Wednesday, March 28, 2007


This one's just for practice - I'm getting ready for next month.

So there I was, outside the doctor's office, ready to go back to work. No more appointments, no more prescriptions, I was on my own now and ready to face the world. At least that's what the good doctor said. I had more than a few doubts myself. I mean, the world is kind of big, and there's a lot of stuff to deal with - buying a house, raising children, church, work, family, friends, baby showers, bridal showers, weddings - there is always a lot going on.

I digress. So there I was, leaving the Cabrini Tower for what I really hope was the last time, and I remembered the sign I had seen as I drove up Madison to my appointment (which I made by one minute, thank you!). The sign said "Puget Sound Blood Center" in large, all-capital grey block letters, hung on a concrete overhang above tinted glass doors framed with standard issue black metal. My guilt twanged as I remembered at least three phone calls in the last month asking for me to donate because my blood type was in short supply.

Why not? I've given blood three times successfully - by which I mean I never actually fainted or chickened out at the last minute. It was better than waiting around at work for my mom to call from the airport. She was coming back from a long trip and I was picking her up because I work near the airport. Everything was ready - her house was cleaned up, the dishes were done, the garbage taken out, and I even put a cute Easter lily on her kitchen table, with an adorable purple polka-dotted round placemat trimmed in yellow, and a gift bag with the latest Mary Higgins Clark book. All I had to do was go sit at my desk for another two hours.

So I jaywalked across the alley and entered the glass doors. The receptionist barely glanced up as I oriented myself by following the signs to "Donor Registration" down the hall. A sweet little grey-haired lady looked me up in their database, gave me the questionnaire to fill out, and pointed me to the waiting area. I read and x-ed and signed the forms, and after about 2 minutes a cute little girl (seriously I'm getting older every day) came up to prick my finger and check my blood pressure, pulse, and respiration rate (116/80, 64, and I don't know). My blood sank in the test tube - evidently I had a high enough blood iron content to be allowed to donate.

Their chairs were more just like the dentist chairs - blue faux-leather semi-reclining chairs with arms that swing out to allow you to sit down easily. Much nicer than the portable tables used when the blood center makes its monthly rounds to my work. I made myself comfortable and chatted with the technician as she scrubbed my elbow with iodine for 30 seconds. Then she cut off my circulation and had me squeeze a star-shaped piece of foam while she tried to stick a pointy object in my poor little veins. She found a vein, although I think she wiggled the needle around just to freak me out first. It hurt a little more than usual too. Oh well. I started to watch the clock on the wall while squeezing the blue foam star every 3 seconds.

The clock said 5:01.

See? This isn't so bad. I told myself. I could pretty much just zone out and relax, squeeze, relax, squeeze, relax, squeeze.

"Wow - you're already halfway done. You're really fast today."

Those were probably the words that started it. I'm sure my sister remembers how easily I get grossed out by just mentioning needles, veins, etc. I usually psyche myself up for giving blood by just not thinking about it until it's all over. By then you're enjoying the juice and cookies and thinking it wasn't really so bad.

"Is that bad?" My first thoughts came out of my mouth.

"No, you just have a lot of good pressure in that vein, so the blood is coming out nice and fast."

"Is that normal? Usually I take about 12 minutes or something like that."

"Sometimes it slows down a bit."

At this point, my memory gets a little fuzzy. The last thing I remember is that I was conscious of getting dizzy.

"I feel faint. Really, really faint."

"Try to keep your eyes open. We'll lower your head ..."

The clock said 5:05.



whzzz, beep, cold, white, blue, clear, noise, voices

The clock said 5:08 or 5:09, I think - for a while my brain didn't have any words - I can't explain the empty feeling, like something is missing but you don't even realize it until it comes back.

"I'm awake." Four heads turned towards my face. Hands that I didn't realize were even there relaxed their grip on my arms and torso.

"Can you tell me your name?"

I gave the correct response.

"What did you have to drink today?"

A liter and a half of water at work.

"What did you have to eat today?"

I listed off the cereal for breakfast, potatos and salad (topped with grated cheese, mushrooms, kidney beans, and cottage cheese) for lunch, and cheese and crackers for an afternoon snack. Somehow I forgot to mention the slice of lemon merengue pie.

"Ooh - you're making me hungry. Do you still feel dizzy?"

I was feeling much better, although I didn't want to move anytime soon.

"Would you like something to drink?"

I accepted a glass of cranberry-apple juice they mixed up especially for me.

A gentle hand mopped the beads of sweat off my brow, and I gradually realized my neck and chest and forehead were all covered in wonderful ice packs. It felt so good.

I didn't even notice when they removed the needle from my arm and bandaged it up.

"You had a mild siezure."

What? I passed out. Fainted. I've done it lots of times - well, more than ten times and less than thirty. You get dizzy, pass out, and wake up feeling better. No one here had stuck a rope between my teeth to keep me from biting my tongue in half, or laid on top of me to keep me from jumping out of the bed/chair.

"What?" The question finally came out.

"You passed out, and had a siezure. You kicked off your shoe, and you were bending your arm. We had to hold your arm straight because, you know, if you woke up after bending it with a needle still in place it would really hurt."

Oh. Me? I started to freak out. They repeated the details in calm voices, as if this happened every day. Not to me it doesn't!

"Can someone put my shoe back on? My foot's getting cold." I-wish-I-knew-her-name picked up my shoe with a smile that didn't even looked strained, and she slipped it back over my toes and heel. How could she not be freaking out? Goodness, those ice packs felt wonderful.

For the next 25 minutes, I remained laying down. The nurse on duty kept an eye on me, and she kept coming over to check my blood pressure every 10 minutes. She told me that the next time I donated blood, I should tell them about this experience and they would lay me down with ice packs ahead of time. As if I'm ever doing this again, I thought. Gradually my bed was raised back into a chair. Finally, when my blood pressure reached 110/68, and my pulse dropped to 76, they let me try standing.

"Just stand for three minutes, and we'll see if you can go over to the refreshment area."

Sure - I was getting bored, and my book was in my jacket pocket on the shelf, out of reach. I passed the three minute test, and walked carefully over to the mini-cafeteria, where I was offered juice, hot! chocolate, water, crackers, cookies, and pretzels. Of course I had some of everything.

While I was sitting there, the lady who served the juice asked me,

"Is that a CTR ring?"

"How do you know about CTR rings?" I had to make sure - don't want to just assume she goes to the same church.

"I'm in Seattle ___ ward." Yes, I really forget which ward, I'm not just trying to change names to protect the innocent.

We chatted for a while, then she served another man when he was finished donating. She talked about her grandkids, I talked about my niece; she talked about blood donation, I said I didn't think I'd be back for a while. She was very sympathetic and didn't try any guilt trips to change my mind. When I finally left, it was an hour after I woke up.

I walked back across the alley to my car, paid the parking attendant, and drove straight to the airport, where I arrived with perfect timing; about one minute after my mom called to tell me she had her bags and she was ready, I was pulling up in front of her. I had her drive me to work to pick up my things, and then home, where we had food from Teriyaki Bowl for dinner (she has the chicken with steamed broccoli every time, I currently like the Kung Pao shrimp). And when I finally went home, my husband gave me all the hugs I could want as I finally melted down in the safety of his arms and told him about my day.


So what do you think - fact or fiction?


Friday, March 23, 2007

Coke Zero

It is not often that an TV advertisement amuses me so much that I remember it. Many are memorable - just in a bad way.

A recent advertisement for Coca-Cola Zero fell into the first category for me. It shows an old man taking a swig of Coca-Cola Zero then said, "Boy, that really takes me back." A younger man in about his early 20s - presumably the man's grandson - says, "Takes you back? To when? Five seconds ago? You've never had that before." The point of the advertisement was that it supposedly tastes the same as regular Coca-Cola. What amused me was the old man, trying to defend his memory, says, "Do you know what the capital of Djibouti is? Do you? It's Djibouti! I have a mind like a steel trap."
This is amusing to me for 5 reasons:
-Djibouti is a really funny sounding word.
-It was a really random thing for the grandfather to say.
-The old man is really funny in general.
-The grandson had a look on his face that implied he thought grandpa was saying something about his butt.
-It made me think of Arabic class back in the day. I suppose you could say it really took me back.

Anyway, I saw it on TV while watching BYU lose in the NCAA basketball tournament. I can't get it out of my head.


Sunday, March 18, 2007

Proposal: The Month of Writing

So Jared's post at his personal blog got me thinking about writing. He summed up my thoughts about how I started blogging with the best of intentions to write more, and write more betterer, but I just haven't written as much as I wanted to write when I began writing on this writing blog.

My goal was to have a place where I could not only keep up with good friends (a goal that I think has been accomplished), but that would give me the opportunity and the impetus to write more personal essays and other creative writing endevours (maybe even a short story), and of course to improve my writing skills. Every once in awhile I get the urge to write something and I occasionally follow those urges, but not enough- and when I do write (especially when I make an effort to write well), the writing process exhausts me (which Jenny assures me is normal even for experienced writers).

One reason I don't do it more is because I don't have a schedule and don't have anyone expecting me to write anything. Why do I do homework? Its due on a certain day, and there are consequences for not doing it. Why not do the same thing with my personal writing? (without the consequences, of course)

So I propose that April be: THE MONTH OF WRITING. It would work like this:

IF you're interested (IE, you've wanted to write more stuff for awhile but haven't felt disciplined enough to sit down and do it), pick a day of the week and post which day of the week you choose here on this thread (if there are more than 7 of us interested, we can double up days). Then, starting April 1 (no, this is not a big april fools day prank), those who have chosen to participate will post once a week on their chosen day something substantive they have written. It can be anything, really: a personal essay, a memory, a family history, a poem, a short story, an expository essay, a piece of satire, creative non-fiction (whatever THAT is), ANYTHING- as long as it represents real creative effort. They can be long, or short (or even medium length), they can represent hours of work writing various drafts, or it can be something you throw together last minute (as I know a few of mine will be). If we happen to fill all seven days, then that will be one month of having a nice piece of creative writing we all get to read every day. Having a designated day will definitely motivate me to actually get it done.

If you don't want to, or don't feel qualified (which is a silly reason, really, I've read something personal and/or creative that I've enjoyed from everyone here), or whatever, don't feel pressured. Just sit back and enjoy the trainwre ... um, I mean, the beautiful spectacle of our writing. (But no salsa for you!)

I've got dibs on Sundays.


Saturday, March 17, 2007

I Feel Small

I stumbled upon this progressive comparison of the sizes of our planet, our neighboring planets, the sun, our neighboring stars, up to the largest stars.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Easter Bunny Cometh

I just learned from my illustrious wife that the bunny is in fact a very appropriate symbol of Easter. What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about bunnies? After candy, the next most common reply would be fecundity (Fruitfulness. Absurd fertility. Astounding rates of reproduction.)? What better symbol than the rabbit to better bring to mind the hope that there is such an absurd overabundance of grace and rejuvenating power in Christ that all will be reborn, and if we follow him, all our sins can be blotted out.

(on a lighter note, as I was looking for pictures of bunnies, I found this amusing website.)


Sunday, March 11, 2007

Garden Journal, Week 2

We've jumped from the snows of midwinter, to mid-sixties in one week. Gotta love Utah weather. So to celebrate, I planted 2.5 more flats of seeds. Large cherry tomatos, big beef tomatos, cilantro, marigolds, cucumbers, yellow squash, zucchini, lettuce, and jalapenos. This year in planning the garden, we are going for a more eye-pleasing look instead of high yields so that potential buyers find the garden attractive (but still productive), so we are doing fewer tomatos, and more herbs. This week I will also prepare all the beds and plant onion sets, carrots, and some more lettuce and spinach and possibly some chard. The tulips and daffodils in the front yard are shooting up, and the strawberries have started growing already as well.

The back lawn is looking its best since before we bought Maggy. Its too bad she had to die, but man our backyard looks nice...

I also noticed reading last years first garden journal that I'm planting two weeks earlier than I did last year. Yay. And there was much rejoicing.

(I took a few pictures, but I'll put them in later...)


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Politics and Global Warming

One of my economic classes focuses on non-market decision making. For homework I decided to write my 2 page essay on the politicization of the global warming process. In light of recent entries, here’s some of what I have to say on it. The most interesting things about this probably are the links.

Despite Al Gore’s statements that global warming is “not a political issue, it’s a moral issue,” global warming is highly politicized. Because of the high feelings and emotional aspects of the topic, the organizational survival of agents involved is definitely political, not scientific.

James Hansen is known as “the Father of Global Warming” for his early attention to the subject. Recently he commented on the White House’s attitude towards global warming: “In my more than three decades in the government I've never witnessed such restrictions on the ability of scientists to communicate with the public.” Further he stated that “I object to the fact that I’m not able to freely communicate via the media.” Despite his claims of being oppressed, Hansen does not follow the proper guidelines and exaggerated science when he did interviews.

Hansen’s high profile status gives him a sort of free pass. Any action taken against him would be highly politicized. Yet others can’t survive the political organization as well. Dr. Roy Spencer was a Senior Scientist for Climate Studies at NASA and isn’t prone to doom and gloom predictions. On commenting on Hansen’s statements, he said that he was familiar with the restrictions since they were a “major reason” why he resigned from NASA. When testifying before Congress he had to dodge questions or he could have been fired for speaking his mind.

Spencer isn’t the only one to struggle for survival in the public square. Oregon state climatologist George Taylor is agnostic on anthropogenic global warming. But since this past president of the American Association of State Climatologists, faculty member of Oregon State University’s College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Science, and author of over 200 reports, symposium, and journal articles views on global warming don’t match that of the lawyer Governor, he is in line to be fired.

The IPCC report on climate change from the UN isn’t any better. Lawrence Solomon wrote about various “deniers” of the IPCC report for the National Post. The 10 that he highlighted were all highly credible and “reached the pinnacle of the scientific establishment.” Yet for disagreeing with what politicians wanted, most “have suffered for their scientific findings -- some have been forced from their positions, others lost funding grants or been publicly criticized.”

Dr. Julian Morris of the International Policy Network summed up the IPCC process. The “IPCC is not a scientific body: it is a consensus oriented political body. An examination of the IPCC process makes it clear that the choice of authors and reviews as well as the final review of its Reports is conducted by government officials, who may or may not be scientists.”

Chris Landsea of NOAA participated in the IPCC and was heavily quoted on his work in hurricanes. Yet he quit due to the politicization of the process. From his open letter where he announced his intention to quit: “I am withdrawing because I have come to view the part of the IPCC to which my expertise is relevant as having become politicized. In addition, when I have raised my concerns to the IPCC leadership, their response was simply to dismiss my concerns… I personally cannot in good faith continue to contribute to a process that I view as both being motivated by pre-conceived agendas and being scientifically unsound.”

Professor Paul Reiter, of the Pasteur Institute in Paris similarly left the IPCC. He disagreed with the report on malaria, and asked to have his name removed. It wasn’t until he threatened to use legal action, and called the panel a “sham.”

In order to survive in the public arena of climatology it’s important to follow what politicians want above all else. When people do disagree with what the politicians want, they are forced to quit, change their philosophy, or not speak their mind. When climatologists leave institutions, such as the IPCC, the void is filled with those who parrot the political platform. In turn the politicians state that they are espousing the views of science.

The skewing of science to promote doom and gloom aspects and ignore cooler heads is not a secret. Al Gore even admitted to skewing the discussion in an interview with Grist Magazine. “I believe it is appropriate to have an over-representation of factual presentations on how dangerous it [global warming] is, as a predicate for opening up the audience to listen to what the solutions are, and how hopeful it is that we are going to solve this crisis.”

Gore uses Oscar speech to plug environmental cause

Rewriting the Science

Media Darling on ‘Global Warming’ Assailed by Colleagues

Global Warming Science, or Policy?

Climate change claims a victim

End the Chill

Quoted in The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming page 83

Chris Landea Leaves IPCC
Greenhouse effect is a myth, say scientists,%20say%20scientists/

Al Revere


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

100 Years of Winter, and Never Christmas!

I planted my first set of seeds on Sunday, and yet I look out my window and almost two feet of snow still lines the driveway. I can hear the White Witch of Narnia cackle in delight. Looking back at the archives, I see that I was going through the same thing a year ago (it snowed in late March then), but dang it, I get so sick of winter by the time March rolls around. And yet there is hope- we break 50 tomorrow, and we hit 65 by Monday. Aslan is on the move!

So I suppose this is my garden journal, week 0. Nothing very interesting in the way of photo opportunities (unless the two feet of snow counts), but in a week my first seedlings (safe in a new outdoor greenhouse) will be peeking out, giving me my first whiff of spring.

Since this is my garden journal I should mention what I planted.
A full flat (48 cells) of coleus (we need to make the front of the house look nice for when we sell it later this year, and lots of coleus gets expensive).
A full flat of basil and oregano.
Half a flat of lettuce and spinach.

I'll wait a few more weeks before I plant other seedlings in the greenhouse like cucumber and peppers.


Thursday, March 01, 2007

Bouyancy and the Arctic

Dang, I hate to bump such a controversial topic off the top line. Oh well. So this year is apparently the International Polar Year. Scientists from several nations will be pooling their resources to conduct a wide range of studies on the Earth's poles, including its polar ice caps. With all the hullaballoo regarding global warming recently, you have probably heard that the arctic sea ice is supposed to melt and raise the sea level by many feet. That got me thinking about bouyancy.

Bouyancy is the force of a displaced fluid (or gas) acting on the object which has displaced it. The force is equal to the mass of fluid displaced, and the displaced mass is related to the displaced volume of fluid. So if an object is submerged in water such that 1 cubic meter of the object is under water (thus displacing 1 cubic meter of water), then the bouyant force on the object will be 1000 kg/m^3 * 1 m^3 * 9.8 m/s^2 = 9800 newtons.

Whether or not an object will float depends on its density and sometimes its shape. If the density of the object is greater than the density of the fluid, it will sink, otherwise it will float. So, if an object has a density half that of water, it will float with half of its volume above the water and half below. The exception is if the object is shaped so that air is forced down under the water level along with the object- thats how large steel ships can float.

So... the arctic. Assuming for the moment that the arctic ice is all floating and is not supported by any land, lets treat it as a bouyancy problem. Lets pretend the density of ice is 80% that of water (its not, but it makes the math easy and doesn't change any physics). If a block of ice is floating in water, 80% of it is below water, and 20% above. Lets now say that the ice melts. What happens to the water level- does it go up or down? If you said up, you're wrong. If you said down, you're also wrong. It should stay the [1]same- the 20% above the water level will contribute to an increase in water level of .8 * .2 = .16 of the volume of the original ice. But the ice that was below the water level will also melt, freeing up some space: .8 * .8 = .64. So the total volume that is now below the water level is .64 + .16 = .8, which was what was originally below the water level, so theres no rise.

When you read hysterical news articles about the sea level rising and submerging entire cities because of the melting arctic ice, don't believe it.

Unfortunately, Greenland and Antarctica are completely different. No bouyancy there to save us [2].


[1]. If the sea ice is all fresh water ice, then it will actually raise the sea level by 4 mm- not even enough to flood New Orleans.

[2]. See this rather long article for more details of Antarctic and Greenland ice melt.