Friday, February 22, 2008

Coolest. Thing. Ever.

Seriously.

Dierks Bentley's latest project - a collaboration with his fans on the creation of a Greatest Hits release - is the coolest thing EVER.

Click here to get it straight from the source or here for the official press release.

This weekend's mission: Get Bud an Executive Producer credit.

Monday, February 18, 2008

PSA for the AAP

The popular press loves a good conspiracy theory. It makes for good copy. It sells. Even when it's not entirely based in fact.

So I guess it's no surprise that when it comes time to do an "autism story," the popular press tends to rely heavily on the vaccine theory of autism causation. There are a lot of big name celebrity advocates who support the theory, and their big names get big air time. Even when their theories are not entirely based in fact.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is hoping to bring some balance - and some factual information - to the forefront in the press coverage of the autism story. They're looking for people - real people with real stories, and not just big names who draw big numbers - to share their own experiences and their own beliefs. An e-mail request from Susan Stevens Martin, Director of the Division of Media Relations for the AAP, is printed here in full:

Hello,

As part of our ongoing response to media stories regarding autism and vaccines, the AAP communications department is compiling a list of parents who support the AAP and are available for interviews. We are looking for two types of parents who could serve as spokespersons:

Parents of children with autism spectrum disorders who support immunization and who do not believe there is any link between their child's vaccines and his or her autism.

Parents of children who suffered a vaccine-preventable illness. This could be a parent who declined immunization, whose child became ill before a vaccine was available, or whose child was ineligible for immunization.

We are asking for your help identifying parents who would be good spokespersons. They do not need to be expert public speakers. They just need to be open with their story and interested in speaking out on the issue. We will contact candidates in advance to conduct pre-interviews, to offer guidance on talking to reporters and to obtain a signed waiver giving us permission to release their name.

If a parent were placed on our list, we would offer their name and contact information to select media. We hope to build a list of parents from a wide range of geographical areas.

As the Jenny McCarthy and "Eli Stone" stories illustrate, this issue is likely to recur in the national and local media. The AAP is committed to doing all we can to counter such erroneous reports with factual information supported by scientific evidence and AAP recommendations.

The anti-vaccine groups often have emotional family stories on their side. The ability to offer a reporter an interview with a similarly compelling parent who is sympathetic to the AAP's goals is a powerful tool for our media relations program.

Please contact me if you have any questions or to suggest a parent to interview.

Thank you,

Susan Stevens Martin
Director, Division of Media Relations
American Academy of Pediatrics


If you are interested in getting involved with the AAP's parent program, you can contact Susan Stevens Martin directly at ssmartin@aap.org.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tell me about it

My friend Kiki doesn't like to go shopping with me. It's not just because I lack her stamina at the mall. It's because I spend too much time in the check-out lines.

Let me give you an example.

Kiki and I will make a quick stop at Target, toss a few things into our baskets, and join the line to check out. Kiki will put her things on the conveyer belt. The clerk will say, "$32.76." Kiki will pay her money and collect her bags, and then my goods will make their way down the conveyer belt to the clerk.

"Oh," the clerk will say, scanning my first item. "Tampons. I used to use this kind of tampon."

"Really?" I'll say.

"Yes," the clerk will reply, "Before I had my hysterectomy."

"Oh," I'll say.

"It was five years ago," the clerk will say. "I'm okay with it now, but at the time...well, I really wanted to have another baby."

"That must have been hard," I'll say.

"I was so depressed I could barely get out of bed," she'll reply. "Thank God for Paxil, though, you know what I mean?"

And it will escalate from there.

I'm not sure what it is about me that brings this out in people, but it's a very real phenomenon. I say "Good morning," and strangers start to disclose. This is how I know that the woman who bagged my groceries took the job temporarily because she'd suddenly become unemployed, that she thought it would only be for the holidays, that she was dismayed to still be bagging in February, and that she has still not gotten the hang of opening the plastic bags. It's how I know that the night manager of Dunkin' Donuts really prefers the coffee at Starbucks. It's how I know that the woman at the pizza shop couldn't shake the feeling that something odd was going on that morning at the gas station mini mart when a young woman ran from the store into an idling car and sped away at top speed. It's how I know what kind of birth control the woman at the hair salon uses - and what effect it's had on her cycle. It's how I spent 45 minutes in the produce section of the grocery store talking to a woman (and then her husband, whom she'd called over from the bakery) about her grandson, who may be autistic, but whose parents may be in denial.

I think I might just have one of those faces - generic enough that I'm vaguely reminiscent of someone you know, making me familiar enough to put you at ease. People I meet often tell me that I am "just like" such-and-such person they know, or ask me if I'm related to so-and-so, or wonder if we've met at the blahdy-blah place I've never heard of.

As quirks go, though, it's a nice one to have. I enjoy hearing about people's lives and, it seems, they are pleased that someone is willing to listen to them. It does make for extraordinarily long sessions at the check-out counter, though.

Just ask my friend Kiki.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Be careful what you wish for

Bud lost a tooth last week and the tooth fairy left him three dollars, which he took to Toys R Us to parlay (with a bit of supplemental financing from me) into a DVD. After only a few minutes browsing the video rack, Bud made his choice: Elmo's World. A DVD just like all the others in his collection. A DVD designed to appeal to children five years his junior.

I've spent the better part of the week thinking about Bud's choice and why it bothered me. Part of the issue, I have to admit, is that I am just tired, tired, tired of watching Elmo and the Teletubbies. Another part, though, is that as Bud gets older, his entertainment choices pull him further and further away from his neurotypical peers.

But, I've countered to myself in this internal debate, perhaps these are the videos that are meeting Bud's developmental needs. Perhaps they are still the videos that meet him where he is.

And then I remember Bud's echolalia, and I'm reminded of the tremendous benefit of the mostly polite and appropriate language that comes along with Bud's exclusive draw to preschool programming. I remember what happened when Bud developed an interest in 101 Dalmatians, and I had to manage scenarios like this:

One afternoon, as the result of a childcare glitch, I had to pick up Bud at school and bring him to my office in the afternoon. Bud loves coming to my office, but we are typically there on weekends, when we have the place to ourselves. This particular afternoon, though, the campus was bustling with activity and as we walked across the parking lot, Bud realized that something was different.

"No friends will be in the office, Mom?" Bud asked.

"Today is a work day, Bud," I said. "All the friends will be at the office."

Bud considered his options for a moment, then turned to me earnestly and said, "I'll pop 'em on the head. You do the skinning."

So maybe sticking with Elmo is not such a bad thing after all.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Hillarack

I have never before been so totally captivated by a primary race and so completely ambivalent about it's outcome.

I'm longing to have a candidate. I'm ready to rally around someone. I'm prepared to plaster my car with bumper stickers, pepper my lawn with yard signs, and pin campaign buttons on every jacket I own.

Hillary? Barack? Makes no difference to me. I'd love to have them both, but I'm happy to take either one.

Come on, Super Tuesday voters. Seal the deal and send me a candidate I can believe in.

Monday, February 04, 2008

See for yourself

A couple of months ago, I went to a concert and then posted a blog-rave about Dierks Bentley (whom Bud has recently started referring to as "my personal friend Dierks Bentley"). I imagine that at least a few of you wondered if, perhaps, I was just the tiniest bit biased because Dierks and Cassidy reached out to help Bud successfully manage a small change that had somehow become emblematic of the larger changes in his life. And who could blame you for your skepticism?

But here's your chance to see that, biased or not, I was actually right.

This Friday night, Dierks and the band will be streaming live from the Knitting Factory in Los Angeles. Through the magic of the Internet, you can watch the show on iClips.net from the comfort of your own living room. Of course, depending on your time zone, you may be in for a late night, since the broadcast is set to begin at 11:00 p.m. Pacific Time.

If a late night (or early morning) just won't work for you, I believe that iClips will have the show available for you to watch at your convenience. And if you do check out the show, live or in replay, please be sure to stop back here and let me know what you thought of Bud's very own "personal friend."

Friday, February 01, 2008

Putting it together

I still don't know what happened between Bud and Kelly, but I think I've figured out why it was bothering Bud so much.

Yesterday afternoon, I asked Bud's teacher and aide if they knew anything about The Buster Affair. They said they weren't aware of any incident, but they weren't able to follow up with Kelly about it because she has been out all week with the flu.

Kelly has been missing. Suddenly, and without warning - though, clearly, after an incident in which she told Bud she didn't want to play with him anymore - she just stopped coming to school.

I can't imagine the weight that Bud has been carrying with him this week.

When I got home in the evening, I was determined to set Bud straight - to explain where Kelly was, to let him know why she wasn't with him, to assure him that he had nothing to do with her absence. It seems, though, that he'd already worked it out on his own.

"Bud," I said, "Tell me about Kelly."

"She's sick," he said.

"That's why she's not at school," I said.

"Yes," he said.

"She'll be back at school soon," I said. "When she feels better."

"Yes," he said.

And that was that. Nothing more about her anger. Nothing more about being called "Buster." He didn't need my help. He'd sorted it out.

He'd found the missing piece.