Peanut and Me

My family should have its own bench at the local hospital. Mind you, I am fortunate in every way I can think of. Most people call it “blessed” and I call it that, too…sometimes. But I’m often afraid that what that means is more to God than it is to me–and I worry that I may not even deserve the term.

Still, since October, we have been getting hailed by the strangest things, mostly Sue and Peanut and between them, mostly Sue. She, poor lady, seems mostly out of the woods–though I don’t like to say that too loudly because…well, OK yeah, I’m superstitious I guess.

However, last night, just after 9:00 P.M., Peanut awoke from bed complaining that the stomachache she’d had for more than a day was getting worse. At first, we merely thought she was thinking about it too much, playing us–the way 8 year-olds can do. It became apparent that this wasn’t the case and we were off to the hospital E.R. Again.

I had my appendix out when I was 18 and I remember it well. The nausea, the sickening and fever, the pain in my abdomen. It was at its worst when I was flying home on a plane from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles. I had just spent Thanksgiving with my father, Aunt, Uncle, Grandmother and cousins in Pittsburgh, PA. I had a wonderful time and it was one of the last times I would be in Pittsburgh at my grandma’s house. It may have been the last time.

Anyway, I flew home and two hours into the flight, I got pretty sick. I was sweating and uncomfortable, several head calls, and I guess I looked pretty miserable. The attendant on the American Airlines flight took pity on me and brought me a Coke. “You OK, hun?” I told her I was fairly ill, it wasn’t air-sickness but I thought I would be OK. The Coke helped quite a bit, actually.

Shortly after we landed, I told my mom what was going on-but I was OK at that point. I went to bed and to the doc the next day after my morning college classes. Blood tests, probing and that night, I was checked into the hospital. The next morning, I had my appendix removed.

So it was that here after Thanksgiving, my own young daughter complaining of similar pain sent me right back to that DC-10, right back to that seat on the plane, right back to my doctor’s office and right back to the hospital bed where a young woman came to visit me with her then boyfriend after my operation. I was in and out that night and they argued, the young man leaving at some point. I had a crush on the young woman that never left me. I married her 10 years later.

So, we went to the hospital and we sat until about 11:00 P.M. in the Saturday night waiting room, watching ambulances come and go, my daughter frightened by some of what she saw and wondering why her belly hurt so much.

We got into the exam room and a very kind nurse named Kelly went to work calming her down. He was fantastic. His wife is pregnant and he wanted to engage and interact with her and she took to him. He asked her questions, felt her belly and listened to it and he said, “well, Doctor Bajwa will be in soon. But she seems OK for now. Let’s get a urinalysis first,” and he taught her how to pee in a cup with mom watching mindfully.

Dr. Bajwa was also a delightfully kind young woman who was very good with Peanut and in short order, she examined and probed and asked questions. “She just seems so..normal. Usually, kids with appys feel pretty sick. She doesn’t have any of that,” she said. “Maybe the urinalysis will tell us…” and Kelly walked in with the preliminary results.

Indeed- not an appendix–a bladder infection. Her little belly hurt because she had an infection and so, they gave her a dose of antibiotic, a prescription for more, and the lab got a good look at the urinalysis and pronounced it the real deal. We were home and in bed around midnight.

Earlier in the week, Tuesday, I was diagnosed with a kidney and bladder infection. I’m on meds–all is well. The fact that Peanut got one is bizarre in the extreme. We both went camping the previous weekend and it wasn’t the cleanest of bathrooms–at least not the men’s and Peanut assures me similar conditions existed in the women’s. So, I’m left with that possibility–or a remarkable coincidence. But hey, it happens.

I’m glad my daughter didn’t need surgery. I’m glad they can medicate and cure what she has. I’m glad we’re home and I’m glad that, for now, this is over.

Back to the schedule Monday.

Faith and fires

Hard to believe that it’s Friday night already but here I am posting and the week has gone. It’s been a wonderful one, too with brother Doug arriving on Tuesday and a fine, if somewhat unnecessary pre-Thanksgiving feast at Roscoe’s Chicken ‘N’ Waffles in Hollywood.

I’ve written about Scoes before, so I won’t be redundant. Suffice to say, we went, we ate, we ate some more, we reveled in it and then regretted it, but it was wonderful. As my good friend Shawn would say, “God help us all…” Indeed, we needed it. The help I mean.

But then Thanksgiving came and we gave Thanks in a big and elegant way. Wine, turkey, casseroles, corn pudding, cranberries, butternut squash soup, which is Sue’s specialty and the list goes on. Doug, Aunt Laurie, Peanut, Sue and I all feasted and talked, drank and socialized and enjoyed the day. It was a guilty pleasure, a celebration of bounty in a time when bounty is disappearing.

What’s funny is that Thanksgiving day was 80 degrees and today never got above 68 or so. Tonight, it’s much colder and there is rain in the forecast. Then again, since when does a forecast matter?

I’m going on and on about nothing. Too depressing to talk about climategate. The left has their heels dug in and I think it’s fascinating to watch as they circle the wagons. The warmmongers have been lying, its been proven that they’re lying and now, rather than say, “my gosh, we’ve been had…” the left is saying, “well, these are taken out of context.”

To be fair–they aren’t taken out of context. And, to be honest, they don’t necessarily prove that warming isn’t happening–but they do prove that those who have been telling us that it has been warming have been lying about much of the data they accrued, keeping dissenting voices from publishing their findings and colluding on manipulating the data they did actually gather.

That’s enough to, as Kim Strassel writes, start over on what we know about global warming. I’ll go with Senator Inhofe. This has been a hoax and I’m convinced that there is no such thing as AGW, at least not in any significant way that would require our doing anything to fix it. But I’ll admit that I’m no scientist and don’t know. What I won’t admit is that the only way to fix it is to radically alter our way of life and give more power to bureaucrats and government dunderheads. No thanks.

So, there we are. An eventful week, as I say. Enough on which to hang a good dollop of faith and plenty to refire that faith for a good long time…

Update: The Journal has yet another great piece that asks serious questions, revealing who is serious about science and who is not. What’s unfortunate, of course, is that those who cling to the faith of global warming are the ones who are not. And the journal makes the most salient comment of all, to wit: If the science behind AGW is so certain, why was there such a need to rig consensus on the issue and forcibly keep out those who questioned it?

Happy Thanksgiving

George Washington’s 1789 Thanksgiving Proclomation:

“Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor – and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be – That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks – for his kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation – for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war – for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed – for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions – to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually – to render our national government a blessing to all the People, by constantly being a government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed – to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord – To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and Us – and generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789”

Selling Souls

Matters of faith are very hard to disprove. That’s why so many of my atheist friends get frustrated with me-or other Christians-when they say they can prove God doesn’t exist. The problem and obvious philosophical fallacy here is that they cannot prove it. And, as Dennis Prager says, it takes just as much faith to believe there is no God as it does to believe there is one.

So, when matters of faith are challenged, the faithful circle the wagons and go to ground and other cliches that involve them not admitting where they’ve been proven wrong. And that’s what I think I’m seeing right now with the whole global warming movement. There’s too much invested, too many wealthy people like Al Gore, who make money and stand to make much more if only they can get world governments to cap and trade–and all the rest.

But, the fact is the e-mails that have been hacked and released are not good for the warmers. Even some of the most dedicated smart ones are admitting they may have been duped, but they’re unsure yet. They will probably remain so. But, the emails from University of Anglia’s Climate Research Unit or CRU are pretty damning. At the very least, they indicate that a fairly influential group of scientists colluded to keep gathered research that either disproved AGW or simply didn’t agree with their findings. The emails also show that there was a concerted attempt, if not a successful one, to delete emails with said evidence before a UK Freedom of Information act could be fulfilled.

It’s pretty interesting stuff. The truth is getting out there. The fact is, those who say that they are “certain” of AGW, that “the debate is over” are simply wrong. They’re not only wrong, they’re willing to themselves deny the truth when it is handed to them in printed matter that shows that their own scientists have either falsified information or simply deleted information from the record.

This is a new twist. I’ve written about the hoax that is global warming here a number of times. I’ve worked very hard with my daughter to tell her that while conservation and thinking about consequences of pollution, etc. are worthy and noble things, the earth is not sick and does not need us to save it. Stewardship is fine. A dose of fearmongering in the form of AGW and the silliness it entails from raising taxes, to killing Capitalism, is simply dangerous–and unwarranted.

I know well that those who want to believe in AGW will find ways to rationalize the hacked emails. They will argue areas that, to them, make sense, like-these were out of context and it’s only a few scientists. But in the end, anyone who really believes that AGW is a serious threat is going to have to look at themselves in the mirror some dark night, and stare down the demons of their own creation and their own making. They’re going to have to come to grips with the fact that these scientists, riding the gravy train of government and private grants, publishing information that allows politicians who want more control of individuals’ lives to scare people into voting for them, at very least lied about some of what they were attempting to prove.

For me, what this means is far more gloomy than the fact that I was right about AGW as were so many others whom the mainstream media silenced all along. What this means is that science sold out. Emerson, my hero with whom I agree about 60 percent of the time, was right. “There is finally no science, then. Only scientists.

He was far more correct than ever he realized.

Poor Man's Big Smoke

It’s the buzz in your head, like a line of electricity moving across the back of your eyes, through your nasal cavity and out your ears. That’s the feeling of true physical exhaustion as I’ve experienced it. You can hear it hum through your head and your reaction time to things is markedly slower, like life minus 10 miles an hour or so.

There are reasons for feeling this way and they’re all good. For about four years in a row, my pals Scott and Shawn and I would sally off to Lost Wages every November for the Cigar Aficionado Big Smoke. In the good old days, we would pay $175.00 a ticket, either drive, or as in the last three years, grab a flight on Southwest, pick a hotel we could afford and share a room–and spend about 30 hours in Sin City.

The Smoke itself was a three hour occasion with thousands of people crammed into a convention center where you walked around drinking free wine, beer and scotch and eating the tiniest portions of exquisite food that only made you hungrier. Meanwhile, you motored about to booths manned by cigar companies who took a coupon from your book in exchange for a cigar or two–or even three. We would get about 25 or 30 smokes each year. Until….

The price started going up and last year, we decided that $225.00 was simply too much to pay. When it hit $240.00 this year, in the midst of the great recession, we all balked–well, Scott and I, who have kids, balked-Shawn balked not as he has no children and has always been far better with his money than me certainly-and maybe Scott.

So, about two or three months ago, I suggested we hold a poor man’s big smoke and the idea was looked upon as a reasonable alternative to price gouging, hotel staying, airline flying…consumer-ness. I secured a camping spot in Carpinteria, a beach town about 35 miles from where I live and home to a state beach campground. We would bring our smokes, we still had some from previous years, and a few drams of whatever potion we thought best, and camp for the evening. Scott and I would even bring kids, I with Peanut and he with his second youngest son (he has five children).

And that day was yesterday. Off we packed north to Carpinteria to the world’s smallest campsite. Don’t let the photos from the above link fool you. Truly, it was stacked up on all the others and was no bigger than the living room in which I sit right now. We had two tents with us and they occupied about 40 percent of the site. Maybe it was 150 square feet. Maybe. Dingy, noisy, raccoon den with a train track to the east and the Pacific to the west (just after two more rows of RV’s, tents and sleeping surfers.

And it was cold. By 9:00 P.M. it was about 42 degrees. For those of you living in cooler climes, our So. Cal. thin blood isn’t used to hanging outside in these temps. Yes, it gets that cold all the time in late fall and winter. We walk around in it with coats on, talking about how brisk it is, and then go inside and light fires and turn up the furnace so that the planet will warm–my own personal goal to get all you eco-whackos angry.

And it was wonderful. Dirty, smokey, smelly fun. Peanut loves the beach, loves to camp and was great with Scott’s boy who was on his first such trip. Being right next to the train-tracks for little kids is like being right next to heaven, especially when the Coast Starlight comes through around 8:00 P.M.

We ate dinner at The Palms, a very cool and happening little spot that doesn’t take reservations and where you can get a ribeye steak dinner complete with salad, potato and beans for $13.50. You have to cook it yourself, though–which is actually half the fun. They bring a big piece of raw meat to your table and then you take it over and cook it to your own perfection. Of course, they have the chicken tenders with fries dinner for the kids, complete with salad, too. $5.95. Five of us ate dinner, two ribeyes, one New York Strip and the two chicken tenders dinner, I had an Amaretto and Seven and the boys had soda–and we walked out of there for 71 bucks. You’ve gotta love that. And yes, the steaks are fantastic.

Back to the campground, fire in the big ugly metal trashcan thingy that passes as a campfire and a smoke and some Robert Hall Port. It was beautiful. To bed, comfy in our good tent and a morning on the beach.

No, it wasn’t Lost Wages-but then, I came home with 20 bucks in my pocket, a hat-full of good memories and a promise to do it again…

When it’s warmer. And sleep comes easier.

Snarky Tangents

I’m finding it very hard to see the downside. OK, yes, the state of California is circling the drain and has been for a couple of years. One good flush and it is all over. And yes because of this, I took a 5% plus cut in pay in my job as a high school English teacher, a job which many of us think is the most important one in the world–and one about which I am under no such delusion. But, it’s also true that the paycut, unlike many that have been making the rounds these days, came with furlough days.

Now, the furrowed brow crowd among teachers, particularly the union activist types–of which there are many and their self-importance rather speaks for itself–were lamenting, “oh, we have a paycut. Oh, now we have to have furlough days. Oh this just isn’t right. What about the children?” And I duly ignored them…

Because first of all, we are amazingly fortunate that we get paid a living wage to work about 9 months out of the year. I’ve always felt that way, even in my liberal days. That’s one reason I became a conservative, you know? Conservatives are far more optimistic folks. I know, I hang out with both.

Anyway, secondly, we did indeed take a pay cut. We work, ultimately, for a public entity–the government. So what, everyone else in the country should suffer but teachers should not? I said that I don’t know how many times. And what I get from my colleagues is amazement that I am willing to say such things. “So, you think education isn’t that important?” Actually, I think it very important. But no more so than any other job which provides a living for individuals. I’m all about individuals. They make up the world.

Also the argument about “the children” is specious at best. Ultimately, I’m my daughter’s best teacher, my wife and me. That’s true of every parent and it would be nice if they would learn that and lose the entitlement feeling of “education is your job, not mine…” I never understood that even when I didn’t have a child. Now that I have one, i cannot imagine saying to any teacher–even the very fine ones my daughter has had the privilege to have, “you teach her, that’s not my job.” If for no other reason, I don’t want my child believing a good portion of the plonk that so many teachers call education. Please don’t tell my daughter, for example, that the “earth is sick, and it needs us to help save it.” Quite simply–no, it doesn’t. And if you believe that, two things: 1) You’re a moron. And 2) You got into teaching so you could tell people what to think? What happened to teaching them how to think? Let’s go with that, shall we?

I know, I’m being snarky. Snarky is something I do quite well when I write, actually. My wife says it’s something I do well when I’m not writing. But let that go.

So, what I’m left with is a whole week off at Thanksgiving. No, I’m not being paid for it, but it gives me more time to write which I am dutifully doing. Got a couple of fun assignments and may even get some more about which I am ever so excited (channeling my inner “Dug”). I get to spend time with my family most of whom are getting healthy and feeling better. I get to sleep in a bit. I get to eat a lot of turkey and side dishes made with care and passion by my beautiful wife. I get to watch TV–and I mean watch it, not just have it on which I often do–but I don’t often watch it. I get to see a movie or two. I get to take Scoop the wonderdog for long walks. I get to wash the cars–maybe. I want for nothing, actually.

So, furlough days are my idea of a good time, gentles. I’m pleased. We’re all stuck in this lousy economy. You can blame who you’d like and maybe we’d see eye to eye on it, maybe not. Either way, as my pal Roger says, “it is what it is” and there is precious little you can do except fight your way through it as best you can–and stop and smell the flowers. They won’t last forever.

Move along-nothing to see here.

Well, Peanut seems to have come through the swine flu pretty well. The past two weeks for her were pretty hard and the fever, the lethargy, the sore throat, headache, sniffles, all of it-were remarkable. And now, she’s getting better. And that’s a good thing.

Meanwhile, the furlough days that constitute our cut in pay–or vice versa or whatever, start next week. We’ll have all of Thanksgiving week off, which will be the first time since I started teaching. Usually, it’s just Thursday and Friday off but because of budget cutting, we get the week and no, I’m not at all unhappy about it.

What I am unhappy about is that I am pretty well written out. A few articles this week and I’m kind of burned out–not so much on writing, but on writing anything of a personal nature. I think the past 6 weeks has been so hard on my family that I’m just in the mood for not talking about it and for allowing them to heal, me to catch up and us to spend time together.

With that, I’ll bid you all good night and catch up with you this weekend.

Coming Home

Peanut was continuing her recovery from the dreaded swine flu this morning and she wasn’t quite school-ready. Mom had a pretty important meeting to attend, rare for her, and so I did the dad duty and stayed home, played checkers, watched Disney Channel, read, made all my appointments for the week of interviews for articles, transacted various correspondence, paid a couple bills—

And it was glorious. Were it not for the H1N1 recovery going on in the living room, I’d have been entranced by it all. Fever for the little one was mostly abated today, though she flirted with 99.3 a couple of times. That was the highest it got today and a conversation with the greatest family physician in the world, Dr. Wilson Fung, indicated that as long as it was staying relatively low and she was on the mend, not to worry. Tamiflu foul up over at the pharmacy, but it was soon rectified and Peanut is looking and feeling a bit better, if still just a touch congested–sneezy, coughy type stuff. Nothing terrible, though–not like she’s been in the past.

The glorious part was how I had some work to do, articles and interviews to prepare, and I loved doing it. Life has changed remarkably since Peanut was born. The day she was born, my students bought a cake from the greatest bakery in Ventura County (in my humble opinion-also the most expensive, ergo, it’s a special occasion place, not an everyday place) and it said “Welcome Peanut!” on it. OK, it didn’t say Peanut, but I have as yet not received permission from her to divulge her name in these pages, a trust that I will honor. Anyway, teaching then was fun, comfortable, interesting and experimental. My colleagues and I were always on the lookout for things that would make classroom teaching better and better. And the district paid for some of it, encouraged it and supported our endeavors. All that has changed, of course.

There is very little experimentation, very little teacher research going on, very little support from the district any more. I got an e-mail just today from an assistant superintendent (there seem to be more of those, too) telling me that my request to bring kids to the Journalism Education Association Convention in Portland, OR in April would be denied. The reason? Why, bottom-line thinking of course. Journalism is not a core class. That means it cannot be tested and what cannot be tested has no value in the modern public education classroom. Our district is locked into the NCLB nightmare which, by the way, shows little sign of abating under the current President.

So it was that I found myself laughing with my daughter and having her beat me at checkers at least one time. I found myself engaged in interesting conversations about local produce and setting up interviews with folks who run a program at Christmas called “No Room at the Inn” for homeless folks. Peanut and I shared fresh Caesar salad for lunch with fresh red bell pepper, cheese, a bit of salami and some apple slices. We watched some really fun TV shows and I read a bit to her, as I said.

And I discovered what I wished I discovered 10 years ago, before she was born. I learned about working as a means to an end–and the end is being with my family. Allow me to put it this way—I am going to do everything I can within the next couple of years to earn a living on my own. No, that doesn’t mean I’ll never have to leave the house–but it does mean I’ll leave it on my own time, when I want to.

Swine flus will come and go. But life continues onward and there’s nothing quite like being there for it–watching it happen. I’m really grateful I got an opportunity to do that today.


As I write this, it’s taking all my energy to consider maybe taking the dog for a walk…

Yesterday, was a long and half good day. The bad that has gotten better is that Peanut is on the mend and seems to be fever free now since yesterday afternoon and evening. Her temp was low enough (below 100) yesterday, that I went and busied myself from 9 in the morning until about 7:00 last night with the Wine and Wings event at the airport.

The event went well, we raised around 5K for the CAF wing and had about 150 people tasting wines from 6 different Ventura County Wineries (Cantara Cellars, Old Creek Ranch, Vino V, Stafford Premium Wines, Rancho Ventavo Cellars, Bella Victorian Winery and Martha’s Vineyard West). The wines were wonderful and Chef Tim Kilcoyne’s menu of pass-around appetizers from The Sidecar Restaurant in Ventura was astoundingly good.

So, now with that day under my belt, time to move onward. This whole season has been filled with activity keeping me busy day and night and yesterday was the pay-off. We had been planning Wine and Wings since the late summer and while we certainly learned a lot and have some work to do to enhance the experience, it went well.

So much of this is the absurdity of writing these posts that amount to nothing more than updates. I’m just now becoming cogniscent that when I set out to write here, it was to do more writing, more experiments, more stories, etc. But then, of course, it worked. I started getting more assignments, different kinds of writing and then got involved in different community efforts all the while still teaching at the high school.

No, I’m not complaining or whining–just talking, as Lileks would say. With Sue having gone down the health hill in October and Peanut having contracted swine flu this month, it added so much to the plate that all that was left was a few random points with the occasional short essay here and there.

That’s OK, though. I wouldn’t change it. Instead, I’d rather keep focused on it and short of getting my family healthy, everything else is just fine.

Happy Sunday.

Going to Ground III

It seems we are not as yet out of the woods. Peanut awoke this morning with a recurrence of fever and a sore throat. The long and short of it is that the doc put her on Tamiflu and is treating it like swine flu. He’s fairly convinced that she had it last week and that quite simply, she didn’t get over it all the way when we thought she did.

It’s been a long 6 weeks in which we have had both Sue and Peanut get hit pretty hard. If I may be so bold and ask, if you’re reading this, to put my girls–and heck, me too, back in your prayers for health and healing. I am particularly concerned that Sue not get this virus as with her asthma issues, it could be fairly devastating to her. We will, of course, assume that will not happen.

Tomorrow is Wine and Wings and it has been a long week of dealing with issues, problems, delays and ball dropping. Still, we’re going to pull it off and we’re going to be sure to have a good time with it. There will be some mighty fine wines being poured tomorrow and I believe Sue, if Peanut is healing and better, is going to come with me. I’m happy about that.

Some great airplanes, too. Today, for the first time, I got to sit in the cockpit of our Bearcat, F8F. It was built in 1945 as an interceptor. Bearcat’s never saw active duty against the Axis as the war ended before they could. They were built for speed, power and long range and they can top out at 500 m.p.h.–ours often does, according to our pilots. It was an incredible feeling, though I didn’t fly it. I am not trained to and there is a lot of horsepower under that cowling.

I will sign off as it is an odd night. I’m at once weary and excited, concerned and pleased. But ultimately, much of this is in God’s hands. I’ll trust that He is the great healer and can make Peanut well. Amen to that.