Orange Gearle

family, friends, politics, music and technology... that's what it's all about

Saturday, March 31, 2007

number seventy

Happy Birthday Mom!

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Friday, March 30, 2007

the presidential solution

As usual, I have all the answers...and they were found in a children's book.

Today my students heard a book called The Empty Pot by Demi. It solves our presidential dilemma.

Ping, the main character, is a bit of a green thumb. He can make anything grow. And he's in luck....the emperor is trying to choose his successor. You see, the emperor has no heir, so someone from the village must be chosen. So he gives everyone seeds, and the person that can grow the best plant/flowers, gets to become the next emperor!! Surely it will be Ping.

Well, everyone is successful, except the resident master gardener, Ping. Full of fear and disappointment, he takes his empty pot to the emperor on the big decision day. The emperor is upset with all the flowers and beautiful plants, because he had given COOKED beans to everyone...none of the plants/flowers should have grown. So Ping, the only one with an ounce of integrity is then given his due....and he becomes the next emperor.

See? Now if only I could convince the rest of the world that's what we need.

Where was Demi in 2000???

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marengo jam

American Heritage Dictionary says:

jam session

  1. An informal gathering of musicians to play improvised or unrehearsed music.
  2. Informal. An impromptu discussion.
Every Thursday evening in Marengo they have a "jam session" at Phat Daddy's. I learned about this event from my friend, Donna that is from the Marengo area. I met Donna at The Mill in Iowa City. She is one of the Wednesday night regulars. We actually met, by accident, due to our twin names, and we've become fast friends.

Donna has been suggesting that I visit the jam at Phat Daddy's sometime and bring my mandolin or guitar. A few weeks ago I took her up on it, but left my instruments at home. The next week I took my guitar and now I am hooked. I've been there several times now.

It's a typical, small mid-western town...PHAT Daddy's is on "the square". The restaurant serves pretty decent food, and it's an informal environment. Everyone knows everything about everybody, very similar to what I've hated about small town life in my past....but no one knows anything about me, which is nice. The anonymity is what has made it safe for me....but...(un)fortunately I make friends fast. :-) I won't let that stop me from continuing there though.

Max is my favorite. I don't know what it is about him....but he is simply glorious. :-) He has this no-nonsense air about him...he's talented, soulful and kind. JR cracks me up. He really knows what he is doing and remembers every lyric to every song ever made (me, exaggerate? no!). He's always running around the place making sure everyone has what they need....and plays guitar, harmonica, and sings beautifully to boot. He and Max have also "taken me in", which is nice....JR in an outgoing and obvious way, and Max in his own quiet, understated way.

The whole group has been very welcoming, actually. They are just that way...the more the merrier....similar to my home growing up.

There is a man there named Jim that is particularly talented. I'm fairly certain he writes his own music, and he plays a lot of things that I like. He and I have several common interests. He is a writer/editor/photographer. He has a diverse appetite for music....and many musicians that no one knows, he and I share a liking for. I'm sure we've been to some of the same artists at CSPS -- Natalia Zukerman, Rachael Davis, Mike and Amy, etc. Last night, Donna gave me a copy of an article that he wrote regarding Thursday nights at PHAT Daddy's. He wrote the article for the newspaper called The South Benton Star Press. Unfortunately the article fell out of my pocket somewhere between PHAT Daddy's and home! I'll have to ask her for another copy. He's very interesting to me.

Every night that I have taken my guitar I have played for a minimum of 3-4 hours...and once I think we even played about 5! Needless to say my fingers are in pretty good shape! I still need to have a few lessons on the mandolin...and frankly, just play it more....but then I will probably take that in too. It's motivated me to learn some new musical background (music theory in particular) has been helpful to keep up...but's all about three chords most of the time. :-) I like it when I get to play a bit of the stuff that I really like....although I get nervous. Those of you that know me, realize that this is kinda a big deal for me, given the fact that I rarely play in front of people (over the age of 7). You would think that because I am such a lyrics freak...and a huge fan of poetry and words in general...that I wouldn't have a problem...but with my nerves....Dori takes over....and.....oh well, I forget the words (and sometimes even the chords, geesh!). I suppose that the more I do it (and the more they humor me) the better I will get.

Cathy, a friend that I work with, and her significant other, Gary come most weeks too. At first I didn't really like the idea....mainly because of that whole anonymity thing....but I've gotten used to it. I've always liked both Cathy and Gary...and they are VERY fun people. After the first week I had several people at work tell me they heard about it (from Cathy), which I wasn't exactly thrilled about. But, she understands now that I've expressed my feelings about the whole thing, and it's really not that big of a deal, I suppose. I only hope Cathy can keep my other secret!! ;-)

I bet you will hear about PHAT Daddy's's a few pics.....

Mom, Martha and Cathy


JR and Jim



D Squared (not to be confused with The Donnas)

Motley Crue

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

the mill

I want to tell the sound guy at The Mill that I like the way he flips his hair. But I won't. It's fun to watch him set up the mics and stuff. He's very meticulous about it. The cables must be just so, winding perfectly around the mic stands. I wonder if he counts how many times it goes around...he seems to pay that close of attention. You can tell he's done it a million times as he navigates across the stage from one mic to the next.

His hair is all one length, about to his chin. It has precisely enough body in it to make it interesting. Occasionally he puts it behind his ears; it's just long enough to do that comfortably. While he's working, he most frequently flings it over to one side with one hand and a movement of his head. It seems quicker this way. When he does that, it stays out of his face just long enough to see the bit of hair on his chin and above his lip...there's not much, but just enough to make him interesting. He also has a great smile. He only shows his smile briefly. I wonder if he is shy.

He always wears black. Frequently dresses in layers. Tonight the bottom layer is a really dark green. I notice because he gets hot while working on the initial sound set up and takes off the top layer.

Sometimes he snaps his fingers in front of the mic...I'm not sure why, I wonder if it just to see if it's live...or if he can actually tell if the volume is correct by doing this. He's very tall and thin. He lumbers from the sound booth to the stage, makes a few adjustments and goes back. He nearly wears a path in the carpet; he walks that same path so many times. He usually jumps onto the stage with a bit of enthusiasm in his step. Sometimes he claps his hands in front of the mic instead of snapping...and then when he's almost ready...he says..."Check one. Check, one, two." He has a nice voice.

I wonder what his name is. I think it's Sam.

Friday, March 09, 2007

o negative

On Tuesday, March 6, Mom, Dad and I traveled to Iowa City for more tests at UIHC. On the drive there, when we were crossing the Iowa River I saw about eight bald eagles sitting in the trees by the river. Beautiful.

Between the last UIHC appointment and this one, Dad had his blood drawn for tissue typing. We were looking forward to finding out Dad's blood type. Blood type is the first step. Although it is possible to do an ABO incompatible kidney transplant, it is not our first choice. I've been a bit nervous about all of this because I really want this to work for him. I want him to feel good again. This is how it works:

Recipient has: Donor must have:
O blood-type O blood-type
A blood-type A or O blood-type
B blood-type B or O blood-type
AB blood-type Any blood-type

So I was of course rooting for Dad's blood-type to be AB. :-)

We checked in at the surgi-care center. As the lady was checking us in, Dad, quite discreetly whispered to my mom that he thought she looked like some character on Grey's Anatomy. My mom, indiscreetly agreed. The woman smiled and said that she heard that a lot, at least once a day. Apparently I am the only one on the planet that doesn't watch Grey's Anatomy.

After checking in, Kaye (a nurse with Dad's team) lead us back to room six, on the way she weighed and measured Dad. When they started to get his height, Mom made some comment to me like "God forbid Dad shrink during the kidney transplant." It made me laugh, because it does seem kind of silly that they measure his height each time he has an appointment.

This was the day for us to meet the surgeon, learn Dad's blood type and for him to get his second, and final tissue typing done (labs). Kaye did all the usual routine nurse stuff, then gave Dad a gown and told him to get in it. After she left, Dad said, "I don't know why I have to get naked to talk." But he did anyway.

The surgeon came in and shook our hands. He was what some might call 'my type'. The dark, kinda curly hair, darker skin, etc. My mother immediately starts looking for a ring on the guy's hand. Poor guy. LOL I thought he was arrogant and that's completely unattractive to it really didn't matter at all to me that he had a ring.

He asked Dad a lot of questions. The usual stuff...looked at his chart. When he was asking the smoking questions, my mom said, "But he does chew tobacco." And the way she said it, MADE me say, "Tattle Tale!" The surgeon almost smiled. Then when he asked Dad if he uses intravenous drugs, we all burst out laughing. He looked at Mom and said that if anyone would tell him, it would've been her. :-) Can you picture this man doing intravenous drugs??

So after Dr. Katz finished asking a zillion questions...he examined Dad. Inside and out, if you know what I mean. He felt something a bit "nodular" which is just a gross word, so now Dad will have to see a urologist before we proceed any further. That kinda stinks because it moves everything back another month. But better safe then sorry I suppose.

Shelley, another nurse that is taking care of Dad's case, poked her head in several times throughout our time there. She is a riot and handles Dad's orneriness very well. She is the one that told us that Dad's blood type is O.

The surgeon said that he saw no reason that Dad couldn't have the surgery. So this is about the fourth doctor that has given the ok. Now, it looks like just the urologist and we will be good to go!

After Dr. Katz left, one of his nurses, Jan came in to talk to us about a study that Dad could be involved in if he so chooses. One of the drugs that Dad will have to take following the surgery is called Cyclosporine. It's an anti-rejection medication, that can cause high blood pressure and kidney damage. Yes, I said KIDNEY DAMAGE. This drug as been around about 35-36 years. They have recently made a new drug that they are testing called Belatacept. This drug is either in Phase Three or Phase Four of testing and Dr. Katz is part of this study. So, Jan came in to tell us about it. The main thing about this drug is that it is not hard on the kidneys. If Dad were to participate in this study, the drug, Belatacept would be covered completely by them...also any extra testing that they require would be covered. The disadvantage is that he would have to go to Iowa City to receive drug intravenously. Every other week at first, then monthly. Dad hasn't made a decision about this study yet.

There are a lot of drugs that Dad will have to take after this surgery. A LOT. There are drugs to suppress his immune system so that his body doesn't reject the kidney. There are drugs, like antibiotics, to help him stay healthy (some are disease specific). He has to be on these drugs because of the other drugs. You get the picture.

Mom, Dad and I went out to eat afterwards. I made a quick call to St. Lukes in Cedar Rapids to see if I could get a copy of my blood type (they have it from when I was pregnant with Hollyanne). They said they could get it for me if I came in with proof of identity. I'll admit that I was very nervous when I heard Dad's blood type was O. I was pretty sure that mine wasn't O. And only O can give to O. However, the good news it that Mark is if I wasn't, we had a backup.

After we ate we went to St. Luke's to pick up a copy of my records. Mom dropped me off and went around the block while I ran in. I couldn't believe it when I saw it. I am type O negative. This is the first step toward a match. :-) We are part way there...with many more tests to go, but at least I'm in the running. :-)