Comments on life, the universe and everything from an aging Sixties survivor.

Location: Massachusetts, United States

Ummm, isn't "about me" part of the point of the blog?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

It gets different

My co-worker, who is taking courses toward a health care certificate, asked me to help choose a disorder for her next paper. Naturally I chose trigeminal neuralgia, since I'm already rather well posted up on the subject.

And a good thing, too. It's made me go back and review a number of clinical papers I've bookmarked. I had shoved to the back of my mind the progressive nature of the disorder, and now I'm reading that stuff up. Those not interested in med-speak can tune out now.

Yes, I had a "relatively" mild period of exacerbation last winter. On the other hand, I haven't been entirely pain-free since then. That has included unexpected, momentary attacks of lancinating pain. Mostly, I'd just been thinking of how much worse they would be without meds.

The day after Thanksgiving brought the first crumpling episode of the winter exacerbation. Today brought a second: not too bad but you wouldn't want it.
Now my homework, in behalf of my fellow worker, reminds me that these indications suggest intensification. That is, the meds aren't working as well; I will soon (like tonight) need more, and I will soon be at the threshold where efficacious becomes toxic. I also got to re-read the disturbing shortcomings of the surgeries meant to relieve (but not cure) this disorder.

Hobson's choice. I will be happy to share this literature with all those who think it's just wonderful that my generation may get to live another 30 years. Batshit.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Why do they do that?

This is a small item compared to some things of the same stripe. We were leaving our Turkey Day venue (in Maine, if it matters). The lobby here, which is close to the water, sends a blast of cool air into a warm interior any time the door opens. Just the thing for someone with trigeminal neuralgia triggered by such breezes. Bitter experience has taught me to wrap up far from the door here, no matter the outside temp.

So, I'm buttoned up with parka and bomber hat, flaps down, before turning the corner into the wind tunnel. Behind me, a middle-aged woman brightly chirps, "well, you sure look ready for this winter weather!"

I turned around and said, evenly, "unfortunately, I have to cover up like this due to a neurological problem." Then I turned and went out without waiting for the reaction.

What prompts people who appear otherwise civilised to volunteer such stupid and insensitive remarks? I know at least one member of the audience here has had more than her share of such comments.

I remember an even worse display from my Revere House days. We were having a staff seminar on dealing with people with disabilities*, and doing it whilst open to the public. I had asked the presenter how difficult it was to navigate a wheelchair over Boston's quaint brick pavements. He suggested I take the wheelchair and try it, which I did. I turned into public view, and a female visitor came up and started gushing at me about how brave I was to take on the Freedom Trail. So help me, she was talking baby talk.

Inside the adjacent admission booth, watching the whole display, was a staff member who herself had some mobility problems. After the woman had spent all her store of gush and went inside, the staff member came out of the booth. She said "I didn't really think this programme was necessary. Now I do."

I didn't understand the condescension then and I don't now. For the record, the Beast didn't arrive to spoil Thanksgiving again. Paid a visit the day after.

*I have my share, so let's call a fucking spade a spade, eh?

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

more bias

The CBS news crawl just told me that the Occupy Movement has cost local taxpayers "an average of" $13 million. How is it we have never heard how much Tea Party demonstrations, which come complete with armed second amendment "defenders" cost local taxpayers?

This doesn't even touch the meaninglessness of the word "average" in this context.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Laugh, or cry?

This one will die a quick death as topicality swings its scythe:
Herman Cain visits with Jesus?


Monday, November 21, 2011

Thoughts I thunk

I commented over supper that campus police, such the geniuses of UC Davis, are the bottom of the law enforcement food chain. I've reflected that isn't totally fair. Armed mall cops and similar security guard types are lower. The rationalisers are doing their little dance about these Weight Watchers dropouts being "surrounded." It's clear they spent more time on donut patrol than on training for nonviolent protests, so perhaps they did find it challenging to simply step over a rank or two of kneeling protesters, or fit between the standing people behind them.

That argument evaporates on the reflection that during the Occupy movement, we've noted two things. First, that today's cops seem to get orgasmic pleasure in dressing up in their riot gear. They'll put it on to put a parking ticket on your grandmother's car*. Second, they'll reach for the bear spray (that's what this is, friends: bear spray) with no provocation at all. The UC Davis Keystone Kops are just the latest to fall to these weaknesses. I have stayed away from nonviolent protests for several years, ever since I discovered that dealing with reactionaries at short range now makes me violently angry. But the fruit doesn't fall far from the tree, and my daughter has taken a few shifts with her city's Occupy demonstration. One is equally proud and apprehensive.

Speaking of Occupy, isn't it interesting that Mayor Bloomberg's police have had Jose Pimentel under surveillance for two freakin years, and they simply just had to arrest him now, a week after cops wielding pepper spray descended upon Occupy Wall Street? When Deadeye Dick Cheney ran the White House, we used to call this a Weapon of Mass Distraction. Apparently the lesson isn't lost on Hizzoner.

Late news has it that the Not-so-Super-Committee has, in its ineptitude, advanced the cause of Social Security and virtually guaranteed the death of the Bush tax cuts the Republicans were so desperate to protect This bears watching. Oft evil will shall evil mar. Or, ROTFLMAO.

* If it was my grandmother, they would have needed it.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Now *that* is living history

Back when I worked at the Paul Revere House, one of the frustrations we frequently encountered was explaining why the house was the sole survivor of 17th century Boston. The shock line was to point out that when the Revere House was saved, it wasn't the only one.

Tourists--and gullible house buyers in olde New England towns like mine--seem to think that 17th century houses exist under some sort of protective bubbles. There isn't a whole lot of thought apparent about the risks houses face. Some visitors asked about Virginia. Yes, there buildings in Virginia older than in New England: made of brick or stone. The wooden structures mostly were eaten by termites. There are also older buildings in New Mexico. But let's get back to New England.

Of all hazards, fire and obsolescence tie as hazards in New England. Much of 17th century Boston had either burnt or been replaced with more fashionable (and durable) buildings by the time Paul Revere moved to North Square in the later 18th century. This is true in much of the early settlement area of New England. The assertion of a real estate broker isn't enough to date a house. Only a fraction of the dwellings bearing a 16-whatever date on a plaque or chimney really deserve it.

Plimoth Plantation, which has been pushing the envelope of first-person historic interpretation for over 30 years, has now shown the gullible that there was no bubble. We gather that when one of their buildings caught fire yesterday, the causes were purely accidental...but an accident that replicated those of the 17th century with nice precision. Props to them; they reopened as soon as it was safe. I hope, I expect, that they are incorporating the accident into their interpretation. A windy day; a fire that throws sparks into a flammable roof: that and the dictates of fashion have all but obliterated the built environment of early New England.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Ze bun is ze lowest form of wheat

Wordplay as it crosses my mind.

I thought I'd found a really stable job, but then I discovered I was allergic to horses.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

But now, to other news....

Bloggers the world over are exercised over Herman Cain having hired someone from Rick Perry's strategy team to help him bone up on foreign policy. They are micro-dissecting Mr Sandusky's aptly-named denial statement to Bob Costas. There are numerous other profound questions to discuss.

With the blogospheric minority, I'm watching the Adventure of the Downing Street cat. P.M. Cameron is coming nobly to Larry's defence in the face of the characteristic idiocy of the British media. I would say he's resisting the pressure to throw Larry under the bus, if that metaphor weren't nastily literal in the case of hoomans and kittehs.

The problem? Larry, brought on staff as a mouser, apparently had his paws full. The 300-or-so-year-old Prime Minister's house seems to have A street kitteh by trade, Government expected he could stay a mouse invasion on his own. Staff verified three kills. But the mouse that cause the stir was one he missed: which was spotted at a state dinner.

Oh the outrage (real or feigned)! Was Larry asleep on watch? Well of course he was: he's a cat. He needs his 16 hours of catnapping. There are rumours of a girlfriend. Well, if no one clipped his kitty bollocks, and if there's a lady cat within hail, of course he has a girlfriend.

As a cat person currently afflicted with a notoriously inept mouser, I'm proud of the P.M. for sticking up for Larry. Let's give the kitteh a break...and maybe some reinforcements.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Oh God

So, God told Herman Cain to run for President. But, he also told Rick Perry to run. And Michele Bachmann. And who knows who is next?

We're told the incredible shrinking evangelicals all understand this kind of talk. However, the nation's first Republican reduced this rhetorical flourish to its essentials:

"In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be, wrong. God cannot be for and against the same thing at the same time."

Of course, God could just be doing this for the same reason many people are following the Republican campaign: for laughs*.

* Like the Onion did.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans' Day Grumpiness

Must have something to do with going out to hoist a couple with the Harrumpher.

It's Veterans' Day: the second day of the year on which it's now practically required to salivate over Our Heroes. The other 363 days you can ignore them (specially if they're not veterans of the current conflicts) or come up with the latest clever excuse to avoid giving them such props as day-to-day dignity, jobs, recognition of the after-effects of war, etc.

At the behest of my local veterans' officer I opened up my military file to see whether I had my medical board and original VA determination. I do. The latter still makes me flinch and avoid re-opening the case. "Nerves." Isn't that a nice 19th century diagnosis? Do I want to go through that again?

Look, it's too late for me. But it just breaks my heart that we have to have the same damn shit dished up to today's veterans that was being dished up in my time. Today's veterans aren't just figures on a screen to me: I've met some of them. We have more in common than not.

So thanks for the thanks...40 years late, but thanks. Just don't call me a hero.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Penn is mightier than what?

I have to polish my blog creds by commenting on the miserable child abuse scandal at Penn State.

1) The University Trustees will be saving a packet by firing Joe Paterno. Imagine how much pension has accrued to someone who has been on the payroll since the battle of Gettysburg. I haven't heard the Trustees say a word about channeling those savings to something like a fund for the victims. What? I SAID, A FUND FOR THE VICTIMS....

2) Other people for whom life could suck in the aftermath of this dirty mess #1: the 90 percent or so of Penn State students who did not riot, throw rocks at reporters, overturn news trucks, etc. Look carefully at the video of the riots. Note the darkness in the background where the crowd ends. I looked, because I've been there for this sort of Tonypandy. It must be very humiliating to be a non-rioting Penn State student.

3) Fortunately, I believe it's a few weeks ahead of the dreaded Early Decision date for high school seniors. It would truly suck to have committed to Penn State, then have this sleaze bomb explode. One wonders what this will do to next year's Penn State admissions generally.

In unrelated news, I can't even watch Rick Perry's senior moment without cringing. It doesn't matter how much I dislike him and all of the clowns on that bus. Meltdowns like that unite everyone of a certain age.

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Wednesday, November 09, 2011

War of the Worlds

We have all survived another fortnight of comedy posing as news. The best, one might say, was saved for last: today's "emergency test alert."

Someone must have done much costly homework to determine what is obvious to almost anyone familiar with broadcast and cable media. If you want to test an emergency test alert, the best time to do it is Wednesday at 2 p.m. Today, there are almost certainly more viewers at 2 a.m. on Wednesday.

It follows that the endless drumbeat of warnings was utterly necessary, because the viewing (or listening) audience on Wednesdays at 2 p.m. is about as clueless as audiences come. During my numerous periods of employment hiatus, I once occasionally turned to afternoon TV or radio for useful items like news or weather. One can find both on radio, but not TV. It's a miasma of soap operas, wannabe talk shows, and infomercials, especially those targeted at people over 80. It's hard to imagine an audience more vulnerable to panic. I haven't taken advantage of any media very much over the last few days, so if the social networks were as swamped with "only a test" messages, I may have missed it. And yet, as sources said in the link, it makes as much or more sense to push such tests out online.

One would think that some of the geriatric audience would remember the lesson of the original "War of the Worlds." One could reasonably expect that many of the denizens of social media have no idea that a thing ever happened. They can hardly doubt that it could happen. One might say the Mercury Radio Theatre went viral.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

East vs West

When we first went to Yosemite, we heard an experienced hiker comment on the chief difference between Eastern trails and Western trails. In the west, he said, trails wind up steep mountainsides in a series of switchbacks. This happened because of the amount of mule traffic, necessary because when you climb Western mountains, you're likely to be climbing a long, long way. In the East, especially the Northeast, the trails are good Protestant ethic trails that frequently go more or less straight up the mountain, regardless of terrain. Sort of like this:

Likewise, Eastern trails are likely to go straight down the mountain, disregarding whatever's in the way, like this:

Mules frown on this sort of terrain. It is only humans of a certain temperament who walk over this stuff voluntarily. This, said the hiker at Yosemite, is what makes a big mountain out of a small one in the East, and helps to make Eastern mountains good training for Western ones.

Now, this guy was hitting on an attractive woman when we overheard this, so he did skip a few items. One is that a climb from 1500 feet above sea level to 3000 feet above sea level, which we were doing on this Mount Monadnock hike, allows one to catch one's breath and recover one's base heart rate fairly quickly. Not so when climbing, say, from 7000 feet to 8500 feet. I know there are devices that allow athletes to duplicate high-altitude conditions when training at low altitudes, but they don't seem to have shown up at my gym. Nevertheless, that travelling hiker's observations allow us to take an optimistic view of our preparations for the next Yosemite adventure.

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Tuesday, November 01, 2011

New spin on an old protest

The farce that is the so-called Super Committee is lurching in predictable directions. That's to say, we can't possibly tax the rich and end foreign military adventurism, and bring the deficit under control where it spun out of control. Instead, they say, let's do what the private sector has been doing for 30 years: treat commitments to older Americans, to which they have contributed all their lives, as mere scraps of paper.

Let me put one thing on the table. I have no problem with edging up the retirement age. (Mine is 66, not 65, because it's already happened. D'uh.) I see no impediment either to continuing to move up the maximum contribution level, or even (horrors!) eliminating the ceiling. There I differ with AARP, which has rather muddied the distinction between continuing a steady reform process and trashing the whole system. Trouble is, it sounds like all the talk of dumping Social Security and Medicare has infected the Super's deliberations.

The "die-in" has a longish history, going back to the Vietnam era. Properly stage-managed, it has always been an effective form of protest, typically aimed at wars and such.

My modest proposal is for the generation that began by going out to end war and stuff to check out in the same way. If the Supers effectively eliminate Medicare and Social Security, then let's think. Without Social Security of Medicare, most of us won't be able to afford health care and many of us won't be able to afford food, clothing and shelter. We can't work full-time, or beyond the clerical or retail level, because the age bigots don't want us in the office.

The capitalists and their Republican lapdogs want those of us in this fix to go out and die in the nearest ditch without frightening the horses. Suppose we don't. Suppose we hop a few buses, go to Washington, and die on the Capitol steps. I mean actually die. No too hard. Without health insurance*, if my meds run out suddenly, I have two or three days to live. That's enough time for the bus ride, to get out a press release, and to choose a photogenic spot on Capitol Hill. Time also for a terse, effective sign to explains what's up. Multiply that by 10,000 or so and you have quite a demonstration. Are the Capitol police up to removing 10,000 bodies?

In saner times, one would expect that even the threat of thousands of citizen deaths as a consequence of insane political posturing would cool a few jets.
I'm not betting on it. I think I'll take the train instead of the bus: so far no one has suggested eliminating Amtrak's excellent senior discounts.

If the Committee is indeed Super, somebody needs to get the kryptonite out of the meeting room.

Already, I've discovered that Medicare Part D doesn't cover my dernier resort, Klonapin. I won't die suddenly when it cuts off: unfortunately.

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