Category Archives: Life

As 2021 begins…

I know a lot of people are suffering right now from Covid and the economic impacts of Covid, so I understand that it is with great privilege that I talk about how much I miss traveling. In 2018, we went to Paris for Gay Games 10. In 2019, we went to Amsterdam and Scotland for two weeks. 2020 was supposed to include a family reunion in the midwest, a 2-3 week road trip around Atlantic Canada, and a weeklong trip to New York City for the marathon, along with several other weekend getaways and events. I also really like planning travel, so as well as having to put off the travel itself, I’ve also not been able to engage in my hobby of booking travel with any certainty. I watch travel shows and videos, and I’ve taken up using Pinterest to save sites of interest, intriguing tours, and appealing hotels, but none of it has given the satisfaction of marking on a calendar that we will be in a certain place on a specific date. I look forward to widespread vaccination restoring the health of our people and the economy, but also reservation confirmation numbers in my inbox.


I am becoming dissatisfied with Facebook–troll accounts; fake news; idiotic AI censorship; prioritization of ads, sponsored posts, and group content in the news feed over friends’ activity. I’d like to spend less time there, and I think sharing here in addition to building my Pinterest boards could be a good outlet. I just wish it was more interactive and not just me self-importantly vomiting my thoughts out to the world, so consider this your invitation to comment and share.

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What’s government for?

In the simplest terms, our country was founded on an idea that every person has a right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  This was derived from John Locke’s similar belief in “life, liberty, and property.”  It is the government’s duty to protect these rights.   Police protect our lives and property domestically, and the armed forces protect us from foreign threats.  But the government is so much more that just police and military.  Forming and living in societies has allowed us to move away from hunting and gathering and subsistence agriculture.  By division of labor, we’re able to specialize in a trade, send our young to schools, and have more leisure time.  Currency developed to make transactions simpler (What you don’t want my chickens?)  Government has grown to regulate agriculture, balance the rights of laborers and corporations, preserve our natural resources, monitor food and drug safety, provide a social safety net, and on and on.

Today, among recession, unemployment, skyrocketing health care and education costs, multiple foreign wars, growing support for LGBT equality, and many other issues, we’ve seen the rise of the Tea Party.  Now, I used to be an objectivist/Libertarian.  I thought “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged” were brilliant.  But those books showcase an unrealistic utopia.  No one had a sub par education because they were born in the wrong neighborhood, there wasn’t a stay at home mom left with nothing when her husband decided to abandon his family, mental illness didn’t exist.  The Tea Party wants to cut government spending so they can have lower taxes.  Too bad for you if you don’t have insurance or want to marry your same-sex partner.  The Tea Party supports a strict adherance to the Constitution, nevermind that the preamble specifically says to “promote the general Welfare.”  Our country wasn’t founded to create millionaires or laud people who were lucky enough to be born into healthy, wealthy, intelligent families.  America is for everyone.

If you’ve ever played a sport or were part of any type of team, you’ve probably heard the saying that a group is “only as strong as the weakest link.”  If our country is a team, the homeless, unemployed, ill, etc are our weakest links.  We cannot progress as a whole and leave these less fortunate behind.  Our country supports public education because an educated populace is important for a functioning democracy, our economy needs trained workers, and academically engaged children are less likely to become teen parents or criminals.  I think this rationale extends to other government-run social welfare programs.  We cannot expect people to be good citizens when their basic needs such as housing, food, and health care are not met.  Of course we must find a balance in these programs to make sure we are teaching men to fish, not just handing out fish.  And yes, there are charities that care for these needs but they’re not in every community and not everyone is welcome (for example, some shelters turn away gay or transgender people).

I hate myself for saying this, but I do agree with the Tea Party on one of their points.  We should be auditing government for waste.  Are consultants overpaid?  Do politicians need the lavish offices and expense accounts they have?  Are we sending Social Security checks to dead people?

For me it comes down to this fundamental question: Can government achieve what liberals and progressives want for a price that conservatives can accept?


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Rethinking late-term abortion

In my earlier post about the murder of Dr. George Tiller, I said “I’m not much of a supporter of late-term abortions.”  When I wrote that, I was in the category of ignorant people disgusted by the idea of a woman who took six months to decide if she wanted a baby.  Additionally, we’re having this enormous argument over a tiny percentage of the total abortions performed.  In 2003, only 1.4% of abortions in the U.S. were performed at or after 21 weeks.

Since Tiller’s murder, story after story have come out about types of situations where women choose late-term abortions.  (There are various definitions of “late” so I’m going with after 21 weeks.  No fetus is viable before 21 weeks, and nearly all are viable after 27 weeks.) They are stories of horrible birth defects that aren’t detected early.

I just had a baby, so I know how some of these screening processes work.  An amniocentesis is done after the 16th-18th week.  They provide a diagnosis for certain DNA abnormalities, but since they present risks for the fetus, they are not recommended for every pregnancy.  The quad screen is also done around the 16th-18th week and assesses risk for certain abnormalities, but does not actually diagnose.  If the quad screen shows a high risk for something, it will be followed up by an ultrasound.  The ultrasound can be done between the 17th-22nd week, but my doctor said to wait til the 20th-22nd weeks to ensure the best view for the ultrasound.

So at this point, a woman may not know of a serious abnormality until the 22nd week of pregnancy.  After receiving this terrible news, it must take a woman a bit of time to decide how she wants to proceed.  If she chooses to terminate the pregnancy, there’s only three places in the whole country–now only two–that will perform the procedure for her.  Even more time will pass as she has to make an appointment and travel arrangements.  Time is passing, but now it cannot be blamed on indecisiveness.

Furthermore, I’m concerned about people, including our President, dismissing the mental health of the mother as a legitimate reason for a late-term abortion.  Then-Senator Obama stated:

Now, I don’t think that “mental distress” qualifies as the health of the mother. I think it has to be a serious physical issue that arises in pregnancy, where there are real, significant problems to the mother carrying that child to term.

Carrying a fetus with genetic abnormalities is not physically harmful for the mother, unless the fetus dies and the body doesn’t spontaneously abort it.  But can you imagine the distress it would cause a woman–her entire family, really–to give birth to a baby with one of these disorders?

First let me say, I am not classifying Down Syndrome as a justification for late-term abortion.  The average lifespan of someone with Down Syndrome is 49 years, and only a small number suffer from severe to profound mental disabilities.  While working in therapeutic horseback riding, I met a woman in her early-20s who had Down Syndrome.  She lived in a group home, bagged groceries at a local supermarket, got to ride horses once a week along with other Park District activities, and generally seemed very happy with her life.

What do I think should justify a late-term abortion?

Trisomy 18 (aka Edwards Syndrome): Heart defects, kidney malformation, intestines protrouding outside the body, cleft palate, small head, small jaw, difficulty breathing, difficulty eating, extra fingers and toes.  50% of babies born with Trisomy 18 die in the first 2 months, 5-10% will reach their first birthday, 1% live to be 10.  The median life span is 5-15 days.

Anencephaly (warning: link contains graphic images): Fetus is missing all or part of the brain, top of the scull and scalp are usually missing.  Of the babies that survive birth, 60% die within 24 hours and 95% die within a week.

These are the two I am most familiar with, but there are probably others.

Now I understand when people who knew Tiller talk about how much he cared about women.  Now I’m concerned that there’s only two places left in the country where women can end such ill-fated pregnancies.


Filed under Life, Politics

Our new baby, Emily

You might have already seen our Picasa album but I thought I’d throw up some pictures in blog form so I can add in some narration.

Baby Emily 2

This is us still in the delivery room (the OR actually)…can’t really see Emily in the pic.

Baby Emily 4

This is one of our first pictures of Emily.  She’s a few hours old and hasn’t gotten cleaned up too well yet.

Baby Emily 1

Emily was born at 30 weeks plus 4 days gestation. She was 17 inches long and weighed 3 lbs 11 oz.  She had to be in an incubator, initially set around 93 degrees.  The leads on her chest were for monitoring her heart and respiratory rates.  The blue cuff on her foot measured the oxygen saturation in her blood.  The white thing just above her diaper was a “bridge” to protect her UVC (Umbilical Arterial and Venous Catheter) line.  She got fluids with protiens and lipids through the UVC.  She’s been on vitamins and had some pre-emptive antibiotics the first two days, but other than that I don’t know that she was ever on any other medications.  Before the delivery we were told she had a 50% chance of needing a ventilator to help her breathe, but luckily that wasn’t the case.

You can’t see it in this picture, but Emily went onto phototherapy around the 3rd or 4th day and stayed on a couple days to fight her jaundice.  She had to wear little foam goggles to protect her eyes from the lights.  We didn’t get to hold her much those days because they wanted her to have maximum exposure to the lights.  The other thing you can’t see too well is her gavage tube, which went through the nose into her stomach.  They used the tube to feed her breastmilk, because breastfeeding and bottlefeeding take too much energy for babies that small.  After about three weeks, they gradually switched her over to eating everything by bottle.

Baby Emily 6

Here I am holding Emily skin-to-skin, also known as Kangaroo Care.  It helped her stay warm outside of her incubator.  It was easiest for me to hold her in this position.  Laying down in my arms, she tended to get her neck scrunched up and would block her airway.  Now that she’s over six pounds, it’s a lot easier for me to hold her in various positions.

Baby Emily, Nellie and Jerri 8

This is one of my favorite pictures from the hospital.  It’s probably the first day Emily got to be in a bassinette rather than the incubator.

EmilyPlottingToTakeOverTheWorld 5

Another one of my hospital favorites.  Beautiful eyes and tiny fingers.  One of her nurses said she’s a very serious baby.

Baby Emily, Nellie, Jerri and Steve 9

Here’s dad practicing bottlefeeding.

EmilyPlottingToTakeOverTheWorld 12

Emily’s first time in her crib.  Isn’t the sheet adorable?  She impressed everyone by leaving the NICU after only 28 days, still almost six weeks ahead of her original due date.

EmilyPlottingToTakeOverTheWorld 14

Emily’s first feeding at home.

EmilyAtHome 8

Passed out…  Gettin’ some luvins from mom.

EmilyOutAndAbout 4EmilyOutAndAbout 3

Two pictures from our first stroller outing–just a trip around the neighborhood.

Photo 47

June 2, 2009–six weeks old.  Still not supposed to be born for another 24 days.

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“The Defenders”

I’m not interested in voting on who you can marry.  Why worry about who I might want to marry?

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How the heck did I take this person seriously for that long?

I’m not usually too personal on this blog, but for this I just can’t help myself.

So this isn’t verbatim exactly and probably won’t be the 5-7 minutes our conversation actually lasted but I think you’ll get the picture…

**ring ring**

Me: Bakker’s Fine Drycleaning, this is Nellie.

Guy: Hi, do you do alterations?

Me: Well, we don’t do any fittings, but if you know the measurements or what you need done, then yeah, we can do it.

Guy: Okay well I don’t know what the measurements would be, but maybe you have some safety pins I can put in?

Me: Yeah that works.

Guy: I have these shorts.  My girlfriend gave me three pairs for Christmas.  And they’re actually underwear but they’re not stretchy, so they’re too tight.  Because I’m big down there.  It’s not the length that’s a problem, it’s the girth.  They’re like sexy lingerie for guys so it’s supposed to fit when the guy is hard.

Me: (stifling giggles that the guy is actually describing how his underwear is supposed to fit his erection)

Guy: So what I’m thinking is that there’s some extra fabric in the seam that could be let out, but then if you let if out all the way, how am I supposed to know if they’d be too loose?  Do you have a dressing room or restroom there were I could try them on?  I’ve already tried to pin then myself but I just can’t do it.  So I was looking for someone to help me with that, but I can’t get a guy to help me cause I couldn’t be hard in front of a guy.

Me: It’s our policy not to do any fitting.  It’s not because of your garment, I wouldn’t be allowed to pin something even if it was by your ankle.  We don’t want to take responsibility for any possible mis-measurements.

Guy: I understand, but you know I would sign a waiver saying I did it myself.  When would be a good time to come in when you wouldn’t be busy?  Around 5?

Me: 5’s actually my busiest time.  I think you would be better off going somewhere with a tailor on-site who understands more about the sewing.  With our tailor, we have to send the stuff out.  I think it would have to be sent in to be let out, then come back and fit so they wouldn’t be too big and sewed again to fit.  It sounds like it would be quite a process.

Guy: Nah, I think letting them out all the way would work.  So earlier would be better?  How will I know when I get there which person I talked to?

Me: Oh, I’m the only person working here today.

Guy: Oh.  Well you know I’d be really grateful for your help.  I am a good looking guy (about the third time he’s mentioned this) and I’ve done some escorting… so you know if no one else is in your store, we could exchange favors.  Not to brag, but I am quite big.

Me: (finally breaking it to the dude that imagining seeing his big dick in sexy underwear hasn’t turned me on in the slightest, and also finally realizing THIS IS A PRANK) Well I’m not into guys.  And this conversation is getting really weird.  I have other work to do.

Guy: So you’ve had a girlfriend for a long time?  You haven’t been with a guy in a while.

Me: Yeah something like that.

Guy: Well I am really big and if you haven’t done it with a guy in long time, it might feel really good.

Me: **click**


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