Rough Weeks

I blog a lot less these days, partly because I twitter (follow me @glennf), and partly because the whole "expose everything going on in your mind and life in a journal" thing has lost its general charm to me. I try to write only when the spirit moves--call me a Quaker Blogger.My mom died last Monday, and her passing came in the middle of some awful (but not dangerous) family illness. Everybody in the house has been sick at some time or another. Rex was on three antibiotics at once at one point. Ben clearly has my allergies, with a real flowering (no pun intended) of coughing during this very heavy tree pollen season. Myself, despite taking an effective prescription allergy med that worked early in the season, am overwhelmed by the tree pollen. I've had to add sudafed and other stuff just to get rid of the post-nasal drip, cough, and other side effects. The night my mother died, I had to make my first visit ever for myself to an ER. My throat went from sore to horrible over about an hour around 5 pm. I went to UW Medical Center where mom had died about 10 hours earlier. The crew at the ER was just fine, although it took a while to get all set, as ER visits do. I wound up being sent home with an antibiotic, a course of steroids, and a Vicodin prescription for the pain. I started the drugs immediately and saw an improvement within an hour. The next day, I could actually swallow without pain. Woo hoo! The boys' health and their night-time sleep problems (Rex has stopped waking, but Ben is coughing at times) have meant that Lynn and I are working on something like 5 or 6 weeks of mostly broken sleep, with a few good nights in there. This hasn't left me much time for reflection, for mourning, for thinking about much. I miss my mom. She was a lovely woman, sometimes driving me crazy (every mother must), but a generous person who mostly only thought of what she could do to help other people. The thing I notice most of all is the silence. It's not that I have actual silence in my life, but I feel a palpable quiet where mom used to be. In the coming weeks, I hope our health all improves, and we actually get some consecutive nights of complete sleep. Maybe then I can get some still time to think of my mother.


2405970998_de2a70e2c4.jpgMy mother died this morning. The cancer she's been fighting for four years finally gained the upper hand. The good news is that she got the best care she could possibly have gotten on the planet, and that most of the last four years, she's felt good or, at worst tired. The bad news is that her cancer became aggressive a few weeks ago and couldn't be beaten down. Oddly, thinking about her death makes me think about technology. Technology is a form of worship of immortality and godhood. Of taking the things that are beyond mortal control and turning them to your ends: electricity, matter, the basic forces of nature. Digital cameras take pictures that will last forever (if you back up) with perfect fidelity. Technology in its apotheosis is represented in the Singularity, a science-fiction notion that's becoming mainstream in which the continued exponential growth of computational power allows the complexity of a human brain to be completely modeled in a single device. The singularity drops the boundary between mortality and technology, allowing us to transcend our bodies and step into the computer. Which is what many of us working in fields related to and around technology today do in a virtual sense every day when we plan, fix, describe, invent. But technology is part of the material world. No matter how much we want to transcend our material beings, silicon isn't going to get us there. My mother is gone, and what I have left are spinning arrays of electrons. 2405358301_1445d5e448.jpg (Top photo from my 3rd birthday in Poughkeepsie, NY, in 1971; bottom from some morning after we moved to Fremont, Calif., probably late June 1971. My dad said we took one of these every year for a few years. That was when we had just moved to California, where we stayed until 1979, when we moved to Eugene, Oregon.)

Gimme My Money

Rex has been mommy focused a bit since her return from 6 Days in Connecticut (not a major motion picture), and at bathtime, he often says, "Just mommy," meaning that he wants some solo mommy time. Fair enough and Lynn's been a good sport about it.We're letting Rex set the pace on this, but were trying to turn the ship a bit. A few nights ago, I said, "Rex, can daddy give you your bedtime?" "Just mommy." An idea pops into my head. "Rex, if I give you $5, can I do your bedtime?" and I pull out some fake money we play with. His eyes light up. "Yeah." So we joke around with this, and by the time it's bath, he's given me a fake quarter that I give to him and all goes well. It's two nights later tonight, and time again for me to do Rex's bath. I offer him various sums, and he finally agrees. In bath, we play with tools, and have a good time. When I get him out of the bath he looks at me and says, "Where my ten dollar?" We'll have to start a price sheet.

Durian Pudding

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Durian Pudding
Originally uploaded by GlennFleishman

Lynn bought some Durian pudding from a local Asian market. I am fascinated with Durian, a spiky fruit that grows in Malaysia and elsewhere, and which apparently smells, when ripe, like a rotting corpse. However, each of the custard-like pods inside the hard-to-open fruit apparently taste both exceedingly delicious, and have a unique taste. This pudding is about 5% durian juice, 16 percent coconut.