Thursday, February 26, 2009

the ethics of pregnancy

I've been watching the story of Nadya Suleman, the woman who gave birth to octuplets a few weeks ago, with a sense of horror growing with everything I hear. In a nutshell, this woman has six children as a single mother, all by sperm-donor IVF, and decided to have an IVF session to have more. One IVF doctor had already told her no, so she found another one that was not only willing to do the procedure, but break established protocol and implant more embryos than the clinical standard. And so she wound up pregnant with septuplets that turned out to be octuplets when they were delivered by Caesarian section at 30.5 weeks gestation.

This woman has no job, has been accepting disability for back problems for years, lives with her parents after they lost their original house because they bought one for her, has no husband or partner, and STILL had IVF to have another 8 babies. She is also apparently a fan of plastic surgery and has had several operations to look more like Angelina Jolie.

This situation is so far beyond the line that it's not even in the same timezone. I find this woman morally repugnant, I am disgusted at her waste of public resources, and I am appalled that any doctor would feed her insanity. Ms. Suleman is far more interested in attempting to get onto talk shows, start her own reality show, whine to the press, entertain offers to become a porn star, and generally be a self-absorbed wretch than she is willing to parent any single one of her fourteen children. I firmly believe that she lost the right to the octuplets when she had to have a team of 46 people to deliver them, all paid for by the state as she has no insurance, and could not be bothered to even stay in the hospital with them. I have one acquaintance who had a premature baby recently, and she and her husband are at the hospital with their child from 8am to 8pm every day. I doubt Ms. Suleman has spent more than an hour per day at the hospital with her octuplets unless there are cameras involved. I feel that the state needs to take all fourteen of her children away from her, sterilize her, and leave her to support herself completely on her own. While I am encouraged by the tide of public opinion being very against her, I somehow doubt this will happen and all fourteen of those children will grow up poorly cared for and with a low chance of success in life. What a waste.

As idiotic and narcissistic as Ms. Suleman is, I am even futher appalled and upset at the doctor who would give this woman IVF at all. I have a feeling that there is going to be a significant backlash against IVF centers after this situation, and I believe it is high time for that. It is highly irresponsible to implant multiple embryos at one time, and I think it should be illegal to implant more than three - and if any splits occur, the pregnancy should be reduced to three, no questions asked. There is absolutely no reason to try to have quadruplets or higher order multiples, and anyone who has a moral problem with selective reduction should also have a moral problem with undergoing IVF in the first place. I am actually quite impressed by the Roman Catholic Church, who recently stated that they are against IVF for the same reasons that they are against abortions and birth control.

From a strictly evolutionary point of view, I am firmly against IVF as a concept. More and more couples go through IVF to have children, because they are unable to have them on their own. Perhaps that is genetics telling you something, people! If you are unable to get pregnant or carry a pregnancy, as hard as it is I think that is a pretty clear sign you are not supposed to have children. It's not fair and it is very hard on many women, as our society places great value on having your own biological children, but that's the way it is. What are these IVF daughters going to do in thirty years? Will they even be able to get pregnant naturally? Or will they also need to have IVF to have children? It seems to me that you should just let nature tell you whether you can have children and accept the answer, whether that answer is yes or no.

And humans should never, EVER have litters.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

love is being warm

My birthday was a week or so ago, and one of the gifts that Chris got me was an electric blanket for my side of the bed. I am always cold, and have a space heater under my desk at work and an electric heated jacket for riding on the motorcycle. This winter I've been so cold that I've taken to sleeping in my thick long-sleeve flannel PJ's with another long-sleeve tshirt underneath, which combined with an extra blanket on my side of the bed has been just enough to keep me comfortable.

The electric blanket has changed all of that.

I can now sleep in a single set of PJ's, any of the ones I own, and sleep well and warm through the entire night. I haven't woken up shivering since the blanket, and the only problem left is how to deal with it when Chris is actually sleeping at the same time. He runs hot and doesn't sleep well with the heat of the blanket touching his back where it overlaps his side of the bed a bit. At least for now, this problem only occurs 1-2 days per week so is easily dealt with.

Having a warm bed to go to, and a blanket to keep me warm all night, is like being wrapped in love. My husband loves me enough to keep me warm when I'm asleep, despite the disadvantage for him.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

rising from the ashes

At about this time last year, the relationship between my mother and her husband finally became completely untenable and she filed for divorce. The divorce was finalized last summer, leaving my mom happily on her own, and with some unnecessary jewelry that still had valuable stones. So when she was here for Christmas, I took her over to Foxfire Jewelers where she worked with one of the artisans to use the stones from the rings to make a single new ring. From her engagement ring, wedding ring, and his wedding ring she had a 0.7ct cushion-cut diamond, four small marquis diamonds, ten tiny brilliant diamonds, and three slightly larger brilliant diamonds. The artisan was able to use all but one of the small brilliants in the design, based on a solitaire that was available for sale in the store that day.

The artisan began with a sketch the day we were there, along with a detailed description of the stones and their placement as well as sizing and metal type information. A few weeks later, they created a hand-carved wax model and used photoshop to put the diamonds into it, for a better look at the positioning and such prior to making a final model. This view shows the center stone, the four marquis diamonds, and two of the tiny diamonds - the other eight tiny and two small brilliants are on the sides of the ring, with the smalls set on the side of the solitaire and the tiny ones set into the sides of the ring.

Last week Mom got the email that the ring was complete, and so I went over to pick it up. I will have it through early next week, and I have an appointment to have it appraised Friday before packing it to ship (well-insured!) to Mom on Monday. As it turns out, her arthritis has enlarged her knuckles enough that we now wear the same ring size, so I've been wearing the ring every day (with her blessing) and it is a lovely piece of jewelry that is comfortable to wear and very, very pretty. The stones in it are very sparkly and it's hard to get a photo of it on my hand, so the official one from Foxfire will have to do. It's a great ring and I hope it brings my mom many years of happiness...and maybe one day (far in the future) return to me...

Monday, February 9, 2009

surprise snow and shunning

This morning I walked down the hall to the living room, only to look outside and see about 2" of snow on the ground. This startled me enough that I actually jumped a little, I was certainly not expecting to see snow again this winter! I took this picture with my iPhone after letting the dogs out to potty, as there is also a full moon out right now and it looked really gorgeous with the snow. Amazingly, shortly after I took this photo the snowplows came through, which is not a normal occurrence but was welcome nonetheless. The snow apparently started late last night, as Chris had left me a note telling me he had no problem with me taking the car to work. The weather people are calling for more snow tonight, so we'll have to figure out what to do about that - perhaps I can go pick up Chris' work computer so he can work from home tonight.

In other weirdness, last night nearly all of 228th street was closed off for police activity, from 9th down near the Extended Stay all the way up to Meridian. We had to go out and around Country Village to get home. Nothing is showing up on the internet as to why that much of the road was shut down in clear weather, so I am rather curious.

I found a story in the Seattle Times this morning describing how Abbotsford BC is using shunning to combat gang violence. This is a town just over the border into Canada, where we often travel for flyball tournaments and where many of our Canadian flyball friends live, so that makes it more interesting to me personally. However, the real value is in the fact that a whole town is using social pressure to convince the gangs to leave. I firmly believe that shunning and public shame are woefully underutilized tools in this day and age, and that much bad behavior runs rampant because nobody is willing to call the wrongdoers out. It used to be shameful to behave poorly, now it is practically a badge of honor amongst certain social groups and that is such a toxic thing for society, it's unreal. While lifting the stigmas against needing legitimate social help or having a mental illness are excellent things for society, unfortunately too many people have taken this too far and now feel no shame about gaming the system for as much "free stuff" as they can get. In this case, I hope that the public social pressure does indeed convince these hoodlums to leave town, which would be a great success and example for many other such towns across north America.

Friday, February 6, 2009

6am, 32 degrees, 11 thousand miles

Yesterday morning on my way in to work (turning onto Lake City Way from 61st, to be exact) my bike kicked over the 11,000 mile mark. I've had it right at about a year, as we bought it right before our cruise last January, and I got the new seat for it so I could ride it soon after we returned home. I've put a little over 8,000 miles on it in a years' time, nearly all of it commuting with only a handful of "fun" rides on it as well as the Experienced Rider Course we did last spring.

For Christmas this year, Mom got me the new windshield that I wanted and Chris bought me the laminar lip to go with it. The windshield was an easy swap that I did on Christmas day, but putting on the lip required warmer garage temperatures than we had, plus markers and a second person, so that didn't go on until the weekend after New Years. I was really worried about getting it on straight, as anything that is slightly "off" will catch my attention and bother me to no end, but Chris did a very nice job lining up the attachment points. The adhesive seems to be very strong and despite not fully attaching on two dots, I've never seen the lip so much as wiggle up to about 90mph or so. For comparison, you can look up at the blog title bar to see a picture of the bike with the old windshield, which barely came up over the handlebars.

The new setup is so much more comfortable it's unreal. I have almost zero airflow from my nose down to my chest, meaning that I don't have to wear the fleece tube around my neck and chin unless the temperature dips below 25 degrees. I've had a slight increase in helmet fogging from that as well, but with the wind blocking I can actually crack the visor comfortably. I've also put the "breath guide" piece that came with the helmet back into it, which is a soft rubbery piece that goes between the visor and my face to guide breath down and to the vents, rather than up across the visor. Basically, in summary, the new windshield is as great an improvement for cold-weather riding as the heated jacket was at this time last year. Yay for technology!

Back in October I mentioned my new boots, and I added a new pair of gloves to the tally in November after the old ones started ripping badly enough to leak. Men's XS size gloves are just not meant for me, and it was the yanking to get them small enough that did them in, unfortunately. Based on some experiences on a forum, I picked up a pair of RevIt Farenheits in their womens' line, complete with waterproofing, temperature-regulating core, fleecy lining, armor on the knuckles, and a windproof finish. For the first few weeks I was worried I had chosen poorly, as they were so stiff and snug that it was not easy to ride in them. However, in the past few weeks they have finally finished breaking in and I completely adore them - comfortable, fit properly (no "ratcheting down" past the intended sizing!), and very very warm. The boots have also broken in the rest of the way and no longer mark up my leg when I ride, and I'm looking forward to using them for quite some time in the future. My next gear purchase will be a new helmet in March when I get my bonus - I'm looking at a Shoei right now, but will definitely go back and try on all of the higher end helmets to find one that really meets my needs. The Scorpion I've got now is good enough, but the better helmets are much, much lighter and have some better airflow features, which I am in sore need of due to the fogging problems mentioned earlier. Mainly, however, I really want a lighter helmet that makes it easier to move my head as I do have some restriction in my movement due to the weight of the current one.

Then there is always the wish list - bar risers and a back mudflap being highest on that particular list. Chris' brother may be moving to Oakland, CA later this year and he's thinking it would be fun to take a riding trip to visit him. I agree that would be pretty neat, but at least with my current setup I don't think it would be so comfortable, so we'll see!

Monday, February 2, 2009

teaching puppies to swim

This past weekend we went up to Langley BC to have a flyball training retreat weekend at the Run Free Canine Centre that is owned by our friends Karl and Jenny from the Run Free flyball club. In addition to the covered flyball arena, they also have a covered 4' deep pool for swimming the dogs, complete with a current generator for resistance swim training. The setup is very clever, with clear plastic greenhouses enclosing both the flyball arena and the pool, leaving them both able to be used despite the winter weather. My only complaint is that it is awfully cold in there if it's not sunny outside, but I think Karl is planning to put in a few space heaters in the future, or it would be trivial to bring some of our own.

I took the dogs swimming three times, twice on Saturday and once on Sunday, with Chris' job being to trade me dogs every 10 minutes or so. My big goal for the weekend was to teach Ezri to swim (and enjoy it), and I think that I managed to accomplish that. Along with the help of Chris (the swimming instructor), we wrangled Ezri into the pool for the first time and just walked her around a bit to get her used to the sensation, then Chris sent her to swim to me over larger and larger distances until she swam the length of the pool without hesitation. We soon moved on to fetch with a tennis ball in the pool, and Ezri was happily bringing the ball back, spitting it out, and turning to swim back for another go without any commands. She's still not a big fan of getting -in- to the pool, but that will come with time, and she'll have way more practice this summer when it's warm enough to swim at the park or at the lake. Jadzia, Curzon, and Phoebe all got turns in the pool with me as well, with the girls both happily playing swim-fetch with me without getting out of the pool. Curzon insists on getting out of the pool after fetching his ball, however, and only swam for a longer period when we put him on a leash to make him swim laps rather than run out of the pool with the ramp. I tried using the resistance current with both Curzon and Phoebe, and that worked great for Phoebe but Curzon quickly gave up figuring it was way too much effort for just a tennis ball.

Ben also brought in baby Teal for a few swim sessions, and although she was pretty much terrified she was a great little swimmer and was almost able to pull herself out over the edge of the pool. She's too young yet to have the deeply ingrained ball drive that my older dogs do, so I mainly just let her swim from one side of the pool to the other before picking her back up to repeat it. At least at just 9 weeks and 10 pounds or so she was easier to move in/out of the pool than Ezri was!

Of course, the one downside of swimming with the dogs is that they have strong legs with sharp toenails, so I have a wide variety of bruises, scratches, and welts across my arms, legs, and hips. Next time I think I'm wearing a wetsuit to at least protect me from the scratches, even though there's not much to be done about the bruises!

The flyball parts of the weekend were also really helpful, and I think Jeff did a good job with arranging drills and doing some timing and video work that we don't get the time to do at a normal practice. Boxturns for all dogs were videotaped and we watched them on Saturday around lunchtime, so that we could better determine what work each dog needed. I'm happy to say that all four of my dogs have firmly fixed feet on the box, i.e. they're not repositioning at all between landing and launching, which was a worry I had especially with little Ezri. Jadzia's turn looks very clean, Phoebe is fine, and Ezri has got one fast snap off the box. Curzon is still having issues catching the ball, which are due to a combination of him smashing his nose into the box and not opening his mouth far enough to catch the ball entirely. The girls all got some box-aid turn work, with Ezri getting extra attention with the snap on - snap off drill, and Curzon practiced catching/grabbing the ball with an entire bucket full of them.

We also did plenty of full runs, and after an initial confusing try Ezri had no problems running as part of a team for the first time. She had a perfect pass with Phoebe, and didn't give Tango a second look when passed wide by her, so that is looking promising for introducing her to full team runs. And as long as I hold up her tug, she holds her ball, which is a bit of a problem with Indigo right now so I'm trying to be very careful to not let Ezri develop the same issue. One of the last exercises we did before leaving on Sunday was to set up the "SuperJump" course with 8 jumps in a row, to assist dogs in firming up their footing and timing for going over the jumps. Jadzia, Curzon, and Phoebe had no issues with this, having done it before, but I asked a bit much of Ezri the first time by putting her in front of all 8 jumps. After several tries with her including chase with Curzon and blockers, all unsuccessful, I gave her a break to run Jadzia while we figured out what to do. We brought her back up, started her at 3 jumps, and then increased one at a time until she did all 8 with flying colors. She's almost singlestepping all of them, and I'm sure she'll be moving right into that as her body finishes growing and strengthening.

We did a lot of work this weekend, but it was spaced out as we only had two lanes and also had the pool to use, so Ezri was not overworked. I would have loved to have done more boxwork with her, but realistically she's doing great and still has six months before her debut so no need to even remotely threaten her development with more of that. All four dogs were tired and slept most of the evening after we returned home, only moving when one of us changed rooms. Even Phoebe slept all evening and didn't even blink at the cats meowing for dinner downstairs! Now, if I could only get that sort of exhaustion every weekend.....