Saturday, July 19, 2008

Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog

If you have some time, go watch Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog. It stars Neil Patrick Harris and Nathan Fillion, is directed by Joss Whedon and is awesome.

Update: I think this is only available the next 2 days, so see it while you can! Maybe only available for free? I'm not sure. Go watch!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Organ donation

As briefly mentioned in my first post, I have had two kidney transplants. I took the second semester off from my first year of college to have the first one and received that kidney from my dad (thanks, dad!!). Living donor transplants are preferential to cadaveric donation because you can more carefully schedule and prepare for them and there is a better chance of the kidney working right away. I couldn't believe how much better I felt post transplant. My first semester at college I'd earned the nickname "Sleepy" due to my proclivity for frequent napping, but with the new kidney I had newfound energy.

Actual photo of my dad's kidney

My dad's kidney worked for about 5 1/2 years. I didn't reject it but rather it succumbed to my original disease, focal segmental glomerulosclerosis that I still carry. After that I went on dialysis for almost 2 years. My doctor thought there might be less chance of disease recurrence if I didn't have a transplant immediately. After a year and a half of dialysis, I went on the transplant waiting list. I couldn't believe my good fortune when the transplant nurse called me Sunday morning May 13, 2001 (you tend to remember these things), just 2 months after I'd been officially listed, to tell me they'd found a perfect match. That transplant lasted 4 1/2 years. Four years may not seem like a successful transplant, but let me tell you - four years without dialysis is priceless.

Unfortunately I am not a candidate for a third transplant as my weakened heart is too much of a risk. I can't stress enough how important organ donation is. There are currently just shy of 100,000 people on waiting lists in the U.S. You can save or improve the lives of up to 7 people if you agree to be a donor. All you have to do is to talk to your family members - the little box checked on your driver's license means NOTHING without their permission. Seriously. Make your wishes known.

Thanks for listening to my Public Service Announcement.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


We've had our black lab Lucy since she was 2 months old, and her first year was the closest I'll ever come to raising kids (I don't dislike kids, it's just not in the cards for us). Her first two nights in our house in Arizona gave me sympathy for those who have ever lived with a newborn. We could hear her loudly crying ALL NIGHT in her kitchen crate from our adjacent bedroom.

I don't know if you're familiar with labradors, but lab puppies are a little like fuzzy tornadoes. Lucy had (and still has but not to the same extreme) the crazy eyes. She ate every object in the backyard: lawn chairs, rocks, towels, all 13 of our sprinkler heads. I even once glanced out the back window to see her running by with the rake in tow. Training sessions with her were like pulling teeth - she was physically unable to focus on anything but Jeff the Cat inside the house, even when he was out of the room. Her eyes remained locked on his last known position throughout the lessons. Because she wouldn't even let you hold her without flopping like a fish, she earned the nickname, "Squirmy Worm".

Squirmy Worm, seen here attempting her first ever escape

Now that she's 3, Lucy has calmed down a great deal, but has retained her intense energy. We never quite mastered walking on a leash so excursions are a bit of a nightmare. She pulls so hard she chokes herself and makes awful wheezing noises. We finally switched her to a harness which seems to have cut down on the choking, but not the dragging. If I could construct a machine that could harness her spasticity, I would be celebrated for solving the current energy crisis.

Could easily power south Austin, if not for her noxious gasses

A note to the Steans family

I would like to express my sympathy for the Steans family, especially Rick. Rick's mother, Katherine Ross, passed away this weekend. I didn't get to see Grandma Ross but a handful of times, but did get to spend a very nice Christmas with her last year. I regret not being able to attend the funeral, but will keep you all in my thoughts.

Meredith's blog

Ryan's high school pal Meredith has also recently started a blog. She has her hands full with her three boys Nathan, Evan, and Zach so I'm sure she'll have lots of great stories! Go take a look and say hi: Meredith's blog

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Dick and Judy: World Travelers

My parents were always great about taking my brother Doug and me on trips when we were kids. Spring break we'd usually fly somewhere and since most times my birthday fell in that timeframe, I've had birthdays in Hawaii, Grand Cayman, Washington D.C., and turned 11 in Berlin. With more time at our disposal, summers were more about hopping in the white Dodge Caravan with the fake wood panelling to see the country. Most summers we'd make at least one trip to northern Minnesota where we spent a number of years alternately canoeing/camping and houseboating before my mom put her foot down and demanded the comfort and convenience of a cabin. I had to side with mom on that one -- marching up a dark path in the middle of the night to a concrete 'throne' when nature calls was a little TOO 'roughing it' for me.

Then there was the infamous 2 week road trip of 1984. Any longer than a week is just too much time for any family to spend in a car together. I know Ryan has a story of his own about the month the Steanses spent in their conversion van toodling around the country. Anyway, this particular trip took us up to Kansas City for a couple of days (my dad often had Orthodontic conferences there), then out west to drive around national parks like the Four Corners, Mesa Verde, Arches, and Monument Valley.

The moving pictures tell us all major events in western history took place in Monument Valley

Somewhere along the way, we had picked up a harmless looking souvenir called a 'rose rock' which was basically a rock vaguely resembling a rose that they had sprayed with a bunch of perfume. The nauseating perfume soon filled our Caravan with its pungent odor, making us not feel well the rest of the trip. Why we never chucked the damn thing out the window I'll never know.

Evil, thy name is rose rock

The grand finale of this trip was the Grand Canyon. Now, the Grand Canyon is of course beautiful and awe inspiring and what have you, but we unfortunately decided to enhance our Canyon experience with a helicopter ride. We hit the tour place immediately after dining at McDonald's where Doug and my Mom had selected the Filet O' Fish for their lunches. There was also a fierce wind starting to pick up and we were told we were lucky because this was the last flight out they were allowing today because of the weather. You can probably guess the flight didn't go so well. Doug said I turned a nice shade of green about 5 minutes into the ride.

Filet O' Fish + 30 mph winds + rose rock = - Filet O' Fish

My parents continued their travels after we left home and have visited some extraordinary locations. They've been to the Amazon, Easter Island, Tonga, all over South America and Europe, Galapagos Islands (where I was lucky enough to be able to join them), even Tanzania and Antarctica. My dad makes some amazing videos out of the footage he collects, adding Indiana Jones style flight trackers, still photos, and music. They're really fun to watch.

Most recently they spent 10 days in Iceland and Greenland. I think they had a great time besides the weather being a little crummy. It's 24 hours of daylight there right now, but even then they said it was extremely cold. I was disappointed to hear they didn't see any elves or gnomes (apparently they are everywhere in Iceland), but they did get some great pictures.

No elves here

But I think this must be an elf village

Greenland is not so green

Mom says Iceland is ok in her book - they have chocolate donuts