Folding, spindeling, and mutilating lauguage for fun since Aug, 2004
Monday, 01 June 2009

Do you guys remember my posts about Mullet Pig from last year's Susan G. Komen 3-day walk?

Well, his wife is walking again this year, and she needs donations!

Here's the URL for her personal site.

I'll get some links to my mentions of Mullet Pig after I get the kids off to school.

Monday, 01 June 2009 05:25:57 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [1] |  | #
Wednesday, 24 September 2008

A little more about the walk…

At the closing ceremony, the MC of the event told us that the world would look a little different.  We wouldn’t have people cheering us and honking and waving at every intersection, for one thing.

And she’s right…but it’s funny…I just have this feeling that they MIGHT, or that I just might cheer THEM if I just knew their story.

I saw so many feats of selflessness and kindness, heard so many stories of bravery and love and perseverance, enjoyed so many demonstrations of humor and consideration, that I have to believe that it is still right there, under the surface in almost everyone, just waiting for a chance to express itself.

Every person I meet that I don’t know, might have been someone who was standing along the route cheering, a sponsor, a crewperson or a walker.  The lady behind the desk at the car dealership who handed me my license plates, for instance, or the guy who put them on my car for me.  They might have been standing out by the side-walk and handed me a bottle of water just when I needed it, or a piece of candy when my energy was flagging, or they may have been one of those Angels sent directly from God who had string cheese (salt AND protein in one delicious package).

Maybe it’s just residual endorphins, but I sort of expect to see acts of kindness, gratitude and generosity around every corner right now.

You wouldn’t believe the outpouring of community support.  Every time we crossed over a freeway, cars honked and people waved.  Cars honked at almost every intersection.  When we were walking on sidewalks, cars passed and honked.

The cheering stations were full, and there was one that was so unbelievably huge.  There were probably over a hundred people there.

We were walking along on a trail through the woods, and I was in an extremely focused moment.  It was fairly quiet, and we were somewhat behind because of Sue’s sprained ankle.  We were going up a hill just as the path turned a sharp corner, and as soon as we came in sight a loud roar started, and just kept going.

I stopped and just gaped like an idiot.  An involuntary “wow” escaped.  The people standing closest to me cheered even harder and smiled even more broadly.  People yelling, waving signs, flags, pink flamingo lawn ornaments, funny hats, it’s all a blur.  But I remember that it wasn’t until about a hundred feet down the path that I began to be aware of the pain from my blisters again.

Sometimes a cheering person would hold up their hand for a “high-five” and say things like “Thank you from my daughter, who can’t be here” or sometimes there were little signs and memorials with pictures of people who had died of breast cancer.  Their families standing around clapping and cheering and saying “thank you”.

There is a traveling couch memorial that is just wonderful.

Bald women sitting in the shade with tears in their eyes, saying “thank you for walking for me”

But all of that is just prelude to the crew.

The crew were sent from God.  One the second day, pit stop 4, it was necessary for us to walk about a block-and-a-half off of the path, attend the Pit Stop, and then walk back to the path.

You would not believe how bad that was for our psychology.  Sue sat down and said “I want ice for my ankle, but I don’t want to walk all that way and then walk back again.”

I couldn’t blame her.  I didn’t want to either, and I didn’t have a sprained ankle as an excuse.  Suddenly, a crewperson appeared, and said “I will go and get you ice, water and food.  Just don’t move.”

Sue replied “No worries, I’m not going ANYWHERE.”

“Let me help you with that”; “Let me get that for you”; “Do you need anything?”  “Are you OK?”;”Can I get you something?” ; “Everything OK here?”

That is what crew sounds like.  These people worked their ASSES off, and I’m pretty sure that at least once, I forgot to say “thank you”.

They road bikes up and down the line day after day to make sure nobody was in trouble.  They called sweep vans for the sick and injured, they monitored stoplights and directed traffic and entertained us while we waited at stoplights.

There was a guy in a pink cowboy hat who just sat there looking like he was happy to see each and every one of us.  There was a lady with a sort of Genine Gerafalo sort of dead-pan humor who cracked me up every time, once augmenting her directions on how to safely negotiate a complicated intersection crossing with the safety instructions for exiting an aircraft in an emergency.  And then there was Mullet Pig.

Mullet Pig was a guy in a pink pig mask with a “diamond” tiara and magenta hair weaves.  He was a little chubby, and had a big hairy belly.  I know, because he often performed cartwheels as part of his acrobatic cheering routine.  Also, jump-split kicks.  He had a sort of “Wyld Stallions” vibe going on as well (a-la Bill and Ted).

He referred to himself in the third person.  As in “Mullet Pig loves all the three day walkers”, and “Mullet Pig doesn’t want you to get crushed by a truck, so listen up!”

For a significant portion of the walk, we entertained ourselves by brain-storming a buddy-movie in the vein of the “Bill and Ted’ or “Jay and Silent Bob” movies:  “Mullet Pig saves the 3-day”.  Of course, we also amused ourselves at Susie’s report that she mispronunces “National Philanthropic Trust” (just try it, you’ll get the idea…it’s a spoonerism).

I think I love Mullet Pig.  I think that everyone should have a Mullet Pig of their very own in their lives all of the time.

The last day, 1.5 miles from the end, I was beginning to tear up from the pain in my ankle.  I knew I could finish, but I also knew that we still had a long way to go and it was going to hurt.

And there was Mullet pig, shaking his pink pom-poms, and yelling something we couldn’t quite hear.  When we got closer, I yelled: “we love you Mullet Pig!”  He yelled back “I love you too”.

When we got to him, I gave him a hug (not pleasant for him by now, I assure you.  I was a grimy, sweaty mess), looked into his eyes and said “Thank you.  Every time I see you, it makes me happy”.  Just for a moment, the Mullet Pig persona disappeared, and he said “That’s why I do it.  Thank You.”

I think it's pretty safe to say that he's not in it for the hugs from sweaty, road-grime-covered, sun-burned chicks with no make-up and hair that has not seen a blow-dryer or curling iron for three days.

There’s nothing I can say to express how important the crew is, and the people who show up to cheer at these events.  Amazing.

So if you volunteered to crew, or if you showed up to cheer, or even if you just tooted your horn and waved as you drove past the event…Thank You.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008 06:43:11 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [2] |  |  | #
Monday, 22 September 2008

I have a just walked sixty- plus miles in the Susan G. Komen 3-day Walk For the Cure. 


The actual total was 61.5.  Thank you to my sponsors.  Everytime I thought it would be easier to take the sweep van, I thought of you, and how I was representing you and the money you invested in my participation.  It kept me strong and helped me finish.  Thank You.


Yes, I walked every single mile, and the half-mile too.  This does not include all of the walking we had to do at camp in order to get through the thousands of tents to the one end of camp to get dinner…and to the other end of camp to get a shower…and then again in the morning for breakfast, medical tent the get blisters properly lanced and taped, etc.


The rest of my team finished as well:


Suzie Andert  (three-time veteran of the 3-day; friend, advisor, coach, and the prettiest darned supply pack-mule Ive ever seen)

Leslie Dwight (Who gets my "super-trooper of the year" award.  This woman is a walking machine)

Susan Grove (Who got swept once due to her sprained ankle, but the extra mileage made up for it..and anyway, getting swept takes nothing away from the fact that she walked around thirty miles with a sprained ankle…and was only taped for 17 of them)


And me.


 About half-way through, my ankle started hurting so I went to the medical tent and had it adjusted by a chiropractor.  Apparently, I’d walked 15 miles with it out of joint.  I’m glad the chiropractor knew what to do…all I knew was that I had a large purple-and-magenta bruise on the blade of my foot, and my ankle was swelling.   And adjustment and some support tape made all the difference.  Then I just had the pain from the inflammation to deal with…but it was less than half what I’d been dealing with the day before.


 The bottom of my right foot has three large blisters…one that actually covers the entire ball of my foot, and two the size of quarters on either side of the heel.  There is no epidermis left between any of my toes.  On my left foot, I have two small blisters on either side of my heel.


I’m not stiff and sore, though…a testament to a well-designed training schedule and the power of frequent, disciplined stretching.  Also, I think the fact that I slept on the hard ground rather than an air mattress helps.  Don’t know why, but I find that I am less stiff and sore after a big physical event if I sleep somewhere firm.  Air mattresses or soft mattresses kill my back and hips!


#1 important re-cap point!  Rocky watched the kids all weekend, including our God-daughter (Sue's daughter).  He managed the house very well.  It looked great when I got home.  He got all of the kids to all of their events (some of them 25 miles away), got the kids to do chores, had dinner waiting for us when we got home....etc.  He's so wonderful!


He also brought the kids to see us and cheer us.  They waited for several hours until we walked past.  Sue almost cried.  I was so happy.  For the moment, all of the pain went away...and actually the last 2.5 miles went much easier because they were there for us.  Then, they also went forward and were there to see us finish as well!


Factoid:  Did you know that your feet can swell up so much that your toe-nails turn black and fall off?  No, that didn't happen to me, or anyone on our team, but I heard at least a dozen people say it happened to them...and more who said that it had happened to them one of the other times they did the walk.  One lady said she only had three toenails left, and was pondering whether or not she could get a discount on her next pedicure.

At one point during the last half of the second day, Sue and I both had ankle injuries (we later found out that she had a sprain from twisting it on a bit of uneven ground.  I had a bone out of joint) were Marching along in grim silence, just putting one foot in front of the other, feeling the pain each time, and moving through it one step at a time.

Sue:  "What's that up there?"

Me:  "Nothing.  Just more people."

Sue:  "  I think I see Bataan."

Of course, while she was historically accurate in that the Bataan death march was sixty miles long...technically, Bataan would have been BEHIND us, and there would have been soldiers yelling in Japanese and shooting the stragglers, rather than "sweep vans".  Oh yeah, and no "Pit Stops" with food, water and port-a-potties.

Still, the analogy FELT accurate enough.

Another snippet of conversation with Suzie (not to be confused with Sue)

Me:  "Ouch".

Suzie:  "Uh-oh, what's wrong."

Me:  "Nothing.  Sorry.  One just escaped.

Suzie:  "An ouch escaped?"

Me:  "Yeah.  I try to keep them in a little corral so they don't get out and bother you.  I've got a little collie that runs around herding them into the corral."

Suzie:  "The inside of your brain makes me laugh."


There was a little boy visiting his mother at the lunch stop, and he ran over to a crew member with his mom's empty water bottle:

Boy:  "Can I have some water for my mom?"

Crew: "Sure.  Hey kid, do you know why I work crew?"

Boy:  "No."

Crew:  "So when you grow up, you won't have to." (because breast cancer will have a cure)


I’ll post about this again, and do a much better job of it, but I wanted to give you some idea about what went on.

When we have pictures, I will post again.  I especially need to show you the picture of, and tell you about “mullet pig”.  He was one of the volunteer crew members that helped us (and entertained and encouraged us) at street-crossings.

One last thought:  THIS is the strength of our nation.  These women are housewives and office workers and beauty consultants and three-time cancer survivors...and yes, some figherfighters and police officers, and personal trainers...but mostly ordinary everyday women.

And they can walk sixty miles on sprained ankles and feet that have lost toenails, and taped-up knees.

They can walk and sing funny filk songs about "I'm walking on blisters (to the tune of "Im walking on Sunshine")" and they can stay up an extra hour and dance like there's no tomorrow on day two.

And if they start to falter, all it takes to keep them going is a sign that reminds them that "blisters don't need chemo"  (that one worked for me), or a thought about their sponsors, or a funny man dressed up in a pig mask and magenta hair weaves (I'll tell you about him later).

If they think a cause is worth it.  You might say that it isn't important to finish, because we raised the money whether we finish or not...but that isn't true.

See...many people say that it is impossible to find a cure for breast cancer.  Many people also say that it is impossible for an average suburban housewife to walk sixty miles.

Well, here's news to them.  The "impossible" is NOT impossible.

So there.

Now, Im going to the gym.


Monday, 22 September 2008 06:57:58 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [5] |  |  | #
Wednesday, 03 September 2008

 Rocky and I were at Dragon Con, rooming with our friends, Gary and Isa and a delightful German journalist named Robert.

I hadn’t mentioned it the first time I posted after we got home from Con.

So it didn’t make sense to some of you when I began hysterically babbeling about how great it was to briefly meet Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudik and spend the whole time talking about how great other people were instead of about how great THEY were.


So I met, shook hands with, and talked to two REALLY adorable men who play characters that, to put it mildly, totally float my boat.  So to speak.

So then I have a little bit of time, so I rush off to the blood drive to give blood.

They take my pulse:  60BPM

They take my blood pressure:  111/60 (up from 103/50 last time)

After walking a block and climbing a flight of stairs, and shaking hands with two of the cutest guys on the planet (in my humble opinion).

They stick me with a needle, and start my blood filling up the little pint bag…and I kid you not…I apparently didn’t have enough of a pulse rate or blood pressure to fill a pint bag even half-way before it started clotting, and they pulled my needle and sent me on my way…

…a failed blood donor.  Again. I got a packet of cookies, a bottle of water, and a free tee-shirt...oh yeah, and a huge purple bruise that's about five inches across.  To add insult to injury...after repeated wigglings and twiddlings of the needle from the nurse, blood began running out of my skin NEXT to the needle.   So - Epic fail in the blood donation front.

Sorry Nathan and Alan…it’s not you…it’s me.  I’m told this happens to lots of people from time-to-time. 

But I would have thought that if anything could have raised my pulse rate enough to successfully donate blood, it would be a close encounter with Captin’ tightpants and his soulful baby-brown eyes.

Obviously, I need not even TRY to donate blood until I’m at a Con where I can meet Michael Shanks or John Barrowman…

I’d be willing to try.  So I could give blood, of course.  Anything to help humanity.

And another service to humanity:  Here's the You-Tube video of their panel at DragonCon:


Wednesday, 03 September 2008 23:50:00 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [4] |  |  | #
Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Last January I had a mammogram.

The found *something - probably nothing*.  So I went back and they looked at it again.  Definately something-probably nothing.  So they did a Sonogram.  Nothing showed up on the sonogram.  So it was probably nothing...

...but come back in six months, just to make sure it isn't something.

So I went back for another mammogram.  There it was:  Something (probably nothing) but bigger and brighter.

Another series of mammogram shots, and there it was in all of them - something.

So they did another sonogram - nothing.  The doctor did an examination.  Nothing.  Probably.

Come back in three months, we'll take another look.

It could be worse.  It could be DEFINATELY something.

Mood:  Cheerful and not worried, but somewhat annoyed.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008 16:07:06 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [5] | #
Wednesday, 21 May 2008

I went to Home Despot today to get some necessary items for home improvement (new kitchen faucet) and yard improvement (cedar mulch I know, I just bought some…but I needed more).

As I was loading everything into the van, a grey-haired older lady walked up to me, and said:

“Oh my goodness!  Did you load all of that yourself?!”

I thought “Gee, what do those bags weigh? 20 lbs? I didn’t even notice.”

I said, “Yes.”

And then…

…I shit you not…

She reached out her hand, grabbed my upper arm, and felt my muscles.

“Wow!  You’re doing great!  And at your age too!  Keep it up!”

And then she walked off while my brain spun little hamster circles for a while trying to figure out what happened.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008 09:21:38 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [5] |  |  | #
Friday, 22 February 2008

I got a call from my mom and sister today.  My sister got up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, and she tripped over an ice auger that her husband had left in the kitchen (don't ask).


Anyway, she fell and broke her arm.


Her husband took her to the local ER, and they had to call a doctor in to look at her arm.  He was cranky, and brusk, manipulating her arm around and crabbing at her when she reacted in pain.  She asked him for pain medication, but he continued manipulating her arm, and told her that if she didn't "shape up" he was going to go home without doing anything for her.


Finally, after getting tired of hearing her express her pain, he gave her a shot, and did an x-ray.  She has a horizontal fracture near the middle of the humerous, and a vertical fracture nearer the shoulder.


Later, she found out that the doctor had written in her records that she was "under the influence" and uncooperative (both untrue).


He made a crude sling out of gauze, and sent her home with no pain medication.


For two days, she and her husband tried to call to be seen for the break, and let them know that my sister was in a lot of pain.  They were put off repeatedly.


Finally, they drove 2.5 hours to Bemidji, and were seen in the ER.  A proper sling was put on, and pain medication issued.


Later, the local hospital called to do a follow-up on my sister, and asked if she still had pain or any concerns about her condition.  She replied that she had gone to Bemidji to have the break looked at.  The person on the other end responded "Oh!  Your arm is broken?"


Apparently, the doctor had merely noted that she came in "under the influence", was uncooperative, and complaining of shoulder pain.  Not mentioning the break at all.


This was the same crack medical team that failed to diagnose a cancerous tumor in my grandfather's colon...and instead concluded that he had a heart condition.  (a different hospital actually did a hemoglobin test, which I would think would be a standard procedure in someone suffering from weakness and dizziness...and discovered that he had a hemoglobin count of 3).


My in-laws drive down to the cities to get care for my MIL now, because someone in the hospital near THEM let my MIL go through a whole course of chemo therepy without adding one of the perscribed active ingredients.


I'm collecting a string of anecdotes that adds up to "God save me from having to get medical treatment in a rural hospital".


Some places in America have the best health care in the world.  Others have something that is marginally better than the 3rd world.


But don't let those "liberals" tell you there are "two Americas".




Oh, the punchine?  My sister makes her living as a violin teacher.  Let's just say, that it would probably be better for her family and for the taxpayers if her arm got proper treatment so it could heal properly, so that she could continue to earn a living.

Friday, 22 February 2008 13:06:07 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [6] |  | #
Thursday, 03 January 2008

A while ago I came across a link to a video on Jason Bock's blog.  It was a link to an excerpt from Randy Pausch's "Last Lecture".

I ended up downloading the whole lecture and making my family watch it.  I recommend it highly.

It was a funny, charming, lecture about how to realize your childhood dreams from a guy who has Metastized Pancreatic Cancer.

I go to Dr. Pausch's page from time-to-time to see how he is doing.

He has a medical update page as well.

Dr. Pausch is a great speaker and seems to have lived with the intensity of a dying romantic BEFORE he got terminally ill.

I thought some of you might be moved and inspired by the story.

Thursday, 03 January 2008 20:58:00 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] | #
Saturday, 27 October 2007

Home Front 1 Allergies:  No reaction to the allergy injections, beyond the expected swelling and rash at the injection site.  I’m told that I must do a peak-flow test every time I come in to get the injections (every 3-10 days – 7 being optimal).  I’ll need to come in that frequently for about 6 months, until I reach my maintenance level.  Then, it will be roughly every 28 days.  As an aside, my peak flow measurement is still 600, despite the fact that I have not been running or training with nearly the vigor I usually do for quite some time now.  Not bad for an asthmatic, eh?


Home Front 2  Kung Fu:  I’ve been given three more classes to teach.  The classes previously belonged to my friend, and Kung Fu “brother”, Mike.  He’s found a new job that will require him to travel, and he has to give up his classes.  I now have three classes with typical students in addition to my two classes with special needs students.  Mike is a very good teacher, and his students have a very high level of achievement over-all.  As far as I can tell, there are no super-stars, but all of his students perform at a high level.  The highest rank in his class is 3rd yellow.  The classes are fairly homogeneous as far as rank goes, so I don’t have to worry about teaching to all different levels at once.  A real load off my mind!  Still, I am going to have to work very hard to keep the level of instruction as high as Mike has set the bar!  A little daunting.


Home Front 3:  I think Rocky’s coming down with the flu.

Home front 4:  Rocky’s brother and his family is staying with us this weekend.  A happy,  bustling household.  The kids are thrilled to see their cousins.

Home Front 5:  Grasshopper has a cello recital today at 3:30 in Minneapolis, and I have to judge a Kung Fu contest in Hopkins.  Rocky is speaking at a Code Camp in Bloomington, and Adventure Boy is going to be the only one who stays put in the house today.  Yet, there will always be several people home.  Weird.

Saturday, 27 October 2007 06:01:32 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [2] |  |  | #
Friday, 26 October 2007

Today was my first visit to the allergy/athsma clinic for my immunotherapy shots.  So far, no reaction at all.  So I am very happy.  I tolerated it very well.

I also got my flu shot, which I havn't bothered to get the last couple of years.  It was very good to get it.  Now I know I will be at least somewhat protected.

I am going to have to stay on my anti-allergy medications for quite some time, I think.  However, it is nice to be finally starting down the road to a reation-free exsistance.

Friday, 26 October 2007 10:57:37 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [4] |  | #
Saturday, 20 October 2007

So now Oprah has been diagnosed with Hypothyroidism.

Here’s the Wikipedia page for hypothyroidism.

I feel bad for her, I really do.  I know what this condition does to a person, and I know how it feels to have it go undiagnosed.  Depression, fatigue, a sense of impending mental break-down or dissipation.  I remember with horror the inability to focus thoughts, inability to discipline oneself.

I understand how much willpower it takes to drag your body out of bed and meet the demands of the day, force yourself against the screaming drag of your own body to force yourself to exercise…only to gain weight.

No amount of make-up can hide the bad skin, no amount of careful self-maintenance can get rid of the blue bags under the eyes, the dullness of the hair.

“You look tired” gets to be like a mantra chanted by everyone you meet.  Sometimes with sympathy or concern, more often with a bit of the gloat behind it.  What they really mean is “You’ve really let yourself go”.

Going to the doctor to find out what’s wrong, you’re told the only prescription you need is more self-discipline and will-power.

Even the Oprah show, which made its name singing the praise of persevering in the face of insurmountable problems manages to slap you in the face, when Dr. Phil says “You’re not fat because of your thyroid.  That’s just an excuse.”

I actually went to the website and left a comment.   I said it was irresponsible for Dr. Phil to say something like that.  I went back later to see if there had been any response to my comment, and I couldn’t find it anywhere.  I assumed it had been deleted.

 I had gone for years with an undiagnosed thyroid problem because of just such a response from a Doctor, who refused to administer a simple blood test, despite the fact that I have a family history of low thyroid, and all the symptoms.  And I DO mean all of them.  The CNP who eventually ran the test said that I was in s life-threatening situation, and not just because of the suicidal thoughts.

But this doctor just gave me the smug look, and the condescending encouragement to do more push-ups…push up from the table.  He actually SAID that.

Normally, I would have stormed out of his office and went to find a doctor who would run the test.  Unfortunately, depression and fatigue caused me to simply shut down in shame and never mention it again…until my friend Sue kicked my ass and told me that she didn’t know what was wrong with me, but I’d better figure it out soon, because she didn’t like who I had become, and she wanted her friend back.

I’m sorry for Oprah that she has to go through this.  But I’m glad that finally, she might address this really important subject, and empower women with knowledge and encouragement to speak up for themselves and demand to be tested if they suspect they have a thyroid problem.

Thyroid disorders require constant maintenance.  I recently went in for my annual test, and found that I might have to have my dosage upped again.  Not a big surprise.  I’ve gained weight, and I’m tired and cranky when normally I would be chipper and happy.    I’ve been unable to focus at my usual level in normal times, and become downright useless in times of stress.  Things that were once easy, have become difficult.  I’m confused, forgetful, and sad.

But I’m going to get a second test done, and it’s likely that a simple dosage adjustment will fix the problem.  It’s such a simple solution.  All you need is the knowledge of what your condition is, and the support of knowledgeable people to help you treat it appropriately.

Saturday, 20 October 2007 08:36:35 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [3] |  |  |  | #
Sunday, 08 July 2007

Little bit of catch-up.

The fourth was fun, for the most part.  We got together with the extended family and did some camping and BBQing and water-skiing and stuff.  There was a parade and fireworks and all that jazz.  Rocky, the kids and the dog all had a fabulous time.

I behaved myself for the most part.  At one point we were in the livingroom watching  the travel channel and there was a show on Niagara Falls.  One of the bits was about the history of the falls as related to the underground railroad.  The show described run-away slaves crossing an ice bridge that formed over the falls, as well as a suspension bridge that went over the river into Canada.  One tour you can take traces the route of escaped slaves over the (now modern) bridge into Canada.

The relative we were visiting was not pleased by the description of people escaping the US to find freedom in Canada.

So he proceeded to tell the children that the slaves brought to America from Africa were better off as slaves in America than they were as free people in Africa.  He asserted that slavery was not as bad as some people claimed, and also, that modern black people should be GRATEFUL that their ancestors were slaves because if they weren’t they’d be over in Africa with all the disease and genocide.

Now, this relative is a Conservative older man, living in a rural area, and is unlikely to change his opinion or outlook in anyway, and is unlikely to actually be able to harm anyone with his opinion either.  So I left and took a little walk and later talked with the kids about the conversation, making sure I let them know where this relative was in error.

Later, back home, we had some other relatives as houseguests, and discussion of the health care system ensued.

Let’s just say that I was called ignorant, and stupid, mocked derided, talked over, interrupted, and my ideas completely re-interpreted and misrepresented and scoffed at.  When I tried to explain how the relative was going off in a completely different direction, he raised his voice and said “Let me finish.”

I got very upset.  I was tired from the first day and night of CONvergence, so I teared up and had trouble speaking.  It is something that sometimes happens when I get really angry and I am exhausted.  I was practically speechless to be treated this way in my own house…and by someone I actually like a lot and respect, but whose personal manner changed dramatically on this particular topic.  It was a bit shocking to me.

What was it that made me stupid and ignorant?  I don’t really know, but the relative in question argued that a basic national health care system that only covered standard treatment for routine medical problems would stifle innovation, because people would not buy catastrophic or “Cadillac” healthcare plans if they had the basic national plan available for free.  I wanted to point out that I never proposed it be automatically free for everyone…but that was one of the times I was waved off as “interrupting” before I could get the clarification out.  I suppose it would be overly snarky of me to point out that the clarification would have been unnecessary if I hadn’t been interrupted.  So the person continued to completely demolish the point he thought I had made rather than the one I was actually trying to make.

 I wanted to point out that the plan I was trying to discuss would actually add consumers to the health care system because people currently going without care would be getting it, whereas people who currently have great coverage would choose to use their great coverage and this would drive innovation just as much as it ever has.  No go.

The person insisted that nobody would spend money for insurance to provide state-of-the-art treatments if they could get the insurance for cheaper less innovative treatments for free.

I said “So you don’t think people can be trusted to understand that they need to pay for better coverage to get better treatment?”

Apparently, this is a terrible thing to say to a Republican with Libertarian leanings.

But it seems to me that the average American understands this.  If you have better coverage…you get better treatment.  If you have crappy coverage, you get crappy treatment.  A minimally adequate coverage will get you treatment that is effective for most of the things that most people encounter in life…and no coverage at all is a recipe for disaster.

I assume that, like now, people will try to get the best coverage they have access to.

All I was trying to say is, wouldn’t it be possible for us to have a program to move the people who have no coverage and crappy, inadequate coverage into the category of having minimally adequate coverage?  While it might not be that great if you get cancer…you’ll love it if you get a broken leg or a sinus infection.

The person responded that it would just cost too much to overhaul a system as big as our health care system for what is essentially an incidental segment of the population.  He asserted that it is really very exceptional cases where people cannot afford insurance and are unable to pay for treatment.

I asserted that the overhaul of the system is coming one way or another.  We can either let it break down its present form and change on its own…hoping the magic of the market fairies will pull a better system from the chaos…or we can plan it and manage it so that hopefully it doesn’t lead to radical disruption of our society.

My discussion partner expressed incredulity at that assertion, and told me that people should just bring down costs by buying generics and such.

I said good luck with that since you have an entire industry built around “motivating” doctors to prescribe new formulations of existing drugs, presenting the new formulations as “innovations”, and fostering the perception that generics are inferior to brand-name drugs (I personally know a drug rep who flat out told me – on several occasions – that I should, under no circumstances buy generic drugs as there was just too much variance in their manufacture and performance…for instance.  I didn't listen to him.  I buy my meds at Costco and go genaric whenever there is one available.  Ther are usually cheap enough to cost me a fraction of my co-pay.)

He countered snidely that I didn’t trust people to be able to make rational decisions on their own.  My attempts to explain the difference between a general understanding of levels of coverage and people making a choice when there is a multi-billion-dollar industry focused on shaping their perception with the complicity of the people who are supposed to be their health advocates fell on deaf ears as he condescendingly explained to me that I had employed a double-edged sword when I invoked personal choice and responsibility.

I guess I had to be punished for defiling said deities by using them in a "liberal" argument.  The Conservative Libertarians have claimed them as their own and nobody else can use them.

Apparently, the magic of the Wonder-Twin Magic Market Fairies of Personal Choice and Personal Responsibility work the same whether you have access to high-quality information from reliable sources or not.  I guess I know better now.

Needless to say, the rest of the conversation is kind of a blur.  I wish I’d walked away from that conversation as well.

Fortunately, CONvergence was in full swing and things can never go that wrong when CONvergence is going on.   I’ll talk about that more in my next entry.

Sunday, 08 July 2007 23:37:33 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [12] |  |  | #
Saturday, 05 May 2007

So, I went to the allergist today.  Three bouts with bronchitis in a row, plus endless breathing problems before that, and I'm done.  I don't care what it takes, just break out those needles and FIX ME!!!

For those who don't know, they draw a huge grid on your back, and poke you with some sharp peices of plastic containing concentrations of allergens.

You also get two controls:  one is a non-reactive substance (I assume Saline or something equivilent) and the other is Histamine, the chemical that is produced by the body's attack on the allergins, and which causes the allergy symptoms.

My reaction to the non-reactant control was the expected - and my reaction to the Histamine was the expected ++++

This gives you the range from no reaction (-) to the Histamine reaction (++++) (a scale of 0-4, basically).

Here are my test results:                                                                                         Mold Spores:

Paper Birch                    ++++               Short Ragweed         ++++                        Alternaria                 -

Boxelder/Maple Mix          ++++               Giant Ragweed         ++++                        Cladosporium             +

Mulberry                        ++++               Marshelder              ++++                        Epicoccum                 +

Red Oak                        ++++               Sagebrush Mix          ++++                        Helminthosporium        +

White Ash                      ++++               Russian Thistle         ++++                        Aspergillus fumigatus   +

Shagbark Hickory            ++++                Careless - Pigweed   ++++                         Pullularia                    +

American Elm                  ++++                                                                           Fusarium                    +

Kentucky Blue Grass         ++++                                                                           Penicillium                  +

Timothy Grass                 ++++                                                                           Phoma                       +

Dustmite (D. Farinae)        -                                                                                 Rhizopus                    ++

Dustmite (D. Pteronyssinus)   +++

Cat                                    ++++

Dog                                    +++

Cockroach                           -


My allergist, who seems to have a gift for understatment, said "You are a candidate for shots."   

No wonder I have been having a hard time running.  I'm allergic to the whole darned out-of-doors!  (And the in-of-doors too!)

One peak-flow reading in the middle of an asthma attack was 490...a good score for a normal, healthy adult woman.

Another up-note is that I CAN get shots, and don't have to sell the dog and buy pet cockroaches.  LOL!  Although those Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches are pretty cool.


Saturday, 05 May 2007 20:38:58 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [8] |  |  |  | #
Wednesday, 02 May 2007

Flashbacks to that one Batman movie.

Effect Measure has an article on Melemine, and the convention of adding the substance to food to boost the appearance of a high protein content.

But now there is talk of the Melamine not being that big of a deal, that there is a second chemical that reacts with a metabolite of the Melamine that has caused the crystals to form in the kidneys of the animals that have been affected.

This leaves a person wondering about the identity and source of the second chemical.

I get the feeling I should be worried about this, but for some reason my brain sticks on that scene in the Batman movie where the reporters are all wan and washed out and greasy and they are reading off the list of things to avoid mixing.  Something like: “Do not combine Shampoo with mouthwash and toothpaste”.

It DOES bother me that we’ve been eating plastic thinking that it is protein all this time.  If a US food producer did this to us, it would be called fraud.  China has some ‘splainin’ to do.

Also, note to you “anti-regulation” people out there…this is what happens when a government doesn’t regulate industry.

Oh yeah, and I'm ALSO put in mind of the sneaky and diabolical cleverness of "Famine" in the Book The Nice and Accurate Prophacies of Agnas Nutter, Witch By Neil Gaiman...where Famine is all chuffed with himself because he has anorexics starving themselves to death in the middle of plenty by binging on non-nutritious foodstuffs.  Melamine shows up in food tests as protein, but it has no nutritional value.

Wednesday, 02 May 2007 09:20:43 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] |  |  | #

PZ Myers thoroughly debunks Stephan Milloy's crazy stories about how butter-fingered environmentalists are going to go bankrupt paying to clean up all those Compact Flourescent Lights they break.  And, as he drives by, he takes a swipe at Stephans hypocracy in saying that the negligable amount of mercury in the CFL bulbs is dangerous while pooh-poohing mercury from power plants.

Denialism also has a nice treatment for the layman.

The verdict is:  CFL are still a good idea.  Find out where you can recycle them, and find out how to clean them up safely and cheaply when they break.  In other words USE YOUR BRAIN.  Sheesh.

Here's the link to the EPA page

Here's a link to the Earth 911 recycling page.  Just click on the item you'd like to recycle, and you will be taken to a page where you enter your zip code, and they will point you to a facility near you where you can learn how to dispose of common household items properly.

It took a mid-western suburban housewife 20 MINUTES to find and put together this information, and Steven Milloy couldn't figure it out?  Junk science indeed.

Wednesday, 02 May 2007 06:04:47 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [2] |  | #
Friday, 20 April 2007

I just heard on MPR a lead in that was discussing a view that Virginia Tech should not have let the shooter return to school after he was hospitalized with a mental illness.

Are people really saying that employers and schools have to be held responsible for decisions to not descriminate against the mentally ill?  I couldn't listen to the broadcast, but the teaser was either repugnant, misleading or both.

If someone's behavior at work or school is threatening and dangerous, then the employer/school should be responsible for dealing with it appropriatly.  Merely knowing that they have been hospitalized does not mean that they are responsible to not allow the person on campus/hire them.

How many people have been hospitalized for mental problems and gone on to live normal, productive lives and not treaten anybody.

Ugh.  I am so sad for the victims and the families, and for the whole terrible mess.  All this over-focusing on single issues is perhaps understandable, but it is inappropriate and will not produce outcomes that will be helpful in any way.  People need time to heal before they can respond rationally.

Friday, 20 April 2007 08:45:36 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [4] |  |  | #
Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Here is some information on mercury, autism and immunizations .

Some right-wing anti-science libertarian types don’t like immunizations.  They don’t like immunizations to be mandatory, because they feel it denies them their “freedom” to not be immunized, and they suspect that “public health”, like anything that has the word “public” in front of it, is just a plot to take away their “freedom”.

Some lefty-tree-hugger anti-science –types don’t like immunizations because they are “unnatural”.

Some people are worried about mercury poisoning in general, and it is the trace amounts of mercury in the shots that worries them.

Reader, commenter, friend, and fellow blogger, Karen recently sent me a link to this article by John Stossel  at the Townhall website.  I found this article to be more interesting for what it DIDN’T say than for what it said.

First of all, Mr. Stossel starts out invoking the dreaded “Kennedy” name.  Booga booga booga.  Kennedy.  Gather the children and run for the hills.  Circle the conservative wagons.  There’s a KENNEDY involved.

Robert Kennedy Jr. is an activist against pollution in general, and has taken an interest in Mercury specifically (mercury is one or the waste products of fossel-fuel burning power plants).  I believe that he is in error where the facts are concerned when it comes to immunizations, but it is not due to an anti-industrial liberal commie plot that he’s involved in the issue.  It is not scare-mongering that brought Robert Kennedy Jr. into the fray.  It is good intentions, a real issue, and a not-so-subtle dose of mission creep.

Stossel goes on to point out that “As March of Dimes researchers put it, "Changes in diagnosis account for the observed increase in autism." Sure enough, California data show the rise in autism diagnoses almost exactly matches a decline in cases of retardation.”

As far as I know, and I'm no expert, this is true.  The advent of the Autism Spectrum model has caused a number of different diagnosis to be lumped together under the umbrella of autism.  Also, more children are being diagnosed with these disorders due to several factors.

Stossel goes on to blame one single factor: “"People that we once called quirky or geeky or nerdy are now called autistic," Dr. Offit said, "because when you give that label of, say, autistic spectrum disorder, you allow that child then to qualify for services."

Imagine that. A trendy diagnosis being driven by government-paid services.”

Of course it is convenient for Mr. Stossel to put the entire burden down to the avarice of government schools.  I’m sure that the extra funding per child diagnosed with a learning disability is one way to help offset the cuts that cause crowded classrooms and other woes, but that isn’t the only reason there has been a jump in the rate of diagnosis for these disorders.

One factor could be an increased awareness of the problems students with learning disabilities face, and the growing awareness that their potential need not be wasted if we only give them a little specialized attention and help.  Motivation to provide that help is at an all-time high in the school systems, even to the extent that it can become egregious and over-bearing if you don’t happen to believe that your child has need of their interventions.

Another could be the fact that in schools increasingly burdened with large class sizes and (unfunded) mandated performance requirements, there is less and less tolerance in the system for children who perform in an anomalous way.  Children who don’t hit the milestones on schedule used to have time to grow and develop.  There was some latitude for children and teachers to cope with small degrees of learning difference.  That latitude is disappearing.  There is no longer time for the geeky and the nerdy to get on board with their unique approach to learning.  They must conform or be “helped “ to conform.  The very existence of their school can depend on it.

Yet another might be the effect of “parent advocacy support groups" some of which are at least partly funded by the pharmaceutical industries, encouraging parents to procure a diagnosis (and treatment) for their children.  Far from being an attack on Big Pharma, the incidence of the diagnosis of learning disabilities is quite in their favor as the profit on an immunization is realized once or at most a few times, while the cocktails of drugs needed by a child with learning disabilities can become quite a bonanza for them. (Go to the CHADD website and find a parent support forum.  Just read for a while, it won't be long before you encounter at least one parent whose child is on several medications at a time.)

But all of that is very complicated, and addressing it would make it so that the burden would not appear to fall so neatly on the shoulders of the Kennedy family and the conservative bugaboo of a liberal public school kleptocracy.

But what ABOUT mercury poisoning?  After all, there are people who actually suffer the effects of mercury poisoning, and if they aren’t getting toxic levels of mercury from immunizations; where oh where could it be coming from?  Does anyone else know of some large, highly profitable business interest that could be poisoning our environment with mercury as part of the waste production they put into the environment?

Anybody?  Anybody?

Or were we supposed to just conclude that mercury isn’t that big of a deal and write all mercury fears off as anti-business liberal commie fear mongering?

Who knows, but the one conclusion I've come to is that I will go just about anywhere other than for a fair and balanced treatment of any complex issue.

Tuesday, 13 March 2007 20:32:59 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [4] |  |  | #
Wednesday, 03 January 2007

     On December 27th, I was going to the airport to pick up my friend, Val.  I was listening to MPR, and I heard a strange spot that they did on a new disease called Morgellon's Syndrome.


     The symptoms sounded so preposterous that, had the story been aired on April First, I would have laughed out loud, assuming it to be made up entirely. (bugs crawling around under the skin, cellulose fibers growing from the skin, involvement with or resemblance to just about every single hazy, difficult to diagnose, treat or even prove the existence of condition on the face of the Earth, etc.)


A couple of days ago, I chanced across a website where a man suggested that Morgellon's was perhaps a brilliant and sick instance of viral marketing.


I have since come across several conjectures about what Morgellon's is: that it is a hoax, that it is a variation of delusional parisitosis, that these poor people are actually suffering from a real disease.


At any rate, the site that suggested that it was a viral marketing campaign for the movie based on Phillip K. Dick's Through a Scanner Darkly had the most interesting comments.


The suggestion that Morgellon's was not a real disease brought out people who vitriolically demanded that the author retract his statement.  They told of their pain and anguish, their emotional and physical torture with the disease, and they even made comments wishing the disease upon the author so that he could know how much they suffered with it, and then he would not belittle their disease so much.


I don't believe that Morgellon's is a real disease.  I am prepared to find out I'm wrong, and retract that statement, but until I see something, anything resembling a rational explanation for the bugs, the fibers, or the lesions that the people are supposedly subjected to, I'm just not going to believe it is real.


I have not seen a picture of the bugs.  I haven't heard what their taxonomic category is.  You would think it would be simple to come up with the chemical composition of the fibers, and some process by which they can be manufactured.  "Information" sites about the disease are only so much noise.  With pictures and technobabble that says nothing.


The symptoms are so incredible as to be...well...incredible.


Therefore, I do not believe it is real until it can be demonstrated otherwise.


And if anyone posts a vitriolic response demanding an apology, and demanding that I accept their pain and anguish and suffering as sufficient cause to ignore my reason and what knowledge I have, I'm sorry, but I can't do that.


I'm sorry for people's pain...but me believing the same as they do about the cause of that pain will not ease their pain one bit...whereas compromising critical thought to emotionalism is certainly harmful.

Wednesday, 03 January 2007 09:25:25 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [1] |  | #
Tuesday, 02 January 2007

My friend, Karen asked me to put in a plug for her aunt's Fibromyalgia website.  I said I would, and that I would put it in my navigation bar.

Unfortunatly, I misunderstood the purpose of the site.  I thought it was purely an information site.  When I went to look, I found that she was offering services as a coach.  I DO want to help out a friend's aunt...but I DON'T want to appear to be endorsing paid services of a person I don't know helping people with a disease that is not fully understood.

Each individual is different, each individual finds different things effective.  Information is key to that, and I think that this site has lots of information that people might find useful in their personal search for ways to cope.

I imagine that the coaching of an experianced patient might be very useful in managing this very complex condition.

So here is the site.  I hope that anyone who needs it finds important and useful information here.  If you are looking for a coach in dealing with Fibromyalgia, you will need to use your own judgement to determine if Karen's Aunt can provide the expertise you need.  She is very up-front about her qualifications.

Karen's Aunt's Site:

Other information can be found at these sites.

There are lots more information sites available with an internet search for the term.  I try to avoid information sites that advertize products on the front page as part of the site design (as opposed to side-bar advertizing). 

Tuesday, 02 January 2007 09:12:01 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [0] |  | #
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