Friday, January 25, 2008

Family Matters conference in San Francisco

The American Fertility Association brings its "Family Matters" conference to San Francisco, February 10. Looks like an interesting agenda. I've been to a similar conference before (at Stanford) and found it to be really helpful. For a day, at least, I felt a little less alone.

Oh, and Brenda Strong of "Desperate Housewives" fame is giving a keynote. I did her Yoga for Fertility DVD a lot before I got pregnant with my son. I just couldn't get over the fact that I'm doing yoga to the voice of Mary Alice Young.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Heath Ledger, R.I.P.

I don't know why the news of Heath Ledger's death at the age of 28 is making me so sad.

Maybe it's because he had a daughter about my son's age. Maybe because he was such an incredible actor. Maybe because he seemed like a decent person. His daughter should have had the chance to grow up with him in her life.

Lately, I've been grieving over the deaths of strangers more acutely, but this death, of such a talented person, at such a young age, really gets to me.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Caffeine and miscarraige linked. Time to go cold turkey.

Well, here's some more news with which I could torture myself, were I so inclined. A new Kaiser Permanente study published today in the Amerian Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology says that "high doses" of caffeine during pregnancy can increase your chances of miscarriage:

Women who consumed 200 mg or more of caffeine per day (two or more cups of regular coffee or five 12-ounce cans of caffeinated soda) had twice the miscarriage risk as women who consumed no caffeine.

The increased risk of miscarriage appeared to be due to the caffeine itself, rather than other possible chemicals in coffee because caffeine intake from non-coffee sources such as caffeinated soda, tea and hot chocolate showed a similar increased risk of miscarriage.

In a word: crap. Let the inventory begin. I've been allowing myself that one small (often decaf) cappuccino in the morning, because I'm zombie-like without it, and with it, I find myself just a leeettle bit more focused. I maybe have a cup of tea in the afternoon; somewhere I heard that that was probably OK. I don't drink diet sodas (OK, well maybe a sip off my husband's here and there...but wait...I had a few slugs off a flat diet Pepsi yesterday afternoon while I was getting ready for a dinner party...).

Is this what's keeping me from getting pregnant? Did this cause my miscarriage in October 2007, and my two miscarriages in early 2004?

Oh, probably not. My advanced maternal age (love that term) is more probably the culprit. In an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, Dr. Aaron Caughey, a perinatologist at USCF, reminds us that the majority of miscarriages (up to 80%) are "due to chromosomal abnormalities that have nothing to do with the mother's behavior. The last thing women who have had miscarriages need to do is blame themselves, he said."

Oh, but we're so good at it.

Decaf it is.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Mini-Mini-Movie Review: Transformers

Worst. Movie. Ever.

No, I did not rent this turkey on purpose. I gave my husband his own NetFlix queue, and "Transformers" is how he repays me. He now owes me a month of foreign films and chick flicks.

For a much more cogent review, head over to Great White Snark.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Mini-Movie Review: Syriana

Well, it's official. I can no longer see any movie where a child is harmed. I mean, I knew that something bad happened to a kid in "Syriana," but I figured I could handle it. I couldn't.

Let's just say that my son will never be allowed to attend pool parties at the homes of Saudi Arabian princes. (Fortunately, there isn't much chance of that happening.)

Anyway, back to the movie. It deserves a long, more thoughtful review than the one I'm about to give it. It's an ambitious work of storytelling, weaving together multiple threads in a tale about the CIA, oil, Islamist terrorists and Saudi Arabian princes. And of course, all the bad things that the United States government is doing in the Middle East, all in the name of oil. It really makes you want to go out and buy the first Prius you see. The director is Stephen Gaghan, who also helmed the very fine "Traffic." Ensemble casts and dense plot lines seem to be his stock in trade.

"Syriana" probably could have been a very satisfying six-hour miniseries. I'm embarrassed to say that found myself struggling to follow it, and I'm usually a pretty careful viewer. I would watch it again...but there's that "bad things happen to kid(s)" problem.

Of course, my inability to completely follow the plot may have been due to the fact that I was mightily distracted by George Clooney. I usually am, but in this film, I was a bit discomfited (and impressed) by his 35-pound weight gain. He certainly deserved the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his subtle, heartbreaking performance as CIA operative Bob Barnes. I would have also given him the Directing Oscar for the stunningly great "Good Night, and Good Luck," but then, I'd give him an Oscar just for being George Clooney.

See "Syriana," and let me know what you think. But if you're a parent, you might just want to skip the pool party sequence. (Note: Big spoiler ahead.)

Not to mention the convoy-in-the-desert scene at the end of the film. What is it with these directors? Don't they have kids? And why does the death of the prince's two small children, whose seem to function as collateral damage, seem to hold less cinematic weight (their death comes almost at the end of the movie) than the death of the son of Matt Damon's character?

Wait, I think I can answer that. I just don't want to.

(Photo courtesy of spcoon.)

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Mini-Movie Review: Sin City

My husband rented "Sin City" on NetFlix. I'll sum it up in one word: Vile. And that's just the writing.

This movie is Exhibit A in why the NC-17 rating should be applied more liberally to violent movies. It seems that because this movie was "cartoonish," the gore and sadism was OK.

While it's pretty trite to say that there should be less violence in movies, I'm going to go one step further. There should be more sex in movies. (More good sex, that is.) And less violence.