Sunday, April 21, 2013

A dog door-opening solution

I've always meant to document this properly:

We have room-by-room heating, and we have a dog. I've set up pulleys in the rooms we keep warm to close doors behind our dog, and handles he can use to open them. That way, he can go wherever he wants in the house and doesn't leave an open door behind him, letting heat out.

The pulley and handle were dead simple to put together. The handle is just a metal hook like you can find at any hardware store, screwed into the door at nose height with some rope and soft fabric wrapped around it. The pulley consists of two screw eyes, a string, and some socket wrench attachments I had lying around for weights. The string ties to the screw eye on the door, goes through the screw eye in the doorway, and drops down beside the door.

Toby had no trouble learning how to push open the door. It took him maybe a couple days to learn how to pull it open from the other side. He settled on a two-part motion, first swiping the handle with his paw (or with his nose) to open the door a bit and then nosing it open the rest of the way. The only tricky part was getting the amount of resistance just right (by varying the number of weights) without putting him off the concept entirely. Lots of treats.

I used pulleys instead of spring hinges because spring hinges always seem to end up squeaking, and because the pulley seems to give a more consistent amount of resistance.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

To Whom It May Concern:

[This letter I sent to a hospital is about a situation in Seattle, but this is very much a national issue. If it worries you, check it out and get involved.]

I'm a Swedish Hospital NICU parent, and I just received a fundraising letter regarding the Lytle Center for Pregnancy and Newborns. I have great respect for everyone I've dealt with at Swedish and feel that we received excellent care there. However, I will not be supporting this Center, and I would like to tell you why.

The recent merger with Providence Health & Services, a Catholic health care organization, and removal of "elective" abortion services from the hospital leave me skeptical that the Lytle Center will truly provide "convenient access to a full spectrum of prenatal and postpartum care" as described in your letter.

"A full spectrum of prenatal and postpartum care" may necessarily include abortion. It may, yes, include so-called "elective" abortion in a time of extreme duress for parents facing one of the toughest decisions of their lives. This is particularly likely in the case of high-risk pregnancies such as ours was.

It may include end-of-life care, as indeed it did in our case: we lost one of our twin daughters in the Swedish NICU and, at that time, felt well-supported in all of our our decision-making by Swedish staff.

It most certainly, in all cases, includes the availability of contraceptive advice.

I am no longer confident that Swedish can provide these things in a convenient manner, nor that it will continue to provide them at all in the future. I will redirect the contribution that I would very much like to send to the Lytle Center to March of Dimes, instead.

[Upwind Both Ways]

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Pretend Daddy

(My two-year-old started talking to "Pretend Daddy" while I was out yesterday evening, sort of an imaginary friend version of me. I think this is pretty much how that came about)

They found a way in, last night, when I didn't come home until after my two-year-old daughter went to bed. The Clever Ones that usually linger just out of sight around her saw their chance and took it. They fashioned a doppelgänger from her bright, carefree thoughts of me and started to whisper to her. She began to speak of Pretend Daddy.

She says that Pretend Daddy -- "Ysh-Hothur" in the Unspoken Tongue -- sings better than I do. I can only imagine what perversions he croaks to our daughter in that broken language while she sleeps. He's taller than me, too, she says: she can sense the raw force that's there, hidden for now, just barely invisible to adult eyes.

As he binds more and more of her small being to his will, he will be able to gather more of the Clever Ones to him. We've seen this beginning already: her stuffed Burt the Bee now has... friends... with him, in his plush, yellow hive; to call those twisted souls "other bees", as our child does, is to make a mockery of all that is sane.

We ignore this Pretend Daddy at our hazard; he must be dealt with. And, so, we have an uneasy truce, perhaps even a diabolical bargain. 

On the one hand, Ysh-Hothur clearly means to use our daughter as an entry point into this world.  He puts our daughter, our family, perhaps the whole of the mortal realm in deadly peril.

On the other hand, he's really useful at mealtimes. "Look, Pretend Daddy's saying you should eat your oatmeal, too!"