Tobin’s First Big Health Scare

First, before anybody gets scared… Tobin is out of the hospital and back home and the doctors are confident he will fully recover.

On Sunday June 9th Jenny and I noticed a rash of small pinpoint-like black dots were breaking out on Tobin’s legs. We weren’t sure what they were but he wasn’t bothered and it was so light as to be almost unnoticeable so we decided to see if it would go away on its own.

The spots stayed though the following week and starting the following Saturday, June the 15th, Tobin began having a series of night fevers, which were minor and broken with PediaCare. But on Monday night through Tuesday morning Tobin had a high fever, topping at over 104 degrees, which would not break significantly, even with PediaCare.

In the early morning light of that Tuesday morning, Jenny saw that a very scary rash of dark red spots had broken out on Tobin’s right hand and forearm. I called the pediatrician and got an appointment as soon as they opened.

At the doctors office they drew blood and swabbed his mouth and ran tests. The pediatrician said it looked like a serious infection, either viral or bacterial, and advised that we wait at the office until she could confer with an infectious disease specialist.

Upon her speaking with the specialist, she told us to immediately go to the emergency room at Valley Children’s Hospital and that she would call ahead and tell them we were coming. So Tobin, Jenny and I made the hour long drive to the hospital, where we were informed that the rash on Tobin’s hand was a petechial rash and was very serious and that he would have to be admitted to the hospital for at least 48 hours so that they could determine the cause, ranging from viral infection to spinal meningitis and that if he had meningitis he would be at the hospital for 3 weeks of antibiotic therapy.

In the emergency room, although the staff was top notch, very professional and kind, they did a series of diagnostic procedures that our son, just under one year old, was very upset by. He was briefly cathetered for a urine sample, a IV was attached to his hand, a large amount of blood was drawn for a long series of blood tests and cultures and a spinal tap was performed to rule out spinal meningitis. All of these procedures were horrible to watch and all we could do was comfort Tobin, who could not understand why this was being done to him.

The initial blood count showed low neutrophils, which are the white blood cells that fight infection. We were told his immune system was suppressed, most likely due to the infection itself, and that his condition needed to be monitored closely and he had to start a regiment of IV antibiotics.

At this point, about seven hours after we had been admitted to the emergency room, Tobin was moved to a private room on Tuesday night. We were instructed that he could not leave the room and that he could not have any ill visitors. All doctors and nurses that entered the room had to wear masks, gloves and gowns.

In that room Tobin and Jenny stayed for four nights. Now mind you, the entire time Tobin seemed better than could be expected. He would smile and play but he was very uncomfortable with the IV and the leads that monitored his vitals. When he would move, a lead would often fall off and start a loud alarm that would wake him and Jenny up at night. This was a difficult situation and Jenny was suffering from sleep deprivation. I took the week off at work to help and would go home at night to sleep and bring supplies and food in the morning.

During the four days there were emotional low points for us all. The worse was on Friday when his neutrophils count continued to drop to 80 (when over 1,500 is considered ideal). We were crushed. We were told that if they were the same or dropped any more we would be in the hospital for another week and that they might have to biopsy his bone marrow to look for Leukemia cells. This would mean he would be spending his first birthday (the following Wednesday) in the hospital. This really upset Jenny.

We were told that he was in extreme threat of further infection and that if he had a fever it would have to be aggressively treated with heavy drugs mainly used on chemotherapy patients. This was terrifying, and many friends and family members started prayer circles to call for healing from some higher power and their heart felt wishes gave us hope and their messages touched and lifted Jenny who was so tired and never once left that hospital room. That night we all just hoped beyond hope that the count would go up.

On Saturday morning, I was driving back to the Hospital with 5 days worth of supplies for what we believed might be a long stay when Jenny called me. His blood count was up to 360. We were elated. The doctors where still conferring, but there was a possibility he could go home that day. I was skeptical, and didn’t want to get my hopes up. When I got to the Hospital, Jenny told me another doctor told her they may want to keep Tobin another day to see if the healing trend would continue. We braced ourselves, but soon afterward the treating physician came in and said that upon discussion with the doctors involved, that Tobin could be released immediately and we could follow up with weekly outpatient visits.

Ultimately, there is not a definite diagnosis of what caused this. It was determined most likely to be an unspecified viral infection that caused a temporary suppression of the immune system (Short Term Neutropenia). His neutrophil count is still dangerously low and may take a month or more to recover, but we are so happy to be out of the hospital and are optimistic looking forward.

We are home and I would like to say that everything is back to normal but traumas like this leave their mark. Tobin is in great spirits and so happy to be home but he tantrums during diaper changes because he has a new fear of being held down (something the doctors and nurses often did just before painful procedures). It seems to be getting better as time passes and he learns to trust being handled. Also, Jenny and I have been changed in some way as we have had to come to terms with levels of perceived future grief beyond anything we had ever imagined. But as they say, time heals all wounds and we certainly hope that is the case here.

So that is the story, we went on a big scary adventure and everyone came back and we learned anew just how much we all love and need each other. And we learned what is truly important once more.

To those who knew about this, thank you for your love and support. It was invaluable.

Protecting the Second Amendment

Ed. Written in a fever dream after Sandy Hook, but every word still true. Fuck Guns!

Firearm manufacturers… you will a) do exclusive government and military contracting, b) continue to manufacture under a specific set of guidelines, or c) be subsidized to retool to manufacture something else. Don’t worry; we’ll make it a sweetheart deal. If you are just manufacturing overseas, you wont be able to get your stuff imported anymore, so talk to the government officials over there and see what they can do for you.

Gun shops, gun trade shows and online stores… I’m sorry; you are mostly going to be shut down. I imagine this will be voluntary for the most part. I’ll get to the details below, but you’re probably not going to like the new government oversight anyway. I suggest moving to on to less efficient lethal weapon sales… like swords and, I don’t know, crossbows…I’m being facetious. Anyway, I think you’ll be okay, and there will be government grants and no-interest loans to help you get your business transitioned. If you can sell guns, I’m sure you can sell anything. Right? Online sales and mail based distribution of firearm and firearm related paraphernalia will be illegal. The exception will be for designated remote areas that do not have reasonable access to brick and mortar retailers. This mail based distribution will be exclusively handled by government agencies and licensed contractors. Obviously, gun trade shows are over as we know them today.

People who own guns… we’re going to take your guns. Sorry. Some bad apples ruined it for everybody. But don’t fret! You CAN get a gun! (More on that later.)

First, the bad news, handguns and concealed firearms are illegal. Military, police and government licensed/regulated businesses (security, military contractors mainly…even gun ranges) can get handguns, but that’s it.

Obviously, these are also the kind of employment sectors that will have access to the more exotic kinds of weapons that some people really love. So, if you are a gun-nut, apply today.

Outside of handguns, consumer grade firearms will be available (Yay!). But like fireworks, it’s going to be safe-and-sane stuff only (none of the truly fun stuff).

Here’s the deal. Every law-abiding, licensed citizen over 12 years of age is allowed to get two categories of firearm. One (1) firearm from each category at any given time (Basically, you can have two firearms in your possession without too much hassle).

  • Category 1 is double-barrel or pump action shotguns (maximum magazine capacity – 4 loads).
  • Category 2 is single-action rifles (maximum magazine capacity – 6 rounds).

All legal firearms will have fixed stocks and a minimum total length, to be determined.

Ammunition sales will be rationed. Requests for larger amounts of ammunition will be documented and reviewed on a case by case basis and will have to meet certain criteria.

You can exchange your firearms for upgraded models but this is all done through the government regulated trade program, facilitated by local dealers.

Violators of the new code (which will be idiot proof)… after a few infractions, you lose your guns and no one in your house can have a gun either. Repeat and serious offenders will face criminal prosecution…Nothing as draconian as the Rockefeller Drug Laws, but at a certain point they won’t be messing around anymore, and you are going to do some real time. Like I said before, if you are really gun crazy and can’t live without access to lots of exotic firearms, join the military. If they don’t want you, seek counseling (which will be available, paid for by the government, during the initial transition).

Illegal gun dealers will be treated very severely, going right up to mandatory life sentences in some cases.

Certified professional gamesmen and marksmen athletes can possess additional firearms from the two available categories.

Even consumers can apply for additional legal firearms but it will require hefty annual licensing fees.

Non-lethal concealed protection (tasers and maybe something like small-form-factor single-shot bean bag guns) would be legal and available. Innovators who create new forms of personal non-lethal protection (devices that could serve as an acceptable replacement for today’s civilian handgun) will receive incentives, grants and distribution.

I could go on, but this was pretty excessive for an exercise anyway and I’m starting to feel silly. This is just some pseudo-therapeutic noodling. I’m a problem solver and these are some sincere thoughts on solutions to the national firearm problem I’ve been having. I just wanted to get down on paper…Thoughts mainly in reaction to the recent mass murders and statistics that show gun sales at an all time high.

I understand the vulnerabilities inherent in not allowing all citizens to carry concealed firearms but I think it is an acceptable risk. I believe we, as a society, have to innovate away from killing the people who wish to do us harm. Knock-them-out-and-lock-them-up works for me.

What I’m trying to paint here is a reality that makes sense to me…where people can protect themselves and hunt within reason. If you read this, thanks. If you disagree, keep it to yourself. I really don’t care.

Early Beatles Catalog Highlights (Part One)

A friend of mine asked me for a few quick song purchase suggestions from the pre-Rubber Soul Beatles. I figured I’d take the opportunity to rummage through these oldie-but-good LPs to see what I could see.

Please Please Me.

The good:

    1. I Saw Her Standing There– Paul McCartney takes the helm on this album launching track about the greatest dance party you never attended.
    2. Please Please Me– One of the first Beatles compositions George Martin thought was half way decent. Uses power chords before they were invented on the riff between the lines of the verse.
    3. There’s A Place– First introspective Beatles song. They’d take this thing as far as it could go later with Across the Universe. For now it’s kind of like a weird cousin to In My Room.
    4. Twist and Shout– (See Ferris Bueller)

The not-so-good:

    1. Boys– This song brings to mind Brian Epstein suggesting tighter trousers.
    2. A Taste of Honey– Humanity may never understand why Paul did this to us.

With The Beatles

The good:

    1. All My Loving– John took the first two songs on this album, but the lights don’t really turn on until you hear the famous skittering guitar line of this Paul song.
    2. Not a Second Time– John Lennon gets upset at his wife and writes a damn fine tune. Nice meandering piano solo.

Honorable Mention

    1. Money– George Martin tickles the ivories with a chunky piano line that drives this respectable cover.
    2. Please Mister Postman– Brainless fun.
    3. Don’t Bother Me– George Harrison becomes the serious Beatle.
    4. All I’ve Got To Do– John takes his time, uses an off kilter drum pattern and gets the job done, more or less.
    5. Till There Was You– Paul takes the Beatles unplugged for the first time.

The not-so-good:

  1. This record commits no serious crimes…You got off easy this time Ringo!

Hard Days Night

The good:

The A Side- A nice EP for a breezy day.

    1. A Hard Days Night– You know it you love it. From the unique opening chord, to the hard charging rhythm, to the sentiment of the lyric Alex Chilton would subconsciously appropriate for the middle eight of September Girls about a decade later.
    2. I Should Have Known Better– My favorite early Beatles song, period. Makes me smile everytime I hear it.
    3. If I Fell– We’re slowing down but it’s still a great tune.
    4. I’m Happy Just To Dance With You– Hey, maybe it’s only a Northern Song, but George is lightening up.
    5. And I Love Here– Paul unplugs it again! The melody of this song reminds me of the bridge to an obscure Robyn Hitchcock song, ‘Executioner’…anyway.
    6. Tell Me Why– John hits a single…bases loaded.
    7. Can’t Buy Me Love– Paul smashes it out of the park. Grand Slam! (see mid-eighties Patrick Dempsey vehicles)

B Side Beauties:

    1. Any Time At All– John brings it again.
    2. Thing We Said Today– Paul can’t put the acoustic down, and just wants to remember the good times (in a depressive kind of way.)
    3. You Can’t Do That– More cowbell. If you want to trace the lineage of the melody for of a good chunk of the VU’s ‘She’s My Best Friend’, look no further than this song.
    4. I’ll Be Back– Interesting harmonies (see The Terminator)

The not-so-good:

  1. When I Get Home– It’s like a Frankenstein’s Monster of Beatles songs that adds up to a clunky mess. FIRE BAD!

End of Part One


I do not believe in supernatural forces. I do, however, believe in synchronicity. This phenomenon, as I describe it, is a seemingly related cluster of events that interrelate due to the mind’s subjective understanding of them.

Instances of synchronicity occur when random instances turn simultaneously in a common direction, not unlike metal filings being pulled by a magnet. What is the “magnet”? This is the question that vexes me. It is not God. I know this. But it is a force, like a storm, or any other natural event: a wave, a ripple, gravity, entropy, creation.

My most recent experiences with this feeling of synchronicity are running toward the negative (for instance, in the last week, I experienced three mechanical failures, one very expensive to repair, and yet this is the least of my concerns regarding recent events…so just try to figure what that means). Systems all around me seem to be breaking down. The wave is ebbing. And as I stand here in this lull, I can only consider how low the valley goes. Have we bottomed, or is there an abyss coming to swallow me up? Fight the flow and it will break my back.

As I consider the totality of this synchronistic shitstorm, I can only find comfort in the total absurdity of the human condition. This absurdist philosophy is the balm that saves my life. That’s right, you read it here first; George Carlin, Monty Python and MST3K saved my life and give me the strength to face all obstacles…Sorry Jesus (that said, I do give the J-man big ups for touting the Golden Rule…not that he invented it).

As long as there is electricity bouncing around between my nerve endings, I trust I will see the other side of this valley, this wave. I’ve been here before and time is on my side. The energy that stacks all patterns, random or aligned, will turn around and I will not wonder why. I never do then.

Peter Jurich

My maternal grandfather, Peter Jurich, passed away this morning in his sleep after a long illness. He is survived by my grandmother, Ruth, to whom he was happily wed for some 69 years. I don’t subscribe to the whole “they don’t make them like that anymore” thing. People are people. I do know they don’t make a lot like him, they never did and they never will. He was a good man, a family man, generous, funny, a rock, an inspiration to others…to me he was the family member I always wished I knew better. Now, I will never have that chance (my Floridian cousins are very lucky to have lived so close to him). He lived a long, full life and he lived it well. Knowing him, and knowing his spirit through my mother, I am a better person. Through his example, I know when I am doing right. He will be missed, never forgotten.

My deepest sympathies go to my grandmother.