Saturday, July 28, 2007

Putting in His Supply List

a wormhole

Today Buddy Boy went up to Liz and asked her to obtain some supplies he was going to need to make a time machine. He evidently said:

"I'll need a computer, of course."

"Then I'll need a really big battery, and a big magnet."

"I'll also need some little batteries, and a lot of cable."

I've always been fascinated by Buddy Boy's creations. When he builds something, you can tell that he always starts with a vision in his head of what the thing will look like when it is finished. Once he starts, he's usually "in the zone". There's little time for chit chat, though sometimes he likes to describe what particular bits are for while he's in the construction process. He cuts and folds paper, strings strings all around, and continues until he's finished. Watching him build is like watching a sculptor release an image from a block of stone.

Buddy Boy has also confirmed for me multiple times that, like Temple Grandin, he "thinks in pictures". Neither I nor Liz have ever mentioned the concept to him, but on multiple times he has referred to the "pictures in his head". It's not a photographic memory, though, as the pictures aren't always 100% accurate. On one occasion he was trying to argue that he had done something that I definitely knew he had not. He said something like "My mind is like a tape recorder. If you could just hit the rewind button you could see the picture of me doing it and know that I'm right."

I'm waiting to see what the "time machine" will look like. Then I hope to borrow it so that I can go back and buy a winning lottery ticket. All in the name of research, of course.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Seeds (Sex Ed part 2)

So I'm sitting reading to the kids over lunch the other day, and all of a sudden Sweet Pea interrupts me with "Hey, dad, there's a cardinal." We have three bird feeders outside our kitchen window (one for finches, one for hummningbirds, and one for the rest) so this didn't surprise me. Sweet Pea then added "And there's a female, too." (both kids can readily distinguish the males from their drabber partners).

So after acknowledging the birds presence I attempt to return to reading when Sweet Pea almost shouts "Dad, look, their mating!"

"I don't think so," I automatically say, as I glance briefly to see what the fuss is about. I spot the two birds in question feeding on seed that has fallen to the ground.

"No dad, look, the male is putting the seeds into the female. They're really mating. Now they're going to have baby birds in the nest!"

I looked again, simultaneously wondering what it was that she saw, as well as marvelling that she knew the term 'mating'. Indeed, for whatever reason, the male was picking up seeds off the ground and dropping some of them into the female's mouth. I had to stop myself from laughing.

"See, dad?"

"Um, I don't think that's exactly how they mate" I mumble.

"No, it is! He's putting the seeds in!" (her tone of voice is somewhere between having an 'Ah, Ha!' moment of understanding and exasperation for having to point out the obvious).

"Hey, how about we finish this story?" I say, and she (thankfully) lets me.

It looks as if Daisy's daughter (in the comments section of this post) had it totally spot on, when she said that Sweet Pea would next ask me what kind of seeds make babies. I'm thinking next time this comes up I'm just going to send Sweet Pea up to Wisconsin, so she can get the straight dope from Daisy and her daughter.


Sunday, July 15, 2007

My Random Eight Things

photo credit-Claudecf's photos
Some rights reserved. See here.

Okay, so I've been tagged for my first meme ever, and by two people, no less. First Joey's Mom tagged me for this, then before I got around to responding Kristina also tagged me. I hope that means I don't have to reveal 16 things about myself.

To start off, here are the rules:
1. Let others know who tagged you.
2. Players start with 8 random facts about themselves.
3. Those who are tagged should post these rules and their 8 random facts.
4. Players should tag 8 other people and notify them they have been tagged.

Okay, so I already said who tagged me. So on to the eight things...

1) One of the first paying jobs I had was to pass out fliers to the neighborhood for a local alderman (city official). This was when I was about 10 or 11 years old. One day the guy just disappears off the face of the map. There was much speculation that he got on the wrong side of some shady characters he did business with, and he ended up "swimming with the fishes". I harbored an irrational fear for months that as an "associate" of his, I was next. On the one hand, I knew it sounded really illogical, so I didn't tell anyone (as a matter of fact, I don't think I've ever told anyone this). But on the other hand, I was always looking over my shoulder.

2) I love to drive. I can remember being about 8 years old, and watching my father intensely while he drove. I was able to drive a stick shift the first time I got behind the wheel like I'd been doing it for months. Like most kids, I couldn't wait to get my license when I was 16. My mom told me I'd get tired of driving, once the novelty wore off. I never have. I drove a Chicago cab for a few years, and have also been a truck driver and tractor operator for a landscaper. If I didn't have a wife and family and the doctor thing going on, I could be happy as an over the road trucker.

3) Ethnically, I'm 100% Polish. Three out of my four grandparents came thru Ellis Island. The fourth one was born here (in the US) shortly after her parents came thru Ellis Island. A lot of who I am can be traced to how this influenced me, though the only Polish language I understand is a couple of swear words. The whole work hard, get a good education, be a good American citizen, there is no free lunch, we are lucky to be here was drummed into me over and over. A lot of it stuck.

4) I used to be a musician. A violinist, to be exact (with some piano, guitar, and drums thrown in). I haven't played in over 25 years, but my violin sits waiting for me on a shelf in my closet. I keep meaning to get back to it, but never seem to have the time. I think if I do pick it up again, once I get my feet wet back in the classics again, I'd like to do some bluegrass.

5) I've been held up at gunpoint. Twice. I was 19 the first time, and a new cab driver. Totally scared out of my wits. The second time was a couple of years later (also as a cabdriver), but it was almost like a business transaction-"I've got a gun, you've got money. Give me the money, and I'll go away." I was more afraid for my life several years later when I was jumped by three guys in front of my apartment in Philadelphia while in medical school (We didn't live in a very good neighborhood). I was OK physically after that attack, but couldn't sleep well for a few weeks.

6) One of my dreams growing up was to be the next Jacques Cousteau. I always thought he was one cool dude with one of the greatest jobs in the world. I started to look into Oceanography as a career for college, but ended up staying in the landlocked midwest and majoring in biology at a local college because of a girl I was going out with. I figured I could always transfer to somewhere on the coast after two years if I really wanted to do it. The girlfriend was quickly gone, I never got around to transferring, and medical stuff caught my eye. The rest is history. I did take up scuba diving, but haven't done it in the last 10 years or so. I'd like to dive the barrier reef some day.

7) One of my work study jobs in undergrad was to work in the college's early child development center (fancy name for daycare). I worked there 2 years, and was made the assistant director my senior year in undergrad. I liked it so much I ended up getting a minor in psychology, and almost went to grad school for early childhood education. Then I discovered that after doing two more years of school, I would make less than I could make with my undergrad biology degree. That just didn't seem right. I did remember all the words to "The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round" and many other songs more than 20 years later, though, when I finally became a parent.

8) The first patient that I had die on me in medical school died of AIDS. It was the late 80's, and there wasn't much that we could do for her. I spent a lot of time at her bedside talking to her, and to her husband. When she died, her husband gave me a little felt heart that he said belonged to his wife. He said that she wanted me to have it. I carried that heart in my wallet all thru my training years.

So that's it. Most of the people that I would tag have already been tagged, so I'll get around to identifying eight other people, one of these days...

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Gone Fishing

For a variety of reasons, I've neglected this blog for a the last 11 days. I've been avidly following Autism Diva's excellent postings (like this one) on the autism omnibus hearings in federal court, as well as reading many truly excellent posts on a lot of other blogs. I've rejoiced that Bev's rapier satirical wit (and consummate graphical skills) over at Asperger Square 8 are getting the recognition they deserve, as one of her illustrations got picked up in an Arthur Allen article in Slate. And I've felt down as yet more reports of abuse and murder of the disabled continue to come in.

I'm also a teaching physician, and the year for our residents ends this week, and another year starts next week. I've been busy finishing things up the last couple weeks, and I'll be especially busy the next 6-8 weeks, as I help to get the new residents settled in.

But before I go into "occasional posting" mode, I'd like to relate what happened over the last couple of weeks when I took the kids fishing.

The local park district had a "family fishing day" at one of the local parks. They stocked the ponds ahead of time, and it sounded like a nice way to spend the day. So I took the two kids out, and we had a good time (mostly). Like a good dad, I was in charge of baiting the hooks (with worms), untangling lines, and assisting with casting (as well as keeping the kids out of everyone else's area).

I had taken the kids out twice last year, without any luck, as well as once earlier this year, which was unsuccessful. But the kids wanted to go (and I love to fish, though I don't get much chance lately), and I thought we would have a good time.

Sweet Pea took right to it this time, and hauled in 7 fish. Buddy Boy didn't catch any. After Sweet Pea had caught 4, I had them change spots and change poles, but it was no use. Sweet Pea continued to haul them in. It wouldn't have been so bad, except that with her competitive nature she just had to lord it over Buddy Boy. This caused Buddy Boy to lose interest in fishing, so I let him go dig some holes in the dirt with a stick (one of his favorite activities), while I got our stuff together. Then we all headed over to the playground equipment, which made them both happy.

The following week (last week) Sweet Pea had started day camp, but Buddy Boy still had not, so I took him fishing again with me when I had a day off. This time he was successful, and caught 4 fish. We probably caught the same fish he's holding in the picture four times, but that was fine with him and me. We also spent some time playing at the edge of a fountain, and on some of the playground equipment. It was a good day.

When we picked Sweet Pea up from camp that day Buddy Boy told her about catching fish. I expected her to a) get upset that we went without her, and b) emphasize that her fish were bigger and she caught more. To my surprise (and delight) she did neither.

Instead, what she said when she heard was "Way to go, Buddy Boy! That's great!". I couldn't believe my ears. As soon as I could catch my breath, I made sure to praise her for being such a good sister by celebrating Buddy Boy's catch.

Raising kids is never boring. And even though it can be challenging at times, the good surprises that happen make it all great.

I'll continue hanging out in the blogoshere, but probably won't post quite so much for the next couple months. But I'll be thinking about all of you.