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September 1, 2004

September 2004 Archives

September 30, 2004
A Kind Cut

A palpable shiver rushed through the seats last night as Artimedorus rehearsed her letter of portent.

From the auditorium seats awaiting my next entrance, I looked up from my studies (placement of indwelling urinary catheters) to see a Malvolio look-alike slink down to the stage and place a bundle of metal on the apron. As the stage manager shushed the suddenly murmuring crowd, the newcomer meticulously lined up the contents of the bundle on the edge of the stage. Stepping back, he surveyed his work, slowly turned, strode up the auditorium staircase and lowered himself into a seat among us. My eyes moved from the proud stranger to the stage, and beheld the objects that he’d arranged.

The knives had arrived.


The time had come to learn to kill Caesar.

We’d been muddling through Act 3, Scene 1 for a week or two now, due primarily to the lack of set, which would consist of several levels of stairs, ramps, and platforms rising from 36” off the stage floor to a towering 132”. We conspirators would more or less pass our Caesar from the imaginary topmost platform to the stage floor in a pseudo-fireman bucket brigade where Caesar would enact a painfully melodramatic death on the apron for our amusement.

Seemingly overnight, the stage grew a series of platforms and staircases, so I’d passed the first portion of the evening rehearsing my blocking on the new platforms. In Act 3, Scene 1, after stabbing Caesar I have to race across a 36” high platform, up a nine-step staircase, make a sharp right turn up a wider set of stairs, before proclaiming the first line following Caesar’s “Et tu, Brute?” atop the highest platform on the set. During a break in the night‘s agenda, I practiced running up again and again The mantra of the nursing department ran through my head as I damned the fashionable clogs I’d chosen to wear to rehearsal: Safety First! Oh well, I thought, I’ll just skip Cinna’s limp-gait tonight; this set is handicap aplenty.

And now, as Arty (as she is called) finished her lines on stage, the knives glinted under the hot stage lights and the Combat Master patiently waited in the audience.

Joel, sitting behind me, leaned in and said, “I’m glad that Caesar doesn’t have a knife.”

“Why?” I asked, incredulous that my spouse had made such a ridiculous confession that belied his true interest in the weaponry before us.

“Because, I’d be playing with them all the time.”

Our director called for the start of Act 3, and fifteen bodies hurtled toward the stage. The Combat Master rushed ahead and stood before his implements.

Quietly, he inquired, “Who among you kill Caesar?”

Six hands eagerly shot into the air above our heads. I am not embarrassed to admit that I waved mine a la Hermione. In previous shows, my props have included items like a broom (Oklahoma), a sign bearing the words “Down with Men” (Atalanta), scrolls (Caucasian Chalk Circle), a shawl (Cloud 9), a guitar (Sound of Music), but I’ve never had my own weapon. How I’ve longed to shakily hold a gun at Chino’s head or to enact the Scottish Play’s bloody, maddening descent or to even cheerfully carve meat pies from the victims of Sweeney Todd ... My moment to try my hand at sword-play has arrived.

I’ll not spoil the scene for those who might read this and see the show, but I’ll just say that last night was one of the proudest events of my marriage: I successfully (and safely) eviscerated Joel seven times.

Posted by Aimee at 09:39 AM | Comments (0) |

September 29, 2004
Cats n' Ladders

It was a quiet evening for us on Sunday. I read about the battle of the Marne River while Aimee knitted. We’d had a long day of watching football and debating about whether or not to spend our precious money on pizza, and now, full of pizza, we were enjoying a deep contented quietude. Yep, it was really quiet.

Almost too quiet.

Through the open living room window we heard a scuffling sound and then someone’s exasperated voice calling “Rocky! You stop that!” Aimee, absorbed in her knitting, heard nothing. Unwilling to interrupt our mutual reverie, I pretended to be just as absorbed. A few minutes went by, and Aimee asked “Where’s the cat?”
“Outside,” I replied calmly. “I think she had a fight with a dog.”

Aimee is a first-time cat owner (always excepting the Kitten Debacle of 1998). As such, most of her knowledge of cats comes from a solid childhood foundation of cartoons. For her, cats, although lovable, are like Tom from Tom n’ Jerry: Machiavellian, violent and generally incompetent. They are also like Sylvester from Loony Toons: Machiavellian, violent, incompetent, and reliant upon TNT. It’s just her luck that she’s acquired a cat who perfectly fits the Nickelodeon archetype.

To wit: Nine had indeed been chased by a dog. Rather than leap through the open window into the safety of our quietude, she ran up the tallest tree in the yard and became stuck. We discovered this when Aimee, concerned that her own little Sylvester had been anviled/turned-into-an-accordian/blown-up-with-TNT by our neighborhood’s version of that big dog (Spike?), went out with the flashlight and found her, mewing piteously, up in the tree.

As a lifelong cat owner, I strove to reassure Aimee. “It’s okay,” I said reassuringly. “When cats get stuck in trees, they only think they’re stuck. She’ll figure out how to get down eventually.” Aimee looked at me, I looked reassuringly back. We both looked up at Nine. She mewed piteously. Minutes passed. “Aw, crap,” I thought to myself. “Well, let’s go steal the neighbor’s ladder,” I said aloud.

I can hear your questions. Why steal the ladder? Why not just knock on the door and borrow it? Didn’t you get in trouble for stealing several hundred pounds of food from a college cafeteria? What stupid questions you ask! Right, the ladder was just lying there, unprotected by anything other than a motion detector and a savage dog (not Rocky). Also, Aimee goes to nursing school with the ladder’s owner, who is also the son of our landlady, so it’s practically like we were stealing the ladder from ourselves, which wouldn’t be stealing, eh? And finally, I didn’t want to deal with the embarrassment of explaining to a guy that I was getting a cat out of a tree and having to hear him reassure me that it was okay, cats can always get down, they just have to decide that they can. And then I’d have to take him out to the tree and have him listen to our precious little speck of dust mew piteously.

So, I grabbed the ladder, triggering the motion detector and the savage dog (who, fortunately, was trapped inside the garage) and, shaking and swearing, ran to the tree. The ladder reached a few feet below where Nine awaited my rescue, which meant that it was about an eighteen-foot ladder. Aimee steadied it while I climbed shakily up to the cat. Standing on the last rung (handily labeled “Do not step”), I grabbed the cat by the scruff and pulled her off the limb. My other hand was busily employed with clinging to the tree, so I wasn’t able to actually change my grip or hold the cat. I didn’t think much of the idea of climbing down the shaky ladder holding Nine at arm’s length by the scruff, so I brought her closer to me, hoping that she’d cling to my torso like a baby koala bear, or a sloth, or pretty much anything other than a frightened cat.
Nothing doing. She seized the opportunity to swipe her claws across my nose. With blood splashing down my face, I held her away from me again. Before I could come up with a better plan (the idea of trading her in for a baby koala bear was just starting to form), she took matters into her own razor-sharp claws by twisting her body free from my grip, swinging in toward my head for a quick slash at my ear, and then plummeting toward the ground.

“Uh, she’s falling!” I yelled, as she fell. Aimee, wisely, did nothing, and Nine landed on her back and then ricocheted to the ground.
“How is she? Is she okay?” I yelped bloodily.
“Just come down,” was all Aimee would say.

As it turned out, she was fine. She spent a few minutes messing about in the bushes before she let Aimee catch her, and then had a lovely evening cavorting about the house.

I’m okay, too. I don’t think I’ll have any permanent scars. And the ladder got home safely, though I was careful to wipe off all the blood. Nothing worse than having your neighbor bleed all over your ladder.


And of course it turned out I was right, Nine just needed time to organize her thoughts and various resources: neighbor’s ladder, idiot owner, and claws, and then she was perfectly able to get down.
Posted by Joel at 03:21 PM | Comments (3) |

Our Nemo has become quite the tree-climber himself. His quarry: the neighborhood squirrels. Thus far, his furry prey have eluded him through various techniques involving utility wires, angry scoldings and acorn misslies.

We also worried that our cat wouldn't be able to return to the ground, but each time, he ends up safely home. Joel, I hope you let Aimee practice on those wounds of yours.

Posted by: Kris at October 1, 2004 02:47 PM

Excellent point, Kris. She had just finished her wound-care lab practical the week before, and therefore took great relish in sterilizing the whole place. 'S a good thing I didn't feel I had to go in to the clinic, as our new deductible is... well, very high.

Posted by: Joel at October 1, 2004 05:32 PM

Wheras my cat, well, my cat is old and needs to die.

It's 4:50 a.m. I'm awake because Kris and I went to bed early. We're both still sick (Kris is going into week three with this illness.) My body slept its normal number of hours and then awoke. Since I needed to pay bills, I figured I'd get up and do my finances. And sniffle. A lot.

Toto's trying to keep me company, but as happens more and more lately, she can't seem to make the jump onto the desk. She just tried it again. She almost gauged the height right, but when she fell short, and tried to claw onto something, her only purchase was a roll of stamps and the latest issue of Oregon Historical Quarterly. Rather than help her, I watched her slide slowly to the ground. Ka-plump.

Then I sniffled some more.

Now I need to decide whether 'twould be better to go back to bed or to find out what's on high-definition digital television at five in the morning...

Posted by: J.D. Roth at October 2, 2004 04:53 AM

September 21, 2004
Flossing: A Silent Killer?

Today’s health topic is flossing. Many people do it. Most people who don’t floss feel like they ought to, and periodically succumb to this guilt and make themselves do it for several days in a row. The health benefits of flossing are manifold: cleaner teeth, healthier gums, fresher breath and probably less arterial plaque. But might it actually decrease your life span?

To find out, I repeatedly took this very scientific health quiz that JD linked to on his website. He put it there as part of his regular self-flagellation over his unhealthy life style, but I decided to put it to good use. And now my findings will serve you all.

When I took the health test and answered honestly I found I was exceptionally healthy. I have low cholesterol, I don’t eat sweets, and my relatives aren’t dropping like flies. However, I admitted to not flossing. How much longer would I live, I wondered, if I flossed every day? I took the quiz again: 0.2 years longer. My lifespan would be extended 11 or so weeks if I flossed every day, enough time to read five or six books, watch every episode of Mama’s Family, and still have time to get my will together.

Except for the fact that I’ll have used those 11 weeks and more with all that flossing!

Let’s do the math. If you do a good job flossing it’ll take you about ten minutes, especially if you add in all the time you spend shopping for your favorite flavor and picking up the little strands off the bathroom floor. Ten minutes a day divided by 60 minutes, divided again by the 16 hours that you’re actually awake during the day: 0.0104 days. Multiply that by the 365 days in a year: 3.82 days per year spent flossing. Multiply that by the 70 years I have left to live: 266 days spent flossing! Net loss of life: -189 days! Ladies and gentlemen, our floss is sucking our life away, using up time that we could spend loving our families, enjoying great works of art, making extra money for early retirement….


So I urge you, put down that floss, it’s just not worth it. Or, if you feel you must floss, if corn cobs and lamb chops are piling up twixt teeth and gums, please try and do it while watching television, or listening to your spouse talk about their day, or some other task for which you don’t need your hands. Of course, this inattention may cause an increase in floss-related injuries, further shortening your life-span, so really I’d say just use it to hang up Halloween decorations in your window, restrain very small animals, or make Barbie a self-defense garrote.
Posted by Joel at 01:15 PM | Comments (4) |

Hilarious Joelah! But, when I floss, it usually only takes me about 1-2 minutes...maximum. Will that get me in the black? Unrelated to flossing, I had to reformat and reinstall Windows XP on my computer due to the crap that SP2 did. Don't install it if you don't have to. But it's like I have a brand new computer again.

Posted by: mac at September 21, 2004 08:44 PM

Well, 266 days/5 = 53 days, so you'd be gaining a couple of weeks. But don't forget all the time you spend cleaning up the floss!
Then again, as I recall, getting to the nooks and crannies of the bathroom was never really your bag, so perhaps that's P's concern.
I'm glad your computer is working again. Ours is suffering from a spy attack, I'm thinking about switching to one of those "alternative browsers" to "surf".

Posted by: Joel at September 22, 2004 06:15 AM

Fantastic work. This should have been your med school essay.

Posted by: Denis at September 23, 2004 10:52 AM

More toads! Less flossing!

Posted by: J.D. at September 27, 2004 02:24 PM
September 17, 2004
Haiku, Haiku


Weblog abandoned
Momentarily (by choice),
Insert a haiku.


I cannot dowload
The rtf nursing care plan!
Damn-and-blast this site!


I’ve lost five pounds, now
But my brain feels so heavy:
Big hair leads large thoughts.


BO 1 st, work
3” more in St st, ending.
Secret Skully Code.


A stark dehiscence
Encouraging gawkers’ stares
Reminds “first, do no harm.”


Document-write-schedule: The
Practice of Nursing.


A third of the class
Isn’t here. What do they know,
That I do not, eh?


Wine-in-a-box, Yum!
Like a boozy wine-fountain,
All too convenient.


This place stinks of dogs
You let your family bring.
They’re still here, somewhere.


Blocking rehearsals,
Through Act Three, keep us away
from Netflix post-sup.
Posted by Us at 09:41 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Wine-in-a-box, Yum!
Like a boozy wine-fountain,
All too convenient.

You have me in tears, dear friends, in tears.

Very funny.

And, in a way, you've helped decide the fate of the book group. Wine-in-a-box it is! And fresh grapes! (Because what does better than wine and grapes?) And, and, and salmon chowder! (We'll take a break from the clam chowder, shall we?) And, and, and pig embryos!

Posted by: J.D. at September 17, 2004 11:10 AM

Funny, funny people.

It's your brilliant SM here to tell you that I am no longer between blogs. www.xanga.com/mayk_shift

Now you can keep track of how psychotic I really am...

Posted by: lyssa at September 18, 2004 07:22 PM
September 14, 2004
Embryology: Bane of My Existence (With Apologies to Those Who Are Expecting)

Six weeks have passed since I began medical school, and as far as I can tell, I my grades bob along in the lofty and seldom-visited heights of the 95s. I’m usually more of an A-/B+ man, squeaking by in that exciting and shadowy world where every exam question could stand between me and an A. I also like to bomb the first test, as I can think of no greater spur to keep one’s head in the books than the sharp and pointy prospect of a thirty-point hill that needs climbing.

None of that sort of thing for me, however, as I’ve studied effectively and tested well thus far. It’s still early, however, and my mounting hatred for embryology could, with the high-pitched squeal of rapidly escaping gas, bring my bobbing grades down to a more familiar level.

What’s so hard about embryology? To begin with, the whole field is about an animal that is undergoing change. Every little bit and bob oozes and morphs into something completely different. And let’s emphasize that “animal” thing. The textbooks, the professor, and the diabolical geniuses at Shell Oil all seem to feel the need to emphasize the alienness of the developing fetus. It’s this whole other critter with not one, or two, but at least three different names for every piece of its anatomy as it grows. Where you or I have the usual assortment of protuberances, notches, and foramen, it sports an endless litany of plates, streaks, grooves, pores, pits, buds, cups, membranes, and pouches.

In grown-ups, most of the structures have names that make sense. Apparently in the olden days the trend was to name things after people rather than what they do or where they are. Nowadays the muscle stretching from the styloid process to the hyoid bone is called the “stylohyoid muscle”, not the “melio-elliptical band of Norman”, as it was formerly known. Some these structures, however, are still with us. Those of us who are not on the Atkins diet receive nourishment to the brain through a network of arteries that, if examined from the right angle, look exactly like a winged devil-boy with eight arms. Rather than call this structure “the arterial network of the brain” or even “the bloody devil boy who lives in all our heads” we call it the Circle of Willis.


In embryology, there are a lot more Circles of Willises than stylohyoid muscles. The initial opening in the head which becomes the mouth is not named “the proto-mouth area” or “primitive pie-hole”, it is the stomodeum. Oh, well, I just looked it up, and stomodeum actually does mean “primitive pie-hole” in Greek, so maybe that was a bad example.

Another irritating thing about embryology is how useful it’s supposed to be: A great way to remember that cranial nerve VII is the nerve for muscles of facial expression, is to know that both the nerve and the muscles develop out of the fetus’ second branchial arch! My, that is easy! In order to remember one relationship, I can go out and memorize another! Much simpler than thinking, “Hmm, cranial nerve VII is called the facial nerve. I bet its muscles are… well, not the tongue or the ear….” (The branchial arches, by the by, are so named because “branchy” means “kind of like a gill” in Greek, and the arches are like the gills of fish. Which, in one swell foop emphasizes the alienness of the subject and provides a hard-to-memorize name for a structure that swiftly disappears.)

It’s an important subject, as 6% of Americans are eventually diagnosed with a birth defect. And our fertility rates are dropping, so it might be handy to know how babies get made in case we, you know, have to someday actually make them. So I’ll keep on plugging away at it and cram into my head the “superior sulcus terminales” (Greek for “The line between passing and failing.”)
Posted by Joel at 11:59 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

No apologies necessary as embryology is currently the bane of my existence, too! I am ready to move into the pediatrics department!

Posted by: Pam at September 15, 2004 07:56 AM

Hey, this is great: I'm auditing medical school! Can I get an online PhD for this?

Posted by: Kris at September 15, 2004 04:25 PM

Yeah... you probably can, and may well be able to get a pretty good job with it depending on the website.

Posted by: Joel at September 16, 2004 06:27 AM

I am very weak in biology (and chemistry, if it comes to that), but I have developed a sort of personal interest in embryology. There's some really interesting snippets of research I've read (it's easier to be interested when there's no test).

Of course, I'm mostly focusing on things like sexual development and differentiation (for reasons that are probably obvious), not on the Cirle of ("what you talkin' 'bout") Willis and its ilk.

I know, I know -- I turn everything into a discussion of TG related topics. Sorry!

Abstract on Sexual Differentiation

Normal and abnormal sexual differentiation

XX Male Syndrome

Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome

Clinical and Genetic Study of a XX (SRY Negative) Male

google answers: biological gender fetal differences

Gender self-reassignment in an XY adolescent female

Diethylstilbestrol (DES) Exposure

CDC DES Update Home

A Discussion on the Relationship between Gender Identity and Prenatal exposure to Diethylstilbestrol (DES) in 46XY individuals

Comments on 'A Sex difference in the human brain and its relation to transsexuality

Posted by: Dana at September 17, 2004 09:25 AM

Actually, I can vouch for Dana in this case. What she's shared with me on this subject is actually quite fascinating.

Posted by: J.D. at September 17, 2004 11:09 AM
September 09, 2004
Beware, a Litte After the Ides of October

Two weeks ago, we went to our next-door-neighbors’ yard party, and enjoyed an evening of chatting up most of the students in the University of South Dakota’s Masters of English program. One of these students, Kari, quickly revealed herself to be a former drama student, and an instant friendship was produced. We hungrily leaped upon her every reference to shows and actors we’d seen and not seen, and descriptions of the theater program at the U. With her usual vivacious enthusiasm, Kari encouraged us to audition for the fall production of Julius Caesar. We were excited, it had been hovering in the back of our minds to try out for a play, and the possibility of taking part in an academic production was one of the benefits of our going to a state school. But neither of us had actively pursued the idea. “When are auditions?” Kari grinned and said, “In three days.”

Did we really want to be in a play? The question kept coming up as we threw together our audition material. With every measurement of pros and cons, we wavered.

Aimee would have to miss an important symbolic step in her nursing education: The Pinning Ceremony. Equivalent to Joel’s White Coat Ceremony, this formal moment acts to welcome Aimee as she takes her first step toward becoming a nurse. How would it feel to skip it?

Aimee had also just experienced a very chaotic first few days of class. As such, she didn’t really have a handle on what her assignments and responsibilities would be for the rest of the term. Would it be fair to sign up for a show without knowing all the possible conflicts?

And what about our course loads in general? We’re supposed to be here to focus on our studies, to become healers. Did it make any sense to take time away from that?

And what about our relationship? If one of us was cast and not the other, how could we stay connected?

With these questions and more heavy in our hearts, we auditioned. The auditions went well, and we were both cast, Joel as Julius Caesar and Aimee as Cinna the conspirator.

So, should we accept the roles?

Aimee learned that she could attend the Pinning Ceremony next year and, more importantly, receives and can wear her pin this year. Also, her confusing first week of class finally ended with a great many questions answered and a study routine established. Joel’s classes continued to go well, with anatomy centering on the head and neck (What doesn’t he know about the head and neck?), and his second biochemistry exam going swimmingly. Also, we were in the show together, and Caesar and Cinna perform in many of the same scenes, granting us most of the same rehearsals.

Most importantly, we want to be deep and dynamic people. We recognize that a monomaniacal focus on our schoolwork makes us unhappy. More people drop out of our programs for emotional/familial than academic reasons. And, for the rest of our lives we intend to be many things in addition to healers. One of the things we make room for is art. We believe that activity in the arts will make us better at everything we do, and, hopefully, our work as rebuilders of people’s bodies and minds will enhance our abilities in the arts.

So, without further ado, we've accepted the roles of Caesar and Cinna.

The crossover surfaced almost immediately ... In our first rehearsal, our director explained iambic pentameter to us as “dah-duh, dah-duh, dah-duh. Which, if you listen to it, is just like the ‘lub-dub, lub-dub’ rhythm of the heart.” Aimee, having just come from her vital signs lab, nodded vigorously. Our training allows us to bring a new and larger thought-world to our acting. And to our marriage. And being in a play will spill back over into everything else.
Posted by Us at 10:54 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

What's the cheapest way to get to Vermillion at the end of October? If I come see a performance, will you bathe me in wine, women, and song? (At least wine and song?) Are recording devices allowed? Could I tape the performance and then bring a copy home so that it could be shared among your heart-sore friends? (Come to think of it, even if I don't come myself, you could acquire a semi-official tape and send it on, either to me or to the Proffitt-Smiths. I'm sure there are many of us who would take great joy in seeing Joel eviscerated, if only in play-acting! :)

Your brother in Christ —

Posted by: J.D. Roth at September 9, 2004 06:01 PM

Congratulations! Not only are both of you in school, you both landed parts in the play. I'm overcome with awe. I certainly wish that we could see you both thesbiate, but since we're never travelling again, that's not possible. :)

Posted by: Lisa at September 13, 2004 08:18 AM

Hey. We're at book group right now, chatting, and you losers aren't here. We're talking about you and your weblog. We just told Don that you're in Julius Caesar, and that Joel is the lead. Quoth he: "You know — I'd pay money to see somebody stab him!" And we all laughed and laughed and laughed.

Don't you wish you were here? :)

Posted by: J.D. at September 19, 2004 05:29 PM

September 04, 2004
Night of the Hunters: A Reenactment

This happened a couple of weeks ago, but I hope never to forget it. Certain moments in a man’s life transform him from what he was, happily shallow and pleasantly complacent, into what he can be, a warrior or a healer or even a poet. In the great opening line (and it was all downhill from there) of David Copperfield, Dickens wrote “Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.”

The event that this weblog describes did not show me to be the hero of my own life, but it awakened within me a new idea of heroism, one that does not revolve around watching things happen and making smart remarks, but a heroism of action. Peter Parker saw his uncle killed when he could have prevented it. Oliver Stone lived through Vietnam. I survived my Night of the Hunters.

It was early in the morning and Aimee first heard it. She woke me with the question, “What is that, a bug?” I drowsily listened. It certainly sounded like a bug, there was a floppy sort of moth-like sound moving around in the pitch black, followed by the unmistakable din of Nine chasing something. Flippty-flippty… then a biddaba-Plop as Nine pounced. “I think it’s a moth, go back to sleep,” my flabby and complacent self was about to utter, when the thing began to shriek.

The last time I went to the dentist (2002), she had a new tool to clean teeth. Rather than dipping that little spinning barrel into the Nasty Stuff and scouring, she used a sonic emitter to dislodge plaque and the odd shrimp exoskeleton lodged ‘twixt my molars. It was less irritating than the spinning barrel thingy, but it created quite a clamor. Our intruder made just such a noise. Leaping, or rather leaning, into action, I reached over and turned on the lamp. This was no moth. Our rest was not interrupted by an exciting but fairly routine exercise in lepidoptery. We had been visited by a bat.

Nine (who is, of course, always already the hero of her own lives) was chasing it about the room, knocking it out of the air, and leaping upon it. For her, this was equivalent of the circus unexpectedly turning up for an impromptu performance in her home. There was no need to actually kill the bat, as she wasn’t hungry and such a course would necessarily end the circus, so she pleased herself by knocking it out of the air, pouncing upon it, and then politely stepping back and, in a sort of good-sportsmanlike way, waiting for it to resume flapping about the room. The bat, of course, protested the very basis of her sport in what may well be the most caustic dialect of the animal kingdom, bat blasphemy.

I like bats, in their place. I like that they eat insects and, rather than birds who just swoop along and hope to run into bugs, are maneuverable enough to actually change course to intercept. I like that they’re so well-evolved that they live pretty much everywhere and make up 20% of all species of mammals. But I also like them to be outside. My previous experience with the various animals Nine has captured (mice, birds, and squirrels) has taught me the single most important device in wounded animal transport: the plastic shopping bag. I rushed into the kitchen and grabbed one from the never-ending supply in the cupboard ‘neath the sink. I rushed back to the bedroom and made for the bat. “Very few bats have rabies,” I recited to myself that which I had learned from a trail-side sign in Bend, Oregon. “Those that do tend not to be aggressive,” I added. It was no good, I needed protection.

While Aimee tried to make herself very small and horrified, and Nine continued to abuse the bat, I whipped on a pair of nitrile gloves. Proof against blood-borne pathogens, proof against general ickiness, and enough of a barrier for my piece of mind. Taking up my trusty Hy-Vee bag I entered the bedroom and waited for my chance. There! Nine had grounded the bat. Swiftly I knocked the cat aside and covered the bat with my bag. Nine stood to one side, interested. This was a new twist on what was already the best game ever.


I gently gathered the bag around the suddenly silent bat and gathered it up. Considering it had an approximately 12-foot wingspan, it weighed surprisingly little. Nary a noise did it make as I scuttled through the house and to the back door. “It’s mortally wounded,” I thought. “Poor thing, Nine was just too much for it. I’ll have to use the brick (my other tool in the disposal of Nine’s mostly-dead victims).”

I went through the back door, opened the bag, and waited for its humongous body to thump on the ground. A tiny whisper of a swoop tickled my face, and the bat was gone.

Where had it come from? How did it get into our bedroom? Could we use it as a reason to discount our next month’s rent? Mostly unanswerable questions. On Aimee’s side of the bed there’s a big (and scary) air return from the basement. Could that have been its point of egress?


I and my loved ones made it through that night unscathed, and now when I’m confronted by some new and alarming reality I meet it with a quietness and a readiness that I’ve never had before. With open eyes I assess the situation, and, with steady hands, I reach in my pocket and take out my plastic grocery bag.
Posted by Joel at 07:02 PM | Comments (2) |



Mrow, meoww, rrr, trrllll, meow, mrow, mrow.


Mrow. Meow, meow, meow. Hsss.

Pffftt. Pffttt. Grrrrr. Meow.

Posted by: Toto at September 7, 2004 10:21 AM

Ozzy would have bitten off it 'ead.

Posted by: Denis at September 8, 2004 04:52 PM