Wee, sleeket, cowran, tim'rous beastie

Last night we chased and almost caught a juvenile mouse that was endearingly bumbling around our front room. It was confused, and small, and obviously was feeling the effects of our recent campaign to push out a sizable mouse infestation that'd we'd experienced this fall. We'd eliminated just about every food source that the mice had found so enticing (our pantry is at least temporarily empty and a forgotten bag of dry dog food amongst some boxes in my office is now removed). We'd also already caught eight other adult and juvenile mice so most signs of the mice were already gone. Just this little mouse who, if you stood still, would stand in the middle of the carpet cleaning itself or walking around the furniture and only dart away if you made a sudden move. It even walked past my immobile feet a couple of times as if I were simply another piece of furniture to use as cover.

We laughed and were excited as we almost tricked it into walking into a sandcastle bucket from the toy box so I could transport it outside so it'd have a chance at a life likely no less dangerous, but at least not in danger from us. It's impossible for us, as humans, to not begin to love that which we become used to, and we were rapidly becoming used to this little mouse's bumbling antics.

I never caught it. Twice I almost coaxed it into the bucket and from there to the outdoors. To an unseen fate that I could pretend wasn't likely to be tragic and that I wouldn't have to feel responsible for. Even in it's bumbling way it eluded me, though, and eventually it went under a large, non-movable piece of furniture and we went to bed.

This morning, I found what was almost certainly the same mouse dead in a trap. I lied to my son and told him I thought it was a different mouse. I'm not openly weeping for the death of the little mouse, but I am feeling more than a little heart-broken.
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A whiny voice still has something to say.

I've been avoiding the cry diary for awhile. Aside from it's effeminate connotations, and it's difficult emotional toll, I've just been tired of crying. Tired of feeling so empathetic with every sorry jackass with a hard-luck story. Sorry of feeling sorry for myself. I have what could be described as a difficult life, and I think I just got tired of dwelling on it.

Today, though, I was noodling with Netflix and found that I could stream Season 2 of the This American Life TV show. I've been a TAL fan since 2000 when my wife and I first discovered it while out shopping and driving from store to store one Saturday morning in the Chicago suburbs. It was the show where Ira Glass was in Paris hanging around with David Sedaris and talking about Sedaris' poor french. We were captivated. Over the years I've slowly found the time to listen to every single TAL episode that was in their website archive (all but 2 or 3 of the earliest shows) and I have become an admirer of Ira Glass and his team of producers. they've consistently educated and moved me - often simultaneously.

Recently, I saw a tweet from a webcomic artist I like saying something like, "I know everybody loves TAL, but I've never been able to listen to it because of Ira Glass' whiny voice." Soon, there were a couple other peeps from folks saying essentially, "Ha, ha, yeah. He talks funny. That show sucks." How fucking shallow is that? Here Ira Glass is telling compelling tales of note and substantial emotional weight and they don't like the way he speaks?

Back to today. Today I was watching the first episode of TAL season 2 and was just struck dumb by the power of what they did in the process of documenting the life of a young man with a terrible disabling affliction. He can't move his limbs and is limited only to slight finger movement and some facial movement and eye movement. He needs assistance with eating and even breathing. His only communication is via a joystick input on a MacBook. He uses the joystick to select letters and write out his communication. He's written extensively about himself and now is wanting to try to become independent from his mother, who's been his life-long caretaker. Early in the show they ask him who he's like to play him in a movie about his life and he says either Johnny Depp or Edward Norton.

At about this time, I'm preparing lunch for the kids so I walk out of the room for a few minutes, and when I come back I hear a very pleasant and sort of familiar voice now reading this young man's writings about himself over footage of the young man leading his life. The voice talks about hopes and desires and the dream of independence - at least from his childhood trappings if nothing else. It's a moving story and interesting and slowly, as I'm watching, I realize that the familiar, pleasant voice reading the narration is actually Johnny Depp's.

It just floored me. The story was already compelling, it was already moving, but the fact that they went out and actually contacted Mr. Depp on this young man's behalf, and that
Mr. Depp actually responded and agreed just moved me more than I can describe. I very much am a person who thinks that the greatest hero is the person who comforts the afflicted, and I was moved to find out that this is the type of person Johnny Depp is.

This fact, mashed up in my mind with the recent "I can't be bothered to learn anything from Ira Glass because I don't like his voice" meme and suddenly I was in tears. I was touched and moved by the actions of the TAL people and simultaneously furious at all the people who would simply close their minds to something so touching and amazing over something so trivial as to be irrelevant.

I repeat; How fucking shallow is that?
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Achieve with Bane

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Daily Show - Mar 4, 2009 - CNBC

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Thunderstorm

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Inauguration

I'm watching MSNBC and I'm just a wreck. Such a historic day. I doubt the nation will ever be apathetic enough to allow somebody like George W. Bush to weasel his way into power again in my lifetime. As disastrous as his administration has been, he's at least united and galvanized us. Here's to putting the adults back in charge. 4 hankies.
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1549

I'm sure we've all heard this amazing story. I have to admit it has me pretty choked up. The amazing captain who stayed calm and competent and thinking of others as he faced what could have been his final moments. The amazing crew who was right there with him helping him get those passengers to safety. The first responders who sped to the scene despite potential danger to help. And the passengers for staying calm and helping each other as they quickly evacuated the plane. This was not some hand-picked group chosen for their talents or special abilities, but rather a sample of regular people. These are some fantastic people and I'm glad I live in a culture that allows people to be the best of what they can be.

4 hankies
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Delivery

Since there's no Apple Store within 600 miles of me, I do most of my shopping online, and have used all sorts of different package carriers to deliver things for me. DHL was a nightmare, and the post office is a little slow but extremely reliable, and the big two - FedEx and UPS - were always about the same.

Except that I just got a call from my mom relating a story to me that has me totally floored. My dad is a Vietnam Veteran and also a Registered Nurse. Years ago, he was exposed to Hepatitis from a needle stick and now is on medication to treat some liver problems. The VA ships him his medicine every week via FedEx. The scheduling is a bit tight and typically it arrives exactly when he's going to be needing it, and delays in shipping would be disastrous. Until recently, the young man that drove the route through our town for FedEx understood that my parents both work during the day and might not be home to accept delivery and was perfectly happy to grant their request to simply leave the package at their front door so they could have it the day it was delivered instead of delaying arrival until one of them happened to be home.

Around Thanksgiving, a new person started driving the FedEx truck that services my parents area, and despite repeated requests and explanations, refused to simply leave the package. Technically, the package required a signature and she simply wasn't going to deliver the medicine without one. This lead to many days of my parents scrambling to try to be home on the day of delivery despite the fact that they couldn't get a precise time of arrival from FedEx and had to sometimes wait hours simply to be available when the FedEx truck arrived. My dad called the VA and got them to drop the signature requirement hopefully to facilitate an easier delivery.

The next week (the week of Christmas), the new driver didn't arrive at all despite the tracking page on FedEx's website saying that the package was on the truck to be delivered. My dad called FedEx and was finally able to convince them that he desperatly needed to have that medicine and to have her come back. It was nearly 6 p.m. by the time she arrived, well after the she was supposed to be done for the day. When she arrived she was angry and told my dad, "I don't care what sort of problems you have, I'm not leaving the package without a signature." This got my dad angry and he told her that he wanted the name of her supervisor and that he didn't want her to be the person delivering to them, anymore. She refused to give her supervisor's name or even her own first name so my dad wrote a letter to the CEO of the company explaining the incident and why, if they didn't fire her, they should at least have another person deliver to his house.

The finishing touch on the story? Today my dad received a letter from FedEx explaining that they're not going to deliver
anything to his house, anymore.

After failing to deliver critical
medicine to a veteran, they've decided to fire my dad as a customer. Amazing.
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Bedtime

There are days when, despite all the peculiarities of my kids, I do a great job as dad and I take care of and teach my children. I finish the day feeling good about them and our lives as a family. On those days I feel like I've won.

And then there are days when I feel like I've been soundly defeated.

My daughter is severely autistic. She can't speak. My parents and her teachers will argue with me on this point, but, despite knowing a handful of words, she simply can't use them in any meaningful context. This makes taking care of her remarkably difficult. She doesn't really like to go to bed because the time between laying down and falling asleep is a time where she gets very little stimulation and she leads a life
devoted to stimulation. From her sense of touch to her sense of taste to her sight, she is always sampling her small world. The dark softness of her bedroom is the opposite of interesting and therefore a form of torture for her. Since she hates sitting still and falling asleep, I have to sit with her every night in her bedroom diligently watching over her and making sure she actually stays in bed. She has to have this time of no stimuli or she'll simply never fall asleep. If I were to let her decide her own bedtime, she'd simply go on sampling the world well into the wee hours of the morning, only falling asleep at four or five in the morning when she's completely exhausted herself.

I, on the other hand, am not so resilient and tend to run out of steam not too much past midnight.

Tonight, as has happened a few times before, I drifted off to sleep before she had and woke up, bleary eyed and panicky, to find her bed empty. Tonight she'd merely gone to the unlocked master bathroom and unspooled the roll of toilet paper and shredded it and taken the bottle of talcum powder and spread it all over the counter and floor. On other occasions, though, she's found much more horrible and frightening messes to make. She once decided to draw herself a bath of nothing but cold water on a cold November night and I found her standing in an overflowing bathtub shivering and blue.

So on most days I do things right and I anticipate her and leave the bathrooms locked and make sure she's sound asleep before I go to bed. Those days I win, but tonight, as I'm damn near crying with frustration at battling with a child who seems determined to hurt herself, I feel like I'll
never really win.
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