Sunday, August 21, 2016

As Mary Wells sang, You Beat Me to the Punch

When you do half assed work on a project for years, you cannot be upset when someone else beats you to the publishing press. Such is the case with Claire Prentice, who has recently wrote a book called Miracle at Coney Island: How a Sideshow Doctor Saved Thousands of Babies and Transformed American Medicine.

It's about Martin Couney, the man who saved many, many lives of premature babies by keeping them in infantoriums, an early form of a modern neo-natal unit disguised as a carnival sideshow.

Her research is sound, and it makes some fantastic discoveries about Couney, primarily about his early background (which is still very murky) but also reveals that he never earned any kind of medical degree. A rather amazing accomplishment considering the work he was doing. Prentice does say, correctly, that Couney never administered medication, his techniques and innovations in neo-natal science did not really use it. Plus, although there is no paper trail, he claims to have had a very high success rate at saving lives.

After my son was born premature, I came across Couney through the work of William Silverman a noted neonatalogist, who was one of the first American doctors to do any research into Couney's life. He died in 2004, but Prentice was able to interview one of Silverman's colleagues, but did not give Silverman any credit.

Prentice did find and interview several of Couney's patients (I found one) and gives us a good look at how the infantorium was run. She also mentioned the patients proudly displayed photographs of themselves at the infantorium but the book has no photographs. A missed opportunity to humanize them, and Couney.

Overall it is a slim volume, only available on Kindle, that cracks a few mysteries about the life of Martin Couney save one. I'm still trying to find out what happened to Couney's Daughter Hildegarde, who became one of his nurses. No trace of her seems to exist. I think the paperwork of the Couney estate and infantoriums went with her.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

So in about seven hours

My son starts eighth grade today. We transferred him to a new school that focuses on students with autism and special needs. Middle school has been tough. The communication from his teacher was poor, despite our efforts to get information about him. When your son is non-verbal, he cannot really tell you how his day was, and we rarely got news. There were other factors in out decision also. A decision both I and his Mother felt had to be done.

So the transitions for the next few weeks will once again be challenging, probably. There is no bus service so one of us will be dropping him off and picking him up, every day.

I got a short tour of the school on Monday, his Mother went to the open house yesterday and met his new teacher - as did he. I was at a library convention I had previously committed to. I'll pick him up later, and see how traffic is before 4PM in the northern part of Columbus.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Not enough miles

Been working on gathering information and forms to renew my passport. Next year will be ten years that I’ve had one. An essential item to have if you travel internationally and easier (I think) to use if you have to endure flying domestically.

Like most, time and money have kept me from traveling as much as I want to. Except now that the pound has sunk to amazing lows, we can’t get over there to take advantage. When I first went to the UK in 2007, the pound was almost $2.00 to one. That was brutal. Now, thanks to the Brexit nonsense, it’s been at about $1.32, which is freaking unreal. Of course this is all going to change when the markets collapse next year, but that’s another story entirely.

Today my wife starts a new job. It’s a small miracle she got the interview but she worked really hard to get the position. Did it all by herself and I’m very proud of her.

Next week my son starts at a new school that specializes in special needs students. It’s scary and terrifying but we think it is going to be a better place for him in the long run. The change in routine will probably be an ordeal, but that should settle down in a few weeks.

Been trying to write. Got two rejections last week, and I accept them. If you’re not in the game you cannot complain about it. Which got me to thinking a bit about slam. Last weekend was the National Poetry Slam. I did not follow it. Have no idea who is on the team from Baltimore that won. Slam’s a game I have not been able to commit to for about three years. I also think I peaked out, have no added value to really offer and am just plain not good enough to really compete. That lack of commitment is on me. Some days I want to get back to it, others make me realize it’s good to let others have the playground.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Something from the LJ archive

There were fireflies glowing by the old chicken coop in my Grandparent's backyard. We used to have barbecues there when the other tenants of the house were not home. We'd cut through the breezeway, looking into the kitchen of their neighbors. One time, when i was five or so, i snuck in their home, walked into a hallway. heard a noise and bolted out of there fast. I remember a black and white portrait on a dresser.

Down the road from their house on Eagle Avenue was a riding stable. We used to go down there, not to ride, but to look at the horses. Some of them knew their names and would look up at you as you read their names from the plaques on the door.

One day, I was sitting alone in the front seat of my Stepfather's Barracuda. I was playing with the gear shift and put the car in reverse. Their driveway was on a slope that, slowly, sent me into traffic. Luckily i was not hit by any oncoming cars. A passerby saw me frozen in the front seat and went into the house for help. When my parents came out to get me, all they saw of me was my beanie cap with the propeller on it.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Columbus, Ohio 4:41PM, today

The scene: the southeast corner of North 4th and East Main. The meter has just been paid. A couple are on their way to dinner when suddenly...

"Excuse me Sir." A person walking with another person walking north on 4th yelled out.

"Yes?"

"Would you like to buy a tent?" In one hand he was carrying a medium sized black bag in which, I guess, was his ware.

"No thank you"

The man looked a little upset, thought he has a sure sale, but I have no tenting needs for now, or the foreseeable future.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

It's high tide

Up until about three minutes ago I had no idea this video existed.



Another one that is almost 30 years old and just as relevant as when released. That's sad, people.