Tuesday, February 27, 2007

quart of blood technique

"I'm a karate man, see! And a karate man bruises on the inside!"

i couldn't look.

after our last karate tournament disaster, the prospect of another trauma was too much to contemplate.

so as my son began his kata routine, i cleverly looked on from behind the bleachers.

rewind: our children participated in a karate tournament in portland last weekend. it was their first since an ill-fated tournament in victoria, bc -- and for good reason. competition is one thing...masochism is something else entirely.

in canada, one child did well, the other had a come-apart. not his fault, really. the pool-related concussion may have been a factor. nevertheless, looking ahead to portland we were ambivalent. hesitant. angst-ridden. but after much training (theirs) and considerable compartmentalizing (ours), we geeked up for another go.

our pregame left nothing to chance. the drive down was uneventful, but there was a scary moment checking into the hotel. the boy wears heelies as a major mode of transportation, and nearly totalled himself in the lobby. he walked in stocking feet to the room.

the obligatory trip to the pool was prefaced with unambiguous warnings and open threats. another concussion would be considered grounds for abandonment. running was a capital offense. actually touching the water was a game-time decision.

eerily, nothing bad occurred.

later, we went to dinner with a bunch of families from the dojo. the adults drank. the children, after ignoring the real food, ate ice cream. excellent training regimen. we returned to the hotel and yelled at the children to go to sleep.

after a long, nonrestful night, we awoke late. too late to enjoy breakfast, given that the service in the hotel restaurant was slow. no, that's not fair to slow people. service was nonexistent. we ended up taking everything to go. tip was not generous.

we approached the the tournament venue with fear and loathing. surely mt. hood would erupt and the columbia river would boil, flooding us with poached salmon. these things, we felt, would be preferable to entering the gym.

the children insisted.

where's my mouthguard? where's my chest protector? where's my fist pads? where's my group? children expect answers to these questions. parents who don't have a long history with karate tournaments are slow to provide answers.

eventually, inevitably, inexorably, the time for the boy to perform his kata drew nigh. beneath the stands, i sweated and became nauseated. the girl, meanwhile, commenced sparring. she is always the smallest girl in the ring, with the least fear. she swings from her heels and occasionally scores a point. she won a bronze medal.

the boy entered the ring. previously he had decided to do teno kata, because he knew it the best. instead he launched into heian nidan...and nailed it. where he was confident, i was breathless. where he was precise, i was still nauseated. at the end, he suppressed a smile. i suppressed a sob.

karate parents bleed on the inside. it's a good thing, too. the mess would've been epic.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

i am garlic

don't come any closer.

i reek of garlic. i exude garlic. i have a phd in eau de garlique.

i am garlic.

last night we had take-out from the mediterranean kitchen on queen anne. dear lord, the garlic.

chicken shawerma. chicken shish tawook. hummus. salad with dressing made almost entirely of garlic...and a few spices.

my wife and i loved this restaurant, back in the day. but when we moved back to the area, it was gone. we assumed it had gone out of business. turns out it moved three blocks east, and has been doing just fine, thank you.

this morning, everything in the refrigerator is infused with garlic. the kitchen is awash in garlic. we are immersed in garlic.

thankfully, it's heart-healthy. in that case, our hearts will continue beating long after we're gone. people will see our freakish, still-beating hearts and say, "they must've eaten at mediterranean kitchen."

tonight: leftovers.

(but right now i need to go shave my tongue.)

Saturday, February 17, 2007

"hell no, we won't go..."

everything old is new again.

the '60s have come back around, complete with a divisive war, a dissenting congress, and a despicable president.

instead of fading away, echoes of time past get louder.

the '60s got ugly. assassinations and riots and kent state, all symptoms of a sick nation at war with itself. and it can happen again. it is happening again. because we never really healed from--or learned from--the last time.

how big a leap is it from spying on americans to firing on them? nixon had no compunctions in that regard. would dick cheney hesitate for a moment to order troops to fire on unarmed civilians? he'd probably pick up a rifle himself.

take a look at the four dead at kent state...

real subversives, huh? a clear and present danger to the ohio national guard and the nixon administration. no wonder they had to be killed.

flash forward to 2007...the bush administration is taking on water from all sides. in overwhelming numbers, the american people oppose bush policy at home and abroad. there is a distinct whiff of desperation in presidential press conferences. along with the suggestion that opposition is fine, so long as it doesn't attempt to halt administration activities.

the pieces are in place for another great, self-inflicted wound. a whole series of them. to go along with those of the past six years.

surely we won't go there again. or maybe it's inevitable.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

just me tv

i have an overactive imagination.

so when i see a washington state ferry wrecked and burning in elliott bay, it's a small leap for me to picture myself and my family in the scene.

understand, this ferry was a computer-generated image on a tv screen. it was a scene out of someone else's imagination in a show called 'grey's anatomy.' and as conscious as i am of manipulative plotlines and dialogue, i still got swept up in this one.

the faux ferry had collided with a container ship, and carnage was everywhere at our familiar ferry terminal. people were bleeding, dying, covered with tarps. a badly injured woman called for her young son. a little girl wandered amidst the chaos, speechless, looking for someone to help her. that was the part that about pushed me over. too close to home.

it could've been anywhere, i suppose. images of crying, injured children elicit a visceral response, whether they're in baghdad, new orleans or on a soundstage in seattle. i imagine most people silently transport themselves into such situations, and feel the pain of the moment.

this is true, isn't it? don't most people identify with and personlize the dramatic and the traumatic?

or are we all just abstractions? are people in iraq just radical islamists, folks on the gulf coast just poverty-stricken negroes, people in san francisco just liberal queers?

the answers to these questions are fairly important. if a person is nothing more than a caricature, they're much easier to ignore. or to kill.

or so i would imagine.

Friday, February 02, 2007

gardicil your children?

big pharma is coming for your children.

and if they can't peddle their drugs to you directly, they'll force them on you through your local government.

don't be afraid. be angry.

Merck & Co. is helping bankroll efforts to pass state laws requiring girls as young as 11 or 12 to receive the drugmaker's new vaccine against the sexually transmitted cervical-cancer virus.

Gardasil, approved by the federal government in June, protects girls and women against strains of the human papillomavirus, or HPV, that are responsible for most cases of cervical cancer. A government advisory panel has recommended that all girls get the shots at 11 and 12, before they are likely to be sexually active.

note the careful choice of words. "protects" girls and women from cancer. gardicil is a warm, fuzzy protector. that's nice, isn't it?

it's probably not even worth mentioning that merck stands to make billions of dollars if its drug is declared mandatory by the government. the folks at merck aren't motivated by money, after all. they only want to help.

the thing is, though, that gardicil the wonder drug was just fda-approved in june of '06, and no one really knows what the long-term side-effects might be for pre-pubescent girls. did the company run exhaustive pediatric clinical trials on this product? it did not. it ran a small-sample bridging study that may or may not demonstrate safety in peds.

it's entirely possible that gardicil will guard (isn't that clever?) 11 and 12 year-old girls from cervical cancer. or, like more than a few "fda-approved" drugs recently, it might come back to haunt them. vioxx, anyone? the fda, in the thrall of big pharma billions, is no longer worthy of trust in such matters.

shoot, even the governor of texas is on the merck payroll...

Bypassing the Legislature altogether, Republican Gov. Rick Perry issued an order Friday making Texas the first state to require that schoolgirls get
vaccinated against the sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer.

By employing an executive order, Perry sidestepped opposition in the Legislature from conservatives and parents' rights groups who fear such a requirement would condone premarital sex and interfere with the way Texans raise their children.

Beginning in September 2008, girls entering the sixth grade - meaning, generally, girls ages 11 and 12 - will have to receive Gardasil, Merck & Co.'s new vaccine against strains of the human papillomavirus, or HPV.

Perry, a conservative Christian who opposes abortion and stem-cell research using embryonic cells, counts on the religious right for his political base. But he has said the cervical cancer vaccine is no different from the one that protects children against polio.

interesting. the governor is a mouth-breathing, anti-science wacko. he's against the very idea of "women's health," but he's all for the new drug from the global conglomerate drug company. does that seem inconsistent to anyone? how much money do you think changed hands there?

my wife and i work in healthcare. she runs global pharma trials, and i...well, i create funny little ads for some of those products. so we both know a little about the drug approval process. how it doesn't always work the way it's supposed to. how sometimes people get hurt by fda-approved products.

do we trust the fda to unfailingly protect patients and the public? do we trust pharma companies about anything? no. make that, "hell no." especially where the health of our children is concerned.

see, we have a daughter. and we're not about to have her pumped full of any drug wantonly pimped by merck and the u.s. government, just because they say so.

cervical cancer is a serious disease. in teens and adults, we hope gardicil is effective in preventing it 1000% of the time.

but the day we're told our daughter must participate in what amounts to a huge government experiment is the day we start the revolution.

i mean, the day she goes back to private school.