30 April 2009

Bad Husband

So I figured I would make things easier for TheHusband, during his travels. He has come out to the Left Coast for a few days. I didn't want to carry the clothes I'd be wearing for the second half of this week, so I packed them carefully in a packing cube, chucked it into his suitcase (along with his brand-spanking-new raincoat), and told him that it was in there. He arrived in Seattle this afternoon, and when I said something about my clothes, he looked totally blankly at me. He then said that he thought that the packing cube was some stuff from a prior trip that I had forgotten to take out, so he didn't bring it. And he literally has no idea where the raincoat was. Or memory of the conversation last Friday. Grrrrr. So now I am out of clean clothes and somewhat annoyed.

28 April 2009

Seattle and the Bow Ties

So I have been in Seattle since Saturday afternoon. I am here for the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology. I have been a member of the AAN for 15 years and have been to 6 or 7 annual meetings. I have frequently referred to the AAN annual meeting as one of the largest collection of old white guys wearing bow ties, because, well, there are lots of old white guys wearing bow ties here.

I have some random thoughts about this year's meeting:
  • This meeting seems to be much less well-attended than the last few I went to -- less people around, little crowds, no pushing or being pushed.
  • Neurobowl (neurology trivia contest) is still fun.
  • There are a lot fewer freebies from the drug and device companies, which is fine with me.
  • Fewer Europeans seem to be here this year than last year, but that may be a function of the West Coast location.
  • The "free" seminars and lectures are the usual combination of completely obscure ("A Tat-Immune Complex Binds the NMDA Receptor, Preventing Receptor Activation and Excitotoxicity"), unrelated to anything I might ever do or see ("Predictive Value of Brainstem Auditory Evoked Potentials (BAEPs) in Decreasing Post Operative Neurological Deficit During Expanded Endonasal Approach (EEA) to Skull Base Surgeries"), interesting ("The Transition of REM Sleep Behavior Disorder to Neurodegenerative Disease") and something that may seriously affect what I do on a daily basis ("Improving Reliability of Stroke Disability Assessment in Clinical Trials and Clinical Practice: The Focused Assessment for the Modified Rankin Scale").
  • Neurology of Sleep was (unfortunately) well-named. It was really hard to stay awake.
  • I chatted with the former chairman of the Dept of Neurology at my medical school. He was very supportive of me when I was a med student, and I hadn't seen him in years. He didn't remember seeing me at my Boards.
  • It's much more fun to come to these meetings with coworkers.
  • KOLs can be pompous and annoying, but often they have very interesting theories, ideas, projects, and clinical trials.
I have one more seminar this afternoon and the Plenary Session tomorrow morning, and then I will be having lunch with a former coworker tomorrow. Who knows what kind of trouble I can get into between now and noon tomorrow? Then it is off to Vancouver with TheHusband for a couple of days (minus ThePinkThing, who will be hanging at home with her grandmother).

24 April 2009

Well, how about that!

Mackenzie Brown, a 12 year-old girl, pitched a perfect game in Little League baseball this week. That is 27 batters up and 27 batters down. Apparently nobody knows how many (if any) girls have ever done this before in Little League (which is comprised mostly of boys). How cool is that? And now she gets to throw out the first pitch when the Washington Nationals play the NY Mets in NY on Saturday. Given how bad the Nats have been so far this season, she'd likely strike them out as well...

23 April 2009

Songs and lyrics

So TheHusband is sitting at his computer playing random mp3's. He just played Come Sail Away by Styx.

I shocked TheHusband (and myself) by knowing all the lyrics to that song.
People who know me well will find it astounding that I actually know the lyrics to any song, much less a song that was once popular. I am horrible at remembering lyrics. I can't even remember the lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner, which is just an example of the pathetic-ness of that part of my brain. I will note that for years I thought that the line went "I'm sailing away, set an open course for the emergency" which just tells you how bad things can get...

I am also pretty much tone-deaf. I have been told on more than one occasion to stop singing, even by my husband. ThePinkThing likes the way I sing, but she seems (at least at this point) to have inherited my singing ability. The poor thing.

What random or obscure song lyrics do you remember?

(Update -- 11:05 pm)

Shit. Now he's playing Achy Breaky Heart. I will have to go over there and HIT him.


(Update #2 -- 11:15 pm)

He has now redeemed himself by playing Jambalaya by Boxcar Willie, which has chased Achy Breaky Heart out of my head. Yay!

21 April 2009

Am I crafty?

The first five (5) people to respond to this post will get something made by me. This offer does have some restrictions and limitations so please read carefully:

  1. I make no guarantees that you will like what I make. Whatcha get is whatcha get.

  2. What I create will be just for you, with love.

  3. It’ll be done this year (2009).

  4. I will not give you any clue what it’s going to be. It will be something made in the real world and not something cyber (although the computer may be used to help me). It may be weird or beautiful. Or it may be monstrous and annoying. I might even bake something for you and mail it to you. Who knows? Not you, that’s for sure!

  5. I reserve the right to do something strange.

  6. In return, all you need to do is post this text on your blog and make 5 things for the first 5 to respond to your blog post.

  7. Send your mailing address - after I contact you. (Be sure to leave a working email!)
IMPORTANT: The fun part of this is keeping it going, so don't forget to post this text on your blog if you want to play.

(This text was modified from that used by Claudia. I can't wait to get something from her...)

19 April 2009

Shilling for book suggestions

I will be leaving on Saturday and will be gone for a whole week -- such an opportunity to read books (no kid and no husband...). I want some new stuff to read. I need some new books and authors. I primarily read genre fiction, especially mysteries and science fiction. I like fantasy novels, too, as long as they aren't one of a series of umpty-ump books (my patience runs out...). And I hate vampire books, so don't suggest Jim Butcher, Laurell Hamilton, or their ilk.

My favorite SF author is Lois McMaster Bujold, but I like Niven, Heinlein, Scalzi, Poul Anderson, early David Brin, Vernor Vinge, and a whole host of others. Clearly, I like space opera and semi-hard SF. My favorite fantasy author is Megan Whelan Turner who cranks out a book every 5 freaking years, but I also like Diana Wynne Jones, Naomi Novik, Bujold, JK Rowling, and Caroline Stevermer. With respect to mysteries -- I like a whole boatload of authors. I don't like my mysteries mean or gritty. I like historical mysteries and old-fashioned whodunnits.

So, any suggestions?

Update 4/29, 11:15 pm
Book follow-up:
Dread Empire's Fall: The Praxis (Walter Jon Williams) -- Really good space opera. I will definitely be buying more.

Snake Agent (Liz Williams) -- Holy shit, this one was good, and I am not as much into fantasy as I am into SF. I went into a B&N in Seattle looking to see if they had a sequel, but I was out of luck. I want to read everything in this series RIGHT NOW.

Death at La Fenice (Donna Leon) -- very nice standard whodunnit in which one of the "characters" is almost the city of Venice. Very evocative of a city where I have never been...

Still Life (Louise Penny) -- very readable Agatha-Christie-like multiple-character murder mystery with some interesting characters and a reasonably good plot (I literally had no clue who the baddie was). I'll read more of this series, as well.

Up next:
Agent to the Stars (John Scalzi)
Voodoo Science: The Road from Foolishness to Fraud (Robert L. Park)

I forgot these two at home:
Beggars in Spain (Nancy Kress)
The Fencing Master (Arturo Perez-Reverte)

17 April 2009

Neurology 101 -- Huntington's Disease (part 2)

What is any neurology resident's biggest dread? No, it's not getting hammered with 12 admissions in a single night (although that is pretty high up there). Or having a patient code in the middle of the night and not make it. Nope. It's the Neurology Boards. They loom. And at the risk of sounding snotty and crotchety, they ain't the same now as they were when I took them. The Neurology Boards in the mid-late 1990's consisted of a full day written exam, and about 6 months later, if you passed the written, you got the opportunity to take the dreaded oral exam. I understand that the oral portion has been or is soon to be phased out. Lucky residents.

The year I took the Orals, the east coast section was in NYC. We all gathered at the Waldorf-Astoria the day before and got our assignments. I was assigned to Columbia-Presbyterian. That was fine by me, as I was somewhat familiar with Columbia's Neurological Institute. The Oral Boards are split into 3 segments, depending on what your specialty is. I am an adult neurologist, so I had adult and pediatric vignettes and an adult live patient. I won't go into the vignettes, except to say that I cried during the peds vignettes. Damn pediatric neurologists played good-cop-bad-cop and flustered the shit out of me.

Anyway, I would like to tell you about my live patient. My live patient segment was second, in between the vignettes. I went over to the Neurology Clinic and met up with my torturers ... er, I mean examiners. They took me into a little exam room, where a woman was sitting in a plastic chair. She was very fidgety, and initially I thought "why, she's as nervous as I am" which tells you how clouded my thinking was at that moment. The examiners explained to me what was expected and let me interview and examine the patient. I introduced myself and got down to business.

NeuronDoc: "Hi Mrs. X. My name is Dr. NeuronDoc."
Mrs. X: "Hi. How are you?"
ND: "I'm fine. How about yourself?"
MX: "I'm okay, thanks."
ND: "So tell me a little bit about yourself."
MX (clearly agitated) : "I can't do that."
ND (a bit startled): "Why not?"
MX (pointing to the examiners): "They told me I can't tell you."
ND (thinking surprisingly quickly): "Ah. I am sure they didn't mean that you can't say anything. You just can't tell me the name of your disease."
MX: "That's right."
ND: "Let's pretend that this is the first time you are coming to a doctor for your problem, that I am the first doctor you are seeing for this..."

So I went on to interview her. She told me that she was 49 years old, and that her problems had begun about 6 years earlier. She said she was off balance and fell easily. She described feeling edgy and depressed at times. She told me that she couldn't walk a straight line, or remember things as well as she used to. All the while she was telling this, she was very fidgety, shifting around in her seat, futzing with her hair, scratching, moving, rubbing. She wasn't quite 100% with it, and sometimes her answers were confusing. I asked lots of other questions, and eventually got to family history. I asked if anyone else in her family had any medical problems. She told me that her mother, uncle, several cousins, and a grandmother had the same thing she had. Bingo.

After asking all of the appropriate questions, I began to examine her. She had unusual eye movements (slowed saccades), motor impersistence, variable stride length while walking, postural instability, and mild dementia. She also had very obvious, fairly constant, and purposeless movements that, at times, would be converted to a purposeful movement.

Hmmm. Motor impersistence, variable gait pattern, chorea all over the place, and that family history. Well, it basically could only be Huntington's disease. But, crap, I had to come up with at least two other potential diagnoses -- they wanted to hear my top three. Unfortunately, my top 3 diagnoses were Huntington's disease, Huntington's disease, and Huntington's disease. I was completely stuck. Who would have thought that I would come up with only a single diagnosis? I was expecting them to trot out someone with a zebra-disease (really rare and hard to diagnose). But no, they gave me someone with basically only one choice for a diagnosis.

After I finished examining her, the examiners excused Mrs. X, who said "good luck, dearie" and left. I thought thanks, but now what the hell do I do? The examiners turned to me and asked what was my differential diagnosis for Mrs. X. I said exactly this: "My first three choices in the differential diagnosis are Huntington's disease, Huntington's disease, and Huntington's disease. She has all of the classic signs and symptoms of the disease and her family history is consistent with a dominantly inherited disorder. Basically it can only be HD. There are some really rare autosomal recessive disorders that have chorea and dementia, but the disease is clearly dominant. It isn't Sydenham's chorea or post-partum chorea or chorea secondary to lupus. It's Huntington's disease."

The examiners looked at me, then each other, then at me again. One said "Hmm. Well..." However, there were 15 minutes left. No oral boards examiner worth his or her salt will let an examinee finish early. So they grilled me about the genetics of HD (which thankfully I had randomly studied a few days earlier) and then basically turned it into a free-for-all. They grilled me about whatever the heck they wanted to. But I passed and never did really give them a differential diagnosis for that patient.

Thanks, Mrs. X.

16 April 2009

Neuroloy 101 -- Huntington's Disease (part 1)

Let’s talk “diagnose and adios” today. I am going to tell you about one of the biggies, one of the really bad neurologic diseases, up there in the top 10, maybe even the top 5, of “neurologic diseases that you don’t want to get”. But in a weird way, it is near and dear to my heart (no, I don’t have it, nor am I likely to develop it), and I’ll get to why in a bit. I am talking about Huntington’s disease (or Huntington’s chorea, as it was once called). Huntington’s disease is a classic progressive, degenerative neurologic disease that neurologists really can’t treat. Clinical signs and symptoms include chorea, cognitive impairments and psychiatric problems.

It is a hereditary disease that is transmitted from one parent in an autosomal dominant pattern. For those of you who took high school biology, but don’t remember it, autosomal inheritance occurs when the gene carrying the mutation is located on an “autosome” (non-sex chromosome). If something is inherited in an dominant pattern that means that only one gene is necessary for the disease to occur. And because only one gene is necessary for development of the disease, children of an affected parent have a 50/50 chance of having the disease. I am going to leave this genetics discussion simple and not get into variable expression or reduced penetrance. Suffice it to say that if one of your parents has Huntington’s disease (HD), you have a 50% chance of getting it. But it is a little more complicated than that, actually.

It is the genetics of Huntington’s disease that is so fascinating. The Huntingtin gene, located on the short arm of chromosome 4, was identified in 1993 and was the first non-sex-linked dominant disease gene to be documented. It is one of the trinucleotide repeat disorders. These are genetic disorders in which one DNA triplet (trinucleotide) in the gene sequence is repeated multiple times. It is this repetition, at least in the case of HD, that causes the clinical symptoms. The three DNA bases—cytosine-adenine-guanine (CAG)—repeated multiple times (i.e. ...CAGCAGCAG...) in a protein-coding portion of the gene (the protein is, not surprisingly, called huntingtin). CAG is the genetic code for the amino acid glutamine, so a series of CAGs results in a chain of glutamine known as a polyglutamine or polyQ tract.

Normal people do have CAG repeats in that region of chromosome 4; normal is considered less than 29 glutamine repeats. If a person has 29 – 34 CAG repeats, the resulting huntingtin protein will function normally, but the next generation is at risk. The gray zone is 35-39 CAG repeats, which will cause the disease in some patients but not others (the reduced penetrance I mentioned earlier). If the patient has 40 or more repeats, they will develop HD. Trinucelotide repeat disorders are frequently associated with genetic anticipation, in which successive generations have increasing numbers of CAG repeats and earlier/more severe disease expression.

There is genetic testing available that calculates the number of trinucleotide repeats. Most people at risk of developing HD do not actually take the test prior to developing symptoms, primarily because there is no treatment. Prior to ordering the test, significant counseling is recommended. In utero genetic screening is also available.

The altered or mutant huntingtin increases the decay rate of medium spiny neurons, which affects specific regions of the brain depending on the amounts of these neurons. The areas of the brain most affected, as seen in histopathological examinations are the caudate nucleus and putamen. These comprise the striatum. Other areas that are affected include the substantia nigra, parts of the cerebral cortex, hippocampus, angular gyrus, purkinje cells in the cerebellum, parts of the hypothalamus and thalamus. It is the striatal degeneration that causes the most prominent symptoms of HD.

Huntington's brain ------------- Normal brain

The symptoms of HD most commonly appear between the ages of 35 and 44, typically after the patient has had children. Presentation may occur before age 20, which is called the akinetic-rigid or Westphal variant. The most common symptom seen in HD patients is chorea. These are jerky, random, and uncontrollable movements that are almost dance-like (hence the name chorea – from choreos – dance in Greek). Other motor symptoms are rigidity and dystonia (sustained muscle contractions causing twisting movements or abnormal posture), which typically become more prominent than the chorea as the disease progresses. Motor impersistence (difficulty maintaining a specific motor task) is another common sign of HD. One way to assess this is to have the patient stick his tongue out. He will not be able to hold it out for more than a few seconds. It will go back in, then out, etc… Motor control is severely affected as the disease progresses, causing instability, inability to walk, difficulty chewing swallowing and talking.

Cognitive dysfunction is also present, commonly prior to development of the motor symptoms. Progressive cognitive decline will almost inevitably occur in these patients, with memory difficulties (initially short-term, then long-term as well). The cognitive decline eventually leads to dementia in most patients. It is a subcortical dementia, with prominent personality changes and attentional difficulties, rather than a cortical dementia, as seen in Alzheimer’s disease. Psychiatric problems are also not infrequently seen in these patients – depression, anxiety, aggression, even psychosis. The psychiatric manifestations can severely affect the patient’s ability to function and may be a trigger for institutionalization.

There is no cure and no effective treatment for the disease. Tetrabenazine was approved for the treatment of chorea in HD patients, the only drug approved for this particular use. Other drugs used in the reduction of HD chorea are neuroleptics (antipsychotic drugs) and benzodiazepines (Valium and its cousins). For the most part, medications are used to reduce the symptoms and are only semi-effective. Anti-parkinsonian drugs can sometimes be used for rigidity. Anti-depressants may help mood disorders. Speech therapy to help with the dysphagia is crucial for the patients to maintain their weight. Prognosis for these patients basically sucks. Life expectancy ranges from 10-30 years from diagnosis, and the disease is inexorably progressive. Patients die of associated complications (pneumonia, aspiration, injury, choking). Suicide is not uncommon (~7%).

Tomorrow, I will tell you why this disease is important to me…

15 April 2009

My brain is fried

I was never a girly-girl. I sincerely doubt that, when I was a little girl, I wanted to be a princess when I grew up. I think I wore a dress one time to school during my 4 years of high school. But I definitely remember my favorite Halloween costume ever. I went to a friend's Halloween party dressed up as Igor with my cousin as Dr. Frankenstein, and a friend as The Monster. It was hilarious. I wore some crappy old shirt and pants and used a partially deflated balloon as the hump. I think I used masking tape to stick the damn thing to my shoulder. Nope, not girly at all.

"Hearts and kidneys are Tinker Toys. I am talking about the Central Nervous System!" (Thanks Dr. Frankenstein)

13 April 2009

A six year-old's vision of the working world

While we are Jewish, we have family members who are not. We spent a lovely Easter at our relatives' house, and ThePinkThing came home with two Easter baskets.

Conversation at breakfast this morning, as TPT viewed her two Easter baskets with great satisfaction included:

ThePinkThing: Mommy?
NeuronDoc: Yes?
TPT: I can't wait until I'm a grown-up!
ND: Why?
TPT: Because then I can eat candy all day, when I'm at work.

(Kid, you have no idea. I wish I could eat candy all day, but my waistline protests...)

Hope you all had a great Easter.

10 April 2009

Evil Kitty and the BSOD

"Master, this is what happens when you fail to do my bidding..."

09 April 2009

Yay. Just yay.

So this is a little late and very brief. But I doubt any of you out there in the blogosphere will be shocked when I say that I am thrilled about what occurred in Iowa and Vermont this past week. Two of my favorite people in the whole world cannot get married in California due to ridiculous and discriminatory laws. Not that they could marry here, either, but still. Iowa? Perhaps I need to take a closer look at the Midwest...

08 April 2009

Passover and the Afikomen

So tonight is the first night of Passover, the first seder. I am not much of a believer, and we rarely go to synagogue (temple, shul, whatever you want to call it). TheHusband and I do not live near extended family. Thus, ThePinkThing has not been exposed to a lot of Jewish ritual. But she does "get" some Jewish stuff, and she is looking forward to tonight. Why, you ask? Because she gets to look for the afikomen. What the devil is an afikomen, you ask? Well, the afikomen is half of the middle piece of matzoh (middle of 3 pieces that are used/eaten during the Seder) that is traditionally hidden for kids to find and everyone to have a piece of for dessert. Searching for the afikomen was always the highlight of the seder when I was a kid. And I will have to admit that I and my cousins (there are a bunch of us) searched for the afikomen even into our 20's and 30's. Although the finder would receive a monetary reward, the search was really the fun part.

One afikomen story come to mind.
My grandfather (Zaydie), for the most part, was the afikomen-hider, and we would keep our beady eyes on him all through dinner, to see if we could catch him at it. I think my cousin Jonathan did once, then Zaydie delegated the hiding task to one of the other adults. We couldn't cover them all...

One time, maybe when I was in my mid-twenties, Zaydie hid the afikomen in the best place ever. He would always hold up a folded napkin and announce "The afikomen is wrapped in a napkin like this one. It is not completely hidden away. You do not have to open a drawer to find it. Some part of it is visible. Now go!" And we'd start to look. So there we were looking and looking and looking for the darned thing and we couldn't find it. We looked high and low, in the living room, kitchen, bedrooms and even the bathroom. He just sat there watching us. Finally after maybe 10 or so minutes, I wandered over to where he was sitting and started looking around. Suddenly a light bulb went off in my head -- I went over and picked up the napkin that he had held up. That was the afikomen. He hadn't hidden it at all. He just wrapped the piece of matzoh in the napkin, showed it to us as he always did and laid it down on the table in plain sight. It was brilliant.

So back to the present day. ThePinkThing is an only child, so there aren't other kids to search with. But we can't let her off the hook that easily. So TheHusband hid it, while ThePinkThing, Auntie Carla, and I all searched. We had all agreed that TPT would get to find it, but she didn't know that. TH hid it under a nice turned wooden vase (thanks, Jim!), and TPT eventually found it.

Here she is with her reward, which was $5 (an enormous amount of money!), and she got to eat the afikomen, too...

Happy Passover to all!

06 April 2009

Happy Birthday, Grandma!

Today is my grandmother's 92nd birthday. She and my grandfather still live independently and are still sharp mentally. In fact, they read my blog (so behave, you lunatics...). When I grow up, I want to be just like them. I am only sorry that I live a few hours away and can't visit them as much as I'd like.

Since she drops in, I wanted to take the opportunity to wish Grandma a Happy Birthday here.

Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday dear Grandma,
Happy Birthday to you.

Blow out the candles...

05 April 2009


So I have one main addiction, obsession, vice, whatever you might want to call it, in my life. I call it “bookaholism. Yup, bookaholism. How do I know that? Well, it has to do with the CAGE questions. The CAGE questions are a basic one-minute screen for alcoholism.
  1. Have you ever tried to Cut down on your drinking?
  2. Do you feel Angry when someone comments about your drinking?
  3. Do you feel Guilty about the amount you drink?
  4. Do you need an Eye-opener in the morning?
This may be applied quite well to bookaholism:
  1. Have you ever tried to *Cut down* on the amount of books you read?
  2. Do feel *Angry* when someone comments about your reading habits, or interrupts a good book?
  3. Do feel *Guilty* about the amount of books you read, or the time spent doing so?
  4. Do you need an *Eye-opener* in the morning (i.e., do you read at the breakfast table)?
Plus some more questions that are specific to bookaholism...
  1. Would you rather spend money on books than food? (Chocolate does not count)
  2. Do you hide books so that you can sneak and read unseen? (Skin rags don’t count)
  3. Do you always carry a book in your bag or briefcase?
  4. Do you read several books at the same time? (Well, not at the same time, but you know what I mean.)
  5. Are you unable to pass up a good bookstore? Have you parked illegally in order to enter such an establishment?
  6. Are you incapable of leaving a bookstore without buying something?
  7. Have you ever snuck-bought a book when you know you should have spent the money on something else?
  8. You go into a panic when your flight is delayed on the runway. You're not afraid of flying, but you've finished the book you brought along and you've read every magazine in the seat back cover to cover. (Note – true bookaholics will read old women’s magazines, out of date TV guides and hunting magazines if desperate enough…)
  9. When traveling, do you return home with more books than when you left?
  10. Do you suffer from the Just-One-More-Chapter Syndrome, which interferes significantly with sleep?
  11. Is your to-be-read (TBR) pile too big to fit on one bookshelf?
  12. Do you start your spring cleaning by building/buying a new bookshelf?
  13. If your house burned down, which would cost more to replace: all the furniture and appliances, or the books?
There are some activities that really do not combine well with reading; sex, skydiving, showering, and snorkeling come immediately to mind. Some people believe that one cannot combine reading with eating, but I disagree – just put your hands on autopilot and you'll find dinner gone. The book never suffers (except for occasional stains). Best way to spend a meal by yourself. However, a book does not make a pleasant dinner partner, if one is reading Silence of the Lambs and eating steak tartare...

It is difficult to combine reading with bicycling, unless it is a stationary bike. I certainly wouldn’t recommend reading and driving a car, although I confess that I have dipped into a book when I was stuck in an interminable traffic jam. Commuting via public transportation, however, allows for excellent reading time. However, then you might miss your stop, if you are at a particularly interesting point in your book. If you crack open a book you’ve been waiting before you leave for work, you might skip work altogether...

Reading does not combine very well with good conversation. You can, of course, hold a conversation while reading, but it's usually somewhat incoherent and not adequately interactive for the other participants. However, reading can lead to a boatload of good conversation. But you do have to stop reading first.

I definitely suffer from bookaholism. I would have to answer “yes” to all of the questions above. Books bring me great pleasure. They are the main source of escapism, if you will, in my life and also one of the main sources of expense. I am not much of a TV watcher, and I don’t go to movies as often as I used to. But I still read for pleasure every single day. The lure of the house we live in is a library – a room with built-in bookshelves on all of the walls. My husband has one shelf. The rest are all mine, along with the other bookshelves in the house. One of my goals in life is to get my daughter addicted. I still have time; she's only 6.

My name is Neuron D, and I am a bookaholic. How about you? Are you a bookaholic, too?

(Thanks to Jim for givng me the idea to make this into a blog post...)

03 April 2009

The Pink Water Incident

Cats can be pretty darned funny. One of our cats, Ajax, is the funny one. He is also the epitome of scaredy cat and spends the majority of his time afraid of being eaten by something. One of the funniest things that ever happened to Ajax, at least from our point of view, was the "Pink Water Incident".

Here is the scene: our old basement. TheHusband and I each have our own computers at desks in the basement. The basement, prior to the big renovation a couple of years ago, had the typical late 60's motif: fake-dark-wood-panelling, linoleum tile floor, teeny windows. The washer/dryer, laundry sink, furnace, and hot water heater were down there, too.

When we moved in, I found it weird that the washer drained from a hose into the laundry sink. I hadn't seen that before. It was a pretty big sink, that I am sorry got removed during the renovation. Ajax used to jump up into the laundry sink and then up to windowsill above, in order to watch the exciting suburban wildlife at ground-level. He did that a lot. He also would jump into the sink and then behind the washer when the cleaning ladies were here. You never know when a group of cleaning ladies will take it into their heads to eat a kitty. One must be very cautious...

So one Saturday afternoon, TH and I were sitting at our respective desks, doing whatever we were doing on our computers. I was also (at the same time) doing a load of laundry. Suddenly we heard the most amazing thrashing sounds from the laundry area, and then I saw a gray streak bolt up the stairs. "What the hell was that?" I said. "Beats me" replied TH. We both got up to look in the laundry area. We saw water all over the place. And no perpetrator.

Ajax had decided that that was the perfect time to hop up onto the windowsill to view the passing squirrels. Unfortunately for him, the sink had gotten clogged up and was filled with water. As I said, it was a big sink. I suspect he ended up in over his head, managed to spring out, and was gone. In a flash. Soaking wet. We went up to see where he went and found what looked like a large drowned gray rat cowering in the living room behind the couch (no evil laundry sink could eat him there).

We got a bunch of old towels and the cat treats, and TH rubbed him as dry as he could. Eventually, Ajax rebelled at this attention, and ran off to lick his wounds, so to speak. About an hour later, he reappeared completely dry and extremely fluffy. He was extra soft, too, as there was fabric softener in the wash water. And his white stomach was pink-tinged, as I had been doing a load of red clothes, and the water was pink.

And to my knowledge he never jumped into the laundry sink again...

02 April 2009

Concrete vs. Abstract Thinking

Concrete thinking in a four year-old (this incident occurred a couple of years ago):

ThePinkThing is very fidgety and won't stop shifting around.
ND: Stop that!
TPT (still fidgety): Stop what?
ND: Stop moving around.
TPT (really fidgety now)
ND: What is going on? Do you have ants in your pants?
TPT (horrified look on her face, pulls down pants and underpants): I don't have ants in my pants!
ND (falls down laughing hysterically, then explains figure of speech to TPT)


Abstract thinking disguised as concrete thinking:

(driving along a main road in upstate NY)
ND: Oooh, look a Dairy Queen!
FormerBoyfriend: Yeah, not too many of those around anymore.
ND (frowns)
FB: What? What's wrong?
ND: Why didn't you stop at the Dairy Queen?
FB: You didn't ask me to stop. You just pointed it out.
ND: But I meant for you to stop. I want some ice cream...