Back in April 2007, Entertainment Weekly reporter Jeff Jensen wrote a brief, but very personal, account of his wife's struggle with brain cancer in his morning-after wrap-up of a Lost episode. He described how the subject matter in the show hit close to home in an almost eerie fashion.

I've been a rabid fan of Lost from the beginning. However, it latched onto me in a much deeper, far more profound way as the character of Desmond Hume was introduced and developed. This truly began to took hold following the season 2 finale, which focused on Desmond and took the show in a utterly different direction.

Desmond was first introduced at the beginning of season 2 in an audacious turn of events which occurred once the survivors went down the hatch. At first, he seemed a risky addition with no apparent connection to the rest of the show. However, by the end of the season, it was obvious that Desmond was not an afterthought, but part of a grand design, possibly a central part of a grand design. And despite all the supernatural window-dressing, the show was revealed to be an epic love story, between Desmond and Penelope.

The love story of Desmond and Penelope has some incredible elements. It spans time, time-travel, absence, and an amazing, courageous, and staggering sacrifice. Last night's episode "The Constant" was the climax of the story and possibly the technical climax of Lost. After years apart, the two lovers were reunited (briefly), across a great distance and time. The episode was a testament to enduring love, told utilizing an unconventional tool, as Desmond was striken with a time-travelling consciousness. It was emotional for me in many ways. And it made the type of strange connection to real life that was similar to Jeff Jensen's.

One primary reason that I have titled this blog, rather arcanely, the "Bod Brain Blog," is the very immediate way in which unconventional wiring in the brain has had a profound impact of my life and the life of my family. To this point, I've made indirect allusions to my son's Asperger's syndrome and no mention of the epilepsy from which my wife suffers. These conditions are the genius of the blog's title and while I sprinkle many ideas into the blog, I hope to make our experience with these conditions its core.

Epilepsy is an odd, disturbing, disruptive, disorder with a rich and romantic history of plaguing geniuses and mystics. From my own personal experience, I can attest that I see how easily both petit mal and grand mal seizures could be mistaken for possession by spirits and visions. Despite the fact that I been with my wife on countless occasions during her seizures, it is extremely difficult to become accustomed to the surreal feeling which overcomes me each times her seizures cycles begin and continue over a few days. This is further reinforced by the fact that her seizures occur at the onset of sleep and I am often somewhere between waking and consciousness myself.

Her deeper petit mal seizures are perhaps the most unsettling, when she becomes gripped by paranoia, occasionally has visions of a hallway or mentions a "they" lingering around the doorway, or becomes totally unhinged from all sense. At these times, it is as if the sound quality in the room changes. Sometimes, my ears ring slightly.

It is at these times when I feel that she is absent, that she is physically there, but her soul, her spirit has been abducted and replaced. I feel like there is something else in the room, a presence and she is the medium for this otherworldly spirit. Despite the other presence, it is very lonely and I almost feel disconnected from myself. Often, she will sleep a deep slumber for hours following these seizures with very little communication. I am often with her, around her, beside her, but I miss her dearly.

When she finally emerges from this stupor, it is as if she has returned from a long journey, to an exotic place of which she has no memory. She is a traveler, but her travels take their toll. When your existing beyond yourself, it becomes difficult to hold on to who you are sometimes and easy to feel lost and disorientated even in the clear times in between.

Which brings me to last night: soon after we started watching Lost, my wife started falling in and out of sleep. A loud noise from the show startled her and she awoke and then started a petit mal seizure which quickly cascaded into a grand mal. I was able to give her some emergency medicine to help arrest the seizures. She then feel into a deep sleep.

I was alone. It is difficult for me to go right back to sleep at these times. So, I sought solace in Lost. During the episode, Desmond became "unstuck in time," his consciousness pulled back and forth between two different times. He went in and out of consciousness. Due to the stress on his brain, if he persisted in this state, he found out that he would die. The physicist Daniel Faraday explained to him that his only hope was to find someone in both the past and future to anchor him, a "constant."

Desmond had a constant, Penelope, but in previous episodes he had to broken off their engagement and ruined their relationship. He painfully left her in order to fulfill his destiny on the island. However, he had no way to explain to her his reasons for leaving at the time. Now, he had to turn to her and hope that their love would transcend the situation and rescue him in the future. The final scenes were powerful, well-acted, well-paced and authentic. The moment of rescue and reconciliation was a joy.

While I watched and my wife slept beside me, Desmond's spells reminded me very much of her seizures. She becomes "unstuck in time." I am her constant, her anchor, something to cling to during the confusion and fear. But, when she goes, I also am lost. When she returns, she pulls me back. She is my constant.

Even as I write, she is resting, waking briefly to eat or drink, or to have another seizure. I can't wait until she returns.

Greatest Super Bowl Ever?

I am a Lions fan. However, while I wait for the NFL to award Detroit an expansion franchise after the Lions departure from professional football in 2000, I have been rooting on the Patriots (once Michigan quaterrback Tom Brady took over).

Despite Spy-Gate, this year was fun to watch, at least, up until the Super Bowl. The first three quarters were excruciating to watch. I wasn't bored, but unhappy with the prospect of the Pats losing 10-7. Then, in the fourth quarter, the Giants defense finally tired (very similar to the Colts game earlier this season) and there was an opening. The Patriots took advantage and scored. Suddenly, it like a weight was lifted from the game. That last Patriot touchdown took some of the pressure off the game. I was able to enjoy the rest of the game and was rewarded with one of the most memorable drives in NFL history.

In this column, Dr. Z calls this Super Bowl the best ever and alos grades the other 41. An enjoyable read, full of Dr. Z's patented crankiness. Also, the Sports Guy comes through with a column which perfectly captures the nearly-surreal experience of watching 19-0 pass through his grasp like Eli Manning through the hands of a Pats defender.

A "Can't Miss" Book?

Heard a description of this book on NPR. It sounds like one of those classic American tales where quackery drives new markets and innovation. The subject of the book uses goat-glands to cure impotentence.

Mitt Romney is opposed ("every child deserves a mother and a human/half-man, half-goat father" won't cut it in middle America). Forget Viagra. Viva Mutton Balls!

Department of Political Courage

One of my favorite ads of the primary season was Mitt Romney's "Not Politically Correct" ad (link here). In the ad, he makes a bold statement: "Marriage must come before children, because every child deserves a mother and a father." Its this kind of moral courage and clarity I think every politician should emulate. For instance, "every American deserves a day with 24 hours" and "When I'm president, I want Americans to know that when they store water at a temperature of 32 degrees or less that it will become ice (given enough time)."

As Romney's statement obviously tells us, it is apparently possible for an unmarried man or woman to conceive a child through asexual reproduction. Of course, this is something I totally oppose. First, people should be married, and then, once they reproduce, they should do it sexually. This is what separates us from single-celled organisms. Well, and clones, because they deserve a mother and a father, but may not have one.

But, I wonder if Mitt has heard about this. We have already ruled out asexual reproduction, but science is now making it possible for some children to have a father and two mothers. So, should we say "every child deserves only one mother and one father", or "every child deserves at least one of each type of parent, as well as how many other parents fertility researchers can pack into one embryo."

Winter on Ice

There has been a decent amount of snow this winter. Still, recent winters feel different than the winters of my childhood. While there have been years with large snowfall amounts over the past decade, the snow does not linger the way I remember. Especially this year, we have experienced a consistent cycle of freezes and thaws.

This pattern has impacted the ice cover of Lake Michigan and the many inland lakes in Michigan. The lack of ice on Lake Michigan has led to lower lake levels. It may be impacting both winter and summer rainfall patterns. The Muskegon Chronicle recently highlighted the change (here). The article discusses a National Science Foundation study which concludes that there are 16 less days of ice cover today then there was thirty years ago.

During my regular duties at work, I recently came across a sign of this change. Our department is responsible for four sets of aerial photography of Ottawa County over the past thirty years. In order to preserve the photos and make it easier to produce copies of the photos, the mylar sheets have been scanned into digital photos.

In Michigan, aerial photos used for property review purposes are typically obtained in April, after the snow has melted and before leaves grow on trees.

I am currently reviewing the photos as a quality check. As I was reviewing the 1984, I began to notice a strange pattern which I thought was a imperfection in the mylar sheet. As the pattern appeared in later photos, I realized that it was not an imperfection. It was ice.

This lingering ice is isolated to our 1984 photos. I have not been able to locate any freely available climate summary of 1984, but I'm guessing that there must have been a large ice build-up that year and a consistently cold winter.

I know that this year when we get new photos that there will not be any ice. I can not imagine that photos we obtain in the future will have ice.

Is this another sign of climate change, a companion to the retreating glaciers in Europe, the Andes, and Glacier National Park? Or it is just evidence of a very cold year in a normal cycle of cold. I'm not sure, but it definitely feel different.

Results from a Long Bet

While the race for president may seem to be interminable, has a series of truly long-term races. Long Bets features of a collection predictions and bets which last, in some cases, over a hundred years. The results are in for one of the bets. The bet pitted the Web against the New York Times. Unsurprisely, the winner is the Web. To read more, click here.

Sorry, Not Everyone Can Be Governor of Arkansas

The experience issue has become a cornerstone of the Democratic race for the nomination. This weekend when the election was discussed amongst family, it was a major plus for Hillary Clinton that she was more experienced than Barack Obama.

I think experience is important, but I think it is also over-rated and can also be a detriment. In one of the key areas where leadership will be critical, the management of the War on Terror, neither Barack Obama nor Hillary Clinton (nor Bill Clinton for that matter) have experience with a such a massive and complex undertaking. I don't think either of them will be able to step in on "day one" and easily manage the situation.

But, as a prerequisite for the presidency, experience is neither a positive nor negative indicator of success. In the past fifty years, three men have taken office who have been extremely experienced but have mixed records as presidents. These include George H.W. Bush, Richard Nixon, and Lyndon Johnson. While Carter, Clinton, and George W. Bush has experience as executives of states of varying size, their level of experience as "deciders" does not correlate with their accomplishments or failures as president.

Then, there is Abraham Lincoln, who was not experienced. Yet he is considered to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest, president.

So, what criteria do you use, if not experience? It is obvious that philosophy is a factor and is very important when it comes to Supreme Court nominations. But, both philosophy and experience are trumped by personal style.

For instance, while Bill Clinton and George W. Bush are diametrically opposed philosophically, you have to take Bush's views on the issues much more seriously because he values standing his ground more than he values pragmatism. In Clinton's case, you could take his specific views less seriously because you could count on him to change his mind when it was politically expedient.

Personally, I am nervous about Hillary Clinton's personal style, which is similar to Bill Clinton's, but also a little more stubborn. At this point, I have more confidence that Obama would be less concerned with settling a score or being viewed as wrong as he would be with getting it right. I also think he will learn fast when he gets in office.

One concern I do have about Obama is that he can be flustered, as he was in the debate when both Clinton and Edwards were attacking him. To throw in a 24 reference, Obama is a little more Wayne Palmer than David Palmer, when we need David Palmer. But I would take either Palmer over President Logan, the experienced Washington hand. Plus, Wayne Palmer was tough-minded when it counted. I think Obama would be too.

The upside of Asperger's

There are many difficult moments when you are a parent of child with Aspergers, but they are also many bright and wonderful moments.

Of course, one of the most well-known aspects of Aspergers and Autism Spectrum Disorders is a need for routine. I know this can become an extremely difficult issue for many parents. For my son, it sometimes become problematic, but there is also something extremely comforting about it too. It is also fascinating to see which things that you do as a family that become a routine which he latches onto.

As I mentioned in a previous post, gastrointestinal problems are a major part of ASD and my son has been no different. It has been an unrelenting problem since he was three. When we were potty-training him, there was one book, Everyone Poops, that we read to him constantly.

It is a charming book. When I worked at Barnes & Nobles, I made it one of my staff recommendations (well before I had any idea that I would ever have children of my own). In one of those moments of divine synchronicity, the book has become a staple of our lives. It has helped him in the difficult time before he was prescribed Miralax.

After having heard the book hundreds of times, he still enjoys hearing it. He has changed much since he was three, but he still has an deep and almost transcendent need for it to be part of his routine.

That's the thing of it, after reading it hundreds of time, I am not bored of it. It is comfort to me.
I could easily go without reading to him, but I am always glad when he asks me or my wife to read it again.

It such a small thing, but in some way it means the world to him. And when you give something very special without having to do much, you can only feel lucky.

Gregg Easterbrook and a new urban legend

Back in September, ESPN columnist Gregg Easterbrook wrote a scathing and alarmist reaction to the Spygate scandal. Soon after, he questioned the NFL's handling of the situation (here).

I find Easterbrook's columns mildly entertaining and often disagree with him. In fact, I have linked to takedowns of Easterbrook in my blog.

In this case, have to admit that Easterbrook has been vindicated and he has been on the right track. He should keep the pressure on.

He mentioned that dark days are ahead for the NFL. In some senses, the Patriots loss in the Super Bowl can be viewed as a convenient outcome for the NFL, a relief. If the Pats had won, I think the story about the taping of the Rams walk-through in 2002 would have become an all-consuming story. Instead, I heard barely heard it mentioned in the post-game hoopla.

I think other fans noticed this too. On talk radio, people were calling saying they thought the NFL told the Pats to tank to take heat off for awhile. I do not think its true, but the problem is the idea is even being raised. I think it could become urban legend that the Pats took a dive in this Superbowl. And that's not good news for the NFL.

Why Belichick Should Resign...

For me, the Spygate situation is extremely reminiscent of the Impeachment of Bill Clinton.

I respected Bill Clinton and the shrewd way in which he ran his presidency. He remains a brilliant and calculating politician. I also have seen very few people with such broad knowledge, insatiable curiosity, and the ability to communicate his knowledge and enthusiasm in such a commanding and sharp way.

One of my favorite memories of Bill Clinton came toward the end of his presidency. He sat down with Roger Ebert to discuss movies. Clinton was in his element, expressing a very sincere reverence for film. He mentioned that he thought that Three Kings was the best movie he had seen that year. In these moments, Clinton is both very likable and also someone with whom I was comfortable running the country. His intellect was considerable and he knew how to use it in a practical and pragmatic way. His personality was perfectly designed for the modern presidency.

I was never very impressed with the many scandals that dogged Clinton, but the Monica Lewinsky affair was something else. It not only exposed his own many moral failings, but also his selfishness and arrogance.

The impeachment was a farce and made a mockery of the Constitution. There was a double failing of leadership in this case. The Republicans should have never let themselves become slaves to the pursuit of the President. And while the impeachment was wrong, Clinton should have looked past it and realized that the damage he had done to the country and his party warranted resignation. If he had done so, I believe that Al Gore would now be enjoying his tenth and final year in office as I write.

In the same way, I believe what Bill Belichick has done probably did not effect the outcome of games. The crime of video-taping is both small and small-minded.

Like Clinton, I have been drawn to Belichick accomplishments. I have enjoyed many Patriot games over the years and admired Belichick gritty and smart coaching style. If I were Bob Kraft, I would not fire him for it. But I do think that he should resign.

While the reality of what he has done is relatively small, the perception problem is immense. He has ruined the accomplishments of his players and cheapened the image of the NFL. But like Clinton, he has taken a defensive and arrogant stance toward it all.

Bill Belichick is a great coach and Bill Clinton was a great president, but, paradoxically, they are not great leaders. They lack an understanding of moral character (which does not require that you are perfect or religious, but that you grasp the greater good). Unfortunately, it is these qualities that we seem to lack and I'm not sure any of the candidates possess it. Great leadership is rare and I think that the modern requirements of the political system often discourages truly gifted leaders. I don't our deficit of leadership is unique in history. It would just be an apt time for one to emerge.