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The Chemicals I’m Not Balancing

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Department Of Sometimes I Just Can’t Help Myself

Last week I ordered some Star Trek birthday cards, featuring the visage of Captain Jean Luc Picard, from an Etsy vendor. The vendor emailed me to verify the order:

I just wanted to contact you to say thank you for your order and to confirm your shipping information. So, you would like a set of 5 Star Trek Next Generation Birthday cards, shipped to ______(my address)

I of course had no choice but to respond: Make it so.

 

 

facepalm

 

 

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Department Of I Love Learning New Things

And here are four New Things ®  I’ve recently encountered. [1]  The first, via my “reupping” my volunteer status for C.A.T. (Cat Adoption Team).

 

 

flank

 

 

The typical female kitten or cat is (or once was) spayed via an abdominal incision. For several years now veterinarians have had the option of performing a “flank spay” – which uses a lateral entry. A lateral entry is especially useful for cats that are lactating, as it reduces chances of infection and makes it easier to monitor the incision as the cat does not have to be handled (turned on its back and its tender belly exposed) to do so.

 

 

How intriguing. Do tell us more.

How intriguing. Do tell us more.

 

New thing #2 is the third meaning of the word, abduction.

I was aware of the first two meanings of the word (1. The act of forcibly taking someone somewhere against their will; 2. The movement of a limb or muscle or other body part away from the mid-line of the body), but didn’t know that abduction is also a form of scientific reasoning, abductive  aka inference) reasoning:

…a form of logical inference which goes from an observation to a theory which accounts for the observation, ideally seeking to find the simplest and most likely explanation.

 

This came courtesy of a Freethought Radio podcast interview with physicist Sean M. Carroll,

 

 

Get on with it, please.

Get on with it, please.

 

 

New Thing #3: “Your brain has a chemical imbalance.”

That statement always sounded fishy to me, even when I was using it, with family members suffering from depression, to discuss their situation. Sure, it sounds scienc-y…but what does it actually mean?  As it turns out, in cases of brain disorders (aka depression and other mental illnesses), probably nothing, according to professor and psychologist Elliott Ingersoll, [2]. Ph.D. , who has given a provocative TED talk on the subject.

Unlike chemical imbalances in body organs or systems that can actually be measured (e.g. the insulin/blood sugar imbalance in diabetics, which can be measure through blood and urine tests), brain chemistry is highly complex and not completely understood. There is no way to measure levels of neurotransmitters, hormones and other messenger transmitters which may be involved in clinical depression, nor even an agreement on which ones are involved and what a “balance” of those would be.

I spent a decade researching psychopathology and psychopharmacology and neuroscience…but, I kept thinking I was missing something because I never came across what the actual chemicals were in this mysterious ‘chemical imbalance’ everyone kept talking about…. I came to realize that there was no such thing, and that, for years mental health professionals were telling clients, ‘You have a chemical imbalance in the brain,’ (A) there was no way to measure brain chemistry – it’s too complex and you can’t get it through peripheral measures like spinal fluid and, (B) I was more horrified to realize that this was being driven by marketing and pharmaceutical companies….”

(Dr. Ingersoll’s interview with Freethought Radio, 6-5-16

 

There is no New Thing #4.

 

rejoicing

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Department Of Kids Say The Darndest Things

Background info to apropos to this Department:

  1. Our annual family Solstice/Christmas/Year’s end letter to family and friends opens with a quote from each family member, chosen by each person to be somehow representative of the year for that particular family member…or to just confuse people.
  1. Son K is reveling in young adulthood: gainfully and happily employed, he’s residing in a house he rents along with four of his friends.

On Monday, apropos of seemingly nothing, K initiated the following exchange via FB Messenger:

K: Okay, my Christmas letter quote will be, “I am the Folks.”

Moiself: Nice to know in advance. I’m sure an explanation will be forthcoming.

K: door to door sales type guy asked if my folks were home and that was my response.

 

 

They are the folks.

They are the folks.

 

 

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Department Of All Things Must Pass

 

Buh-bye to our Honda Odyssey minivan. It joined our household…over sixteen years ago – can that be?  That’s the longest period of time MH or I have ever had a car.

MH decided to get the van during the height of his company’s stock boom years. While many of his (male) work peers were opting for what Perspicacious Friend ©  SCM describes to her daughter as, The kind of car a man buys when he has a small penis,” MH opted for the Practical Family Car ® . Indeed, the van served our family well over the years, with little output in terms of repairs, until recently, when that mutha Father Time turned it into a new-transmission-needing money pit.

Although I came to see the logic of acquiring a minivan, I was initially and strenuously opposed to the purchase. (“If I want to drive a bus I’ll get a job with Trimet,” I huffed to MH). And then, I found a way to make it  – driving a minivan, FFS – more tolerable to me: I bumper-stickered the holy crap outta that vehicle:

 

 

 

VanBumperStickersArgus

 

 

The above picture was taken (unbeknownst at the time, by me) by a reporter for the now defunct [3]  Hillsboro Argus, and appeared on the paper’s front page, circa late 2009. Although we subscribed to the paper MH and I had no idea the back of our van front page news, until a friend e-alerted us to check out the paper’s latest edition (“That HAS to be your van!”). The photo was accompanied by a sweet – if misleading – caption, written by someone who AS to be yourobviously didn’t read all the stickers:

No Personal politics on display, but a bumper crop of humorous stickers to make fellow motorists smile at stoplights.”

Over the years, after shopping at New Seasons Market or running some other errand, or returning to our van after, say, seeing a movie, we discovered hand-written notes pertaining to our stickers left on the windshield. On more than one occasion I returned to the van as someone was in the process of writing such a note. I enjoyed sneaking up on them, pretending to be Not The Owner, and usually greeted them by indicating the back of the van and cracking, “Get a load of these weirdos, eh?”  to gauge their reaction.

It’s hard to believe, given the political and freethought nature of many of the stickers, that not once did anyone leave a negative comment (or slash our tires). Most of the notes expressed sentiments along the lines of this one, the only one I kept:

 

 

vannoteJPG

 

 

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Department Of Not Exactly Late Breaking News

 

In fact, I was wondering why it was even considered news, when I read that Rep. Speaker of the Houser Paul Ryan announced he will support Trump.

What an earth-shaking, bone-breaking, tooth-rattling, sphincter clenching surprise that absolutely no one could have predicted: The Republican Party leader announces he will support the Republican Party’s presidential candidate.

Please, someone bring me the smelling salts.

DO YOU SEE WHAT GAY MARRIAGE HAS LED TO ?!?!?!?!?!?!?

 

 

 

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Snakes on a Plane! ( Actually, in terrariums…. )

That was the subject line in ads MH and I placed on Craig’s List and the FB page for Oregon Reptile Association. We are trying – successfully, if current arrangements go well – to re-home our cornsnake, T’Pol, and ball python, Andy.

The snakes were acquired many years ago by our offspring, along with the late great bearded dragon, Belle (from whom my daughter took her pseudonym for the purposes of this blog).

 

 

Blueberry-loving Belle

Blueberry-loving Belle

 

 

All were captive bred, acquired during the kids’ Reptile Are Cool Years ®  (Belle the BD has since gone to join the great Beardy collective consciousness). In the past couple of years the snakes weren’t getting much pet action, what with son K and daughter Belle out of the house; thus, MH and I decided that finding another home for them was a Nest Cleaning ® thing to do.

 

 

T'Pol on a hot day, enjoying a dip in her water dish.

T’Pol on a hot day, enjoying a dip in her water dish.

 

 

We let K and Belle know of our intentions. [4]  Even as they understand our reasons for re-homing the reptiles, I imagine they’ve a certain sense of poignancy re the matter: another piece of childhood passing by.

 

 

 A rare picture of Andy not curled up into a ball (which ball pythons like to do).

A rare picture of Andy not curled up into a ball (which ball pythons like to do).

 

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Department Of Signs Of The Times

The first (and not last, I hope) political yard sign of the season that’s made me laugh.

 

 

suck

 

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Department Of Current Events: In Case You Hadn’t Noticed

I am not planning on addressing the case of the Stanford Student/Swimmer who raped an unconscious women in this space. The despicable incident is just now coming to the general public’s attention due to the sentencing of the rapist and the revealing statements from the victim, the rapist’s father, and the rapist himself. I’ve let just a smidgen of my disgust and outrage leak out onto FB, but I just cannot go there…here.

 

*   *   *

May you heed the signs of the times;
May you leave kind notes on other people’s windshields;
May you be able to there when you are here,
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

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[1] New to moiself, although other people may find some of these tidbits old nets.

[2] Yep, related to (a great-grandnephew of) the greatest American few people outside of the Freethought and atheist communities have heard of, the 19th century civil rights champion, orator & lawyer Robert G. Ingersoll.

[3] as an actual, as opposed to virtual, community newspaper.

[4] And overrule it, should they be able to provide a home (read: get a landlord’s approval) for one or both snakes.

The Fritatta (for my father) I’m Not Cooking

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Monday, February 11.  I headed upstairs (where the backup TV/DVD player resides), a glass of champagne in my hand.

“You’re going to watch something – what?” K asked me.

“Band of Brothers.”

“Oh,” she replied.  “Of course.”

Monday was the four year anniversary of my father’s death.  He’d called the night before, and we talked for a long time, longer than usual (we talked on the phone at least once a week).  He was in a reflective mood.  [1] One of the many things we talked about was the HBO series, Band of Brothers.  The year after the series came out on DVD I purchased the set for my parents – a Christmas gift, I think.  Besides being one of the greatest mini-series in the history of the genre, B-B was the impetus for many detailed conversations between my father and me, about his experiences as a paratrooper in WWII [2]  and also those of another paratrooper, his brother-in-law, my Uncle Bill. [3]

My family hears the elegiac, haunting main theme wafting down the stairway, and they know where I am.  And what I’m thinking about.

I don’t know how to describe the greatness that is Band of Brothers.  So I won’t.  Just watch it, if you haven’t already.  Were I ever to meet Steven Spielberg and/or Tom Hanks, I would thank them, profusely, for producing that series.  Not a word about Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull or The Money Pit would cross my lips.

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Tuesday morning I had leftover frittata for breakfast. Earlier in the week I’m made a kale,[4] potato, onion, Spanish (smoked) paprika, parmesan cheese frittata for dinner.  I don’t know if my father ever had a frittata, for any meal.  I do know he would have liked it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A great scene in a greatly underrated movie, Morning Glory:[5]  Grouchy, veteran, respected but currently unemployed television journalist Mike Pomeroy (Harrison Ford, in a credible Mike Wallace mode) has been essentially blackmailed into becoming the co-host of DayBreak, a ratings-poor, national morning show of the “infotainment” style Pomeroy despises.  Pomeroy tries to sabotage the show by getting drunk, refusing to banter with co-host Colleen Peck (a cheerfully acid Diane Keaton), and by making use of a clause in his contract that allows him to refuse assignments, like cooking segments, that he considers beneath him. Pomeroy eventually forms a mutual if grudging admiration with Becky Fuller, (Rachael McAdams), DayBreak’s new, “Energizer Bunny” producer.  When DayBreak begins to rise in popularity and ratings, Becky receives a job interview from a rival show.  Colleen tells Mike that his refusal to adapt has driven Becky away. He goes to the TV set kitchen where food segments are done, and Becky watches in shock as Pomeroy shows the viewers how to make a frittata.

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Always nice to have something to look forward to, and I – we – have May 13 – 19, which is Children’s Book Week.

CBW is the yearly celebration of “books for young people and the joy of reading.”  Every year during CBW author and illustrator appearances, storytelling, parties, and other book-related events are held at schools, libraries, bookstores, museums across the country.

Mark your calendars, if you are a local.  Tuesday, Tuesday, May 14, starting at 7 pm, moiself and two other authors will be doing a reading and book signing at Powell’s City of Books, at their Cedar Hills Crossing (Beaverton) location.  This event has just been scheduled; I don’t yet know all the logistical details it will involve (walking up and down the book stack aisles, wearing a sandwich board advertising The Mighty Quinn?), but you can be certain I’ll post further harassments reminders as the date approaches.

Powell’s is the largest independent new and used bookstore in our solar system, and if you don’t know this, well….  Even if you’re from waaaaay out of town (any New Hampshire readers out there?), you need to make a pilgrimage to Powell’s if you are any kind of a book lover.  If not for my event, then soon.  So, you can’t fly to Portland in May?  Not to worry, there is a Children’s BW event somewhere near you.

Whatever your favorite childhood book is, was, or will be, may the remembrance of it be worthy of the Pretty Purple Toe award.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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No political commentary, nor rehashes of the latest misogynist pinhead proclamations in this week’s post.  I am too focused on fathers and frittatas and positive memories to celebrate, say, the resignation of the leader of one of the most wealthy, opulent, hypocritical, corrupt cults on the planet one mere pope. Now, if we could get all priests, imams, preachers, lamas, gurus, popes — and the ovine followers who give them “authority” – to resign….  Yeah, you can wake me for that breaking news.

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In honor of Valentine’s Day, a reminder of that most romantic of date movies, When Harry Met Sally Snakes On a Plane Snakes In a Dish.

snake

Because I can only imagine that when Samuel L. Jackson gets serious about love – about anything – hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] The temptation, of course, is to think he had some kind of premonition.  No evidence or proof of that, on my part. Just gratitude.

[2] In his case, training for the invasion of Japan that never came, due to Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

[3] Bill somehow survived actions from North Africa to Italy to D-Day to the Battle of the Bulge.  Not surprisingly, he was hospitalized after the war for what was then called “Shell Shock”, now understood as PTSD.

[4] Observant readers will note that it is bok choy, and not kale, in the picture.  What can I say – all the kale went in the frittata.

[5] I love Roger Ebert’s review of what makes the comedy so enjoyable: “It grows from human nature and is about how people do their jobs and live their lives.”