Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Make Fun of Candidates : Vote411 Edition

I always have great ideas for blogs but never get around to the execution.  Usually this is just a matter of triage - patients and kids come first, then basic bodily functions, then way down on the list comes writing for my own amusement.

I guess I have a little surge of excitement knowing this election is finally coming to an end. This has been a particularly unpleasant election cycle and I will be happy to wake tomorrow with no "Breaking News!". (Quotation marks intended.)  The one silver lining : the Saturday Night Live debate skits. They just nailed it, can't recommend enough.

The purpose of this blog post is to make fun of the candidates' posts on Vote411.org .  This is not meant to be a political post in any way, just a purely superficial and juvenile snarkfest.

The Vote411.org site allows you to go through all races that will appear on your ballot and view what each candidate has to say. This is a great, non-partisan site and it seems like a great way help you make a thoughtful and informed decision. It is also a wonderful playground of poorly-edited posts just ripe for the picking. So being in a good mood, I am going for the low-hanging fruit.

Anonymous Candidates

These posts remind me of fake Facebook and Twitter accounts, the ones where the trolls are too lazy to even include a picture. Maybe some of these candidates didn't realize that anyone actually looked at this site. Maybe they were too busy to submit a post to Vote411. Or maybe, they aren't real candidates at all. Let's take a look.

                This guy didn't submit a photo but at least has a bio so he appears to be legit.

Hmm, SaraJane has no photo and no bio. Does she really exist? One wonders....

Thanks for sparing us the Dick-pic but a bio would be nice.

Oh, come on!  Don Self, huh? As in, I am running my own-self. Clearly not a person.

It's All In The Presentation

Some of the candidate pictures are really cheesy and clearly intended to pluck a patriotic chord. 

This guy looks like he is actually hiding behind the Texas flag. Is that a crappy photoshop or did someone actually pose him that way?

What's better than a flag? Why, a flag and a gavel. And you really had me at flag!


My vote is for the young Billy Dee Williams. No contest. I don't even care if he has a flag.

Not Just a Pretty Picture: The Bio Matters Too

Nothing says I care like a whole bunch of stars! This guy is a SUPERSTAR!

Seriously, Dude, your computer comes with Spellcheck built right in. Use it.



Don't be a dork. No one likes a dork. Except other dorks.

I thought I recognized you from the Philosophical Society meetings...

Thanks for the Latin lesson, Dorfmann.

A grown man named Tad. Don't I know you from The Preppy Handbook?

A Special Treat

For those who actually made it to the end of this blog post, your reward: The Pizza Lawyer. Enjoy.

I don't know the story behind this guy but I am dying to know.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Before you make up your mind about refugees, let us all remember how our country was born...

I present to you The New Colossus. This poem, written by Emma Lazarus, is engraved on the base of the Statue of Liberty. It is important that we remember how are country was founded. The words at the base of America's most iconic statue are beautiful and courageous. It is easy to say "Let us keep out all refugees and immigrants of any kind! We have ours, so let's close the borders". It is important to remember the United States is a harbor to those escaping tyranny. This is so important, we engraved it in metal and it stands in a place where many of our ancestors entered this country for the first time.  Please note there is no mention of specific religion or nationality in this poem. Our country was founded by people escaping religious persecution and looking for a new opportunity. I don't see why that should change now.

"The Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World" was a gift of friendship from the people of France to the United States and is recognized as a universal symbol of freedom and democracy. The Statue of Liberty was dedicated on October 28, 1886.  It was designated as a National Monument in 1924.  Employees of the National Park Service have been caring for the colossal copper statue since 1933. (National Park Service Website)

The New Colossus 
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


I am not sure how to react to the news that my children don’t have Asperger Syndrome any more.  Should I celebrate a cure?  Hmmmmm.  Maybe not yet.

I remember when we finally reached a diagnosis.  After years of knowing something was just not right, being told not to worry because my children were not CLEARLY autistic, I finally had a diagnosis, a WORD, a NAME that explained their behavior, and so much more. Thankfully, the diagnosis also lead us to OT, SPEECH, group and individual psychotherapy, medication, numerous books, websites, meetings, lectures, support groups and friends.  I learned to work with their gifts and to accommodate their deficits.  I learned to ameliorate the problems caused by the sensory issues.  We have come so far. 
About 5 years ago, we took the kids to Disneyworld.  It was a nerve-wracking adventure.  I knew a bit, had a “special needs” pass for the rides, and prepared the best I could.  We managed to have fun despite their issues. Sure, Meredith spent the entire character breakfast UNDER the table, but I got it.  I understood why and wasn’t surprised.  Neither kid would look at or talk to a “Princess”.  No problem.  Lily needed to spin a bunch and cry even more. I understood and we went about our business and had fun within the constraints of our abilities.
This Thanksgiving, we went to London and Paris.  My children dealt with prolonged air travel, navigating the Metro and the Tube, time change, different foods, different languages and people, different smells and tastes, carrying their own luggage up stairs, not having ready access to internet and electronics, fatigue, and so much more.  The amazing thing was that they dealt with it all with very minimal fighting and fussing, with only minor meltdowns.  I was struck at how far we have all come.  I know with certainty that without our diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome, this would not have been possible.  Without the WORD and the NAME that lead to the education that led to the blueprint of the amazing brain that my kids have, we would still be serving the occasional meal under the table.  Without that NAME and diagnosis, we wouldnt have the proud identity that is now recognized by so many.
Our teachers currently put up with behavior that is normally not allowed in public school, because they get it too.  They look at my tiny Einsteins, and they appreciate the cool kids they get to teach.
So how do I feel about the peeps in charge making Asperger Syndrome disappear with DSM-V?  I have to ask why?  Why, when we finally have a NAME and a WORD that is recognized by so many, would someone go and delete it? When that NAME that can help so many find and understand the instruction manual that didn’t come with their child, but that has been communally written by so many caring parents, why would you banish the NAME?  Why?
I have to assume the reason ultimately is money.  I won’t get into that discussion tonight.  I will only say that obfuscation is not in the best interest of children with Asperger Syndrome.  DSM-V is not a new Bible written by the infallible.  It is, like all medical guides, written by humans.  My fervent hope is that other parents will have the opportunity to help their children the way I did.  I hope that parents in 5 or 10 years will have access to the resources that helped me and my family.  My prayer is that DSM-V doesn't harm the undiagnosed tiny Aspies of tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Frogs made us late to school

We were going to be on time.  We really were.  I even had time to cut up some strawberries for Lily and steam touch up my pants.
Soooo, I'm standing there with no pants on, and decide to bring the strawberry remainders to the compost pile.  On the way there I see this really awesome bird, a big heron.  He is standing next to my pool.
The pool is a little green.  The cleaner thing needs a part because my kids can't keep their damned hands off of it so, surprise, it is broken.  Inez, the awesome pool guy should fix it today.
Meanwhile, my pool looks like a pond, even fooling the bird.
Mr. Heron is pacing back and forth trying to get the frog in his mouth to go ahead and die.  It is not quite like that "NEVER GIVE UP" T-shirt, but close.  He dunks the frog in the water several times trying to drown it.  This gives us time to take pictures with the big camera and then to try to get more shots with my iPhone.

He is not giving up on this frog so we are able to get pretty close.  In the process we see two other frogs swimming in the pool.  Lily is able to scoop one up in the net.  I can't find the other one.  Dammit.  We are really going to be late now.  I run to the closest filter cover, open it, no frog.  There is lots of crap I need to dump out because, it is there.  I can't just leave it.
Shit  Definitely going to be late.  I run to the other side of the pool to the other filter cover.  Mr. Heron is still trying to swallow his frog and eying me suspiciously.  Maybe it's because I'm not wearing pants, I'm not sure. 
I yank off the cover and there on a pile of leaves are two adorable brown toads. (Emily will tell if they are frogs or toads).  They are tiny and surprised and staring at me like two amphibious Anne Franks.  Don't worry tiny toads.  I'm not with the bird.
I toss the toads in the high grass where they will be safe.  Now we are REALLY late.  I scream at Lily to get in the car.  Running inside, I frantically pull now warm and wrinkle-free pants out of dryer and jump into them, Fireman style.  Wash hands quickly, grab bag, phone, etc. Run to car and screech out of driveway, confirming to my neighbors that I am indeed insane.
The victory is, HA, we were not actually late.  1 minute to spare.  Allison 1, ADHD BRAIN 1,563.  ADHD BRAIN still winning but I'll take my victory.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


10. No pesky team sports taking up Saturday leisure time.
9. Serial monogamy in footwear saves me a bundle.
8. Ditto paucity of birthday party invites.
7. No need to worry about affording the latest fad. We are clueless.
6. A long swim fixes almost any problem.
5. Ready source of encyclopedic knowledge about sharks, astronomy, anime, Harry Potter, Legos and so much more.
4. Nice to have reality check that, yes, Mommy, your bottom is big and you aren't very smart.
3. Grocery list ridiculously short thanks to sensory issues.
2. Sometimes they make me laugh so hard I might actually pee myself.

And my favorite thing about raising my kids on the spectrum:
1. On site tech support, 24/7.

Sunday, March 11, 2012


You are at a party.  You are introduced to the wife of an acquaintance.  You have met her before over the last 10 years, at least 3 times.  She shakes your hand as if she has never seen you.  As she walks away, you are likely to think, “She is so rude!  She knows she has met me before.”  Maybe you say it out loud, and maybe your friends agree with you, having experienced the same thing with her as well.

But there is another explanation.  She really does not remember meeting you.  She has prosopagnosia, also known as facial blindness.  Once thought to be very rare, it appears to be more common than we thought.  When people with facial blindness figure out what they have it, they are often relieved.  They finally have an explanation for why they cannot remember people and faces.  It is not because they don’t care about people, don’t have the intelligence to remember or don’t really try to remember faces.  It is just not a tool in their toolshed.  Like most things, there is a spectrum.  Some people say they never forget a face all the way to those that cannot recognize the face of their mother and father.

How do I know about this?  I happen to have a touch of it.  I didn’t know that facial blindness existed until recently.  I used to wonder WHAT was wrong with me.  I felt guilty about it for years.  I felt like there must be something wrong with me as a person that kept me from remembering people.  I am able to remember my kids, my husband, my siblings, and a few really close friends.  Beyond that, it is hit or miss.  

My particular form of prosopagnosia includes inability to recognize faces AND names.  For example, every year I dreaded our family reunion and the inevitable awkwardness of seeing cousins and aunts and uncles and having NO idea what their names were.  I might manage to remember how some of them were related to each other, at least group them in families, but that took a few years.  Unfortunately, since I only see most of them once a year, if I see them anywhere other than the Blazek family reunion, again, it’s a crapshoot if I will be able to figure out that it is a relative, and it is very unlikely that I will be able to pull up the name.  I have started seeing my cousins more often and that has made a big difference.
So how has this affected my life?  Is it a disability?  In a way it is.  I remember being with a group of people who were discussing a girl that was SUCH a snob because she always acted like she didn’t know them.  Gulp.  That could totally be me.  Actually it was me.   I distinctly remember someone telling me in a very rude voice, “You know, we have met several times”.  Please let a hole open up in the Earth and swallow me.   After that, I was very careful to be neutral when meeting new (?)  people in case, um, they actually weren’t new.  I have gotten pretty good at this.  I will either say “Nice to see you”, “How are you?” or some other phrase that fits both new and old peeps.  It’s a skill, like any other.

After my children were diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, I learned about facial blindness.  I was actually quite relieved.  I knew I wasn’t just a cad, I actually have a disability.  Knowledge=Power.  Now that I know this, I can without embarrassment, explain it to people.  I have a name for it.  I don’t have to say “I’m a complete jerk so I won’t remember your face or name if I see you again.”   Instead I say, “I have facial blindness, so if I see you again and act like I don’t know you, please come up to me and tell me your name and how we know each other”.  I know that sounds weird, but it has really worked for me.  I was just at a wedding and a very nice person whom I truly really like approached me.  I was thinking, crap, she looks like someone I might know.  She came up and introduced herself and reminded me that how we knew each other.  Once she did that, I knew EXACTLY who she was.  Even though I have met her kids many times, I would not recognize them and have no idea what their names are.  I did know their names during my conversation with her, because she reminded me.  But I’ve forgotten those names.   I can pull her name up at the moment, but it will be gone by next month, unless I see her before then.

Another example: I introduced myself to a doctor at the hospital where I work.  He told me we had met before a few times.  He said it in a really nice way.  I explained the facial blindness and that I might just do it again 6 months from now (which I did, dammit).  He was actually very amused by the whole concept.  So is it a disability?  It can be, and like most disabilities, it is possible to figure out coping mechanisms.

I have developed a surprisingly positive perspective on this “disability”.  In my case, now that I know what it is, facial blindness really suits my life and my career.  I am a primary care physician in a large town, but in a neighborhood that acts like a small town.  Many of my patients are neighbors, related to each other, friends with each other, whose kids go to school together.  Just going to the grocery store or the local cafĂ©, I may see a handful of patients.  

Most doctors would have a hard time truly separating out their life as a doctor from their life as a neighbor and friend.  This is not a problem for me.  I love my patients and spend more time with them than most doctors.  I am interested in what makes them tick, what makes them happy and sad.  When I see them out in the community, I really have no idea who they are unless they tell me.  Even if they tell me they are a patient, I have no idea what is going on with them medically.  Without opening their chart and reading what is in there, they are just Joe Patient.  Once I do see them back in the office, and open their chart, the whole story comes back together and I know exactly who they are, what problems affect their lives. 

I don’t know how to explain it except to say that my patients don’t have to worry about my gossiping about them.  If I am lucky enough to recognize them, I will likely not know if the person they are with is spouse or lover, even if the other person is my patient.  By being unable to recognize them in the community, I ensure full patient confidentiality without even having to make an effort. It’s an unexpected “benefit” of having a social communication disability, but it’s one that in this case works to my advantage…and my patients’ advantage.

Saturday, March 3, 2012


You probably know there is an obesity epidemic in this country. You likely also know that obesity can lead to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and lots of other potentially preventable diseases. Do you know why our country is so overweight and out of shape?

There are several reason. For one, our foods have changed. Most of the food we consumed is highly processed and barren of the good nutrients we used to get. The meat we eat is higher in saturated fat. The convenience foods that allow us to work 50 hour weeks are hell on our bodies.

That brings up the next issue: work. I rarely see people who are able to balance work and life. Usually the WORK side of the see-saw sends poor LIFE flying off the other end into the sandbox. Long hours, no time for exercise, eating the convenience foods, and add high stress with no release, and you have yourself a recipe for poor health. The average person who started off healthy and happy ends up with a progressively larger waistline, higher insulin levels, less energy, decreased flexibility, and a worse quality of life. I see this as a snowball effect that happens quite insidiously.

It begins with a little weight gain from overeating and not exercising. Then add a little sleep apnea. There may be no symptoms other than daytime fatigue and maybe some snoring, but every night there are repeated bursts of epinephrine and cortisol. This causes a nice round middle and an increase in weight. Now the sleep apnea is worse and the fatigue is worse, the person is just fighting to make it through the day, never mind trying to eat a healthy diet (which takes planning and energy) or hitting the gym on the way home.

By the time I see this poor soul, who has been working so hard to get ahead in life, the snowball has gotten so big and gained so much momentum that it seems there is no way to turn it around. The patient asks me why they feel so bad, and why they can't lose weight. Even if you embark on a wonderful diet of whole foods and start working with a personal trainer, it still seems hopeless. At this point, the sleep apnea needs to be treated for the snowball to go back up the hill.

This is where the conversation becomes serious. "There is no way I can wear a mask to bed." "I am claustrophobic." At this point, like Lucy, I have some splainin' to do. I give the example of a close friend's husband who was full-on a Frosty the Snowman. He finally got his sleep apnea treated and now, a few years later, he has lost 100 pounds and just ran his first Marathon. He has lost so much weight that he no longer needs his CPAP to treat his sleep apnea. (This is why some people call it Fat Apnea- it tends to go away when you lose weight.)

So if you finally get off your hamster wheel, and wonder how to become the happy, healthy person you once were, please see your doctor and be open to evaluation for sleep apnea. It can cause uncontrolled hypertension, sudden cardiac death and diabetes, among other things. And it is relatively easy to treat. If you don't believe me, just ask Frosty.