Monday, August 31, 2009

Off The Pill

Let the games begin.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Conversation With a Doctor

Doc: Your BMI is a little higher than I'd like to see. A BMI over 25 puts you at risk for high blood pressure.

PB: Is my blood pressure elevated?

Doc: It's 108/68.

PB: Isn't that actually pretty low?

Doc: Yes, but you're at risk for high blood pressure.

PB: But I don't have high blood pressure.

Doc: No, but you're at risk.

PB: I see.

Names I Like Very Much, But FB Doesn't (Part III)

Miriam


Ruby


Una

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Proofreading

I saw these cute stencils on Babble and thought I'd see if the company ("The Simple Stencil") had any interesting floral designs.

Instead, I found some terrible proofreading:
How many innocent tots are being subjected to this poor grammar?

This reminds me of a bulletin board in my grade-level leader's classroom. It said, "We Are All Writer's!" I was the new teacher, so I bit back the urge to say anything. It still makes me a bit sad that none of the students ever noticed.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Driving

Today, FB and I went out to a deserted school parking lot so that he could practice his driving.

Somehow, he managed to escape teenagerhood without getting a driver's license and now finds himself at age 27, unable to go grocery shopping. Most of the time, this is not a big deal — we live in a walkable city with excellent public transportation. On a few occasions, it has been more of a problem — for instance, when we moved from Rhode Island to California and I had to drive the whole way or when I woke up with a 104 degree fever and he had to call friends to take me to the emergency room. It all evens out in the end, though. For example, I am hopeless when it comes to computers, whereas he is a genius, so he uncomplainingly provides excellent, prompt tech support.

Since our city is so pedestrian-friendly, it is not easy to feel a sense of urgency about learning to drive. You could live here forever and only occasionally encounter driving-related inconveniences.

At least, that's true as long as you don't have an infant.

I have never been one for issuing ultimatums, but I have put my foot down on one thing: I will not drive myself to the hospital/birth center when I am in labor.

In preparation for that hoped-for day, FB has kindly consented to start the learning-to-drive process. So far, he's gotten his permit and played a lot of Mario Kart.

Today's excursion was his first time behind the wheel since a previous, aborted attempt to accomplish the same goal about 4 years ago. He did very well. His spacial perception and hand-eye coordination puts mine to shame, so I'm sure he'll pick it up quickly. He just needs enough confidence driving at speed to brave the real roads. The streets of our city are pretty busy, but there are many quiet, leafy suburbs just a few miles away, so he can practice there.

There really is a lot to be said for learning to drive when you are young and feel incinvible. At 16, you're much more ready to jump in and try something without contemplating the dangers. I learned to drive on my family's only car at the time — a 1991 Chevy Suburban — and I can't imagine getting behind the wheel of such a tank now. My first major driving experience (other than noodling around my hometown) was a trip to Nova Scotia with FB. I look back now and wonder how we survived.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Friday, August 7, 2009

Bagpipes

FB has a new alarm clock that plays a pre-programmed selection of music in the mornings. It's very cute and he spent all evening fiddling with it until he had everything set up the way he wanted it.

This morning, we woke up to bagpipes.

We're going to have to have a little chat about that.

Health Care

I have very good health coverage. I'm on FB's plan at his very solid job and am double-insured by my university, which allows me free, unlimited doctor's visits at the on-campus clinic. Also, we have some savings, so we could afford minor medical care even if our insurance fell through.

I am very lucky.

Most Americans are not nearly as fortunate as I am. Everyone in this country (including me) knows someone who has been shat upon by an insurance company. My complaints have been minor — my old insurance would only pay for birth control if I picked up the Pill at their pharmacy, one goddamn month at a time, their customer service reps were completely unable to deal with changes of name and address, they diagnosed FB with pneumonia by sending him a snail mail letter nearly a month after performing the tests, etc.

Other people have bigger problems. Some get their claims denied outright. Some die as a result.

But most people who get suffer at the hands of insurance companies aren't murdered — they're robbed. Take Sarah Wildman, who purchased maternity insurance, only to get stuck with a bill for $22,000 after the plan that promised to cover pre-natal care, delivery, and post-natal care covered none of those things. As a self-employed writer (some would say entrepreneur), she was not protected by the regulations governing employer-based insurance. Luckily, she was protected by having a soapbox from which she could tell a few million readers about the bandits at Blue Cross.

The point is that health care in America is broken. You may not like the Obama reform bill, but the cost of doing nothing is too high. What alternative have the Republicans offered? The status quo is not good enough.

I get so angry when I see things like this:
Conservative economist Arthur Laffer went on CNN today and said,
If you like the Post Office and the Department of Motor Vehicles and you think they’re run well, just wait till you see Medicare, Medicaid and health care done by the government.
A few points:
  • WTF is your problem with the Post Office? For less than the cost of a pack of gum, I can send a letter anywhere in the United States. All I have to do is lick a stamp and put the envelope in the mail slot 10 steps from my front door. There's a fairly compelling argument to be made that American democracy could never have flourished without the efficiency of the USPS, so lay off.
  • Waiting in line at the DMV sucks — it's the worst system, except for all the others. FB's mentor is an immigrant from India and he has repeatedly professed his undying love for the DMV. In the US, everybody waits in the same line and fills out the same form and, if you pass the tests and pay the very reasonable fees, you get the ID or license you wanted. In India, you have to know someone who knows someone and pay exorbitant bribes just to get a chance to bribe someone who might give you a license if he's feeling charitable. The DMV is a drag, but it's democratic.
  • Medicare and Medicaid are already run by the government. Since I am unwilling to believe that Laffer doesn't already know that, I can only conclude that he is trying to muddle the issue in the minds of the elderly.
  • If you're going to moan and complain about the government mismanaging everything it touches, intellectual honesty demands that you go on CNN and tell everyone just how shitty the military is.
The current state of health care in America is unsustainable. We can have honest debates about the type of reform we want, but the need for reform is indisputable. People who are screaming bloody murder about fascism and euthanasia need to take a good hard look at their own motives.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Space

Last summer, FB and I made one of those big-time life decisions that makes you feel like a real, live adult — we bought a house. We figured that the market was suffering and we had some extra money, so it seemed like a good time to buy. We found a lovely little row house with a nice kitchen (having a dishwasher was a dealbreaker for FB), a postage stamp of a yard, and a garage (I'll never clean off the car again!). All this and our mortgage payment is only $45.00 more per month than our rent for the crappy little apartment we used to have.

I love our little house. It is warm and comfortable and has an ideal location. It's near several parks, walking distance to the grocery store, and did I mention the garage?

Yet, as I contemplate the possibility of Snapdragon, our little house seems . . . little. At 750 square feet, it is, objectively, a small dwelling. That's fine for the two of us — it means there's less vacuuming and a built-in limit on the amount of crap we can accumulate.

But is there enough room for a baby? What about a toddler?

As I understand it, babies are quite small, but they come with rather a lot of accessories. Cribs, changing tables, high chairs, toys, bouncy seats, carseats, strollers, adorable little outfits with ducks on them — all of it has to go somewhere. Our house is already snug and I'm getting a bit worried.

When I start to panic, I always look to history for some perspective. After all, the average house in 17th-century America was even smaller than ours and those families had way more kids than we'll ever have. An 18th-century family wouldn't fuss about cramming another kid into a crowded house — just swaddle him and put him where the dog/pig/cow/ten other kids won't trample him. I read once that colonial-era parents sometimes put swaddled babies on shelves or hung them on hooks on the wall.

I know we'll manage. We'll shuffle things around and get rid of junk we don't use. In a few years, when we're ready to start looking for a long-term house, we'll look for somewhere where Snapdragon can have her own space.

Until then, we'll just have to keep the volume of unneccessary crap to a minimum.

Is that possible when a baby will be the first grandchild on either side of the family?