Humor Totally Random

Happy Anniversary

What’s the appropriate gift for a 13th? Luck, perhaps? It’s been a big 13 years for my oldest nephew and his wife. Congratulations!


Happy Birthday

To my cool mother-in-law, Peggy.

Food & Cooking Kids Medical

Allergy Visit

So yesterday was Henry’s annual allergy appointment, which turned out a bit unexpected, as the doctor decided not to retest him this year. He’d like to wait until next year, at which point he’ll be to the point of maybe growing out of the ones that are commonly grown out of before adulthood.

Things have been going well, so just keep doing what we’re doing. He’s had no signs of any new ones that needed testing. There was no answer to the question of why his tree nut allergies showed up positive without our having had evidence he was allergic to any of the ones in the suite. Macadamia is not part of the testing. He broke out after sucking the salt off a macadamia, and it could have been cross-contamination or something else. Also, he had eaten most tree nuts, and showed a reaction to what he’d had, in proportion to how much he’d had it, but none to what he’d never had. If I were going by observation, I’d say he was allergic to milk, eggs and bananas, not the peanuts or tree nuts, yet those are the most dangerous, traditionally, and also the easiest to avoid.

I was able to report to him that he was correct about Henry eating things with dairy or eggs cooked in. He can eat cake, brownies, donuts and bread with those, for instance, and we no longer look at whether red sauce has milk, as some unexpectedly do. If it is flavored with cheese, duh. If it’s “traditional” flavor, why would I expect milk? But there it is!

I still have to pick up the eppy pen prescription, waiting at Walmart, which I’ll swing by tomorrow. In effect, that was what the appointment was about. Which is fine, though I was already curious about what a retest might find – if there’d be a breakthrough.

At the risk of having to reschedule it or whatever, I made an appointment a year ahead. He goes back, and gets the retesting next time, April 12, 2012. Subject, of course, to any need to change it for scheduling or insurance conflicts.


Drumwaster’s Rants

Another blog I remember fondly is Drumwaster’s Rants, which somewhere along the line – not all that long ago – turned into a domain parking page. I never did learn Drumwaster’s real name, but he was part of the overlapping blog circles I was in or touched upon after I started blogging in 2003.

Most notably, we were quiz buddies. I’d take a silly internet quiz and post it. He’d see it and take the same one. Or vice-versa.

We were more or less in related political circles, though in his later blogging, and that of his eventual co-bloggers, he seemed a bit hard right. Which, I should write a post about sometime, I am not, despite overlapping enough to have been naturally friendly with bloggers who are vehement in ways or degrees I am not, or who might be startled by where I stand in some cases.

In the past 2-3 years or so I’d tended to forget to visit there as often as I could have , but still enjoyed seeing what they had to say. It’s sad to see it gone.


Tummy Flora and MS?

This kind of thing makes a lot of sense and I’ve been seeing more and more of it. Probably some of it also queued with old links I never blogged…

Anyway, MS is of particular interest, given that my sister has it, a friend has it, a former, albeit lousy, supervisor had it, the first guy I ever bought web hosting from had it, and Deb has symptoms that act like it. That very list make it feel like MS and the like are more prevalent than they once were.



A big one in the list of bloggers I miss is MedicMom, AKA Sonia, from Alabama. Not sure I should even say that much about her here, given her concerns that led her to abandon her blog. Which is apparently not to be confused with a newer one of the same name that came up when I searched just for giggles.

She was one of those bloggers I’d particularly wished to meet someday, and one who left me intrigued by the idea of possibly living in Alabama.


Ian Hamet

Again on the topic of old blogs, I also miss Ian Hamet. His, which featured a blog named Banana Oil in my early days of blogging, seems to belong to someone else. He had a temporary blog, Upbeat Cynicism, that was last active in 2009.

Perhaps he will see this and make himself known.


Parent Teacher Conference

I didn’t go this time, scheduling it instead so Deb could have a chance. Just as well, given how sick I am. It was pretty similar – Sadie is great and all – but Deb also had a long talk with the principal about Sadie and the siblings following her, rather than just the talk with Sadie’s awesome teacher.

She still has a bit of the social awkwardness, despite being far better than she was, and we ought to put her in extracurricular activities of some kind to help maintain and expand her progress.

Her speech impairment is essentially gone and should not need any help, with the last of it just waiting for teeth to come in. Yay!

She’s the top reader in the class, along with one other girl, so the teacher sometimes has the two of them read together, believing in clustering that way. She did so well in the standard reading test earlier in the year – she was in the top 4% – that in April when they do it again Sadie will get the first grade test, rather than the kindergarten one, since that’s where her reading is.

Apparently we accidentally prepared her well for school. They assume we worked with her intensively, when in fact we thought we slacked. It surprised them she’d not been to preschool or such.

It’s this far into the year and Sadie still loves going to school. That’s cool, since her parents both had some degree of issues with school along the way, though in my case not at the very beginning.

We’re hoping she gets another great teacher for first grade. That makes all the difference. It did for me. My experience was up and down, depending how the teacher was year to year, or teachers, later on.


Gut Rumbles

I guess there will be a lot of these memorial blog posts, depending how quickly I go through the blogroll at AV. And this is sort of active, still… there, anyway, it’s just that Acidman died. If you never visited or want to revisit Gut Rumbles, there are regular reposts. I’ll keep it linked from Accidental Verbosity, since that remains blogrolled there, and it will remind me of Rob to see it now and then. As if I need reminding! I still miss him, sometimes wonder what he’d say about current things, and think about how close we came to using Henry Robert instead of Henry Adam.


Absinthe & Cookies

I’m going through the old blogroll at AV, grabbing stuff to link elsewhere and purging what no longer exists. This could take a while. This also provides fodder for one of the things I’d decided Blogblivion would have as a topic when I mostly stopped posting at it: blogging generally, and obsolete blogs we miss or remember fondly or were influenced by or whatnot.

One of my early blog friends was Ith and other at or connected with the blog that became Absinthe & Cookies, dead of apparent blog software and/or database issues, and never recovered. Ith is still around, and the root of that domain remains valid, but the blog is gone.

What bothers me is the difficulty I am having remembering the original name. It was some number of girls… and a guy. Which really amount to 2 girls, whether the official number was 3, 5 or what. It was great fun.

Kids Nothing

Censorious Dreams

Valerie has had the same nightmare about our house being on fire and us having to escape it two nights in a row, with no apparent provocation or prior similar nightmares. She seemed a little feverish this AM, so maybe that didn’t help. If nothing else, may be time for me to go over fire safety/evacuation as I did with Sadie around the same age.

I just hope these aren’t predictive dreams or the sort I sometimes have.


Happy 8th Blogiversary!

To Venemous Kate, who started out at almost the same time I did. A lot of us did, from mid-2002 through mid-2003 or so. Mine was February 25th.

When Kate exploded onto the scene, I assumed she’d been long established, she was that polished, prolific, and savvy at generating an audience.

Hardly seems like eight years.

Health Care Massachusetts Medical Money

Drugs and Change

Recently I got an ear infection. Not shocking, given my childhood propensity for them and the fact that I’ve been almost continuously sick since Sadie started kindergarten in September, culminating with and resuming after a quick bout of flu and about two days of feeling better than I can remember feeling since… I don’t know. Possibly as far back as 1977. Yet shocking in that I’ve tended not to have ear infections as an adult, or even as an older child. I used to have respiratory infections every couple winters, but my ears have never behaved like this.

I’d had the normal sniffles and stuffiness. In a meeting before work in the wee hours, I was especially stuffy. Near the end of it, fluid started dribbling out of one of my ears. Freaky! It kept doing so during the shift, then I went home and searched online for the symptom and what the properties of the fluid meant. Clearly it was not cerebrospinal fluid and I didn’t have meningitis. I didn’t even have a fever.

That was Saturday. I ended up going to emergency care at my doctor’s practice on Sunday, seeing an excellent doctor and getting diagnosed officially with a middle ear infection. That meant antibiotics, which were a bit slow but did clear it up. It stopped briefly right after I started those, but then the leaking ear went on leaking for a few days.

More importantly, this was the first time I had been to a doctor since last May. I’d been shirking, since they like to monitor my blood pressure regularly. Because I simply couldn’t afford to go! We got kicked off of MassHealth as of the end of 2009 for having the audacity to have low enough income to qualify, but an employer who offered insurance we couldn’t afford to buy or use. That’s just the two of us, not the kids, who remained fully covered, because we had low enough income to qualify, but…. what? Insurance from the employer that would have cost too much wasn’t good enough for them, just for the adults? In reality, looking at the rejection, there was some level of care they covered even for us, but it was unclear how to use it. Apparently it was a safety net thing where the doctors and hospitals were supposed to figure out what not to charge us for or something. Also, other people who were required to buy insurance got part of their insurance cost reimbursed at borderline levels of income, but if we were supposed to once we obtained it, I was never aware of that. Perhaps this year, if they ever get back to me, they’ll be clearer. That’s a whole other story, the kids being thrown off and our having to reapply from scratch. They’re seriously taking their time, and we’re overdue for checkups for two kids. Ugh.

Anyway, our insurance meant the first 12 visits to the doctor, or a lower number and some testing, since that’s not unusual, would have cost me entirely out of pocket. I can totally afford 10% of my income before insurance starts to pay 80% of the cost. Yup.

Plus I’d been off and on, mostly off, the three blood pressure meds since early 2009. When I saw the doctor the last time in 2009, I took the drugs for a couple weeks ahead of time, enough to have a passable blood pressure but have him mildly concerned about edema. See, the meds made me feel like crap, and left me almost unable to work. I’d take them, and after a fairly short time the managers would wonder why I was so darn slow. I’d wonder why I was so darn slow, and my brain didn’t work right. Not that this should have surprised me, since one of the meds was a beta blocker. The second doctor to treat me for hypertension avoided giving me beta blockers because they affected me so badly the first time. Arguably I lost my very first tech support job because I was on one. I couldn’t remember anything, couldn’t think as clearly as I ought to be able to, and had a total lack of ambition that went beyond ordinary levels of lazy or disinterested. Took me a long time to blame it on the pills, and I seem to recall that was only when I stopped taking them and transformed back. The second doctor to treat me was happy if he could keep me from going much about 150/95. The next time I went to that practice , seeing a different doctor because mine had left, after being off meds a while my pressure was 185 or something and they flipped. I sat in the waiting room for hours, waiting for meds they gave me on the spot to kick in and lower my BP enough that they’d let me leave. I don’t remember what that doctor gave me, but he specialized in hypertension and set out to determine a root cause.

I don’t generally consume inordinate salt, don’t seem to be affected by it, and am aware that they’ve found minimal correlation, even though doctors still ask. I believe they have figured out 1/3 of people can go higher on account of salt, 1/3 are not affected, and… 1/3 go down! I did 24 hour urine samples for levels of catecholamines. I got an MRI of my kidneys, looking for pheochromocytoma. Nothing. My current doctor, technically the fourth to treat this, also found nothing, in part taking my word for the prior guy’s findings, since the other practice never passed along my records when asked.

Nor did anyone find damage as a result of the high blood pressure, in the past anyway. I was already about to the point of going back to treatment, sure I was being affected by it. I started losing my eyesight when we switched to compact fluorescent bulbs, but I’m not convinced BP hasn’t been a factor. On the emergency visit for the ear infection, my blood pressure was 210 over… now I forget, but not as high as my record 220/140. 120 or 110, this time. Naturally this got me an EKG, and skepticism about my chest congestion pain when taking deep breaths being normal congestion. Heck, that’s an old familiar pain to me, the breathing pain. Without being congested at all I’d get it when I was a kid, if I tried to run any distance in elementary school. Singing, bike riding (I miss my bike!) and expanding my lung capacity mitigated it, but it come back now and then.

I was lucky that the doctor I went to on the Sunday let me go with instructions to resume taking lisinopril, the least likely to cause a problem, in an effort to start controlling it some, and to go to my regular doctor in a week to followup on that and the ear. The EKG showed very minimal signs of uncontrolled blood pressure but was basically fine.

On another note, nobody ever finds I have high blood sugar or cholesterol, despite my mother being convinced from the time I was young that I was fat and was going to get diabetes, have a heart attack and die. Knock on wood.

Backing up a little, the very last time I took the combo of lisinopril, atenolol and hydrochlorothiazide was in the fall for a week. After a week it turned my brain to mush and provoked depression like flicking a switch. It was remarkable to observe! Since it had been months since I’d touched the stuff, and it was completely out of my system, it was a clear test. I’d previously observed that, at least at times I tended to get dehydrated from work and weather, hydrochlorothiazide may have been provoking gout attacks. The emergency doctor thought that made sense, and that the actions I ascribed to the beta blocker made even more sense.

About nine days later I saw my own doctor, getting an extremely prompt appointment once I finally called. You’d think they were concerned or something.

My blood pressure was dramatically lower, like 165/100. My doctor was ready to give me an EKG until I noted I’d had one several days before.

I kept me on lisinopril and added back hydrochlorothiazide, but switched me to amlodipine instead of atenolol. To be honest, I thought I’d made my feelings about beta blockers clear when I first saw him and already thought they messed me up, and I thought – and maybe it was true initially – he was not giving me one of them. Eventually I learned that one of them was, and perhaps that was true all along.

Looking up amlodipine after I got home, I was amused to see it is prescribed for angina as well.

A week went by and…. No wait! Two days went by and it was as if I’d become a new person. It improved more from there. The combo, presumably to be pinned on the amlodipine, almost seems the opposite of a depressant. Since it worked that fast and with no side-effects, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that the one day I forgot to take the pills caused a bit of a mood crash. There’s incentive! Skip a day, go all gloomy for two days before returning to normal? Naw, I think I’ll just keep to the regimen, thank you. My vision hasn’t improved. If anything, it’s worse. However, something else I suspected was affected by blood pressure went away, and the ear problem stopped dragging on, as it seemed to be. Google seemed to suggest that the ear symptoms could be tied in with blood pressure, apart from the fact of a very real infection.

It’s hardly perfect, since how glowingly happy can you be when you’ve gotten in a life hole with canyonesque sides, but I’m optimistic and energetic and alert and awake in a way I haven’t been for the most part in years. Not sure it was this good in the parts of 2003 and 2004 when I wrote about being on Lexapro. Who knew I needed it to counter the blood pressure drugs! Could have avoided the whole thing. I’ve also had some insight that goes deep and may help explain the blood pressure problem’s roots, while also helping me move on, but that’s another story. Time to make supper!


Still Poor

Just checked. Didn’t win Megamillions. Don’t often do it, but bought one a few days ago on a whim when I saw the jackpot sign in Hannaford. $127 million would solve everything! And yes, I know, but even after taxes, and even being careful and all that. I guess now I ought to buy another, since $151 million would solve everything with a big fat “and I mean it” thrown on top for good measure.



I remember playing Scrabble for Juniors with my mother at a fairly young age, and regular Scrabble sometime not much later. I could read before I even started school, so young I don’t remember ever not knowing how. I have to wonder what it might have been like with computers and the Xbox…

Last night Sadie was trying to play Scrabble on the Xbox, locally against Valerie, of all things, but since Val needed 100% guidance and passed in frustration her first turn, Deb took over for a turn, then I played the rest.

Sadie quickly learned the ropes, if not a fine appreciation for all the strategy, and could read almost any word played. We helped her out a lot, but in the end she won by a nose, after being way ahead for a good part of the game.

We’re pretty impressed! Six years old.

Books Business Movies Politics

Looking Forward to This!

Except it still seems a little weird having Atlas Shrugged updated to be set in modern times, and the characters don’t look much like my mental images. Reardon, to whom I most relate, comes closest.

I’m overdue for a reread, but with the film pending, I considered it recently and decided to put it off.

blogging Controversies Massachusetts Politics Stupidity



blogging Business Geekery Health Care Humor Job Hunting Medical Money Music Politics Totally Random

Link Dump 2

Continued from and explained in Link Dump 1.

Schoolhouse Barack

Eggless batter for deep fried shrimp (works nicely for chicken, came out just like Chinese chicken fingers but that Henry can eat, moved from this to lighter tempura style)

It’s just a draft

Efficient markets after the financial crisis

RIP Fess Parker

Do you think you love me?

Controversial propositions (some good ones! including Bobby Orr)

The shocking ages of rock stars

Ethiopian Injera recipe and another and another and a detailed post about making it

Nerd, Dork and Geek explained in Venn Diagram

The parable of the satellite dish

Alien Versus Pooh

Latters to Scalzi, Pt 2

What if the jobs are never coming back?

Shy and introverted process the world differently

Quasars don’t show time dilation – what’s up with that?

Fighting allergies by mimicking parasitic worms

The whiskey standard

How to wreck a marriage

Truth in accounting (Madoff vs Social Security)

Massive tax change hidden in healthcare law

11 Music superstars who are technically one hit wonders

Most people carry neanderthal genes (big surprise!)

S&P Priced in gold

Creating a more private Facebook alternative

Caring for woulds when medical system has collapsed

Doubt cast on many reports of food allergies

blogging Totally Random

Link Dump 1

I have spents months and months accumulating bookmarks under a “blog this” folder, meaning to post the links and most likely some amount of text on some blog or another. Probably not this one, but for this purpose it’s handy and, hey, content here can’t hurt. Plus I can yet write something about these elsewhere, as opposed to links only. I was going to do a single post, but I suspect I have so many that it ought to be divided.

Presented with minimal description and no extraneous comment, then, here are the first of those accumulated links, oldest to newest.

Women and verbal violence against men

Loophole in registration of paid tax preparers (which is a huge change and one I object to, as a former paid preparer.)

Professional expectations

I know! Let’s talk about sex!

Financial advice

Food timeline

Obesity myth

Really an allergy?

Low carb and blood pressure

New Heinz ketchup packet

Alton Brown: Best cookbooks

Sexual anorexia

Brain blood vessels and MS

Autism: Life Among the ‘Yakkity Yaks’

Vegan buttercream frosting

The next three are connected to each other and make more sense that way. We love this book.

Michael Glenn Monroe

A Wish to Be a Christmas Tree (video reading of book)

A Wish to Be a Christmas Tree (Amazon)

Premodern Cooking

Housing crash continues

Regular painkiller use and hearing loss

Did discovery of cooking make us human?

Forbes on Pioneer Woman

Jason Fried interview

Amusement park jobs

Extreme couponing

War on baby girls

“I need eight hours to get maybe 20 minutes of work done.” Not a quote from me, but could be…

Roots (excellent, on complex numbers)

Absurd salt ban

Oopsie rolls


Vewwy Vewwy Quiet?

A couple weeks ago I had my first ever parent-teacher conference. Felt weird, being the parent rather than the kid, but I’d also looked forward to it, since I didn’t have a definitive idea how Sadie was doing. She loves loves loves school, and has made big strides in reading and writing since she started kindergarten, but the feedback was indirect.

Turns out the teacher just loves her, and Sadie is the class star. It was like me in first grade all over again. That and the “she’s very quiet” was what my mother heard from every teacher about me. They’d always tell her “he should talk more.” Other kids strive to be better, seeing what she can do.

She started out socially awkward and has improved dramatically. We talked about the names I hear, and don’t, at home, and who her buddies are. The teacher got some insight as to how quiet she isn’t at home, and the leadership/oldest child role she plays.

I mentioned how she can sit and draw for hours and that being her favorite thing, and the teacher was aware of that, and how meticulous Sadie is. Currently Sadie wants to be something like a comic book/strip artist/writer when she grows up. She’s intrigued by books written and illustrated by the same person.

We talked again about the speech issue. Sadie was supposed to have had an evaluation. I never finished the lengthy paperwork and arranged it this summer, and by fall her speech had improved dramatically. The special education speech people had the speech person at the kindergarten evaluate her and the verdict was I’m right, she’s way better, just borderline now, so let’s check again in January before doing anything. Or definitely doing nothing.

On the other hand, the teacher let me know at the conference that she had noticed Sadie’s gait issue and it was enough to mention. I gave permission to have it looked at and possibly treated with occupational therapy at school. I explained the entire history, having it looked at a few years ago by the orthopedic doctor who ended up handling her broken leg. This was the first her teacher heard of the broken leg! Which is funny, because Sadie’s teacher broke her leg (sprained and chipped – not as serious) early in the school year, and it was extra fascinating to Sadie for reason of her own experience. Anyway, the doctor who evaluated it said she’d outgrow it. And it did improve. I barely notice it now.

Deb was amused that the teacher said Sadie had arrived “with a good foundation,” since we didn’t do much toward that. Not in any planned way. Baby Einstein, plenty of reading to her, learning the alphabet and anything she could absorb. Probably that last is a big part of it. I treat everything as a teaching opportunity, in an eclectic way. The day she was worried about working the zipper in a pair of jeans, going to the bus stop and waiting for the bus was a discussion of the history of the zipper, then the timing and implications of other inventions. I’ve been teaching her multiplication here and there, especially the part where it’s a form of addition. If someone had made clear the additive and subtractive natures of multiplication and division right up front for me, I might have been less intimidated.

Anyway, that’s my girl… quiet yet popular and an excellent student.