Friday, September 30, 2005

Flagyl plan

The local neurologist called yesterday and said he'll prescribe Flagyl to be taken every eight hours in doses of 750 mg for 10 days. We'll do a blood test for liver function shortly after that, because this stuff is hard on the liver.

We're hoping for a Herxheimer reaction, chills, symptoms of illness or flu, that will indicate that microbial invaders are being killed en masse and shedding their toxins. We'll also follow the grip strength and other metrics.

After the phone call, I made a video recording of myself saying the pledge of allegiance as fast as I could, to use as a baseline against future speech rate and intelligibility.

Thursday, September 29, 2005


Scott, who has been taking the opiate inhibitor low-dose Naltrexone (LDN) for a while, warned me that he had weird dreams when he started it. My dreams are always weird, so the more the merrier. I did have vivid dreams, though. The first night it was about a poorly-planned trip out of state to a hospital airport with no cell phone reception. The second night was about a guy approaching us with religious pamphlets.

Last night's was weird only in the sense that I woke up laughing, and had trouble stopping, which woke my lovely wife. These park rangers were supposed to hunt elephant for the good of the herd. Hey, it's a dream, give me a break. Most of them shot once. This one ranger, a woman, didn't shoot at all, because it wasn't consistent with her values. This other ranger, a guy, kept shooting the elephant over and over again. In my dream I didn't see blood, terror, and chunks of meat. It was more like an elephant in a Gary Larson cartoon. The bullet holes were neat punctures like in Swiss cheese. She disapproved of the guy ranger, who kept making up a reason for each time he fired his rifle, consistent with the theme of helping. He would shoot the dead elephant and say that he'd excised a tumor, or that the animal needed new lungs, or a new heart. The point at which I woke up laughing was when he said "He needs a new spleen! He needs a urethra!"

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Yesterday I saw a doctor who might be able to treat me for Lyme disease. Here's a email I sent to my local neurologist:

As you requested, I called IgeneX and asked to speak to doctor you spoke to, about course of treatment for Lyme and for a list of "Lyme literate" doctors. The office staff responded with a list of three doctors, one out of the area, and one whose office has not responded to my voicemail, and one I saw today.

He has in the past treated people with Lyme, though I am not certain that those patients had CNS manifestation. I have a copy of his assessment from the initial meeting, which seems to summarize to:

1. Have the neurologist obtain spinal fluid and send it to IgeneX for analysis.
2. Possibly treat with up to 28 days of IV antibiotic, every eight hours.

I'll provide you with a copy.

His approach strikes me as overly conservative. I don't want another invasive spinal tap and the potential agony and emergency room visit that attends it. It is a risk to my health.

While treatment with antibiotic is not trivial, the possibility that my symptoms are due to Lyme should be acted on; Even if we imagine unusual circumstances wherein a CSF sample could not be obtained, treatment would be warranted, and indeed the only ethical course.

From your Sept. 21 email:

"Regarding treatment ... I'm not an infectious disease specialist. I can give you a prescription for Flagyl and look up the conventional recommendations. But I don't have the expertise or time to plunge into a maelstrom of controversy (as much over treatment of Lyme as diagnosis)."

I request that you look up the conventional recommendations, and give me a prescription for Flagyl, if indicated.

I appreciate your skill and approach as a doctor, and our sometimes informal relationship, which I feel makes for more effective communication.

But this is (or appears to be) a matter of life and death for me. I could die of this. I'm not an infectious disease specialist either, but I do find myself compelled to stretch myself to deal with this surprising condition. I request that you do, too. After all, you could save my life, which I value, and which my wife and children benefit from.

I wish I had the chance you have, to treat a guy who appears to have ALS but who might just have Lyme, with the possibility of stopping his disintegration, or even healing him. Perhaps I have ALS alone, and the Lyme is complete red herring. Still, it's worth pursuing with vigor, and I ask you to show that vigor.

Thank you

Left grip is 30 pounds (25, 26, 30), right grip is 80 pounds (75, 80, 75), left leg balance is 4.94 seconds, and inhale volume is 4450 mL.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Civilization III

My copy of Civilization III arrived a few days ago, and I began play. I found it obscure and counterintuitive. Many simple features in Civilization II had been changed or eliminated in baffling ways.

However, I stuck with it more than I stuck with the Sims, I suppose because I knew what I was trying to find. It was familiar to me rather than wholly new.

Troubles keeping people happy and shortages of money are themes in both The Sims and Civ. However, in Civilization III you can attack the neighbors. I was able to make decent technological progress, and eliminate the Aztecs from my continent. But each time I approached completion of a major wonder of the kind that keeps people content and frees up the coffers for more scientific research, some other, far off civilization completed it first.

I wound up as target practice for Romans more than once. And I played on the easiest level. When I was first learning Civilization II, the easiest level was a rout, in my favor. Things seem tougher in Civilization III.

Yesterday the man came and replaced the electronic circuit boards inside the door of the dishwasher. He said a circuitry tape on the old one was fried with an obvious char mark across it. The first load I ran had small smudges on it that the dishwasher, before it's brain transplant, was unable to clean. This time it cleaned them. Let us all thank my lovely wife for finding out that while the washer has a one-year warranty, the electronics have a five-year warranty!

Last night I took the first dose of LDN (low-dose Naltrexone). I'll be taking two mg per day. I also resumed creatine, vitamin E, and Co-Q10 last night. And oh yeah, the vitamin C, which I had somehow forgotten to take for who knows how long.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Aluminum spaghetti pot

About 10 years ago a neighbor came over one day and gave me her big aluminum cooking pot, because she'd read that aluminum was implicated in some neuro-degenerative disorder (Alzheimer's?). Anyway, for several years, I used it to cook my spaghetti noodles. Which I ate. Then when my lovely wife and I started shacking up, we got real pots and threw out the aluminum one.

When my blood work was done around the time I was diagnosed, my serum alinminum levels were normal.

Based solely and entirely on the results of Saturday's blog poll, I have send this email to the ALS clinic:

Thank you so much for your efforts in screening me, but I've decided not to commence the trial. I want to try the low-dose Naltrexone, and resume using creatine. I'll resume CO-Q10 as well. Please let me know whether the liver panel and lipids panels will still be completed and forwarded to my neurologist, as, if they will not, I'll need to go do these soon.

Remote medicine is cool, but remote, anonymous, democratic medicine is even better.

Left grip is 30 pounds (29, 30, 30), right grip is 80 pounds (80, 78, 80), left leg balance is 4.3 seconds, and inhale volume is 4450 mL.


Sunday, September 25, 2005

Rabbit model for ALS

When I was seven, my father got me a pet rabbit, obtained from a rabbit breeding farm. I named him Simon. We kept him in a hutch in the basement. He rarely got outside, but when he did, he was ecstatic. He would bounce happily around on the grass, and kick up his hind legs. We had him on a leash once when he suddenly tried to run away, but the leash caught him up. He panicked, and started doing some fierce, high-pitched shrieking. He seemed afraid of something overhead. We looked up. It was a red-tailed hawk.

Lesson: Fear of predatory birds is instinctual in rabbits.

The years went by, and each morning I would take some lettuce or spinach down to him, or pull up a weed from the back yard to feed him. I considered the tall milkweeds in the yard an asset, and once tried to cultivate them by transplanting a couple. Those died. It did not occur to me to plant the seeds.

One day I went out in the back yard and all my goodly milkweeds were gone. My middle sister, the neurotic, whiny one, explained serenely that she had done some weeding. She never had before. I told her that she knew I needed the weeds to feed Simon, and she should have asked me. She was happy.

It's like the time when she picked and discarded every single plum on the plum tree, just before they came ripe. She said it was so that the others could grow bigger. What others?

Anyway, I was 20 years old and in college by the time Simon passed from this mortal coil. My father had to cut off his head to kill him. He'd gotten to the point where he could no longer move his limbs, not even lift his head up onto the food bowl to eat the pellets.

And I wonder: Did Simon have ALS?

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Clinical Trial

I went to the ALS clinic the other day as part of volunteering for a clinical trial of the antioxidant COQ10. You can buy this over the counter, and everyone is taking it. I was too. So it's not like this trial will cure me. I guess they just want evidence on whether or not it helps.

To make me eligible for the trial, I haven't been taking creatine since August 18. I think that's why I've been feeling more fatigued for about a month.

I used this blog to remind myself of stuff. The doctor said:

  1. To avoid losing weight when traveling disrupts your routine, take along those dietary supplements (like Ensure) to give yourself an extra 300 calories or more per day.

  2. If you get a common illness like cold or flu, take dietary supplements then, too.

  3. The syndrome I have of coughing for weeks or months after getting a cough from a cold may be Reactive Airway Disease. It's related to asthma, and is associated with eczema, such as the eczema I have near my ankle.

My Forced Vital Capacity (FVC) was 92 percent, down from 97 percent at my time of diagnosis. So still strong. Hoo-ah!

My blood pressure was down to a nice 128/81, but they measured me as only 5'9 3/4." The same clinic measured me at 5' 11" in 2004. I think they made a mistake this time, and told them so, but they went with it. This may have raised my score a point or two on the FVC, since they base that in part on your height.

I picked up my Lose Dose Naltrexone (2 mg q24) the other day. However the clinic tells me I cannot take that and be in the trial at the same time. So guide me:

Can you help make my medical decision?
Participate in the COQ10 study.
Back out of the study and start taking the creatine and Low Dose Naltrexone
Back out of the study and start taking the creatine, but not the LDN.

Free polls from

Any Soldier update: I got a thank-you note back the other day from a soldier I mailed some magazines and a 16 MB digital camera memory stick to. 16 MB is just tiny, and I'm not sure anyone would use it, but it might come in handy if one of theirs broke and they needed a temporary replacement. She thanked me very nicely anyway.

Friday, September 23, 2005

iPod hassle?!?

And iPod experience is not supposed to suck. Yet, mine did. There I was merrily buying songs from iTunes, when it told me that some songs were not copied to the iPod because the software on the iPod was too old. It told me to go to and update my software.

That right there sucks, because Apple products are almost always plug and play. You plug it in, and it goes and gets the things it needs for itself.

This request that I update my own software was like some weird reversion to MS Windows. So I ignored the message for a few days, but every time I plugged in the iPod, it issued the same complaint.

I went to the given Apple URL, expecting the update to leap out at me. Wrong. It was just tons of iPod stuff I could buy.

A few days later, after getting the complaint again, I went back to the URL. This time I entered a query in the search field for the iPod software updater.

There were a bevy of results, and I had to read carefully so that I didn't wind up with software for the wrong iPod. Again, this sucked, because Apple products are supposed to relieve you of the need to think ... about technical garbage.

So I downloaded the updater, expecting it to launch automatically, or announce itself to me. Wrong. It hid somewhere on my hard drive.

I guessed it may be in the Application folder and sorted by date. This is beginning to sound more and more like a Windows experience, right?

I found a folder with a bunch of iPod updater files, and clicked the one with the highest version number. It told me I could update, or restore defaults. I tried updating a bunch of times, and each time it told me the iPod was in use.

Then I realized that I was trying to apply an old update to the iPod . The computer never said anything about that.

I started using the right updater, a bunch of times, and each time it told me the iPod was in use. It wasn't, though, and I kept trying all sorts of ways of disconnecting and reconnecting, launching the updater at various times.

The update button never came active, but at one point the restore defaults button did. I went with that, hoping it would update the software along the way. Apparently, it did, because after the restore, all the songs copied over. I think. The iPod has 1508 songs on it, but my library has 1512. This may be because I chose to deselect some songs. Not sure. But the latest songs I have purchased are on the iPod, so I assume the problem with old software is resolved. And when I went to look at the "About" item under the "Menu" on the iPod, it said it's running 2.3. This is such a Windows experience! You shouldn't have to know how to check the software version on your iPod!

I suppose you could say all's well that ends well, but this whole mysterious and clumsy iPod update experience is almost as bad as the torture that emanates from Redmond, Washington.

Yes, you can blame me for not knowing some key bit of info, for not being tech savvy enough. I call this tech machismo. The point of Apple products is never having to be tech savvy. I am amazed that such a good software company would blow it this badly on one of their premium products.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Results from quack lab

The Lyme test results from IgeneX were positive, not ambiguous. If you want to read these, click the image and then once inside Flickr, click "All sizes."

My neuro talked their doc by phone, and their doc said these were positive results "consistent with long-term Lyme disease." The IgeneX doc said ceftriaxone may not dig it out, since the Lyme invaders can hide in cysts in the spinal column. Flagyl (sp?) is recommended.

He said they've seen 70 to 80 cases of people thought to have ALS who improved with treatment for Lyme, including a Colorado doctor, Dave Martz, who was himself cured, and devoted his practice to Lyme, but is now not working due to a pulmonary embolism.

My neuro seemed enthusiastic about this information, though not giggly and swooning. I'm willing to be treated with Flagyl, but I also would like to get the same tests done by another lab. My tests by Quest in December 2003 and again in December 2004 showed ambiguous results for Lyme, not a strong positive.

I used IgeneX because of their supposed expertise with Lyme tests. They are being investigated by the state of New York for improper methodology. On August 23, 2005, Dan Hurley and Marc Santora of the New York Times published a piece called "Unproved Lyme Disease Tests Prompt Warnings."

The New York Times hides content behind free registrations, so I can't provide a URL, but here are some bits of the article:

Now the New York State Department of Health has opened an investigation of the California laboratory, IGeneX Inc., that issued Mr. Courcier's positive result, after receiving eight complaints from doctors and patients who said its Lyme tests also gave them positive results not confirmed by other labs' results.

Concern about Lyme testing goes beyond New York State. This year the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a warning about Lyme tests "whose accuracy and clinical usefulness have not been adequately established."

The warning did not mention IGeneX or any other lab by name. But Dr. Paul Mead, a C.D.C. scientist who helped write it, said in a telephone interview, "Quite simply, we're concerned that patients are being misdiagnosed through the use of inaccurate laboratory tests." He added that some of the tests and techniques used by IGeneX were among those the agencies were concerned about.


The recent warning by the two federal agencies named some tests they said had not proved useful or accurate. They noted, for instance, that some laboratories performed a test called polymerase chain reaction "on inappropriate specimens such as blood and urine." IGeneX offers such tests on both blood and urine. The alert also warned against methods of interpreting Western blots "that have not been validated and published in peer-reviewed scientific literature."


But Robert Kenny, a spokesman for the State Department of Health, said the agency was not convinced that IGeneX was performing the recommended tests for the public in the same manner as it has been performing them to pass the state's proficiency review.

Moreover, Mr. Kenny said IGeneX had not supplied requested proof that its urine antigen test can be used to accurately diagnose Lyme disease.

I used to write a newspaper column. One from 1989 describes a camping trip I took. This part documents that I was bitten by a tick:

"When we got to the parking lot we changed into our road clothes. I pulled a tick from my calf with a clockwise half turn."

I don't recall a rash from that.

In the years since, I've done plenty of jogging on off-road trials with trees and wild grasses. In the couple of years before my symptom onset (characterized by my running getting weaker), I made a point of regular runs in the hills, which featured plenty of trees and wild grasses.

All this proves nothing, except that I was bitten once by a tick.

I also have a memory of being in the bathroom of this house, which we moved into in August 2000, and finding a red, circular rash on the side of my chest, over the rib cage and a couple of inches below the nipple, towards the arm pit. I recall showing it to my lovely wife. We speculated (spider bite?) and it went away over the course of a week, I think. This is not one of those strong, crisp memories, and my lovely wife does not recall the incident. Yes, I could be imagining this. But it has the ring of real truth to it, in my own mind at least. If I have Lyme, I think that's when I got it.

I do not at this point accept that I have Lyme instead of ALS. I won't accept that until I can jog again. Maybe Lyme can trigger ALS, and I have both. But it is worth exploring.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


Wow, you guys were right about the checksum for credit cards! I got another one of those fake eBay trolling spams, and clicked it. They wanted me to log in, so I entered random keyboard swipes for username and password, which were accepted, naturally. Then it wanted a credit card (no name was requested, sadly, so good old Ali Saed Bin Ali El-Hoorie will have to wait.) This time I entered an example card number from a web page that explains checksums, and the number I entered on the scam site sailed right through to the thank-you screen!

Now all I need to do is write a Java program that generates dozens of such valid but fake numbers to feed to the scammers. Only, it's not as fun if you can't attach names from the FBI's Most Wanted list.

It was only in the shower that my victorious chuckle turned into a whimper of worry. See, the URL they sent me was probably unique to my email address. By responding at all, and entering an apparently valid credit card number, in essence I stamped a big sign on my forehead that says: "SUCKER!" I may expect lots more scam emails.

I also expect that they'll attempt to extract and use my real name from my email address if they try to use the credit card number. They might not try to use it, since after all it is an example on a web page explaining checksums. Trying to extract my name from my email address will be a problem for them, since, though it sounds like a real name, it really refers to large anatomy.

In light of these considerations, what I need to do is set up a blog for Ali Saed Bin Ali El-Hoorie, or whatever Most Wanted person who has not been caught, and incautiously post an email address on that page. Then, when the spiders1 pick that up and begin sending spam to it, I can respond from that email account, with a 'genuine' fake credit card number, and hopefully induce the scammers to try and buy things as a known terrorist.

There is yet one more danger, the danger that the FBI will pick up the apparent blog of Ali Saed Bin Ali El-Hoorie, use their infinitely superior snoop tools to track down the actual me in real life, and clap me in irons for associating with or aiding a terrorist. Sound stupid? That's why it's almost guaranteed.

So I plan to encipher a message into the blog of Ali Saed Bin Ali El-Hoorie, using a childishly simple cypher, such as the first letter of every word spelling out a message that this page is really being used to pass fake credit card numbers to scammers.

That would make for a mysterious and perhaps nonsensical blog, which might send the FBI into frenzies -- thinking they had caught the terrorist communicating in code. Don't laugh, our government really is that stupid.

If I do get arrested, and I live long enough to explain the preexisting message in the cypher, they'll probably charge me with using the internet for fraud. You got it: for passing fake credit card numbers.

A program that scans and indexes the web, or one that scans the web looking for email addresses.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Click click click!

Wow. I reprint the article entirely without permission, which is a copyright violation.

I've wondered about this since the 1990s, but assumed that electronic signals from the keyboard would be the key.

But listen to your own typing and you'll realize that the time interval between keystrokes, as well as the loudness and duration of the stroke, strongly indicate what keys were pressed.

Lay the observed sounds over a statistical template of known patterns, and the typed text emerges neatly.

It's the beauty of mathematics, statistics, and computers joined with a little snooping to create an elegant solution.

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Forget about watching, Big Brother may be listening.

Sounds from typing on computer keyboards are distinctive enough to be decoded, allowing security breaches caused by "acoustic snooping," University of California, Berkeley researchers said on Wednesday.

The researchers said they were able to feed sound recordings of typing on keyboards into a computer and use an algorithm to recover up to 96 percent of the keyboard characters entered by typists.

"It's a form of acoustical spying that should raise red flags among computer security and privacy experts," said Doug Tygar, a Berkeley professor of computer science and information management.

"If we were able to figure this out, it's likely that people with less honorable intentions can -- or have -- as well," Tygar said.

The research builds on earlier work by International Business Machines Corp. researchers who were able to recover 80 percent of text from keyboard recordings.

That research relied on the same typist using the same keyboard and an algorithm trained with known text and corresponding sound samples.

By contrast, the algorithm in the Berkeley study adapts to typing patterns of multiple typists and overcomes background noise such as music or ringing cellphones. Also, no special recording equipment was required; keystroke noise could be recorded using off-the-shelf gear.

"The message from this study is that there is no easy escape from this acoustic snooping," Tygar said.

But computer security expert Peter Tippett said that while such research is interesting, the prospect of such spying should not concern individuals worried that employers would use it to monitor them or businesses fretting over possible snooping by rivals.

"It's like worrying about anvils dropping on automobiles," said Tippett, founder of Cybertrust Inc., a Herndon, Virginia-based information security services company. "There are all kinds of attacks like these but they are only relevant to top secret organizations."

Monday, September 19, 2005


Getting the disabled parking placard has been an aid to helping my son adjust to my disability. He and I have only used it once that I recall, but almost every time I pick him up or drop him off at school, he mentions something about whether or not we're parking in the disabled space, and then says something like: "You don't use a wheelchair because you can walk. But you just have a limp." He doesn't say the exact same thing every time, but that's the script. I think it helps him adjust.

One day recently, after I'd been to the physical therapist, I said at dinner that my PT had said that day that the same problem of the signals from my brain getting to my muscles also has an effect on my speaking. The PT said no such thing, but I wanted to get the topic out there in front of the kids, who I think must notice a difference between how I talk and how everyone else does. I'm slow all the time and often slurred. As a metric, I counted out loud to 15 as quickly as I could just now, and it took 4.1 seconds. I think you can do it faster.

My lovely wife, who I had not warned about this ploy, played along very well. She said it stands to reason, since the tongue is a muscle like any other. I asked my son if he thought my speech was slower. He said "Maybe," in a way that sounded to me like, "Yes, but I don't want to hurt your feelings."

Mission accomplished.

By the way, you may wonder why I focus so much on helping my son adjust, and don't talk much about my daughter adjusting. I care just as much about her, but she accepts me more readily because she's not yet three, while her brother, being almost six, provides much of the intellectual and emotional leadership, and helps frame her consciousness. By strategizing for his adjustment, I can also take care of her.

Sunday, September 18, 2005


Because everyone loves it, and it's the most popular computer game of all time, and because of the shocking fact that 60 percent of players are women, I bought a copy of The Sims. I love simulations, and strategy, and I'm open to a more social, less-linear game.

But I found it tedious and dull. After doing the tutorial rounds, I poked around and decided to play this pair of grandparents. They're probably in their 60s, and I figured they're retired and had a steady income. I bought them a bed and a refrigerator, and had them make friends with passersby. They soon grew unhappy and irritable. They wanted a well-decorated home, but I'd spent all their money already. I had to spent a ridiculous amount of time reminding them to eat, sleep, and use the bathroom.

The female character had dreams and aspirations of learning new things. The male character had an aspiration to have sex with at least three other Sims.

I couldn't even keep them fed, much less get them laid. I failed.

So then I played the same couple again. I think that their aspirations change each time you play them, because this time the old guy just wanted expensive things. I had them find jobs right away, I decorated their house nicely, and I tried to watch their bladders and other comfort carefully.

But I still failed. They get upset over the stupidest things, like when they can't reach the phone because a chair is in the way. I woke up from a gaming coma after a few hours of trying to keep these people happy, and I didn't feel entertained.

Am I the only one?

Saturday, September 17, 2005

I've had a small debate with a soldier in Iraq who has found Islam to be bad, and declared his intent to solve the problem:

"I wish to point out that one man, Mohammed, started this mess so it should logically be possible for one man to stop it. Me."

This is my reply to his reply to my comment:


> Evil is a subjective term. I said
> Islam was flawed, violent, and corrupt.

I consider that evil, but if you did not use that word, then my apologies. I hope you'll forgive me if I sum these up, in my own mind, as 'evil.'

'Flawed,' 'violent,' and 'corrupt' are also subjective terms, depending on your role in the transaction. We can well imagine the accused considering themselves instead as 'forgiven', 'heroic' and 'pragmatic.'

Religion tends to make people see things differently, that way. To take a page from Anonymous, what's the better religion, in your view? Or if you don't have one, what would a good religion look like (not just what it wouldn't look like)?

>it does no one any good to debate
>arguments you've created yourselves.

Good point. However, the audio clips you referenced, as well as your own views on Islam, appear to me to be carefully-cultivated 'created' arguments.

>Jesus never told anyone to
>go kill in his name, Mohammed did.

Where exactly did he instruct people to kill in his name? Remember the "in his name" part please.

Mohammed made clear that though he was a prophet, he was just a man, not a god or a son of a god. As a mere man, he engaged in commerce, and even war. Naturally, from the viewpoint of his followers, he was attacked, and only defended himself. From your view, he started a war of aggression. You're in the middle of a war right now in which many people over there see you as a crazed, anti-Islamic Crusader and aggressor.

Getting back to 'created' arguments, if I focused on Jesus' "I come not to bring peace, but to bring a sword," statement, and said that objectively proves he advocates violence, I could garner quite a few objections from Christians who explain away the apparent "problem."

Likewise, your referenced author devotes considerable energy to explaining into existence various "problems" for Islam which the faithful would just as readily explain away.

Right and wrong are subjective when religion is involved. So much for your historical evidence.

>Then you illogically revert back
>to "Islam is a religion of peace" like a
>drunken parrot on societies shoulder.
>Where is your proof?

My proof is the millions of Moslems around the world right now who are peaceful and see Islam as a religion of peace.

>I showed that the founder of the
>religion, culture, law, himself introduced
>it as a violent mean of subjugating
>populations and it has spread by those
>means ever since Mohammed did it himself.

You showed that your opinion is such.

>I encourage you, and everyone
>else, to do independent research
>outside the realm of popular american media.

Good plan. I'm part way there; I don't even watch TV.

Friday, September 16, 2005


It occurred to me that I can plan my own memorial.

I am a weird, creative, unconventional person who likes a joke, often at the expense of accepted custom. And yet I am also a calm, conventional person who likes the familiar customs.

I wanted to have a weird memorial, but one which didn't frighten or offend my more conventional friends and family. There was a tension.

Wednesady night, I woke up and could not get back to sleep. This doesn't happen often. Then the idea hit me, and I cried a little, quietly, in bed, not because it was sad, but because it was so beautiful.

I didn't want my sobs to prevent my lovely wife from sleeping, so I went to the computer and typed these notes.

I love high-power rocketry, the hobby. The beautiful idea is that if I die, my remains will be cremated into ashes, and one of my buddies in the hobby will launch my ashes into the air at several hundred miles an hour, scattering them from an altitude of several thousand feet, under the supervision of my sister.

I'll have to create detailed procedures for how to handle contingencies, such as a "cato" (motor failure) that destroys the rocket. That will be fun.

Pasted on the inside of the ashes bay will be a picture of my lovely wife and children, waving to me. My ashes will pass this picture as they leave the rocket to be scattered across the Earth.

All of this is doubtless illegal.

The goal is to scatter my ashes forever. But the rocket will be recovered by parachute as usual, to be given to my lovely wife and children as a memento.

Before the launch, at my more conventional memorial, certain friends and family will have the option to donate a hair from their head, or a tiny clipping of hair (less than a square centimeter), to be mixed in with my ashes in the ashes bay in the rocket. I'll be symbolically joined with these people when the rocket releases me at apogee.

One of the steps will be this dialog that I'll write into the launch procedures, to be delivered at the time the rocket altimeter is switched on:

Sister: [Sweetly] We love you brainhell. Enjoy your final frontier.
Rocketeer: [Curtly] All right you little bastard, we're going to give you a wild ride.

Creative, loving, respectful, unconventional, disrespectful, and fun.

Cool, huh?

Thursday, September 15, 2005


The current chess game has been running on the wall for a few days. I made my move, and my son turned around and looked at the board.

"I know what you're going to do," he said.


"You're going to take my pawn at F3."

"Right. And what does that do?"

"It puts my king in check and it makes a fork, so you can take my rook or my pawn."

Needless to say, I praised him up and down. Trying to predict the other player's move is a major component of success in chess.

By the way, the PT did ask around at the hospital and they calibrate their grip dynamometer once a year. They think that mine is probably more accurate than theirs. She said one guy told her that theirs was about 20 pounds too generous (on the right). That was my experience. In any case, it's better to have a consistent yardstick.

Left grip is 28 pounds (27, 25, 28), right grip is 81 pounds (76, 74, 81), left leg balance is 5.07 seconds, and inhale volume is 4400 mL.


Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Comparative victory analysis

Sunday's story:

TAL AFAR, Iraq - Insurgents melted into the countryside around Tal Afar, the militant stronghold near the Syrian border, and guns fell silent Sunday — the second day of an offensive by 5,000 Iraqi soldiers backed by 3,500 American troops and armor.


On the first day of the push into the city Saturday, troops conducted house-to-house searches and U.S. armor battered down stone walls in the narrow, winding streets of the old city.

After stiff initial resistance, insurgents in the largely ethnic Turkmen city of 200,000 had vanished. Tal Afar is about 60 miles from the Syrian border in northwestern Iraq.


Col. H.R. McMasters, commander of the American contingent of 3,500 U.S. troops from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, said the ancient Sarai neighborhood — thought to be insurgent headquarters — was nearly deserted when the fighting died down late Saturday.

"The enemy decided to bail out," he said.

Monday's story:

TAL AFAR, Iraq (Reuters) - The Iraqi army has killed up to 200 insurgents in Tal Afar, military officials said on Monday, as troops continued mopping up suspects in the northern town.


Abdelaziz Jasim, the defense ministry official in charge of operations in Tal Afar, said his forces were nearly in control of western areas of the city.

"Overall 157 terrorists have been killed and 291 arrested since the beginning of the operations," he told a news briefing in Baghdad.

"We have cleared Sarai totally and now we will clear other neighborhoods," a senior officer in Tal Afar, who gave his name only as Colonel Khalaf, told Reuters, referring to a central district at the heart of the insurgency.

"Under our plan, by Thursday the city should be clear and safe," he added.

The Monday story doesn't mention anything about when they 'vanished,' or when or how they re-materialized.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Najaf, Louisiana

I don't get much radio or TV, but one thing that hasn't been much discussed is how many of the local police and other officials responding to Katrina had been rotated through Iraq in National Guard units. You hear the stories of them driving at high speed past the victims, windows rolled up or guns pointed out, and it sounds so much like Iraq. The Iraq experience may have informed their response. Add in racism and fear of the poor, and you see why the sheriffs refused to let people cross the bridge out of flooded New Orleans and over to dry land. They wanted to keep the angry, dangerous Negroes out of the good places. The Black people became the enemy. It's like "Queen for a day," only in reverse. A city's entire stratum of underprivileged African Americans became, for a week, honorary hajis.

Monday, September 12, 2005


Friday I was at the appointment with the young, pretty, creamy, buxom and nice physical therapist1, when she pulled out a grip dynamometer. It was exactly the same model as the one I have, even the same color.

She had me do best out of three on both hands, the scores, if I recall correctly, were right: 98, 100, 99, and left: 38, 39, 40. Back at home the same day, the best I could do on the right was 80. And as you know, typically my best on the left is around 30.

We deduced, the nubile PT and I, that the dynamometer they have there at the hospital is calibrated differently from mine. I did inquire about having them maybe calibrate mine so that it matches theirs. She had already thought of that.

If it does come to pass, I'll have to start my graphs all over again. The data going forward can be interpreted using a factor.

She's leaving town, for another assignment, at the end of the month.

John Galt,

> " not accepting or asking for help from the Feds early enough..."

They asked for it before the storm and got it before the storm. It was federalized at that point.

> "...this country’s socialists would rather spend our tax-payer’s money on..."

Your language brings to mind the mirror statement: "This country's fascists would rather waste money on a war that is undermining global security."

> "The quarterback in this case is the Mayor and Governor not anyone in Washington."

The only governmental player once the state of emergency was accepted was the federal government. Harry S. Truman, a real president, used to say "the buck stops here." Bush has never stopped a buck in his life. He's trying to duck his Katrina failure the way he ducked Vietnam and 9/11. But he owns it, period. And no amount of lying changes the way the laws and rules work. He failed. He failed. He failed. And people died, as usual with this excuse for a man.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Stop finger pointing

Yesterday I heard Ira Glass of This American Life say that since Washington agreed to the state of emergency declaration for Louisiana on Saturday, August 27, two days before Katrina made landfall, the feds at that point had all the authority they needed to take any steps needed to protect people. He added that the new laws and regulations empowering the Department of Homeland Security gave the feds the power to do what they needed, regardless of the state of emergency. To me, this means that certainly by the point of the declaration being accepted, the feds owned the disaster. Period. So let's not engage in post-disaster finger pointing. We don't need to. All responsibility for mismanagement accrues to George W. Bush.

Remember August 6!

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Dad's problem

Once when I was a small boy (my guess is less than seven), there seemed to be something wrong with my father's hand, or wrist. He seemed to have trouble doing the things he normally did. There was some gesture he did at the table (which I have since forgotten), that particularly revealed the problem. It may have been in using some table instrument like a corkscrew, or imparting a certain flick to a shaker.

Anyway, I watched him when he did this thing, because I was curious about his disability. I don't recall asking him about it. I probably didn't. If I had, he likely would have denied that he had a problem, or intimidated me to drop the subject.

Despite not remembering what the gesture that revealed his disability was, I do recall that he noticed me observing him do it, and gave me a sour look. After that, he refrained from the gesture. I couldn't gather any good data on his problem. I suppose there was some form of worry motivating me, but I was mostly curious. I did occur to me that he was refraining from doing the revealing operation because he didn't want me to see his problem. I now think I was right.

The whole duration of this episode may have been as short as a few weeks, but it also could have been months.

One day during this period, after he had been refraining from the table gesture for quite a while, we had guests over. He was talking expansively and forgot himself. He picked up the table object (whatever it was), and performed the gesture. His hand or wrist still exhibited that problem, which I now think of as looking disabled. I was pleased that he slipped up, and pleased to get data.

He saw my look and gave me another sour look of his own.

I don't know what the problem was. Maybe he fell and hurt his wrist, and wasn't admitting it to himself or anyone else. But he got over it.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Gesture without motion

One thing I've noticed about the Bush supporters, is that they defend his failures by saying that he tried, or at least did not get in the way. For them, that's good enough.

For example, they'll say that he didn't object to the evacuation order for New Orleans.

But, on the other hand, when attacking Bush critics, the standard is higher. Bush supporters expect not just gestures, but results.

They'll ask, why didn't the mayor evacuate the city? The mayor issued an evacuation order, and if that had been Bush's role, that would have been good enough for his supporters.

But in the case of the mayor, they want everyone out of the city, even the unwilling and unable.

They'd like to blame the mayor for the deaths and credit the president for the rescues.

He may not be actively drinking, but we have an unrecovered alcoholic in the White House.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Like a baby

My wonderful daughter started preschool not long ago. She had visited before, with one of us in the wings, but this was her first full day. She was so eager and absorbed when I dropped her off that she barely noticed me kiss her goodbye. She had a good day. My lovely wife picked her up, while I picked up my son at kindergarten. I am so proud of both of them, and happy for them.

My daughter has commented several times recently that I walk "like a baby." She has asked me why I walk "like this," and indicated unsteadiness. Kids of this age like to ask the same question many times, and I think they find the repeated answer reassuring.

I tell her "I walk like that because my nerves are not sending the messages to my muscles correctly." I assume that most of that is over her head, but the routine nature of the question, and my answer, is, I think, reassuring to both my kids. I know it reassures me.

What she says then is "OK," in a forgiving way.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


One day I got a bit annoyed with all those spoof emails that arrive saying that I need to update account information for my eBay or PayPal account. They're just scammers fishing for credit card numbers.

Then I realized how I could get a small amount of revenge: Click on the link and enter fake credit card information!

Using the name of a 9/11 hijacker, I did this. The page, with no lag for processing, kept asking me to enter valid card numbers. I counted the number of digits on my card, and entered the right number of fake digits. Still, it asked me to enter valid numbers. That kept happening.

Then I realized that even if you were fool enough to enter your real credit card number, the page would probably still ask you to enter a valid number. That's an efficient tactic when they don't care about you wasting your time, and just want numbers. It works because, if you have entered an invalid number, this error message makes you double-check it and correct it. And if you haven't made an error, you confirm the valid information by posting it again. The bad guys win.

Next time I do it, I will first look up the names of people on the FBI's Most Wanted list. Maybe someone using the name to test the credit card number will attract a little attention.

Left grip is 29 pounds (26, 27, 29), right grip is 85 pounds (78, 81, 85), left leg balance is 6.19 seconds, and inhale volume is 4400 mL.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


We were at a friend's house and my boy was talking to the lady. In the course of the afternoon I noticed my kindergartner correctly use the words: theme, mechanism, display, and principle. This was ordinary conversation; he wasn't trying to be fancy. There are a couple of things going on here, one: He's smart as a firecracker, and two: We don't simplify our explanations or vocabulary when talking to the kids.

But we're going to work on the diplomacy a little, because as we were leaving, he asked her, "Do you dye your hair so that people won't know you're old?" She laughed and answered "Yes!"

Left grip is 34 pounds (26, 34, 33), right grip is 84 pounds (78, 84, 76), left leg balance is 7.24 seconds, and inhale volume is 4300 mL.

Monday, September 05, 2005

309 survive

When that plane crashed on the runway in Canada, and everyone on board survived, we read about how they struggled through the smoky cabin, stumbling and tripping over obstacles and one another. I thought about how my lovely wife often tries to help me, tries to help any person. I made her promise that if we were ever in an emergency where quick evacuation was imperative, that she save the children and leave me behind.

I've always been lucky, and I tend to get by, especially when I have only myself to worry about. Whatever the disaster is, chances are that I'll come crawling out of the rubble.

True agony would be if my lovely wife stayed behind in an effort to help me, despite my telling her to leave, and our children got hurt.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Read the instructions

Let the word go forth from this time and place: Never use Liquid Plumber in a toilet!

To cut a long story short, in my continuing battle against the Evil One1, I made a low-altitude pass over the city of Dresden Wednesday morning, leaving the city in ruins. Good news so far, but the toilet was plugged and did not respond to the plunging I administered, as I so often have to due to the manly nature of my poops.

It's a small house and the only other toilet we have is in the interrogation room downstairs. That one's not working well because I am in the process of repairing it. There's a small leak from the tank, not the bowl. Throughout the course of the day, my lovely wife and children bravely made trips down the stairs to relieve themselves.

We have an old house with weird old toilets, and the auger I bought at the hardware store did not seem to fit the geometry of the toilet. I should have gone back and gotten a wire snake.

While the kids were out of the house I variously put dishwashing soap, and boiling water into the toilet. This seemed to help, as the draining got faster, though you still couldn't flush it without risking an overflow. After I dumped two liters of tonic water with quinine in the bowl, on the theory that fizzy bubbles might help, the draining occurred within about three minutes.

You still couldn't flush it safely, though, so after dinner we decided I should get some Drano. I got Professional Strength Liquid Plumber Gel ("Safe for all Pipes.") I told my lovely wife that none of the Drano-type products on the shelf mentioned toilets, all sticking daintily to the subject of sinks. I skimmed the label on the back, and showed it to her. She informed me that because it said "Do not use with ammonia, toilet-bowl cleaners, or other non-Liquid Plumber drain openers," that implied that one could use it on toilets -- because it mentions toilet bowl cleaners. I said you could conceivably use a toilet bowl cleaner in a sink, but she dismissed this concern.

After letting the miracle gel sit in the bowl for 15 minutes, I tried flushing the toilet. It filled up, and did not drain. At all. That's when I noticed that tiny print on the instruction label says "Do not use in toilets."

I went at it with rubber gloves and a rusty phillips screwdriver. Yes, you faint of heart, by this time the waters were clear, not brown. It was like concrete down there.

I called a plumbing outfit in the yellow pages. The lady would not give me a price estimate, and referred me to a man who also would not. I believe in being a customer who gives useful feedback to service providers, so I thanked him and called another place. The lady who answered was already giggling with her coworkers, and when I asked her what the price would be for someone to come out in the morning she importantly informed me that no one could come out tonight, and it would have to be in the morning. I believe in being a customer who gives useful feedback to service providers, so I thanked her and called another place. They told me exactly what the price would be per hour, and that they have a one-hour minimum. I made the appointment.

It took the guy about one minute to clear the clog, using an auger quite similar to the one I have. He said any auger, such as mine, should be able to clear any toilet, but that you just have to do it right, and I may not have been familiar with the technique. I was also weak as a kitten. I've spoken to my wife, and if this should ever happen again (heaven forfend!), We'll operate the auger as a team.


Left grip is 31 pounds (26, 31, 30), right grip is 81 pounds (80, 81, 75), left leg balance is 8.22 seconds, and inhale volume is 4500 mL.

Verily, I have fallen into the habit of skipping several days at a time of recording my metrics. You could say I am avoiding the reality of my decline, and I wouldn't dispute it. But I don't feel discouraged at all. I get busy with family events, and I've placed less emphasis on getting daily metrics. I guess that I feel that I can do them whenever curious. The gaps in the data represent days I've skipped.

Saturday, September 03, 2005


We don't watch TV, and instead get our news from the internet and NPR. But it's not as though we haven't noticed the story of this major hurricane disaster.

I haven't seen the pictures, but the words are bad enough. The story illustrates a few things, in my opinion:

  1. People with money and belongings escape and survive a disaster for which there is a warning, and poor people remain behind to suffer.

  2. Men (who standard lefty grammar would refer to as 'males' in this sentence) ... men are the source of violence in this world, except for the very small fraction of violence that women perpetrate.

  3. Despite our wealth and privilege, there is nothing inherent to Americans which makes us different from other people in the world. When the power goes out and food is scarce, we become desperate refugees just like anywhere else.

  4. This disaster brings home the kind of suffering that some of us, from our position of comfort, are willing to consign others to. How many abandoned cars in New Orleans have jingoistic bumper stickers on them?

  5. The web of civilization is thin.

  6. Good people outnumber bad people.

  7. Stupid people outnumber smart people.

  8. Bad men with guns have a negative impact on society all out of proportion to their numbers.

  9. Racism isn't just limited to calling someone by the n-word, it's a systematic neglect of an entire people, built into a society so deep that actual bigots are not required in order to sustain the cycle. One of Dr. Lizardo's students sent her a case in point. You've heard that horses sweat, men perspire, and women glow. Well it turns out that white people "find" food in stores in New Orleans, but black people "loot" it. Honest, click here.

  10. Federal government is inept and unimaginative in anticipating or responding to catastrophe, but particularly so when the Republicans in charge instantiate the desires of dim-witted, hate-filled Crusaders.

  11. Aside from the escape of the propertied, this event serves as a good example of what will happen to regions of our country if a terrorist succeeds in detonating a nuclear bomb in one of our cities. It also hints that the people currently in charge in Washington have done nothing to prevent or respond to such an event.

  12. Recovery will be simple, as soon as the factors and means can be identified by which William Jefferson Clinton bears responsibility for the disaster.


Friday, September 02, 2005

Always right

My son was making a 'house' out of a narrow, tall cardboard box as high as the top of his hip. When he climbed into it and stood balancing precariously on the hardwood floor, I said I would help him by moving it to the rug, which would cushion his falls. He agreed, but then immediately objected when I moved it. He was going to move it when he was ready. Presumably after more climbing in on the hard floor. I moved it anyway, and he worked on it for a bit, then climbed in, and fell over on the rug. He was unhurt. My mind started to work up a "See? The rug cushioned you!"

"See?" he said, "That's why I didn't want it on the rug, because the rug makes me fall! It's looser."

I remember when I was in that phase, of always maintaining that I was right, even when I knew I was wrong, following the dictum of Just Say Anything, no matter how silly it is.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Wall chess

My son's first day of kindergarten seemed to go well. In his preschool days, he adopted the Black Hole defense in response to any questions about his day, and I only got information out of him that he would volunteer in unexpected moments. This time I plan not to ask him, hoping not to cement him into silence.

He seemed relaxed on the way in and on the way out. A couple of times back at home, he spontaneously said "Kindergarten is fun." He said that they mostly played, and didn't do a lot of reading. He has two friends in the class, and one more in the next class over.

The wall chess set I ordered came today. My intent is to keep him thinking about chess, make it spontaneously available, and enable us to save games until we are ready to resume them.

When I showed it to him, all he said was "Wow." Then he went back to reading his magazine. Later though, during his snack, he said "Dad, let's play chess!"

We played until he had to go to his swim lesson. The game remained saved on the wall. So far the plan is working.

The other plan that's working is introducing to him the idea of my being disabled. I told him I noticed a disabled parking space right in front of his school, and added that my doctor says that I could get a disabled parking placard, "since I have trouble walking, due to my nerve signal propagation problem." That's the language I used.

He's at the age where making up rules and following rules (just not his parents' rules) is really fascinating to him. So he responded enthusiastically that I should get a placard, and then we could use it to park in front of school, or other places, if there was only the disabled space left. So I theatrically told my lovely wife that I would order one. In about a week, I'll produce it.

You might wonder why the deceit. I did it this way so that my having the placard, my being officially disabled, is not sprung on him as an unpleasant surprise, yet one more thing beyond his control. Now he knows what's coming, and he'll be fine with it.

Notice: The Peoples' Revolutionary Internet Kangaroo Court (PRIKC!) hereby drops all charges against Architect Boy and releases him to the custody of Lefty Grrrl, subject to the condition that he obey all her commands and submit to meticulous examination of his motives, and random strip searches.
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