Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Back to Work

We had a great Christmas. Too bad it had to end!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


Having family around is always a great learning opportunity for Megan.

Last summer Auntie Kendall taught Megan what a llama says. Now if you ask my daughter that, she'll spit at you!

Grandpa taught Megan about the best use for a newspaper:

This was especially exciting when Baby Brooke got a hat, too.

And Auntie Sarah took some time to teach Megan a few things while they were doing Megan's new farm animal puzzle together. After they both got bored with the "what sound does a ... make?" they moved on. Now Megan not only knows what sound the animals make, but also what product each animal makes:

What does a cow make?

What does a chicken make?

What does a pig make?

What does a horse make?

What will she learn next?

Monday, December 25, 2006

The Haul

Megan got a lot of great gifts, though she couldn't quite grasp the whole Santa concept. Maybe next year she'll be old enough to fully comprehend flying reindeer.

The Bogardi got her a sit-n-spin. I've been singing "Dora, Dora, Dora, the Explorer" ever since.

"Look at me, Mommy. I'm *pinning" (yes, Megan still drops most of the s's in words that begin s-consonant)

Meg really enjoys her new Aquadoodle - it draws with just water!

Look at that concentration (and that really attractive tongue)!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas '06

Because I was on call, we had to stay at home for Christmas. Or should I say, we got to stay home for Christmas. My whole family came up and stayed with us and we had a great time cooking big meals, watching movies and just hanging out. And it was so nice not to travel, especially with Megan. Now if only we could convince Mac's family to join us (hint, hint!).

The kids: the original and the extended version.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Merry (Jane) Christmas

Around mid-December baked goods become ubiquitous. They are exchanged by friends, they are delivered by neighbors, they get brought to work by the plateful. We all know these holiday treats aren't any good for us. But now, in addition to the high fat content and empty calories, you've got something else to worry about:

Last Tuesday, Santiam Hospital, a very small community hospital, notified Salem Hospital that there was an "external disaster" of a scope too large for their hospital to handle. About a half dozen employees of a local business all got sick at work within a short period. The symptoms were pretty non-specific and included feeling bad, nausea, vomiting, and light-headedness, to the point that one person even passed out. The three patients with the worst symptoms got transferred to Salem.

The going assumption was that these people had been exposed to some toxin, particularly as they worked at a varnish and urathane company. Perhaps there had been a leak or faulty ventilation. As such, the three Salem patients all had blood samples sent off for toxicology analysis, and indeed, they all had whopping high blood levels of the same chemical: tetrahydrocannabinol (aka THC, marijuana, pot, Mary Jane, weed, the wacky tobaccy - you get the idea).

All three denied smoking a doobie or taking a hit off a bong any time recently. They did, however, confess that they had eaten a lot of cookies at the company holiday party. Turns out these were no ordinary cookies - these were pot cookies, a very clever variation on the more traditional brownie.

The source (aka chef) of the cookies is still being investigated.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

New Hair Do

Yesterday Mac took Megan to get a haircut. Apparently, Megan thought her new cut warranted some new hair products - like blackeberry yogurt.

Now isn't she lovely?

Megan has been eating by herself for several months now. She often abandons her utensils halfway through a meal in favor of her fingers and she is not exactly a neat eater, but up until now she has never intentionally tried to put food someplace other than her mouth. This was a very purposeful fingerpaint-your-face session. Kids - they lull you into complacency and then spring on you (or their yogurt) when your back is turned! And it wasn't even bath night!
Sadly, neither Mac or I could put on a straight face to tell Megan "No!" - all we could do was laugh.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Lights On!

We just got the official word that our house was NOT responsible for the power outtage. Good thing because we were just thinking we need a few more lights out there.

On the not so bright side, old Christmas lights don't always turn out to be such a good thing.

We also had a minor carpet melting incident that caused us to send another string of lights to the electrical graveyard.

Monday, December 18, 2006


Just five hours shy of three complete days without electricity (that's 67 hours for those who need the math explained!) - poof - the power was back on!

The first night was a minor inconvenience, the second night an adventure, but the third night was downright annoying! We were just making plans to spend the fourth night somewhere else, when our plans became unnecessary.

It was quite a cold weekend to spend without heat. When we woke up Sunday morning our house was down to 52 degrees! Still a lot better than the 25 degrees outside. On the bright side, we just threw all our food from the fridge out on the porch (some in an ice chest) and it all stayed quite cool.

Sure we flushed the toilet a bit less than we'd like, but overall, I think we managed quite well, thanks in part to friends. Friday night we had dinner with friends that we were supposed to be hosting - we even got showers out of the deal. Saturday we spent some time at the neighbors across the street with a generator, took a long nap, and then spend the evening at the Salem mall (my first visit!) and Papa's Pizza with it's indoor playpark. And Sunday, we turned a brunch invitation into an all day affair (again with showers!). Thanks a bunch to Sarah and Andrew, who invited us for breakfast, but who were still quite gracious when we were still lingering at dinnertime!

On the downside, the ice machine melted all over the homemade pumpkin ravioli I had in the freezer for Christmas. I was so proud of myself for having a fairly nice meal not only planned, but mostly prepared as well! Not sure if they are still servable. Oh, well, guess there is still time before Christmas to make more.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Black Out!

Oh Mr. Franklin, while other colonists were content to keep their keys in their pockets, you were using yours to unlock a prominent place for yourself in Americana folklore. Your proposition to make the turkey our national emblem never took flight, perhaps because of the bird's poorly devoloped breast muscles, but with your lofty kite ideas, you discovered the power of electricity in a storm. I like to image you celebrated this success with a scrumptious meal of roast bald eagle.

But now it is the absence of electricity caused by the storm on which we focus.

Last night we were reading Megan bedtime stories when our lights began to flicker as if possessed and then all went dark. We got out our flashlights and candles, habitually flicking the light switches as we flitted from room to room. The blackout was actually quite illuminating as to how dependent we are on electricity - sure there are the lights, but without power we are also without phone and without water.

We got ourselves situated and finished putting Megan to bed and then realized we had nothing to do. It was 8:15.
Going to bed seemed about the only thing to do.

"Hey, I know! We could address the rest of our Christmas cards!" And so, in Abe Lincoln-like fashion, we set to work with only the meager flames of candles to light our task.

An hour later we were done and so we blew out the candles and went to bed.

This morning we were still without power or water. I scrunched my hair with my fingers, put on an extra spray of perfume and headed off to work, but only after I got Mac to go out and manually raise the garage door.

The car, of course, was immune from the effects of the blackout and so I once again had light, and a clock and a radio. The hospital power is back on (but reportedly out for a few hours last night). Our house, on the other hand, has been without power all day. I can't imagine that box of fudgecicles in our freezer is doing too well. And we're either going to have to consume or toss a few seafood products in the next day or two.

We know where the power lines went down, but at 3:00 today there was still no crew out there to work on it. Us country folk are low priority and we have already been told that tonight would be the earliest the power would be back on. But with little daylight left Mac and I both think we won't have any current in our house at least until tomorrow. One power company report stated that power wouldn't be restored to all customers until Sunday night. That could be us...

So we've been making alternative plans. The friends we were supposed to have for dinner tonight offered to host us instead. Better yet, they offered their shower! Mac hauled water up from the pond so that we can flush our toilets. And he was babbling on about getting a generator for the future (Aha, an opportunity to talk about a new machine!), that is, until the neighbor cut his finger off setting up his generator (seriously). Now if only some iMac would maul one of his friends!

So those of you with power, Enjoy, and don't be surprised if we come around looking scummy and begging for a shower!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The End of the Year

Mac and Megan maintain a pretty busy schedule for the week: On Mondays it's off to playpark, Tuesdays and Thursday mornings are filled with swim-class (Megan has become quite a fish!) followed by play-park, Wednesdays is preschool, and Friday has library story time and lunch with another Dad-daughter duo. But this week it all comes to an end. The last preschool class was today, swim class ends tomorrow and the playpark closes for two weeks. What's a stay at home dad supposed to do for the holidays?

Friday, December 8, 2006

The Gift of Life

About a month ago, I sent a mass e-mail to family announcing that we were having a boy. Though the sex was different than that our first child, I urged people to go donate blood rather than buy us a gift. Actually, I asked people to celebrate this new life by giving the "gift of life." I figured blood donation would do more good for the world than a cute new onsie for my son. Besides, after Megan, we are more than adequately prepared with general baby items and I know plenty moms willing to pass on hand-me-downs for the more sex-specific items.

But the importance of blood donation became personal this week: one of Mac's very close relatives was diagnosed with leukemia. The treatment for leukemia is a long and intensive course of very toxic agents more politely known as chemotherapy. The chemotherapy functions to poison the leukemic cells in the bone marrow. Unfortunately, the chemotherapy is not discriminating and so it wreaks havoc on all of the normal marrow cells as well (and many other cells in the body too, the most familiar of course being the hair follicles). Without the normal bone marrow cells the body cannot make red blood cells, white blood cells or platelets. People require blood transfusions, often many, to survive this toxic assault. In effect, the patient relies on others to make blood for him until his own marrow can recover.

The season also makes the need for blood donation salient. Blood banks have a perennial problem with blood supply during the month of December. There is chronic short supply during the holidays, to the point that I have frequently seen the blood bank on "Red Alert" during this period, a status that requires blood rationing because the supply is not enough to meet the demand. Even regular blood donors may skip the holidays - people are busy and weather condititons are bad. But bad weather can increase auto accidents, as can those booze laden holiday parties, and leukemia certainly doesn't care about Christmas.

So if you have some extra time this winter, make a trip to your local Red Cross. For those concerned about feeling tired after blood donation or if you happen to weigh less than the necessary 110 pounds, consider donating platelets. Platelet donation takes longer, but essentially has no after effects (I have done this several times). The gift of life may be the best gift you can give this holiday season.

12/11 follow-up: Figuring it would be hypocritical to urge others to donate without donating myself, I just tried to make an appointment. I have always shied away from blood donation and have instead done platelet donations, but that's only available in Portland. I didn't really care to drive that far. So I thought I'd suck it up and donate blood, but the Red Cross doesn't want us preggo's (probably a wise call). So instead I'll direct my donation enthusiasm toward nagging Mac to give.

Monday, December 4, 2006

Purr-fect Boots

Auntie Kendall got Megan some boots, so that she can be stylin' all the time, even in her pajamas

These days I am wishing my shoes had handles, too, so I wouldn't have to bend over so far!

A Very Scary Christmas

The Marion-Polk Medical Society had its annual family Holiday Party on Sunday at the Salem Riverfront Carousel. There were all the makings for the kids to have a good time - lots of sweets, hot chocolate and as many free rides on the carousel as the parents would allow. There was just one problem: the presence of a particularly menacing man, a guy that was striking fear into the hearts of youngsters far and near - Santa Claus!

We were with two other families; their 4 year old and 2 year old daughters wouldn't get within 50 ft. of Santa and they kept a watchful eye on him at all times, lest he should lunge out and start grabbing random children to sit on his lap.

But we had been prepping Megan for a week. We got out Santa books and let her run around with a Santa napkin holder. We've been telling Megan (in exaggerated enthusiastic tones) that she was going to get to sit on Santa's on lap, to which Megan would respond "and read a book," - that obviously being the only reason one would sit on someone's lap. And we talked about Santa's toys to the point that Megan was informing us that "Meggy play with Santa's toys."

When we walked in, Megan quickly spotted the guy in the red suit (with a real beard even) and announced,"There's Santa!" But that was the end of the excitement. Megan clung tightly to us at the very suggestion of sitting on his lap and tried top keep herself as far from him as possible when Mac took her over. But on the bright side, Mac got an opportunity to tell Santa what he wanted for Christmas, too.

Santa tries to bribe Megan with a bell.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Literacy test

Without permission, I am stealing this from my cousin (who is not actually named Charlie McDanger, much to his chagrin). It is one of the funniest things I have read in a while (albeit read with some difficulty, of course, as I am the "illiterate" physician below):

As I mentioned at Thanksgiving, the Wall Street Journal enjoys running articles that let you know whether you're literate or not. Here's [an] easy way to test yourself:

WSJ 11/21/06:
"Even the most reasonably literate American may find it difficult to name more than three of the past chief justices of the U.S. Supreme Court. But of those three, one of them will almost certainly be Roger Brooke Taney..."

I sent this to the author of the Roger Taney article...

Prof. Guelzo,

I can say I have new eyes after reading your book review in the Nov. 21 edition of the Wall Street Journal. May I recall here your opening: "Even the most reasonably literate American may find it difficult to name more than three of the past chief justices of the U.S. Supreme Court. But of those three, one of them will almost certainly be Roger Brooke Taney..."

What a marvelous measure of literacy! I ran right off and tried your ingenious little test on my unsuspecting family at our Thanksgiving gathering--a group that included a physician, an attorney, a technical author, a CFA/MBA, a retired professor of chemistry, and several others whom I had, in earlier days, mistaken for literate.

Imagine my dismay when, during the general jubilation, my simple query of, "Who was Roger Taney?" met a stone wall of squinty eyes and silence. Mind you, this is not a family of polite Japanese folk; in fact they are neither Asian nor particularly polite.

Oddly, almost all could name at least four past chief justices; this I will attribute to dumb luck. In any case, I thank you, sir, for letting us know what rubes we are. I think we can all rest more soundly, knowing there are sages such as yourself guarding the doors to the Literacy Club. Keep up the good work.

Charlie McDanger

P.S. One of my cousins, an impertinent youth, suggested that the phrasing, "most reasonably literate," was itself questionable with respect to literacy. Only "the most moderately imbecilic halfwit" would compose such a thing, he said. Not to worry; I will punch him in the face.

Friday, December 1, 2006

An Odyssey of Change

Change is inevitable; I hate it nonetheless. I also hate car dealerships (no offense, Jerm), which made last night's car-buying excursion a particularly distasteful event in my mind.

I have been to purchase three previous cars:

1. At the start of my third year of medical school, I began the quest for My First Car. Newspaper ads left a lot to be desired, so one Saturday I headed down to a used car lot. The cheapest car on the lot (that lacked a flame paint job) was a 1995 Hyundai Accent. The car still cost more than I thought I could spend as a debt-laden student. But the salesman quoted me a price that was significantly lower than the sticker price and I thought it would be a good deal. So I left to get car insurance and buy a license plate (In PA you buy a plate for yourself. When you sell the car, you keep your plate and put it on your next car. The new owner is responsible for replacing the license plate). When I came back after purchasing said items, the salesman informed me that he made an error saying that he could sell the car for so low a price and his manager wouldn't approve of the sale. But I had just bought a plate and insurance! I am sure I could have used these for a different car, but I didn't know when or where I would even find another car to buy. I ended up paying almost a thousand dollars more than I thought I was going to get the car for. The salesman seemed genuinely contrite and did throw in about two hundred dollars worth of "extras" (free service coupons and speaker upgrades). Still I felt like I had gotten screwed on the price.

(sidenote: the Hyundai had a brewing malady that led to its ultimate demise, namely faulty welding that caused the body to mostly disconnect from the chassis. Hyundai refunded me all but $900 of the purchase price after two years of ownership. I felt a little less screwed about the price after that, despite the fact that the car was a total lemon).

2. I spent my first few months of residency carless, commuting to work mostly on bike, but I sometimes walked or ran and Mac would pick me up from work a couple of times a week. But as soon as the rainy weather hit, I knew I needed a new car. I decided on a Toyota Corrolla because of its top rated reliability, something I valued highly after the Hyundai incident. I collected newspaper ads for a week and I knew the prices cold, in fact, I knew them better than the Toyota manager. I held my ground and think I got a pretty good price. Both the finance guy and an independent insurance agent seemed to think so, too. Not having a lot of cash in my recent graduate status, I financed about half of the car with a four year loan through the dealership. They had a special 5% loan, but it seems I didn't qualify for it despite a credit score around 720 - I didn't have any history of loan repayment (my med school loans were still in the grace period). Didn't it show financial responsibility that I had never before been in debt and that I had never even once carried a balance on my credit card? Apparently not. They wanted someone who had been in debt and had proved they could make the payments on time. I got an 8% loan for four years. I thought I would pay extra each month and therefore save myself a lot of the interest charges, but I later found out all four years of interest were calculated up front and immediately added to the amount I owed. Paying early wouldn't save me money at all! It never occured to me that this was something I needed to watch out for. I felt like I had gotten screwed on the financing.

3. When Mac needed a new truck we bought it through an acquaintance who had some incentive not to screw us over entirely. I think he gave us a fair price. We paid cash and avoided financing altogether. I don't feel like we got screwed at all, but we had an insider on our side.

With these experiences in mind, my cinicism was at its peak and I had a bit of a perma-glare plastered on my face as we walked into the Honda dealership in Eugene. Fortunately, Mac had done a ton of internet research and was working with four different area dealerships on-line and on the phone. Pitting the dealerships against one another and using the information he had gathered, Mac had pre-negotiated a great price for the car (one dealership even told Mac Eugene was stupid for selling us the car for that low a price). And we had a pre-approved non-dealership loan in hand. But things were going our way and the dealership had financing for even lower (3.9%!- and trust me I asked plenty of questions before signing on the dotted line). The wildcard, though, was our trade-in. That trusty little Corrolla had served me well for the past seven years and if it could have fit two car seats, I would have kept it for another 7 years. The car had a Kelly bluebook value around $4900. It had a few scratches, but no major damge and only 58,000 miles. Two Salem dealerships said they'd give us $4700 for it; Eugene's first offer was $2200. My glare escalated to a dagger-shooting grimace. We told them they were way off and they came back with an offer of $4300, which we accepted. In retrospect, we might have been better off telling them we expected $4700 for the car or refusing their $4300 to see if they'd come up a bit higher, but by that point I don't think either of us cared about the 400 bucks. I don't feel all that screwed, but I wouldn't really mind if a meteor fell on the dealership either.

Bye bye little Corrolla, Hello Odyssey.