Monday, 31 July 2006

Some Newer, Cooler Photos!

Finally! Blogger loves me again and is allowing me to upload photos! I took this yesterday at the Balloon Festival in southwestern New Jersey. It was wonderful! There is a posting in progress about this but it will be a while in the making and some of these photos really should not be passed up or left waiting until I find the vast amounts of free-time needed to finish that Ash-type, detail-filled posting!

This shot was taken on the way to work. Route 24 (not unlike CR-517 in Sussex County) has little pockets where the condensation of a cool night collects after a warm or hot day. I love the way that looks and so I snapped while zipping down the road at 0545 to work. Doesn't sound particularly safe, I know. But the shot was well worth it!

My mother and Ray, taken at Chilton, hospital trip #1... circa 14 July or so. She'd managed to talk the staff into letting her take a shower. It's just a really cute picture, I think.

I think anyone who has been to my blog will know which one is me. The other happy person is Vana Bris-Bois, a former colleague and now friend from USI. She has her own HR consulting firm in Winston-Salem and I was sent to the SHRM conference in Washington DC (which is actually her fault, but I need not mention that to KVP! ha, ha), so we got to meet up and take a divide and conquer approach to the many, many sessions offered there. She's wonderful. She has a great sense of humour. And between the two of us, the book we could write with HR stories!

I am happier to say I look quite a bit better now than I did there! I've lost quite a lot of weight in July, after all the hospital crap, and I eat less now! I'm down 20lbs. Can you believe it? From 190 to 170 - yes, I know, 170 is not thin by any means, but still! I'd be thrilled if I could get to 140, but short-range (maybe by September) I'm thinking 160. One step at a time, and no more by stressing out!

Joe, Nice Message!

Yes, Joe Autera, you made my blog. But then, working with you was one of the high points in my career.

However, how much do you suck? You left me a message through the anonymous blogger comment thing, so I can't write you back without putting it on a fairly public board! You must have one very safe, totally harmless e-mail address where no one can find you (ha, ha) so I can actually write something that I wouldn't post. Get your mind out of the gutter, that's not what I mean. (Speaking of minds in the gutter, you are somewhere else in this blog, in another posting, but it would be a teensy bit embarrassing if you found that one. Good thing that wasn't it!)

What I mean is, oh, the stories I could tell you! But not on this.

So yes, you made my blog. And you will again, undoubtedly. Still, drop me an actual line, please! I don't know where to find you! (Which reminds me, how'd you find me?! Then again... maybe I don't want to know!)

You can ICQ me if you make sure I know it's you up front, the number is 7577111. Oh... maybe you don't have my e-mail address. (Yes, that just occurred to me...). Tell you what. Rey still works for our old company, right? I will send it to him and you can get it from him! If you want. I'd love that.

Hope to hear from you soon!

Balloons and Big Toes

Bet you are wondering what that means!

This weekend was interesting! We went to a balloon show yesterday - a hot air balloon show, and walked around and saw a concert and then went to see the dusk balloon launching - 125 hot air balloons all wafting into the air! Different colours, shapes, sizes - it was amazing! We had a wonderful time!

The band was called Jimmy and the Parrots and they were very good and a whole lot of fun. They did mostly if not all covers and a nice job, too - some of the southern rock but also the Beatles, Van Morrison, songs like "Runaround Sue" and "Brown Eyed Girl", songs that I love. They bounced on the stage and it was obvious - despite the incredible heat - that they were just having a blast! It is infectiouly fun to watch people having such a good time and really enjoying themselves! It perked me right up as I was really feeling the stultifying heat.

It was in the high 90s yesterday and while it was humid, it wasn't too bad.

Friday, 28 July 2006

Another Week at the Hospital

Sometimes there is just too much stress.

Ma ended up in the hospital again, this time in Morristown Memorial. She's still there but things seem to have improved dramatically. Still, it's 8 days now and it's been a long, stressful time. I put her there, too. I have zero regrets about that decision as this could have well killed her if I hadn't done that. It's a long story...

She was in Chilton Hospital for 8 days after having seizures, from 9 - 16 July. She was released, came home, and was having a lot of difficulty because she was urinating a lot, and getting in and out of bed and moving around wasn't easy. Add to that the drugs she'd been put on for the seizures (Dilantin and phenobarbitol) and she was tired and sleeping all the time (when not urinating). So it was not a happy combination. And the day she came home or maybe the day after, she tripped over one of the dogs they were babysitting and fell on the safe, potentially breaking some ribs. And when she told me about this on Monday, you can imagine the predictable answer: WHAT?! Why didn't you get those checked out?!

Her response: I just got out of the hospital! I didn't want to go back!

Just like every old patient that I get. Too much time in the hospital and no one goes when they should! I did not do anything about it, except mention every day that she needs to go to her doctor and get those things checked out.

Well, Friday (the 21st), I went to Luis' company picnic. This is not really an enjoyable experience. I really feel like the employees and spouses only ever talk about their kids and have no personalities of their own. The men discuss sports and getting away from their kids. They drink copiously and that is just adding to the agony for me. It is a boring thing to attend. And I had spoken to Ma early and she didn't sound right. So I called from the picnic site, which is right down the road from the house (maybe two miles) and she sounded worse - slurring words and she was going to the bathroom all the time. I was a little upset and somehow the signs were just not clicking into place. I left the picnic and went home, thinking I was just going to hang out and take a nap or something.

Well, I got the messages on the phone and one was from Ma mentioning that her blood sugar was over 500! That was when it all clicked into place! She was going into diabetic shock! I called the house and did not get an answer, so I called 9-1-1 and then raced over there. Somehow and it is a miracle, I did not get pulled over! But I will say I definitely cleaned my engine out. I made it from Parsippany to Wayne in 12 minutes (it is a 25-minute trip). When I got there Ray was home (I had called him a couple of times to keep him informed of what was going on and it turned out he was unwittingly behind the rig going to their house). The ambulance was outside of the house and she was in it with the paramedics. My admittedly nosey neighbour was there (I actually hate that, but EMTs find nosey neighbours a hindrance), and Ray was a little confused. I spoke to the paramedics and EMTs there and they let me in the rig and asked me to come along for the ride. I asked if they'd take her to Morristown instead of Chilton and as a favour to me they did - Morristown is a little outside of their territory but for other EMTs it is amazing what they will do. I am enormously greatful to them!

Her blood sugar was still very high. She was taken for chest films and they found that she'd broken the 9th and 10th ribs (big surprise). They kept her to do a CAT scan and found pneumonia, so she was admitted. Now, I hadn't seen any signs or symptoms of lung issues and pneumonia is a scary ailment. So what I did was absolutely the right thing, just not for the reasons I'd thought. The blood sugar was the hint that something much, much more serious was happening.

At first she was on a nasal cannula getting 4LPM (liters per minute) of oxygen. I remember looking at her and thinking that this was... all wrong. She looked pale and kind of waxy, her breathing was obviously laboured and she was... swollen - edemic. I was also thinking that 4LPM of O2 was not enough. We'd have had her on high-flow oxygen for this... So I asked the nurse about it in the hallway and she corroborated my thoughts and told me that they were monitoring this closely. At this time Luis was flying out to Illinois for a business trip and so it was Ray and me making all the trips to the hospital. Not that there was anything Luis could do but one wants one's closest friends and family at a time like this.

On Sunday night Ma had some kind of serious problem and they did put her on high-flow O2 and get her into more serious care. The pneumonia was steadily worsening and they were thinking that the swelling was some kind of sepsis (blood infection; it could have been anything). They were moving her on Monday to the Medical Step Down area (not ICU but not just Joe-sick-person care) and into a respiratory area. That was both upsetting and reassuring at the same time. She needed to be more closely monitored and by the right people, so this was the right step.

That night we also had a conversation about what route we wanted to go if she did not respond to the new antibiotics and nebulaizers and other treatments for the pneumonia. We discussed ventilator options - easy enough, since I knew what decisions to make there. If things look reversable, yes, we will allow a ventilator. If this looks as though it will be a permanent thing - keeping her on a respirator for nothing, just prolonging the inevitable, then no, absolutely not. Still, it was not a conversation I was really truly prepared to have!

Right now it is 0500, and I'm surrounded by fuzz. Ariel is about five feet away to my left and Chelsea is sitting here just inches to the right of me. They know - they know when I'm upset about something. Sweet fuzzy soft babies. Ariel's new thing is to fall asleep right on my chest in bed, purring heavily. I love that.

Anyway, that night we had one of our intern's going away dinner: me and some of our management and a couple of others. It was a really nice restaurant although as usual I was uptight and unable to relax both due to the outside stress and the normal discomfort I have eating at finer establishments. Take me to a pizza joint, PLEASE! Still, I would have hated not going and saying a proper goodbye to this particular individual, whose stay with us absolutely made life richer and much more fun that it would have been - I loved all of my crazy interns. But this one is super-special to me. And he is the first to make it into our management program.

I got home at 2300 from that, an extraordinarily late night for me. I got up around 0700 and went to work by 0930. I got a lot done for that amount of time (I was out of there on Tuesday afternoon at 1430 to go see her in the new area she was in). I stayed there for a while and then Ray and I went home. I also managed to make it to Yoga, which felt GREAT!

I got in around 0920 on Wednesday and I guess it was around 1230 or so that I called Ma and she picked up the phone but was all out of breath and going on about how they were giving her a blood transfusion - what the hell! I know what treatments are invovled in pneumonia, and blood transfusions are not on the list! She managed to get out something about seeing some minimal heart damage and then she had to hang up as apparently they were having some trouble accessing the needed veins to do this! So I hung up in state, called back to get a medical suthority on the line, and got more (but not more satisfying answers) about this. I was in my office and Anna came in to ask me something and the first round of my meltdown began. She was very sweat and understanding about it and when the hysteria subsided, I tried to do a little more work and really accomplished almost nothing. I finally took her advise and packed up my bag to go to the hospital. I made it down the stairs and into the kitchen where one poor guy on the kitchen staff had the misfortune to run into me and ask how Ma is - I opened my mouth and before I knew it, the hysteria was fresh and new and had started fresh all over. In front of two completely lost men who really had no idea what to do with a totally hysterical, unglued woman, howling away in the Employee Room!

One of my colleagues showed up on the scene and here at last is one man that will keep that cool collected head and make sure that nothing gets too crazy. I kept insisting I was OK to drive but no, he really wanted to get someone to take me to the hospital, thinking that I was too much of a basket case to go. So one of the guys in Security took me to the Morriston Memorial Hospital, where Ray was already there.

Ray brought me back to work after it was all over so I could get my vehicle - well, Luis' vehicle. I was able to let my cool-headed collegeague know that everything was okay - mostly - and to thank him for his concern. And it was pretty OK. There might be some heart damage, and there may not - it is a matter now of getting some tests done.

I'm happy to say that she should be getting out as soon as she has one more test done. Hopefully that will be in the next couple of days. We will see.

Things are finally looking up!

Wednesday, 19 July 2006

A Trip to The Dentist - Again

Well, trip #2 of the root canal saga has come to a close.

I don't have the energy to write heaps about it but I was amused and completely aware of what Dr. Feredjian meant when he asked his assistant if there was a lot of "tomato". I said, "Yes. You don't really think I have no idea what you mean?"

He laughed at that. Of course there is a lot of tomato. My gums bleed if you roust out the tooth and then whittle it down to a little teeny nub. In fact, while mine may bleed more, I'm sure ANYONE'S gum under that kind of duress bleeds at least a little! Unbelievable. But I was amused none-the-less. As if I wouldn't know exactly what he was referring to.

It wasn't painful and he numbed the gum anyway, but it's throbbing a bit now and I have admittedly had a long day. But oh, that touch. And then I recieved a wonderful compliment, too! Life is sweet.

More Great Contact!

People are wonderful and so is human contact!

Someone at work was walking by me and as he passed, reached out and touched my face. Just a gentle, reassuring, nice touch. It was the most delightful thing, and it made me happy. Deleriously happy. This is love. People who work well together, enjoy working together, feel comfortable and happy and want to be warm and fuzzy. I don't mean stressful, romantic love. I mean just regular, unstressful love; love the way it should be but no one seems to feel.

Does that make sense?

I'm in love with Luis. It is a wonderful warm rewarding relationship and it takes work and effort and the rewards are obviously well worth it. But romantic love (or sexual love or however you want to phrase it) is a working thing and requires a lot of effort. Friendship love, just love (not to say just as though to downplay it but to take out that element of stress) is so different. And this was just a plain, very simple, loving gesture that did more for me than all the sympathetic words in the world could do. How do you describe that? I call that love.

Luis has proven this week and half past what love can do, as well. He stayed with my mother as much as I did. He stayed with me all last night at Morristown Memorial, giving up a steak dinner. (We always will joke about this but I know that he missed going - and trust me, he did not at all try to make this a guilt thing. I told him to go to the dinner but he insisted in staying with me.) For Luis this was an easy thing to stay by my side.

But this post is not about Luis. It's just about what one little touch can do for one person.

Oh! And a compliment! Did I tell you about the compliment? I was floating on air!

I went to the Rite Aid to pick up a prescription and just as I always do, I said, "For Kellogg, like the Corn Flakes." People always laugh at that. The young woman picked out the right hanging package (they have a very good filing system there) and then said, "We were talking about your name the other day. We all think it is the most beautiful name we have ever seen." I was blown away. I can't remember anyone saying anything so lovely in a long time! I have people tell me it is a beautiful name all the time, but wow! It was uplifting, it really was.

Sigh! A perfect day, really!

Saturday, 15 July 2006

"Why do People Have To Die?"

"So that life is more important."

Very true. And let's face it, when we are torn apart due to a death, it is for ourselves that we cry. Mostly. Sometimes I cry thinking of the sunsets that this person won't see; the baby s/he won't hold in her/his arms... things like that. But mostly I am thinking of how my life will have a hole in it without that person.

This is going to be a broad, topicless posting, so beware.

Anyway, there are holes still in my life from people who have left it. My grandfather, Talon, Steve, Lee, others who came into my life either at conception or later on and left it in a very permanent fashion. A lot of times, I will dream about that person shortly after s/he has died and then it is as though I have an opportunity to say goodbye. It's nice. It may be entirely manufactured by my mind. Or maybe it really is that person reaching out to say goodbye. Who knows. I'll take it. I'm not stupid enough to look that gift horse in the mouth, no matter what its origin.

A lot of this cogitating has to do with my mother having been in the hospital (she was released today and ate at her favourite restaurant right after - all is right with the world again!) and some of it to do with listening a lot to both soundtracks to "Six Feet Under", a show that really made one think about death. So did "Dead Like Me" (and Showtime should be slapped for taking that off the air and in mid-season, no less) but I still don't have those songs; Luis' computer took a virtual header right after we downloaded those songs and so I never did get to transfer them to my Rio Carbon (it's a better i-Pod)... rats.

I do think about death. I mostly have no issue with it either. People die. This is not a separate thing; it is part of life. I see plenty of dead people (I sound like that eerie kid in "The Sixth Sense" but I don't see their ghosts - at least not yet. Maybe if I kill one of my patients s/he'll be pissed enough to come back and haunt me...). It is not a big deal. I always find dealing with the survivors the hard part.

So. Those are my thoughts on death. At the moment... maybe they will change.

On Tuesday I was just behind an accident involving a motorcycle and an SUV with a hole in its back window that was exactly the size of the motorcycle driver's head (with the very good headgear he had)... hmmm. I didn't have a chance to think about that until after the incident was over. I parked the car and ran over to help Danny, who had just gotten onscene. We were the only medical people there. This kid on the bike was (and likely still is) a moron. He was screaming down Vail Road popping wheelies. Now, no one is going to quickly accuse of 18-year-olds of being brain surgeons or aware of their mortality, but this kid was particularly stupid. I mean abysmally so. And here is the fun part. The brother of this winner was behind him taking pictures of this unbelievable stupidity. Here's hoping the police confiscated the camera and use the photos to make their case! The kid is still a moron due to the fact that he lived... however, his compound fracture of the leg meant an amputation. How's that for a life-long reminder of stupid can one be? I sound totally unsympathetic but... well... hard to feel any sympathy for someone who did this to themselves.

It has been the week from Hell. Forgetting Ma being in the hospital, which really caused me a huge amount of stress, there was the food poisoning that struck me yesterday around 1330 or so. It was rather mild at that point but by 1600 I was feeling quite awful and left work around 1700. I did get home quickly (35 minutes, which at 1700 on a Friday is really nothing short of a miracle) but it was easily one of the most torturous rides home - I was sure I was going to need to pull over to vomit.

It continued well into this morning. Had I allowed myself to vomit at 2200 last night, I'd've likely saved myself a lot of agony. However, I really hate throwing up, so I did everything to not do it. Well. It of course ended up as severe diarrhea and nausea... and at 0500, during one of numerous trips to the bathroom, I could not stave it off any longer. It was coming up whether I liked it or not. I grabbed the trash pail (which fortuitously had a plastic bag in it) and threw up. More than I thought I could. It was almost all bile. There was little that was solid in it. Good thing - the first round (naturally) made it through mouth and nose. No one likes the feeling of chunks in the nasal passages...

Too gross for you? Me, too. I'll leave it at that. Suffice to say, things improved dramatically after I managed to empty the belly. I still feel generally icky, but not nauseous the way I did prior to the event. Another day of Sprite and crackers and I will right again.

So. What else? Well, you know it has been a truly horrendous week when my trips to the dentist were the high points of it. I love my dentist (Dr. Berdj Feredjian in Montville) and he is really very, very good. He determined that I needed a route canal on Monday; this morning at 0820 I had step one of three done. It was fine. I felt it in a very distant way in the back roots but it was not enough to even consider requesting more novacaine. He was wonderful and gave me a running monologue of what he was doing and why; allowed me to hold a mirror so I could watch it and was very thorough in explaining the future steps. It is a $1200 procedure but it needs to be done. That is life. And my fault, really. I know that. Hopefully this will be the first and last one.

He did also show me a piece of the root. I have never seen one of my nerves so I really wanted a good look at this! It was really interesting - a tiny piece but still interesting. It looked like sinew or maybe a piece of chicken - sort of tan and a little ripped at the ends. Stupidly, I thought erroneously that it would be green - every poster you see of the human nervous system shows nerves as green! OK, OK, I know better, but if you see the same thing over and over again as one way, you are trained to think that this is what it looks like.

Work was really quite good this week. The work itself is always good, in this, I mean my coworkers and their reactions to my issue of Ma being in the hospital. Everyone was so patient and understanding and nice! I don't mean to sound surprised but in other companies, the understanding sort of went this far and no further... in my current place of employment, I was very much touched and moved by the across the board reaction of everyone. I really love this place and every day, I love it more.

On Monday I will stand outside (despite the 100+F/34+C degrees that it is expected to be outside) and breathe in the air and look at the lovely courses and the gorgeous building I work in and breathe it all in - I am too lucky for words.

Right now it is 28 degrees C outside... not bad in and of itself but the humidity is just awful. It reads 71% relative humidity but I'm not buying... it feels far more wet than that.

My fingers are feeling sore from somuch sudden typing after a week that was short on typing and long on waiting and sitting...

Oddly enough, I lost 15lbs/7.5kg. I suppose that would be the bright side to this. I don't consider a weight loss of 15lbs/7.5kg in a week and a half particularly healthy, but it is nice. If I could just stay on that road...

We'll see...

Thursday, 13 July 2006

A Really BIG Hug!

As you can see, I have not been posting much lately. Ma is still in the hospital, so that is really eating up any free time that I might have had. I'm really tired, too. Tired and stressed and not really eating right or getting a lot done... I'm very distracted by this.

Well, one of my coworkers came in to my office this morning and gave me the biggest, most wonderful hug. And I needed it. I love human contact as a general rule and am happy to shake hands or hug people or just be close. But now, more than usual, I need that feeling. I'm distressed and not sleeping well and this thing is just constantly on my mind. But for just a tiny fraction of time, this person made me feel great. Like I mattered. Like it wasn't just me moving through a fog... Well, it was delightful. The best hug ever.

Saturday, 8 July 2006

A Weekend At the Hospital with Mom

07.08.2006; 23:36

Not exactly how I'd planned out my weekend. Lazy moments in the hammock; cleaning up the house; relaxing and reading whatever favourite book I'm into; listening to music, a super-important item in my life. Some down time and some (chuckle) up-time with my main man... However, as I like to say often, "Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans..."

My mother was having some... difficulties on Friday evening. Apparently she had two minor siezures that evening and did not mention it to Ray until after the first one passed, saying he should bring her to Morristown Memorial. While I would admittedly feel a lot better about her being in Mo'town's care rather than Chilton's, the Wayne FAS was not about to endure a trip to Mo'town, that far out of the way. And after she had a fairly bad seizure in the rig, well, she felt better about me directing Ray to call 9-1-1.

Luis and I threw on clothes (what are you thinking? Do these things ever happen at 1400? No. It is 2130... it's already mostly dark out. Really. I could live with these impromptu hospital sojourns if they started at 1000 and ended at 1500...

We both showed up ahead of her - Luis and me first, then Ray. When showed up I figured that she'd beten us all there and went in to find out where she is. In the midt of all this confusion, an ambulance with lights on shows up - Wayne! That was when I realised that the local paramedics must have come. She was very happy to see me waiting by the ER entrance to the hospital and waved, so it seemed that she was OK, or looked OK.

7.13.2006; 13:57

I'm getting ready to go to bed. I need to sleep before going to the hospital again and then being on call later. I'm getting very little sleep these days. I will finish this tale soon enough, but for now, she seems to be doing well and is not terribly unhappy being in the hospital. They have not truly narrowed down the cause (I was told she has a "grey spot on the brain" but I want medical terms), so the seizures are really mild but still, I think, trying to happen.

Wednesday, 5 July 2006

Who Are You?

I LOVE these things:


1. FIRST NAME ? Aislínge


3. WHEN DID YOU LAST CRY? Yesterday, at the end of "Cars" - Joe Ranft died in 2005 (Pixar showed every character he's voiced)

4. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? I love it, although there is always need to improve

5. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH MEAT? Rosemary [smoked] ham
This is missing a Question #6... that's how I got it!


8. DO YOU HAVE A JOURNAL? Yes, this is it

9. DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT? Too often. Sometimes I need to watch myself

10. DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS ? Yes, and my appendix, too.

11. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? I would try reverse bungee jumping



14. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG? Physically, no; personality/psychologically, yes

15. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM? Pastacio - with real pistacios!


17. RED OR PINK? Neither, but if I have to pick one - Red

18. WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF? I can't concentrate/be patient, so I tend to cut people off in conversation


20. DO YOU WANT EVERYONE TO SEND THIS BACK TO YOU? Well, the few I would send it to

21. WHAT COLOR PANTS AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING? Embarrassingly, a pair of Luis' Big Dogs underwear (they fit like shorts) and white socks (give me a break, I just did yoga!)

22. LAST THING YOU ATE? A bologna and chunky peanut butter sandwich

23. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? The ringing in my ears


25. FAVORITE SMELLS? Nag champa incense



28. FAVORITE DRINK? Hot Lady Grey decaf tea (with skim milk & sugar)

29. FAVORITE SPORT TO WATCH? The Olympics - the only sports I watch!

30. HAIR COLOR? Grey and dark brown, hidden under brownish red dye

31 . EYE COLOR? reddish-brown (I was cheated!)

32. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS? I tried it but sticking my finger in my eyes was awful



35. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED? We saw "Cars" (animated - Pixar) in the movies last night


37. SUMMER OR WINTER? Autumn, but will take summer's long days

38. HUGS OR KISSES? Both... and the other stuff, too

39. FAVORITE DESSERT? Fresh berries in cream... MMMMMMM!

40. MOST LIKELY TO RESPOND? Molly & Daniela


42.WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING? The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Men & Women, Forensics for Dummies

43. WHAT'S ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? Givaudan (a company I worked for in 2005)

44. WHAT DID YOU WATCH LAST ON TV LAST NIGHT? CSI: Crime Scene Investigation

45. FAVORITE SOUNDS? Almost everything by Coldplay; the lightning detection system; thunder

46. ROLLING STONES OR BEATLES? Absolutely, the Beatles


48. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT? Writing, fantasy art, empathy

49. WHEN WERE YOU BORN? 26 January

50. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? The big island of Manhattan