Sunday, February 24, 2008

If someone in your life has Down's Syndrome or another genetic disability...

"We don’t want a world where parents feel driven to justify their children’s existence."

Sorry to venture away from "house blog" topics but I'm trying to help gather signatures for an important petition in support of a legislation that would require physicians to provide appropriate education to expectant parents about the realities of prenatally-diagnosed conditions, instead of the too-common practice of simply dumping the results of an imperfect test onto the parents without any real education about the realities of living with that condition, along with an implied expectation that the parents should choose to abort now that they know that their child is not "perfect."

This petition and legislation came about because the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) now instructs their doctors to recommend diagnostic testing for all pregnant women, regardless of age, for Down syndrome. Yet they have provided no resources or guidelines to the doctor's as to how to make it clear to parents that testing is an option and not a requirement, how to present the news of a positive result from the test, how to properly support the parents in making a fully informed decision, or how to help parents who choose not to abort to emotionally and logistically prepare to raise a child who has Down's Syndrome.

Not only that, most expectant mothers would not get amniocentesis with genetic testing, but a first-trimester blood test and ultrasound which is known to result in false positives, and which has led to a number of families choosing to abort healthy fetuses who are then found to not have Down's Syndrome.

The petition is located here:

The legislation is here:

My personal view is that to push this imperfect testing, or any kind of testing, without any education for the doctor or the patient, and with the clearly implied expectation that the parents would choose to abort if the results were positive, is sliding down the slippery slope of eugenics, and creates an assumption that we should only allow "perfect" children to be born. Raw information without substantial education as to how to process that information goes firmly against a physicians oath of "first do no harm." While I am someone who supports freedom of choice overall, to put expectant parents in a situation where they are essentially being pressured to choose to abort, even just by virtue of leaving them to make that decision without any substantive education of what life is really like as a person with DS or as a parent to a child with DS, is morally appalling to me.

Thanks in advance to anyone who signs their name to this petition.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Bathroom Bling, or "Let the Renovation Begin"

I made my first real purchase for the bathroom renovation: Bling. Otherwise known as shiny new matching hardware. I got one of these:

And one of these:

plus an oval mirror, the trendy new kind that mounts in the middle and tilts down a bit, a toilet paper holder, two robe hooks, and a matching toilet flush lever. Yes, dammit, I wanted even my toilet to match. I've never had a bathroom where things actually matched (and never one that didn't match in a cool trendy "ooh look at all that cool original stuff", it was always more like "ooohhh well, we got that on sale, then we found that one in the scratch & dent and see, it kinda matches...") and dammit, I want one!!

Oh I did also buy a wall-mounted soap dish and toothbrush holder but those are going back.

There are two things that are a little off about this purchase:

First, it wasn't planned. If I'm going to spend more than $25, I research it to death. Even my rare "impulse purchases" are carefully evaluated and done only if I am totally confident in my decision AND it's pretty much a one-chance one of a kind deal. But no, not this. We went into Lowes for a Brita pitcher and a shower organizer and I walked out with nearly $300 in bathroom hardware. It was just one of those love at first sight things: We weren't really seriously looking at the hardware, just passing through that aisle, but I looked up and just knew that was what I wanted for this bathroom reno. I really like both the knob decoration on the end, and the really rich polished nickel finish.

The other thing is that this hardware stuff is generally last on a renovation task list, like, after you rip out most of the drywall and put up the tile. But it's also one of the few parts of a renovation that can be put up then taken down again without all that huge of an effort.

I think what's happened is that now I can actually see the renovation on the horizon, the nastyass ugliness of that bathroom makes me cringe. Honestly, it just screams "cheap" and "generic" and "boarding house for young community-college baseball players." So even though the full renovation isn't starting until I start my summer break, I'm hanging this bling this weekend, baby. The mirrors - cheapest possible paper-thin glass with the silvering all mottled around the edge are coming down and the new one going up, with the glass shelf underneath. Towel rack, toilet paper holder, even the flush lever is going up. I know it will probably look it's own shade of ugly, to have those things up in contrast with the vinyl scrap floor, economy grade tub, dingy worn out looking sink base, and misplaced ugly lighting. But at least I'll have a really nice looking toilet paper holder.

Just for my own benefit, here's a running total of acquisitions and rough-budgeted items to date:

  • Antique dresser that will be used as sinkbase: free (trashpicked)
  • Nice decorative exhaust fan/light: $80 (bought long before the renovation was planned, or I would have chosen a different design, but I'm counting it in the long-term reno.
  • Hardware including mirror: $245 (after I take back the toothbrush and soap holders)
  • Beautiful custom-made all-wood medicine cabinet and matching front for the linen cabinet: Estimate $500. I'll post pics and post a link to the cabinetmaker's website once I have them. I might get these and install the medicine cabinet before the full reno, because I don't have one and need one, and medicine cabinets are pretty easy to install and take out, and it will make me happy to see it there.
  • Base/edge and other tiles for the shower and walls: Free from someone on Old House Web, as soon as I can get up there to pick them up!

I want so much to run out and get lighting, which is also something easily reinstalled, but the over-sink lighting and sink-area receptacle need to be moved to the adjacent walls, so I'm going to have to tear out a bunch of drywall and pray I can move the wiring around without over-uglifying things with those damn junction boxes required by code. Ah for the days when you could just twist a couple of wires together, slap some electrical tape around them, and shove them behind drywall. (NOT!)

Wait. I can move a fixture easily. I can put it up in the current position for now. Duh.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Important Note to Self

If you decide what you're going to buy for yourself out of your share of Tax Refund Toy Money -- say, for example, a Kreg Jig K3 Master System

(as opposed to the RockStar game that's being bought with Partner's share of Tax Refund Toy Money, since the two of us have very different definitions for the word "Toy").

Anyway, if you're looking for that online and you find a company that offers the lowest price, free shipping, AND $20+ worth of pocket jig screws, it would be a Really Good Idea to make note of that company's name.

Sitting here refreshing Google three dozen times after each possible combination of search keywords in hopes that the same offer will show up once again in the "sponsored links" section is just not a very good use of your time. And by the time you get back to the classroom where you were when you first saw the link, that PC's daily history will be cleared out.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

I found some classes to take! WOOOOOT!!

After searching forever, I finally found some woodworking classes that are within a 1.5 hour drive from me, with classes long enough to give me at worst a 1:1 driving-time to class-time ratio. Whooo-hoooo, right? Well, for me, definitely, if that' s my only choice!! There is NOTHING in my neck of the woods, and even some serious efforts to find someone to teach me one-on-one have totally failed.

The classes are at the Woodcraft store in the Wilmington area, and if they check out (as in, no one tells me that the classes at the Woodcraft stores aren't worth the drive) I'll be signing up for an evening class in Tablesaw basics, a full day of Router Basics in the morning followed by Router Table Techniques in the afternoon, and an almost-full-day Raised Panel Door class subtitled "Routing with Stile." They even have a cabinetmaking series, but the next one starts next weekend and that's just not possible (especially since I'd need some of the other courses or experience to really get the most out of it), but hopefully the next round will work out for me. The prices seem pretty reasonable - around $60 per 3-hour session - and materials are included in that, plus the class sizes are small, just 5-8 students. It likely beats my original plan to spend a week in Vermont spending $2000+ for tuition plus travel, room and board, for a class with 20 or so people in it.

This could be the beginning of something good. See, I have a standing offer to use a coworker's seriously underutilized (and, according to his wife's tone and eye-rolls, seriously over-invested) workshop, but no one to teach me how to use anything -- he made it clear that he'd love to see it used, but he has neither the time or inclination to teach me what I'd need to know. If I get some training somewhere, then I can hopefully put some of that training to use in making doors for the storage and medicine cabinets for the bathroom remodel I'm planning, and then later to other good uses. And if my coworker is true to his word, I can do what I need to do without having to invest in the equipment myself (I'll find some way to pay him back).

Thursday, February 7, 2008

This will have to suffice as an update

I was just asked to give an update on my bathroom remodeling project. Bwaaaaaaaahahahaha.

OK, here's the update: Between Office 2007 being the cause of my having to completely redesign two of my classes which has required massive amounts of evening and weekend work in the past couple of weeks just to stay one step ahead of my students, an "OMG we need to get you checked out STAT" scare from my doctor with regard to some GI problems (I have a history of symptoms that are often consistent with colon cancer) which resulted in a CT scan and a frightening wait for the results (which turned out fine, though she's still scheduling me for a colonoscopy - oh such fun fun fun), and an anaphylactic reaction to an allergy shot that resulted in my first ever ambulance ride (and my first time ever missing the chance to vote in what I consider to be a significant election) followed by my now being on massive amounts of steroids that have lowered my IQ to about 12 and my patience and willingness to treat people around me with any shred of decency to nil, the sum total of work that I've done related to the house in the past two weeks is to check out and leaf through some books on bathroom redesign.

And today was supposed to be my "take off work and take it easy" day since I had to be at work for 13 hours yesterday (the day immediately after my lovely night in the ER). Oh, yeah, right. My "taking it easy" has consisted of being up since 7:30am since high-dose prednisone and sleep are not compatible in my body, a couple of hours on the phone, online and in email resolving issues related to the testing center not having Office 2007 (which means my students can't take their tests) and the textbook publisher website not supplying the correct data files for my students to use for the chapter they're supposed to start this weekend, my completing three tests and two homework assignments for two of the three classes I'm taking, two loads of laundry, cleaning the kitchen, cooking a batch of bacon that was about to expire, listing a stack of textbooks for sale on Amazon, and attempting to not scream at anything that dares move or make noise around me. And it's only 1:30 and I still have 8 items on my to-do list for the day: Taxes, take another test for one of my classes, do three more loads of laundry, move my PC back into the office (which requires finding space on my desk for my PC), pick up some prescriptions, pick up a bunch of clothes for baby granddaughter from a freecycle person who will only hold them for me through today, grocery shopping, and "relax." Yeah, RIGHT.

So THAT, my friends, is my update. Don't you wish you had my life?

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Missing Old House Web forums

I am seriously missing my regular forums fix. For whatever reason I was able to get into the new forums one time a few days ago, and it seemed like others had been able to get to the redesigned forums before I was, but now it's been unavailable again for several days.

Any Old House Web folks know the status?