Saturday, October 15, 2011


Last weekend the starter on my car broke down. My dad drove the 2 hours down, part in hand, and fixed the car for me in the Walgreen's parking lot. I have the greatest family. I am so glad that we moved back to Minnesota, to be nearer to them. I honestly don't know what we'd do without them. That's especially true now.

When she was born, my daughter had a small bump on her backside that looked kind of funny. It was a concerning spot, since it was right on the lower part of her spine. The doctors decided to do an ultrasound there in the hospital, and had to consult with an expert from a different hospital on the images. I felt so powerless as we waited for the results. After a few hours, the diagnosis came back as Tethered Cord Syndrome.

Fortunately, it sounds much worse than it is. Long story short, her spinal cord, which is supposed to be unattached at the base, is connected to a fatty growth. As she grows, this would stretch the nerves, causing problems with the legs, feet, bowels and bladder (and subsequently the kidneys). There's no indication of any damage now - quite the contrary, she's very strong - but as she develops this would get more and more severe, and any damage that occurs is likely irreversible. Which makes it really good news that we caught this when we did, because there's a surgery that can correct the problem.

It's a strange thing, feeling blessed that your newborn daughter needs a spinal surgery. But that's kind of how I feel. It could have been so much worse - tethered spinal cords usually show up with other problems, such as spina bifida, club feet, or other developmental problems, so having a diagnosis of just TCS is pretty lucky. And there's a surgery to fix the problem, soon, so that she'll never have to develop any of the complications that can occur as she grows. And we've recently become acutely aware of how big a battle some other kids have, which has really put this all in perspective.

Of course, surgery won't be easy. Heck, having the MRI and speaking with the surgeon was tough. We had to find someone to watch our son, we had to take time from work, and drive up to the cities, and sleep on the hospital floor (well, we didn't all have to do that...), and go through that whole nervous, helpless process of waiting to hear your child's diagnosis and the treatment plan.

But we've got family. And that makes it all easier. I can't imagine going through this if we were still in DC.

In December our little girl will have her surgery. I feel like I should have something profound to say about this topic - but the truth be told, in some ways it's just another thing. It's kind of like changing her diaper or cleaning up her spit up. Yeah, it's bigger than those things, but it doesn't change who she is or the way I feel about her, it's just another thing that needs to be taken care of. Whether she has Tethered Cord Syndrome or not, the way I see her doesn't change. Either way, she's my daughter. And either way, I love her. And either way, if she ever needs me to spend my Sunday driving several hours so that I can fix her car, I'll be glad to do it.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Phickle Thoughts

I'm really interested in this Occupy Wall Street movement. The demographic perspective, in particular, interests me because we're looking at a phenomena that is largely young people, much like the protests that have been happening around the world in the past year. In those countries the young have been protesting largely because they have been marginalized by the way society has developed over the past decades.

I think this proves true here in the U.S. too. Basically, we've got a generation of people who have spent their entire lives in relative middle-class comfort. They've probably destroyed the environment to do so, they've run up a tremendous amount of national debt, and now they're all counting on getting a full amount of social security. Obviously we can't blame any member of the previous generations, nor should we. But, generally speaking, the people in charge have been falling pretty strongly on the "withdrawal" side of the ledger for quite some time (so basically, the WWII generation? They gave plenty. It's the folks after them.).

I also would suggest that the marginalization of the young is a fault attributable to the previous generations. Generally speaking, they were able to avoid a lot of the loss in real wages that has happened in the country over the past 30 years, essentially because they were already in positions that enabled them to keep getting modest (cost of living) raises to maintain their level of wealth. Meanwhile, people who entered the work force in those 30 years kept making relatively less and less. Now, especially with the stock market crash and a significant loss in pensions and retirement funds, people aren't exactly rushing off into the sunset. That means they're blocking positions such that younger people can't move up the corporate ladder.

In short, previous generations have run up our debt, decreased our pay, poisoned our environment, shattered our economy, expect us to pay for their retirement, and are preventing us from reaching positions where we could start to fix the problems.

At least, that's what I think these Occupy Wall Street protests are about.
So I have a daughter now... We're big fans of her. It's been two weeks and I'm pretty sure she's already got me wrapped around her finger. I really hope she doesn't want a car for her 16th birthday.

We didn't know what gender the baby would be, but I think I was expecting it to be a boy. Hearing it was a girl really surprised me. I'm not entirely sure what to do with a girl, which is probably strange, because I had so many sisters. But I'm really glad we've got a girl; despite what some of my siblings thought, I always pictured myself as having a daughter.

Life is pretty good.
I made my first campaign contribution recently. I thought that was kind of noteworthy.

I'm also considering getting involved with a campaign or two. It's important enough to me that I think I want to do it. Also, I recently watched The West Wing, so I'm kind of riding on that high still...
Speaking of politics, I've long wondered whether this blog might be a liability to any future political career. I'm inclined to think not - most of what I've written in the past is stuff I've very much left in the past, and I've moved significantly on a lot of positions. I'm also convinced that future generations will be well aware that what you wrote on a blog in your 20's is a lot different than your deeply held political beliefs.

All that said, I'm not in my 20's anymore. And it's probably about time for me to pack up this site. I've had a lot of fun, but given that I'm not posting any more, and that I've reach a more settled point of my life, where I'm not just throwing out thoughts and seeing what develops, it's probably time to move on. I don't know when my last post will be, but it's probably coming soon.
A new webcomic to check out: Fun Factory

It's kind of PG-13 rated, but it's funny. I highly recommend the current storyline (which started on Oct. 3rd). It's good so far.

Every generation thinks it's the last
Every generation thinks it's the end of the world