Caroline is in the hospital: Part one

*blows dust off site*

(In the interests of keeping things easy to follow, I’m going to use my blog for updating everyone on Caroline’s condition. There may be some duplicate information from emails and Facebook, so keep that in mind.)

 My wife is sick. Herein lies the tale.

Caroline has been getting treatment for Lyme disease for about a week.  She’s had headaches, sensitivity to light and sound, body aches, and  a general sense of malaise, but no fever or respiratory problems. She’s also been experiencing what I’ve taken to describing them as “Flowers for Algernon” periods. Her headache will intensify, she’ll start to experience trouble speaking, moving, or thinking, and she’ll get very easily confused. That will last for about 1-3 hours, and then it’ll just go away. Those have been intensifying, and on Monday afternoon (10/15/2012) her speech started to slur during the episodes and she got confused to the point of having trouble opening a car door. We called her primary care physician, and they told us to go to the ER.

We went to the ER at UW hospital, where they did a CT scan and a lumbar puncture, as well as some other lab work. The doctors were not able to diagnose her, so they decided to admit her. After they admitted her, they did an MRI and a series of chest x-rays.

Right now, they suspect either encephalitis as a result of Lyme disease, or viral meningitis. They won’t know for a few days until the cultures on the lumbar puncture come back, so she’ll be in the hospital for a few days. They started her on IV anti-viral medication in case her symptoms are caused by viral meningitis, and they’ve continued to treat her for Lyme disease with doxycycline.

Right now she’s fine, considering her circumstances. She hadn’t eaten much last night before we got here, but then she devoured a BLT and a piece of cheesecake from the hospital cafeteria. She’s in good spirits, but worried and slightly perturbed when the residents do rounds. I spent the night at the hospital last night, and I’ll head home in a bit to take a shower, gather some of her things, and catch a few more hours of sleep.

Caroline has her tablet, and the hospital has WiFi, so she’ll be able to do Facebook and some email. I’m also going to bring her laptop to her, so that she’ll be able  to watch movies or do more interesting stuff. She’s also just insisted that she would be happy to have visitors and phone calls. Her room number is F6/570 and her phone number is 608-267-8566.

Stay tuned to this blog for more information. I’ll try to post again this evening after more lab work comes back.

What have we become?

Waterboarding is the practice of strapping someone to a plank or
board, placing a rag over their nose and mouth, and then pouring water
over the rag until it is soaked and no air can get through. The person
is forced to breathe water, which enters their lungs and causes intense
pain, and can damage the lungs or even kill a person if done long enough.

It’s brutal, it’s cruel, and the Government of the United States
thinks it’s a good way to make people talk. I don’t. And my new goal is to spread the word and educate as many people as I possibly can so that we don’t treat the term “waterboarding” like we would the term “parallel parking”.


Over the past six months, I’ve gotten more and more interested in shaving. Not the “electric razor for 10 minutes” kind, or the Gillette Mach 72 kind. The old school, cup, lather, brush, and double-edged razor blades kind. And I think I’ve finally figured it out.

It may seem counterintuitive for someone who loves technology as much as I do, but I really enjoy shaving this way. It’s a surprisingly refreshing process that makes me feel clean, relaxed, confident and… well, masculine. It’s not just another part of the routine anymore: it’s something that I look forward to, and take pride in.

The equipment is pretty simple. Most of it is stuff I have researched via ShaveBlog and LeisureGuy’s fantastic guide to wet-shaving. Right now, I use:

  • musk-scented glycerin-based shaving soap (obtained from my local barber’s shop)
  • a badgerhair brush with a stainless steel handle (obtained from Target)
  • my great-grandfather’s silver and nickel-plated Gillete Travel Safety Razor
  • Wilkinson Sword Classic razor blades (these are leftovers that came with the razor. I’m going to run out soon, which means experimentation time!)
  • Loreal For Men alcohol-free facial lotion
  • A styptic pencil (it’s a chemical coagulant for stopping a bleeding nick or cut; beats the hell out of toilet paper)

I also use a Norelco Bodygroom for trimming my goatee and mustache.

You can get really expensive equipment, and I experiment with various parts of the equation as I run out of the consumables, but right now, this is working pretty well for me.

The procedure (for me) is as follows:

  1. Shower.  Get a good hot steam going, get your face nice and wet, and shampoo your beard. The steam opens up the pores, and the shampoo helps to soften up your facial hair and get it nice and wet. I also use conditioner on my goatee and mustache, and I find that using a little conditioner on your face helps to lubricate the beard.
  2. Dry off, but leave your face wet. Get your brush nice and wet with the hottest water you can get out of the tap (steam should be rising).
  3. Gently shake water out of the brush until it’s dripping every few seconds. Swirl the brush around in your lather cup until the brush is saturated with a thick, soapy lather.
  4. Rewet your face with a couple of handfuls of water from the sink, and then start applying lather in a circular motion. The idea here is to get lather all around the hair on your face so that it stands off of the face, and using an up-and-down “paintbrush” stroke won’t do that. Once your face is covered in lather, set the brush down (either in the cup or so that it stands bristles up) and let the lather stand on your face for about 1-2 minutes.
  5. Fill the sink to about a quarter- or third-full with the hottest water you can get from the tap (again, steam should be rising from the sink). While the sink is filling, assemble your razor and put in a good, sharp blade. I shave every other day, but I have a thick beard, so a blade usually lasts 2-3 weeks for me. As with anything, your mileage may vary. Once your razor is assembled, dunk the head in the water for about 3 or 4 seconds.
  6. Apply the razor to your face so that it stands perpendicular to your face, and then turn it slightly toward your face. The head of your razor should be curved slightly so that it sits this way naturally. Using short strokes and no more pressure than it takes to hold the razor upright, pull the razor across your face. The key here is no pressure. The blade is really, really sharp, and the idea with the angle and the whole deal is to allow it to do the work. If you press down on the blade, you’re going to irritate the hell out of your face and end up with the nastiest razor burn of your life (trust me, I learned this one the hard way). This is the coolest part for me; if the room is really quiet, you can hear the blade cutting through the hair on your face.
  7. Depending on how thick your beard is and how sharp the blade is, you’re going to repeat step 6 about 2-4 times. Each time is going to be a different direction, and you relather your face each time; pass 1 goes with the grain (nap) of your beard, pass 2 goes against. Feel your face before passes 3 and 4, so that you cover anything you missed. I usually go with the nap on pass 3, and go against on pass 4, but with the line of my jaw.
  8. Once your face feels smooth and clean, pull the drain stop and rinse out your brush. Use hot water until all of the soap is out of the brush, then switch to cold. Shake as much water as you can get out of the brush, and then leave it sit bristle-side down to dry.
  9. Rinse off your face with cold water. You’ve just opened up your pores to make cutting the hair out of them easy, so you now want to close them up to prevent infection and to clear away any dead skin. Towel off with a nice soft towel, and let your face dry for at least 10 minutes.
  10. If you need it, apply some aftershave lotion. I use an alcohol-free lotion because it’s not going to irritate my skin and (more importantly) dry it out. I use one with an SPF 15 sunscreen built-in, but you may have a different preference.

It takes a while to get used to, but once you’ve done it for a while, you’ll never want to go back to anything else. Your face will feel clean, you’ll feel good, and you’ll actually look forward to shaving!

a post in three acts

greetings, all. i’ve been absent. the following should explain why:

  1. I’ve been putting in quite a bit of time at work. like, a lot of time. i think i put in 60 hours easy this week, probably closer to 65. fortunately, i’m coming to the end of that period. at least i hope i am.
  2. i’ve spent any time i haven’t been working helping to bring a new social networking site online. it’s aimed to help people discuss, organize, and act on social justice issues. so far, it’s been chugging along just fine. eventually, i hope to implement greater integration with Facebook.

right now, i feel an amalgam of exhausted, happy, and contemplative. the other night, i had a really long, really intense conversation with someone i care deeply about, and it made me think about quite a few things. on the whole, i’m happy with where my life is: i’m learning a lot of skills that i’ll be able to take to a new job, i’m working to set up a project i believe in deeply, and i’m getting my composing mojo back after over a year of not writing anything. i’m trying to figure out what i want to do next (after my contract with badbrain is up in june), and i’m also trying to figure out where to go next.

i think i’ve gotten away from whatever malady affected me for the better part of 2005 (i still feel like something’s missing, but what and how to fix it are not things i want to discuss here and now). i’m not quite sure what brought that malady on, exactly; i think it might have mostly brought on by anxiety related to leaving st. olaf and facing the “real world”. but i do know that i’m much happier, less moody, and generally more at peace with the world (unless someone does something stupid). one sign of that is my muse coming back. another sign is me not resenting getting out of bed in the morning, and feeling like i have a purpose instead.

still, i feel like i’m too serious at times. granted, i need to be serious at times simply to process the sheer volume of information that comes at me at work, but that’s a different kind of serious. i feel like i take the world too seriously, in that i’ve forgotten how ridiculous and childish the world really is at times. in that regard, i feel like i need to laugh more, and play more. there needs to be time when i can just go and try to build a snowman, or wander around in the woods looking for a geocache, or just sit and do nothing but make stupid jokes with other people.

i’m not the same person i was before i graduated from st. olaf, let alone the same person i was when i entered st. olaf to begin with. nor do i think it’s healthy, appropriate, or even realistic for me to seek that out. i do, however, think i’m coming close to regaining the general mindset i’ve had my entire life: joyful, inquisitive, open, and embracing of the little things. and that, i hope, never leaves again.

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today is a rare day.

it is a rare day because i’ve never wanted to destroy someone’s career before today.

but it’s probably because i’ve never met someone so grossly incompetent and arrogant that they don’t even bother to do any research or ask any questions before starting something in which they have absolutely no experience.

what a fucking idiot.