Look! I’m Holding a Doll!

knh_ebh.jpgNo, wait, that’s my niece. Not the most flattering photo of me, but I think it’s the first picture of the two of us. It was my dad’s retirement party with the whole family; mayhem ruled. We grilled, laughed, roasted (the guest of honor), and had a great time. I was assigned the high honor of taking care of little EBH. She’s about a month old in this photo. I diapered her and fed her and in general had fun with her.

Honor? To deal with a kid? Well, yes. Such a young baby isn’t terribly mobile and is terribly fragile. Her skin felt like paper and it was scary to button her dress. It’s an honor because, as many can attest, a mother of a newborn is very protective. Four weeks old is still tiny. I was the first person to ever feed her other than her mother, and that meant a lot to me.

Due to my heart condition, it was also exhausting. I spent most of the time sitting in a chair with her. But it was still great.  I’m looking forward to lots more sessions like that.


I miss gaming.

As my close friends know, I have had some significant health problems that have brought my social life to a near standstill. Things are looking better now but I’m still under doctor’s orders to “take it easy.”

I’ve had to stop all my gaming activities. It’s all fine with me because this “taking it easy” thing has really helped me feel better, but I remember a time when the gaming backpack- and my mini-painting set- were both wearing thin with use.

Now Gaming Season is about to start. Gen Con is weeks away…and I can’t attend. The gaming cabin- a group of close-knit friends from all over the country- is very iffy.

It’s definitely like that.A fellow blogger had been posting some hilarious motivation-style posters on his site, so I did a quick google search and found it. The posters had me laughing hysterically. Then I found the one at the right and it was so totally perfect for what it’s like, especially at the cabin. It even looks like the cabin.

With the impending changes in my life, who knows what my new groove will be. I don’t know how I am going to handle it all. But I will. And somehow gaming will be a part of it. I’ve already started mini-painting again, so hopefully things will continue to look better.

Because I miss gaming.

Time Flies!

SPMI IP-RM Lab Group PhotoThis picture is from 1997.  An old friend of mine from a previous job sent me several pictures for a good laugh.  I think it’s hilarious that I’m wearing a jaunty neck scarf and crisp white shirt with jeans and tennis shoes.

The job was my first job in pharmaceuticals and led to my current career path. As I looked over the other faces in the photo, I had so many memories.  A lot of these people became good friends and I really enjoyed working with them.  It also reminded me of how different I am now, and how sometimes I wish I could go back in time and be nicer to people.

Then I realized that I can’t look back and regret, I can only move forward and be a better person.  I also look back on the work I did and, while some of it seemed menial at the time, it has really helped me understand the pharma industry better.  Amy and I were just commenting how, when we tested raw materials, we just printed the USP and went for it- had to learn by doing in many cases.  I learned about lots of actives and excipients through testing them, so I know a lot about their properties.  Working on cleaning validation was boring from a testing perspective, but I learned a ton about equipment- liquids, blending, packaging- because I had to swab all of it up close.  I also was not “stuck” in the lab; doing CV meant going out into production nearly every day and learning about the equipment and the people who worked in production.  I developed a very strong respect for people working in production; they told me things about the products that even the product developers didn’t know.  They were hard workers with a lot of knowledge and I have never forgotten that.

I was trying to sum up this post, but realized it’s just blathering and nostalgia.  Sorry to bore you.  Back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Betta Boy

Some may flippantly flush fish down the commode at the first sign of trouble, but I think they are missing something.

Betta boy lives in a heated, 2.5 gallon planted aquarium with driftwood and snails. Six months ago, the Betta splendens in my bathroom developed swim bladder disease for unknown reasons. That meant that this fish- who must come to the surface periodically for oxygen- would have to struggle to the surface every time.

I struggled myself. Euthanasia? Was his life worth living? I decided that it was not my call. So every day, I cupped my hand under him and helped him to the surface to eat. Sometimes I did this twice daily. He rebounded, swimming to the surface on his own and regaining weight. I lowered the water level enough that he could perch on the drifwood to breathe and to eat. Twice I thought I was going to lose him; he stopped wanting his pellets and dried bloodworms. I enticed him with brine shrimp fed from a dropper, and he started eating again. Not just eating, but swimming and fluttering around.

Lately he’d been slipping again. I briefly thought of euthanasia again. I simply couldn’t do it, as long as he was still eating, undiseased, and seemed comfortable. I added brine shrimp daily in addition to his other foods. He nibbled, but didn’t really eat.

He wasn’t perched on his driftwood this morning. As I sat brushing my teeth and waiting for him to swim up from the plants, I worried that he was gone. I worry this every morning that he doesn’t immediately swim to greet me. But this time I was right.

Did I make the right decision, to let him die naturally when I could have ended it the minute he became disabled? I don’t know. Animals feel (and deal with) pain so differently from humans. Warm-blooded companion animals live with horrendous cancers with no whining. My own dog’s knee was hopelessly torn, but other than her limp, her personality did not change. Cold-blooded pets live with even worse diseases; I’ve seen fish covered in fungus but still alive. Does that mean that their quality of life is acceptable? At what point is it no longer good for them, and we are only easing our own pain by postponing their death? We’ll never know.

I do know that my Betta boy lived a relatively long and mostly happy life, almost five years old this summer. I’ll miss him.

Father’s Day

misandry.JPGAs Father’s Day approaches, I’m reminded of several things in our culture that make me mad. One of them is the dumbing down of the entire male gender.

Countless commercials pit the male actor against the female actor. In nearly all cases, the female makes the wise decision and chooses the correct product or service, while the man is left in comedic disrepair, with no car, or no job, or no food. Check out this ad and also this ad, both found in a 30-second search of YouTube. Notice in the second ad that the girl’s father is totally useless for spending time with his daughter, and needs to leave her alone and go wash the dog. If you are a woman, simply imagine how you would feel if most media portrayed you this way.

Sexism is bad, and feminists have made bold moves to combat it. I believe in equal rights. But if we start marginalizing men, aren’t we doing exactly what we don’t want done to us? We’ve marginalized men in almost every role possible, especially the all-important role of parenting. Few would argue that good parenting is one of, if not the, most important roles. Somehow we’ve started to lean toward thinking that the role of Father is simply outdated. Many women choose to raise their children without another partner. “I don’t need a man.” What if the child is a boy? Does that mean he, too, is worthless? What message do you send to your child by cutting out one of his or her parents?

I am keenly aware of untraditional situations where it may not be possible to have two parents. I’m not looking down on those people at all. But I am tired of man-hating misandrists who claim to be feminists. I’m tired of hearing wives say “men are so stupid” in front of their children. When we demean entire groups of people for their sex or age or race or religious beliefs, we demean ourselves.

Despite the fact that our culture has made it cool to put down men, some men still rise to the challenge. These are the guys wearing “this is what a feminist looks like” t-shirts; they are the ones who think of women as equals. Because that is what we are. Not superior. Equal. These men are dedicated to their families, nuclear or not. They are not afraid to try new things, but don’t throw away old things just because they are old.

My dad is truly a wonderful person. He’s been more than a label of “father” to me. At age eight, I was in his woodshop in a gingham sundress, goggles, and earphones, helping him cut wood. He taught me to garden, encouraged me to learn about my car and change my own oil, guided me in personal finance, cheered as I chose whatever career that would make me happy (chemistry). He never told me I could not do something my brother could do. But he didn’t just teach a girl all those stereotypically male things. He was so much more of an example. He hugged all three of his kids and wasn’t afraid to say he loved us. He helped with the chores. After big family gatherings, he still dons my grandmother’s apron and washes all of the dishes. He talks about feelings and hopes and dreams. Most of all, he has unfalteringly loved not only his three children, but my mother as well (another amazing person). He is the shining example of a husband and father that helped me see that men are not just tokens, they are as important in a family as anyone else.

Dad and KNHLast year, at almost exactly this time, I spent a week in Hawaii with Dad. We drank delicious wine, ate gorgeous food, went to the beach. We never ran out of conversation topics. We laughed and had quiet moments too. That trip is one of the most treasured weeks of my life so far.

I fully realize that I am so incredibly fortunate that this guy happens to be my dad. But he’s also my friend, my career counselor, my role model, and…a man. A real man, unafraid to break from traditional roles and ways of thinking and become something so much more.

Thanks, Dad, for everything.

Alaska on My Mind

Packing!Since he never puts anything non-tech on his blog anymore, I guess I’ll pick up the slack.

One of Carlton’s long-time friends sent him a one-line email about three weeks ago. It said:

Want to go to Alaska?

That set in motion a flurry of activities. Carlton will be backpacking and fishing in Alaska for a week. Now, he had almost zero camping gear, so he had to borrow almost everything…and buy almost everything else. The audible groan you hear is our budget going down the drain.

I’m excited for him. This is the kind of trip that can change a person’s outlook. He has a new camera lens (remember that budget I mentioned? *groan*) that will take gorgeous panoramic pictures of some of the more beautiful wilderness in America. He’ll have his limits tested and he’ll have a great experience.

Me? I had my Alaska. It was called Hawaii. I’ll be spending the week having friends over for dinner and hosting overnight F1 guests. I have tons of house stuff I’ve been wanting to do, so that will be great too. But I will miss him a TON. I told him to come back in one piece…with no holes.

Bon voyage!

Fancy Shopping!

wal-mart_quote.jpgI received this as part of one of those over-forwarded emails full of pictures. Rather than continuing the inbox clogging, I’ll post some gems here. Oz, you may call Wal-Mart part of the evil empire, but clearly it’s because you are too jealous that you don’t meet the stringent dress code requirements.  : )

I love small town newspapers. Not only is this quote in there, but clearly someone wrote a Pulitzer-winning article about the newest store in town. Reminds me that despite all the sadness in the world, the simple things are still part of our culture. Ain’t that America?