Lessons Learned from a Stay at the Hospital

When the Cutlass came down with a fever last weekend, we weren’t too concerned. Her temperature was only mildly elevated (it maxed out around 101), and she was in relatively good spirits, so we assumed that it was a byproduct of teething. When she still had the fever on Monday – after a particularly restless night – Mrs. Cutter decided to bring her to the doctor.

When I left for work that day, I thought everything was fine. I was wrong. A few hours later, we were sitting in the emergency room, and the Cutlass would end up staying in the hospital for four days.

Along the way, I learned a few lessons about hospitals and having a sick child.

Seriously, DON’T HAVE KIDS

Last month, I (mostly) jokingly advised people not to have children.  I can now give you a completely serious reason why you might not want to reproduce: If you don’t have children, you will never have to pick up the phone and hear your wife tell you in a panicked voice that she’s bringing your daughter to the emergency room.

The conversation was brief, but I received a few important details: The Cutlass’ temperature was up to 105. More worrisome was that the doctor noticed some swelling in her head.

I had to immediately leave work, stop home to pick up some supplies, and then rush over to Shady Grove Adventist Hospital. I don’t recall much about the drive, but it’s a miracle I was able to maintain a safe speed.

My state of mind actually worsened upon seeing my daughter. She was screaming, felt hot to the touch, and worst of all, she had an uncharacteristic glassy look on her face.

In an emergency room, you will hear words you don’t want to hear

After telling us to relax (easy for him to say!), the emergency room doctor informed us that the swelling in her head was a symptom of meningitis. I didn’t know much about meningitis, but I knew it wasn’t something I wanted my daughter to be diagnosed with.

They needed to determine if the meningitis was viral or bacterial in nature. We learned that viral meningitis is unpleasant, but will usually run its course naturally. Bacterial meningitis is far more serious and must be treated with antibiotics. It can also lead to further complications.

Fortunately, they didn't "crank it to 11." (Image source)

Fortunately, they didn’t “crank it to 11.” (Image source)

They gave her some Tylenol to bring down her fever. (To us, it seemed like it took them an exceptionally long time to give her the Tylenol, but it probably didn’t take that long. Time has a way of warping when your child is in pain.) Next, they wanted to obtain blood and urine samples and also perform a spinal tap.

Despite the ominous sounding name, we were reassured that a spinal tap wasn’t especially risky, nor was it painful. We were concerned, but they reassured us that it was the best way to determine the cause of her illness.

We had to leave the room while the procedure took place. We felt a great sense of relief a few minutes later when the nurse brought her out to us. She was a little dazed from the anesthesia, but aside from that, she was fine.

Hospitals are not a restful place

Since someone needed to look after our other two children, I went home, while Mrs. Cutter stayed in the hospital. While I didn’t have the most peaceful night’s sleep (more on this later), I still got more rest than Mrs. Cutter.

I left the hospital around 7. The Cutlass still needed to be moved to her room in the pediatric ward, have further tests run, and given a bottle. By the time that was complete and the Cutlass was asleep, it was close to 11 PM.

Mrs. Cutter was finally able to go to sleep shortly after, but less than an hour later, she was woken up by a nurse performing her rounds. While it’s nice to have an attentive staff, it doesn’t allow for a peaceful night of sleeping.

Honestly, sleeping interruptions aside, the staff at Shady Grove did an amazing job. The nurses were all extremely friendly and helpful, and the doctors seemed to be right on top of things.

The next night, I switched places with Mrs. Cutter and took my turn sleeping on the convertible guest chair. There have been times in my life when I wished I was taller. When forced to sleep in a hospital, my sub-average height becomes a blessing. A taller man would not have found the arrangements quite as comfortable.

Not designed for the taller members of the population.

Not designed for the taller members of the population.

After an uneven night of sleep, I was feeling a bit tired on Wednesday. It was at that point that I sort of wished that the Cutlet had been hospitalized instead of her sister. The Cutlet would have been content to just sit on the bed and watch television, but Family Feud didn’t hold the Cutlass’ attention for very long.

Don’t look up diseases on the internet

Have you ever suffered from some sort of malady in the middle of the night? Have you then looked up your symptoms on the internet and become convinced that you were dying?

I learned that when your child has been diagnosed with an illness, it’s advisable not to look up that illness online. The worst case scenarios that you’ll come across don’t do much to set a parent’s mind at ease.

Hospitals are a great place to get sick

By Wednesday morning, the Cutlass was feeling much better. Her fever was gone, and she was acting like her normal self.

I wanted to bathe in this stuff. (Image source)

I wanted to bathe in this stuff. (Image source)

Unfortunately, her father wasn’t faring quite as well. My throat had grown extremely scratchy, and it felt like I was full of mucus. Apparently, spending a day in the hospital was enough to make me sick.

As I sucked on a series of cough drops, I began to long for the outside world. As the day went on, I felt like I could actually sense the germs in the air. It was a huge relief once Mrs. Cutter returned and I was able to go outside. Fresh air never smelled so good.

After I returned home and put the kids to bed, I was finally able to take a shower. Let me tell you, this was the BEST SHOWER EVER. I was probably in there for close to an hour, and had I not been exhausted, I might have stayed even longer.

There’s no better feeling than leaving

On Thursday morning, the Cutlass’ test results had failed to show any bacterial activity, indicating that the meningitis was viral. Combined with the lack of fever, it was apparent that we’d soon be able to go home.

That afternoon, we finally received the news we were waiting for: They were confident that it was a virus and had just about run its course, so we were free to go. I quickly packed up the Cutlass’ stuff and headed home, where the rest of her family was overjoyed to see her.

Well, MOST of her family was overjoyed. Her brother seemed to enjoy his time as a singleton. He was actually able to sleep late in the morning, without being woken up by the Cutlass’ cries.

Still, I think he did miss her; At least a little.

A health scare can put things into perspective

As parents, we sometimes get caught up in how inconvenient the act of parenting can be. In case you hadn’t noticed, many of my posts are focused on how much of a pain my children are being.

When one of your children has a health scare, parenting doesn’t seem like such an inconvenience. Instead, you find yourself wishing that your child was home with you, once again waking you up in the middle of the night.

With that in mind, I looked at my reunited family on Friday morning, and I couldn’t help but smile. Sure, they might be huge pains at times, but I’ve got three healthy children, and that’s all that really matters.

Posted in Twins | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

…and Z is for Zebra!

Today is the last day of April, which means the Blogging From A to Z Challenge is finally over!

BATZAP!!!

BATZAP!!!

For the final day of the challenge, I figured I’d write about one of the two animals that I am often associated with. Since platypus doesn’t start with Z, today’s post will be about zebras, or at least my collection of zebra-related items.

I don’t know when the whole zebra thing started. I think it began as somewhat of a joke, where I’d say I wanted to get everything in zebra print. Eventually, the joke became reality. It wasn’t long before people started buying me things with zebra print or pictures of zebras on them.

One of the biggest disappointments I’ve suffered was when we visited the Animal Kingdom in Disney World and discovered that they don’t let you ride on the zebras. Apparently, they are actually quite temperamental creatures, and don’t get along well with people.

Naturally, when planning my wedding, I thought it would be pretty cool if I wore a zebra print vest. Mrs. Cutter didn’t quite agree. As a compromise, I wore a plain gray vest for the ceremony and the zebra vest for the reception. And I looked quite dashing, if I do say so myself.

In case you were curious, here are pictures of some of my zebra items:

A zebra topped pencil

IMG_1617

A zebra mug and paper holder.

IMG_1618

A zebra print bandana

IMG_1620

A framed photo of zebras

IMG_1621

And my beloved stuffed zebra, Ziggy

IMG_1619

Yes, I sleep with a stuffed zebra. Wanna make something of it?

Do any of you have any animals you’re associated with?

This post has been part of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. In case you couldn’t tell, today’s letter was Z and the topic was “Zebra.”

Posted in Randomness | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

A Tribute to Weird Al Yankovic

Sometimes, when I’m fresh out of ways to keep her entertained, I’ll let the Cutlet watch videos on my phone. Usually she requests to watch Disney Princess videos, but there are times when I can’t stomach the thought of listening to any more songs about finding one’s true love.

A month or so ago, instead of listening to Ariel whine for the millionth time, I tried to think of a video that might make her laugh. Thankfully, I finally remembered the man who has probably made more funny videos than anyone in history.

I showed her this:

Her first reaction was, “Doesn’t a girl sing this song?” Her second reaction was hysterical laughter at the line “I’ll fix your plumbing when your toilet overflows.” She now sings this to her friends, and they all laugh too. Apparently, children find the concept of overflowing toilets to be hilarious.

Since then, “Weird Al” Yankovic has become one of her favorite singers, and she’s requested to watch more of his videos. I am usually happy to indulge her since he has always been one of my favorite artists. (And it certainly beats more Princess videos!)

I’m sure you are all familiar with Weird Al’s work. While he was written many original songs – that usually feature lots of accordion – he is most famous for his parodies of other famous songs.

Supposedly, artists LOVE it when Weird Al parodies one of their songs. Not only does the parody usually bring a new surge of popularity for the original, but is also somewhat of a status symbol. Apparently, you’re nobody in the music business until Weird Al has parodied one of your songs.

Reportedly, the only artist who opposed to Weird Al parodying one of his songs was Coolio, who felt that “Gangsta’s Paradise” was too important to be mocked. I’m willing to bet that Coolio would give just about anything to be parodied these days.

Weird Al often makes videos to accompany his parodies, and these tend to fall into two categories:

  • They mock the original video and basically re-create it with some key differences.
  • They don’t resemble the original video at all, and reflect the lyrics of whatever Weird Al’s parody happens to be about. (In many cases, the parody has nothing to do with the original song’s subject matter.)

In some cases, Weird Al has been able to do both, and the result is nothing short of brilliant. Here’s a good example:

Last year, when his “Mandatory Fun” album reached #1 on the Billboard charts, critics remarked how it was amazing that Weird Al was still relevant. It’s not like he’s the only one making parodies anymore. Go on YouTube, and it seems like you can find hundreds of parody videos for any given pop song.

But it seems that people still appreciate quality, and Weird Al’s parodies are simply better than anyone else’s. Here’s an indication of just how beloved this man is:

The good news for all of us Weird Al fans is that he probably won’t be going away any time soon. It seems like every week there’s a new pop song that is just begging to be parodied. And when you want an amazing parody, there’s only one man to turn to.

This post has been part of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. In case you couldn’t tell, today’s letter was Y and the topic was “Weird Al Yankovic.”

Posted in Pop Culture | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

X-Men Movies, Ranked

For my “X” post, it was obvious that I’d been discussing the X-Men. Considering I read their comics regularly for over 20 years, I know quite a bit about everyone’s favorite fictional mutants. (I realize that calling them everyone’s favorite fictional mutants is somewhat of an overstatement since those ninja turtles have quite a few fans as well.)

I bought my first X-Men comic in the summer of 1989. Before then, my comic reading had been limited to titles like G.I.Joe and Spider-Man. But thanks to the mall bookstore’s employees not really caring if I stood around and read their comics, I was beginning to sample other titles as well.

I was becoming more and more intrigued by the X-Men. They were much different from the “kid friendly” comics I was used to. Finally, upon seeing this cover, I decided to finally purchase an issue.

Even at a young age, I recognized that Wolverine was the coolest of the X-Men. So I was more than intrigued how he could have wound up in such a precarious situation.

I ended up buying the next issue as well…and the issue after that…and the issue after that. X-Men soon became my favorite comic. Over the next twenty-some years, I think I may have missed maybe only one or two issues.

As you may have heard, the comics eventually were made into movies, and have become quite the successful film franchise. I’ll now take this opportunity to rank all of the X-Men movies from worst to best.

X-Men: The Last Stand

Ugh. They could have made this movie the end of the “Magneto trilogy,” or they could have made it about Dark Phoenix. Instead, they tried to do both and the result was a mess.

X-Men

I liked the movie when it came out, but I think that was mostly because I was just overjoyed to see the X-Men in movie form. However, I don’t think it has held up especially well.

The plot is kind of stupid, and the fight scenes are underwhelming. I realize that at this point in the franchise, they were trying to keep everyone’s powers within reasonable levels, but c’mon, this is the X-Men! Let’s see them actually let loose on each other.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

On the other hand, I don’t think this one is as bad as most people think. It was kind of fun, and I actually liked Taylor Kitsch’s take on Gambit.

I actually thought the movie would have been a lot better had Wolverine actually been re-captured at the end. It would have been depressing, but it would have made more sense.

The Wolverine

Fun if non-essential.

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Before watching it, I thought I would enjoy the scenes in the future more than the scenes in the past. As I watched, I soon realized that the future fight was ultimately meaningless, and I began to switch my opinion.

Some people may be upset that the movie essentially “re-booted” the movie’s timeline, but after the crap that was “The Last Stand,” that was probably a smart move.

X-Men: First Class

A solid origin story highlighted by the great interaction between Charles Xavier and Magneto. I thought they did an excellent job giving the movie a “retro” feel.

X2: X-Men United

Although there are some flaws, this is the best movie in the franchise. It had that amazing opening sequence with Nightcrawler and gave people what they really wanted to see: Wolverine stabbing people with abandon.

This post has been part of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. In case you couldn’t tell, today’s letter was X and the topic was “X-Men.”

Posted in Pop Culture | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Hope and Breakfast

Over the past few years, I had gradually begun to accept my fate. I came to realize that there would be a day in the not-too-distant future when I would eat my favorite breakfast cereal for the very last time. It seemed inevitable that the Post company would stop making Waffle Crisp, and once that happened, I would no longer be able to enjoy it’s sweet, syrupy goodness.

The greatest cereal of all time

The greatest cereal of all time

It has been quite a few years since the major grocery stores in my area sold Waffle Crisp. Shoppers Food Warehouse was the last to carry it, but eventually it disappeared from their shelves as well. It was sold at a small local chain called Magruders, but they eventually went out of business. (Hopefully that was just a coincidence!)

At least I had the internet. Waffle Crisp was sold on Amazon.com, and although it was rather pricey to buy it that way, when it comes to my favorite cereal, price was really no object. I would usually just put it on my wish list and have people buy it as a birthday present.

I realized that even that probably wouldn’t last forever. If the cereal wasn’t being carried by stores, how much longer would Post continue to make it? How long before Waffle Crisp joined the ranks of other extinct cereals like Buc Wheats or OJs?

Recently, I have been given reason to believe that the end is not as inevitable as I once thought. This glimmer of hope was given to me at a most unusual place: Walmart.

Every time I enter a new grocery store (or pretty much anyplace that sells cereal), I will check the cereal aisle to see if they have Waffle Crisp in stock. More often than not, I am left disappointed.

I had already checked at this particular Walmart, but with no specific shopping goal in mind, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to look again. And that’s when I saw this:

IMG_1591

Post Good Morenings Waffle Crunch?

My pulse began to quicken. Was it possible that I was looking at Waffle Crisp, but with a new name and box? Based on the picture, it certainly looked like Waffle Crisp. But would it taste the same?

Obviously, I had to buy a box, but believe it or not, I didn’t rush home to try it out. I was still on my diet at that point, and while it might be wonderful, Waffle Crisp isn’t exactly the best diet food out there. (I’ll pause for a few seconds while you admire my amazing self-restraint.)

That didn’t stop me from doing some research about Good Morenings. Apparently, that is Post’s “bargain cereal” line, and from all reports, the “Waffle Crunch” is indeed just Waffle Crisp in a different box.

This past weekend, with my diet being a thing of the past, I decided to finally verify if this new cereal was truly as great as Waffle Crisp. I prepared bowls for both the Cutlet and myself (If the Cutlet ever doubts my love, I want her to remember that I shared my precious, difficult-to-obtain favorite cereal with her), and prepared to dig in.

As soon as I took my first bite, a smile came over my face. There was no mistaking that delicious syrupy taste.

I still don’t know why anyone would think “Good Morenings” was a better name than Waffle Crisp. Did they feel that the presence of an anthropomorphic waffle on the box was limiting sales? Not that I really care. They could call it “Poop in a Box,” and as long as it still tastes like Waffle Crisp, I’ll still eat it.

I know that this may not last forever. Post may just as quickly end their Good Morenings line, or Walmart might decide that it isn’t selling well enough and decide to stop carrying it.

But this discovery makes it seem much less certain that the sad future I once envisioned will come to pass. Thanks to Walmart and Good Morenings Waffle Crunch, I have hope that I may not have to live in a world without my favorite cereal.

This post has been part of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. In case you couldn’t tell, today’s letter was W and the topic was “Waffle Crisp.”

Posted in Randomness | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Vaccines: Learn the Facts

Vaccines have become a hot topic in the news lately. Due to outbreaks of measles and other diseases, there has been a growing backlash against the anti-vaccination movement.

On one hand, it seems like that the decision to vaccinate a child should belong to the parents, and that it shouldn’t be anyone else’s business. However, the situation isn’t quite that straightforward. Choosing not to vaccinate doesn’t just affect your child and your family; It can affect the rest of the population as well.

There are some people who, for a variety of reasons, can’t receive vaccinations. Since they can’t be vaccinated, they are reliant on others to do so in order to eliminate the spread of the disease. It’s also believed that as the number of un-vaccinated people increases, the population’s “herd immunity” decreases. And as a result, diseases like measles – once thought to be essentially eradicated – have been making a comeback.

Is this enough reason for the “anti-vaxxers” to be subject to the derision that they’ve received? To me, it all depends on why a person is opposed to vaccinations.

I’m all for people not blindly doing what they’ve been told. If you don’t want to accept as gospel that “every child must be vaccinated,” then please do some research and fully educate yourself. But also be sure that your sources are reputable since there is a lot of mis-information out there.

If you do a quick search on Yahoo! you’ll come across several sites that promote an anti-vaccine agenda. Before you believe everything you read on these sites, you also need to uncover the authors’ motivations and determine just how reputable they are.

There’s also a danger of confirmation bias. If you are skeptical of vaccines or want to believe that they’re harmful, then you’re going to find plenty of sites and “information” which back you up.

For instance, the anti-vaccine site VaxTruth.org seems to have uncovered some information that the CDC is being dishonest and covering things up.

Well, guess that proves it: Vaccines are bad!

But wait, maybe we should check to see what Snopes has to say about it. Oh. Okay then.

Like I said, it’s fine to be skeptical. But if you’re going to be skeptical, don’t stop once you find something that backs up your suspicions. Be thorough and make sure you’re getting the facts and not poorly supported opinions.

Another warning: If you perform research on the internet, you’ll find that there’s a lot more anti-vaccine stuff out there than pro-vaccine. Don’t place too much stock in this imbalance. There isn’t as much pro-vaccine information mostly because for many years, it was accepted as near-universal truth that vaccines were beneficial. For instance, people who believe the Earth is round probably aren’t going to write a blog post about it.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that I am firmly in the pro-vaccination camp, and that my children have followed the recommended vaccination schedule and will continue to do so. But as I mentioned, I don’t want to blindly shut out opposing point of views, so I’m willing to take a look at the anti-vaxxer’s arguments to see if they have any merit.

Here are a few of the more prominent reasons why people choose not to vaccinate:

Chemicals are bad

This is probably more dangerous to put into your body than a vaccine. (Image source)

This is probably more dangerous to put into your body than a vaccine. (Image source)

Vaccines contain an imposing list of chemicals, and some parents are reluctant to have that injected into their children’s bodies. You might have read that vaccines contain potentially harmful elements like mercury.

If you fall into this camp, I recommend you take a look at the ingredient list of that soda you’re probably sipping on. Phosphoric acid? Does that sound like something that we should be putting into our bodies? And what about penicillin? Penicillin is made out of mold! Do we really want to have our children ingest mold?

The fact is, most of us are not scientists, and have no real clue about how chemicals will react with the body. We shouldn’t reject vaccines simply due to that ignorance.

Just let nature do its job

Some people believe that natural medicine is the best medicine, and many diseases would have gone away even without the vaccines. If that’s the case, could somebody explain this chart?

I’ll admit that science doesn’t always get it right. History is littered with cases where science has been proven wrong. It seems that health trends change overnight, and yesterday’s “must avoid” often becomes tomorrow’s “must do.”

However, there is one thing that science has been pretty consistent about over the years: Diseases are bad, and you should avoid getting one whenever possible.

God will protect my child

Some people don’t want to rely on doctors and medicine to keep their family healthy. Instead, they place their faith in God to keep their family safe. Perhaps they should read this parable.

Vaccines cause autism

But she was awesome on Singled Out! (Image source)

But she was awesome on Singled Out! (Image source)

Ah yes, this is the big one. The supposed link between vaccines and autism was one of the major reasons why the anti-vaccine movement began in the first place. The only problem, there’s no actual proven link between vaccines and autism…or at least not from a credible source.

And no, I do not consider Jenny McCarthy to be a credible source. The funny thing is, had Hugh Hefner simply chosen a different Playmate of the Year for 1994 (and Echo Johnson would have been a much better choice), the whole anti-vaccine moment might have never gained any legs.

Who knew that Hugh Hefner’s decisions would have such far-reaching consequences?

There are risks with vaccines

Maybe the vaccines aren’t causing autism, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t risks involved. A child could suffer side effects or adverse reactions as a result of a vaccination. Then again, you could say the same thing for just about any medication that exists.

Sir Alexander Fleming has doomed us all! (Image source)

Sir Alexander Fleming has doomed us all! (Image source)

Earlier I mentioned penicillin. Penicillin and it’s derivatives have long been the go-to drug for fighting bacterial-based illnesses. For the vast majority of people, the drug works exactly as it should with no complications. Unfortunately, there are some people who are allergic to the drug, or others who have suffered adverse reactions that resulted in serious injury or even death.

Does this mean we should avoid giving penicillin to our children? Probably not. Based on statistics, the risk of suffering major negative effects from the illness is much greater than the risk of a negative reaction to the drug.

At the risk of sounding blunt, if you or your loved one is one of the very few who suffer a negative reaction to a vaccine, then the unfortunate truth is that you’re just extremely unlucky.

I think just about any parent would be devastated if something happened to their child due to a vaccination. Therefore, some parents might choose not vaccinate because they would be better able to accept any negative outcome that resulted from that decision. For many people, it’s easier to absolve themselves of guilt if something bad happens due to inaction rather than action.

If a parent doesn’t vaccinate their child and the child gets sick, they can rationalize it as “fate” or “God’s will.” But if the child has an adverse effect to a vaccine? They will feel more guilt since they “caused” the problem.

There’s one major flaw in this line of thinking: The inaction is actually far riskier than the action. Vaccines can be risky and have unfortunate side effects. But you know what else comes with side effects? Measles…and polio…and whooping cough…and lots of other diseases which vaccines help prevent.

Yes, this is a real book. (Image source)

Yes, this is a real book. (Image source)

The anti-vaccination movement has brought with it a strange sense of nostalgia regarding these diseases. It’s now being spun as if they aren’t potentially deadly, but rather a harmless rite of passage. There’s even a children’s book based on the premise.

Maybe I’m wrong about the statistics. Maybe these vaccines are actually more dangerous than the government and other sources are leading us to believe, and the truth is being intentionally concealed.

But why would they do that?

The drug companies are getting rich from vaccines

According to some theories, the only reason why vaccines are so en vogue is because of propaganda from the vaccine manufacturers. After all, if everyone vaccinated their children, sales of the vaccines will be strong, and the manufacturers will continue to profit. And to ensure that this continues, the manufacturers have discredited anti-vaccine research and funded campaigns to vilify anti-vaxxers.

Big pharma getting PAID, y'all! (Image source)

Big pharma getting PAID, y’all! (Image source)

Anyone who tells you that the drug companies aren’t making any money off producing vaccines is probably being dishonest. It would be naive to think that big companies are going to serve as a charitable organization and simply donate vaccines to the people out of the goodness of their hearts.

Do you know why the drug companies are making money off of the vaccines? Because the point of a business is to make money.

Making money isn’t illegal or immoral, and just because they’re making money doesn’t mean that the vaccines aren’t beneficial. If you get a headache do you abstain from taking aspirin simply because the drug companies are making money from it?

Based on this article from 2005 (before the anti-vaccine movement really took hold), the drug companies might be making money from vaccines…but they aren’t getting rich. It seems like their vaccine business is too small of a percentage of their profits to embark on a worldwide conspiracy to protect it.

But maybe the drug companies are making more money than we think. After all, if they’re going to lie about the safety of vaccines, wouldn’t they also lie about their profits? Then how do you the studies done by the CDC and other researchers which also show vaccines to be (largely) safe?

According to some conspiracy theorists, the drug companies aren’t acting alone. The government is closely working with them to keep the vaccine machine humming along. If there wasn’t a conspiracy, then why would this exist?

Once again, the vaccine manufacturers are not charities. If they had to defend themselves against vaccine-related lawsuits, they might decide it wasn’t in their best interests to make the vaccines anymore.

Infringing on personal freedom

Thanks to the anti-vaccine movement, a few of these diseases have been making a comeback lately. It’s gotten to the point where there’s been talk of the government mandating that children be vaccinated.

First comes vaccines, and this is what's next. (Image source)

First comes vaccines, and this is what’s next. (Image source)

Any time the word “mandate” gets used, a certain subset of the population gets a bit upset. These are the people who believe that “The government has no right to tell me to vaccinate my children! It’s an infringement on my freedom!”

Some people don’t seem to understand just how government works. The government always has and always will take away personal freedoms in order to keep the public safe. That isn’t the sign of a totalitarian regime, it’s a sign that we aren’t living in anarchy.

Then again, some people probably object to other public health measures like sanitation standards and car seat laws. How dare the government oppress us like that?

Here’s a thought: For the government to pass a law like that, it would pretty much require agreement between Democrats and Republicans. And these days, if both political parties could agree that vaccines are necessary, then that’s a pretty good sign that vaccines are necessary!

I’m sure that if you were skeptical about vaccinations before, reading this hasn’t been enough to change your mind. But I do hope that if you a skeptic, this causes you to be thorough and learn all the facts before making a decision. Because as I mentioned, your decision doesn’t just affect you and your family. It could affect all of us.

This post has been part of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. In case you couldn’t tell, today’s letter was V and the topic was “Vaccines”

Posted in Guide to Fixing America | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Usual Suspects

The following is a piece of flash fiction in response to a challenge offered by Susan at Polysyllabic Profundaties. The challenge was originally offered in October(!) and while I had started on the story back then, I never got around to finishing until now.

Better late than never, right?

After talking to her for ten minutes, Lawrence decided that Gail would be perfect for the job. It was clear that she had the right mindset: She was angry, looking for revenge, and most importantly, she didn’t seem to much care who she got her revenge upon.

The next few decisions weren’t quite as easy, but eventually Lawrence assembled a crew that he hoped would be up for the task. At the very least, he felt confident that none of the group would turn on him if things began to fall apart.

It was a Friday night, and the group was gathered around a table. The smell of leftover Chinese food lingered in the air as they got down to business and went over the details for the next day.

While Lawrence tried to maintain a sense of enthusiasm, he could tell that not everyone was feeling as confident. Reynolds was being particularly negative, but that wasn’t surprising. He was the last to commit to the plan and had always been the most skeptical.

When they named their child Henry David, Bruce and Judy Thoreau thought they were setting up their son for a lifetime of success. Instead, it just led to a lifetime of resentment.

Some people enjoy being named after a celebrity. Henry did not. As he crassly told anyone who asked, being named after a famous poet was “the gayest thing ever.” And so, since the age of 15, Henry had insisted that everyone simply call him “Reynolds.”

It wasn’t clear why he settled on that particular name, especially since he never provided an explanation that made much sense. Most people assumed that he just took the name from a box of aluminum foil.

Lawrence wasn’t particularly fond of Reynolds, and given a choice, he would have avoided working with him. But considering that his parents owned the Longwood racetrack, Lawrence didn’t see any way the plan would work without him.

“You have this all planned out like it was some kind of movie script. But we all know that it isn’t going to go down like you think it is. All it takes is one guy deciding he’s gotta use the can at the wrong time, and we’re screwed.”

Lawrence tried to reassure him, but it didn’t seem to have much effect. There were a few nervous moments when after Reynolds (correctly) pointed out, “And when s*** goes wrong, me and Gail are the ones who are going to get caught, while the rest of you are sitting here planning your getaway.”

Lawrence couldn’t deny that. But he needed to either get Reynolds fully on board or end this thing now. “Reynolds, I’ve heard your concerns. Now you need to tell me one thing: Are you in or out?”

Everyone was finally able to breathe again when Reynolds finally answered, “In.”

The next day went almost according to plan. There were a couple of mishaps, but nothing that couldn’t be overcome.

As planned, the race came down to a photo finish. And sure enough, when the results were revealed, Ballerina – who began the race as a 20-1 longshot – was revealed as the winner.

The following afternoon, as he stared at the stacks of money piled on the table, Reynolds couldn’t seem to wipe the smile from his face. “I gotta hand it to you, Lawrence. I had my doubts.”

Lawrence smiled almost as widely as he patted his cohort on the back. “I know you did, buddy. I know you did.”

This post has been part of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. In case you couldn’t tell, today’s letter was U and the topic was “Usual Suspects”

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The Outing

Every so often, I am left alone with the twins. On some of these occasions, I become oddly adventurous and decide to leave the house. The trips aren’t usually too ambitious, but when babies are involved, even short trips can be a bit of an endeavor.

To avoid disrupting their schedule as much as possible, outings have to be scheduled around the twins’ meals. Since this doesn’t provide much of a window, it is necessary to prepare in advance by loading up the diaper bag with two of just about anything a baby could possibly need.

Once it’s officially time, “all” I need to do is strap them into their car seats and load both car seats into the van. If I’m lucid enough, I’ll even check to see if the double Snap-n-Go stroller is in the van too. (There have been days when it wasn’t. Those were very sad days.)

Once I arrive at my destination, it’s just a matter of unfolding the stroller, removing both car seats from the van, snapping them into the frame, and we’re all set! Simple, right?

I’d like to say that at this point, the trip becomes a little less stressful. However, I often have to deal with the reactions of people who are shocked by seeing two babies at the same time.

It seems that many people can’t quite get a grip on the concept of twins. For instance, some people will stare in amazement or make comments like, “Look at that! Two at once! How did that happen?”

I usually refrain from explaining that I have an astronomically high sperm count. Usually.

Sometimes people want to learn more about the twin experience, and will pepper me with questions. The first question is almost always the same: “Are they identical?”

In all fairness, if I ever saw twins, that would probably be the first question I asked as well..presuming I don’t already know that the twins are different genders.

Babies can be rather androgynous, and when I have them in their stroller, it can be especially difficult to tell their genders. But if I respond that one baby is a boy and the other is a girl, please don’t follow up by asking, “Oh…but are they identical?”

Perhaps these are the infernal twins he was talking about?

Perhaps these are the infernal twins he was talking about?

That’s still probably better than the one guy who asked if they were “infernal twins.” I don’t think he understood why I laughed and said “Sometimes it feels that way.”

Others will make comments such as, “Twins, huh? You’ve got your hands full!” Thanks for pointing that out, buddy. Here I was thinking that this was going to be a breeze.

There are also the enthusiastic sorts who say, “You’re so lucky! I wish I could just take them home with me!” There are days when I’ve been more than a little tempted to fulfill their wish.

Perhaps my favorite reaction was from a little girl who pointed at us enthusiastically and shouted, “Dos bebes!” My Spanish may be a little rusty, but I’m pretty sure that means “two babies.”

Eventually, one (usually both) of the babies will get fussy, or I’ll be worn out from pushing around the double stroller. At that point, all I have to do is walk back to the van, load in the car seats, fold up the stroller, and drive home. And then, our big adventure is finally complete.

This post has been part of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. In case you couldn’t tell, today’s letter was T and the topic was “Twins.”

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Skipping a Day

Those of you who have been religiously following my progress through the Blogging From A to Z Challenge have probably noticed that I didn’t post anything yesterday.

The problem with trying to post something every day is that it tends to limit the length of each individual entry. Or if I do attempt to write something lengthier, I may not feel completely satisfied with the result. In particular, I felt that my post on evolution was lacking, and it would have been much better had I spent some additional time on it.

The entry I intended to post yesterday was similar to that one in both mood and length, and as the day crept on, I realized that I would have trouble completing it. I had three choices of what to do:

  1. Stay up late trying to finish – This didn’t seem like a wise move. I can’t always count on getting a good night’s sleep, so it doesn’t seem wise to voluntarily limit how much I get.
  2. Post something that wasn’t quite finished – I already made that mistake, so I didn’t want to post another entry that I wasn’t satisfied with.
  3. Say “screw it.”

Obviously, I went with option number three. Was this the right choice? Probably. At the very least, I’m not regretting getting some extra sleep.

Unfortunately, this means that I wasn’t able to complete the A to Z challenge. Ultimately, I think I’ll be okay with that. After all, I’m working a full-time job and taking care of three kids. If my blog sometimes get shortchanged in terms of time, that’s not the end of the world.

And back to CVS we go! (Image source

And back to CVS we go! (Image source

Actually, it’s a minor miracle I’m finishing today’s post, because the Cutlet has once again fallen ill with strep throat. I had to take her to the doctor this morning, and I’ve been attending to her this afternoon. (And yes, this is the second time in less than a month that she’s had strep. Hooray for parenthood!)

Unfortunately, this illness hasn’t rendered her sluggish and wanting to just lie around and watch television. Instead, she’s been in need of near-constant attention. Even putting on a Monster High movie didn’t keep her quiet for more than half an hour!

So for tomorrow, I had a mildly ambitious post in mind for the letter T. But if I end up just posting a series of Tweets (And that would totally count, right?), you’ll know the reason why.

This post has been part of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. In case you couldn’t tell, today’s letter was S and the topic was “Skipping.”

Posted in Randomness, The Cutlet | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Q is for…

The month of April is moving along quickly, and so is the Blogging From A-Z Challenge. We’re already up to the letter Q, which is unfortunately one of the trickier letters to find a topic for.

I’ve been considering a few different Q topics, but I wasn’t sure which would make for the best post. I’ll go over some of the possibilities.

Queens

Having gotten so much exposure to Disney Princesses over the past few years, I figured I could just discuss a queen from one of the Princess movies. Then I realized that in many of Disney’s movies, the queen is absent, and presumably deceased. In Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and Snow White, the royal mother is nowhere to be found.

Queen Elinor (in human form) (Image source)

Queen Elinor (in human form) (Image source)

The two most prominent queens are the evil queen from Snow White, and Queen Elinor from Brave, and neither of them fares all that well. The former is pure evil and eventually falls off a cliff. The latter gets transformed into a bear for the majority of the movie. But at least she’s a heroic bear!

I could also discuss the band Queen, but I’ve never really been a huge fan of them. Sure, “We Will Rock You” is obviously awesome, but the awfulness that is Bohemian Rhapsody cancels that out.

Ugh. Thinking about Bohemian Rhapsody made me think about the movie Wayne’s World..and the fact that the movie is now 23 years old. Wayne and Garth are now officially middle-aged.

I’m feeling really old now. Better move on to the next potential Q word…

Quicksilver

In last summer’s blockbuster movie X-Men: Days of Future Past, the breakout character was the mutant speedster known as Quicksilver. For many viewers, he was their favorite part of the movie. (Which makes it even more curious that he barely appeared in the second half.)

The good news is that Quicksilver will be making an appearance in this summer’s blockbuster, Avengers 2: Age of Ultron! Except thanks to some uncertainty regarding the movie rights of the character, it will be a completely different version of Quicksilver, played by a different actor.

And ironically, the actors played best friends in the movie Kick Ass. (Image source)

And ironically, the actors played best friends in the movie Kick Ass. (Image source)

Will this cause a lot of confusion among the non-fanboys? Probably!

It does slightly worry me the sheer amount of characters that they’re going to be stuffing into Avengers 2. Is it going to be headache-inducing just trying to keep track of who’s who?

Don’t blow this, Marvel! I don’t get a chance to see many movies these days, and since this is one of the few that I’m going to make a point to see, I need it to be worth my while!

Dan Quayle

Remember this guy? Despite being a relative unknown, George H. W. Bush picked him as his running mate for the 1988 Presidential election. His inexperience and habit of making factually incorrect statements made him an easy target for late night comedians.

By 1992, most of the Quayle jokes had run their course…and then when making a public appearance at a spelling bee, he misspelled the word potato:

Just think if sites like BuzzFeed were around back then. “This politician went to a school spelling bee..and you won’t believe what happened next!”

Hmmm…none of these topics would really make for a good post. Maybe I should just pass on today’s post and come back tomorrow. I assure that you I already have a good topic picked out for the letter R!

This post has been part of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. In case you couldn’t tell, today’s letter was Q.

Posted in Pop Culture, Randomness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments