A Little Ray of Sunshine

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Old News: Study says circumcision reduces AIDS risk

I'd heard about this link back when I was pregnant with Thing One. It hadn't been studied then, it was more of a thought-experiment. See, in Africa, a long, long time ago, folks were pretty much all pagen. And one of the little things just about all of those pagen religions had in common was that they circumcized their guys. And AIDS was unknown back then. It wasn't until the Christian missionaries came on the scene and got whole tribes to stop circumcizing the men that AIDS showed up. As long as it's just women that can easily catch it, in a heterosexual society, even one that is not particularly monogamous, that disease isn't going far. Once both sexs catch it easily, it's all over the place.
In other words, you know all those crazy old traditions your folks passed on to you? Don't get rid of them until you figure out what the consequences will be! Something like that, which got religicized over the eons, a little thing like that, could've stopped HIV in its tracks. And probably did for a long time. But when folks changed religions, became Christians, the missionaries discouraged that practice as a link to paganism. Sure, change your religion, when you find the Truth, but take a close look at what you were doing before, and more importantly, why, before you give up your entire lifestyle. After all, how much trouble can one of these total infected=total dead virii like Ebola cause when villages are pretty well isolated and there are only fifty or a hundred people in them?

And deflation is bad because???

Okay, I get the whole inflation thing. Prices go up, wages don't, we can't buy as much. Interest rates go up. At least, that's my experience. Got it, that's bad. (I know in theory that wages should go up, but they don't, at least not at our earnings leval.)
But why is deflation bad? Prices go down, okay, that sounds good. Wages go down, well, if prices went down, no big deal. Spend less earn less. I like this better than spend more earn the same. What'd I miss? Debt? Umm, isn't that taken care of by people refinancing/getting new credit cards/taking out new loans at lower interest rates? I mean, you know, people who have credit cards and houses and stuff like that.
Would someone who gets economics like to explain why this is a bad thing?

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Little tan boys and Independence Day

While my husband and I are getting stuff moved from the old house to the new, Thing One and Thing Two have been going with Nana every day. Thing One threw a fit this afternoon when Nana brought him back, so evidently she is doing her grandma thing and spoiling them. Thing Two was happy to see me, but not in any sort of grump afterwards, which is pretty good for him, as he's still nursing and a bit of a Mama's boy. I expect he'll outgrow that when he weans.
Yesterday, she took them to the zoo, and out to her and Poppa's house. Thing One reported that "I help Poppa work!" Nana translated that he had gone with Poppa to move the water. Poppa likes to drown as much foliege as he can before and on Independence Day, as they live up in the hills. Today Thing One had gym class, and he reported "I did summersaults and backrolls." He answers yes to nearly everything I ask him directly, so I have to wait for him to volunteer information to find out what happened. Nana said she packed a picnic, and they went to the zoo again (she has a membership), after which she bought them ice cream! Did I mention she's spoiling them? Thing One's feet are tanned in the shape of his sandles, and both of them are just as brown as can be.
Thing Two is now allowed to throw his own diapers in the trash. This is a huge deal to him, and he loves doing it. He still tries to throw everything else in the trash, though, anyway.
We went to watch the city fireworks last night: Thing One was spellbound. He put his little hands up by his chest, pointed his fingers, and bang-bang'ed all the fireworks. Thing Two watched for a while, then decided the major street right behind us was more interesting, and Daddy played chase the baby for the rest of the show.
After that, we went home. Thing Two fell asleep in the car, but Thing One stayed awake. Daddy had bought some little fireworks, and Thing One loved them. It was the first time I ever got to handle anything more dangerous than a sparkler. Clearly, I was overprotected as a child.
We saved half of them for May 20th next year. Daddy told us that fireworks are generally not a big part of Independence Day celebrations over there, but those who can afford them do set them off. I'm sure the neighbors will think we're crazy. That's okay, though, as the neighbors are crooks. At least, someone stole the exterior light fixtures and bulbs off of the mobile home. So we have at least one set of neighbors who are thieves. We've got a guess as to which one--the one that's suddenly sprouting a new light on the back porch where it was broken before. The same one as threw their old camper top onto our lot. Sigh. The folks on the other side seem nice, and there's a fence on that side, anyway. Good fences make good neighbors. It's on our list of things to do. If whoever took the lights thinks we're crazy, that's all to the good, right?
There is always a burn ban where my parents live, and my dad used to get a permit from the fire marshal in order to have fireworks. (Things are very green this year, but normally if you look wrong at the hills they start smoking.) Of course without a child at home, they no longer bother. The best thing with them for fireworks was always that they would save a whole pile, tons and tons, for New Years Eve. That being their aniversary as well. If you still have some of those little ground flowers left, and you live in a snowy place, wait until there are two good, thick crusts some four inches apart. Knock a hole in the top one and drop the lit ground flower through. It will spin under the crust on top of the bottom crust, and looks spectacular.
The little guys are asleep on their mattresses--the bed frames are already moved. Thing Two doesn't like not having his crib around him, he's not ready for a real bed. I'm hoping he'll be able to share with his brother soon, it'll give them that much more room. I'm thinking feet-to-feet for a while, and when Thing One is big enough, we'll get a bunk bed for them. Boys and bunk-beds. I have a feeling they'll be 'flying' off the top bunk before long.

Saturday, July 02, 2005


Arco 28T2 is dying today. He is ten years old. Arco came into my life as a rambunctious, out-of-control eight-month-old half-grown yellow labrador retriever in December of 1995. Halfway through his puppyhood, he had been only trained to 'curb', the practice of 'doing his business' in the gutter off a sidewalk. He left us in June of 1996, a mostly-obedient, tall, and bored nearly-grown dog. During that time he was my shadow. Where I went, he went. He loved to lick, and my girlfriends learned a new way to define short skirt and long skirt. If Arco could stick his nose under it and lick them, it was too short. He loved to ride elevators, especially the glass one on campus. He went with us Job's Daughters to the Shrine Hospital in Salt Lake, and calmed his natural rambunctiousness to play with the children there. He was at my installation as Honored Queen, and so well behaved that several mothers did not even realize he was there. When my Council gave me a 'poodle skirt' when I retired as Honored Queen, they had put Arco's image there instead of a poodle.
There is a picture of he and I on the wall, just before a DeMolay event. I was Chapter Sweetheart that year, and Arco loved the DeMolay guys. I'm wearing a dress and tiara, and Arco is wearing his green 4-H Guide Dog Puppy in Training vest. His fur is even lighter than my hair.
When he graduated from training, we went to San Rafael for his graduation. He had finally filled out. His person, like I, raised rabbits. Arco was his third guide, the first, Jojo, was too arthritic to guide anymore. The second, Dime, had lasted only a few months, unable to cope well with Mr. Newhart's rabbits. Arco grew up playing around my rabbits. I even had one of the same breeds. When I left for college, I sent several of my does to him. Having hopped all over Arco (literally), and had their kits do likewise, they recognized him, and I recieved a picture of one doe, Sunflower, and Arco touching noses in greeting at his arrival.
Arco behaved so well with the rabbits that Mr. Newhart was able to take him to shows with him.
Arco was one of nine puppies, all with 'A' names, as Guide Dogs does. Only one of his littermates did not pass Guide School. The usual fail rate is 50%. One of them even became a breeder.
Mr. Newhart passed away while I was at college, from cancer. Guide Dogs decided not to place Arco with another person because of the great distress caused when a dog must retire or dies. I lived in the dorms, then, and my parents took Arco back. I had adopted a Career Changed dog, Hogan, who had been with a girl in my 4-H group. Her family already had another guide puppy, Watson, her mother was the dog leader, and raised dalmations, and they had a scottie as well. Her mother said seven adult dogs, a guide dog puppy, and the dalmation pups are enough. So they asked us to take Hogan. He had not quite made it through guiding school, washed out just two weeks before graduation. We discovered later that he has a strange fascination with motors, loving to rub against the exhaust. He has to be shut inside when Mom mows the lawn.
Arco and Hogan came to live with me briefly in a small apartment. We went three or four times a week to the dog park, but it was not enough. I was very busy, with school, wedding plans, and other activities. When we married at Christmas time, my parents took the dogs home. Pregnant with our oldest, we moved to a bigger place, but it did not allow pets.
Arco and Hogan had become very good friends. Neither one was a normal, sane dog. Both had lived all their lives allowed access to anywhere humans go, and with constant human companionship. My parents got them both through the worst of their neurosis. Hogan still follows people so closely that if you stop suddenly he will ram headfirst into your knees and knock you down. Arco has never had any interest in balls, chasing squirels, or many other normal labrador pursuits. It took months for my parents to convince either of them that it was okay to walk in the creek, and longer to teach them to swim. (Guide Dogs are trained not to go through water.)
For the last several months, Arco has been suffering from kidney failure. Yesterday, when I said goodbye to him, he was no longer willing to lick me. Arco not licking is like the sun not rising in the east. My husband dug a grave for him on my parents land a few weeks ago. He's held out longer than anyone expected, but Arco has always been willing to endure suffering without complaint. When I caught his tail in the door of the car when he was a puppy, he barely whimpered.
Mom called to tell me that the vet is coming out in a couple hours to put him down. He is no longer able to get up and walk, and will not eat. I don't know what will happen to Hogan without Arco around. I have a picture, taken about a week ago, of baby patting Arco on the head, the first time he's approched any of the dogs. Previously it has always been cry in fear if they look at him. I'm not looking forward to explaining to my older son why Arco is gone. He knows Arco's sick.
He was a good dog, a faithful servant.

If you want to know more about Guide Dogs and what they do, here's an excellent example: http://www.guidedogs.com/news-Hingson.html Roselle, pictured here, is colored like Arco, but is much smaller.