April 03, 2004
Marriage, part II

Constitutional amendments aside, here is how best to preserve the sanctity of marriage.

-- Insofar as "sanctity" means to be held sacred or holy, the major faiths must resume treating marriage as if it were, well, important. This means that getting married must again require some amount of effort on behalf of those who are getting married: going through the various rituals and/or training that used to be required in some churches/religions, paying dowries, and so on. And, of course, honoring the tradition of having marriages pre-arranged by a morally upright, disinterested third-party whose job it is to bring together two people who have never met before. Hey, it worked for our great great grandparents, right?

-- It also means that getting out of a marriage must be, well, difficult. To make divorce an exception rather than a rule, make the cost of divorce high. Excommunication from the church used to be a big deal. But civil penalties can be imposed, as well. You need very special legal grounds, argued in a court of law. No quickies. Divorcees lose certain legal privileges, like the right to vote or otherwise take part in government, since we wouldn't want people who violate a sacred trust to be in any way entrusted with the affairs of state. Oh, and divorce would be heavily taxed.

-- The penalties for violating the oaths of marriage would also have to be severe. Infidelity by either partner? Stoning. To death. I'd also suggest similarly harsh penalties for spousal abuse, even though there's not much of a tradition of punishing spousal abuse.

Ah, but if we want sanctity for marriage, we need more than to make it costly to get into and out of. We also need to provide some holy benefit. Some religions, like the Mormons, allow women into heaven if they get married (as part of a family deal -- if the husband ain't going, neither is the wife). But what incentive is there for the men? Can someone familiar with the world's major religions help me out here? What are the blessings accorded to married people that makes marriage better than singlehood (or non-married couplehood, or non-married polygamy, etc., etc.)? Once I know that, then perhaps I can make suggestions for changes to our civil policies to incentivize marriage, as well.


But, in the meantime, let's bring back arranged marriages and stoning for breaking the vows. That should go a long way toward restoring the former glory of marriage.

Posted by at 03:18 AM in the following Department(s): Essays | Comments (2)
 April 06, 2004
Uber Poem: A Fallow Piece

As I mentioned in an earlier entry, I emcee a monthly open mic (open mike?) night at a coffee house where, every four months or so, we feature an "Island Style Slam". In the ISS, you put in three bucks, you get three words, and you have twenty to twenty-five minutes to write poetry or prose that use those three words. Each participant draws their three words randomly from three or four sets of words that are drawn from a fish bowl.

I've had a tradition for the past several years of writing an uber poem that uses *all* of the words from all of the sets available. This past Sunday, there were three sets of three words, for a total of nine. They were: glisten, peak, fallow, illicit, amber, downpour, scent, cell, visible

Here's what I came up with:

Like many men, I've mourned my increasingly fallow crop of hair

As amber waves of follicle cells
retreat into widow's peaks

Leaving so much more... forehead visible
to glisten after a downpour

Still, I have yet to resort to Propecia
or other drugs, licit or illicit

And I love the scent of shampoo in the morning
. . . it smells of victory!

Posted by at 12:03 AM in the following Department(s): Poetry | Comments (0)
 April 20, 2004
What is Normal?

A little while ago, I had this gum surgery called a "gingiva graft" because, well, a bit of a recession in my gums became a bit of a tear, and it had to be repaired.

I wrote down some of my thoughts on the whole process; enough so that I could fill up an entire "department" on this website. I told the tale from tear to repair and beyond. And, as is so often the case with me, the story was more complicated than it absolutely had to be.

As I was looking into having the work done, a friend of mine who had had similar work done was a great resource. A veritable font (fount?) of knowledge. She told me that she had done quite a bit of research into the subject online before she had the work done, and so she was able to give me some tips on things to watch for.

Because my site is regularly monitored by the search engines, my essays about my own experience with the gum surgery have popped up on a number of searches being conducted by other kind souls who are now investigating having the work done for themselves. From time to time, they post comments on the site, and from time to time, they send me e-mail directly.

It's an interesting phenomenon, insofar as the only expertise I really have with regard to gingiva grafts is the fact that I had one . -- well, three, depending upon how you want to count -- and now I'm being asked about this case or that case, and do I think it's normal for this or that to be happening? That's the most common question: "Is this normal?"

Do I have opinions? Sure! And I'm happy to offer them . . . although, as usual, I'm a little bit lagging in my e-mail response time. I still haven't replied to everyone who has wished me a happy birthday, and that was almost a month ago. But I'm happy to talk with anybody who wants to talk about it.

[As one friend of mine put it (in her inimitably delicate way), I have a knack for sounding like an expert even when I have very little to go on. Which I take to mean, I talk about stuff even when I don't know as much about stuff as I should.]

But, the thing is: I'm still not an expert on the whole gum surgery thing. I'm only a guy who had an experience with it as a patient. What a find really cool about the whole situation, though, is that people are posting their own experiences (in the form of comments) to this site, which means that now there's more information here than just my own blathering on the topic.

Which brings me to my point:

I'm going in on Friday to have all four of my wisdom teeth extracted. The oral surgeon is going to have me put under general anesthetic. I've never been put under general anesthetic, and I'm not looking forward to this at all. Everyone I talk to about having wisdom teeth out tells me a horror story of one sort or another; if the problem wasn't with the extraction, or the healing, it was with the billing or some other aspect.

I feel like I should be making out a will before I go in for the extractions.

Is this normal?

Posted by at 10:09 PM in the following Department(s): Gingiva Graft | Comments (2)
 April 21, 2004
Rejected Writers

We've all heard how Blahbity Blah famous novel was rejected eighty bazillion times before it was published, so you just have to hang in there as a writer and brave through those rejection letters, blah, blah, blah, and eventually, you, too, may find success.

Well.

Here's one such rejection letter of one such famous novel, posted on Ursula K. Le Guin's site. The novel in question, for those of you who might not be familiar with it, is considered a classic in science fiction -- one of the "must reads". You might agree with the editor, or you might disagree, but the novel nonetheless has survived the test of time.

So, you out there! If you're a writer . . . you gotta just keep on sending it out! All you gotta do is find that one editor who sees the genius in your work (or at least someone willing to give you a nice advance), even if the others don't. . . . :)

Posted by at 09:38 PM in the following Department(s): Writing | Comments (0)
 April 26, 2004
Hockey Player for a Day

So, last Friday I went in to have my wisdom teeth out. As I mentioned in an earlier post, my friends and colleagues (sp?) were kind enough to share with me a number of scary stories and pieces of advice, ranging from why I should have the procedure done under general anesthesia, under local anesthesia, or with no anesthesia at all. And why I shouldn't have them taken out at all. And why I should have had them taken out when I was a teen. Etc., etc., etc.

Well, the long and the short of it is that I went in on Friday, and was put under general anesthesia for the first time in my life. This was the oral surgeon's preference, not mine. I guess his job is easier if he doesn't have his patient awake and objecting to the way he smashes around in their mouth.

There was no "count back from ten" kind of moment for me that many others describe. Instead, they kept up conversation with me while they were running the IV and setting up to do the procedure.

"It should be easy to find a vein," I said to the lady running the IV.

"Well, it was actually kinda hiding there."

"Hmph. I used to donate blood all the time, and they said I had good veins."

"Oh, really?"

"I don't donate blood anymore. They won't take it." I was starting to get groggy.

"Oh, and why is that?"

"I spent some time in England."

In unison, both the anesthesiologist, the oral surgeon's assistant, and I said, "Mad Cow disease."

Then someone asked, "How long where you there?" Something in her voice made me think she was kind of testing me. Like, to see if I knew the answer.

"Oh, three months," I said. See? I *did* know the answer.

And then I woke up.

It was exactly like waking up from a sleep. None of this "missing time" phenomenon I've had described to me. I fell asleep without realizing it, but then I woke up. My jaw was a little sore.

"Can you stand up?"

Um. "Are we done?"

"Yep. Here, let me help you." She led me into another room. And so began the process of realizing that there were now holes where I used to have four teeth.

In the days that have followed, I have followed the doctor's advice. I have taken the drugs they advised me to take. I have applied an ice pack. I took naps the first couple days. The swelling has been kept to a minimum. The soreness, although never outrageous, has been constantly annoying. Fortunately, it hasn't been debilitating. In short, as I have followed the doctor's advice, I seem to be heading in the right direction, healing-wise. I've even started eating food that's a little more solid than Jello Chocolate Pudding.

Now, if I could just figure out why, when I woke up, I was in a hotel room in Vegas, and how I got that scar where my kidney is supposed to be, I'll be all set....

Posted by at 11:27 PM in the following Department(s): Tidbits | Comments (0)

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