Tuesday, December 27, 2005

From Out Of The Silence

Sorry to all those of you who kept checking in to read something new and enlightening on my blog for the past several days. It's amazing how, when you are at home all day, it is difficult to find time to blog.

But that's not to say I haven't been writing. In fact, I'm on target to finish editing my first-ever novel by January first (for those of you who weren't aware I was writing one). Which means, I'll be starting the process of querying agents come January. Mindburst looks to be coming in around 51,000 words, which is within the range typical of a young-adult book. This is my fourth draft. I wish I could say final draft, but I know too much about the business to make such a claim. The final draft won't be until it is send to the printer and ready to hit the bookstore shelves.

It is rather odd to think I'm almost done, though. At least with this stage. I've been struggling to figure out what to do next. I could start on the sequel (as I'm planning this to be a four-book series at the moment), or I could start on one of my other totally unrelated ideas. Maybe I could start polishing up some of my short stories and send those out. Or maybe start working on my website. Who knows? But one thing for sure...I promise not to abandom my faithful blog-readers. Or, eh-hem, reader. (I can always count on my wife to read what I write. I think.)

Anyhow, I'm coming out of the silence of my holiday break to keep you all updated. I'll try to blog about something more intriguing next time in a few days. On Thursday, for example, I'm taking my two oldest boys to help work at a homeless shelter, so I might have a story or two to tell about that. We'll see what happens.


Thursday, December 22, 2005


We are three days away from the biggest holiday event of the year: Opening Christmas gifts.

In our family, however, it was really turning into "what Christmas is all about", which we weren't happy with. There is a reason we celebrate, and it isn't to sing songs about the most wonderful time of the year, nor a time of "family", nor a time for presents, although those all become a part of the season. No, we celebrate because of a little baby who was born to offer salvation to the world.

So, my wife and I decided to mix things up a bit a few years ago, and move the gift-exchange thing to Thanksgiving day. I blogged about that already in November. Christmas morning, for us, is not filled with the expectation of gifts. It is about Jesus' birthday. Although, this year, we have the added bonus of having Christmas Day fall on Sunday, meaning we can celebrate the holiday at church. Later, we'll throw a birthday party.

Some folks might find the shift of gift-giving a bit odd. And, I suppose it is. But we don't do the Santa thing, so that's no big deal. Instead, we have a family tradition on Christmas Eve night which my wife and I started before we even had kids. We have our stockings. But it is more than just a few gifts. It is a whole game.

Prior to Christmas Eve night, my wife and I set a price limit. Originally it was $10, and then we upped that to $15 (due to inflation). We then go to separate stores and buy as many meaningful gifts without going over that price. It is quite a challenge, but well worth it. For example, my wife will often buy me Chapstick because of my incessantly dry lips. I, one year, bought my wife this de-icer for the windshield that you spray on because she is too short to reach. It is fun, especially when you do something like wrap up six white sox individually in order to have more to open.

Perhaps you haven't noticed, but I'm quite family-oriented. And as such, having unique activities and traditions that enrich the family are important to me. Spending a fortune on each of our kids may make the retailers happy, and it may even, for a short while, make my kids happy. But I'm not in it for their short-term happiness. We're a family for the long haul. So, well...we just don't spend that kind of money. We can't spend that kind of money. At least not without heaping more debt upon our heads. So, we found creative ways to make memories to last a lifetime without having to buy that iPod, or whatever.

In case I don't get a chance to write again before the 25th, let me wish you all a very Merry Christmas. May the Lord bless you.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Miracles Do Happen

The human body never ceases to amaze me. Or, in this case, completely flabberghast me. In a follow up from my blog entry from earlier, I am back from my appointment with my endo.

I come to you bearing both good news and bad news (and interesting news plus another tidbit).

First, the good news. By some miracle, my A1c was not only lower than I expected, it was lower than it has ever been. Yes, folks, I managed a 6.4! Which is perplexing, to say the least, since I've been having so many highs. And not just highs...but really high highs. (Maybe they messed up my readings with someone else.)

Second, the bad news. My cholesterol is elevated. Specifically, both my HDL and LDL. That's good for my HDL, but bad for the LDL. I'm not entirely surprised by this, however. In the past year, I've kind of given in to the temptation of eating high-cholesterol foods far more often than ever. My doctor wants to put me on a statin, which I'll get to in a minute...but I told him let's hold off. I'm going to spend the next three months revamping my diet back to the healthy way I used to eat and see if I can bring it down that way.

Third, the interesting news. As I mentioned, my doctor wanted me to go on a statin. Not because my LDL is horribly high. But he informed me that recent research has shown that the A1c has not been proven to be an indicator of heart disease in Type 1 diabetics. In fact, according to him, there isn't much proof of correlation at all. Instead, he said that having an LDL above 100 (which is considered otherwise somewhat normal) indicates a huge increase in the probabiliy of heart disease for type 1s. Apparently, they are recommending that every Type 1 diabetic with LDL at 100 or higher go on a cholesterol-lowering statin.

Finally, a tidbit. My pump (the Minimed Paradigm 511) is now 3 1/2 years old. Often, people replace their pump at the four year mark. I asked my doctor about this, and he told me I might just consider holding off attempting to upgrade if my pump hasn't had problems. The reason is, apparently the trials on the Minimed combined Continuous Glucose Monitoring System and Insulin Pump are nearing completion. He said the estimates are about twelve months or so, and it will be available, so it might be best to hold off. I had assumed a few more years...but I guess it is closer than I realized. The new CGMS he said is a significantly smaller system than what Minimed sells today as a standalone unit, but will communicate wirelessly to the pump.

There you have it folks. And now, I must head off to bed.

Bless Their Little Hearts

I don't know about your endo, but my doctor has one of those A1c machines right in the office. So, by the end of the visit, you know the good...or bad...news. Frankly, the A1c result is all I really care about in the entire visit. Sure, he schedules blood work for me, makes sure I can still feel my toes and all...but none that really matters to me as much as that A1c number. Place your bets, place your bets. Will I make it below that magic number seven this time? Find out after a word from our sponsors (err, doctors).

Today is that day for me. My three-month check up. Time to find out if I've been naughty or nice. And, I'm afraid, I'm expecting more naughty than nice. Something has happened in the past several months, and I think it is time for an overhaul on my basal rates. I've been putting off the work of doing that, however, until after this A1c. My highs have been higher, and my lows lower lately.

I'm guessing a 7.3 this time around. We'll see if I'm right. But if I am, I'll hang my head in shame. I haven't been above a 7.1 in years.

So, anyhow, you know the routine (or perhaps you don't, if you're not diabetic). Offer up that blood sample and wait. And wait. And wait some more. When the doctor comes into the room, you try to read some indication from his body language where you stand. But doctors are master poker players, I think. No hint of what cards are in his hand.

And actually, what I hate worse than waiting for the number is what advice comes after the number is revealed...especially when the number is higher than before. Because, as a diabetic with twenty-three years under my belt, I pretty much manage everything myself. My doctor will try to send in the interns, looking through my BGLs they printed out from my meter to figure how what the problem is that led to the elevated A1c. Perhaps if I raise my basal here, and cut it back here. I smile and nod, whole-heartily agreeing. Then, I leave the office and ignore it all.

That's probably not very good to admit, but it's true. Because, frankly, their advice is never really too helpful. They aren't there to see what I ate that caused those morning highs, for example. The meter doesn't show that. The trick isn't to add more insulin...the trick might just be to eliminate that donut, or bolus more accurately. But bless their little hearts for wanting to sound so involved. And, since I'm paying them big money for their advice, there is no point in shattering their egos by telling them I'm about to ignore everything they are telling me.

My A1c. Today. Then, it is time to buckle down and do the hard work of re-calculating everything. It is tedious. Probably takes a good month of hard work and skipping various meals to get the basals correct. But it will be worth it in the end, because then I can go back three months from now expecting a 6.8 instead of a 7.3 (or 7.5 or 7.8).

Maybe Santa will bring me a lower A1c than I expected, but I have my doubts. So, good luck to you all on your A1cs, whenever they are due.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Losing My Man Card

I'd like to think that what I'm about to tell you would garner not only your respect, but also demonstrate my security in my masculinity. Yet, I fear that for some of you...the men in particular...you'll just laugh and write me off as something not very politically correct to say in a public forum such as this. But, here goes...

One of my all time favorite movies (or set of movies, I suppose) is Anne of Green Gables and its sequel, Anne of Avonlea. Okay, okay. I'll wait for the laughter to die down.

*Foot tapping*

*More foot tapping*

Now then, I realize that this is not on the top of many men's list of films. You'd expect the likes of X-Men or Spiderman or even Star Wars. And while I do like those movies, there is just something about the Anne-girl that makes me happy.

My boys are already hooked on action. The Incredibles, Star Wars, Monster's Inc. If there is a chase scene, they'll like it. This, despite the fact that we really are very careful about what we let them watch.

Anyhow, a couple of days ago, I decided it was high-time I broadened their horizons. There is so much more to learn than the latest light-saber techniques. Right? So, I put in Anne of Green Gables. I think my six-year-old was a bit hesitant. I mean, who wants to watch a movie about a girl, right? But I insisted, and so we all sat down.

Two hours later (and only halfway through the first movie), they were totally enthralled. I stopped the movie, saying it was time for bed, but they didn't want to stop. They wanted to know what would happen next! I mean, Anne's relationship with Diana's mother was finally restored after saving Diana's little sister's life! How can you stop the movie now?

So, last night, we picked things up and finished out the first movie. After it was over, my eldest said, "So now what happens?"

Time to buy the second movie. (For the record, we used to own it, but we then bought the first on DVD, fully intending to buy the second shortly thereafter. So, we gave our VHS copies to a friend, but have yet to buy the second.)

It is refreshing to know that my children can appreciate quality family movies, where tension is defined by more than just whether or not Mr. Incredible will escape the clutches of the Omnidroid with his life.

And while I'm sure someone will insist I lose my "man card" over all this, I will tell you that wild horses couldn't drag it from my hands. Because there is much to learn from Anne (with an e).

I'm thankful for such family movies...movies that go behind entertainment, and truly attempt to teach children something meaningful...something important. Because no matter how many times I analyze the significance of a piece of dialog spoken by Anakin Skywalker, in the end it is rather pointless. Whether Gilbert Blythe and Anne Shirley every reconcile their differences...now that is important stuff. Not only if they do, but how...and why.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

The Entry I Had to Write

My wife has this really good friend. She's really quite needy, always asking for a "blanket of love", not only from her friendship with my wife...but also with me.

Case in point, she has been hounding me day in and day out about just when I'm going to blog about her. Well, not so much day in and day out as in a couple comments made to me on two separate days in passing. But still, it's not so much about how much she's asked me, and more about the way she asks.

So, I thought the time has come that I acknowledge her. Yes, world of bloggers, I personally know Tasha Tywlak. No, not "Tasha" that rhymes with "Sascha", but "Tasha" that rhymes with "Tay-shuh". (Sorry...but I never realized that there really aren't any real words that rhyme with her name. Well, "fascia"...but some people pronounce that particular word so that it sounds like "fashion" withiout the n, and well, I don't think she'd forgive me for that.) Her last name? Well, the "w" is silent. Who knows why? It just is. Sounds like "Tie-lack".

Yes. Being famous is hard. I mean, all my fans (all twenty of them) wish I would blog about them. And, hopefully, now that I mentioned Tasha here means that, by association, she too will become famous and perhaps even become that super model she's always dreamed of becoming. Good luck on that Tasha. I'm sure an agent will be calling you soon.

Ahhh. I already feel cleansed in doing this. This was, you know, the "entry I had to write", but just never felt "led". She's asked me why once, and I told her that I just write what comes to mind on any given day. Today is your day, my dear Tasha. Do you feel the blanket of love now?

Thursday, December 15, 2005

In the Land of Narnia

Last night, I had the privilege of going to see The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe with my wife and two oldest boys. My wife had previewed the trailer to my boys several days ago, and they were beyond excited. And, my six-year-old was certain to declare to us hourly how he won't be scared. (He seems to believe that we forbid them to see movies that we might consider "too scary" for his age...which, come to think of it, is true.)

I will say, I was quite impressed. The movie far exceeded my expectations. I had seen made-for-television productions before that were laughable. But this was simply gorgeous, and very true to the intent of the books...although, there were some necessary liberties taken, as is the case with all book-to-movie translations.

The casting was perfect, cinematography beautiful, and the special effects impressive. As I had read in several reviews, the director did a great job of leaving intact the symbolism that abounds in the books, yet at the same time leaving that same symbolism as subtle as found in the books.

If this movie had a flaw, it was in attempting to be a bit too much like the recent Lord of the Rings epic. The movie was big in that same epic sense. The world of Narnia was created as more than just a few sets on a soundstage. That is good, actually. But there were times I couldn't help but think they were trying to carbon-copy the feel of the Tolkien-based films. The battle scene, in particular. I wouldn't be surprised if they used the same special-effects house that Peter Jackson used. Yet, if you can separate yourself from that aspect, it was a terrific movie in every regard.

I will admit up front that I was surprised at the intensity of a few of the scenes. Despite being rated PG, I felt this movie bordered into the PG-13 rating in a few places. The battle scene, for example. I was unsure how my six-year-old might react to this, although after the fact, he claimed he wasn't scared one little bit. I think he is just ensuring we won't leave him out on any potential future movie extravaganzas. I think he was scared...just a little. I know I was.

It had been years since I read the books, so my lack of recent familiarity with the original C. S. Lewis telling probably made me able to enjoy the movies even more. There were a few key moments of suspense that I think I wouldn't have felt tension in had I actually remembered what happened before it happened.

This is a movie I highly recommend to everyone, though if your child is under seven, I would be a bit careful and gauge your own child's ability for a few intense scenes with violence. There was a girl, maybe eight or nine, sitting behind us who, during the battle scene, said out loud, "Whoa...that was violent!" So this isn't just the opinion of an overly-protective father.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

It's Not Easy Being Green

Have you ever considered why in the world we (as in all of humanity) feel the need to ponder and place utmost importance on the answers to subjective questions such as, "What's your favorite color?"

It seems a silly question...although, I'll admit I've put a great amount of effort in formulating my answer. Because just what does it matter? Is one color inherantly better than another? And so what if it is? Or what if the world existed without that color? Life would likely go on...and I would simply have a different answer to that question.

Yet, when deciding the compatibility of a future mate, it seems to be one of the first questions asked. Because clearly, if my spouse doesn't agree that green (or blue or red or whatever) is her favorite color at all, then all bets are off in our relationship. We might as well start drawing up the divorce papers now.

Interestingly, my answer to that question has changed over time, which makes the question even more perplexing. As a child, my answer was always blue. Why? Because I was a boy. And blue is a boy's color. Girls pick pink, and boys pick blue. The thought of picking any other color would be a blow to my masculinity (as much as it was at the age of six).

As I aged, growing in maturity and wisdom by age ten, I realized that I didn't want blue to be my favorite color. I mean, I didn't want to just be a lemming (not that I knew what a lemming was at the time) and pick blue because it was the in-thing. No. I wanted to be different. Set my own pace in life. So, I changed my favorite color. To red. Red was still masculine...particularly the darker variety. Plus, every game in existance had red game pieces, right? So, red it was!

But then I waxed philosophical. (I've never used that phrase in my life, but I've always wanted to.) I became an adult. There had to be more thought and meaning behind my answer than just wanting to have a game-piece that matched my favorite color. More than just being my own person. I decided to ponder what color in the world would I most miss if suddenly it were taken away? Because that, my friends, would define my favorite color.

So, I sat and stared at the world. The answer was clear. Green. Definitely green. Imagine the world without the green grass on my lawn, the green leaves of the forests, the green mold in my bathtub. Yes. Without green, the world would be a boring place indeed. Less (and this is for my friends at Backspace) verdant.

Today, if anyone asks me what's my favorite color, my answer is green. But, frankly, what does it matter? I suppose the really important questions of life today...the questions that define each of us a person with unique thoughts and feelings...are the questions that are most likely to cause tension. Are you liberal or conservative? What's your favorite religion? Do you like blondes or brunettes or red heads? Pepsi or Coca-Cola?

Yes, asking one's favorite color is safe, and avoids all the controversy of life. Go ahead and ask, then, and keep the peace.

Me? I'm thankful for green, and red, and blue, and yellow, and every other color of the rainbow. What a beautiful world God has created for us.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Future Of Diabetes

Twenty-three years ago, the cure to diabetes was just around the corner. My mother subscribed to Diabetes Forecast so that we could keep tabs on developments in treatment and research. I remember feeling excited each time I read about some new step closer to that cure.

Today, I'm a bit more realistic about things. Perhaps even cynical. But I honestly do not believe there will be a cure to diabetes in my lifetime. And, since I plan to live to the ripe old age of at least eighty, we're talking close to fifty years. Maybe I'll be proven wrong. We'll see.

In twenty-three years, however, there have been amazing advancements in the treatment of diabetes, and I only see that continuing...eventually the point where the need for a "cure" won't be so significant. And, I think we'll soon see the vaccination against Type 1 diabetes, which will mean future generations will never have to face the disease.

So, what's in store for us? And what do I see as obstacles?

First is the next generation of blood glucose monitoring. We have already seen a couple of methods for continuously monitoring BGLs. I think this technology will continue to advance to the point where we have a continuous and real-time update on our BGLs. This will, of course, lead to interactions with insulin pumps that auto-regulate your BGLs. This is not far-fetched, as there are a few companies already developing this and I believe at least one already undergoing FDA trials.

But I don't see this technology as perfect. I don't think we'll just be able to eat without counting carbs, and have the closed-loop system (as they call it) function without interaction. The trouble is insulin technology, and inherant delays in BG monitoring. Insulins, currently, take ten to fifteen minutes before getting into the bloodstream enough to do anything. Add in the delay that it takes for the food you eat to enter your system, and you will end up with a lag in insulin delivery. Furthermore, you have a delay in the actual BGL compared to what is monitored in a continuous fashion.

Still, even if we still need to bolus for food, a closed-loop system will be able to immediately compensate for error plus otherwise unknown causes in highs and lows...even, potentially, preventing them altogether.

There is, of course, the possibility of avoiding these delays by having an implantable system. Yet, I'd be leery of such a solution, with a greater risk of infection, not to mention the ongoing problem of the body "clogging up" the delivery and sensors for monitoring. Despite the pain and annoyance in having to insert a new infusion set every few days, I think it is a safer solution all around.

Second, as I already mentioned, there is the vaccination, which is already undergoing trials (although, I don't recall if they are animal trials or human trials at this point). I know those with diabetes (or parents of those with diabetes) are wishing for a cure...I honestly think the vaccination is a far better solution. Prevent anyone else from developing diabetes, and in a couple generations, the need for a cure is rather moot. With improving treatments, I'd personally rather see research monies put towards preventing diabetes and treating diabetes.

But, third, there is the future of a cure. As I said...not something I expect in my lifetime, but certainly a possibility. Of course, the most promising at this point is the use of adult stem cells. And I do qualify stem cells with "adult" because I don't see embryonic stem cells as a viable source of a cure. Not just due to the ethical/moral implications. But for scientific reasons. To date, embryonic stell cells have proven to be pretty much worthless in the treatment of anything. There is a lot of "hope" in them, but thus far, nothing more than that.

Adult stem cells, however, have been successfully used in a variety of treatments of various ailments, and there has been success even in the area of diabetes. Money needs to be directed there rather than the unproven "technology" of embryonic stem cells because we already know it has potential and can work.

And there is another reason: Rejection. There is a huge issue with rejection when you deal with any source of tissue that are not from the person they came from. Much as with organ transplants, stem cells taken from another source other than the person to be cured will require anti-rejection medications, which have health risks of their own. But adult stem cells don't face this hurdle. Stem cells can be taken from a person's own body, cultured into new beta cells, and used by the body without fear of rejection.

But if we're so close to that, where is the problem? Well, the fact is, we still have the problem of what caused the killing of the beta cells to begin with. They body of the diabetic killed off his or her own beta cells already. Even if the new cells are implanted, there is a great risk that the body will react to the new cells the same way they reacted to the original beta cells. The question becomes, can any form of beta cell implantation work successfully for those who are already diabetic? We've already seen cases of transplants where this has been an issue. For the first year or so, the body appears to produce insulin again...but that soon fails. That might be due to rejection, but it might be due to the body's autoimmune response.

We have a long way to go. But there is a future for diabetics. I've lived twenty-three years with the disease, and have a wonderfully prosperous life. I expect to continue living a prosperous life with the disease for another fifty. And I look forward to what the future holds.

Today, I'm thankful for the treatments available. For insulin pumps, analog insulins, BG meters that are almost instantaneous. I'm thankful for the medical companies that develop this. A grand example of capitalism at work. Competition among medical companies has benefited the lives...and will continue to benefit the lives...of diabetics everywhere.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Oh, What Fun It Is To Ride

A few days ago, I shared the wonderful insight I gained by my youngest son's proclamation that the snow was melting. Well, it turns out everything I learned was completely wrong. Because, you see, today for an hour we decided to enjoy the six inches of snow we now have. I took the kids sledding.

But, before you go all gushy on my and say, "Aw, how cute!", let me break that hour up for you:

10:50-11:15 (25 minutes)
Look for and put on all snow suits, mittens, and boots.

11:15-11:17 (2 minutes)
Escort my daughter down the steps.

11:17-11:19 (2 minutes)
Convince my daughter that it was okay to sit down on the sled

11:19-11:22 (3 minutes)
Drag the sled with my daughter up the hill.

11:22-11:22 (Less than one minute)
My daughter slides down hill

11:22-11:25 (3 minutes)
Convince my daughter that she has to get off the sled so that I can go back up the hill.

11:25-11:27 (2 minutes)
Walk up the hill while my daughter is in tear. My youngest son joins us at the top.

11:27-11:28 (1 minute)
Get them both arranged and seated together on the sled, because my daughter refuses to allow anyone on the sled unless she is on it as well.

11:28-11:28 (Less than one minute)
Slide down hill.

11:28-11:35 (Seven minutes)
Repeat above steps, but include extra minute to put their mittens back because they were crying that their hands were cold.

11:35-11:50 (Fifteen minutes)
My daughter cried the rest of the time, refusing to walk in the snow. I would ask her if she wanted to go inside. "No!" I'd ask her if she wanted to play in the snow. "No!"

So, at this point, I declared it was lunch time and headed inside.

Am I a bad father if, during this whole expedition, I just laughed at my daughter? Because I thought the whole image of her insisting she stay outside in the very cold that is making her miserable rather hillarious.

So, for what took an hour, there was a grand total of about 1 minute of enjoyment. Oh what fun it is to ride on a sled down our tiny hill. Because after we were all cozy and warm inside again, I asked them if they wanted to go outside again. The answer? A resounding, "I wanna outside!"

I'm sure there must be some secret message God is teaching me through all this. But whatever it is, I'm too busy being amused to think about it. Mostly, I just think my kids are mentally insane!

And just what am I thankful for today? I'm thankful that children are cute, even in the most trying of times. It is what gets parents through yet another day without killing our children, and sometimes, like today, even laugh about it all!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Meaning of the Curse

You know about the curse, don't you? No...not some horror movie. And not a woman's time of the month. I'm talking about the curse thrust upon the world because Adam and Eve decided to eat a piece of forbidden fruit.

If you aren't familiar with it, the gist of it is this:

"I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you."

Of course, it goes on to curse the men as well. But I wanted to stop here. For thousands of years, theologians have debated the meaning of this. And, while I have had my own theories throughout the years, I finally have come to an astounding conclusion. I think that this is a fill-in-the-blank. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if there wasn't a little line drawn immediately after the word "husband"...but the Bible translators didn't know what that meant, so left it out.

But before I reveal the meaning of the curse to you, let me back up.

My wife is hot. And in this case, I'm referring to her body temperature. We never agree on the thermostat setting in our house, nor the heater setting in the car. It'll be fifteen degrees outside, and my fingers are bordering on becoming popcicles, but my wife will roll down the car window while driving seventy on the freeway because she is so hot. As it turns out, this seems to be common among most married couples I've met: Disagreement with body temperatures.

Well, in the past few months, something has changed. Suddenly, my wife is freezing all the time. Of course, this also happened to be when I installed a handy digital thermostat that allows me to reduce energy bills by automatically lowering the temperature in the house at night to 62 degrees, while keeping it at 68 during the day. Regardless, if I can sleep in nothing but my underwear at night, something is seriously wrong if I wake up in the morning to find my wife sleeping with her coat and mittens on.

So, it didn't take long for me to realize the significance of this. It is the curse incarnate. (That doesn't really make any sense, but it sounds cool.) You see...let's fill in the blank:

Your desire will be for your husband to turn up the heat, and he will rule over you by insisting we need to save money.

Now, in your household, you might find the need to fill in those blanks with other things. But clearly, this is the answer to one of the Bibles most controversial points. And, since it is supposed to be a curse against women (and if you don't believe me, go look it up yourself in Genesis 3:16), clearly, it is my duty to rule over my wife and get my way on the matter.

Now, now, don't start quoting me further scripture about how men are to love their wives as themselves. I just don't wanna hear it! Because then it means I can't get my way. After all, it isn't my fault my wife decided to choose this year to alter her own body temperature, is it?

I think I'm going to be buying my wife some warm pajamas soon.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Marching Band, Revisited

I always wanted to play the trombone. In the sixth grade, when my parents were enrolling me in band, I was already a talented pianist, and enjoyed singing. But I thought long and hard, and the image of playing that slide trombone was for me.

So, I ended up playing trumpet. Two of my older brothers played trumpet, so I was to play trumpet as well. Imagine the possibilities! The Bruner Boys playing Trumpet Trios in Church. It happened, too. Once.

But, in hindsight, I wasn't sorry for the switch. I was good at trumpet and enjoyed it immensely. It was also work. Marching band, in particular. People don't seem to appreciate the arduous work behind preparing for high school marching band competitions. Two-hour after-school rehearsals three days a week, often in freezing temperatures marching uphill both ways on the field. Okay, not that last part. But it was hard. And fun. A lot of fun, at times.

So, why am I telling you about this now? Fifteen years since I marched in my last band competition? Well, because last night I had an epiphany. I put in the CD for the soundtrack to Back to the Future, Part III and, once again, realized how great a marching band program this would make. Nothing new there. But then, at one particularly dramatic moment in the music, I could see the field. See the formations. See the color guard. And then I could see how to make the entire band completely disappear, sending them back to the future!

But that's where I'm stuck. Because this grand idea is completely worthless without a band. So, if you happen to know of any band directors wanting to put together a really awesome marching band show, put them in touch with me. It irritates me that a perfectly genius idea (if I do say so myself) will go to waste.

Before I leave it at that, however, I'll fess up now. I was a high school band drop out. I was in marching band for three years. I was at the top of my game. First chair trumpet. Section leader. But I lost my passion. It was no longer fun. I just didn't want to do it anymore. So, I quit band, and attempted to shift into choir instead. Didn't work. Choir wouldn't fit my class schedule. So, I focused on piano and singing. Still, the thrill of the marching band has never really left me...and now, at least for one program, I wish I could become a band director.

So, what am I thankful for today? Music. Not only for my own abilities within music, but for the abilities of so many talented musicians that enrich our lives. I don't think a day goes by in my life where music doesn't play a role, either through listening or singing. It can help set the mood, or it can match my mood. I can appreciate the incredible power of the music from Les Miserables, or have a grand time listening to Mel Torme, or lift my own voice in worship to God, or a thousand other styles of music.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Snow Is Melting

Yesterday, my three-year-old was distraught. He stared out a window to the hill behind our house and said, "Oh, no! The snow is melting!"

And I, being one who appreciates accuracy, said, "Actually, it's evaporating."

"It's mappabating? Why is it mappabating?"

Oops. I guess three years is a bit young to give the scientific explanations for the world. "Well, it's kind of like melting."

"Why is it melting?"

The reason he was so upset was that, after our last snowfall, he went sledding. But this snowfall, he never got the opportunity to sled. And now, the snow was disappearing from the hill, having had no opportunity to enjoy it. To a preschooler, that was reason to be distraught.

"Don't worry. It'll snow more. This is just the beginning of winter."

"It do?"

"Yes. It do."

It is sobering when a childlike perspective is pointed out. Frankly, I'm rather happy the snow is mappabating. But my son kind of pointed out the whole "look for the silver lining" concept. In our daily annoyances...and even in major life-altering events...there is some lesson to learn, something positive to hold onto.

Are you familiar with the song The Christmas Shoes? In short, a man sees a boy in the store buying a pair of shoes. The man feels annoyed at the long lines...but then he finds out that this boy is in a true hurry, wanting to buy the shoes for his dying mother. The boy tells the man, "I want her to look beautiful if Momma meets Jesus tonight!"

I'll admit, I cry like a baby everytime I listen to that song. But this man experiences a lesson in life. A lesson in patience. A lesson in appreciating what he has. He then laid the money down to buy the shoes for the boy. I doubt the boy had any idea that his own pain in losing his mother would have such an impact on another life. So much so that a song was written about him, and has been heard by millions.

We are natural complainers, I think. So self-focused we fail to see the world beyond how it affects us. And, truth be told, my son was in the same boat. He didn't want the snow to melt away until he got a chance to sled on it. Still, what a lesson to learn. Even in the troublesome times, how do we find what is good, or beneficial not just to ourselves, but others? Not an easy task, and one I must be reminded to do every day.

So what am I thankful about today? I'm thankful for the snow. For the snow that my children love so much. And not just my children. The fact is, there was a time I loved playing in the snow. Sledding down our neighbors hill. The wind stinging my cheeks. The impact of barreling into the picnic table at the bottom. The fifteen stitches that resulted. The scar on my forehead that still remains. It is all a reminder as to how even in pain, there is joy.

Friday, December 02, 2005

About Last Night

A few days ago, my wife informed me that she was kicking me out of the house on Thursday night (last night) at 7:00, and I wasn't allowed back until after 10:00. Perfect opportunity to do some writing, I thought. And, in fact, I was really into my writing last night. I had solidified two scenes in my head that I wanted to finish. For those of you who are writers, you know those times when you just are "in the flow"? Well, that's where I was last night.

Forty minutes later, my laptop informed me that the battery was almost dead, and proceeded to shut down for me. As it turns out, I had forgotten to plug in the laptop overnight. So, there I was, ideas spewing and no way to capture them. And I couldn't go home, by order of the Queen. I drove around, visiting four stores (but buying nothing) and at one point tempted to go see Harry Potter at the theatre a second time, but by myself.

I then made a trip out to Barnes and Noble. You see, it turns out one of my writer friends from Backspace had her book published already, and I hadn't realized it until yesterday. So, I thought I'd take the opportunity to go buy it. Unfortunately, they didn't have it in the store. But, no problem. I can still order it on-line. (And so can you, by the way. Key to Aten by Lynn Sinclair.)

So, by the time I got home, it was a fairly unproductive night...except for those forty minutes. Still, I managed to get another thirty minutes or so in at home, which is good. Then, rather than going to bed...I ended up staying up until 12:30 because the most important television event in ten years happened last night. Oprah Winfrey was a guest on David Letterman! I couldn't miss that, as I'm sure you couldn't either. Quite possibly more significant than when they televised the landing on the moon.

Anyhow, that's my night in a nutshell. And if you are still reading this far...you apparently have less of a life than I do!

And now...onto my thankful moment. I'm thankful for Microsoft Word's autosave feature, for it prevented the loss of some particularly good writing last night (if I do say so myself...just don't ask me what I think when I re-read it in a few days).

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

How's It Hanging?

When I was a wee lad of, oh, seventeen, I was a tad naive. And shy. So when the guy came up to me at my locker and said, "How's it hanging, Ryan?" I really had nothing to say. Frankly, I didn't even know what it meant. How's what hanging? And just how do things hang, anyway?

My lack of response triggered him to go into a rare moment. He decided to educate me. "You're supposed say, 'Loooooooooowwww'," emphasizing the word low in a deep, throaty voice.

Then, I got it. I understood. He was referring to my most personal of possessions. And, I thought, how entirely rude to ask someone something like that. Besides...just what do you say if, well, it isn't hanging low?

Anyhow I say all this because I wanted to discuss low blood glucose levels. Yeah. That's the tie-in. So, how's it hanging for you?

Of all of the problems diabetics face, to me the worst is the low. I can deal with highs. They don't bother me so much. But being low is just miserable. You feel shaky, or weak, or have blurred vision, or become irritable, or experience tingling or numb extremeties, or (eh-hem) impotence, or headache, or sudden nausea, or any combination of the above.

Thankfully, I'm very senstive to my lows. My BGL hits 73, and I can tell. But not always. When I'm tired, it takes longer to notice the symptoms...usually into the 50s. If I'm exhausted, I might hit into the 20s!

Prior to being placed on the pump, I actually had a fairly decent A1c. I was hovering in the low sevens with due diligence. But I was accomplishing this by having a lot of lows. Sometimes every day (or night). And that was the reason my doctor thought it best I switched to the pump. I'm so glad I did, because one of the greatest benefits I've seen is the enormous reduction in lows. Sure, I still have them. But neither with the same frequency nor intensity as I once experienced. And once I managed that, I was amazed at how much better I felt in general.

For me, eliminating lows is top priority. I'm willing to accept more frequent highs instead.

Do you want to know the absolute worst part of being low? I'll tell you...the horrible headaches that come about two hours after I've been low. They are intense, and they grow debilitating rather quickly. Ibuprofen doesn't nothing. Only Tylenol. You ever get those kinds of lows? The kind that bring on the dreaded headache?

Work on your lows. They are dangerous. They don't feel good. And they can feed into a roller coaster cycle. If you haven't yet reduced your lows, forget working on the highs. You'll feel much better for it.

And the next time someone asks you, "How's it hanging?", I can only hope your answer won't be, "Looooooowww!"

My Two Sons

Actually, I have three sons (and a daughter)...but this post is about two of those sons.

I'll start with the youngest. He's three. He's also cursed with quite severe food allergies. Milk, egg, nuts, and peanuts. (And, just to interject a brief complementary educational moment, peanuts are not considered nuts, which is why they are always listed separated. "Nuts" grow on trees. Peanuts are from the legume family. Remember that for the next time you're on Jeopardy.) Two months ago, he also had a significant asthmatic "event" that put him into the hospital for a few days. Since then, they changed his meds, which we soon insisted he take off of because the medicine was, in fact, demon-possession in a easy-to-administer breathing treatment. So, we tried a different medication. That actually worked really well for his skin. It cleared up his eczema nicely, but it wasn't enough, apparently. Almost two weeks ago, now, he contracted a viral infection in his lungs, triggering the asthma yet again, and sending him into the hospital again!

(You can see, now, why I am thankful for health insurance, as I mentioned in my last post.)

He's healthy for the moment, again, and he is now on two different medications. One to keep the asthma at bay, and the other which is helping his eczema. We also had him tested for some environmental allergies. It turns out, he's allergic to...well, just about everything. Trees, grass, mold, dust mites, cats, and dogs. There's probably more, but that's all they tested for this round.

Now then...onto my other son, who is six. As I mentioned several weeks ago, he was undergoing some testing to determine if he had Central Auditory Processing Disorder due to some learning and listening problems he's had for several years. Well, believe it or not, our diagnosis was wrong. Instead, he has a mixture of things. Cross-dominance (which means he is right-handed, but left-eared and left-eyed, which can contribute to learning issues), as well as an Auditory Descrimination Disorder, extraordinarily low-functioning short-term memory (though, his long-term memory is fabulous), and articulation issues. There are a few other areas, but those summarize it quite nicely.

Last night, my wife and I met with the speech pathologist to discuss our game plan. We are so relieved about all this. It is has been several years that we've been having him tested in various forms to find out what was wrong. We brought him into the school system for testing last year, and though they noticed some delays, there wasn'tt anything they would treat. We would go over exactly the types of problems we have seen, but would be summarily brushed off. Yet, my son is six-and-a-half, and has yet to be able to read anything. Only a few months ago could he finally recognize his alphabet letters. We weren't to be brushed off any longer!

And so now, we have a diagnosis. We have a game plan. We have hope.

Let me pause a moment here to say, however, that going over my son's test results was a bit scary...because many of the areas he was tagged as having seem to be areas I have always struggled with, myself. The short term memory problem, for one. Like, if my wife tells me to go get something and then tells me where it is, unless I consciously stop whatever I'm doing and focus on her every word, I will typically only remember the item to get, and the last thing she said. All the detail in between is lost to me.

"Honey, go grab her pink outfit. I laid it on the shelves next to the white dresser."

So, I go to find something pink in the dresser. This is nothing new for me, so I can't blame it on age. It makes me think that my son inherited this from me.

From all of this, I can tell you that I'm thankful for Speech Pathologists, and the fact that they can decipher all the symptoms my son has and come up with a way to treat him.

Anyhow, there you have it...news about my two sons.

Monday, November 28, 2005

The Swing of Things

Last week, I took the entire week off work due to the Thanksgiving holiday. I had all these grand and glorious ideas for what I would accomplish. We'd get the entire house spic-and-span so we could put up the Christmas decorations. I'd get about six more chapters of my work-in-progress finished. I'd spend a bunch of time with each of the kids, both individually and collectively. I'd actually sit on the couch watching television with my wife without falling asleep in the process.

In fact, I quite often massage my wife's legs while we watch television. Okay, not "quite often"...perhaps "sometimes". And when my arms and fingers start to grow sore, she'll kick me in the gut to remind me I'm slacking on the job. Oh, sorry honey. I was just distracted. Can't feel my fingers any more. (Not that I'm complaining, or anything...quite often those aforementioned massages lead to other...uh...activities that I benefit greatly from.)

Anyhow...as it turned out, I really accomplished very little. We did manage to get a little cleaning done. We did manage to put up our main Christmas tree. Oh...and I got the lights put on the roof. (Nevermind that I never actually took them down from last year.) I did manage to get a bit of writing in. And I did manage to spend time with my kids. But all in all, it was a rather relaxing vacation. I'm not used to coming in to work after a vacation feeling so, you know, refreshed.

I was also a bit lax about my on-line activities, including updating this blog.

But my time is up now. Time to get back into the swing of things. Work, for one. Not to mention fifty million rehearsals for the church choir performances. I still have to put lights on the bushes, shrubs, and trees. And...well, I have a whole list of things that I just don't remember, but my wonderful wife always reminds me of just before it needs to get done. (Who needs a PDA...or even a calendar...when you have a wife?)

So this week, my plans for this blog include updates on my son, another diabetes-interest post, and another "whatever I feel like" post, as yet to be determined.

Oh yes...and in an effort to follow through on my "Thankful Day" post, I figured I would include in each blog entry one thing I'm thankful for but typically take for granted. So here we go: I'm thankful for health insurance. Despite the headaches I have in dealing with Blue Cross Blue Shield...I would be in debt to my eyeballs right now were I not blessed enough to have a job that provides good health insurance.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thankful Day

For our family, it is called "Thankful Day". It isn't a day about the Pilgrims and Native Americans. It isn't a day about turkey and mashed potatoes (though, we certainly have them). It is, first and foremost, a day we offer thankgiving to God, the creator of life and giver of every perfect and wonderful gift. It is a day we celebrate one another through the giving of gifts. And, it is the day I'm totally wiped out for having spent the previous night putting together two pieces of play furniture: some assembly required!

All told, I spent from 8:30 pm to 12:30 am assembling two toys. First, a train table for my son; and second, a wooden kitchen play set for my daughter. The train table was actually a breeze. Not too much to it. The kitchen, however, took forever! (Or some period of time close to it.)

In the end, our children loved all of the gifts we gave to them. It is our way of showing them how thankful we are for them. It is also in lieu of gifts on Christmas morning (which I'm sure I'll blog about that around Dec. 25).

And just what I am I thankful for? Other than God and my family? We are blessed. Spoiled is probably a better word. We live in the wealthiest nation in the world, almost entirely free of fear of random bombings or famine or religious persecution. We have every technological wonder at our fingertips while there are children starving and almost the entire continent of Africa ravaged by AIDS.

So what am I thankful for? Really, I have to ask myself what should I be thankful for? Because I think when one lives in such a way, we really lose sight of all the small things. Like shoes. Clothes. Food. Transportation. A house. With indoor plumbing. And a furnace.

I suppose it feels it bit like Selfish Day, the more I think about it. How much I have compared to so many others in the world.

And what happens after today? What happens with the tinge of guilt I have for having so much to be thankful for yet take for granted? The answer I must give, and the answer I would like to give are very different. Shamefully different.

Take a moment today...and tomorrow...and the day after tomorrow...to be thankful.

Monday, November 21, 2005

What's In a Name?

I wonder. Have you taken a look at all the clever names people come up with for their blogs? A few blogs from people I know include Ovations, The Refrigerator Door, and Insert Witty Title Here. I mean, with names like those, who wouldn't want to read?

And then there was me. RyanBruner. Not even RyanBruner. But ryanbruner. Who wants to read from a blog named after a guy you don't even know anything about? I mean, why not go read a blog by johnny, or Mrs. Smith? I guess I'm not the person to answer that, since, frankly, I think Ryan Bruner is an altogether fascinating, witty, and good-looking fellow that's always worth reading about.

But I still wonder. Would people flock to my blog if it had a different name? Like, well...I don't know. Because if I had any idea of a better name, I would have used it! (Although, I once was partial to being called "Rashio", which rhymes with "ratio". Of course, I was only eight at the time.)

Which brings me to my work-in-progress. As it turns out, when I started, I wasn't all that particular about some of the names of characters. I picked a name that just seemed right and went with it. Nothing special, really. But later, I, for various reasons, needed to change a few names. Suddenly the name that was "nothing special" I can't part with. I've spent too long with the character with that name. How can I envision them as anyone else without also re-envisioning their character?

Names are rather powerful things, I guess. I mean, I remember a few people from my childhood I just didn't like very much. To this day, I associate the name with the character of the person I knew as a kid. Sometimes that a good thing, sometimes bad.

And what's the point of all this discussion about names? Well, there really is none. I know, in the past, I usually wrap up such a post with some life-altering revelation about what it all means (uh...okay, perhaps now, but I'd like to think so). But today, I'm just not in the mood to think about the implications of what's in a name and the grand scheme of life. I hope you understand.

I do hope to update you next time on the status of two my sons. One involving yet another hospital visit, and the other the results of his testing. Until then...Adios!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

A Good Book

I've got a question for you all. If someone were to ask you right now what's a good book to read, what would you answer? (Let's limit this to fiction for now.)

Could you name just one? I suppose in my case, the book I'm most impressed with is Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood. It has the perfect blend of absolutely gorgeous writing with a wonderfully unique concept in speculative fiction. (Which, by the way, is a secret code word for science fiction and/or fantasy, in case you were wondering. But don't let that scare you. This isn't your typical science fiction. No space ships. No laser guns. Not even any robots.)

Aside from that book, I still have a large list of books I really really really like. And I have yet another list of books that I have yet to read that others have recommended. I'm plugging away at that list as well, slowly but surely. And now that my ensemble concert is over (which, by the way, went quite well, thank you very much!), I can go back to listening to audiobooks again. I was on hiatus in the past couple months so that I could practice the songs we were to perform...fourteen in total, although I only sang in seven of those.

Currently, I'm reading Magician by Raymond Feist, as recommended by a close friend of mine. Okay, okay. I'm not actually reading it yet. He loaned it to me a few days ago. But I'm about to start reading it, so that still counts, doesn't it?

Of course, there are also the books I want to read that are non-fiction. My brother's books, for example. I've read parts of his latest books (which came out a few months ago), but haven't had time to actually sit down and finish them. But if I might make a plug for his books, look for them at your local bookstore (or on-line). I Still Believe by Kurt Bruner, and Finding God in the Land of Narnia by Kurt Bruner and Jim Ware. (He's got quite a few other books available as well, by the way.)

Okay. Scratch my first question. Instead, answer these questions:
  1. What is the fiction book you would recommend to someone right now?
  2. What is the fiction book you are currently reading or you just finished reading?
  3. Are you going to buy my brother's book? (Just thought I'd check.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Joy of Being High

I've never touched any form of mood-altering drug, illegal or otherwise. I don't even drink alcohol. (Well, there was that one time when I was about fifteen. I was at a wedding and my blood sugar was low, so I went up to the bar for a glass of orange juice. Took one sip and nearly spit it all over the table. Turns out I had picked up orange juice all right...mixed with Vodka. Blech!)

Anyhow, the kind of "high" I'm talking about is high blood glucose level. So, if you were hoping to share in the joys of marijuana use, you've come to the wrong place. The closest I've come to the stuff was when I was trying to sell oranges as a band fundraiser, going door-to-door, and at one of the houses, this truly stoned man came to the door in his underwear wreaking of the stuff. (He bought some oranges, though!)

Typically, highs trigger panic in a diabetic. The end of the world, and all. But in reality, those unexpected highs are an opportunity. If you've read any of my other entries about diabetes, you'll notice I'm big on the analysis thing. So, how can you best utilize your high BGL?

One thing is to verify your currently correction bolus factor. Let's say you test, and you are at 300. Also presume you haven't eaten anything for a couple hours. Your current correction factor is, say, 1 unit for every 50 mg/dL over your target (100 mg/dL for this exercise). That means you need to give 4 units.

Next. Test. Test every thirty minutes for the next 3-4 hours. If your BGL doesn't start to fall, or if it actually starts to go UP, then you know there is something in your system still feeding into your high. Perhaps there is undigested food still sitting in your belly. (You'll feel full, if this is the case.) Or, perhaps you had eaten a high-protein meal a couple hours earlier. If that's the case, then your experiment on your correction bolus is over because you need to not only bring your BGL down, but also give more insulin for the undigested food or protein.

But let's say your BGL starts dropping shortly after your bolus. At the end of the four hours, you find your BGL dropped to 140 rather than 100, as you had expected. Time to fix your correction bolus! Do the math: 300 - 140 = 160. You lowered your BGL by 160 mg/dL with 4 units. Divide the 160 by the number of units you gave (4) and you get 40 instead of 50. So, your correction bolus should have been 1 unit for every 40 mg/dL instead of 50.

Of course, one time isn't enough to know for certain. You should try it again the next opportunity you get. Often, what I do is split the difference. Instead of jumping to the 40 mg/dL next time, I'll change to 45 mg/dL instead. Then, the next high I have, I'll try it out again. If I'm still off, I split the difference again. This builds in a bit of protection against a fluke.

Being high (uh, talking BGL here remember) doesn't have to be a bad thing. If you see it as an opportunity to tweak your boluses, not only will you feel more at ease...but you'll be improving your long-term care. You can actually calculate a much more accurate correction factor when your BGL is very high versus just a little high.

Good luck...and may all your highs be joyful!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Moles Prevail

I've got a mole. Or maybe several moles. How can you know for sure? But if it is only one...it certainly is a busy mole.

My front yard, as tiny as it is, has been residence to the mole or moles since springtime, and now features a lovely network of mounds and tunnels. The resulting pattern is a beautiful mixture faux romance and modern...with just a touch of something rather earthy.

At one point, I actually saw the mole. Well, I saw the ground moving where the mole was digging. Out of desperation (and those of you with weak stomaches or animal lovers might want to skip to the next paragraph), I made a running leap, landing squarely on the moving ground. I stomped several more times for good measure. Really, as much as I don't like the moles, I didn't want the poor thing to suffer. A quick and painful death, that's what I was shooting for. Two days later, the tunnels were back. So, either I missed the mole entirely, or I only got one of them.

So, what to do? And why did they have to set up house in my yard, of all yards in the area. I mean, I've taken great care of my yard, fertilizing every two months, even using GrubX to keep those bugs from eating away my lawn. (They did that several years ago...hence, the GrubX.)

I found this stuff to kill the moles. "Poison Peanuts". Turns out, there are no peanuts in the ingredients at all, which is good for our children. So, several weeks ago, I poke holes in the tunnels and gave them some free food. A few days later, I checked...and the food was gone!

And, to my relief, so were the appearance of more tunnels. Finally. Death to the moles! Only, that also happened to be during a cold spell. As Michigan weather tends to do, it changes for the better. Warm weather returned. And so did the tunnels. I think I only made them sick. So, a few days ago, I went out and gave them more free food. A lot more. And guess what? There are still more tunnels!

The creatures really are amazing little things. They have no issues tunneling under sidewalks and driveways. Yet, they prefer making patterns in my prize-winning lawn. (Okay. I haven't won any prizes, but I was enjoying the alliteration of the P sound in that sentence.)

Now I'm at a loss. I found this spray stuff at Home Depot that you drench your lawn with. It's supposed to annoy the moles and chase them away. But do I really want to do that to my neighbors? (Well, actually...yes, I do, if it means I don't have to deal with them.) Still, I have my doubts it even works. Especially at $12 a bottle!

I have this image of Bill Murray in Caddyshack. That'll be me one of these days. Sticking dynamite in my front lawn, blowing myself up while the moles prevail.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Miscellany And Other Stuff

I've been having brainstorms over the last few days. It's been keeping me up at night, actually. (By the way, for me that means it takes twenty minutes to fall alseep instead of two.)

For example, there is a scene I'm adding to my work-in-progress. I had started it...but now, over the course of several nights I've worked out the details. I'm so excited to get a chance to sit down and write!

I'm also a couple days away from the ensemble concert I'm singing in. You'll be happy to know I finally managed to learn all the words to my solo. In the meantime, I think I've come down with something. Totally exhausted. The kind of tired that just isn't normal, you know? So, after Wednesday's concert, I'm hoping to get some rest. I'm taking the entire week of Thanksgiving off from work, so I'll be able to catch up on missed sleep.

I also have today off work. It is Veteran's Day (observed). I find that a bit funny. Nevermind the country celebrated Veteran's Day on Friday, as it should. Our workplace decided we should celebrate on Monday. I think what it really means is that hunting season is more important than our Veterans, which is altogether sad.

Sorry that this blog entry has nothing really worth reading. But, you know, I gave you two separate entries on Friday, and I'm writing this from home...so, consider yourself lucky!

(Hmm. How entirely self-centered that sounded. As if you should consider yourself lucky to read pretty much nothing of significance from me. Apparently I think everyone reading this has a rather pathetic life or something. I suppose that could be true. But true or not, I shouldn't presume it to be true. Right?)

I promise my next entry will be of something more important...such as what I'm doing about my mole problem. (That is, the moles that dig tunnels under your lawn as opposed to the kind that grow in annoying and unexpected places on your body!)

Friday, November 11, 2005

What Ever Happened to VHS?

The other night, my wife and I were watching something on television. E.R. maybe? I don't remember. But that's not important right now. What is important was the advertisement for the release of some movie on DVD and...get this...PSP.

"What's PSP?" my wife asked me. "And what ever happened to VHS?"

Good question, on both accounts. Although, I suppose the video-gamers out there already know what the PSP is. PlayStation Portable. Frankly, I'm surprised by this. I realize that portable video devices are about to become The Next Big Thing and all. I mean, look at Apple's latest iPod with iVideo for people on the iGo. Still, how many people will really want to buy a video in PSP format instead of DVD format? Doesn't that limit playback to a 2-inch wide screen. (Forgive me if that isn't the actual dimension. I'm not really into video game systems.)

Regardless of the PSP, the other question still remains. VHS. The movie is not available on VHS. Remember those? Kind of like audio cassettes, only bigger. Uh, wait. Audio cassettes. You know what those are, don't you? Anyhow, it seems the end of the age of VHS is over. In fact, the only thing that really kept the VCR around this long was the fact it could be used to record TV shows so easily. But with the advent of DVRs and recordable DVD players, such a need is over.

If you are still holding out and buying VHS tapes, I strongly suggest you stop. Today. Because in the next couple years, they will be not just obsolete, but collector's items. (Hmm. Which means, perhaps, you should buy them!)

(While I'm on the subject...kind of, sort of...am I the only one annoyed that Disney can't just sell DVDs like everyone else? Instead they say, "Coming soon on DisneyDVD!" As if they have created a whole new and improved type of DVD. Which they haven't.)

Of course in a couple of years we'll face the same problem with DVDs. The BluRay DVD and HD-DVD are at our technological doorstep. Which means the $15 I just paid for the DVD release of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is a complete waste, since I'll undoubtedly want the high definition version in a couple years. (Or not. Actually, I can't see spending any more money on Star Wars since the latest set of movies left me horribly disenfranchised from the franchise.)

Now that I think of it, I'm thinking we shouldn't bother buying much of anything today, as it becomes obsolete faster than you can say, well, anything that takes a few months to say. In fact, the very food we eat might very well be obsolete.

In the meantime, our VCR just died. We have a backup. But I'm wondering about the financial benefit of bothering to replace it. Yet, we still have some movies on video. Yentl, for example. Why is it that such a fabulous movie is not released to DVD yet? Hurry up, you people who release movies to DVD...the VHS is going the way of the dinosaur.

The Elevator Pitch

Every aspiring author is supposed to have one. The Elevator Pitch. Basically, in the time it takes you to go from the first floor to the second floor, you have a conversation that goes something like this:

"Hey, Ryan."

"Hi, Bob. Two, please."

"What'd you do last night?"


"You're writing a book?"

Floor two lights up.


"Really? What's it about?"

Doors start to open.

And so you have all of three seconds to summarize the story it took you two years to write.

My problem is, I don't have an elevator pitch. At least, not a decent one. I kind of bumble along, mentioning a few key points, by which time Bob says:

"Well, I'll catch you later."

I already struggled with writing a query letter. This is a three-paragraph letter that also must summarize your story. But it is three paragraphs, not one sentence. And I have had months and months to tweak that. The whole Elevator Pitch is too spontaneous. I need to have it written out and rehearsed.

So, here are a couple possibilities. Let me know what you think:
  1. Mindburst is about a group of kids with special mindwielding abilities who escape from the asylum they're in to find their parents.
  2. It's called Mindburst. This girl, who has spent her whole life in an asylum for kids with special mind powers, escapes with some of her friends to search for her parents, only to find the world outside the asylum hates her for what she is.
Not really happy with either. The first is too sparse. The second, too long and wordy.

The hard part about all this is that when you've spent so much time with each of these characters, developing them, taking an adventure with them, even crying with them...it seems downright rude to reduce their story down to just a single sentence. Hopefully they'll understand. And, perhaps if I'm truly lucky, one of these characters will just tell me what I should say for them. Because I'm kind of sick of having to do all the work for them! It's like they think I'm God or something.

So, after my elevator pitch, what would Bob say?

"Oh. That sounds...interesting." Translation: Doesn't sound like anything I'd ever read.

"Wow. That's a lot like another book I read once." Translation: You're a copy-cat. Can't think up anything original, eh?

"Sounds great. Good luck with that." Translation: Frankly, I don't care about your book. I was being polite. Tell me about it if you ever make it big.

Suddenly, I'm feeling rather irritated at Bob.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Revision Time

It seems that yesterday's "D-Blogger" day went well...at least based on the proliferation of readers I had yesterday. The only problem is, I think a majority of the people who visited were already diabetes aware. But hopefully someone out there learned something!

Okay...shifting gears...A couple weeks ago I had my "Write It Right Night", which I blogged about. If you recall, my intention was to get a troublesome scene finished.

Well, since that time I not only yanked the entire chapter, but I've yanked about three chapters, plus shuffled around stuff from two other chapters. I've then modified my plot, and I'm in the process of inserting a couple new scenes.

Whoever said that being a writer was easy? Because it sure wasn't a writer! Now, this is my first book, so I've been learning a lot. In fact, compared to my first draft, this draft (which I'm now calling draft four) shares very little of the same actual text and, in some cases, storyline. Same premise, same characters, same eventual outcome, etc. But the story keeps changing.

Rest assured (because I know you were really nervous for me and suffering insomnia as a result) I will finish this book. I still could even get it done by year's end, as I had originally planned.

Wouldn't life be great, though, if it worked how an author wrote? What if we live a part of our lives, decided we didn't like it, and said, "Okay...revision time." You then go back and edit the parts that don't flow well, or the parts that lead to a dead-end. You might still leave in mistakes made. After all, we learn from our mistakes. But you realized that a choice you made fifteen years ago took you down a plotline you wish it hadn't.

Well. It doesn't work that way, so just forget about it! (Although, I have tucked away a story idea for some potential future book that actually has such a premise.)

It is hard for me to believe that I've been working on this book for coming up on two years. When I started, I thought, maybe, six months. Shows what I know! (But the positive spin on that is I'm planning on living at least 75 years. Which means I'm probably off by a magnitude of four. So...I'll live to 300!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Diabetes Aware

I've been told that today is the day that we (the blogging community of persons with diabetes...though, perhaps I should trademark that as "The Blogging Community of Persons with Diabetes" or TBCPD) are to blog about diabetes.

Why? Because November is Diabetes Awareness Month.

So, are you aware of diabetes? Chances are you know someone with diabetes. But how much do you actually know about the disease? I'm frequently amazed at how much people know about diabetes that is actually wrong.

Part of the problem is that the term "diabetes" primarily applies to two completely different diseases. These two forms have various names, though the most commonly accepted terms are "Type 1" and "Type 2".

Type 1, which is what I have had since I was nine, is also known as Juvenile Diabetes. This is because, usually, it is diagnosed during one's childhood. But that isn't always the case. Anyhow, with Type 1, you are dealing with an autoimmune disease. There is some (as yet, unknown) environmental trigger that causes the body to attack itself. The body kills off the beta cells which produce insulin. Without insulin, of course, you die. This is why Type 1 diabetics spend the remainder of their lives giving themselves insulin.

The second type...Type 2. This is also known as adult onset. Type 2 is not fully understood, but is strongly tied to obesity. Scientists haven't yet decided if the obesity actually causes Type 2, or if obesity is more or less another symptom of the fundamental cause of Type 2. Regardless, anyone who is overweight is at greater risk for developing Type 2. And Type 2 is typically diet-controlled, perhaps with oral medication. However, Type 2 can develop into insulin-dependence. This doesn't mean it becomes Type 1. It just means the Type 2 diabetic must also give insulin.

There are a few other forms of diabetes (such as gestational, which is similar to Type 2), but a majority of diabetics fall under the banner of Type 1 or Type 2.

So...what does all that difference mean? Plenty. Frankly, I am very thankful I am not a Type 2 diabetic. There seems to be this idea the Type 1 is "worse" than Type 2 for some reason. I'm guessing because if I stop giving myself insulin, I'll keel over. But in practice, Type 1 is far easier (well, in relative terms) to deal with. Type 2 forces a completely lifestyle change. Type 1, not so much. I can still eat pretty much anything I want...I just have to be aware of what I'm eating and adjust insulin accordingly.

The Type 2 diabetic, however, doesn't have such a luxury. They can never know for sure how their body will react to the amount of food they are eating, or how insulin resistant they are on any given day. Not to mention, Type 2 is far more prolific than Type 1. I probably have the percentage wrong...but if I recall, Type 1 only accounts for 5-10% of diabetes cases in the United States.

In both cases, diabetics must keep close tabs on their blood sugar (aka, BGL or Blood Glucose Levels). Frequest testing is required. And, diabetics live out their lives concerned about the development of various complications, such as blindness (retinopathy), neuropathy, heart disease, etc.

If you believe that diabetes doesn't impact you, you are already mistaken there. Even if you are perfectly healthy and skinny-as-a-twig, diabetes and it's complications is one of the number one medical expenses driving up health care today.

So, there you have it...in a nutshell. Of course, there is far more to learn. Check out the American Diabetes Association for more information.

Thank you. You are dismissed.

Monday, November 07, 2005

The Big Day

Well, today's the big day. The day we just might finally get answers. (Actually, we won't get answers today...we'll get questions. But those questions will lead to the answers.)

My six-year-old son has struggled with certain aspects of learning language for years. We noticed it at three. He's since undergone hearing tests, vision tests, auditory tests, academic tests, and probably a few I'm forgetting. All have come back normal. But there's something not right. We know it. His Sunday School teachers know it.

You give him a simple instruction, such as, "Go put these clothes in the white dresser drawer," and he'll take the clothes on put them on the white book case. He also has struggled with just identifying his alphabet letters, despite having no trouble with math. At the same time, he is highly creative and quite intelligent.

So, what's the problem? According to all of the testing so far...nothing. And, in fact, were we not homeschooling him, he would very likely have been diagnosed with ADD, put on medication, and thrown into a special education program that never actually addresses the problem.

He doesn't have ADD, by the way. In fact, after a lot of research, my wife finally tracked down what we believe it is. And, in fact, it is what an experienced educator of 35 years has said, as well as a psychologist has suggested. So, it call comes down to today.

As I type this, my son is undergoing yet another series of tests...but this time, with the person who has the expertise to diagnose him properly. It gives us hope that we'll finally have answers, and then finally have a plan to help him overcome it. Hopefully, in a week or so, I'll be able to tell you all that he has Central Auditory Processing Disorder...a problem that is frequently misdiagnosed as ADD, which results in the completely wrong treatment.

This whole experience just reaffirms how important it is for parents to be advocates for your own child. We've been told over and over that he is fine. But we have known better. If the medical doctors and teachers don't know how to label the problem, it doesn't exist. But had we accepted that, I'm afraid for what would become of my son. Frustrated, perhaps depressed, with a poor self-esteem.

As it is he doesn't like to try new things because he's afraid of failure. He sees the success of his older brother, who by the same age, had no difficulty reading. He struggles with playing games he doesn't know because he doesn't understand how to play them...though, once he learns how, he typically excels.

I'm reminded of a quote that Dr. Phil makes on his show. You can't fix a problem until you're willing to address it. And the only ones who are willing to address my son's problem are my wife and myself.

Friday, November 04, 2005

A Numbers Game

Diabetes is the ultimate numbers game, where your very life is at stake...not money. (Well, money, too. Diabetes is an expensive disease, after all.)

Of course, there are the number of units of insulin you are taking. For pump users, that includes basal rates. It involves carefully working out the exact correction factor and carb-to-insulin ratio. For me, we're talking 1 unit for every 30 mg/dL over my target BGL, and 1 unit for every 9.5 grams of carbs.

Next up, we have carbs. Counting carbs. Often, it is guessing carbs. No, scratch that. "Estimating" carbs. We never guess. Right? That pile of rice on your plate? Well...it is somewhere between 10 and 100 carbs. I'm sure of it.

Then, the all powerful blood glucose level (BGL). This is where the numbers game turns into a gambling addiction. We obsess over the BGL, always hoping, praying, that after that 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 countdown, we see the perfect 98 mg/dL! (Or, whatever your preferred target value is.) It rarely happens. And when it does, we are totally shocked and test again just to make sure it wasn't a fluke. More often than not, we lose the game there. But, we can't stop playing. So, we try again.

Beyond that, we move into more esoteric territory. Numbers we can't directly see nor control. A1c. The payoff of every diabetic's gambling. The doctor wants it below 7. We rejoice when we just manage to pull a lower A1c than we did three months ago. Finally, after years of trying, I finally managed a 6.7! Time to celebrate, right? But then my doctor informs me that they now want everyone to be below 6.5. Argh. Just when you think you hit the jackpot, they change the rules on you!

Throw in your weight, cholesterol levels, microalbumin count, and the number of hairs on your head (okay...maybe not, but sometimes it feels that way), and you can see the problem. The game is rigged, I tell you.

But, there is no choice in the matter. We can't opt out of the game. So, make the best of it. Have fun with the game. And really focus on the nuances that are important.

Let me tell you a little secret about BGL. It doesn't really matter if it goes high. Hit a 300? Don't fret. Your A1c isn't shot because of it. You won't suddenly develop retinopathy. The key to success isn't in that single number. It is keeping your BGLs from staying high.

You test. You see that 300 and panick. But then you correct. An hour later, you are at 150. Another hour later, you are at 120. No harm done. It is when you see that 300 and do nothing that is a problem. You leave that 300 there for several hours, and you are going to have issues.

In gambling...or, perhaps, the stock market is a better analogy...it doesn't matter that you just lost $500 today. Not when you have made $2000 in the past month. We are in this thing for the long haul. Always remember that!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Slow Readers, Unite!

Once upon time, in a galaxy far, far away...yadda yadda yadda...and they all lived happily ever after.

I'm a slow reader. Always have been. I even once checked out a book from the library about learning how to speed read, but I couldn't get through the whole thing before it was due back. As a guy who actually enjoys reading a good book, not to mention trying to write a good book, it is a problem.

There are, of course, the typical problems with getting through a book. Finding time, for one. It is so easy to plop down in front of the television and get an entire story visually fed to you in two hours. That same story, in book form, takes, oh, about twenty hours.

Back in college, I had a literature class that involved reading one book every week, including writing a paper. You know how many of those books I actually finished? One. (At least, I'm pretty sure I finished it.)

The side benefit to being a slow reader, however, is that I'm a pretty good judge as to what is a good book. Not that there aren't plenty of good books I don't read (or finish). But, if there is a book that I actually read and finish from cover to cover, typically others will like it as well. Granted, I have no real way to test this theory, aside from a small samplings of friends. In fact, what I'm saying might be totally arrogant on my part, and that I can't tell a classic from a catastrophe. But this is my blog, and I can say what I want!

Anyhow, I was recently saddened when I found out that of the top 100 books according to some Important Publication That Rates Things Like This, I had only read three. Three! How pathetic! For a fleeting moment, I thought I had read four, only to recall that I had read the script to the stage play version of the story, not the actual book upon which the stage play was based.

So, I want to change that. Uh. Not the stage play, nor the book upon which the play was based. I want to improve my score.

But I had a horrible revelation that in order to do that, I would have to actually read some of the books on that list. And I just don't have the time for that!

But I came up with a solution. Since I'm such a great judge of books (refer to paragraph 5), rather than trying to read from the list...all I have to do is convince the Important Publication That Rates Things Like This that their list is wrong. And then, I will simply tell them what books should be on their list. So, without having to read another word from another book, I might be able to up my score from three out of a hundred to, say, thirty out of a hundred.

And here are some of my suggested titles:
  • Encyclopedia Brown: Boy Detective...I mean, who doesn't love a good mystery. Right? And if they include the first book, perhaps they can include more of the books!
  • Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing...Judy Blume is a mainstay of American pop culture. How could one of her books not be on the list?
  • Dragonlance Chronicles...I was a little leery about including this one. After all, it is a trilogy. And a trilogy of three relatively long books. Not really ideal reading material for the slow readers of the country. But, I realized I really needed to up my average word count, so I decided to keep it!
  • Fox in Sox...Oh, you laugh. But, come on. Really. How can Dr. Seuss not be included? And on top of that, of all his books, this one is most definitely the most challenging. Have you ever read through the entire book out loud without making a mistake?
  • and the truly classic, Choose Your Own Adventure series...Honestly, I don't care which book from the series. Personally, I think as long as you read at least one book from the series, and you actually played out each and every possible ending, you deserve credit. Don't you?
I have plenty more titles to suggest, never you fear. But that's enough of a sampling to illustrate, don't you think?

Slow readers, unite!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

A Gift From God

Can I talk about my wife for a moment?

I don't know how many of you are married, or even how many of you are men...but if you are a married man, you know the value of a good wife.

And I have a good wife. A great wife, actually. A wife that helps me to be a better husband and father. A wife who will point out my flaws in a loving gentle way, yet also offer me just the right amount of food for my ego. Not too much, else I'll become big-headed. (Well, more big-headed.) But always enough.

She encourages me. She challenges me. In many ways (okay...in most ways) she is the funnier of the two of us. Perhaps I'm just easily amused--I don't know. But there is barely a day that goes by where she doesn't make me laugh.

And she is smart. Very smart. Smart in ways that I am not. Even when I'm right about something...she knows a way to be "righter". About important things, too. Like relationships.

What I know about parenting is because I learned it from her. I shudder at the thought of how I might be with my kids without the support of my wife. I lose my patience easily, expect perfection in ways children can't provide. Yet, she sees that in me. She reins me and helps me to see the bigger picture.

My wife works hard. Harder than I do. I get to sit at a desk every day. What I do is mentally challenging, perhaps. But she is shaping the very lives of our children. She is never left with a moment's peace.

Of course, you might get the impression that there are never hiccups in our marriage. Times when we just don't like each other very much. Those times happen. But when they do, they are short lived. "Do not let the sun descend upon your anger." Painful moments happen...but sometimes they are necessary to grow. Like pruning a rose bush that then grows even more beautiful.

I guess I feel the need to talk about my wife because of last night. We had this great conversation last night. The kind that sticks with you and makes you think. And since she was on my mind, I thought I would take the opportunity to express just a tiny portion of the gratitude I have for her. She is, truly, a gift from God.

I love you, honey!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Pumpkin Day

So, did everyone have a nice Pumpkin Day?

What's that? You don't know what Pumpkin Day is? Perhaps you know it by a different name.

Our family doesn't "do" Halloween. Our reasons are numerous, which I won't go into now. We, however, do celebrate God's creation in what we call Pumpkin Day. Any why we ever came up with the name Pumpkin Day is beyond me. It is a rather lame name, I'll admit. But it's what stuck...and we aren't about to break tradition now.

Let me share with you all a little tip: If there was ever a time you wanted to have a nice night out at a restarant, Oct. 31 is the night to do it. Every year, we start off our festivities with a nice family dinner out. And we're not talking about Mickey D's or Burger King. We're talking the big leagues here. Like Cracker Barrel, or Don Pablo's. Or, as the case was this year, Bob Evan's. And every year, we are just amazed at how empty these places can be. Last night, we practically had the entire non-smoking section of the place to ourselves. I counted about five tables with folks eating.

Anyhow, after our meal, we headed home, playing the "name something God made" game along the way...and then it was pumpkin carving time. Have you ever read The Pumpkin Patch Parable? Well, that's the book we use, where a pumpkin is a means to teach a Biblical lesson about Jesus. We lit our pumpkin candles and displayed them proudly on our entertainment center as we moved on to the next phase of the evening. The treasure hunt. We give clues which tell our kids where to find each "treasure."

The last part of the evening was supposed to be a family movie...but, for whatever reason, it was already 10:00 pm before we finished the treasure hunt. So, the movie had to be pushed off to another night.

Actually, Pumpkin Day typically extends beyond Oct. 31 itself. The weekend before, we make a trip to a wooded park for a family walk (and pictures...we must never forget about pictures!). Then we go to the pumpkin patch (which is really Mary's Farm Market where they already picked the pumpkins and piled them up for us).

My kids love Pumpkin Day (which is an understatement of epic proportions). My wife...well, she loves that the kids love it, though, admittedly, it is a lot of work for her. More work, in fact, than any other holiday. I love the fact that it is a family tradition unique to our family. It is a big event. And it is something we do together. And it is events like Pumpkin Day that make me see how important tradition can be for a family.

I think traditions are often lost, today. The idea seems old-fashioned. But I challenge each of you to create a family tradition. Something truly your own, where everyone is involved. You'll be amazed at how it draws the family together.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Interview With Melanie Lynne Hauser

So, after weeks of promising that I would interview Melanie Lynne Hauser, author of Confessions of Super Mom, the time has come! I posted my review of her book in a previous blog entry. But for those who are joining me for the very first time...what took you so long to find my blog? Uh, I mean, I know Melanie as a fellow writer from Backspace, the greatest website for authors in the world!

Anyhow...on to the interview...

RB: Confessions of Super Mom is your first published novel, and introduces us to a whole new kind of superhero. One who is human, who makes mistakes, and deals with the realities of life, including having to scrub the bathroom floors. Just how much of Birdie Lee (and her alter ego) was drawn from your own life?

MLH: She's like me only in the stage she's at in her life - children growing into adults, and not - on the surface - needing her quite so much. So she's wondering, "What's next? Who am I if I'm not The Mom?" I was in a similar place in my life when I decided to pursue writing; in her case, she really doesn't make the decision, at least not at first, to pursue something different. It's thrust upon her in the form of her newfound superpowers. But she does make the decision to embrace them fully.

I actually have to say that of all the books I've written, Birdie is the least like me. I'm not a fan of "writing what you know;" I found that only when I really let my imagination soar and take me places very different from my own little life, that that was when my fiction really took off.

RB: I see a strong similarity to Spiderman's Peter Parker, and Super Mom's Birdie Lee.

MLH: Yes, I do think that the Spiderman arc is the closest to Birdie's own. For a lot of reasons - Peter Parker was just a normal person before his accident, as Birdie Lee is before hers. I did want to write about the superhero story in a way that was familiar to readers, because this book - while containing that element - is still women's fiction. I didn't want to scare off readers of that genre by being too bold and weird with all the superhero stuff. I needed them to be able to understand it without too much trouble and so I needed to make her story similar to another well-known superhero's story. And I decided that it would be Spiderman.

RB: Diabetes plays a significant role in your story line. Specifically, the growing epidemic of Type 2 diabetes developing in children. What was it that caused you to tackle this issue in Super Mom?

MLH: Since she's Super Mom, her primary concern is always going to be children. I wanted there to be some significant social issues that she's tackling - albeit in a fictional, non-threatening way - and the growing epidemic of diabetes in this country seemed to fit in with all the other elements. (The subliminal messages in the video games, the sugary junk food). While I'm
not trying to make a statement, per se - it really is only a device for the story - I'm happy to be able to draw some attention to this problem.

RB: You introduced an oral insulin in your storyline, which is an area of on-going scientific research today. You even gave some technical details as to how such an insulin might work. How much research did you do for Super Mom on this subject?

MLH: Just what a person can do on the Internet! Actually, the oral insulin thing was a small problem. I wrote the book having done zero research, then sold it, then during the editorial phase I went back to make sure the medicine was somewhat believable. I had no idea, when writing, that there really was an oral insulin in development. During that editorial/research phase, I found out that there was, and had to scramble a bit in the story to make it
less the miraculous breakthrough that I had it originally, and more just a race to be the first to develop it.

RB: I loved all the references to superheroes we all know and love. Basically, were you already a fan of superheroes prior to Super Mom, or did you have to rely upon your children for that kind of information?

MLH: Since I'm a child of the Sixties and Seventies, I grew up watching The Wonder Twins on TV, Wonder Woman, the old Batman series...I think that really, the superhero mythology is a mythology of America, and you can't help but absorb part of it. But when things got technical, yes, I relied heavily upon my sons, my husband and my brother!

RB: As a male reader, I'll admit that those references really made your story real to me. Made Birdie really fit into the world of superheroes. I imagine that mothers are your target audience. After all, you elevate the role of being a mother to more than simply being mom to that of being a superhero itself. Yet, I can see anyone with an interest in superheroes...including men...really enjoying your book. Do you think more men are reading Super Mom than you had originally anticipated?

MLH: I really don't know. I don't think that Dutton [note from the editor: Dutton is Melanie's publisher] has positioned it as anything other than women's fiction. And certainly the authors who blurbed the book are well-known to female audiences, not male. But I have had a couple of men read it who expressed surprise - as you have - that they enjoyed it.

RB: Since you are working on a Super Mom sequel, I presume your first book is doing fairly well? Or is it still to early?

MLH: I think it's doing well!

RB: When will see Super Mom again?

MLH: In the sequel, titled SUPER MOM SAVES THE WORLD. I don't have a definite pub date yet, although I believe it will be in early 2007. The paperback of CONFESSIONS OF SUPER MOM, though, will be out in the summer of 2006.

RB: So what comes after Super Mom? I mean, after all the sequels? Movies? A stage play, perhaps? Or a Tony-award-winning musical?

MLH: The author's always the last person to know these things! It's in the hands of people who could do something with it in those areas; whether or not that actually happens is anybody's guess.

RB: I want to know...and perhaps you can spill the beans...will Super Mom ever learn to fly?

MLB: That will be answered in the sequel, so you'll just have to wait!

RB: I know in my own writing, that the support of others has been key to my ability to write. Who has been your source of inspiration?

MLH: Two people. My husband, whose belief in me is almost exhausting. He has such a positive outlook toward life in general, which spills over into my career, and it's kept me going when I think, honestly, I might have thrown in the towel if I hadn't had him in my life. And my agent, who always believed in my writing - not just a particular manuscript of mine. Which is
key. We had a book together that didn't sell, prior to CONFESSIONS OF SUPER MOM. But she didn't just believe in that book, but in my writing in general, and kept telling me that I would be published. Some agents, I think, tend to take a book-by-book view of an author's career. My agent didn't; she believes in me, and my writing - kind of the whole package, you know?

RB: Thanks, Melanie. I look forward to seeing more from Melanie Lynne Hauser in the future.

MLH: Thank you so much, Ryan!

So, get out there and buy Melanie's book, people! Or else...or else...well, I can't threaten with much of anything on a blog. So just do it!