Wednesday, October 30, 2013


I was determined not to write about Obamacare again. Really, quite determined. I may still live to regret this post.

But one of my biggest frustrations about the whole situation is the Republicans' inability to come up with a viable alternative. Annoys me to death. Stop rallying us against the ACA, and give us something to rally for. So this weekend, when my husband described to me his ideas for how to reform healthcare, I was intrigued. 

Here's his plan. Call it “O-Kandt-a-care”. (Nah, don't call it that.) Don't get too hung up on numbers and particulars here; it's a broad concept with details negotiable at this point.

It starts with the baseline that government will cover any citizen's medical expenses once they exceed $5,000 in a year -- basically universal catastrophic coverage. Nobody will go into bankruptcy from catastrophic or long-term illness or injury, and nobody will die for lack of healthcare in such situations. The government will also fund basic screenings and annual exams to detect such issues before they reach the catastrophic state.

But everyone – for the most part – will still be responsible for finding that first $5,000 a year to pay for their own healthcare needs. Yeah, some folks may have to stretch a bit some years, do some creative budgeting, but if you know up front to plan for that much in a year, you figure out how to do it. And many people will never spend that much (that's why they opt for these "substandard plans" that Obamacare is eliminating).

For those who genuinely don't have $5,000 a year (and there are many that don't), this is where private charity and the goodwill of the people come in. And yes, I realize many of you simply don't trust the goodwill of the people to step up to the plate, but I believe people WILL when the need is clear and limited. Perhaps low-interest medical loans can be offered to those who need them. But between family, friends, churches, charities, and low-interest loans, people should be able to find means to pay for their medical needs up to $5,000 a year – especially when the government is paying for basic screenings and check-ups. 

(Again, don't get hung up on the number -- it's negotiable. And maybe the amount can be adjusted lower for families with lower incomes – a graduated scale, like with income taxes? That's my input there, not part of hubby's idea.)

This also leaves open the possibility that if someone wants to purchase health insurance that gives them a better deal than this (or get it as a benefit from their employer), they are free to do so. A $5,000 upper limit still makes a company plan a desirable benefit, so companies will still choose to offer them. And by all means, let insurance companies offer whatever plans there is a demand for, like a business should work; not everyone wants to pay the money for all the bells and whistles being required now.

Again, details still need to be worked out here. It's not a perfect plan – no plan ever would be. There will be those who fall through the cracks somewhere – there always will be. But nobody is required to purchase anything (something I still can't believe is constitutional). Insurance companies can function as the market allows. People have to take some personal responsibility for themselves and for their neighbors. There is still a safety net. And best of all: it's SIMPLE. No two-thousand-page document is necessary to explain this. It seems to me that this is a better alternative than what we're ending up with now.

Questions will be directed to my husband and may take a little time to get an answer (he's got a "real" job, after all). And they'd better be nice. We're all friends here.  :)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Mexican Breakfast Dishes for $400, Alex

An imaginary conversation with your standard Texan:
    “What did you have for breakfast?”
    “A breakfast taco.”
    “Ah – I've had breakfast burritos, but breakfast tacos are new to me. What's in a breakfast taco?”
    “Eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes, cheese, salsa. That kind of thing.”
    “Same stuff that's in a breakfast burrito, huh?”
    “But it's a breakfast taco.”
    “So, the tortilla is folded in half instead of wrapped around the filling.”
    “No, a lot of times it's wrapped around it all.”
    “Like a burrito.”
    “But it's a taco.”
    “Yep. A breakfast taco.”
    “Not a breakfast burrito.”
    “Why isn't it called a breakfast burrito?”
    “Sweetie, you're in Texas now.”
    The Lone Star State – where you can call a burrito a taco just 'cuz dat's whut it is, y'all. Sometimes, it seems that Texas is just all about being Texas. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Teaching Science to Non-Scientists -- Which is MOST of Us

If you read here much, you've probably picked up on the fact that I'm more of an English/History gal than a Math/Science one. My girls are the same -- which is why I'm quite interested in how they are taught math and science, because I suspect some of my dislike for science, anyway, is related to the way I was taught.

So, I was pleased to be invited to a meeting at my youngest's school to discuss the science curriculum they may implement starting next year. (Although I'm still not quite sure why I was invited. I may have signed up for a committee at the beginning of the year. Or I may have annoyed the principal too much with my questions about high school. In any case, I was happy to be there.)

The curriculum they are looking at is brand new.  There are only a couple of textbooks written at the moment, but more in the works. What I liked about them is their approach.

The author (who presented at the meeting) explained that most science textbooks are massive, back-breaking tomes stuffed with far more information that a person can master in a year. (No lie -- have you looked at a high school science textbook lately? Picked one up? Holy smokes.) Because of the overload, students have no choice, really, but to fall into the pattern of cramming for the test and then immediately forgetting everything they've learned to make room for the next flood of information.

(Can I hear an "amen"? Preach it, brutha!!)

This guy's textbook's were small. He said he pared down the content to only the essentials for the course and then focused on mastery of those essentials

Mastery!!  Actually learning the stuff. What a concept!

He has taught science for many years and has seen how much more effective this method is. But I didn't need to hear that to be convinced -- COMMON SENSE tells me that's a much more effective method.  What possible good does the cram-test-forget method accomplish?

He also recommended only 5-6 real experiments during the year and teaching the students to write up high quality lab reports over those experiments. Again, an amen from me. Hands-on stuff is important . . . discovery learning has its place . . . but I've observed that the plethora of experiments my eldest has done in her science classes have not accomplished what the teachers hoped they would. Again, it was overload. Do a few really good ones and integrate the writing skills with that.  (I've become more and more convinced that writing cannot be taught well in isolation by high school -- writing has to be about something.)

This guy also had recommendations about math offerings at the high school level, because math and science are so connected.  The one I liked: for the kids who are not math whizzes and who DON'T need to learn trigonometry and math analysis and pre-calculus, offer them AP Statistics after they complete Algebra 2.  (Aha!!) Much more practical, but also at a high academic level to push them a bit . . . and they get college credit when they're done.  Love it.

Really, I loved it all.  It was enough to make me want to be a science teacher. (Ew . . . okay, that was hyperbolic.  Big words. Whew. I feel better.)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Teaching Us How to Be Human

Philippians 2:5-11 is a passage that the girls and I memorized during homeschool.  It's also one of the passages that I end up mentally reciting at night when I can't sleep. And this is why I memorize scripture: the Spirit inevitably brings up new insights during those silent recitations in the dark.

Like the other night. At about 4:45am, when I realized I really was awake and didn't seem to be drifting back to sleep any time soon, I started in on these words:

Your attitude should be like that of Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped . . .

I've always glossed a bit over that last clause. He laid down his divinity temporarily -- yeah, yeah. But something hit me this time. Grasping equality with God . . . that was the original sin. Why did Eve eat the apple? Because the serpent told her she would become like God. And that's the essence of every sin we commit; we're trying to be God, our own God, running our own life, deciding what is best for us and those around us and how the world should be run, and choosing to act on our own volition rather than as servants of God.

And that's what Jesus did NOT do. He did not consider equality with God something to be grasped (the new NIV says "something to be used to his own advantage"), but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant . . .

In the back of my head, where I didn't want to admit what could be a heretical thought, I've always thought it really isn't that big of a deal that Jesus lived a sinless life.  He was God, after all. He didn't have the "sinful nature" we had, so it wasn't so hard for him. But what this is saying is, he intentionally chose NOT to use his divine advantage in that battle against sin. He chose to live his human life as a human.

And he did that so he could demonstrate for us how we are supposed to live as a human. He was essentially in the same condition as the regenerated believer -- living in a corrupt sinful world, in corrupt sinful flesh, with the attack of the Enemy all around but with the Holy Spirit indwelling him. He is our model. He didn't just show us that we are supposed to live without sin; he showed us how to do that -- the methods, the techniques, the means for doing so.

For example, how did he resist Satan's temptations in the wilderness? With the Word. He could have called ten thousand angels (as the old song says) to help him, but instead, he used the same weapons we have, to show us how it's done.

And here's where the cool part comes in for me. Remember the vine and branches business I said I've been inundated with lately? Well, I'm realizing that Jesus also lived like a branch with the Father as his vine. He said he didn't speak or act on his own; he only said what the Father gave him to say, did what the Father gave him to do, and did it all to glorify the Father. "I am in the Father, and the Father is in me." Everything I'm expected to do as a "branch", he already showed me how to do. He made himself nothing, taking on the very nature of a servant . . . and became obedient unto death.

Synthesis: the bringing of separate things together into one great, glorious, lucid whole. LOVE when that happens!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Can't See the Forest for the Clichés

So, every once in a while, I'm reminded how I'm really not all that.

I checked a book out of the library a few weeks ago called Woe Is I. The subtitle: A Grammarphobe's Guide to Better English in Plain English. It's a grammar geek book, basically, explaining common errors people make in spelling, usage, and all.

I just finished a chapter on clichés. The author fills nine pages with words and phrases she thinks are over-used to the point of being annoying and meaningless. 

Tip of the iceberg.

More than meets the eye.
Play it by ear.
I nodded sagely as I read. Mm-hmm. Overused. Annoying.
Going nowhere fast.
Last but not least.
Easier said than done.
Draw a blank.
Then it hit me: I bet I've used every one of these at some point in this blog. I'm quite sure I've used every one of them in conversation. Probably 80-90% of the items on her list are part of my active vocabulary, the first words that come to mind when I need to express the idea.
Should I be disappointed in myself? Is my thinking really so lazy? Is my language really so unoriginal?
I blame Disney and Nickelodeon. Years of having the formulaic shows running on a loop in my house have numbed my brain and stinted my intellectual growth. Lord knows what they've done to my children.
Time to find more adult television entertainment for my daughters. (Well, not adult – you know – just not stupid, made-for-children.) Time to hunt down the documentaries and history channel specials. Maybe we need to constitute a reading hour for everyone every day.
Ohhhh, yeah. Hubby will LOVE that.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Mystical, Magical WORDS

The BSF teaching leader shared a quote the other night about attitude. I don't remember the quote. It was a pretty good one. But it immediately floated out of my brain cells because my mind started to wander as I considered that word:


Amazing, isn't it, that we have a word that communicates that idea? I mean, it's easy to understand how we'd come up with words that mean “table” or “shoe” or “angry”. 

But “attitude”. That's such an abstract thing. I bet the vast majority of us, well-educated and otherwise, would struggle to come up with a definition of “attitude” off the top of our heads. “It's . . . you know . . . the way you think about something . . . and feel about it, kind of . . . and the way you act . . . you know . . . your attitude about it . . . oh, wait – I mean . . . “

But we all know what it means. And not because somebody gave us a definition at some point in our growing up years. We all simply heard the word used over and over, and eventually, we were able to construe what that word was referring to when people used it. Even if we couldn't explain it with other words.

Language is the most fascinating thing ever. I mean, the whole concept of language. That we put a bunch of sounds together in a certain combination and when someone else hears that combination of sounds, they get an idea in their brains that is more or less just like the idea that we have in our brains. Absolutely amazing.

In one of my grad classes, we did a unit on language development and talked about how the known methods of learning cannot account for how a human being acquires language in the early years. There simply isn't enough repetition or modeling of every word and/or grammatical structure that kids pick up during that time. There seems to be some in-born knowledge . . . or skill . . . ability . . . something that scientists can't explain . . . which dramatically speeds up the acquisition of language. But only in those early years – that window is shut around six or seven. (Which, of course, makes it so logical that we in America generally put off foreign language study until high school. Puh.)

Words are a mystical, magical, unexplainable phenomenon in humanity. I guess that shouldn't surprise us, considering that God-in-the-Flesh is also named “The Word”.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Stage Fright

I've performed on stage in some capacity for most of my life, and stage fright has rarely been an issue for me -- nothing beyond general nervousness that ends up just getting the blood pumping in your brain. The only handful of real debilitating stage fright episodes I've had came later, in relatively recent years.

The first was during auditions for "Godspell" in 2006. They asked for volunteers to go first during the singing part of the tryout. I shrugged and stepped up there -- no big deal.  Until the music started and I looked at everyone staring at me, and suddenly, the muscles in my gut froze and I couldn't get any air. And of course, my brain partially shut down at the same time. I don't know what I sounded like, but I muddled through enough to have them listen to me again later when I was calmer. I was ultimately assigned a couple solos, so they were gracious to me.

The next time was when the dance ministry coordinator at Hope Church talked me into dancing a solo in a service. In theory, I was a little nervous but fine with this idea. Until I went to the church during the week before my performance day to practice on the "stage" floor. I suddenly found myself hyperventilating, stiffening up, my brain completely shutting down. I'd never experienced anything like that before and I panicked -- which, of course, made it all worse. A second practice day elicited the same results, and when Sunday morning came, I genuinely feared that I would totally fall apart up there in front of everyone. I didn't, but I was quite aware that the Spirit was doing this through me because I was completely incapable at that point.

Episode three was yesterday. When a couple weeks ago my BSF class had to sing our opening songs a cappella because nobody answered the call for an accompanist, I decided this was ridiculous and volunteered. It had been 15 years or so since I'd accompanied anything, but it was no-brainer stuff to me . . . or so I thought.  When I got the music the day before lesson day and started practicing, it started up again: the brain freeze, the fingers stiffening, one slip of the hand to the wrong spot and I was lost and couldn't get it back again. I debated calling her back and saying, sorry, maybe next time when I have more time to practice. But I muddled my way through, and it turned out just fine last night.

What I've been considering after this recent episode is why now? After so many years, why all of a sudden has stage fright cropped up into my experience?  Some things these episodes had in common: they all involved skills I had down pretty solid, but had not shared publicly with anyone for a long time (or in the case of the dancing, ever). They also all came after a significant point in my life as a "performer" -- a point I can't identify by time or place but by when I realized I'd passed it.

I was doing a monologue at Hope where I was a street person -- one I had to take on at the last minute with only a couple days of preparation. As I was trying on various scrungy clothes pieces, trying to get the right filthy look, it suddenly occurred to me: ten years ago, it would have KILLED me to go on stage looking this ugly. Ten years ago, my performances were about me looking good. I would never have said that -- I certainly didn't think in my heart that it was so -- but it was. Something had changed now. I actually had people after that street person skit tell me they didn't even know it was me up there. And that was perfect. My concern now was not about what they thought of me; my concern was now that God speak truth to them through me, that I become invisible, in a sense, and the message shine brightly.

And not until then did the Enemy attack me with the stage fright, which always feels more external to me than internal, weirdly enough. I remember hearing once that when the Enemy seems to be working overtime to get you, you must be on the right track. I guess there's some comfort in that. Even more comfort in God's record for speaking to his people more powerfully through my stage fright than any other time. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Living In Medias Res

Every once in a while, you hear a sermon that you suspect was written specifically with you in mind.  Like the pastor was looking into your heart and soul and saw what was there and crafted his words around that need. Like he saw your car turn into the parking lot and said to everyone, "Quick! They're here! Switch out the bulletins -- I need to preach this instead!"

Our family had that experience yesterday at Woodlands Baptist Church. The text Pastor Vickrey chose for his sermon was Jeremiah 29:4-7. Judah has been conquered by the Babylonians and the Israelites taken into exile. False prophets are popping up everywhere, telling the people, "Oh, this is just a short term thing -- two years tops. Then we'll be back home again. Don't get too comfortable."

But Jeremiah (who always seemed to have the thankless job of delivering the unpopular news) tells them otherwise:

This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the Lord.

You're going to be here a while, Jeremiah tells them, so God wants you to bloom where you're planted. Continue to live life in medias res -- in the midst of things.

My eldest is viewing this San Antonio stint as a parenthetical episode in her life. She has no intention of growing any roots, making any connections, allowing any attachments. Once she graduates in May, she wants to return to Iowa. And she may very well do so. But I had to fight the urge to sneak peaks at her during this sermon to see if she was listening closely.

God has put you here for a reason.

This place is a part of God's plan.

You are to live through life, not around it.

Even I find, as we strive to get settled and feel settled, that it's hard to shake that transient feeling. We spent the last year and a half in Sioux City knowing we were going to be leaving any time. We lived in the apartment temporarily this summer . . . even moved into a temporary hotel room for a few days . . . I wrote last fall about tent-living and how I could relate to that.

And as I wrote last fall, I'm all the more convicted that believers are always supposed to feel that transient way, in a sense. This is not our home. We are only passing through.

But in the meantime, we are to bloom where we are planted in medias res.

Friday, October 11, 2013

It's Not About Your Pretty Leaves

It seems I'm being inundated with the Biblical vine/branch/fruit analogy lately.  You know, the one from John 15:

I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off any branch in me that doesn't bear fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes so that it will be more fruitful.

And the fruit of the Spirit list in Galatians 5:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against these things there is no law.

I recently discovered that these passages shed light on another story that I've always been confused by. 

In Mark 11, on his way into Jerusalem, Jesus is hungry and passes by a fig tree with no fruit. He curses the tree, and the next day on their way out of town, the fig tree is withered from its roots. I always thought that an odd story. I also wasn't quite sure what the point was; I mean, after the disciples comment on the tree, Jesus goes on to tell them that they can move mountains with enough faith, but he makes that point in other ways -- it doesn't seem necessary to kill a living plant to communicate that message.

But perhaps there's something of this fruit analogy involved. The purpose of a fig tree is to bear figs. Not to grow leaves and branches and deep roots -- those are all merely tools used in the process of bearing figs. Similarly, believers live on earth strictly to bear fruit.

And notice that the fruit of the plant is used by other creatures. Animals eat the fruit. The fruit gives life -- but not to the plant itself, really. It gives life to others. And a plant that bears no fruit to give life to others is not justified in sticking around, Jesus seems to be saying.

So, all the Bible studies I go to . . . all the books I read, the scripture I memorize . . . all the church services I attend and sermons I hear . . . if all they do is deepen my own roots and broaden my own leaves, they are a waste. Deep roots and broad leaves are only there to bring me the nutrients I need to bear fruit -- fruit that is for the benefit of others, not myself.

Another thing: the fruit of the plant is part of the reproductive system. The seed to create another plant is inside the fruit. The way a plant makes more of itself is by its seed being scattered -- by animals eating of its fruit and leaving the seeds elsewhere.

See, I should have gone to a Christian school growing up. If science had been taught to me this way, as a reflection of the character of God, I might have cared.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Feeling Worthless

If you read my blog regularly, you've heard about my recent cold. The cold is gone, but for the last couple weeks, the cough has remained. A trip to Urgent Care a couple weeks ago for antibiotics and heavy duty cough suppressant did no good, so I have an appointment this morning with a regular doctor. I've been diagnosed in the past with reactive airway disease and given an inhaler – I suspect that may be the result this morning.

Whatever the diagnosis, I am praying, praying, praying that he can fix this cough. It is exhausting. Not that I cough constantly, but I pretty constantly have the urge to cough. I have to breathe deeply to feel like I'm getting enough oxygen into my lungs. It's like they're stuffed up. And any exertion of any kind sends me into a real coughing fit. Exhausting.

But more even than the physical toll it is taking on me, I'm struggling with the emotional toll. I don't like myself these days. Because I can't do much, I feel like a lazy bum. I feel ashamed of my unproductive days.
And that is pretty ridiculous. I mean, I'm SICK. And I know better than anybody how sick I am. It's not like I can be suspicious that I'm faking it or something.
I'm realizing these last couple weeks how much of my personal value I tie to my productivity. I am only worth something if I am getting things done. Checking off my to-do list. If my husband asks me what I did today and I have an impressive dossier to present.
Apparently, in my heart of hearts, I believe if I were to suddenly be rendered bed-ridden for whatever reason, I would immediately be unworthy of anyone's love or respect. 
Where did I get this idea? Who knows. Right now, I'm more concerned that I'm not communicating similar values to my daughters. As much time as they spend sitting around watching TV or playing computer games, I kind of doubt it. But goodness, how critically important it is for me to ensure they understand that their value comes from being a child of God – nothing else. 
I suppose it's just as critical that I understand that myself. In fact, that's probably a prerequisite to my kids getting it.  So maybe I'll listen to some Casting Crowns today.  Not because of what I've done . . . but because of who You are . . .

Monday, October 7, 2013

Define Your Audience

On our drive home from a weekend visit in Kansas yesterday (and it was a lo-o-ong drive, I'm tellin' you), I saw a couple huge billboards up next to a church:



Now, I essentially agree, of course, with the sentiments of these messages, but as we sped past them down the busy I-35 corridor through Texas, I had to wonder who exactly their intended audience was.

Because the only people who could really make any sense out of this message (beyond the vague idea that here are some Bible-thumpers trying to save my soul) are people who have had enough exposure to church and Bible-teaching to know what King they're talking about and what's involved in being ready for him. They would also need to have some idea of what it means to ask Jesus to come into your heart.

I suppose it's possible that random Unchurched Harry and Mary could be headed down from the Cowboys game, see the sign and say to each other, "King? There's a king coming? I don't know what that means, but I'm sure I'm not ready! Should we pray and ask Jesus to come into our heart, whatever that means? Yeah -- better safe than sorry." But would anyone really think such a "confession of faith" is legit?

No, really, the only people such signs are going to be effective with are those who have grown up in the church and wandered away and are in a place where God is convicting them and wooing them back and this gives the final push at the right moment. Not that there isn't value in that, but I don't know that they're getting a lot of bang for their buck with those billboards.

My friend in NJ used to talk about this being the first post-Christian generation in America.  That rankled me a bit at the time, but I think he's right.  A couple generations ago, someone you were witnessing to might disagree with your assertion that Jesus Is The Answer, but they would at least know the Question. Not so today.

The seeker-focused church model has something going for it in that it assumes a post-Christian generation and starts from there. The traditional church needs to pay attention to that. But the seeker-focus unfortunately can go too far by trying to attract the seeker not with Christ, but with the seeker's own idols. We cease, at that point, to be a Christian church and become simply a spiritual social service club.

We're still looking for a church here in San Antonio.  My prayer is for a church full of genuine worshippers -- not a spiritual social service club.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Feast Within Me

It's always exciting to discover hidden treasures within you.  Delightful traits of which you were previously unaware and of which you can now boast.  Case in point: I apparently have delicious blood.  I am a veritable feast for the insect world of southern Texas.

Please observe the photo to the left.  This is a lovely picture of my lovely ankle on my left leg.  I don't know how well you can see, but there are at least a dozen red, itchy blotches in the few square inches covering that ankle.  And it is representative of the condition of both of my calves and ankles.  My thighs have been attacked as well, just not as rigorously.

My husband is not being eaten alive.  Neither is my youngest daughter.  (My oldest daughter refuses to spend much time outside because she suspects she would become a victim as well.)  I am the one the little buggers prefer, for who-knows-what reason.

I was warned early on by a local friend (who grew up in Iowa) about the ants.  She said if you're not careful where you stand outside, you could find fire ants crawling all over you biting you, leaving such marks. 

But I don't believe these are ant bites.  I don't know what they are. I have never seen the culprits that create them; I just notice a few hours after I've spent time outdoors that I have new itchy places on my legs that are driving me insane. The fact that they are all on my lower extremities lends some credibility to the ant theory, but wouldn't you think I would notice ants crawling all over my legs? No, it must be some other critter.

Some clandestine critter with a military strategy to strike under the cloak of invisibility and retreat quickly, waiting for an opportunity to strike again. I would have to admire their skilled maneuvering if I believed there was anything intelligent about it.

Another local friend has suggested Avon's Skin So Soft. I'm going to have to try it.  I'm going to have to try something. The heat and humidity will not yet allow me to cover my legs, and the itching is making me nuts.

In other news, my un-ending cough has locals suggesting I have allergies -- another common discovery to Texas newbies. I had allergies in Jersey. They disappeared in Iowa. I'd rather not have them back. But whatever -- they can be controlled by medication, usually. The bugs . . . I don't know how much control I can have over them.

But at least I can take pride in my tasty blood. Enjoy while you can, you pesky varmints. Your feast will end soon. Mua-ha-ha-ha.