Monday, February 26, 2007


My friend died on Thursday and I found out today. She was an older friend from my Friends Meeting who had been moved into a nursing facility in the state in which her son lives about a year ago. I felt very close to her when she lived here...she was the Wise Woman in my life. I was a good friend to her several years ago when she had a stroke and lived here and could be visited and checked on, and she was there for me as I needed when I was feeling stir-crazy after having the Lone Star Baby (she taught me how to crochet!), but I wasn't a very good friend to her once she was moved away. My life has been so crazy this past year that I haven't kept up much with anyone, but I knew she was dying and I wish I had been in touch more often. I drive by the apartment where I used to visit her here in town everyday and I have thought of her daily and often since she left it...I have missed her so, and now I always will.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Lest You Think I've Disappeared...

I am still hanging on to this mortal coil and I do miss everyone and am sorry for my lack of time for posting lately. February has been rough. We meant it to include large amounts of fun family outings as it is the month when our museum membership has reciprocity with lots of other cool venues, but it has mainly been a month of illness and stress, although we did have a very nice 12-year anniversary of the marriage of Lone Star Pa and myself on the 12th, which we had fun celebrating the previous weekend.

The Lone Star Baby has had an on-again-off-again mystery bug since about the 2nd and the Lone Star Girl had a mild case of Flu A as well, in the midst of it all. I have missed 4 days of work in February and Lone Star Pa has missed two, one of which was the day we were both supposed to be administering the high-stakes TAKS writing test to our seventh graders. I did administer it, but he was on taking-baby-to-doctor-again duty that day.

In the meanwhile, school is still very busy and I have tons of stuff due for my certification classes. I am currently off to take my big Social Studies 4-8 exam. Please wish me luck!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Orlando, Florida Passes Ordinance....

....outlawing the feeding of large groups of homeless persons in city parks.
Good gracious God.

Not My Daughter

His pockets full of PAC money from Merck, Governor Perry has signed an order requiring that all Texas girls get the HPV vaccine before entering the 6th grade, by Sept. 2008. I say fuck that shit. Seriously.

The HPV vaccine is supposed to protect against HPV, a sexually transmitted virus that most people are harmlessly exposed to eventually, but which has been shown to greatly increase the risk of cervical cancer in susceptible individuals. The story is that by targeting pubescent girls, protection will hopefully be in place before exposure...yadda, yadda, yadda. It makes a certain amount of sense, but the truth is also that this is the first mandated vaccine to prevent against an STD, and the first to be targeted not at the disease it helps to prevent but at a cancer that might develop due to exposure to that disease...and it is being mandated for kids. While the strong relationship between HPV and some forms of cervical cancer is clear, this is still getting into some pretty heavily contingent territory for a state-mandated vaccine, if you ask me...and it is only for girls, too, not boys who can get HPV but not cervical cancer...not a very equitable way of spreading around the risk. AND targeting little girls means that it could be many years and millions of girls vaccinated before the sort of reproductive health/birth defect kind of side effects that could crop up with such a vaccine would be of Merck, don't you think?

Please do not get me wrong...I am very glad that research is being done into women's health issues and would very much like to see a decrease in the cases of cervical cancer in women (not as much as I'd like to see that research go into ovarian cancer, which is usually pretty much undetectable until you are a dead woman and which is tons less treatable, but, oh well). I just do not think it is appropriate for children to be the guinea pigs. Let's see how it works on consenting, sexually active adults first, shall we? And let's vaccinate males, too, if it is really a public health issue because they are largely the ones spreading it to females.

The Lone Star Girl is eleven and enters the sixth grade in September of 2007. This law will initially graze past her, but it will catch up. I will exercise our right, only available in Texas for the past few years, to take a philosophical exemption to the vaccine. One way or another, they will not be experimenting on my kid.

I have never taken the exemption before - my kids are fully vaccinated and even get a flu shot every year - but I consider myself in the middle of the road on the vaccine issue. Except for the flu shot, I only give my kids the shots on the required state schedule, because all of those (except for this new beauty) have been around for awhile and have been administered enough that good data is available on them. In the Lone Star Girl's lifetime, I can remember at least 4 vaccines that came out new for various things and were highly pushed in the pediatrician's office, and then were pulled due to side effects before they ever made it to that required schedule. I think vaccines tend to get get approved rather soon. I do not really agree with the anti-vaccine group that vaccines are not the way to go...if we home-schooled and lived out in the country, I could see it. Living, however, in a world of daycare, big schools and close-together housing and living - I do think the public health requires vaccines in this modern world. This does not, however, mean that the concerns of the anti-vaccine folks are a lot of wackiness like most health professionals try to pretend (because most health professionals do not seem to think parents are smart enough to make an intelligent choice on our own, given both sides of the issue). I am very grateful to the anti-vaccine folks for getting us the acellular pertussis vaccine, an end - almost- to mercury-based preservatives in childhood vaccines and other advances that have greatly increased the safety of the vaccines we use. Vaccines are dangerous in many ways and the concerns of the anti-vaccine folks are valid - I just think the dangers of not vaccinating children in the modern American lifestyle are greater...when everything has been done to make vaccines as safe as possible. I do not think everything has been done to make this HPV vaccine as safe as possible and we are not going to get it until I feel it is.

Lone Star Baby Picasso

On a happier note, in addition to her virus, the Lone Star Baby brought her folder home from school on Friday, for us to take out the artwork she has recently done at school. It is always so nice to get to see what she is working on...they do sewing cards that they make themselves, paintings, masks, puppets, they play with stickers...the works. This isn't one of those AMI Montessori programs that discourages free flowing artwork. As Lone Star Pa and I were exclaiming over all her work, we came across a lovely painting that clearly involved a more organized technique that just brushing paint onto paper, although we did not know quite what technique they had taught her to use in order to produce the effect. We were telling the Lone Star Baby how much we liked it and she nodded serenely and told us "Pablo Picasso". I love her school.

Bug Winter

The Lone Star Baby came home from school on Friday with a slightly elevated temperature, which later turned into a bonafide, if not too scary, fever. She said her throat hurt, which mine does also, and did not seem very sick. She seemed fine yesterday, except for a slightly elevated temperature still, but then the fever shot up past 103 last night and she felt very crummy indeed. Today, she's okay again, but we'll see about tonight. I took her to the doc today and she's negative for strep with a red throat and ears, so it is probably another virus. It seems she has had some manner of bug every single weekend for weeks. The Lone Star Girl was not prone to catching every little thing like this when she was a toddler; it is quite frustrating.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Bubbles In The Water

Last night was the Science Fair at the Lone Star Girl's school. She is in the 5th grade and this is the first year she has done an experiment with a partner. Their experiment (done with some equipment at the local university that I would not have known existed had the girls not set the whole thing up with someone there) proved that there was more dissolved oxygen in water that had been chilled than in not-chilled the best of my understanding. They won a medal for Honorable Mention! I was very proud of them, though the Lone Star Girl was in a bratty mood because she wanted to advance to the district-wide competition. The competition at her school is tough, though. She skipped entering in 3rd and 4th grade - her school only requires 5th-graders to enter - but also won Honorable Mention in first grade when she attacked some audio recordings with magnets and monitored their degradation. Her highest award was in second grade for her project on sargassum and beach erosion. I am totally impressed by her scientific prowess, regardless of her snottiness, and am very proud of her. I'm counting on her to get folks to Mars someday.