Hiking Season!

Yay! It’s here again! The Bessler boys are at it again. We hiked our favorite section of the AT up West Mountain near Bear Mountain to the great West Mountain Shelter and spent the night. In the morning, we climbed down again and made it home in time for lunch. This was Gabriel Thoreau’s first real backpacking overnight and he did great despite his obvious allergies. He even spotted a baby brown snake which we had a chance to play with before "letting him go home to his mommy and tatty." We ate Macaroni and Cheese and pitched a tent inside the shelter. Noah Darwin and Gabriel Thoreau loved hiking with Tatty Humboldt and can’t wait to do it again. Thoreau made sure to tell me that next time he wants to do this EXACT trip again.

Log Your Life with Tap Log

I do a whole lot of eating!

What happens when you can record your activity every second of the day with the simple press of a button?  You discover that you do a hell of a lot of eating!  The bad news doesn’t stop there.  After eating, I spend most of my time in the bathroom or sleeping.  Pathetic?  Maybe.  But, at least now I know how pathetic I am, and more importantly how I can become less pathetic.

The app is called Tap Log which you can download from the Android market.  There are tons of examples and great instructions on the blog, here.

You couldn’t ask for a more simple interface.  You create a button, tell it what you want the button to do, and voila!  You just press the button to log your information.  The time and place the button was pressed is automatically recorded.  You can have it ask you for a relevant quantity or perhaps an associated note.  You can create sublists, so hitting a button brings you to another page of buttons.  For example, when I click “drinking” it takes me to a page of buttons which lists Water, Crystal Light, Soda, Wine, Beer.

Then, there’s the charts feature.  You just press and hold one of your buttons and select chart.  You get a choice of several charts for the button you’ve pressed.   I can chart the times of day I drink, or maybe on which days I drink the most.  I can even see a pie chart breakdown of how often I drink each beverage.  Then, you can share your chart as I’ve done here.

Finally, you can save your data as a .csv to your SD card so you can later do all sorts of cool things with the data in excel, or even email a list of log entries.  Try it!  You might learn something about yourself.  OK.  I’m off to get a drink of water … click  …  drink/water … click … bathroom/pee.

The Bending Trees

We walked home today from our friends’ house in the snow.  This was a very early snow, being October 29th.  I can’t remember ever seeing so many branches in the streets.  Every few minutes, you could hear entire trees crackling as their roots tore from the ground and their branches cracked against other branches, followed by the softer crash as the entire bole hit the forest floor.  Those trees left standing had their branches weighed down at their sides, or along the ground where they used to fly tens of feet above the ground.  Outside our apartment window, the row of bushes which, on other days would rise above our terrace, now were flattened to only a few feet from the ground.  It reminded me of the following paragraph from Muir’s The Mountains of California.

…  No other of our alpine conifers so finely veils its strength. Its delicate branches yield to the mountains’ gentlest breath; yet is it strong to meet the wildest onsets of the gale,—strong not in resistance, but compliance, bowing, snow-laden, to the ground, gracefully accepting burial month after month in the darkness beneath the heavy mantle of winter.

When the first soft snow begins to fall, the flakes lodge in the leaves, weighing down the branches against the trunk. Then the axis bends yet lower and lower, until the slender top touches the ground, thus forming a fine ornamental arch. The snow still falls lavishly, and the whole tree is at length buried, to sleep and rest in its beautiful grave as though dead. Entire groves of young trees, from ten to forty feet high, are thus buried every winter like slender grasses. But, like the violets and daisies which the heaviest snows crush not, they are safe. It is as though this were only Nature’s method of putting her darlings to sleep instead of leaving them exposed to the biting storms of winter.

Thus warmly wrapped they await the summer resurrection. The snow becomes soft in the sunshine, and freezes at night, making the mass hard and compact, like ice, so that during the months of April and May you can ride a horse over the prostrate groves without catching sight of a single leaf. At length the down-pouring sunshine sets them free. First the elastic tops of the arches begin to appear, then one branch after another, each springing loose with a gentle rustling sound, and at length the whole tree, with the assistance of the winds, gradually unbends and rises and settles back into its place in the warm air, as dry and feathery and fresh as young ferns just out of the coil.

The Star Wars Female Urethral Catheter Analogy

Quote from Star Wars Screenplay:

“DODONNA: The approach will not be easy. You are required to maneuver

straight down this trench and skim the surface to this point. The

target area is only two meters wide. It’s a small thermal exhaust

port, right below the main port. The shaft leads directly to the

reactor system. A precise hit will start a chain reaction which should

destroy the station.

A murmer of disbelief runs through the room.

DODONNA: Only a precise hit will set up a chain reaction. The shaft is

ray-shielded, so you’ll have to use proton torpedoes.

Luke is sitting next to Wedge Antilles, a hotshot pilot

about sixteen years old.

WEDGE: That’s impossible, even for a computer.

LUKE: It’s not impossible. I used to bull’s-eye womp rats in my

T-sixteen back home. They’re not much bigger than two meters.”

You run your finger along the ventral vaginal wall along the pelvic shelf, feeling for a small blip (this is the 2 meter target from the Death Star). You advance the catheter beneath your finger pressing down with your finger gently so that the catheter goes down into the urethral orifice, just like the proton torpedoes go down into the target in the trench to start the chain reaction that destroyed the Death Star. So passing a female urinary catheter is a lot like bull’s-eye-ing womp rats on Tatooine.

I am here

This is my first attempt at a scraped-together gps tracking system. I capture my gps location using the "gps status" android app. I share it using "email me pro" which has a template set up to send an email with my location to wordpress via blog-by-email. The coolest part is that I compose everything off line and just need a glimpse of reception to send. Here goes nothing …

I am here: 40 53.507 N 73 54.544 W

A trip to the other side of the world

When we went to Israel, we tried to explain to Noah just how far we were traveling.  We had to start with something he understood.  We told him he was flying to “the other side of the world.”  He seemed to understand.  A few weeks later, out of nowhere, he asked us, “Next time, can we go on a trip to somewhere that’s in the middle of the world?  It’s a shorter trip.”

Match.com and Airline Seating

It would be interesting to come up with a way to control with whom you’re sitting instead of just where you are sitting on your upcoming flight. Maybe instead of choosing aisle or window, you could choose to sit next to a talker or maybe a sleeper, college grad or undergrad, art major or business major, vegetarian or carnivore. At least make a maximum butt width for an entire row. Why have rows which are 110% butt-full, and some which are 90% butt-full? The guy next to me is gigantic … Just his shoulders … and there are two teeny women and a frail senior sitting in the row behind us.

Today is My Independence Day

We had the whole thing planned out. We’d leave the kids with Marni’s parents, and then Marni would drop me off at work on her way to see the latest vampire movie with her friend. When I walked into work, everybody kept saying to me “What are you doing here?”. At first I kept saying, “I’m working tonight,” until it hit me that maybe I wasn’t working tonight. I checked the board, and sure enough, I wasn’t on the schedule. I called Marni and told her that I wasn’t working and luckily she hadn’t made it down to the end of the block. What a treat! I felt like I had just been given a wonderful gift. I spent a few hours at The Bronx Ale House (my local, if I have one), and now I’m waiting for Marni to pick me up so we can go out to eat in the city. Sweet!

My Brave Little Native American

Brave Mattress Headdress
Noah's Headdress for his pow-wow

In honor of Thanksgiving, Noah had a Pow-wow in school.  In the weeks leading up to the event, they learned about native americans and picked for themselves, native american names.  Of course Noah, being Noah chose this name for himself.  Yes, that does say, “Brave Mattress.”  We have no idea what it means, but he is very proud of it.

Old Navy: Buyer Beware

We went to buy some clothes for the kids today. Four of the 5 items we brought up to the register rang up for at least 50% more than we thought they were going to be. Had we not been paying attention, we would have been charged $74 instead of $50. Why did this happen? I went back to look at the sign for the baja sweatshirts we tried to buy. I took a look at the sign on the rack (and snapped a picture of it too). How much do you think the tops are? Can you read the tiny letters above and to the left of the “$10” that say “khaki pants” referring to the pants below? Neither could we. The actual price of the bajas was $14.50. The pants had a similar setup and were actually $16.50 while we thought they were $10. As everyone should try to do in order to control the marketplace, we did not purchase any of the “mislabeled” items. When in Old Navy … Buyer beware.

Funny Things Mommies Say

It’s Gabriel’s birthday today, Marni opened this present for him, looked at it and said, “Just what I need another thing with balls that makes too much noise.” … Completely unintentional, and hilarious. Anyone with kids will understand the frustration of cleaning up toys which are free to roll around the house and under furniture, and the headache that comes with noisy toys. Any mother with a husband and two boys will understand Marni’s memorable pun.

900 calories!

Are you kidding me?! 900 calories is 1/2 the day’s energy. I hope that’s only included on the advertisement because they are required by law to warn people of the mistake they are about to make. If you are truly conscious of what you put in your mouth, and live a deliberate lifestyle, then you would not pay $3 at 10am to pack in 900 calories unless you were planning on hiking for 12 hours to the next McDonalds to eat dinner.

Lee Visits New York

My friend Lee Burstiner from our hospital in Tampa came into town last night and stayed over on his way to Boston this evening.  Noah, who had last seen him 2 years ago, and couldn’t have possibly remembered him, took an immediate liking to him.  I took Lee to see our hospital in Manhattan which he hadn’t yet seen.  The kids had a great time.  Noah was cranky at the beginning as usual, but slowly warmed into it.  He never does this, but take a look at that picture of him putting his head down on Lee’s shoulder.  The other image is of Gabriel–comfortable of course from the start–pressing his nose against the glass of the inpatient ward.

Waste waste waste

Check out this shopping cart full of magazines that are being thrown out at the supermarket near me. Imagine this happens millions of times a day at supermarkets and news stands around the world every day. How do we justify this waste? How much of it is informative news?

To a philosopher all news, as it is called, is gossip and they who edit and read it are old women over their tea.

– Thoreau

Boy Genius

Noah Darwin Bessler playing Rush Hour
Noah Darwin Bessler playing Rush Hour

Noah loves puzzles.  He got that from me and from Marni.  He never gives up either.  His favorite game is Rush Hour which he is playing in this picture.  It’s a great game.  The Junior edition which is what we have is designed for kids 6 to 8 but he does just fine.  He loves setting up the board as well as solving it.  He works through the cards in order from easy to hard.  We’ve seen him get up to 11 or 12 so far, but he gets further every day.

Officer Mrs. Bessler

I learned to spell my name phonetically, from listening to my mother on the phone.  She used to say, “B–as in Boy, E–as in Edward, Double-S–As in Sam, L-E-R.”  So, after hearing myself saying that for the millionth time today, I decided to see where it comes from.  It turns out, my mom (Mrs. Lea Bessler), may have been an undercover cop.  If you notice, she is using the official NYPD phonetic alphabet–a dead giveaway.  She loved donuts, used the word “vehicle” instead of car.  She did have the most polished interrogation techniques out of all my friends’ moms–a technique involving bright lights (her makeup mirror), and a shower brush which was only brought out on special occasions and which she was always too afraid to use.

Quiet in the Library

When did the whole “being quiet in the library” thing die? I sit in the Spuyten Duyvil branch of the New York Public Library, and for some reason, all the librarians (are they still called that?) are constantly speaking at top volume.  The silence is broken every 5 minutes or so by a librarian near me answering somebody’s question about the local buses, or where they might find some video tape.  Everyone stops what they are doing, and looks up.   Maybe since the advent of earplug technology, they figure they don’t need to whisper anymore.  Anyone have any ideas?

Higher Laws


The wildness and adventure that are in fishing still recommended it to me. I like sometimes to take rank hold on life and spend my day more as the animals do. Perhaps I have owed to this employment and to hunting, when quite young, my closest acquaintance with Nature. They early introduce us to and detain us in scenery with which otherwise, at that age, we should have little acquaintance.  Fishermen, hunters, woodchoppers, and others, spending their lives in the fields and woods, in a peculiar sense a part of Nature themselves, are often in a more favorable mood for observing her, in the intervals of their pursuits, than philosophers or poets even, who approach her with expectation.

– Henry David Thoreau in Walden


Just yesterday I was speaking with one of the fathers in the class I help with at the Museum.  The topic for the day was snakes.  There was some discussion of the fear–which some of the parents had–of snakes.  “You want to touch the snake, Johnny?  Nothing to be afraid of.  We discussed how this clued the children into the idea that there was something to be afraid of.  Without this, the children have no natural fear of these smaller creatures.  Many of the children show no reluctance to touch and hold the cocroaches, millipedes, pill bugs, and snakes we have.  The parents were most concerned about the snakes biting them or their children.  They have no such concern when handling the chinchillas–one of which bites (and chews!) her holder without warning, often drawing blood.

I began the second class, by showing as many of the parents and children as I could, the tiny teeth on the articulated skeleton of a similarly-sized snake.  They are obviously not meant to pierce the skin, rather to grasp prey when working the prey head-first into the snake’s mouth.  Still, there remained this fear amongst many of the parents.

I began to wish–to myself at first, and then aloud to my coworkers–that the garter snakes would bite one or several of the parents, so they would see how harmless the bite is.  This was met with some skepticism.  I was bitten countless times by garter snakes, milk snakes, and water snakes when I was a child, and that is how I learned that they are not to be feared. 

The greatest naturalists and most important conservationists al started out, as children or young adults, hunting, fishing, or otherwise getting their hands on animals in ways which today we would not condone.  Darwin, collected animal specimens while on his voyage.  Theodore Roosevelt was an avid hunter and collector of “specimens.”  Take this famous passage from Aldo Leopold:

In those days we had never heard of passing up a chance to kill a wolf. In a second we were pumping lead into the pack, but with more excitement than accuracy; how to aim a steep downhill shot is always confusing. When our rifles were empty, the old wolf was down, and a pup was dragging a leg into impassable side-rocks.

We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes—something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters’ paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.

Leopold, Aldo: A Sand County Almanac, and Sketches Here and There, 1948, Oxford University Press, New York, 1987, pp. 129-132. 

I am not codoning hunting.  Rather, I believe that, once again, we have skipped over the middle road.  We, as a society who cherishes the natural world, have swung too far to the other side in protecting her.  We have placed her on a pedistal.  Now, she is known only from a distance.  Most men now only know her as they know history–from what they read in books and are taught in school.  Very few experience nature.  The children don’t know that garter snakes are harmless because they were never bitten by one, and have never opened a snakes mouth with a credit card to look.

Also, because children never exert their dominance over animals and nature, they don’t place them in the category of things which require care and compassion.   If snakes are dangerous, they can obviously fend for themselves, and require no protection from us.  Regardless, reality is that we are the dominant animals on this planet.  When man is not allowed to internalize, experientially, that dominance, it is difficult for him to feel compassion for, and a sense of guardianship over other creatures.

Remembering Sounds

“At evening, the distant lowing of some cow in the horizon beyond the woods sounded sweet and melodious …”
-Thoreau, Walden, Sounds
I am itching to go somewhere where it is quiet enough to hear such things. I have not heard silence in a long time. I tried “going” there in my mind. I can picture the scene, but cannot hear the sounds. Why can’t I imagine the sounds?

Children Who Play Life

Before I was a scientist, I was an artist.  The world, my world, was dominated by emotion.  I spent my days drawing and painting.  I saw the world, not for the objects within it, but for their colors and lines.  I loved the way paint flowed from my brush, and the way a line, the simplest of forms next to the point, both divided and focused a page.  I thought in the language of asthetics.  “If it could be said with words, we would not need the painting,”  I used to say.

That idea spoke to me.  I finally understood abstraction, and it was very dear to me.  My eyes opened to a new world, previously hidden to me–hidden to the masses.  I bathed in my new understanding.

All that changed, I’m not sure when and why.  I lost that “true sight” somewhere along the way.  Thoreau has reminded me, though.

“Children, who play life, discern its true law and relations more clearly than men, who fail to live it worthily, but who think that they are wiser by experience, that is, by failure.”

– Thoreau, Walden, Where I Lived and What I Lived For

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
  Hath had elsewhere its setting,
  And cometh from afar:
  Not in entire forgetfulness,
  And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
  From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
Shades of the prison-house begin to close
  Upon the growing Boy,
But he beholds the light, and whence it flows,
  He sees it in his joy;
The Youth, who daily farther from the east
  Must travel, still is Nature’s priest,
  And by the vision splendid
  Is on his way attended;
At length the Man perceives it die away,
And fade into the light of common day.

-Wordsworth, Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood

Walden: Reading

thoreau - portraitthoreau - portraitWell, had I known what awaited me in the next chapter of Walden, I wouldn’t have gone on and on about how poorly-versed I am in the classics.  Now I feel like a complete illiterate!

“The heroic books, even if printed in the character of our mother tongue, will always be in  a language dead to degenerate times; and we must laboriously seek the meaning of each word and line, conjecturing a larger sense than common use permits out of what wisdom and valor and generosity we have.”

Thoreau goes on to discuss the virtues of the classics.  He equates reading the classics with actually making acquaintance with their authors. 

“For what are the classics but the noblest recorded thoughts of man?  They are the only oracles which are not decayed … I aspire to be acquainted with wiser men than this our Concord soil has produced, whose names are hardly known here.  Or shall I hear the name of Plato and never read his book?  As if Plato were my townsman and I never saw him–my next neighbor and I never heard him speak …”

He has answered my questions, and more, he inspired me!  Not just to wade through the classics rather than to skim them, but to bathe in them.  Perhaps the skimming may be a means to an end.  To be honest with myself, I must see that the goal is not to read, but to understand.

“The orator yields to the inspiration of a transient occasion, and speaks to the mob before him, to those who can hear him; but the writer, whose more equable life is his occasion, and who would be distracted by the event and the crowd which inspire the orator, speaks to the intellect and heart of mankind, to all in any age who can understand him.”

I have asked my questions and Thoreau has answered them.  I feel as though I have spoken with the man.

“How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book!”

Reading Walden

Like On The Origin of Species, until now I have read most of Walden in bits and pieces, but never the whole thing through. I admit it, though am a bit ashamed to tell the truth. I have thus set out to read Walden in its entirety–front to back. I have been told there is an art to reading classic texts. Writers are so careful in choosing their words, that once the spoken language has changed, as through time, the writing becomes more difficult to understand. Gone, are the clues of clumsy, repetitive writing. If you don’t get the meaning the first time through, you are forever lost. Turning the sentence over again and again in your head is useless, as there is just not enough information there to help.

Sometimes, there is just enough information to make out the meaning, but only after carefully contemplating each word, and perhaps reading the same sentence a dozen or so times. While I do have faith that every thought of certain authors holds profound beauty, the method does not lend itself to inspiration, and one is easily distracted. Many have told me that the best way to read the classics is to read through them without stopping to understand the meaning of every part. What you didn’t understand at first, may become clearer later. Otherwise, perhaps the big picture is more important than the details. I contemplated the difference for some time, wondering which was the right way to go about it, but eventually realized that I was probably only capable of the latter, having merely started so many of the classics.

So, let me now come clean. The only Shakespeare I have read is A Midsummer’s Night Dream–no Othello, Romeo and Juliet. I have never read Tolstoy, Melville, or anything Greek. I read some Sherlock Holmes, some Poe, a little Washington Irving here and there, but mostly, I’m an ignoramus. My friends, however, like to say that I know a little about everything. I usually tell people that I know everything that is not important. For those who try and test me, I point out that by asking, they lend the thing importance, and I suddenly don’t know it. But really, I have spent my life thirsty for knowledge, compulsive in acquiring it, but too impatient to stick with one thing for any length of time. My favorite reading as a child was either the dictionary–a nice fat encyclopedic one–or, when available the encyclopedia itself–Britannica, of course. Today, I am usually “in the middle of” reading several books. My book shelves are littered with books with bookmarks. I generally have a stack of between 5 and 10 books on my nightstand–everything from text books and field guides to novels, magazines, and journals. For a while I was “into” short stories–being the perfect length and tempo to hold my attention.

So here I am wading through Walden–actually skimming the surface like a skipped stone. I’ve bounced through “Economy” and am now making ripples in “Where I Lived, and What I Lived For.” Before me, I see a chapter called “Reading,” which ironically deals with reading the classics. That should be a hoot. I’m thoroughly enjoying the book, I must say (no pun intended). I’ll put my thoughts together a bit more and get back to you to discuss the actual content.

In Search of a Quiet Place to Read

There are things you want to read and things you have to read.  I have no problem reading at home as long as it’s something I want to read.  I even do a pretty good job of convincing myself that I want to read some of the things I have to read, making it possible to read those things at home.  Unfortunately, there are things I have to read which I cannot persuade myself to enjoy.  Those things I am unable to read at home.  I find myself doing laundry, tidying up my room, and spending a lot of time in the kitchen.

Today, I tried to get out of the house to find a quiet spot to read.  I figured I should start with the usual place people go to sit and read–the local library.  

The Spuyten Duyvil branch of the New York Public Library:  Not appropriate for serious reading or research.  The mere presence of so many children (a great thing I believe) means there is a high likelihood of some disturbance every few minutes.

John Adams on HBO

Have any of you been watching this? It’s fantastic. I think it should be shown in every school around the country. Nothing before this managed to inspire me to learn more about the history of our country. This is what TV was supposed to be–educational, entertaining, inspiring. It’s amazing that out of the same stupid box, come Cops, the evening news, and all the rest of crappy network television. I’m off to learn more about the Continental Congress.

Gabriel Goes Geocaching

Gabriel goes geocaching
Gabriel goes geocaching

When spring comes you absolutely HAVE to leave the house. Even if it means dragging your 3-week-old son up a small mountain, through the woods and spooky graveyards to find your first geocache of the season, and his second of his life. Of course you have to be prepared to whip out the formula and mix a bottle after the grueling trek.

Noah’s Grilled Cheesemobile


Yesterday, Marni and I were eating at a restaurant and Noah ordered a grilled cheese. He ate one half with gusto, and then took two bites out of the other. He noticed it looked like a car, and began driving it around the table. Just to be sure, we asked him where the wheels were, and he pointed plainly to the two bite marks. After a few minutes of driving around the table, he got tired, so “parked the car” between two soda glasses, and then went back to his coloring book.

Noah's grilled cheese-mobile
Noah's grilled cheese-mobile
Parked grilled cheese-mobile
Parked grilled cheese-mobile

The Newest Bessler

New Baby Boy

We had the baby about a month early, and it’s a boy! He’s healthy, and Marni is recovering well. We got lucky again, and our doctor happened to be on call the night (actually morning) we delivered. She is the best, and we were so excited that she was able to deliver our second baby too.

Here are the stats:
Born: 2/18/2008 3:37am
Weight: 6lbs 3oz
Length: 19.5 inches

His hair is black for the time being, but then again so was Noah Darwin’s. He was opening his eyes after like 30 seconds, and continues to open them all the time. He cried once for about 10 seconds right after his cord was cut, and since then has hardly cried.

The bris is scheduled for Monday morning, and we’ll officially name him then. You’ll just have to be patient. We went with a smiliar theme to that of Noah Darwin. No, it’s not Nebuchadnezzer Einstein Bessler, or Shlomo Van Beethoven Bessler … both perfectly acceptable names, just not the one we chose.

What is this?

Bizarre animal cracker
Bizarre animal cracker

This is an animal cracker from the bag of animal crackers they gave us on the plane.  We are not sure what it is.  Just so you know, we don’t think it is the fox from Firefox, because the other animals were a hippo, a cat, a camel and a lion.  Anyway, if you have any ideas, please let us know.

Sorry for the poor image quality, all I had with me was my pocket PC phone.

Let’s All Thank the One Percent

I could make this a long-winded venting session, but instead, will keep it short so that I can go watch a movie with Marni, which is what I deserve to be doing.

 A dog died of a horrible disease.  The clients paid lots of money to have us try everything we could to save him.  He died during my shift.  The clients were a mess.  I did everything I could to comfort them.  I felt very sorry for them.  When they were done visiting with their dog’s body, they asked me, “What do we do now?”

I told them they should decide what to do with the dog’s remains.  They have two options.  They could opt for communal cremation, the most popular option, where the dog would be cremated with other pets.  Or, they could opt for a private cremation in which they would receive their dog’s ashes back.  I also said we could hold their dog’s remains until they decide.  I remember they looked at me a little strangely, which many of my clients do when I mention the idea of a private cremation and an urn with ashes.  I told them, as I tell all those clients, that some people find having their pet’s ashes around the house “a little weird”.  They said, “We don’t want to deal with that.”

 I assumed they meant, as many of my clients do, that they don’t want to deal with having ashes around as a reminder of the tremendous grief they now feel.  Most of my clients won’t even consider getting another dog months later because it would remind them of their grief.  Apparently, they mean that they didn’t want to deal with the decision then, and would prefer that we hold the body.

We have a form which we often sign off on when the clients relate their wishes verbally.  In the interest of their comfort, I signed off on the form saying they wanted a communal cremation.

2 days later, they called back saying they had done research online and want to have tissue harvested from their dog so they can clone him when cloning is perfected, and then they want a private cremation.

As you might imagine, they were very upset to hear their dog had been communally cremated.  I admit, for someone convinced cloning will bring back their pet, and who wants ashes around to make them feel as if their pet is still with them, this would be very upsetting.  I felt aweful.  I wished I could go back in time to change it, but alas, I couldn’t.

When I spoke with him on the phone, he tried as hard as he could to make me feel as bad about it as possible.  “You took my dog away and burned him with other dogs!”   “That dog was like our child.  My wife and I have no kids.”  “My wife is a mess!  If this was a human there would be a multi-million dollar law suit.”  “I don’t think I should pay a cent for anything that happened at your hospital.”  and my personal favorite, “I work for The New York Times.”

I am proud to have kept my witts about me.  I responded with, “My primary concern is your wife’s and your healing. “  I explained that I have nothing to do with the financial aspect of this discussion, and that I am concerned that they are having trouble with the grieving process because all the tissue samples, ashes, and money in the world will not bring their dog back to them.  I explained that many grieving people have issues with misplaced anger, and that I wanted to help them in any way I could.  I offered to speak with his wife.  He had no interest in what I had to say, but kept insisting that he wanted to talk to the manager of the hospital.

The reason I’m writing this, is that part of me says, “You’ve learned a lesson.  Next time, force the clients to read the paperwork, and physically sign the form themselves.”  The other part of me says, “this man represents 1% of my clients.  The other 99% thank me for my compassionate manner.  They call me to tell me how happy they were with our care, and with my help in dealing with the loss of their pet.  Do I really want to change my ways because of one mistake and one mean person?”

Mistakes happen.  If you are the victim of an honest mistake, realize that if you force people to deviate from their normal behavior just to prevent that occasional mistake, you may be hurting other people.  Sometimes hot coffee spills.  We can all try to be more careful.  We can print warnings on the cups.  We can force cashiers to ALWAYS warn people that their coffee is hot.  We can create special, corrugated, cardboard holders to slide over the triple-layered paper cups.  When the price of coffee goes up because of the costs of doing all these things, the other 4.9 billion people who understand that sometimes accidents happen, suffer. 

OK so it wasn’t short, and it kind of was a venting session.  But I’m done and the movie hasn’t started.

What I did in the Israeli Army

So many people ask me what exactly I did in the army.  I found a bunch of descriptions of PALSAR500, my unit in the army, and this one seems to be the most concise and accurate:

Palsar 500 / Palsar 7

Table of Contents

  • Profile
  • Overview
  • Training
  • Weapons


Note: the following profile apply to both Palsar 7 and Palsar 500.

Unit’s name: Palsar 500/Palsar 7

Location: All over Israel, depending on the location of the parent armored brigade.

Primary mission: Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) unit for armored brigade (pathfinders for tank movements).

Secondary mission: Intelligence gathering.

Training: Primarily navigation and open field combat, but also demolition, mine clearing techniques and communications.

Weapons: M16 M4 (the carbine version of the M16A2) usually with M203 grenade launcher for increased fire power, the Israeli Viper mine clearing system and Israeli Gill anti-tank missiles. Also each warrior carries one anti-tank LAW rocket.

Note: from now on in the article when ever it’s written “the units” or “this  units” it refers to both Palsar 500 and Palsar 7.


The 7th and the 500th armored brigades are considered to be the most elite armored brigades in the Israel Defense Force (IDF). Both brigades have only Merkava Mark 3 type main battle tanks (which is considered as the finest and the newest battle tank in the Israeli arsenal). In a time of war, this brigades’ mission is to break through a siege on Israel, and then to penetrate deep into enemy lines.

This is the reason why these are the only two armored brigades that have their own Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) units. both brigades are also facing north to the Israeli-Syrian front, which is the strategically the most important front.

in their function, missions and training the two units are identical sister a like units, but they are completely separated from each other both in their actual war-time employment and in most of their training regime.

The Palsars’ main function is to find, during a war, a safe path for the armored brigades to pass. Safe path means the chosen path must be free of anti-tank mines and counter armor enemy forces and also viable for tank movement.

In war-time, the Palsars will some times be forced to make a safe lane: They will clear anti tank mines, blow up obstacles (boulders, burned vehicles, etc.). Some times the Palsars will even engage enemy forces, but only if the enemy unit is small, weak and in the way. But the units will rarely do so, and usually find a different path in order to maintain the element of surprise.

The Palsars are pure and classic LRRP units. They don’t have any Counter Terrorism (CT) or Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) capabilities like most other Israeli SF units, and therefore lack the “fame” and “glory” that comes along with the higher profile CT/HRT units. But they are within the units who will determine the fate of future wars.

The need for the Palsars was well proven in the 1973 Arab Israeli Yom Kippur War (a.k.a. the October war). In the bitter tank-to-tank engagements, that took placed in the Golan Heights, more than 29 Palsar members were killed and 7 more were badly injured. But by the end of the war, the Syrian armor was demolished and The Golan belongs to Israel to this very day.

the units war-time strategic importance, was also shown when the IDF replace the old American M151 jeep, that were in service, to the newer Hummer jeeps, and the units were among the very first SF units to make the switch.


The training period lasts 18 months.

training stages (in chronological order):

  • four month basic infantry training in the Mitkan Adam army base, the IDF’s special training facility.
  • two months of advanced infantry training also held in the Mitkan Adam army base.

These two stages are the only ones that are combined to Palsar 500 and Palsar 7. after finishing those two stages each of units goes to a separate base to conduct its own dedicated training.

  • five months of reconnaissance and unit own specialize training including navigation, mine clearing techniques and basic anti-tank tactics. also included  in this phase is  a basic reconnaissance course held in the IDF’s intelligence and reconnaissance school (MOS) located in the BALSICH army base.

Since they are also in charge on delivering real-time intelligence back to the armored brigades headquarters the units also have a very advanced intelligence gathering and Communications skills which are also included in this phase.

  • two months of advanced reconnaissance course also held in MOS.
  • four months of active duty operational activity (mainly in the south lebanon front).
  • one months special forces non commissioned officers course  held in the IDF’s infantry school (BILSACH).

note: thanks to their intended month day/night, all-weather navigation training, the Palsars are considered to be the best navigating teams in Israel. This is why many of the units’ graduates later become instructors in MOS.


The standard personal issue weapon in the Israeli SF community is the M16 M4 (the carbine version of the M16A2). since all of their activity is in open field, the M4 is usually configured with the Elbit Falcon optical sight (located in the front, on upper hand guard) and M203 40 mm grenade launcher for increased fire power.

Also used are the M24 Sniper Weapons System (SWS) and Israeli Military Industries (IMI) Negev 5.56 mm Light Machine Gun (LMG). the m24 replace the old Israeli modified M14 SWS that was in service.

Source:  http://www.star.co.yu/armtech/pages/tekst029.htm

Wait A Day

43things.com is a unique website where people post things they want to do, and goals they want to accomplish. Supposedly, from what I could glean from the intro to the site, each registered member has 43 slots to fill with things they want to do. Each thing somebody wants to do has its own page, so when you enter the thing you want to do, it searches to see if there are other people who want to do the same thing. It shows you the list of people who want to do that thing, allows you to add yourself to the list, and adds that thing to your list of things you want to do. There are also comments on that thing below—-a sort of discussion.

I discovered this site when I Googled the following phrase “How do I stop myself from doing things?” I was looking for general advice on how to “train” myself. Getting into the habit of doing things seems more straight forward. It’s breaking habits that seems more difficult. I was looking for general advice, but really had one particular bad habit in mind—-speaking without thinking first. Just saying the first thing that came to mind.

I searched for it, and there are 9 people who want to “think before speaking,” and 7 people who want to “Think then speak,” or something along those lines. Then I found 353 people who want to “Think before I speak.”   By that I mean they want to think before they, themselves, speak, and not that they want to think before I, David Bessler, speak.  The truth is,  I speak so quickly sometimes, I’m sure there are those who would like to be able to think before I speak.  “Think before I speak” is just what they typed into the search box at 43things.com.

After I spent a few minutes looking around if there was a way to combine these topics into the one topic they were obviously meant to be—which there is—I moved on and began reading about the site, and exploring a little.   Then I registered and set up my account.

Finally, I settled down into the the first thing I want to do, and began writing this post.  I eventually learned that I could simultaneously post it to my blog.  So I set up my blog and that’s want I’m doing now.  But I digress. Back to the bad habit of not thinking before I speak.

This happens most when I’m angry.  I’m going to try waiting some amount of time before responding.  Don’t know how long that should be. Also, having somebody to bitch to about it helps bide the time.

This connection in my mind between anger and not thinking reminded me of something I head learned time and again in Yeshiva.  There’s a chapter in Maimonides Mishna Torah which discusses this very topic.  It speaks about anger and about the value of silence and thinking before you speak.  You can find a translation here.  Be sure to read chapter 2 items 4 and 5 specifically.

Here’s a good quote from there:

Silence is the maturation of wisdom.  Therefore, one should not be hasty in answering, and one should not speak excessively.


During basic training, two other guys, Nimrod and Elai, and I were sent to take a course on driving a vehicle called a Zelda or NAGMASH, which in Hebrew was an acronym for armored personnel carrier. The course was in a base called BISLACH, in the south of Israel. BISLACH was another acronym which stood for infantry school. We arrived at a huge base in the middle of the desert with dozens of batteries of tents arranged in neat rows. Each battery represented a different course. Withing each battery were perhaps fifty of sixty tents each housing about twelve soldiers. There were tents sprawled over this huge, barren area, as far as the eye could see. There was a constant wind, and with it, a constant fine mist of sand. Everyone was covered in sand. The nostalgic feeling is washing over me now. To me, now, it seems like a scene out of an epic movie like Dr. Zhivago or, more appropriately, Lawrence of Arabia. That was a different life. I know it was my life, because I still feel it living in my insides, but certainly not the life I’m living now.
Continue reading “The NAGMASH”

Rolen Bagels

Every Friday I pass right by The Corner Cafe in Riverdale on my way to Rolen Bagels where I get my usual everything bagel with cream cheese and a slice of tomato. Marni and I started going there when we discovered that Bagel Corner, a few blocks from there, doesn’t have a toaster to toast your bagel. “Why wouldn’t they have a toaster to toast your bagel?” Marni asked. Especially when there is another bagel place a few blocks away. The answer, is that Bagel Corner OWNS Rolen Bagels a few blocks away. We didn’t know that when we decided to permanently switch to Rolen Bagels. The first time we went to Rolen, the people smiled at us form behind the counter. They asked us if we wanted our bagel toasted. The bagels were fresh and tasty. We had found our new bagel place. Then things began to change.
Continue reading “Rolen Bagels”

You’re a Ninja

I crept down the stairs as quietly as I could. I’ve found, from such ventures as a child, that if you place your weight on the edge of the step just where it meets the wall, rather than in the middle, it is less likely to creak. Also, by spending as little time as possible bearing weight on each step, any step that did creak, would do so for only a short time. If I extended this thinking to its logical extreme, it seemed as if I could run down the stairs floating above them silently like a basilisk or Jesus lizard which can almost miraculously run across the surface of a lake.
Continue reading “You’re a Ninja”

Imagine All the People

Can you imagine how many thoughts there have been. Ever. Imagine a catalog of all the thoughts of mankind through the ages. Forget the sheer volume. Imagine the content. I know I have lots of thoughts every minute. Many of those thoughts are pretty complex. At least I think they are. Some of them so complex for me that I cannot hold on to their meaning for very long. We all have thoughts like that. Everyone has thoughts like that. Imagine how many of those thoughts were original. Only a handful of people have actually captured those earth-shattering thoughts. A cataolg of human thought would contain ideas that would change life as we know it. Think of all the inventions that were never actualized, concepts never recorded, or theories never evaluated.

Continue reading “Imagine All the People”

Pennies are Poisonous!

I love obscure facts. The best, obscure facts are those which are relatively important, and make people wonder why they remain obscure. Eating a penny can kill a dog. There’s a good. one. Yes, just one penny. You see the average US Penny minted after the latter half of 1982, has a mass of 2.5 grams. 97.5% of that mass is zinc. That equals about 2.4g (2,400mg). The LD50 for zinc, or dose at which 50% of animals that have ingested zinc will die is 100mg per kg of body weight. That means, that half of the 24kg (53lb) dogs who eat one penny, will die–if not treated. This is a little smaller than an average Golden Retriever. I know you are wondering what the year a penny was minted has to do with anything. You are also probably wondering exactly how a penny might be deadly. You also may want to know if a penny can kill your baby.

Icteric gums
Icteric gums

For the exact mecahnism by which pennies kill, unfortunately, you may need to look elsewhere. Nobody knows for sure how zinc does what it does to dogs. We do know, however, that it causes the destruction of red blood cells in the dog leading to a low red blood cell count. This condition, which may be caused by other factors such as autoimmune diseases, certain drugs, and other toxins, is known as hemolytic anemia. Hemolytic anemia in dogs is ugly. Victims typically present to their vets very lethargic and jaundiced (Note the color of the gums and eyeball in the image). It can be quite frightening. The part we don’t understand yet, is how zinc brings about this destruction. There are theories, but nobody really knows for sure. The fact that zinc causes this destruction, however, is very well established, and unfortunately, veterinarians see thousands of these cases every year. I, alone, have seen approximately 10 in the past 3 years.

A quick search on Google will convince you that zinc toxicity from US pennies minted after 1982 is not a major problem. The majority of sites listed discuss the danger to dogs.

Why pennies minted after 1982? The answer is a bit of a history lesson. It turns out, the composition of the US penny has changed over time. Here’s the rundown from the US Mint:

  • The composition was pure copper from 1793 to 1837.
  • From 1837 to 1857, the cent was made of bronze (95 percent copper, and five percent tin and zinc).
  • From 1857, the cent was 88 percent copper and 12 percent nickel, giving the coin a whitish appearance.
  • The cent was again bronze (95 percent copper, and five percent tin and zinc) from 1864 to 1962.
    (Note: In 1943, the coin’s composition was changed to zinc-coated steel. This change was only for the year 1943 and was due to the critical use of copper for the war effort. However, a limited number of copper pennies were minted that year. You can read more about the rare, collectible 1943 copper penny in “What’s So Special about the 1943 Copper Penny.”)
  • In 1962, the cent’s tin content, which was quite small, was removed. That made the metal composition of the cent 95 percent copper and 5 percent zinc.
  • The alloy remained 95 percent copper and 5 percent zinc until 1982, when the composition was changed to 97.5 percent zinc and 2.5 percent copper (copper-plated zinc). Cents of both compositions appeared in that year.

So, zinc toxicity is becoming more common, as a greater proportion of the pennies in circulation are toxic. Should we call the US Mint and ask them to change the composition of the penny to one less toxic to dogs? I think we should. Please call:

Michael White
Office of Public Affairs
(202) 354-7222

Tell him that you read about it on davidbessler.com.

Veterinarians Treat Snakebites in Dogs

Facial swelling from snakebite
Facial swelling from snakebite

When I first found out I was moving down to Florida, I was excited to practice in a whole new world. Tampa is different from New York in so many ways. Then, the excitement was replaced by fear. Perhaps the new world of Tampa will bring new challenges. There are emergencies that are common in Tampa, but virtually non-existent in New York City. I made a list of such emergencies. My list included complications from heart worm disease, bufo (toad) toxicity, sago palm toxicity, and snakebites. I scrambled to learn as much about these emergencies as I could.

Many pets are bitten by snakes every year. Down in Tampa, this is a daily occurrence. Most of the bites are from crotalids, a family of snakes which includes rattlesnakes. Some pets are bitten by coral snakes, members of the elapidae which includes cobras. Coral snake venom is different from rattlesnake venom. Coral snake envenomation causes life-threatening neurologic problems, whereas rattlesnake venom causes other problems such as bleeding disorders, severe inflammation–often facial swelling as seen here–severe infections, and sometimes death.

Some links about rattlesnakes
Pictures of rattlesnakes in Florida
Florida’s Venomous Snakes

Dogs are often bitten on the face when they stupidly try to sniff or bite a rattlesnake. The bite is often very painful. Not all rattlesnake bites contain venom. A small percentage of bites are “dry.” However, waiting to find out whether or not the bite contained enough venom to cause problems, is often a deadly mistake. Treatment includes intensive care hospitalization with close, round-the-clock monitoring for some of the life-threatening complications. Antivenin (sometimes known as anti-venom) should be administered as soon as possible, but is expensive to maintain, and may not be available everywhere. IV fluids are given in the hospital, as well as IV antibiotics and pain medication. Doctors will want to monitor coagulation (blood clotting) times as well as general bloodwork to make sure all the organ systems are continuing to function properly. Despite appropriate therapy, some dogs still die from snakebites.

Believe it or not, the dog in the picture above is a miniature pinscher. His face is dramatically swollen. While this is a funny picture, the danger to the dog is clear. Swelling this severe could easily close off the dogs airway suffocating him. This is the least life-threatening of all the potential complications of snakebite.

Reconnaissance and Intelligence Training

A bunch of us (I took the picture) after an excercise at the Intelligence and Reconnaisance training camp

Reconnaissance and Intelligence training was at a base in the Negev Desert. We spent 2 months there learning to navigate in and drive our jeeps. We also learned to identify all sorts of enemy troops and machinery. This picture is taken after a long morning run. Our officer would periodically declare someone wounded so that we could practice running with a stretcher. As usual, I’m the one taking the picture. The guy on the far-right is our officer, Eran.

Film School Confidential

For mothers’ day I took Marni to see Art School Confidential. It was great to have a few hours to ourselves—for Marni more than me. She’s the one with a 7-month-old strapped to her waist all day. The movie was crap however. I mean really bad. I came away with the feeling that someone made this movie with some other motive besides making a good movie. I think this is the product of some marketing meeting where a guy in a powder-blue suit and very un-stylish glasses stood up and pointed out that based on his research, spoof movies starring John Malkovich and Steve Buscemi always make at least enough at the box office to be worth making. I know the story is that the movie was adapted from a comic strip, blah blah blah. I’m no movie critic–I guess we all should be considered critics–but I just don’t see how this movie ever made it to the big screen without someone stopping the show and saying, “Whoa. This sucks. We can’t actually show this to people who paid their baby-sitters $40 for the night off to see a movie and then another $8 at the box office.” It could be worse, we could have seen this in New York where tickets would have cost $11.

Continue reading “Film School Confidential”

Despite my education

This may seem a little angry. If it does, it’s probably because I’m a little angry. Especially now, because I can’t sleep. Tonight I couldn’t sleep because I had a disturbing dream–not a nightmare–just a disturbing dream. It was a nightmare, at one point in my life. It made me want to get out of bed and write about it so the world could understand. So I’m angry. Usually I’m not angry. Only when I think about my “education.” When I got angry as a kid, my mother would tell me to write a letter. So, I’m writing this letter to you, my yeshiva educational system.
Continue reading “Despite my education”

Dancing Me!

Dancing Me on davidbessler.com
Dancing Me on davidbessler.com

You knew it would happen.

Instructions: Click on a round button to start some tunes. Then use the keyboard, or mouse-over the keyboard on the screen to dance. Use the round “x” button to stop the music. Note: the keys are case-sensitive so make sure caps lock is off.

Flash: You must have flash to see this awesome dancing-thingy. Download it now—you don’t know what you’re missing.

Pipecleaner Dance III

Pipecleaner Dance III on davidbessler.com
Pipecleaner Dance III on davidbessler.com


Music: Use button A – E to choose different tunes. Use button X to shut off the music.

Instructions: Click on a round button to start some tunes.? Then use the keyboard, or mouse-over the keyboard on the screen to dance.? Use the round “x” button to stop the music.? Note: the keys are case-sensitive so make sure caps lock is off.

Flash:?You must have Macromedia flash to see this awesome dancing-thingy.? Download it now?you don’t know what you’re missing.???

Thanks Cheryl! A special thanks to Cheryl for editing out the scotch tape I used to keep pipecleaner man in place. You did a wonderful job! Magical, in fact.? I’m so happy people care so much for the pipecleaner dance.

Puppeteers Discover Pipecleaner Dance

The Original Pipecleaner Man
The Original Pipecleaner Man

So, the folks at Puppets and Stuff have discovered the Pipecleaner Dance. They consulted puppet philosopher, Steven Tills who feels that the Pipecleaner Dance qualifies as a virtual puppet. Virtual puppetry, it turns out, is a big deal to some. Just try googling it. Anyway, Puppet Philosophy is very much like Puppet Government, except fewer people are killed in Puppet Governments. Truth be told, I had never really considered the idea that the Pipecleaner Dance is a virtual puppet. But now that you mention folks, yeah, I guess he is.
Someone also asked me how many visitors I get. Well, lately, the Pipecleaner Dance has really taken off. He’s been discovered by several people and I guess word spread quick and far. Here are my usage stats for the first 1o days in April:

Total Hits 875737
Total Files 663943
Total Pages 379370
Total Visits 311253
Total KBytes 224299496
Total Unique Sites 261818
Total Unique URLs 1271
Total Unique Referrers 12347
Total Unique User Agents 7147

Avg / Max
Hits per Hour 3648 / 8990
Hits per Day 87573 / 129090
Files per Day 66394 / 99293
Pages per Day 37937 / 57032
Visits per Day 31125 / 45072
KBytes per Day 22429950 / 33589191

So, I guess most accurately, about 37 thousand people come to see the Pipecleaner Dance every day … people like him. In fact, so many people like him, that they’ve tried to copy him … check this out. That guy copied me back in the late 90s. Someone even registered http://www.pipecleanerdance.com to try to extort the poor, fluffy guy. Whatever. I’m an emergency vet, not a puppeteer. But, I dig the folks at Puppets and Stuff. They were very kind, and I’ve always liked puppets.


Loading doses:
Morphine: 0.5mg/kg IM
Lidocaine: 1 mg/kg IV
Ketamine: 0.25 – 0.50 mg/kg IV

CRI in a bag:
Morphine (15 mg/ml) 8ml/L
Lidocaine (20 mg/ml ) 50ml/L
Ketamine (100 mg/ml ) 1.2ml/L
@ 1ml/kg/hr
Morphine 2 ug/kg/min or 0.12 mg/kg/hr
Lidocaine 17 ug/kg/min or 1.0 mg/kg/hr
Ketamine 2 ug/kg/min or 0.12 mg/kg/hr

Can go up to 3ml/kg/hr without exceeding any dose ranges

Cats – until more data is obtained, lidocaine’s use in cats cannot be recommended due to potential toxicity issues. If it is used in cats, do not exceed 10 ug/kg/minute, and monitor carefully for seizure activity and cardiac abnormalities (bradycardia).

CATS – LIDOCAINE (20 mg/ml): 300 mg/500 ml diluent = 15 ml/500 ml diluent = 30 ml/1000 ml diluent
Deliver at 1ml/kg/hr fluid rate = 10 ug/kg/min or 0.6 mg/kg/hr

To substitute fentanyl for morphine at a dose equipotent to the morphine dose above add:
FENTANYL (0.05 mg/ml): 0.6 mg/500 ml = 12 ml/500 ml diluent = 24 ml/1000 ml diluent.
Deliver at 1ml/kg/hr fluid rate = 0.02 ug/kg/min or 0.0012 mg/kg/hr

Source: http://www.vasg.org/constant_rate_infusions.htm

Fluid Losses

  • Insensible losses (respiratory) = 22 – 33 ml/k/day (0.9 – 1.3 ml/kg/hr)
    Sensible losses (Urinary) =26 – 44 ml/kg/day (1 – 1.8 ml/kg/hr)
    Total maintenance = 44 – 99 ml/kg/day (1.9 – 3.1 ml/kg/hr)
    Average = 2.5ml/kg/hr
  • Insensible loss is almost pure water (hypotonic fluid loss)
    Sensible loss is an isotonic fluid loss
  • Vomiting, diarrhea, osmotic diuresis are all isotonic losses
    Diabetes insipidus, panting, water deprivation are hypotonic losses
    Addison’s disease is a hypertonic loss

Fluid Compartments

Total body water = 60% of body weight
Intracellular water = 40% of body weight
Extracellular water = 20% of body weight
Interstitial water = 16% of body weight
Plasma water = 4% of body weight

Intravascular volume = 7% of body weight (plasma volume + RBC volume)
Hematocrit = 3% (RBC volume) / 7% (intravascular volume) = 43%
Note that IV volume is part extracellular and part intracellular

Pipecleaner Dance Returns

Pipecleaner Dance on davidbessler.com
Pipecleaner Dance on davidbessler.com

Wanna donate money to our baby Noah Darwin‘s college fund?
Click below. Any amount—even a buck—is appreciated. With a donation of $10 or more, we will send you a free pipecleaner man (well, not really free—ten dollars is a lot to pay for a pipecleaner, but satisfaction is gauranteed). Don’t forget to leave us your shipping address!

New Features!

I have just added keyboard control. You can now access poses 1-12 with keys a,s,d,f,g,h,j,k,l,v,b,n

Note: You mist first click somewhere on the image before it will sense the key presses. Enjoy! Now you can refer to dance poses by key name. If you come up with some good dance combos, please submit them.

Choose your song

Now you have a choice of two 80s favorites! Grove is in the Heart by Dee-Lite, or Kenny Loggins’ Footloose.


Using the keyboard will allow you to choreograph your own routines … for example, try the Wave (H-G-F) the Head-banger (A-V-A-V) or the Butt-slapper (B-D-B-D-B-D). Submit your own and I’ll post them.


Back by popular demand. One night, late at night back in 1998 when I was at Cornell, I was sitting at my computer after having just gotten one of the early Logitech webcams. I was trying to figure out a way to add video to my website. Back then, 56K connections were the norm so standard video would not cut it. Anyway, I needed something to experiment with. I had a package of pipe cleaners on my desk and without really thinking about it, built the pipecleaner man. I started making a stop-motion video of the pipecleaner man. Then I tried to make forward, rewind, stop, and play buttons for the pipecleaner man. At one point, while messing with the buttons I had made, I started playing the video backwards and forwards and it looked like he was dancing. It dawned on me that it would be lots of fun to be able to control him, so I made little buttons with different poses, and that’s how the pipecleaner dance was born. Soon, the page became immensely popular and I was getting lots of hits and email from fans all over the world. The Clevland Plain Dealer called me and included the pipecleaner dance in an article about wacky personal web pages. Anyway, at some point my site moved on, and the pipecleaner dance was left behind on a backup CD. I’ve gotten email over the past few years asking where he went. I finally found him today after someone left a comment on davidbessler.com asking for his return. SO, here he is. I left him at his original address.

Plans for the future

I am working on another, as well as some improvements to the Pipecleaner Dance. Keep checking back.

The original Pipecleaner Dance.

Baby Comes Home

Baby Boy Bessler
Baby Boy Bessler

Well we have a name, but you’ll have to wait until after the bris to hear it. We just got home from the hospital and are on pet patrol making sure none of the hairy kids climbs into the bed with the new hairy kid. We’re not too worried about Simon, because he can’t find his way out the door for a walk. It’s Lucy we’re worried about. But seriously, what self-respecting cat wastes her time with an infant. Honestly, it’s beneath her. Simon seems a bit jealous, but aside from a sniff here and there, and licking the baby’s toes, Simon just sits on the bed or couch next to him. Lucy acts as if she doesn’t even know he’s there.


Periwinkle, Vinca minor, is used to make a chemotherapeutic drug called Vincristine. Here’s a link to some not-so-useful unformation about the periwinkle. Then I came across this flower in a bunch of people’s gardens. I should know what it is but I don’t. I’m just starting on this whole botany thing. Kevin? Any ideas? An example of the monocot leaves (parallel veins) can be seen behind it.

And don’t forget the beautiful magnolias in bloom now.

A Brief History of Me

Not sure ...
Not sure ...

At 9lbs 10oz they say I was the heaviest baby in Nyack Hospital. Nyack is a town in Rockland County – about 30 minutes north west of Manhattan. My family actually lived in a town nearby called Monsey. We lived in a house on Albert Drive until I was about a year old at which point we moved to another house in Monsey on Nelson Road. The Albert Drive area is now predominantly an ultra-orthodox or hassidic area. In Monsey, there is a hill which used to divide Monsey into two sections. “Down the hill,” as it was called, was primarily Hassidic jews while “up the hill” was more Modern Orthodox jews. The difference between the two is mostly in their respective levels of separation from the secular world. The Hassidic jews live in ghetto-like communities and interact little, if at all, with the secular world. Modern Orthodoxy tends to interact more – subject for another discussion. Albert Drive was actually on the hill geographically. I’m not sure what that says about my family. Either way, we moved up the hill when I was a year old. I was placed in nursery at a local yeshiva elementary school called Adolph Schreiber Hebrew Academy of Rockland or A.S.H.A.R. There have always been rumors that when the Schreibers donated their money to the school, there were plans to name it the Schreiber Hebrew Instute of Torah or S.H.I.T.

Still-Life with Dryer

Still life with dryer
Still life with dryer

The much-awaited exhibit entitled “When Major Appliances Attack” opened today at the Center for Specialized Artistic Exploration. The exhibit features important works from renowned artist Malerie Vailman. Vailman appeared at the opening this morning surrounded by her entourage of body guards and agents. She arrived accompanied by her trendy beau known to the public only as Revin. Vailman, who stunned the artistic community in October with “Still Life with Dryer” has become one of the nations best-known new artists. Vailman is a founding member of the Paris-based Au-Pliance school. The 30-year-old artist says that this piece, “Reinvigorates the idea that art can be both beautiful and also a burned out dryer.” Most of the other, lesser-known artists on hand were locals struggling to break into the scene. Losh Jachowicz, a new immigrant from Poland, was very active in that country’s Vhirlpulvitz and Maytäg movements. Jachowicz was at the show to discuss his new, controversial piece entitled, “Nude: Refridgerated.” When asked to comment on his body of work, Jachowicz said, “I wish people could learn to see past my body.” … Touché Jachowicz.

My New Camera

I just bought a Nikon 4600 4-megapixel digital camera. Until now I had been using my ancient Cannon Powershot A50 (with a whopping 0.7 megapixels) because I used my camera primarily for images that would be viewed on computer monitors. The time has come, however, for me to move into the 21st century and get a camera suitable for prints. I wanted to get a digital SLR but that proved a little too expensive. Anyway, here’s a picture of breakfast at 3-Star Coffee Shop.

It has really nice macro functions and produces nice images, I take lots of nature pictures and needed that good macro detail for things like flowers and pLants I can’t identify etc …

As you can see, the detail and quality are really quite good. So far so good – I’m happy with it. It was only $179 at Circuit City too … a definite bonus to buying mildly outdated technology (all the hot cameras are now 6 megapixels).

Hike Eyn Akev


Me and Gafni outside his dorm at Sde Boker in the Negev where Gafni is working on his master’s thesis in Hydrology. Sde Boker is also the burial place of Ben-Gurion who championed the development of the Negev in Israel.

Here’s a picture of me and Shlomo (AKA Joel) sitting next to a funky mushroom-shaped rock formation in the way to Eyn Akev.

Simon Gets Glasses

Simon gets glasses
Simon gets glasses

Simon’s glasses finally arrived today. We put them on and he actually sees a lot better. He can actually see the cheese and yum-yums we give him. He still has to get used to them. Right now, he’ll leave them on as long as he is distracted but the first chance he gets, he takes them off. My plan is to distract him while he wears them for longer and longer periods of time until he just keeps them on.

About Doggles
Doggles are protective eyewear for dogs. They are actually goggles for dogs, hence the name. Unlike ordinary sunglasses for dogs, Doggles actually protect dog’s eyes from foreign objects, wind, and UV light.

For all of you who don’t know why Simon needs glasses, a few months ago Simon had an acute case of glaucoma because the lense in his left eye popped out of place. We treated him in the middle of the night and the next day he needed to have that lens removed. The lens in the other eye was on the verge of luxating too and so we took that one out as well. It took him a long time to recover from the surgeries but is doing much better now. He will still, occasionally bump into things but is getting along pretty well. Marni used the techniques she uses to figure out the glasses prescription for babies and figured out roughly the prescription Simon would need. Marni’s dad (the optician) had the lenses made. The lenses were fit into frames made by Doggles (sunglasses for dogs) – and now, Simon has glasses.

Mip Chunda Comes to CSVC


Today, Mip Chunda, the yellow lab saw white-boy rapper gone veterinarian, B-Rodskee in an appointment destined to be called the ear-job of the century. The all-star guest list included otitis media mogul Kue Simmel, and psychic advisor to the stars, Lion Devitan. Porn star Coco Nelson Chajmovic (AKA Bavid “Normal Kidney” Dessler) was on hand as well. Onlookers were amazed as Mip tore off a small peice of B-rod’s left earlobe and spit it into the audience. A young girl, later identified as eastern pop-diva Rothra Motten-yogurt, caught the resected appendage and rushed off to have it encased in lucite. Davidbessler.com reporters caught up with the young idol later to discuss her trophy.

“It’s really more like a dream,” Motten-yogurt said. “I thought I would end up with a sock or perhaps a piece of belt. But to come away with an actual body part is more than I could have ever asked for.”
Admissions to the show were free thanks to the kind and generous donations of the CSVC (Center for Special Veterinarian’s Cats).