Sunday, July 31, 2005

Unintentional experiment

I neglected to include the Namenda pills in my daily regimen for an unknown number of days, and noticed it only on Wednesday night 7/27. It may have been only two days that I skipped, or it may have been five, but my best guess is that it was six days. I have an eight-day pill organizer. The pill was missing from the Wednesday and Thursday slots, and I assume that means it was missing from all the previous slots. Wednesday and Thursday were the last two days left, and I refilled the organizer on Friday, and included the Namenda then.

This drug may possibly be slowing my ALS, but the most noticeable impact has been on reducing the "lability," or inappropriate laughing (in my case). My tendency to laugh had gotten so bad, in my view, that I felt my family must feel that it was like living with a mentally unbalanced person. I worried about the impact on the kids. Even though my cognition and emotions were normal, my body was laughing and laughing. It was out of control.

The Namenda rapidly and dramatically reduced the lability. Previously I had often been unable to communicate, or to stop laughing. Subsequent to the drug, I had some inappropriate smiling, or a few unwanted chortles, but could retain enough control to make myself understood. I could carry on an actual conversation. I no longer felt that I appeared to be insane.

What happened during the six days that I was off the drug is that I began to notice a mild resurgence of lability. I wondered if maybe the body begins to develop a resistance to the drug, or if perhaps my condition had progressed to the point that a higher dose was needed. I had been taking 10 mg per day, whereas I understand that most Alzheimer's patients using the drug take 20 mg daily.

I even spoke to my lovely wife and told her that I felt a creeping return of lability. Things were beginning to cause more inappropriate laughing, more easily. It was not a dramatic shift, but I did notice it. It was probably Monday or Tuesday that I mentioned it to her. I am going to guess it was Tuesday, the day before I discovered the pill was missing from my regimen.

I conclude that Namenda rapidly controls lability, and that withdrawal of the drug only gradually permits resumption of the symptom.

Saturday, July 30, 2005


I was driving along after a blood test, listening to a program on the radio about manners. One of the topics was dress, and how dressing inappropriately can offend people. That got me to thinking, again, about how I dressed for the wedding of a close friend. I was very poor at the time, living on the meager and marginal crumbs of income that writers get. I went to the outdoor wedding in a t-shirt, jeans, and worn sneakers. I reasoned that my friend knew I had no money and would accept me for the unfashionable, unpretentious prole that I was. Everyone else was either dressed up or made an attempt to be. I felt embarrassed and self-conscious, but then put the issue out of my mind and had fun. The wedding was inspirational in the sense that it changed my mind about marriage, which I had assumed was not for me. On that day I saw how brave and affirming it was.

It's not as though I absolutely could not have afforded a decent shirt at least. Back then I saved my money and bought a computer, on which I studied programming, which eventually got me work as a software developer. But I didn't know that at the time. The main reason I never bought any nice clothes at all was that I didn't want to. It did not reflect who I was.

I never did apologize to my friend for showing up at her wedding dressed like a bum. I am sure she either forgives me, or does not remember or care, but it helps me to apologize. And so, I'm sorry.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Listen to the lyrics

Some people are lyrics people and some people are not. I've always been into the lyrics. A friend tells me that a song which has formulaic music does nothing for him, though it may have great lyrics. It has to seem original AND make his toe tap. Well, certainly, a song with great lyrics can be suboptimal (e.g. Sinatra's rendition of "My way" -- much better is Sid Vicious'), so lyrics alone can't save a song. For me to be interested, the vocalist has to have some kind of styling that I find compelling in combination with the lyrics. In that case, the most conventional musical accompaniment does not get in my way. It does not have to seem musically innovative to capture my interest. A good example is Weezer's "In the garage." You know you're with a non-lyrics person (the majority) when you say something reactive to the lyrics of a song that was just playing and they look at you like you're insane. "What!?"

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Patriarchy through disability

Dunno about the rest of you dads, but I pride (prided?) myself on trying to pull an equal share of the load as a parent. Without debating whether that's actually possible (it isn't -- mommies always do more work), it is true that I was trying to pull as much of night work as I could with our baby girl when the strange twitching and muscles getting stuck on the left side of my body began to happen. My goal was to let my lovely wife rest in bed when the baby needed bouncing or comforting. I was working a full schedule then, plus commute. This is the sound of one hand patting me on the back. Of course, nature has a way of giving the mammaries to the mommy, so in terms of actual night work and sleep disruption, she had the more.

But I tried.

Once I was diagnosed, my lovely wife began to do ALL the night work for both kids. The theory is that sleep is good for me. And I concur. It helped a lot and still does. On the days when I was physically tired, or undergoing some medical indignity (usually involving needles), my lovely wife did all the work for both kids.

Still, I kept trying to do all that I could.

But there came a time, a few months ago in my view but probably quite a bit earlier in the opinion of others, that I would find myself exhausted when trying to get dressed after a shower, or just plain tired, when the thought began to enter my head that I could just rest in this chair and let her handle the wild, screaming, running, laughing, weeping kids. That began to happen more often. It was the beginning of me letting go of the idea of equal parenting.

It was the beginning of my willing experience with patriarchy. Back in the day, fathers often left all the parenting work to mothers. There were many who never changed a diaper. My lovely wife now does much, MUCH more parenting work than I ever do. There are still things we share, though. Two nights ago for example I got my daughter into bed while my lovely wife did the same for my son. We still have a system of switching off between the kids each night. But when the going gets rough, for example if the kid I am supposed to handle is having a major emotional breakdown, or is sick, or is being the rebel, then my lovely wife handles it. This is often the part of the day when I am weakest, stumbling, having trouble standing, and even crawling can be a challenge. My lovely wife does the work when I'd rather not.

Patriarchy through disability, I call it. It's not a willing visit to the past. I don't want things to be this way. But my recent experience does shed some light on historical modalities. Or in your case bud, maybe current events.

Left grip is 33 pounds (31, 29, 33), right grip is 84 pounds (78, 84, 82), left leg balance is 11.87 seconds, and inhale volume is TK mL.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Brain parking

The disabled parking placard came, and I used it immediately for a trip to the bank, despite my noble plan of using it only when needed, in order to let the truly needy park. But the truly needy so often appear to be great big fat people in SUVs who walk around without trouble. Maybe their mom is diabetic or something and they figure, if I have to put up with her complaining all the time, at least I deserve this parking.

I drove to the store, and the disabled parking space right next to the entry was taken by one of the aforementioned SUVs, so I parked a fur piece down. In the store, after I got those heavy milk, the heavy fruits, and heavy eggs and meat, I decided I would have to ask permission to take the cart to my car. It's not like one of those supermarkets where everyone pushes a cart to their car, it's small. Even the carts are small, and I assumed it was against the rules to take one out of the market, since I had never done it. I asked the clerk for permission, and she said oh sure, as if it were nothing. This is the dramatic and ingenious solution to the problem of me struggling to carry those heavy bags through the lot without dropping them or falling. It was only one the way back with the cart that I saw two other carts returned up against the wall. People must do it all the time. Silly me, carrying forward a non-disabled habit and practice into my disabled experience: Must ... carry ... bags!

Left grip is 35 pounds (31, 32, 35), right grip is 76 pounds (75, 76, 76), left leg balance is 9.03 seconds, and inhale volume is 4400 mL.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Rocket boy

My son became a rocketeer last week, when I took him to launch his Estes Alpha III. I turned out to be constipated the two days before the launch, and struggled mightily the morning of the launch to emit before taking the long drive. No luck. I told myself, just be calm, breathe deeply, and drive. People will think your funny walk is just part of your limp.

The three launches were a success, each went up straight and true, and we recovered them all within 200 yards. However, the second one came down within a completely fenced-in area. It was over 100 degrees out there, and I'm lucky I only got a mild sunburn.

The digital camcorder malfunctioned and would not film the launch. All I got was audio, mostly me shouting, "OK, I will!" to my son. Once I got the camera home, it worked fine. I think that the heat may have disabled it. Not sure.

After the second launch came down behind the fence, I left my boy with my friend who had also brought his son. If I had been thinking, I would have asked my friend to retrieve the rocket. But I didn't think. So there I was, 200 yards from the launch site, out of site behind some trees, in the heat and dust, facing a very complete, six-foot fence. And constipated. I could have used my cell phone to call my friend's cell. But there was something of a challenge to it. I thought: You have ALS, which makes you clumsy and weak, yet you are smart and cautious. I bet you can get over that fence and get the rocket back. It will be fun. Like operating strange equipment.

Fortunately, I was not the first rocketeer with that problem. Someone had torn apart a roadway sign, the kind that hinges at the top, and leaned one half of it against either side of the fence, forming a crude ladder.

I went up, very slowly, grabbing the post and placing my feet with utmost care. I laughed at the discomfort in my rear. I paid attention to the angles. It was like building a ship in a bottle. Or opening a car door with your tongue. Patience and plenty of time did the trick. There was some clonus and some trembling muscles, but I never felt in danger. At the top, my shorts got hooked on the fence, and it was comical to try to unhook them using my left hand, which is so weak and clumsy. The right hand held the post. I also had to unhook the family jewels.

Once over, I retrieved the rocket and then had to repeat the entire, very slow process again. My son reports that he asked my friend three times when I would be back. I drank a lot of bottled water and announced that the third launch would be our last. If it went over the fence again, was planning to ask my buddy to retrieve it.

The best part of the whole experience was that when we got home my daughter said, "Daddy, when I'm five, can you get me a rocket?"

"Yes," I said. And I plan to take her to fly it.

Monday, July 25, 2005


This guy

has a fantastic collection of mugshots. Wow.

During the one-week break from creatine, I took quinine pills and drank tonic water before bed, so worried I was about cramps. Last night I resumed the creatine, which, in my mind, is the cramp killer supreme. I only drank eight ounces of tonic water. However, the body must get used to all that quinine, because I woke at 2 AM with a sudden, painful cramp in my left calf. Both the legs feel a bit abused today. Lesson learned: Next time I go on creatine break, I'll just drink lots of tonic water and skip the pills.

Left grip is 38 pounds (33, 38, 35), right grip is 84 pounds (80, 84, 80), left leg balance is 8.78 seconds, and inhale volume is 4500 mL.


Sunday, July 24, 2005


I'm glad no one was hurt in the follow-up attack on London transit systems on the 21st. But I wonder, what are the odds of faulty detonators disabling four backpack bombs on the same day -- bombs which were rumored to be nearly identical to the four successful ones of 7/7? It seems unlikely. So I wonder if this means that British intelligence has gotten inside the terror cells, or at least is able to supply them with faulty equipment. If so, then, why would the 7/7 bombs all work and the 7/21 bombs all fail? It is possible that this 'attack' was staged by British intelligence for some other purpose. No, not mere propaganda value of making people feel safer or making the killers appear inept. The neat, tidy nature of four bombs all failing independently, though, makes me wonder if they staged this in order to prompt some sort of reaction within the terror cells, in some way to flush someone out. Or to prompt a meeting between a known terrorist leader and the unknown parts suppliers. The shooting of a man in the subway, who later turned out to be unrelated to the terror cells, could be a genuine accident on the part of officers who were not made wise to the sting operation. Just a theory.

Saturday, July 23, 2005


When I went to see the local neurologist on Wednesday, we were able to bring the kids, and they met the dog he keeps in his office. And the smart, able office coordinator was able to meet my kids. And ... going there conveyed the message to the kids that yes Daddy does have a problem walking and yes he is going to the doctor about it. I didn't want that fact to just slide back off the stove for them, into some realm of denial or worse, fear. Bringing them into the waiting room was good, and made it all seem routine and normal. Then they went to a nearby park with my lovely wife.

We agreed that I would stop using the ceftriaxone for now. While it did improve my strength a lot the very first time, it does not appear to be helping anymore. You could say that it's helping prevent things getting worse. But if that's true, we can expect a downturn to show up in the metrics, and I can get back on it.

Also, I think that it is possible that if I do have some non-ALS syndrome like Lyme disease, the occasional application of ceftriaxone may be creating resistant organisms.

I'll be sending some blood off to a lab in Palo Alto which has a reputation of diagnosing Lyme quite well. Yes, I know it is possible that they are very expensive hucksters. But I am cynical as well as cheap, and don't intend to be taken.

I'll also do blood tests for bilirubin and white blood cell count, in anticipation of my going back on riluzole, to see if that will help. I'll be taking it in combination with Namenda, at least initially, and since they both inhibit glutamate, an essential neurotransmitter, I'll make sure to start taking it on a day when my lovely wife is at hand to observe me in case I get weak, lethargic, or lose consciousness. I don't expect any trouble, but you can't be too careful.

I mentioned to the doc that sometimes when walking, I get a slightly unbalanced feeling centered in my head. It's not quite vertigo or dizziness. I just feel like my something is wrong with my balance, and my eyes jerk around looking for a reference point.

Well, he said it might be related to anxiety, and had me deliberately hyperventilate to see if the subjective feeling matched. It didn't, though I respectfully submitted that just because it did would not indicate that anxiety was the cause. Besides, unless I am kidding myself, I am very far from anxious. I'm content. Yes, I know there could be some deep subconscious panic going on, but you'd think it would manifest in other ways, too.

Anyway, then he looked at my eyes, and observed something called nystagmus. That's where the eyes jump around a bit. Apparently my eyes are steady, but then flick around for a brief moment before returning to target. The doc asked me if I were on any new drugs, like pain killers. Negatory. He said it also occurs in alcoholics, but typically when they look to the sides, and mine occurs in the center as well.

He does not remember this happening when he diagnosed me. And he checked his notes. I think it's possible that the Namenda is causing it. But a text search of the prescribing information for Namenda (mimentine) reveals no instances of "nystagmus."

The other possibility, which I like, would be that I do not have ALS, but rather something else. Maybe something treatable. So I will be going to yet another specialist who will look at me.

I asked my lovely wife to do the watch-my-finger test on me, without telling her what she was looking for, and she too was able to detect the jumpy eyes. So now I know that she can help determine when it goes away.

Three things I forgot to mention to him are: In the past week, I've noticed real stiffness in the shoulder joint (plus mildly painful if bent the wrong way), and an increasing tendency of hands to fall asleep when sleeping. It wakes me up, but they recover quickly, without that extended pins-and-needles feeling of normal pressure-induced ischemia. The last thing is that for a couple of months now (perhaps more, but I haven't made note of it), my eyelids have reacted to bright sun by involuntarily closing. I can will them open, but I tend to duck my head and grab for something while my eyelids flutter. It has not been an issue when driving because I wear sunglasses when driving.

At some point I will experiment with stopping the Namenda to see if that is the cause of the nystagmus and sun reaction. It could also be one of my many supplements.

Friday, July 22, 2005


My roommate Nick tried to lure me out as an anti-Semite the first day I got to college, I think because I told him I admired Ronald Reagan and that, from my reading of Gibbon, the concept of empire was not an inherently bad thing. He said some disparaging things about Jews1 and then asked me what I thought. I told him that one of my best friends in high school was a Jew, and that from my reading of history, the Jews were an admirable people. When I started talking about the Warsaw ghetto he took a different tack. He never gave up on trying to get at me, though, and some months later when I was listening to a Joni Mitchell LP, the one that shows her nude, from the rear, in an arty shot at the ocean, he made a point of saying, repeatedly, in a dirty voice, as if he were talking about my sister, that Joni had a "real nice ass." He hoped I'd get mad, but I was just confused. I couldn't go there for a couple of reasons. First, Joni was all about art and words and meaning and soul to me, but I wasn't hot for her body like I was for Nadia Comaniche.

But, more importantly, while I loved Joni's mind, she was obviously a woman over thirty, so I thought it bizarre and slightly sick that Nick would feign an interest just to try to annoy me.

Left grip is 35 pounds (32, 34, 35), right grip is 82 pounds (82, 78, 77), left leg balance is 10.45 seconds, and inhale volume is 4450 mL.

Nick was a Jew.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

The Blair swap

I finally did it. I convinced a Briton to swap George W. Bush for Tony Blair! Woo-hoo! I am so looking forward to brain power in the White House! Here's the official transcript of the negotiation (conducted during a 2 12 game of blitz chess):

brainhell: I voted for Kerry and am playing from California. You?

Edwin3 says: what about bush he's so clearly good for the environment?

Edwin3 says: From England

brainhell: at least you didn't vote for Bush! ;-)

Edwin3 says: truthfully though, he's great for comedy

brainhell: trade you for Blair

Edwin3 says: you can't trade them they're the same person

brainhell: then no problem trading!

Edwin3 says: it's more a game of snap

brainhell: hand him over

Edwin3 says: o.k.

brainhell: say hello to prime minister Bush! woo hoo! Now he's your problem!

Edwin3 says: when did i lose all my pieces?

brainhell: Enron

{Game 118 (brainhell vs. Edwin3) Edwin3 resigns} 1-0
Blitz rating adjustment: 984 --> 999

The English player lost the game. Naturally, as anyone who would trade Blair for Bush is not thinking clearly.

Left grip is 35 pounds (34, 35, 31), right grip is 87 pounds (78, 81, 87), left leg balance is 9.47 seconds, and inhale volume is 4490 mL.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Shower thoughts

I was in the shower, thinking about what an innovation it is for a group of nations and cultures to support non-state actors to carry out attacks on hated societies and dominant empires. For one thing it frustrates retaliation attempts based on notions of state-to-state warfare.

But you knew that.

So how does one turn the sword? How does one combat these opponents (other than lashing out at other states that had no involvement)?

My opinion...

People who give funds and support to these shadow consortiums do so because they feel righteous and powerful about giving. In the form of support for Wahabbiist causes and Al Qaeda, it's mostly religious piety and community pride.

I am told that Islam contains a duty to give, what we in the west might call tithing, or alms. I am not sure what section of the Koran specifies this, so in what will probably be an demonstration of my comically inept research ability, I found an English translation on the web. (Note that translations are not valid. The only valid text is the one in Arabic, as originally written.)

The one section I nosed into seems to say that the man who "treats the orphan with harshness," and does not advocate the feeding of the poor, is unworthy. That's my five-minute conclusion.

If anyone can point me to specific sections of the Koran which encourage almsgiving, or other subsequent authorities which flesh out the requirement, I'd appreciate it.

This duty to give met up with the modern concept of violent, extra-national jihad that the United States fielded against Soviet forces in Afghanistan. The jihadist network later turned back and stung us.

Given that the impulse is to do good, even if that means killing people, it seems to me that counter-strategies include:

  1. Diversion of alms into false fronts set up or taken over by the target nations. This identifies donors and networks, for one thing. To the extent that false fronts are suspected, this enhances calls for accountability.

  2. Foster demand for accountability, through false and true stories of diversion, waste, and ineffectuality, as well as tales of self-enrichment based on historical precedent. Greater accountability leads to more transparent networks.

  3. Foster a competition in benevolent works. This would be based on the sentiment that it is all very well and good to destroy the infidel, but our own needy ones right here at home require assistance, as the holy book commands. The infidel has been inflicting suffering on us for centuries, and currently as a result of your recent provocations, and in return, what have you done for us? While 'good works' programs are often simply about recruiting and training fanatics, actual desires for bettering oneself may take root. Greater comfort and safety for the afflicted reduces the propaganda value of the suffering that is used to recruit the educated, middle-class killers who carry out terror attacks in Western countries.

  4. A genuine campaign on the part of the target society to reduce poverty in the aggrieved communities, and improve their health care, education, and self-determination.

  5. Foster strategy disputes within the communities supporting the extra-national terror groups. The preceding points may be seed issues to foster divisions.

This is what I thought about in the shower. I don't expect any of this to be tried while ignorant Bible-thumpers run our country.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Explaining Daddy's limp

Yesterday morning the house was in a state of well-fed energy and the squalls of childish temperment were blowing in and out, and my intuition said it would be a good time to give my son some explanation of my limp, the one I had told him I was asking the doctors about.

I got a piece of paper and two pens, and asked him if he wanted to hear the doctors' theory. He agreed, and I drew this picture while explaining that the brain sends signals to the muscles by way of the upper motor neurons and the lower motor neurons.

I told him that the doctors aren't sure why I am limping, but they think that the motor neurons are not sending the signals very well to the muscles. During all this, my daughter was standing there saying she wanted a turn to draw. My son seemed to understand the theory, and I left the drawing with him. Then he asked me to draw pictures of insects for him to color. My daughter then got upset that I would not lend her my pens, but wanted her to use the kids' markers instead.

The only thing that bothers me about the episode is that my son did not ask any questions. Usually he is a fountain of questions. So maybe he sensed something fake about what I told him, despite my thinking that I did it quite naturally and well. Or maybe it's an indication of how seriously he takes this issue, despite my apparent nonchalance.

I expect that as the days and weeks go on, he'll come up with questions, and it will become a topic like any other.

For the past three nights or so, he has been waking us up in the middle of the night. Could be related to some anxiety, or the bug he caught that gave him the runs.

Left grip is 36 pounds (28, 33, 36), right grip is 92 pounds (92, 88, 80), left leg balance is 9.6 seconds, and inhale volume is TK mL.


Monday, July 18, 2005

Hero of the roads

We were driving yesterday with the whole family in the Subaru when in one intersection, coming from my left, I saw a young guy taking an angle to hit us. I assumed he would stop, correct course, or otherwise recognize he was out of line. He didn't. There is that moment when you realize: He's still coming. I hit the brakes (right leg, but the left would have done well too). I think we missed being hit by five feet. He continued on, driving wildly in and out of traffic, taking more bad angles. I wondered if he might be running from the law, or some other thug.

There is at least one problem with this new template by the way: Named URLs don't appear to work properly.

Left grip is 33 pounds (30, 33, 32), right grip is 89 pounds (75, 80, 89), left leg balance is 7.07 seconds, and inhale volume is 4500 mL.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Where is quality job one?

My lovely wife was trying to park the Ford when the passenger side mirror scraped the mirror of a parked Honda. The paint on the Honda mirror housing was scraped. The mirror housing on the Ford snapped off, and now dangles by the control cable. She left a note for the guy, with our phone number and an offer to pay. He called and said that we didn't have to pay for anything, since the damage was so minor. I thanked him and repeated the offer. He declined compensation. "It's an old car," he said.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Mareekh attacks

River on Friday, July 01, 2005, wonders whether Americans really believe Bush when he implies that the Iraq war has some connection to 9/11, and wonders what region of the world the supposed war on terror is being waged in. I reply that ignorance of geography is a strength, and loosening the strictures of causality and temporality is faith affirming. I propose that she consider this credo: If it happens to me, that's important. If it happens to other people, that's entertainment.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Disabled parking placard

I mailed off my application for a disabled parking placard Monday. There have been times, particularly when shopping for food, when it has been a struggle to get from the store all the way to the remote location of my car. I'm weak and clumsy, and it's awkward carrying heavy bags while trying not to catch a toe and trip. On the other hand, I don't intend to use the placard whenever possible. My approach will initially be to park in the normal spaces, unless I am very tired or I anticipate a long walk with heavy bags. We shall see how that develops.

Also on Monday, the guys came and installed the custom iron railings my lovely wife wanted for the front steps (the steps I previously fell on).

The preliminary approval to build the addition to our house has been granted. It will have a wheelchair lift, and a bedroom and (most importantly) disabled-accessible bathroom on the ground floor. Then my lovely wife and I would move into the new bedroom and let the kids choose between the two upstairs.

Left grip is 35 pounds (35, 35, 35), right grip is 82 pounds (82, 80, 82), left leg balance is 15.72 seconds, and inhale volume is 4550 mL.


Thursday, July 14, 2005

My shame

Warning: This post contains detailed descriptions of abnormal bowel function. If you're not up for that, you might want to skip it.

It's the biggest, and longest-running secret of my life. The only person I've ever told is my lovely wife. Now it's your turn. It's really a very trivial, mechanistic thing, but the effect was shameful.

As I have mentioned in this blog, I am lactose intolerant. Lactose is the sugar found in milk. You may have heard of glucose and fructose. I have no problem with those. In our bodies, an enzyme known as lactase is supposed to break down the lactose and make it digestible.

If I ingest lactose (e.g. whole milk), I feel cramps and twisting in my bowels. Then I get constipated.

I have many clear memories of being a baby, toddler, and small child. You may be doubtful, but to my satisfaction, the accuracy of these memories has been verified. Once, for example, my mother broke into tears as I recalled a tune my grandfather used to whistle while he pushed me in a pram as an infant.

I remember sitting naked on a potty as a toddler, straining and struggling with a bowel movement. My father walked past and observed me. "You don't have to push so hard," he said gently.

In fact, I did have to push so hard. My initial successes with potty training had been welcomed and heralded in our household. I remember that. I felt the pride and honor of being potty trained. But this success was short-lived. I do not know for certain, but my theory is that the trouble in my bowels began when they switched me off of the modern, 1960s infant formula the doctors recommended to my mother rather than breast feeding, and onto milk.

But then again, the formula may have been based on milk, and may have contained lactose. In that case it may be that infants and babies are capable of digesting milk, but lose that capacity at some later point. This stands to reason, else there would be no lactose intolerant people in the world. Since newborns and infants are entirely dependent on mothers' milk, the gene would likely have been eliminated.

In any case, my potty-trained status was reversed. I grew unable to defecate. It hurt. It hurt a lot. I sat on the toilet for hours, trying. Maybe you have been constipated in a bad way? I don't just mean that tough poop you got rid of after struggling with it for one day. I mean the huge, painful masonry brick that builds up over a week and hurts so dramatically when it threatens to come out, and yet which, despite your efforts, and whatever level of pain you are willing to bear, just will not come out. I mean the thing that gets stuck part way, leaving you in that state of pain without relief, so that your only hope is to try to back off. I mean so dry and huge that when it starts to surge, the pain shoots laterally, with a ripping feeling, and also up and down your legs, and the blood drains out of your cheeks, and you break out in cold sweats, tremble, think you might throw up. So convulsive and yet so dry that finally you cross your legs to try to prevent the surges, to avoid being suspended in that painful state of fruitless suffering.

As a man, I cannot know what childbirth is like, so being badly constipated is my only reference point. Only, you don't get a miraculous child to love at the end of it. You don't get anything, you're trying to get rid of something.

This happened to me as a small child. I sat on the toilet dutifully. The pain was frightening. Nothing would come out. I felt like a failure.

It started leaking out in my underpants during the day.

There was some badgering from my father. He was relentless. The things he and my mother said made perfect sense: When you feel the pressure, then sit on the toilet and let it come out. It made perfect sense but it was impossible. My father grew impatient and badgered me every single day. I agreed with him every time. He grew more impatient and harsh. The questions and demands flew. It was a police interrogation. Finally one day I broke into tears and said, "But Daddy, it hurts!"

My mother, who had no doubt been suffering with me, later told me, "Thank you for telling your daddy that it hurts."


"That was a good thing. I don't think he really understood. But because you told him, now he does." She was almost in tears.

The surges in my bowels could happen at any time. It usually happened several times a day. I had to fight to keep them back. I would stand with my legs crossed.

You contemporary parents are thinking: How About A Trip To The Pediatrician?

Well, there was one. And a doctor hit on the exact problem. I was three or four when my mother told me that the doctor had an idea that milk was the problem, and that as an experiment, I was to avoid all milk and milk-bearing products like graham crackers and milk chocolate. I agreed to the plan.

She tried to keep these things from me, but I was a child, and these were some of my favorite things, and I snuck them without her knowledge. They tasted good.

So, though they apparently tried the lactose experiment, it failed.

What they thought after that is a mystery to me. Maybe they decided that it was psychological.

And that was it in terms of medical intervention until I was 14. My parents were raised in 1930s rural America, and though very intelligent (each being the first in their family to go to college), they came from a culture in which you avoided doctors. My father told me to stay away from doctors, because they'll always find something wrong (kind of like a car dealer will always try to sell you a car).

Once when I was perhaps seven, a tiny piece of mica sparkle from our spray-on ceiling fell into my eye. It hurt, worse than having an eyelash in there. My parents told me that it would wash out by itself. It stayed in there for days. They kept coaching me to hang my head and let the tears wash it out. I tried this, for hours at a time. After a week of this (maybe it was only five days), my father took me to an ophthalmologist. The doctor had me look into a scope while he maneuvered an instrument up to my eye. He said "Got it," and instantly I felt better.

"That's it?" I said.

"That's it."

He had suctioned it out with a tiny tube. I had been prepared for excruciating pain, blood, bandages.

Accordingly, when I proved unable to defecate normally, they didn't take me to doctor after doctor like contemporary parents would. And I spent 11 or 12 years in shame, with crap in my pants, feeling like a failure. My mother and father knew I was soiling myself, there was no hiding the laundry. My sisters knew too.

I developed an appetite for water which stayed with me throughout my entire childhood. I wasn't thirsty so much as I really enjoyed drinking lots of water, three or four tall glasses with every meal. Probably, in total, half a gallon. I think this was my body's way of getting rid of the feces.

I was continually constipated, and yet my body had to get rid of the poop, so my system watered some of it down so it could ooze around the side of the block. To this day I still don't know quite when it came out. I think it must have leaked out very gradually at all times. Once in a while, it oozed just a bit during the attacks, which I tried to hold back by crossing my legs and squeezing. This was a frequent posture for me, and there is even a picture of me doing it during a photo my mom took of us. Everyone thinks that smile on my face is cute, and that I look so mature and relaxed for six. But I still remember posing for that photo, and the queasy pain I was feeling. I look very composed, next to my sisters, leaning against a wall with my legs casually crossed, but my arms open. I was in a moment of crisis right then. Judging by the photo, I was good at masking the problem. To my knowledge, no one ever caught me trying to hold back an attack, and I think it was only once that some kid asked me if I was feeling OK.

Keep in mind that I am unable to digest milk, and I was drinking lots of milk and eating lots of chocolate all the time. Each morning at breakfast, I had a big bowl of cereal with lots of milk. By the time breakfast was over, and I would go downstairs to brush my teeth, my stomach would be hurting. I told me parents this.

"Don't swallow the toothpaste," they said.

After that I was very careful not to swallow any toothpaste. The stomach ache after breakfast kept happening. I kept telling them about it.

"Don't swallow the toothpaste," they said.

"I don't," I said. "I know I don't. I made extra sure to not swallow--"

"Well you must be," they said. "That's why your stomach is hurting." Both my mother and my father said this, at almost the exact same time.

Now before you all go and get outraged, keep in mind that kids -- myself in particular -- put out a lot of bunk, and often -- as I did -- try to alarm and confuse parents with all sorts of verbal tricks. My kids are good kids, and I know it, but I am awed and amazed by how much conflicting information and how many misleading signals they can emit. They're not evil, they're just experimenting.

I myself would have taken the kid to the doctor repeatedly until the problem was solved. But my parents didn't.

I was an abnormally short and skinny child. It runs in the family. But I had a big belly, like a victim of childhood malnutrition. Which, when you think about it, I was. Sort of. At one point when I may have been about nine, a doctor took an X-Ray and reported that my intestines were the size of a full-grown adult's. I attribute this to the fact that my guts were trying to hold so much inside.

So I wound up leaving the house in the morning in clean underwear, and at bedtime peeling off underwear with a sizable amount of flattened feces in it, on average, about the equivalent of one normal daily poop for a child. It was on the dry side, like a tar, or a chewy baked cookie. It must have oozed out in tiny amounts over the course of the day.

At one point my mother conducted a campaign of trying to find out at what time of day it came out. With complete common sense, she said I should figure out when it was happening, and go then to sit on the toilet at that time. When I said I didn't know when it happened, she decided to take the empirical approach. Every hour or so she would pull open the back of my pants and look in there. That must have gone on for a week or several weeks.

They apparently didn't know that I was fighting against painful surges all the time. They must have assumed that the pain I had told them about initially was real, but ultimately based in a psychological problem such as an anal retentive tendency. The theory would be: For some reason, the kid holds it in, and then the snowball effect takes over and he gets himself into a real, genuine problem.

To my knowledge, no one outside my family ever knew my secret, nor even suspected. I was never teased. There were almost no incidents of kids wondering where that smell was coming from. Only once -- in the first grade -- did I come close to being exposed. Some kid behind me in line, who I think was partially learning disabled ("retarded" was the word we used), bent over to pick up something he'd dropped, and must have stuck his nose close to my rear on the return trip. Fortunately, he didn't make an announcement, but just shook his finger at me and said, in a mock parental voice: "Uh uh-uh! Bad boy, messing your pants."

I ignored him. That moment terrified me.

As I said, the wad in my pants was mostly dry, though it must have come out in tiny wet squirts. I assume that dry poop doesn't smell as much. I often noticed my own smell, and I was good at holding still, or retreating to a well-ventilated space. I spent a lot of time sensing the motion of the air and placing myself downwind.

My grandmother would visit from time to time and subject me to enemas. I recall her doing this twice. That did not clear the block. It was just a case of a lot of uncomfortable water going in, and then later draining out. I do recall that, a couple of times in those years, I would manage to excrete the whole block. Then my underwear would be clean for a few days. But the cycle would later resume.

The reason that I conclude that no one outside the family suspected is that I was never teased. The prospect of such a tease is just too delicious -- imagine the riotous fun that could be had making fun of that kid in room 12 who still poops his pants! Hey! Maybe we can get him to do it if we scare him!

"What you got in your pants today, Mr. Poopie? Did you bring a little present for the teacher? Haw haw haw!"

None of that happened.

But imagine my shame. And my fear. I was an intelligent kid, and a voracious reader. And I was from a family where every fault was mercilessly picked on. That was my father's way. He was in so much psychic pain that he tried to export it to everyone else, by attacking, tearing down, and just being hateful. He used words, not blows.

My mother, for her part, tried to construct a wishful reality where nothing was wrong and no one had a cause to complain. She was so adept with language, as we all were, and I remember her soft, gentle approaches, like the waves of the ocean, relentless, coming at me again and again to smooth over anything definite I had said, trying to rework it by herself, or get me to retract it. One of her major tactics was to try to put her words in our mouths.

My father, to my knowledge, only used the trump card once or twice. As a teen (I think) I was talking about young kids learning to read with my mom, and he walked by and said something cutting about them being potty trained by then. Oddly enough, the exact same kind of quip happened later, after my own son was born, and I was discussing kids with my mom. Again, he walked by and made this cutting remark. He looked at me with red-faced contempt. I think, though, that at that time he might have been still demented somewhat by the chemo drugs. He is still a hateful person, but old age has taken a lot of the fire out of him.

With the exception of my mother my family, with myself included, busily attacked each other about everything. I was as contentious and hateful as any of them. But they didn't razz me about the crap in my pants. I think it must have been too constant for them to take aim at it. A given.

Of my sisters, only my oldest sister ever said anything to shame me before the family. I must have been about five, six or seven, and we were eating. I was about to get up to go get something and she said "No! I'll get it. You stay seated!" She exchanged glances with my mother and said that she wanted to avoid the smell. Though I loved her dearly, I for years remembered that moment with pure hate.

My middle sister was much more hostile to me, but I don't recall her ever teasing me about it, even once. She belittled me and attacked me about everything else, but not that. Maybe she thought that some of the shame rubbed off on her. Maybe she dreaded being known at school as the girl whose brother poops his pants.

My father once playfully decided to make up family nicknames. The one he came up with for me with "Stinky." It was meant to be a gentle ribbing. I looked the other way and pretended I hadn't heard him, though I was right next to him at the time.

He used to loom right over us with his fists drawn back, and bellow. He never did hit us, and I suppose that by his standards that made him a good father. But when he drew back his fists, I always thought he was just about to hit me. That was the threat.

One day he got sick of my mother cleaning up my bottom each day when I came home from kindergarten. She would have me stand on a stool and she would wipe me clean, even going so far, in what I assume was motherly zeal to help, that she would dig in my anus and try to scoop stuff out. Once she touched the prostate and it felt good. The next day, I asked her to do it again. I was five.

Soon my father loomed over me in the hall, his fists drawn back, yelling. "Your mother is not going to clean up your shit anymore! From now on, you're going to have to clean yourself! You got that!?"

He didn't mind swearing in front of us. "OK Dad," I said quickly, as I always did when he seemed about ready to kill.

I think what made him angry was the ongoing shame of my incontinence, the Oedipal implications of my request to my mother, and the rage it must have induced in him to detect homosexual tendencies in his son. He never did understand me, as he was an insecure, angry man with a flair for business math, and I was a goofy, artistic dreamer. He may have been afraid that I might turn out homosexual. I turned out to be a poet instead, which is almost as bad.

The way this rather long story ends is that when I was 14, just before I entered high school, they took me to a doctor. He reached into my underwear and palpated my testicles. I was smart enough and well-informed enough to know that he was checking to see if they had descended, if that might explain my lack of any boyish qualities. Maybe I was some freak of nature, sexless.

Then they had me drink a radioactive marker fluid, and took X-Rays. They determined that there was nothing wrong with my bowels, and said I might be lactose intolerant. I don't know if there is now, or was then, a chemical test for it.

But I was 14 and mature enough that when my mother explained it to me, I was able to avoid milk and check packaging of processed foods to see if they listed lactose as an ingredient. We began putting special lactase enzyme drops in milk bought for me, and letting that sit in the fridge for a day while the enzyme broke down the lactose. I can eat cheese, and yogurt, because the bacteria have already processed the lactose.

I don't recall if they gave me a laxative, but they must have. I then had one very massive poop, and lay on the couch feeling weird and empty, in a good way. "Mom, it feels weird to be so empty," I said, as she walked by. She said something brief and neutral, probably exhausted by years of hoping and hoping for a solution.

After that my bowel function was completely normal. I remember that first year in high school, using the toilet with gratitude, yet fearing that the problem might come back. Then after about two years I stopped worrying.

As I've said, my family atmosphere was very antagonistic, with people picking apart everything you said, had said, might say or might think. It was a viper pit, and that made me paranoid and controlling about every situation, always ready to defend myself in case I might be attacked. But the secret shame did add to that paranoia. One day in high school I was walking past the office and toward English class with my friend who I'll call Android. He and I often talked about Jung and psychology. We had just passed out of the covered building and into the open, covered area when I suddenly made a connection.

"Oh!" I said, "I just figured out why I'm so paranoid!"

"Yeah?" he said. "Why?"

"Never mind," I said.


For decades, I had my secret. It was something I had grown so used to hiding as a child that deep within my mind it was still a shameful thing. It's certainly not something anyone needs to know who has not suffered from it. Once in a while it would occur to me that maybe I could help some other little kid, and prevent their suffering, if I shared my own story. But it's not like there's a national organization of pants shitters with thousands of people wanting to join up and have picnics.

It was only when we started caring for our own kids and their health that I got a proper perspective in this. For over 10 years, as a child, I went through needless physical pain and emotional suffering because my parents failed to address my medical problem. Period. There has never been an apology from my parents. We've never talked about it since, except in terms of avoiding lactose. I'm not looking for an apology, but I now realize that if I ever put my own kids through something like that due to my ignorance or negligence, I will owe them an apology.

These days you can buy acidophilus milk. We do that for our kids. I don't think they're lactose intolerant, but when my son started getting constipated after we switched him to whole milk as a toddler, I insisted on it. And on those occasions when I have seen them pushing and straining on the potty, their faces red, the signs of struggle on their faces, my heart has gone out to them in the fullest wave of sympathy you can imagine. And I hurt for them and want them to emerge victorious. And thankfully they have.

I remember when one of my own kids was sitting naked on the potty as a toddler, straining and struggling with a bowel movement. I walked past and said, "Don't push so hard, just let it come out." I remember being a little toddler and my own father saying the same to me.

The lesson is: When your kids have a physical problem, take them to the doctor.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

An insect model for ALS

(It's been 18 months since the day I was diagnosed.)

In the summer of 1983, my job was to work for the university housing office, cleaning, painting, moving furniture, doing odd jobs and watching out for university property. One benefit of this was living rent-free in the dorm. This meant that I snuck in some of my chosen friends, such as Ronolulu, so that they could also spend the summer in the dorm. One day they told us on the crew that they were going to bomb the building with pesticides to get rid of the throngs and throngs of roaches that inhabited the place. I wish I remembered the specifics, but if I recall correctly, when we asked about safety, they told us it would be safe to go back in the building after about a day. I also don't recall if they told us to stay elsewhere for that day, but I know for certain that they didn't enforce any such ban, nor did they provide us any alternate lodgings. Anyway, there we were, after the pesticide application, living and eating in the dorm, every surface sticky with the pesticide, the persistent bug-spray smell everywhere. I for one wondered if it was still safe. But I decided to ignore the concern, because it was an inconvenient one. The only person I am still in contact with who was there that summer is Ronolulu. He's got health problems, but those predate the dorm days. I've also got health problems, as some of you might know. The roaches seemed to have been inconvenienced, as they emerged writhing from their hideouts. I remember watching one as I ate. It was doing a cockroach yoga on the table in front me me, stretching and twisting, falling over, but getting up. We remarked that the roaches didn't seem to be dying, or if they were, it was taking a very long time. I recall thinking after the summer was over that the pesticide bomb had probably been ineffective. I didn't see any dead roaches, other than the ones I killed.

Twenty years later and I came down with ALS. Coincidence? I don't know. But, other than wishing I had avoided the dorm altogether after the application of bug spray, I would not trade away anything else that happened that summer. It was a great one.

Right grip is 94 pounds (85, 80, 94), left leg balance is 9.12 seconds, and inhale volume is 4400 mL.


Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Contrary to what you might think, most people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) are not depressed. They are also not more likely to get depressed as the end of life approaches, and they are not more likely to be depressed if they want to die or hasten their own death.

Guy talk

Yesterday I walked my son to his swim lesson. Mindful that guys tend to be most comfortable talking about heavy stuff when standing abreast and doing something together, like shooting baskets, I said I was glad it was a short walk and that we had plenty of time.

"Why?" he asked.

"Well, you know I told you my legs are stiff a lot--"

"Oh yeah," he interjected.

"And I have trouble walking. You may notice that I limp."

"Yeah," he said. "What's a limp?"

"That's when your walking is not smooth."

"Yeah," he said, "A limp is when your leg kind of goes hard. And then soft and then hard."

"Sure," I said. "So I'm talking to some doctors about it like you suggested, to see what they say."

I might have mentioned my sore, tight muscles more than once. I may have repeated myself a few times on the doctors too. But for narrative simplicity I discard the repetitions in this account. The topic did not seem to bother my son. He was calm. He was focused on his swim lesson. My approach made it not seem like the Big Announcement it would have been had I brought it up at the dinner table.

Our kids are funny in that they often absorb the syntax that my lovely wife and I use. The last thing he said about my walking was "It is sadly true that you have a limp. But the good news is that... Is that ... Oh, I forgot. What was the good news?"

"That we have plenty of time to get there?"

"Yeah, that was it."

He did well in his swim lesson.

If I skip a day as I did two days ago, it's not very often. But if I do, I usually fill in the spreadsheet with the prior day's data, and marked it 'assumed.' This is to provide continuity in the graphs. I want the only gaps to be from ceftriaxone infusions (one of which I will start today), or from out of town trips.

Left grip is 39 pounds (34, 37, 39), right grip is 88 pounds (88, 85, 86), and left leg balance is 8.54 seconds.


Monday, July 11, 2005


I forgot (or, 'forgot') to do my metrics yesterday. I've had a persistent neck ache since before we left on our most recent trip. The chiropractor asked if she'd helped, and I said "Yeah," to make her feel encouraged, and because -- I wasn't sure -- maybe it would turn out that she had.

But I do have a sporty new, self-inflicted haircut. I can still do that.

I started a booklog, mostly for my own purposes. I may be curious to see what I've read. I reread 'The Red Badge of Courage' because I was thinking about a book report I gave in my second year of high school. My English teacher was a Vietnam veteran. He gave me an 'A' for the report (naturlich), but kept drilling me, as I stood before the class, on what the message of the book was. I kept saying that it was about how you had to do your duty no matter how afraid you were. I am not sure now, but I think what he said was that the message of the book is that war is something we cannot know our reactions to until we are confronted with it.

But what I found instead was the roots of my interest in dialect. After I read that book in high school, I must have spent weeks imitating the backwoods dialects in it.

It's an intensely psychological novella, describing quite well the insecurities and panics, if not the perils, of the boy who read it.

It also proves that the phrase looking out for old number one predates the 20th century.

Left grip is 39 pounds (30, 33, 39), right grip is 92 pounds (82, 84, 92), left leg balance is 16.17 seconds, and inhale volume is 4400 mL.

Sunday, July 10, 2005


When I was a small boy, perhaps five, my father told me that some day he was going to give me his old camera. It was, even by the standards of the 1960s, an antique. It had a square fabric telescopic lens. Like a pyramid. Anyway, I bugged him, perhaps for days, to give it to me. He told me no, because he did not want me to break it. Like any kid, I promised and promised that I would not. Finally, one day he relented. I was in awe of the thing, but also of the anger he might unleash on me if I broke it. So I intended to merely hold it and regard it. My sister, three years older, had another plan. She approached me while I sat on the steps in the garage and wanted to explore it. I kept telling her not to do this and not to do that. She took it from me. Talking rapidly, she drowned out my objections to her opening it a certain way. Then she said "Now it doesn't close," and handed it back. My father, who must have been eavesdropping behind us, instantly appeared and declaimed "Now you've broken it!" Then he put it on top of the trash in the garbage can and left the garage. It looked perfectly fine to me, and as I stared at it, I wondered if it might be repaired. But he seemed so sure, so I said nothing. I checked on it a few hours later, and it was still there in the garbage. I knew my sister was evil, but I didn't have the mental capacity to know that she had planned on helping me break it, in order to earn me condemnation. It was only more than thirty years later, when my father spoke of his plan to give me that same camera, that I realized my notoriously thrifty father had only pretended to throw it in the trash, and had in fact retrieved it later.


  1. If you plan a surprise for a kid later, don't tell them about it now.

  2. As a parent, when you say no, stick to it.

  3. Don't invent dramas to prove to your kids that they are bad.

  4. Speak up.


Saturday, July 09, 2005


I seem to have my energy back, and the shoulder/neck ache seems to be fading. It could be recovery from the trip, but I tend to think it's the DHEA.

Left grip is 37 pounds (31, 37, 34), right grip is 88 pounds (75, 83, 88), left leg balance is 11.11 seconds, and inhale volume is 4500 mL.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Three-point stance

During the initial Iraq war, I used to read the blog of Moja Vera. He once wrote about coming down a stairwell of some ancient lookout tower in the dark. He reminded himself to keep three points of contact: his two feet, plus a hand on the wall. You'll rarely fall if you do that, he wrote. This is common sense, and I do it all the time, in the shower, or coming down stairs, for example. But when I do, I always think briefly of Moja in that stone tower in Iraq. Now that he's back, he has a cool new job and got married. I wish he were still blogging though.

When I decided to up my DHEA intake to 100 mg per day, a reader warned me about coming off of it -- that I might experience grumpiness, as she had. Well, in an unintentional experiment, I have been forgetting to take the DHEA for at least a week and a half, probably two or three week. Space cadet. Anyway, to my knowledge, there was no grumpiness. (You'd have to ask my lovely wife). I have been feeling extra tired though. So now that I am back on the full dose, we shall see what happens. For the past four or five days, I've had a shoulder/neck ache on the right side that often seems to trigger a headache. It could be related to the strains of the big trip, or the lack of DHEA. We shall see.

Left grip is 38 pounds (34, 38, 36), right grip is 89 pounds (82, 89, 81), left leg balance is 10.74 seconds, and inhale volume is 4490 mL.


Thursday, July 07, 2005


When I was in junior high school, my father thought it was funny to tickle my face with a small piece of thread while I was sleeping. This caused me to scratch and slap and try to hide my head under the pillow. I was asleep, and assumed it was an insect. Which of course it was. At school, Carl had tricked me for an extended period during an outdoor assembly on the lawn, by tickling me with a small seed pod on the end of a very long stalk. I kept swatting at that 'fly' until I heard giggling from Carl and Tony, and turned around and broke the stalk into little pieces. I wanted to break Carl into little pieces, but I was the smallest boy in school. One particular morning while I was sleeping, my father came in with the thread. I contorted myself for quite a few minutes while he continued annoying me with it. Then I had a dream. I dreamed that Carl was tickling me with something. I sat up resolutely in bed, drew back my fist, and punched Carl suddenly and as hard as I could, then flopped back down to sleep. I doubt that it hurt my father much, but he immediately woke me up and tried to hold me accountable for punching him. "No, I didn't punch you," I said. "I was dreaming it was Carl. Carl was tickling me with a piece of grass. So I punched him. I didn't know it was you." My father never again harassed me with simulated insects in my sleep, so far as I know. Anyway, it was a sort of justice.

Left grip is 38 pounds (35, 34, 38), right grip is 88 pounds (88, 85, 85), left leg balance is 7.79 seconds, and inhale volume is 4500 mL.


Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Speech! Speech!

My speech is always a bit slow now, as if I'd just woken up, or was trying to stifle a yawn. It is sometimes slurred, and transitional consonants get dropped. I'm still intelligible, but I get the sense that everyone I talk to on the phone wishes this guy would hurry up.

Left grip is 36 pounds (34, 36, 36), right grip is 88 pounds (85, 87, 88), left leg balance is 8.06 seconds, and inhale volume is 4500 mL.


Tuesday, July 05, 2005

We're back

We're back from our road trip. We put over 1200 miles on the new Outback and saw lots of good people. I remember that when I was a kid, my father used to tell me to stop kicking the back of his seat while he drove. I just ignore it, on the theory that it's less rewarding if you don't correct them. That's also why I don't tell them not to curse when they say "God damn it!" or other such things they have heard. I don't want to reward them, nor do I want to confirm for them that they did it correctly.

I have also noticed that weird blank space at the top of my entries. I was not playing with the template, it just started happening one day. I was hoping it was just a Blogger hiccup, and that patience would clear it up. But it did not yield to manipulation, so I picked this new template.
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