One Diver’s Perspective.

Scuba, Photography and Scandal

SCIDS (Severe Combined Immune Deficiency Syndrome – bubble boy syndrome)


We are new parents as of a few weeks ago. A few weeks before that, New York State began screening newborns for a very rare and very serious condition known as SCIDS, a condition which if left untreated leads to the death of most people within the first year of life, but if treated in the first few months, can be cured and lead to survival rate of 95% though bone marrow or cord blood treatment.

We knew nothing about this before Tuesday afternoon. On Monday afternoon, we visited the pediatrician and were told he wanted to see if our baby could gain more weight by Wednesday, so we went home with a mission. Wake, change, feed, wake and supplement. Growing a baby is tiring. So on Tuesday, we napped for 90 minutes, and woke up to find a message on the machine… “Hello, this is Lauren from your pediatrician’s office, the doctor has been trying to reach you for over two hours, please call.”

Now this was odd, since we saw the doctor the previous day and were going see the doctor the following morning. When I returned the call at 4:13, the office told me again that they were trying to reach for over two hours, and I asked what the problem was. They told me that one of our son’s tests came back positive, and because they could not reach us they made an appointment for us to see a specialist the following day at 2pm. She gave me the new doctor’s contact information and address, so I called her and wound up in voicemail. I looked her up to see she specialized in allergies and immunology.

I also looked at the phone log and saw that the pediatrician’s office had called at 3:12, 3:17, 3:21, 3:26, 3:42, 3:51, 3:58, and the message was left at 4:05. WOW! I do not believe I ever tried to reach anybody so desperately. What was so important?

I called my pediatrician’s office back and told them it has been 30 minutes but I did not get a return call from the specialist, so I wanted go confirm we had the appointment even if I did not hear back. She said yes, and I asked what this was all about. She told me that our boy’s test results came back positive for Severe Combined Immune Deficiency, or SCIDS. She also told us that our pediatrician was not in today but that he would be told first thing in the morning before we were to see him for our 9:30 appointment with him.

After hanging up, I hit Google and learned enough to know we were in a lot of trouble. I read that SCIDS was considered a pediatric emergency and this was consistent with being called 8 times and having an appointment scheduled for us all in the course of an hour.

It turns out that our baby does not have SCIDS. New York recently (less then two months ago) started screening for SCIDS, and this simply means that babies would be tested for certain traits and if they tested positively they would need follow up testing. In other words, there are going to be a lot of false positive test results. Our baby does have a very low T-cell count and therefore has a very compromised immune system that requires monitoring but which may also fix itself over the coming weeks. However, he has more T-cells than a SCIDS baby would have, so we are not facing the worst immune deficiency disorder and he may very well out grow this over time.

Needless to say, we are quite relieved and quite annoyed. Our pediatrician’s office really messed up badly. The news should not have been conveyed by a non doctor and the doctor should have known about the test results when we arrived the following day. He did not. And he let us go to the hospital to have the sonogram done where we sat in a waiting room for over an hour. I should have known better and canceled the sonogram so we were not around potentially contagious people. He should have taken this more seriously then he did. And his staff should not have panicked us by telling us he had a condition he did not. When we went to the immunologist, before we had our insurance card copied, a nurse swept in and took us to a private room so we would not be around sick people. My pediatrician took no such precaution either because he was thoughtless or because he was never told about the screening result. Either way, not cool.

We will know more when he is retested and when other test results come back over the next couple of weeks. In the interim, we will be looking for a new pediatrician. Hopefully, other new parents will be spared this anxiety. And hopefully other pediatricians will not make the same mistake and implement more appropriate communication procedures.

This is one diver’s perspective.

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December 3, 2010 Posted by | Life | , | Leave a comment

Apple (AAPL) Stock, Worthless?


Apple stock is more worthless than the stock of nearly every other company. This is not a criticism of the company, or its products, but of the stock market in general.

Unlike many stocks, Apple does not pay its shareholders a dividend. Therefore, its shareholders receive nothing by virtue of owning the company and must rely on the possibility of there being another person who is willing to pay more for the stock than the shareholders did, in order to realize any benefit from ownership.

Now, it is true, as a shareholder one has the right to vote, but such a right is hardly worth the cost of ownership, and offers no tangible benefit. Theoretically, any non-dividend paying stock offers the same drawbacks, but Apple is somewhat unique. With virtually every other company, there remains the possibility that another company or investor will take the accompany “private” or otherwise acquire it, and pay the shareholders for their ownership interests. However, Apple is a large company, representing 20% of the NASDAQ 100, in addition to which it has tens of billions of dollars in cash, making it an impossible takeover candidate at today’s prices.

Which brings me back to my original thesis, that the stock is worth nothing except what someone else might be willing pay for it. If the stock paid a dividend, it would be worth the present value of all future dividend payments, regardless of whether anybody was willing to purchase the stock from its current shareholders.

I have realized tens of thousands of dollars in gains, buying and selling Apple stock, and I expect others have done even better. But, the more I think about it, the more I realize it is a foolish company to invest in. All the more so because so much of the company’s perceived fortunes (and therefore, its stock price) is dependent upon the health and wellbeing of Steve Jobs, who, despite what some may think, is a mortal man, subject to certainty of death, which will nearly certainly cause the stock price to plummet, at least temporarily.

I for one wold prefer to own a solid company paying a solid dividend, and hope that it will be taken over one day, with a premium paid to existing shareholders. That is just not something that is remotely possible with Apple, precisely because it has become so successful and so large. One day like Microsoft did, perhaps it will declare a dividend. Until that time, I will strongly consider selling my position, or reducing it substantially.

July 21, 2010 Posted by | Life | , | 2 Comments

Touch Typing on the iPad


I touch type over 100 words per minute when I really get going, but typically type at 80 words per minute.  I was therefore assuming that I could never really type adequately on my iPad, and was frustrated enough at trying, that I nearly decided that I would resort to hunt and peck typing.

When typing on the iPad in landscape mode, I found myself struggling due to the fact that the “home” keys are not standard.  On a standard keyboard, your right pinky rests on the semicolon, whereas on the iPad screen, your pinky would rest on the “return” key, as they moved the semicolon off of the main screen.

What this means to the touch typists among us is that you have to make sure that when you are hovering over the keyboard, the “GH” keys are visible between your index fingers, and not to place your pinky over the “L” as that key is typed with the ring finger. I knew something was wrong because I could only see the letter F whenever I tried to place my hands in the “home” position.

Once I figured this out, and made sure that the “GH” keys were visible (i.e., you don’t rest your index finger on those keys on a regular keyboard so you should not have them hovering over the virtual keys either), “touch typing” became a possibility.  I still can’t really “touch type” without looking at the keypad, but I can type a lot faster than I could before, and faster than the hunt and peck method.  Much faster.

When your fingers start to stray just make sure you position them so that the GH are clearly visible between your index fingers and start belting away!

May 21, 2010 Posted by | iPad, Life | Leave a comment

Going to Be a Daddy


Well, I’ve finally done it!  I am going to be a father of boy this November, assuming the geneticist’s 75% certainty pans out as expected.  This is going to be an incredible life-changing event and I am terrified by its implications. Fortunately, I have seen that others have done this before me, many with less intelligence, humor and resources than I am blessed with.

Obviously, this is going to put a crimp on our diving in the near future. But, I’ll never forget my first dive vacation, seeing the families with their children, and I hope that our baby grows into child interested in the underwater world.  I just pray that there is life in our seas worth seeing in 10-15 years!  I am sure it will seem incredible to the new diver, just as it was incredible to me (despite the fact that anybody diving for 20+years before my first dive, will tell me that the oceans were quite different when they started their adventures!).

I’ll keep the blog, and hope to get wet still, but I sense it will be a while….

This is One Daddy’s Perspective.

May 16, 2010 Posted by | Life | 1 Comment

Vegetarian


For many years, I would proclaim that I was a vegetarian between meals.  No meat snacks for me!  Five years ago I gave up red meat.  Four years ago, I made the switch, giving up fish and meat completely (with the exception of one lobster tail and one chicken sandwich while staying in Bonaire).

The reason is primarily an ethical one. I believe it is wrong to kill animals for pleasure. Whether one is given pleasure by causing an animal pain or one is given pleasure by the taste of a bbq steak is really irrelevant. Killing for pleasure is wrong.  It is wrong because it is unnecessary.

If you think about it…. If you think its wrong to set a bag of kittens on fire just because it makes someone happy to do it, you might conclude its wrong to kill an animal to eat when there are vegetarian options available.  Killing and having someone else kill for you is the same thing. Think about it. Consider quitting the meat habit.

August 7, 2008 Posted by | Life | | Leave a comment