Quiet morning

I’m about to go off to the local clinic for a visit with a specialist, who’s going to figure out all the things wrong with me. It could take days, weeks, or months, who knows…but if I don’t make it back this afternoon, just figure I gave up and have donated my body to science.

That went unexpectedly well. I’m in good shape, the infection that was making me miserable is clearing up, I’m not getting shipped off to the body farm just yet.

The most dad thing

It’s too late for this, I’ve got to get some sleep — I have to go catch a plane in the morning. It’s a list of the most “Dad thing” people’s fathers have ever done, and it just made me sad. It’s all these embarrassing or old fashioned or idiosyncratic stupid quirks from their fathers. There’s a depressing tendency to treat older fathers as behind-the-times dopes, Homer Simpson on the way to becoming Grandpa Simpson.

So I had to think of the most Dad things my father ever did.

[Read more…]

Life goes on

When I stepped off the plane at Heathrow the other day, my phone pinged, and I got a message from my daughter: “We’re getting hitched.” Very efficient. Brevity is a virtue. It reminds me of me: after Mary agreed to shackle herself to me for life, I mentioned it to my parents as we were going out the door — “By the way, we’re getting married.” We didn’t have email in those days, or I would have used it.

I’ve since gotten a few more details — I had a good idea who “we” were, but it was nice to get confirmation — and she’s now publicized that thing newly engaged women all do.


That’s one down. Now I must mention that I have two sons who are eligible bachelors…if anyone is interested, contact me.

London suggestions

I’m landing at Heathrow at the appropriately ungodly hour of 6am on Thursday, 7 August. I need to check in to the WHC in Oxford sometime that evening. That means that there is that whole day stretching in front of me. So a few questions:

  • I’ve been to that part of the world a few times, and I know the trains make it dead easy to get anywhere…but if anyone familiar with the lines can spell out for me ahead of time what I have to do to get from Heathrow to Oxford, it would be appreciated. (I know, just go to transportation, find an information desk.)

  • What is there to do in that neighborhood, anyway? If anyone wants to meet up for lunch or something, I’d be happy to…but I know it’s a weekday workday, so I expect nothing.

I am looking forward to 9 days in the UK!

I’m free!

In a dashing break from my imprisonment, I threw a walker through my hospital room window, cleared the broken glass with a crutch, and then rappelled down some hospital sheets tied together, to run away from angry orderlies waving hypos filled with calming drugs…

Nah, not really. I endured four or five boring hours of waiting while paperwork was filled out, took an elevator, and hobbled slowly home. My knee is much better now — I won’t exactly be tap dancing, but I can get out of a chair and walk across the room without blistering the cat’s delicate ears with profanity, anyway.

Interestingly, I ran into what has to be a common doctor’s dilemma. They had multiple hypotheses about what was wrong — gout was high on the list, with a bacterial infection in the joint capsule running second — but you don’t get to do the nice tidy sequential controlled experiment when your patient is in great pain. So they treated me for both possibilities simultaneously, while doing lots of diagnostic tests. And then they discover both that my synovial fluid had none of the crystallized uric acid characteristic of gout, and was also delightfully clean of bacteria. But I was getting better anyway. They had some other hypotheses that they were interested in looking into, but dang, the patient was healing and their interesting disorder was fast disappearing. So I checked out, and we still don’t know what caused the problem, or what fixed it. This is why I never wanted to be a doctor: it’s so unsatisfying to not be able to treat the patient as an experiment.

Although I am warned that if the knee worsens once I’m home, I need to report in to the hospital immediately, and count on staying there for at least a week while they dismantle the joint. I’m hoping I don’t have to give them closure on this one.

There goes my pro football career

I’ll never get picked up in the NFL draft now.

Those of you who read the comments know I was whining a little bit about this sudden knee pain that developed over night. I was actually downplaying it — any time I bent my knee I was in excruciating agony. My wife can tell you that there was much screaming and groaning and cussing at our house the last few days. I’ve been basically immobile.

So I got into the doctor’s this morning. They poked and prodded and twisted and bent the joint, and I dutifully turned pale and howled and threatened to vomit, cursing the entire medical profession. In revenge, they first pulled out a gigantic needle and a huge syringe, and tapped my knee, sucking out large quantities of synovial fluid. As if that wasn’t enough, they’ve also hospitalized me — I’m under observation and pain management for a few days, while they carry out tests to figure out what made my knee joint go bad. If it turns out to be an infection…surgery. Whee.

Until then, I’m stuck in a bed with needles stuck in me, and they’re pumping me full of antibiotics and morphine and a whole bunch of good happy drugs. I’m already feeling blissful and sleepy. I might be out in 24 hours, or maybe 48, or maybe they’ll be hacking cartilage for a while. You don’t need me right now, right?

Convergence is coming

Everyone is announcing their schedule at Convergence: there’s the whole dang SkepChickCon schedule, Jason Thibeault and Brianne Bilyeu of FtB have produced theirs, and Dr Rubidium is doing a bunch of panels (wait…they let chemists in?). So I guess I’ll mention what I’ll be up to.

We have a little family affair every year in the Sandbox — these are hands-on activities, aimed mainly at kids, but everyone is welcome to show up.

CONvergence 2014: Bones.

Discover what an owl had for dinner! Dissect an owl pellet to solve the mystery and reveal clues about the owl’s diet and predator/prey relationships. What types of bones will you find in your pellet? Panelists: Mary Myers, Skatje Myers, PZ Myers

Thursday July 3, 2014 2:00pm – 3:00pm

CONvergence 2014: Create a Real DNA Necklace.

How do you extract DNA out of living things? What does your DNA look like? Find out and make a special necklace using your unique DNA! Panelists: Mary Myers, PZ Myers, Skatje Myers

Saturday July 5, 2014 3:30pm – 4:30pm

Then there are the panels, lots of panels. I cut back on the number I was on this year, because last year I did something like a dozen and it was exhausting.

CONvergence 2014: When Science Isn't Your Friend.

When has science hurt people in reality and what has that taught us about how science should be practiced? We’ll discuss everything from the Tuskegee experiments and Henrietta Lacks to continuing issues like surgery on intersex babies. Panelists: Stephanie Zvan (mod), Caleph Wilson, PZ Myers, Mary Brock, Debbie Goddard

Thursday July 3, 2014 8:30pm – 9:30pm

CONvergence 2014: Real Monsters.

Reality is stranger than fiction. The deep seas and uncharted lands hold unimaginably bizarre creatures. This panel explores some of the strangest, ugliest, and most unlikely creatures known to live. Panelists: Brianne Bilyeu, Ryan Consell, Matt Kuchta, Siouxsie Wiles, PZ Myers

Friday July 4, 2014 9:30am – 10:30am

CONvergence 2014: Ask a Scientist.

A general Q & A with expert scientists from a variety of fields. Panelists: Bug Girl, Dr Rubidium, Matt Kuchta, PZ Myers, Lathan Murrell

Friday July 4, 2014 12:30pm – 1:30pm

Friday July 4, 2014 5:00pm – 6:00pm

CONvergence 2014: Alien Conspiracy Theories.

The truth is out there, and we’ll help you find it! We’ll cover a wide range of alien-centric conspiracy theories and discuss the implications these have on individuals and society at large. Panelists: JD Horn, Jason Thibeault, Nicole Gugliucci, PZ Myers, Scott Lynch

That’s the Scott Lynch who wrote the Locke Lamorra fantasy novels, by the way.

Friday July 4, 2014 7:00pm – 8:00pm

CONvergence 2014: Coming Out Atheist.

Join us to discuss what it’s like to come out as an atheist in various parts of the country, with different religious backgrounds, and the intersection for many of us with coming out in other ways, such as in sexual orientation and gender identity. Panelists: Ashley F. Miller, Heina Dadabhoy, PZ Myers, Debbie Goddard, Brianne Bilyeu

Every year we do what is basically a biology of sex panel, held late at night after the kiddies have gone to bed. It tends to get a little raunchy and amusing — it also tends to be overwhelmed with attendees. If you want to get into this one, show up early.

CONvergence 2014: Superstimuli: My, What a Big _____ You H….

Doing stupid things to attract mates isn’t limited only to humans. From the peacock’s tail to the bird of paradise mating game, evolution itself makes animals go to ridiculous lengths for the sake of reproduction. Panelists: Emily Finke, Bug Girl, Sharon Stiteler, Matt Kuchta, PZ Myers

Friday July 4, 2014 11:30pm – 12:30am

There are lots of other panels going on — it’s non-stop brain stimulation all weekend long. There also the parties late at night. The Skepchicks host one party room — their theme this year is the Skepchick Space Lab — and Freethoughtblogs hosts the adjacent room, in 228. Our theme is…the Deep, to complement the spacey chicks next door.

Freethoughtblogs is hosting a party to celebrate the mysteries of the ocean: fierce sharks, grasping tentacles, an alien world right beneath us. Enjoy cool drinks, talk with deep thinkers, get eaten by a squid…oh, wait, no. No one will be eaten. Probably. We’ll just have fun.

You’re all coming, right? Bloomington. 3-6 July. It’ll be fun.