother could properly swaddle an infant if her very life depended upon it) and put him in his bassinet in his mother's room.

I then went outside to help my Uncle Scott with his
recycling. He told me to fold up the cardboard box in which the baby's crib had originally been packaged. As I was folding the cardboard so that it would fit into the city-provided recycling bin, I noticed the following statement printed in moderately bold black letters in the center of one side of the box:"Do not leave baby unattended in crib."

Exactly what sentiment did the manufacturer wish to convey with the message? Is the implication that even when a baby is asleep in the crib, at least one sober and responsible adult should be standing guard and watching the child every second of every minute the child is in the crib? Are parents required to take sifts during the night even when the baby is asleep in order to accomplish this? Since they already must take shifts when the baby is awake, this would result in both parents getting zero amount of sleep every night at least until the kid outgrew his crib. Is there something inherently defective with this crib in particular, or are all cribs, regardless of make or model,  equally hazardous to babies? 

It seems that people (although perhaps quite naively) assume that a baby can safely remain in a crib in a state of sleep or, for shorter intervals, even in a state of wakefulness. Does this particular crib my aunt and uncle selected for their baby possess something akin to a trap door with a trigger that even a newborn baby can manipulate, thereby escaping said crib/prison? If so, is Ralph Nader aware of this function or malfunction? Or are all cribs by definition unsafe unless an adult is directly supervising whatever infant has been placed in the crib?

Or does the crib's manufacturer intend to convey that the supervisory capacity of its cribs is not without limits, as in a parent should not leave the child in the crib without another adult in the house to supervise the child while the parent attends mass or goes off to play putt-putt golf at a miniature golf course five miles from his or her home?  The company makes good cribs, but not cribs with superpowers. One should not expect even this manufacturer's  crib to detect and remedy choking, fever,  wet or messy diapers, hunger, loneliness, or other hazards of infancy.  Under this interpretation, a parent could conceivably go so far as to drift off to sleep with his or her child sleeping on one of the manufacturer's cribs in the next room. 

But how are we to really know this is the correct interpretation of the manufacturer's disclaimer? The box said:  "Do not leave baby unattended in crib." Call me anal-retentive if you wish, but I'm not sure I'd be comfortable leaving a child to sleep in the crib that came packaged in that box unless I was prepared to sit and stare at the baby until it was time to remove him from the crib. What if the crib has a secret sensor that alerts CPS if a child is not properly attended in the crib? Is it really worth risking having one's child caught up and possibly even lost in California's dismal foster care system over a failure to heed a what would seem to be a clear directive?

I pointed this out to Uncle Scott. He told me that I and not he will be the one to be arrested for child endangerment, as it was I who put his baby to bed before coming outside. I reminded him that I had placed the child in the bassinet next to his mother, and not into the crib in the adjoining nursery. As far as we know, the box the bassinet came in bore no similar warning.

I wish I'd taken a picture of the threatening package label before I folded the box multiple times, jumped on it in order to compact it, and shoved it deep into the recesses of the recycling bin. The box is now ensconced in the filth of recycling, and I have no intention of digging it out.

My Uncle Scott mentioned that when his family got their first computer -- one of those T-Rex colossal desktop models -- when he was a kid, he was reading the directions aloud to his father as his father was assembling the thing. In the instructions, right in the middle of reasonably important content about what cables to attach where, in bold print inside a text box appeared the warning: "Do not operate computer in a shower stall with water running." Scott asked his dad why the directions would say such a thing. His dad answered that presumably at least one idiot had done that very thing and had probably sued the manufacturer either for damage to the computer or for injury (or loss of life, which would have been a mere technicality, as the person who did such a thing must already have been brain-dead). To prevent future similar lawsuits, the company inserted the disclaimer into its instructions. Anyone stupid enough to operate a desktop computer in a shower stall with the water running (I can imagine a drunken or drugged-out frat rat taking his laptop into the shower with him, which is still quite stupid in its own right, but a desktop?) is probably too stupid to read the instructions telling him not to do that very thing.

I googled "stupid instructions" to see what the Internet had to say about the subject.  A frozen pizza offered the warning, "Always bake with the crust side down." It never occurred to me to bake a pizza with the crust side up, but I cannot imagine that the end result would be good.

"Do not drive with sunshield in place," was included in the instructions on one of those cardboard windshield covers intended to keep temperatures down in parked cars. The sad thing is that with the way some people around here drive (I've had two ridiculous accidents that were not my fault) it really wouldn't make much difference whether or not they left their sunshields on their front windshields while driving.

"Use care when operating motor vehicles until you know how you react to medication" was printed on a prescription bottle of dog's pills. That's what I always tell The Pope whenever I give him his pain meds.

"Do not eat toner" was included in a print cartridge's instructions. For most of us, this is simply silly and a non-issue. The problem here lies in the fact that someone with Prader-Willi Syndrome (mild to moderate retardation in regard to everything else, but subjects are absolute savants at acquiring food and will eat non-food when food is unavailable) probably couldn't read the warning label. An individual with pica (an uncommon urge to eat things that wouldn't ordinarily be considered edible) probably wouldn't really care about the warning if it were toner that he or she craved. (Usually it's something more like dirt, chalk, or Play-Doh that pica sufferers would choose to eat.) Hence, the warning is a waste of print except perhaps in the instance of litigation.

On a motorcycle helmet-mounted rear-view mirror, the following disclaimer was offered: "Remember, objects in the mirror are actually behind you." Where else might anyone smart enough to operate a motorcycle (which, granted, isn't saying a hell of a lot, but still . . .) think they could possibly be?

A label on a package of peanuts contained the following advice: "Warning! May contain peanuts!" I understand both the pervasiveness and the seriousness of peanut allergies, but wouldn't the contents of this label be considered slightly redundant, particularly if the primary label on the front of the package said "PEANUTS"?

This disclaimer, sort of the antithesis of the disclaimer on my Godchild's crib packaging, was found attached to a double stroller: "Remove occupants before folding stroller."  I would ask if, in all seriousness, anyone really needed to be told that were it not for the large number of people who cannot remember to take their children out of their cars before going to work or about other business. I'm not intending to be funny here because there's absolutely nothing funny about it, as we all know.

In order to end the list on a lighter note, I'll share my personal favorite disclaimer, which was found on the packaging of a digital thermometer: "Do not use orally after using rectally." Really?

For your own peace of mind, I will share with you that my Godchild and his mother are both now awake. He isn't in his crib, so the point of crib supervision or lack thereof is moot, although since he's being fed, I would suppose one would say the child is under supervision.  CPS will have to find another candidate to lose in their system today. *****

***** I'm being somewhat facetious in my criticism of CPS. From what I've been told by mandated reporters to the system, which includes basically everyone over twenty-five who is related to me, CPS is far more likely to stand by idly without adequately investigating a case of child abuse or neglect than to wrongly remove a child from his or her home.

FREEDOM!  I have a week off from school.