Thursday, August 31, 2006


On my daughter's third birthday her mom pulled a candle out of the cake and handed it to her. "You can lick it!" my son said. She pointed her little tongue and licked ... the cake!

Left grip is 15 pounds (15, 12, 9), right grip is 40 pounds (40, 33, 35),


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Involuntary reaction

I had a girlfriend in the '80s who'd had waaaaaay more experience than I did, so much that she couldn't even guess how many. "I don't know. I don't know," she said, even though she was in her twenties.

Amazingly, this bright, witty, college-educated, experienced woman thought that the signature male anatomical event was voluntary. And I'm not talking about balding. She actually thought that you could make it arise and retire as an act of will. She was surprised and incredulous when I told her the truth.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


We hired a CNA to help me out with my morning routine. I think that stands for Certified (or California?) Nursing Assistant. Not sure. She helps for three hours each weekday. She started on August 21. And not a moment too soon. Due to advancing right arm weakness, it was becoming difficult for me to dry my own hair. It was too bushy and thick, including on those parts usually afflicted by MPB. Fortunately a friend came here and gave me a very short haircut. But still, things go so much more quickly when she helps me shower and dress.

You heard that right. My son already asked my supportive wife: "Does she stare at his private parts?" My response: "She's a nurse."

She is younger, beautiful, and exotically from another country. But the thing you might expect to happen doesn't, not because I'm not a very simple mechanism like all other men, but because I'm a saint.

Let me clarify. I'm human, and I wouldn't be at all surprised (or ashamed), if Gumby made an appearance. But the reason Gumby doesn't show is that, in my experience, he shows when a woman is romancing me. The CNA isn't dour, officious or severe in the shower -- she's friendly as usual. But she's not romancing me, so, no Gumby. It's intimate, but it's not sexy.

It helps save a lot of time and, more importantly, muscle effort, to have someone shave me, soap me, dry me, dress me, prepare and hang my IV, and make breakfast and smoothies. These last two are things my devoted wife usually did. The CNA also does a little laundry.

I understand that if you have ALS and Medicare (I do, but I still use my Blue Cross), that the government will pay for your in-home nursing care, if the nurse comes through an approved agency. But -- and I hope those of you in the know will correct me on this -- I understand that's only for medical care, like, I dunno, physical therapy or maybe medication supervision, not daily convenience care like the CNA does for me.

This weekend I managed myself in the shower, even drying my own, mercifully now shorter, hair. My admirably introspective wife often helps me get dressed, and she did so this weekend as well.

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Tinkerbell Strategy

I watched a video on Iraq on the YouTubes, made, no doubt, by a very fine and very sincere boy. It's always been mostly boys who go to war. They're as big as men, smart, capable, trained and brave ... boys. This one seems good. There are two songs in the soundtrack. The second one, pure bunko, is filled with pride about the idea that Uncle Sam and the American people will rain destruction, via our military, on the enemies who attacked us on 9/11 from "somewhere out in the back" -- which just happens to rhyme with "Iraq."

The moment I heard that lyric I was reminded again that many people support misadventures like Iraq because they wish that we could find a state enemy behind the 9/11 attack. Wouldn't it be great? Wouldn't it be great if this were WWII and all we had to do was win battles? We are the most powerful military force in the world, so wouldn't it be great if we could frame the conflict in terms tractable by our strengths?

But instead of bombing Nazi Germany, we invaded Iraq, a country that had no WMDs and nothing to do with 9/11. Trying to duck that unpleasant reality, many people continue with magical thinking: Maybe if I believe Iraq attacked us on 9/11, and maybe if I believe in the war fervently enough, the things I believe will come true, and we'll defeat the terrorists. This is the Tinkerbell Strategy, which is why the 'patriots' get so upset with people who point out the facts.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The Youtubes Iraq

I bet I'm the last one to notice, but the Youtubes done Iraq. Here's one.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

How many sides does a stop sign have?

It's a trick question. No matter how you answer, you can be wrong.

I heard my son the other morning try it on my loving wife. From the bathroom I roared/slurred "Two!: Front and back!"

"No..." he trailed off. He asked my admirable wife again. She said "Do you mean how many sides does an octagon have?"

"No..." he said. He wanted to follow the script. "I mean How many sides does a stop sign have?" he said, randomly placing a stress to make it sound like it mattered.

I recall my own parents being frustrating in that way. You would ask them a trick question and they would say something back that indicated that they had picked up on the weak reasoning or phrasing that they were supposed to fall into.

Friday, August 25, 2006


1. Sunday 2:35 AM another (4th) episode of severe dull (not sharp) abdominal pain. Others have all been in daylight while sitting. This one came on much more quickly (not because I was asleep and didn’t notice), while the others have had a half-hour buildup. I also began sweating much more quickly, whereas prior to this it was always at the very last stage. Previously I felt like defecating and vomiting, but not this time. I took two (2) date-expired vicodin and by 2:55 I was no longer thrashing and moaning. By 3:30 I was comfortable and soon slept.

Gallstones, I have read, are a ‘sharp’ pain?

I’ve taken daily IV Rocephin since March. Risk of gallstones. What percentage?

The nurse practitioner said gallstones do indeed cause a sharp pain. Said she doesn't know the percentages, but typical factors are (1) female (2) fat (3) over 40. I am over 40. She urged me to use the prescription for ultrasound that I already have, and gave me a new prescription for vicodin.

2. The steroid inhaler the doctor prescribed is not reducing my cough despite daily use. I have heard there are new, stronger medications.

No doubt some of it is psychosomatic, as I always cough right before putting food in my mouth.

But it makes life harder to cough.

She prescribed Advair again. At least we think that worked.

3. Crotch rot. I had jock itch and underarm itch, probably from not drying thoroughly after showers. Both responded to OTC antifungal creams and the itches are gone, BUT I have a constant bad smell from my crotch, like dead flesh. I think something is still feeding there. I am almost always sitting in my wheelchair, and I noticed my underwear harboring body moisture. For over a week now I have worn no underwear and washed very thoroughly, however the smell persists.

She gave me a prescription for stronger antifungal cream and advised me that the key is to keep things dry. She suggested that I use a hair dryer set on low to strafe the terrain after showering.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

172 vs. 40

Before each shower, I apply a plastic film over my port-a-cath, to keep water out of the dressing. The nursing agency ships them to me. They have sticky borders that adhere to your skin after you peel off the strips of waxy paper. It's not easy to do to yourself if you are a pathetic cripple like I am. The other day, I counted the seconds in my head: 172. Almost three minutes. The next day, I asked my kind wife to do it for me, and I counted: 40 seconds.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Pee in a jug

If I need to pee at night I go into a plastic jug dubbed a 'urinal' by the people who make it. My supportive wife bought it for me a couple of months ago when my perilous transit to the bathroom and back became too alarming. Guess who empties and rinses it.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Roomba Red

My Roomba 1.0 a few years ago died from battery failure. Now, with the new bedroom, a new Roomba "Red." I ran it for a few minutes the first night, then emptied the tray, seen here as the curved section with "iRobot" painted on it. I put the tray back in, though it took some doing, since my hands are clumsy. The next day, I wanted to see if it would indeed return to the charging station when done, as advertised. It ran for about an hour, and when I went back in the room, it had indeed returned to the charging station. But the carpet seemed no cleaner. There were little bits everywhere. Not far from the charging station, I found the dust tray, which had probably fallen off in the first minute. The rest of the hour, it had run around happily sucking up dust and spewing it out the back.


Monday, August 21, 2006


I've started paying bills online. It's a pain for me to write checks, and stuff and address envelopes. Most banks offer OLBP.

Saturday, August 19, 2006


This is what I saw yesterday on my Yahoo news page.

The Princeton people are happy of course. But how ironic that Bill Ford, who runs Ford Motor, also went to Princeton. Two stories down we see that the boy wonder has not been able to turn the company around.

A lot of people behind the Bush administration went to Princeton too. Not least Rumsfeld. I guess failure is a Princeton tradition.

Friday, August 18, 2006


The first time for anything is the best. Well, maybe the second.

Anyway, once I wandered to to share my awesome Saving Private Ryan video, "30 seconds!", I clicked on Most Viewed and encountered Lonelygirl and Daniel kvetching about each other, instead of grinding together their passions in the dark like they ought.

I thought it was real for 30 seconds, until I realized that she's 20 pretending to be 16, and that they're both film students at UCLA trying to light their big break into show business.

UPDATE from 9/15:

The actress who plays Bree on the hit Internet soap opera is Jessica Lee Rose, a 19-year-old who was born in Salisbury, Maryland, and moved to New Zealand when she was eight.

I began watching all the video commentary on Lonelygirl, some of it quite touching and wise, but most of it juvenile. And all hilarious!

Remember, I haven't watched TV in six (6) years, so I don't know what's happening in popular culture. And this new medium in which people can contribute their own creativity seemed so revolutionary and new to me. I loved it.

Soon I'm sure I'll be jaded and have expectations and a critique. A critique can spoil anything. But right now I'm like a virgin, touched for the very first time.

You all know that I have issues with saliva, reactive airways, and laughter that all combine to threaten to asphyxiate me. It was while watching this clip from renetto that I realized I might literally die laughing. I had to turn off the computer to save myself.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

30 seconds!

There are lots of great scenes in Saving Private Ryan, but one of my favorites is at the very beginning, as the LSM is heading in towards the beach. The pilot yells "Thirty seconds! God be with ya!"

I like the "God be with ya!" because he's wishing them luck and protection. As the pilot, behind lots of armored plate, he's probably going to live. He feels protective of them but knows he can't protect them.

Soon enough the ramp goes down and you get a sense for what real war might be like.

I was lowering myself in the wheelchair lift the other day, and as I often do, I counted in my head how many seconds it took. Thirty. Hmm! Then the little ramp went down. I was glad there were no German soldiers in my back yard.

In this video it takes 31 seconds, because I was pressing the down button with the watch on my weak left arm. The weakness freed the button a couple of times and the lift made a grinding noise as it slowed down. The hairy, fleshy object is my knee.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006


I was somewhat a prisoner of our study when I went in there. Because the door is narrow, the angles and the carpet were wrong, I had to get out of the chair and knee-walk to the computer. An equal effort was involved in getting back out.

So once in there, I tended to evaluate everything in comparison to the effort involved. Hence I tended to asked my cogent wife for every little thing, whether in the study or out:

- a liter of tepid water
- a large, empty cup
- my food/smoothie on my desk
- bring my camera

Now that my medications and computer are in the new addition, whose doors, angles and carpets favor my wheelchair, I plan to fill a lot of these needs by myself.

Yesterday I even took out my own trash to the trash can in front of the house. Although my tall wife did help me in many ways, I got my own liter of tepid water and large empty cup, and put my own smoothie on the desk. And my own spoon.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


I'm blogcasting today for the first time from the new addition. This is very good. More on that topic later.

I took a picture of my son watching his first-ever episode of original Star Trek on DVD (the Gorn episode). He looked like an idiot. That's what TV does to you.

A few weeks later, while he was sick, I photographed him solving a simple chess problem online. He looked like he was thinking. That's what chess does to you.

We have shown the kids two DVDs: March of the Penguins and Winged Migration. He had seen Winged Migration at his grandma's house and absolutely loved it. You might think our showing them DVDs would set off a firestorm of demand for more, more, more!

But my daughter tended to hop up and go play after about 10 minutes of watching, and my son issued the most classic line of all time: "You can turn it off now, Dad, I want to read."

On a recent road trip he asked that we put on the Joni Mitchell CD, and chatted with his aunt about how great
Joni is.

Ideal kids.

Monday, August 14, 2006


They brought back my old wheelchair after the repairs and within 7 blocks it started making a high-pitched grinding noise. No, not just a case for WD-40. I think it's the new drive wheel they put in. The guy came back and gave me the loaner again, which by the next morning had a flat tire, rendering it useless. The guy switched out the wheel and tire, and Sunday at noon while cruising down the sidewalk, another flat. No hiss or bang or pop. My valiant wife took the wheel to a local bike shop to see if they could fix the tire. They did. We're going to buy a spare wheel.

And the inhaler thingy just Is Not Helping to reduce the annoying cough. So yesterday I switched to dosing twice a day: in the morning and at night.

Sunday, August 13, 2006


Early in my blog I joked about a drool bucket (like in the Monty Python skit). Well now, drool has become a major issue. My lip muscles don't create a good seal. If I turn on my side in bed, I must put a rag under my cheek to absorb possible drool. I don't like soggy drooled-on pillows, and I bet you don't either -- but I squish one on your nose in this blog entry.

Splat! "Ewww!"

The other problem is THICK saliva. So thick that it has several times come close to asphyxiating me. It blocks your mouth as an airway and then tries to creep up to block the inlets from your nose. I have on several occasions leaned over the sink, trying to spit out the glue (my spitting ability is impaired, along with everything else), and concentrated on breathing in through my nose and spitting and drooling out through my mouth.

But on the advice of the sexy lady doctor, my deserving wife has been giving me papaya juice at dinner. That has helped thin out the saliva and make it much less likely to gag me.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Israel's first war loss

The terrorist wankers in Hezbollah and their supporters claimed, after the 2000 Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, that the Hez had forced Israel out, had defeated the IDF.

Bunko, I thought. Regardless of the wisdom or inhumanity of the war, Israel left on its own terms. The IDF was not defeated.

The '48 war was a victory.
The '56 attack on Egypt was an adventure.
The '67 war was a victory.
The '73 war was a victory.
The '82-2000 war was a draw.

The IDF has never been defeated.

Until 2006.

Israel defeated the IDF by overreacting, and by setting victory conditions which it could not achieve. And the Hez helped too, by spending six years buildings tunnels, bunkers, laying in rockets, and -- apparently -- training with Iranian instructors. The training has helped them kill quite a few IDF soldiers in ground combat.

They've also mastered Israeli psychology, Western media campaigns, and timing. They seized on Israel's weakness at the top after Sharon's stroke. Sharon may have been a mean old bird, but as an elder statesman with experience, he might have had enough bile left in him to show some restraint after the capture of one IDF soldier by Hamas and two by the Hez (in a cross-border tunneling raid that was masterful). I mean the nasty kind of restraint, the viscous, angry kind that bides its time and prepares revenge -- instead of sending everybody charging into the enemy's trap, while you run around waving your underpants in a circle over your head the way Olmert has.

The Hez were ready, but Israel helped set up the IDF for its first defeat. It defined victory as weakening the Hez (a vague goal, easy to finesse in the media even if you substantially strengthened the Hez, as Israel has) and the end of Hez ability to hit Israel with missiles. Olmert set an extremely high bar by rejecting a ceasefire, declaring "...we will not give up on our goal to live a life free of terror."

Free of terror? Set terms like that and you've lost from the outset.

And Bush helped too, by scuttling talk of a ceasefire, having Condi say it wouldn't make sense until the ground was laid for a lasting peace (meaning, until Israel had defeated the Hez). Apparently, his people didn't see that this was a no-win situation for Israel. That's not surprising, given that these are the same people who think we can win in Iraq.

Lebanon's infrastructure and economy are destroyed, 600,000 people are displaced (no likely Hez recruits there!), and Hezbollah laughs gleefully while Isreal willingly paints itself as a war machine and oppressor with the blood of innocent civilians.

Now that the unwelcome reality of Israel's defeat has set in, Israel and the US are begging for a ceasefire. But why should the Hez give it to them? The Hez will dictate the terms.

Now the whining that the Hez launch rockets from civilian areas, using civilians as shields, will peak. The "No one expected that" excuse will be floated, even though this is a standard guerilla/terrorist tactic. Everybody knew it. The Hez were just praying for opponents weak-minded enough to fall for it. Enter Ehud Olmert and little George Bush.

The Hez hit the jackpot. It's a sad day for Israel and Lebanon.

Friday, August 11, 2006


I had a dream about Tuva-wall, a painting compound. Fortunately it exists only in my dreams. I was in a paint store and looked at a display of the product. Right on the can it told the story of some guy who ate only Tuva-wall for a year, because it's so cheap, which helped him finance the house he painted entirely with Tuva-wall.

I thought how my friend Jansenist would love that story of thrift, economy, and bizarre diet.

Tuva-wall expands up to five times after application. For example, a layer 7/16 of an inch thick will expand to 34/16 of an inch, or two and an eighth inches!

It can become any color, using pigments. I played with some of it, kept wet in a small bowl. It looked like raw pasta floating in food coloring.

Tuva-wall is simple, but many men appear to be too stupid to grasp it. A woman standing behind me derisively recounted to her friend how her husband had said "I'll do the cooking for a week if you'll do the Tuva-wall!" They laughed.

After waking I realized that Tuva-wall would suck as a product. Any slight error in pressure when applying it would be magnified five times.

Thursday, August 10, 2006


The carpet guys installed the carpet Tuesday, and some friends moved our furniture downstairs, so my cuddly wife and I spent the night in the new bedroom. Also, the concrete was poured that makes it possible for my wheelchair to get to the front of the house. My wheelchair is using a loaned undercarriage while they try to repair the disabled one.

So at the moment, barring a few details, everything is optimal.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Inspector Clouseau

I only remember three things from the Pink Panther movies:

  1. "rit of felous jage"

  2. finger amputation

  3. goose bumps at the nudist colony

But there's got to be a scene where Clouseau turns confession into evidence because he's determined to finger the criminal. I think it would go like this:

Thief: I broke in through a museum window after hours and stole the jewels. They're under my bed in my apartment. You'll find them there.

Clouseau: And where were you last night?

Thief: At the museum.

Clouseau: Don't you know that the museum is CLOSED at night? Why were you there?

Thief: To steal the jewels.

Clouseau: Ah, so you ADMIT being at the museum after hours!

Thief: Of course. I told you, I stole the jewels.

Clouseau: Tell me ... Do you have any expensive jewels?

Thief: You'll find them under my bed.

Clouseau: Ah ha! Where did a poor grubber like YOU get expensive jewels, my dear?

Thief: I stole them from the museum.

Clouseau: Enough of your lies! Constable, search the suspect's apartment! I have a pretty good suspicion we'll find the jewels there. Heh heh heh...

In just the same way, a reader of my blog called 'exposed' has accused me of rampant sexism. On August 5, I wrote about a school friend who I "treated ... like trash too much of the time."

Later in the same post I wrote:

Looking back on it now, I ridiculed him and his thinking the way my father ridiculed my mother. I hierarchically feminized him in our friendship.

Exposed commented:

you "feminized" him in your relationship? not dominated huh? hmm...the rampant sexism sneaks through again dear.

I emailed exposed, and found out that exposed is quite serious. So let's look at it seriously.

Ridicule, per se, without any justification being given, is something most of us would consider a bad thing done by mean people. Earlier in the post in question, I wrote that the ridicule of a dominant boy made me so angry that I tried to kick his shins. Apparently I also think ridicule for no reason is bad. Since I raise the topic of my father ridiculing my mother, it is possible that I am framing the issue in terms of relations between the sexes, and that I may be aware of the concept of sexism. In describing ridicule without purpose inflicted by a man on a woman, it is even possible that I am describing sexist oppression.

It is possible that I don't approve of sexist oppression. Yes, I am sexist, just like I am racist: Anyone raised in this society absorbs those poisons.

Then I write that "I hierarchically feminized him in our friendship." The phrase "hierarchically feminized" sounds like a bad thing. Earlier in the same post I had derided the hierarchical social structures some kids create: "a pyramid of monkeys crapping on each other." Apparently, I think hierarchical social structures without good cause are bad. So, to "hierarchically feminize" someone -- especially when equated to a father ridiculing a mother without cause -- is probably something the writer does not endorse.

It is also possible that I used the phrase "hierarchically feminized" rather than "hierarchically dominated" in order to highlight the sexism inherent in both my father and myself.

It's not only possible. Any intelligent, educated reader would see it in this piece, and not conclude that I was accidentally revealing my own, unexamined, sexism.

Exposed is intelligent, and is educated (though not always about spelling). Exposed could have easily perceived this piece for what it was. But exposed chose to read nefarity1 into it. From this I conclude that I represent something special to exposed, whose mind will turn confession into evidence to make a case.

1. May not be in the dictionary, but should be.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Letter opener

Ripping open a letter is something you probably do without thinking about how to. Like putting on a shirt. But these are difficult for me, because my hands (particularly the left, the gripper) are so weak and clumsy. I found myself wishing for a letter opener. There, on my desk, was a piece of corporate gimcrack -- a letter opener! With the logo of a company that no longer exists.

It has waited on my desk for nine years for this day.

I opened about a dozen neglected letters at once.

For junk mail, if there is a business reply mail envelope, I insert the junk mail and its envelope in there, and mail it back -- after carefully removing any identifying information about me. That means names, addresses, barcodes, and anything that looks like an ID number.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Never cross a construction site in your wheelchair

This is the story of the first serious operational use of my wheelchair. My boy was supposed be at sports camp at 10:30 AM, conveniently located at a school at the end of our block. My ravishing wife had a hair appointment at that time, and so I agreed to take the boy.

I decided that we should leave the house at 10:20, just in case he followed his usual M.O. of delaying everything.

While we were waiting, I asked him if he wanted to play chess. He has often declined, so I was surprised when he readily agreed. We played until he wasted his queen taking my protected knight. He did a similar thing the last time we played, a few months ago.

"I thought you wanted to play real chess," I slurred.

"I'm taking your knight," he said. "This is real chess."

"I'm done," I slurred. I used to take advantage of his every mistake. I never went easy on him. But now I think he's old enough to avoid giving material away.

I think he may be developing a 'friendly' style of chess, wherein he loses on purpose. Or it may be his way to get me to stop asking him to play.

A few weeks ago, I told him that I want to teach him to win. I wrote up a four-page treatise in big type. He read two pages and dropped it after saying, "This is many pages!"

I do have a plan. ICC has a trainingbot -- a program that gives you chess problems. He's solved two at the easiest level. After we move into the addition, I plan to have him train a lot more.

Anyway, after he took my protected knight with his queen, I overcame my objection and decided to play on, to let him experience the consequences. We were playing on the wall chess board, and he was standing on a chair moving the pieces. He had almost no trouble understanding the coordinates I spoke (Once I had to slur "D for dog" when he thought I'd said "E").

I told him my move for taking his queen with my pawn, and he correctly made the move. He knows very well how chess pieces move. But then he put the queen and pawn back. He feigned that I was trying to take with another pawn, which would have been an illegal move. I accused him of cheating and he ran upstairs in a rage.

I did stuff on the computer.

When 10:20 came, he was in a good mood again, and willing to go. I asked him to use the bathroom while I used the other one. He wanted to ride the chair lift down with me. Part way down, he warned me about something. I heard a crack, and looked down to see a piece of wood obstructing the descent of the lift. One of the builders had used it temporarily to brace another piece. There was some delay as I bent over to fiddle with the obstruction. I need not have bothered, because the lift had already broken off a big enough piece that we could still descend.

By 10:35 we were down on the back patio. I tried to ride across the sheets of plywood the workers had laid across a place where concrete will be poured to ease the passage of my chair, and got stuck on an uneven surface with one wheel spinning fruitlessly in the air.

I struggled with this for a few minutes, during which my son tried to encourage me with "You're doin' a good job, Dad." He offered to push, and that helped the chair get past the trap. We headed out to the sidewalk.

Then I saw that he didn't have his cap, or backpack. I took him to the front door and gave him my key. He had trouble getting the door open, so I creaked out of the chair and used the railing as I made my monstrous way up the steps. I popped the door and he got his things.

By 10:44 I was back in the chair and we were on our way. I'd expected to have him there at 10:30.

I dropped him off at 10:49.

Despite the weak wheelchair, coming back across the plywood in the other direction went more smoothly, because I was aware of the hazard, and by 10:57 I was back in the house.

Within two hours my affectionate wife had to pick him up, because he was feeling sick. We think he got a touch of what his sister had. But fortunately he did not throw up.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

"I've never done this before"

That's what the new nurse said right before changing the needle in my Port-a-cath.

But he did all right.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

My best school friend

My best friend in school, from third grade to the end of high school, was a guy I'll call 'Tony.' His family moved out here after the school year had already started, and I showed him around. Here's the bathroom, here's the merry-go-round, this is Kathy; Run away from her, because she tries to kiss boys.

The day I met Tony, we encountered his older brother 'Charlie' on the playground at recess. Charlie checked up on Tony, asked how he was doing, in a fatherly way. Tony said "You don't have to be my friend anymore, Charlie. He's my friend now," he said, indicating me. I was a bit shocked, because I didn't know if I would even be friends with this kid.

But he was right, and by the end of the year we were inseparable. After third grade they moved us both into the gifted program. Miss Apple must have nominated us. I recall a for-fun exercise in which you were supposed to circle all the words you found inside another word. I went up and asked Miss Apple if you could also circle the main word itself. She put her finger to her lips: "Hush!" I bet every kid circled the main word after that. I also bet that Tony and I had the highest scores.

Miss Apple liked Tony best, and on the last day of school told him a secret: She was getting married, and would come back the next year as Mrs. Prune. When Tony told me this I said, "Yeah I know, she told me too." That was a LIE!

Being put in the gifted program was not without consequences. I came to feel that we were the normal kids, and that kids in other classes were more rowdy, nasty, and violent. I didn't use the word 'barbarian' to describe them, but they were Visigoths.

Another consequence was when my former best friend from kindergarten to second grade happened to run into me, Tony, and fat Mike one day while we were waiting for a transfer school bus. 'Randy' was none too smart, and he was also gay, in my later estimation. When we were in first grade, he got so turned on when I imitated the voice of one of the many 'girlfriends' he bragged about having, that he tried to pull my pants down and bugger me. He freaked out when I started yelling "No!" and gave it up, so that I would be quiet. In second grade, Scott told me that he and Randy would bugger each other. He said it was fun, urged me to try it. I declined. For one thing, my underwear was usually packed with my own dung, but for another, the idea just seemed too yucky.

So the day that Randy saw me with Tony and Mike, he asked me if I liked being at the other school (where the gifted program was). I said yes, and the most bizarre thing happened: I saw tears well up in Randy's eyes. He always made such a big deal out of being macho. And now tears. I turned away for some reason, but Mike had also seen it, and later commented on it. I guess Randy loved me. But he was a liar and manipulator, so I'm glad I didn't see much of him again until high school, when he was on the football team. I once overheard the quarterback scoff that Randy had cried when some guy hit him. I briefly felt loyalty to Randy until I realized that I no longer knew him.

Kathy once crawled after Tony and me on the merry-go-round, trying to kiss us. We got away. By high school she was a lush, fully-developed young woman with a fantastic smile. Tony and I both agreed that we should have let her catch us.

Tony was a good guy, honest, smart, careful of others' feelings. All of the kids in his family were very smart, and achievers. Tony was smart, but he had his own plan for life. He called himself "lazy." And in a family of such stars, his father, I hear, would ridicule him. I also treated him like trash too much of the time. Charlie told me when we were grown that they all had.

In sixth grade, everyone, even the teacher, ridiculed Tony. One time, blaming him for some bullying the Visigoths were inflicting on me, I got him from behind in an elbow choke hold across his windpipe while he was seated. The dominant boy whose in-group I was always begging to join laughed that Tony had turned purple, and in another minute would have been brain-dead.

In seventh grade, the epiphany. Tony and Carl had always been nice to me, and the dominant boy was ridiculing me yet again. So I tried to kick his shins -- and marched over to sit down with Tony and Carl. I completely shunned the dominant boy after that, and focused my friendship on Tony. I had learned that friendship is about being friends, not a pyramid of monkeys crapping on each other.

I don't know who I would have become if Tony and Carl had not been sitting there the moment I became enraged at the dominators.

When we entered high school, Kevin told me that "some of us" were watching to see if Tony and I would continue being such close friends in high school, because it might mean we were fags. Crucially, Kevin did not use the word 'fag,' but various circumlocutions. Based on this, and despite his various statements about digging chicks, I now declare that Kevin was a fag.

I sat Tony down on a remote bench and explained that since I didn't want people to think we were fags, we couldn't hang out anymore. This may have lasted a week, until I gradually drifted back to Tony. After all, he was my friend.

I was very short, and super-scrawny through most of high school. Tony was skinny, but of more normal height.

One of his older brothers was popular, and on the swim team. He flirted once with a blonde bombshell and Tony said "Gosh, did you hear what he said? I could never do that!"

I was jealous and annoyed when Tony joined the swim team. He soon developed muscles that were visible in the team photo. But in all things he was modest. In the team photo, he looked bashful. He often said that he had an "inferiority complex."

Looking back on it now, I ridiculed him and his thinking the way my father ridiculed my mother. I hierarchically feminized him in our friendship.

He was a good friend, important and valuable. I don't know what kind of jerk I would have developed into had it not been for him.

Fast forward. After high school we lost touch. He was so handsome, like a young Harrison Ford, that I didn't want to introduce him to my girlfriends. I avoided him for that reason. One time, he talked about living in a gay neighborhood, and how he knew what it felt like for women to be constantly hounded by men. He imitated them saying "Come on, you know you want it!" No, he didn't, he said.

I was at his wedding to a vivacious, cheery woman. I took the bus. I had no money. I saw both of his sisters there, and thought about how hot they were. I briefly spoke to one guest, and for weeks afterwards entertained foolish romantic notions about her.

He and his wife both went into the same field, and he rose to become a program director, while she developed psychiatric problems and divorced him a couple of years ago.

He's been over to our house a couple of times since then. He looks fabulous. Handsome, well-dressed, nice lustrous long hair.

"The ladies must be crawling all over you!" I said, a couple of times. Later he replied to my similar statement in email by saying that, as for the ladies, he's been dating only men since the divorce. I gather that he lives with his boyfriend.

In a better world this last bit would not matter, nor be worthy of much comment. But this isn't a better world, it's one where I grew up screaming about how ridiculous 'fags' are.

So, my best friend in school has a side that appreciates men. Does that mean I should write yet more in this entry, as I search myself for signs of gayness? No need: I have plenty of signs of gayness (if stereotypes have any merit). I just happen to dig chicks.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Palatal lift

Initially even the prosthodontist said that the palatal lift was not improving my speech. But a friend drove me to the prosthodontist's office on July 28, and after it was in, they both felt that my intelligibility was improved. My devoted wife and the kids agree. So I have been wearing it more. But I'm not supposed to eat with it in, so that limits it, and means more work for my loving wife.


Thursday, August 03, 2006

Rocketless in Gaza

Is it because of interdiction that the Gazans don't have cool rockets like the Hez have, or did someone make a strategic decision?

Ram says "both."

Speaking only for myself, I'm gonna guess that the victim/oppressor ratio is better when the Pals don't have good weapons.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Their plan

1. Mass troops in Baghdad, cite improvement in Iraq ('It's a city state; as goes Baghdad, so goes Iraq') and pull some troops out in time for November election.

2. Claim Iraqis are crazy for having a civil war, don't deserve freedom. Bug out.

3. Blame liberals.

I watched my darling daughter throw up this morning, just as her mom was packing her lunch for preschool. Now my heroic wife's day is shot to hell, just like her husband's body was shot to hell by this disease.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


The wound caused by my canine jabbing inside my lower lip has healed since the dentist ground down the tooth. There are currently some areas where the incisors have pinched the inside of my lower lip. But the real bear is where my left cheek has swollen from my molars and bicuspids chomping it. Being swollen, it's much more likely to be chomped. This makes swallowing difficult, as the jaws do move, and will chomp the cheek. I have developed a method of clamping my jaws together and imbibing fluids through my lips, to avoid self-mastication when drinking.
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