Saturday, February 28, 2009

Watch those supplements

Did you know that taking calcium supplements together with Vitamin C supplements can lead to kidney stones?

The most common form of kidney stones are formed from Calcium Oxalate. "Vitamin C: When vitamin C is used by the body, oxalate is produced. Therefore, if the physician has recommended reducing oxalate in the diet, taking vitamin C supplements may not be a good idea. It should be discussed with the physician. " -

This can cause problems worse than pain. For example, a stone can become large enough to obstruct an entire kidney, causing kidney failure on that side. This can go on for years unnoticed, as just happened to someone I know.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The sweet sound of jackhammers

That is what has been reverberating through my house the past 3 days. Am I being sarcastic to call it sweet? No. I have gotten to the point where I miss my neighbors so much, that I'm willing to put up with this. Kind of like a woman in her 9th month of pregnancy. The discomfort reaches a point where even labor and delivery are looked to as a welcome relief.

In the picture above, that adorable-looking vehicle has a jackhammer attachment in the front and has been tirelessly breaking up the concrete on my neighbor's property.

What will her house provide for me? A relief from the strange loneliness that hangs over this neighborhood. And, frankly, a wind-break. When the winds whip up from the east, we call them Santa Ana winds in our area, they bring with them ash and dirt from the burned hillsides. Before the fire my property felt the winds strongly, but since then it has been much worse. My house is now the wind break for the rest of the neighborhood. And my pool has a constant layer of silt in it which no amount of vacuuming seems to be able to abate.

And I am glad it is specifically my neighbor who is moving in. She has been a wonderful neighbor all these years. No more than 2 parties per year, with music and laughter extending into the night. That I can put up with. And she is a civic-minded citizen. Everybody in the area knows her because she allows her garage to be used as a voting place for each election. It has been so nice all these years to roll out of bed at 7am and scoot next door to vote.

I send my best wishes to all of my neighbors, particularly her and the 7 other neighbors who have yet to break ground on their rebuild.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Let's get along

I want to. I really do. I bite my tongue until it bleeds. So forgive me for making posts that mention politics. The United States of America is my country. I care for it very much. And I see it going down, down, down like the DOW Jones Industrial average. Can we stop the madness? Can we stop passing spending bills to the tune of hundreds of billions on a weekly basis? Can we stop socializing the country? Can we just slow down? PLEASE?????

I found some comments on the internet that I agree with:
"I had hopes that 4 years of Obama wouldn't be too terrible and that we could fix his crazy mistakes in 2012... how dumb was I? He has been in office a month and he is honest to God destroying our country as we know it. A month, and he has already spent over a trillion with no end in sight. He looks in the camera and tells us 'no pork in this bill' and it's a blatant lie. He plans to sneak national health care (paid for by higher taxes on people who already pay more than their share) past us and he won't even bat an eye. When will the revolt start? I know there's the tea party thing, but honestly, we need more than that. Our country is being taken from us day by day of this administration."

"You guys have no idea how bad universal health care is. I spent 5 years in Canada under U.H.C and its the worst. Say you went to the hospital with chest pains and the doctor did an E.K.G. 2 months later it happens again only this time the government refuses the second E.K.G or blood test because you had on two months think im kidding..those of you that think its a good idea had better do your homework and fast!!"

"In a Scandinavian country they factor in the number of people who will die waiting to see a doctor and then the wait for surgery. Try 3 years for heart surgery, 6 months for a pace maker, or try traveling hundreds of miles to the hospital that specializes in your illness. Hope you don't mind family and friends not visiting you as you die in that hospital. Why do you think we have so many Canadian doctors in this country? It isn't because they love leaving their families. Good ones go where the opportunities are and not where they are told how much they will make the rest of their lives. You will become a liability to every doctor you see and not an asset. Doctors will be government workers!!! If that doesn't scare you, you are brain dead already."

"Ya hear that, old people? BO is thinking you aren't really worth that much health prepare to get by with much less."

"Oh, heck folks...millions of dollars...that's not much...throw in a few trillions..and that's not much. Soon, we will print more and more money...and if you want a loaf of bread...we'll be like the other third-world countries...get our wheel-barrows and haul the money to the merchant to get our loaves of bread....not to worry...we will be there soon enough need to be's JUST MONEY...WAKE UP PEOPLE..."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

posting on the go

This is more of a test post than anything. If this works, then that means that I can post from anywhere using my new Blackberry Curve. Well here goes.

Monday, February 23, 2009

First orthodontic visit

Today my 9-y-o will allow the orthodontist to place braces on his teeth. I explained the discomfort and the need to eat soft foods for a few days. I'm proud of him for his bravery.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I love children's literature!

I remember rolling my eyes when my daughter, at age 10, advised me to read the book "Harry Potter". Sure, sure. I'll read your kid's book as soon as I find the time. Of course, I have read, reread and love the entire series.

The Twilight Saga also falls into the adolescent literature category. Really fun read.

Recently, I started reading the Inkheart series. I had ordered the hardback trilogy through the school's book order process. I started reading the book to my 9-y-o, but he thought the book was too slow, and informed me that the Inheart books were more "girl" books. I didn't want to waste the purchase, so I started reading them on my own, and now I'm halfway through book 3.

Then this last weekend, since Inheart was too heavy to carry on the plane, I grabbed a paperback book that looked interesting. My 18-y-o boy had left it in my car, and I remembered that it is one of his favorites. Well, I finished Ender's Game in 2 days. It was insanely good. And so deep. I can't stop thinking about it. There are so many things in it. Here is the review.
Intense is the word for Ender's Game. Aliens have attacked Earth twice and almost destroyed the human species. To make sure humans win the next encounter, the world government has taken to breeding military geniuses -- and then training them in the arts of war... The early training, not surprisingly, takes the form of 'games'... Ender Wiggin is a genius among geniuses; he wins all the games... He is smart enough to know that time is running out. But is he smart enough to save the planet?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Gotta love a welfare state!

Here is a comment that resonated. My thoughts exactly.
We have now joined the rush toward Socialism. Our Founding Fathers ran from a big government that said it knew best. They created a government of negative rights. Simply put, it told government what it could not do that each of us could pursue our own American dream. We should look to our Founding Fathers and Presidents like Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln. Presidents who believed in strong government that ensured the rights of the people, not a big government that told people how to live. I would encourage people to remember the President Carter era and look to lessons of other countries that felt government should have greater influence on daily lives. In one stroke of the Executive Pen following the votes of two houses of the Legislature we have mortgaged the future of our children. This more than just being an economic superpower, we were. This is about future of our children and their children. This about the move toward a government that controls aspects of life.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Rule out poisoning

That was what I wrote on the sign-in sheet at the emergency room this morning. My 4-y-o boy ate something unidentified this morning. It had a yellow-orange staining quality, like cumin or saffron or something, which was all down the front of his shirt and on a kitchen towel, but we could not detect any missing or moved spices. It looked like yellow stuff mixed with brown coffee grounds or cinnamon. I could not detect a smell and tried to taste it with my tongue, but did not detect salt, sweet or spices. So then I changed his shirt and started driving him to school when he said, "I ate M&Ms from Daddy's bathroom". 8-0!#%*! I called my husband and we both turned around and went back home to go through every conceivable medicine in the house. I counted all the Bayer 81mg aspirins I just bought. There were no missing Tylenol (the most dangerous medicine in the house). So we decided a trip to the ER was in order, to rule out poisoning. His lab tests were mostly normal, and the abnormal parts, the doctor explained, were typical for a boy his age. So he got a doctor's note to go back to school and was there by lunchtime. I sure hope he is alright.
And then, because I obviously had not been through enough already today, I dropped my cell phone and the screen cracked.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Another great trip

Not to say that I actually enjoyed the airplane part with the 4 boys. But it was great to take them to the suburban midwest and then the rural midwest. There were tons of cousins and relatives and new toys to play with (new to them). And the 5 and 9-y-o boys went to an afternoon trip to some farmland owned by my cousin, where they rode around on a quad (no roll bar) and a large go-cart (with roll bars). Just hanging out with family like that is so refreshingly un-Californian. No play dates to schedule. Just family time. Nice.

And Aunt M is hanging in there. She even gained 6 pounds, which is awesome. She looks stronger to me now than she did last October. As long as she can hold steady or gain weight, she stays one step ahead of her colon cancer. I am praying and praying over here for her health.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Flying the friendly skies

I'm really going now. Packing today and flying tomorrow. Back Monday night. I'll miss you. I wonder if I will be able to steal any computer time over there. Perhaps. DH has a sort of cell-phone internet connection on his computer. Sometimes I can sneak on when he is doing something else, which is not often. Either way, I will for sure be back by Tuesday, G-d willing and the creek don't rise.

Edited to add the new tree the kids and I planted in our yard in honor of the Jewish holiday of Tu B'Shevat. That is the New Year of Trees. It is a great time of the year to plant a tree in your yard, anyway. Especially in the Mediterranean climate Southern California. This is a type of magnolia tree that I have loved ever since I saw one in the courtyard in front of the biology building at UCLA.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Your medical records are about to become public

Kiss your privacy goodbye. This is it. GONZO. There is a HUGE amount of spending in the Spendulus bill that will make your doctor keep your records electronically. That will leave all of us vulnerable to hackers stealing information. Also, from here on forward the Government will know all about those little Happy Pills your doctor prescribes for you. Nice, huh? Now the government will be able to blackmail you into submission. Obey. Or else.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Honing Web Searches

I learned something Friday in my son's 4th grade computer lab. Isn't it a strange feeling when we volunteer at the school to help teach the kids and end up learning something new ourselves? I remember hearing that using the + and - signs were somehow helpful when using an internet search engine, but my son's teacher really made it simple and understandable for me.

Most important, in my opinion, is using the "quotation marks" around a search phrase. Say for instance I were searching for South America. If I just type in south america into the search engine box, the results will show things about south america, and other results for the word south, and also for the word america. Putting the term in double quotes forces the search engine to search only for the phrase, "South America". Or let's say you want to look up a man named Dave Smith. Unless you put that in quotes, then the search engine will also give you info on a bunch of people named Dave and another bunch of people named Smith.

The + and - signs are also useful. When looking up several words, you can force the search engine to look up a word exactly as you typed it, and not to search for synonyms, by using the + sign. Just put the + in front of a word with no space in between.

And the minus sign allows you to exclude certain words from your search. Just type the - sign in front of a word with no space in between the minus sign and the word you wish to exclude.

Here are more tips from the Google support web page:
# Phrase search ("")
By putting double quotes around a set of words, you are telling Google to consider the exact words in that exact order without any change. Google already uses the order and the fact that the words are together as a very strong signal and will stray from it only for a good reason, so quotes are usually unnecessary. By insisting on phrase search you might be missing good results accidentally. For example, a search for [ "Alexander Bell" ] (with quotes) will miss the pages that refer to Alexander G. Bell.
# Search within a specific website (site:)
Google allows you to specify that your search results must come from a given website. For example, the query [ iraq ] will return pages about Iraq but only from The simpler queries [ iraq ] or [ iraq New York Times ] will usually be just as good, though they might return results from other sites that mention the New York Times. You can also specify a whole class of sites, for example [ iraq ] will return results only from a .gov domain and [ iraq ] will return results only from Iraqi sites.
# Words you want to exclude (-)
Attaching a minus sign immediately before a word indicates that you do not want pages that contain this word to appear in your results. The minus sign should appear immediately before the word and should be preceded with a space. For example, in the query [ anti-virus software ], the minus sign is used as a hypen and will not be interpreted as an exclusion symbol; whereas the query [ anti-virus -software ] will search for the words 'anti-virus' but exclude references to software. You can exclude as many words as you want by using the - sign in front of all of them, for example [ jaguar -cars -football -os ].
# Fill in the blanks (*)
The *, or wildcard, is a little-known feature that can be very powerful. If you include * within a query, it tells Google to try to treat the star as a placeholder for any unknown term(s) and then find the best matches. For example, the search [ Google * ] will give you results about many of Google's products (go to next page and next page -- we have many products). The query [ Obama voted * on the * bill ] will give you stories about different votes on different bills. Note that the * operator works only on whole words, not parts of words.
# Search exactly as is (+)
Google employs synonyms automatically, so that it finds pages that mention, for example, childcare for the query [ child care ] (with a space), or California history for the query [ ca history ]. But sometimes Google helps out a little too much and gives you a synonym when you don't really want it. By attaching a + immediately before a word (remember, don't add a space after the +), you are telling Google to match that word precisely as you typed it. Putting double quotes around the word will do the same thing.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Stimulus makes me nauseous

Oh, please don't do it. Please don't. Please DON'T. Please don't spend my children's and grandchildren's prosperity. Please don't pass the largest spending bill ever to be passed in the history of this country. Please don't put through a HUGE batch of entitlement programs that will essentially turn this country into a socialist nation. Please don't take away hope from my children. Please don't take away the incentive that comes with capitalism. Incentive for my kids to plan to work hard to get ahead. To exert themselves to make a good life for themselves and their families.

Do you remember my post about Memories of Socialism? I wrote about my experience as a foreign exchange student in Sweden in the 1980s. I specifically *asked* the kids there what they planned to do when they "grow up". To a MAN they said that they didn't plan to do anything grand. Because if they did, the government would take it all away from them. They would end up supporting 4 families in addition to their own. And the drunk down the street has a nice apartment. Their words.

Please don't.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Gearing up for a trip

My husband and I will be hauling the 4 youngest boys across country with us on a direct flight to the midwest next weekend. Part of me wants to forget the trip. I mean, we just unpacked our suitcases last week after being out of our house for 2.5 months.

On the other hand, I'm starting to get really excited. We will get to spend one day with my husband's brother's family for a bat mitzvah celebration. Then we will drive to spend Sunday with my family. Remember my Aunt M who is sick with colon cancer? She is holding steady at 88 pounds. And she will, G-d willing, be there to greet us next weekend and meet my husband and the three older boys. And she will get to see Baby A again, now that he is walking and talking (in his fashion). And my 4 cousins and their 12 kids will be there. I can't wait for my boys to experience what it is like to be a kid in the midwest. In Southern California, they play with friends if parents arrange a play date. In the midwest, the kids roam free, from yards to basements, playing and having adventures. Just like I did when I was a kid.

To celebrate this upcoming event, I treated myself to a trip to the Nordstrom's Rack and T J Maxx for some boot/purse/wallet shopping. He he.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Sleeping Angel

Did you ever love somebody so much it hurts?