Sunday, April 30, 2006

Jansenists' assessment

On the last night of his recent visit with us, as he was doing our dishes after dinner, I asked Jansenist to write up a report of his observations about my condition. The great thing is that I knew he could be honest without trying to "be nice" and hide the truth. He wrote:

"This is in response to your request for my observations.

I am not optimistic this will be very helpful to you, but
here goes.

1) I did not make a point of observing you closely. As a result of your blog and what I've read about ALS, I felt like I already knew how you would look, move, etc. So in large part I am simply going to tell you what you've already told me.

Compared with my 2005 visit.

2) Walking is much more difficult. It has to be done very carefully, slowly and deliberately. In 2005, you had a fast limp.

3) Speech is much more difficult to understand, though occasionally quite clear. In 2005, it was a little deliberate but I recall no difficulty understanding you.

4) Eating seems to be much more difficult. I didn't spend a lot of energy making sure you weren't choking ... but I would guess the possibility of choking is a constant concern during meals now. I remember you moving your head forward and down occasionally in 2005 as you ate.

5) Your appearance (when still) has not changed in any significant way I can think of from 2005.

6) I suspect your energy level has declined from 2005, but this is conjecture not observation. In 2005, you mentioned feeling a bit worn out one afternoon and rested a bit.

7) One day I came into the computer room and noticed you gently swaying side to side as you looked at the computer screen. I wondered why. I thought, "Well, maybe it is easier to remain sitting if he does that." But I didn't ask. I don't remember seeing this at all in 2005.

8) You seemed to make a little less eye contact in 2006 sometimes when we talked. I wondered why and thought perhaps this helped keep the lability under control.

9) In both 2005 and 2006 I noticed that you would repeat the same phrases when managing the kids. In 2005 I recall you saying "Son, please eat your breakfast or put your dish in the sink." In 2006 at dinner one night you repeatedly said to your daughter, "Lower your voice." Your speech had a mechanical quality to it on both occasions. I was puzzled by it. I didn't know if this was your parenting style or whether using the same phrase over and over made speaking easier.

10) I don't remember you spitting in 2005.

11) Sometimes now you put your head down on a table or rug by bending at the waist. I don't recall this at all in 2005.

12) I think you gave me the "L" sign for ALS laughter one time during my 2006 stay. You did it quite a bit in 2005. In 2005 your laughter was inappropriate on at least one occasion. In 2006 it did not ever seem inappropriate. It just seemed easier to make you laugh."

Saturday, April 29, 2006

State Secrets

On April 8, in the Hooah Wife blog, I posted regarding an EFF lawsuit against AT&T alleging that the company was assisting the government to massively spy on domestic phone calls. (This would tend to rip down the fig leaf about spying only on Al Qaeda calls with US citizens).

Well now the government intends to quash the civil suit by invoking the rarely-used "State Secrets Privilege."

Friday, April 28, 2006

Cry if you want

So last Friday my special wife took me to the paleodentist1 so that he could take an impression for a palatal lift. He ground four notches in my upper teeth which I could not detect in the mirror at home, but which were unpleasant in the making. Then he put goo in my mouth that had to stay in for four minutes. The first time he put the goo in the back of my throat I thought I was being asphyxiated, so I pulled it out and ruined the mold. Then he used another type of goo application technique and that went well enough, despite some anxiety I had about access to air, and one moment when it was difficult to swallow.

Then my brilliant wife accompanied me down the stairs and out of the building. I've seen plenty of 90-year-olds who are more spry than I am. I move like I'm 100 years old, very slowly and stiffly. As she was helping me down the stairs it struck me how far I've declined. It seemed unfair to me that she should be subjected to this. My mind formulated it in these terms: What happened to your husband? She married a youthful, vigorous 36-year-old, and now less than seven years later she's taking care of a 100-year-old. It seemed like a theft to me, and tears welled in my eyes, behind the sunglasses. A couple of times in the parking lot I tried to say that I was sorry. But my voice broke and we wound up hugging.

The wailing, crying, and angry sobs happened in the car, while my capable wife drove us home, trying to understand what I was screaming and crying about. "Unfair?" She'd ask. "Internet?" I was not only sad and angry about my condition, I was also frustrated at how hard it is to communicate. The bit about the internet made me laugh and sob at the same time. I think I was trying to say something like "This is bullshit!" but I don't remember now.

I wailed and cried for about 10 minutes in the car, but started flying level as we neared home. People with ALS often suffer from lability -- uncontrollable laughing or crying brought on by neurological deterioration -- even though the patient may not find the situation particularly sad or funny.

I concluded that my weeping and wailing was genuine, but triggered by the stress of anxiety over asphyxiation during the impression procedure.

Inwardly I felt somewhat sad, but not to the extent my dramatic keening would indicate.

I'm not going to take Namenda.

Left grip is 25 pounds (25, 25, 24), right grip is 59 pounds (57, 58, 59). I don't know how to explain the drop in right grip strength.


Thursday, April 27, 2006

Moonie agent in the White House?

New White House spokesperson Tony Snow was editorial page editor of the Moonie cult's flagship newspaper, The Washington Times. You don't have to be a member of the cult, of course, to work at the paper. But being editorial page editor is an important position, and must have brought him in very close consultation with the cult leaders, as he sought to advance their agenda. Are you comfortable having a possible Moonie agent with access to the highest levels of government? I'm not.

Left grip is 27 pounds (24, 24, 27), right grip is 65 pounds (63, 65, 65).

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Indian Chris contributes to the blog of the fetching Greta, Hooah Wife.

Indian Chris in his own words

Friday, December 05, 2003
Calling people who like Bush ugly. Sounds like an insult to me. And we all know that insults are the language of the ignorant. (emphasis added.)

Friday, April 30, 2004
This is about those two cowards who ran up there to hide. I love and respect the men and woman of the military, but these two are gutless pieces of crap.

Thursday, April 15, 2004
Q: Is it rude to call a Frenchman a frog?
A: Yes, it is unfair to amphibians

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Monday, May 17, 2004

Tuesday, May 04, 2004
Remember that woman who sued McDonalds because she spilled hot coffee on her lap while driving? Duh you stupid cow.

Thursday, January 29, 2004
How many times do we have to keep telling these morons that Bush never said that.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Monday, January 16, 2006
Al Gore's An Idiot

And here's Indian Chris on the price of gas:

Monday, February 16, 2004
People thought that we were going to war in Iraq so we could steal their oil. Well, here's some proof to the contrary. In the past three weeks, the price of gas has went up 3.61 cents a gallon. That's up 17 cents a gallon since late December, which raises the average price to $1.69 a gallon for regular. Now, if were stealing the oil from Iraq wouldn't that mean we would be getting our oil dead cheap?

Monday, March 15, 2004
I just heard some great news. Oklahoma has the lowest average gas prices in the countries. We're paying around $1.58 a gallon. We're number 1, we're number 1, we're....we're number 50, we're number 50. Good thing we're stealing that Iraqi oil, isn't it. If we weren't, well hell, we'd be paying something like $2.00 a gallon. I love this cheap gas.

Here we learn that Abraham Lincoln is not considered 'white:'

Friday, February 27, 2004

...But look at the cartoon. What is it trying to tell you? What I get out of it is that only white people are racist. The white guy has an angry look on his face, one fist is clenched and he's pointing at the black woman's butt.

(I think the angry guy is yelling at the kid on the far right).

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Hermetic ideologies

Yesterday my beautiful wife and I went to the ALS clinic. They have a sexy lady doctor there who certainly gets my attention. My stunning wife is the more desirable, but this doctor is also very easy on the eyes. All of her. And how.

My FVC was up to 78 percent, as compared with 74 percent last time. My weight is up half a pound to 132.2 pounds. My speech rate was 124 words per minute as compared to my best score of 198. My intelligibility was 94 percent as compared to 100.

I gave four vials of blood to some studies. It's easy with the port in.

Please opine:

If you don't want Jesus, that means you really need Jesus
Free polls from

If you don't want psychiatry, you really need psychiatry.
Free polls from

My view is that I have the right to make the life choice whether to submit to your religion or to your psychiatry. Some of my readers say it's not just me who suffers for lack of Jesus, it's my whole family, especially the children. The people at the clinic see my life choice to shun psychiatry as a sign of psychological ailments, syndromes I could get over with a little counseling.

From the sociological standpoint, I see religion and psychiatry as two arms of the same beast: Social control. The sexy lady doctor was only partly joking when she said that if I don't get a feeding tube installed in my stomach, she's going to threaten me with psychiatrists.

I think they think that I'm in some deep denial when I say that I've always been chipper and don't feel that I need a mood stabilizer. The sexy lady doctor has a memory that I said I had mood problems, and that's part of why she prescribed the Namenda. This is despite the several conversations I had with her to the opposite.

Who is delusional?

They want me to get a stomach tube, despite my weight remaining stable, because it takes me so long to eat a meal (30 to 45 minutes). Constantly repeating that the whole family is involved in my illness, they want me to submit myself and my kids to counseling.

Some of my readers are therapists. Counseling is great -- for those who want it, just as Jesus is great -- for those who want it.

Neither fits me, and I won't let you impose either on me or my kids, thank you.

Like many people who deal with me, they're baffled by my openness and willingness to listen and understand other points of view. Usually this means that a person is tractable, that they'll play along, and "be nice." But in my case I know what my values and life choices are. I say no when something doesn't suit my value system.

They take this as some combination of control disorder, denial, and paranoia. They begin to try to pry up the edges of my position by asking me why. Then, they can pathologize my answers. Instead, I just say that I don't have to give a reason. This stuns them, but they've agreed (so far).

Thankfully this is still a free country, sort of.

Toward the end of the sexy lady doctor's time with us, she referred to my adorable wife as "your lovely wife." It could have been mere coincidence, or she could have found my blog. But she wasn't arch or ironic about it, so probably not.

Left grip is 22 pounds (20, 22, 22), right grip is 64 pounds (63, 64, 60).

Monday, April 24, 2006


Blogger was on the fritz most of the morning, hence the delay in this post.

I know when to fight, but I also know when to cave -- which is to say when I want to cave. My Canon PS A520 seemed like a very nice camera until it's flash stopped working synchronously with the 'shutter.' This was only about six months after I bought it. I did a little research online and it did not seem that this was a widespread defect. So I dug out the warranty card I had carefully saved, which said that warranty service would be denied unless the warranty card and origiinal receipt were presented. The cheating goons! They know that almost no one saves the receipt, and they figure that will save them money on repairs and replacement.

I decided to buy a camera of a different brand. But this resolve slowly faded as I realized that the memory stick and batteries for another brand would likely be different from the ones I had already paid for.

I decided to buy the same camera again, use the big memory stick and the battery system, and ... cave. As always, I have a passive-agressive plan for revenge. I'll use the reciept from the new camera, and send in the old camera for reapirs. They might fix it, or they might spend a few staff minutes rejecting my claim. Either way, I win.

I think.

It arrived on Thursday, and the first picture I took with it was a shot of my ear, which I sent to Femi-Mommy.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Example

Last night I took my first 'ox bile.' It's cattle bile. 500 mg. As far as I know, it's not constipating. They say to take it once a day with food. The hope is to mitigate against possible gall stones brought on my constant ceftriaxone infusions.

I switched to Firefox yesterday and will go with it unless it ticks me off.

Jansenist is a great parent. He's got experience working with mentally disturbed kids. After he got back home, he sent me an email about his dealing with my son, which I print with permission here.

Paying attention to children is an excellent control
technique. When a kid knows that an adult is responsive,
helping them to get what they want and need, attentive to their concerns and observations, the child has no reason to be disruptive or annoying.

All disruptive behavior is essentially a variation on
screaming. And who screams, adult or child, when they feel listened to?

Of course, you have to be paying attention before the blowup occurs...

Had I used attention with yoour son when he was bouncing the ball against the wall, I might have avoided the whole heavy handed intervention that followed.

As soon as I saw him bouncing the ball against the walls in your house, I should have asked him if he wanted to roll the ball across the floor with me, or play with it outside.

Calling to your [sexy, stunning] wife, "Is he allowed to bounce the ball, blah blah blah..." wasn't respectful on my part. And neither was taking the ball away when he did it again. So he escalated. Tit for tat.

Same with grabbing his arm and pulling the fork from his hand the night before. He was behaving in a dangerous manner and needed to be stopped quickly, but not in such a disrespectful and rough way. I could have hugged him from behind with my left arm, held his right forearm steady with my right (which would have prevented him from hurting himself or anyone else with the fork) and said something good natured like, "Hey, bud, how about putting that down before you go running over to your sister?" At least then he would have had the chance to put it down himself, giving him a greater sense of control.

He responded to my action by leaving the room for a few
minutes, then coming back and grabbing the fork and running from the room. He repaid aggessiveness with defiance (the human race needs more of that!), but could have gotten hurt running with the fork.

I was still stressed from the pencil incident during the croquet game. Too stressed to do my best work.

Saturday, April 22, 2006


I recently sent this response to a reader:

Thanks for your email about doubt, faith, and God (with a smattering of Jesus). Through some stroke of biochemistry, life experience, reading, and thought, I am blessed with an appreciation of life, the souls of others, and happiness. I am content. And although I do take some credit for doing the hard work to get here, I think that the major credit goes to biochemistry. I just happen to be cheerful, interested and eager by nature. And so, while I think that Jesus probably did live, and probably did die believing that he was the son of God, I also recognize that even if there never were any such person -- even if it is all a lie -- it is a worthy and valuable human concoction. While organized religion has inflicted greater harm on humanity and human history than good, still, the principle of the major religions (love), reflects well on humanity and has kindled as a small flame throughout the centuries despite the best efforts of churches and political leaders who claim to be religious to snuff out that light. There probably is no afterlife -- which, if you examine the concept carefully, is a vain and selfish thing to desire, as well as a potent concept in the hands of earthly oppressors -- but even if there is an afterlife, no god of love would punish people or withhold from them any comfort in the afterlife based on something as silly as their religious faith while in imperfect corporeal form. The semantics about people not coming to Jesus are just attempts to blame the victim while fleeing the well-documented concept of the Vengeful God. So, though it may seem like self-evident damnation to you when I say it: I don't need faith, or grace, or Jesus, because I'm already blessed. I understand this life and my place in it, and where I fit in the cosmic scheme. I know that sounds impossible to you, because by your definition, everyone needs Jesus whether they know it or not. But I am, and will, be fine. Have faith.

Left grip is 24 pounds (24, 24, 22), right grip is 65 pounds (64, 65, 65).


Friday, April 21, 2006

Libertarian jerk

I defeated the Evil One yesterday at dinner time while my darling wife had the kids at PTA. The Evil One had been massing for three days. After the victory, my throat hurt from all the yelling.

Recently I was playing an unrated game of chess against a guest on ICC. Unrated means that no rating points were at stake. As the game progressed, there was conversation...

brainhell: I voted for Kerry and am playing from California. You?

guest3782: neither

guest3782: I voted Libertarian and am in Maryland

brainhell: ok

brainhell: Among post-WWWII presidents only Nixon had a lower approval rating than Bush

guest3782: so?

brainhell: so

guest3782: who cares?

brainhell: Under the cities lies a heart made of ground but the humans will give no love

guest3782: ehhhh?

brainhell: who cares

guest3782: you got like a disorder?

brainhell: i do

The game was progressing well enough, with no piece advantage to either side, but I was not getting that sense that I was about to win.

brainhell: i am an IV drug user


(I don't think he had time to look at the blog.)

guest3782: ahhhh VERY good

guest3782: a true drain on society

brainhell: yes, the disabled are a drain

guest3782: me I'm TunaSalad playing as a guest and will kick your sorry butt

We were leaving, as a family, to a dinner date. I decided to abandon the game and let him wait out the clock until I forfeited on time. It's a passive-aggressive thing.

I quickly scanned the finger notes for TunaSalad, and he was a much stronger player than me. He would have won. His finger notes said he'd had a dispute with the ICC, and was not renewing his membership. I took a page from a blogger who backs Bush, and compared TunaSalad to a baby:

brainhell: you will not kick my sorry butt

brainhell: "I'm not renewing my membership because of the way I was treated by staff member Drahacik."

brainhell: waaa waa! waaaah!

guest3782: you too hunh?

brainhell: kick my butt now

Then I left the computer and went to dinner with my family.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


I hated Bill Clinton the first time I saw him on TV during the 1992 campaign. They showed him working a crowd, and I just loathed him and his hair. I know why the name 'Slick Willie' has stuck. He just seemed so fake. "No way I'm going to vote for that man," I thought to myself, "I hate him."

I hadn't even heard any of his positions yet. I just disliked him on sight. He became my instant favorite to root against. "Anyone but Clinton, " I said to myself.

But I disliked Reagan and Bush even more. They had driven the national debt sky-high, broken the law, almost got us all killed in nuclear war, supported corrupt regimes, sold weapons to Iran, betrayed promises, harmed the space program, and killed brave American soldiers in fits of incompetence.

So when Clinton was nominated, I held my nose and vote for him, as opposed to Bush.

Coincidentally, but I had forgotten this, an older friend of mine had been friends with Clinton when they were both young. Don't look so shocked. It's not like my friend was rich and powerful. He was a pathetic loser like the rest of us. It doesn't make me important, either. All of us come in contact with droves of insignificant castoffs in their lives -- Why should Bill Clinton be any different?

It just so happened, by chance, that I knew an unimportant person who knew Bill Clinton.

This friend approached me in '88 to '90 -- some year far enough from '92 for me to have forgotten by '92 -- and he said to me: "I have a friend and I am afraid that some day he's going to be president."


He said that this friend of his was a governor, that they had big parties for "friends of Bill," and that so many people were clustered around seeking favors that he, the guy I knew, was being pushed to the side.

"What state?" I said.


"It's very unlikely," I said. "I don't think there's ever been a president from Arkansas, and it's not the kind of leading-edge state like New York or California that's likely to give him the spotlight."

When Clinton was elected I assumed he'd be yet another hollow, corrupt fake. The bit about gays in the military, though fair and right, was political suicide. I could not understand the timing.

But he was willing to use force to stop the murder in Bosnia, and I appreciated that. I also thought that NAFTA, GATT, and the first balanced budget in many years were worthy.

My crazy brother-in-law supported Clinton, but also listened to right-wing talk radio as a hobby. We were driving one day, and my sister and I started talking about Whitewater. "They're trying to make a scandal, but they haven't produced any evidence," I said.

"Yeah," she said, "and what about Hillary?" She and I knew she meant the baseless Rose law firm charges.

"Yeah!" said the BIL, "He's bonking another woman! They sneak him out of the White House in a car so he can have trysts! They've got a rule: No skirts or low-cut blouses around Bill."

We thought the BIL was bonkers. But of all the charges against Clinton, this theme turned out to have some merit.

So, the years went by, and the Clinton people continued doing better and better for the country. The right grew more and more furious. They made clowns of themselves, slinging all the mud they could at Clinton. Bush junior is a failure based on his own track record, but for Clinton they had to make up fantasies.

He had sex with an intern and lied about it. Then he did a great service to the nation and to the future by riding out the cynical and wasteful impeachment process.

In the Clinton years I made one vast mistake: Thinking that Americans could tell good policy from bad, that we knew a decent leader when we saw one.

The fact that the 2000 election was so close, even though Bush lost, goes to show how wrong I was. The right was superb in their manipulations. They won, and America lost. It also didn't hurt them that Al Gore ran from everything he stood for and should have been proud of.

Still, I thought no voter could look at the simpering, arrogant fool that George Bush is, and decide to vote for him.

Oh, how wrong I was.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006



  1. My ambulation has gotten gradually more perilous and impaired since I started the ceftriaxone infusions. I consider this part of the progression that transpired previously, not a result of the treatment. I have had a couple of dramatic falls. One thing that has been going on for a few months is that the left foot tends to try to roll inward. I think that's because the muscles on the inner side of the lower leg are bigger than on the outer side, and with constant clench signals being sent by the nerves, the inside wins over the outside, curling the ankle inward.

  2. Speech may be slightly worse as well, though I'm not sure.


  1. Grip strength improved after starting the minocycline, and has remained elevated despite waffling a bit.

  2. My wedding ring fits! After several years of wearing a shim that compensated for the ring being too big, I have been able to discard the shim and wear the ring without it sliding up and down the finger, threatening to go over the knuckle. I haven't gained a lot of weight, so I'm not sure why this is. Water retention? The fingers don't look any fatter.

  3. I used to have a terrible problem with involuntary laughing. It's been over a month now since I stopped taking the Namenda that is intended to reduce the problem, and while my laughing has increased it is nowhere near as bad as it used to be.

  4. One of the changes in the last six years is a major reduction in my sense of smell, concurrent with a year-long sinus block I had from 2000 to 2001. When I was a kid, they used to make me drink mineral oil, which I hated for its awful flavor. When I started taking mineral oil after my diagnosis, I thought it was flavorless. In the past couple of weeks I have once again noticed an unpleasant flavor. Perhaps my sense of smell is improving. I have no idea if that would be related to ALS or Lyme.

  5. Still sexy.


Tuesday, April 18, 2006


In this note to you, I will apologize and explain. And I hope that after you read this note, you will explain it to your sister.

The explanation is about my laughing. I know that you don't like the kind of laughing that my nerve signal problem produces. You may have noticed that I am laughing more now than I used to. The reason is that I stopped taking pills that help reduce the laughing. I stopped taking the pills because they were also making me constipated. This is called a 'side effect:' when a drug that helps in one way does something else that you don't want it to. I have really had a big problem with constipation, and so I decided to stop taking the pills. This has improved my 'regularity' (how often I poop). It doesn't mean that I will never be constipated. But it does mean that I am less likely to be constipated.

The apology is for doing this without warning you. I know you don't like the laugh. I'm sorry. One reason I am laughing a lot this week is because Jansenist is here. He is fun. If you have any questions about this, you can ask me. Please let your sister know what this note says.



Monday, April 17, 2006


When I was oh maybe 10, I was sitting at the table with the family, enjoying a Twinky for dessert. I had developed an elaborate ritual for eating this treat. I would lick out as much of the cream as I could, with the point of my tongue, bite off the remaining golden breaded part, and continue on, presumedly repeating the cunnilingus-and-nip.

I don't know if you've ever seen a kid savoring rather than gobbling a treat, but it's pretty gross.

Like many kids who are fascinated by themselves, I wanted people to watch, so I began explaining my process.

After I was done, my father said in horror: "Jesus! That's disgusting! It's almost sexual!"

Let's forget the sexual aspect for now. Years later, in junior high school, in the era of Farrah, I noticed that many young women looked the same: they were blond, with the hair swept back, and they were golden, with clear lip gloss. They reminded me of Twinkies. I mentioned this to some friends, who all reacted as if I were daft. "Twinkies?"

Decades later, while watching "Friends" on TV, there was an episode where an older man is rumored to have a young girlfriend in New York.

"Richard has a Twinky in the city!" was the line.

No, I don't think that someone from my junior high remembered my observation and migrated to Hollywood, I think that observations like this are in the zeitgeist -- available to anyone.

I was a big Star Trek fan, so it was also in junior high that when talking to someone who seemed deranged or clueless (I was also the first to field the word "clueless" and the phrase "You're toast!"-- in college), I would say, wonderingly, as if serious: "What ... planet ... are you ... from?" The first person I said this to got angry and retorted "Earth! What do you mean?" But my buddy beside me laughed.

I used this several times until the ostracizing factor got too high, and I stopped. I was trying to fit in, and I didn't think I should advertise that I was a freak.

A short number of years later, "What planet are you from?" became and expression of scorn and rejection. I liked it when it was new.

Left grip is 24 pounds (23, 21, 24), right grip is 65 pounds (63, 61, 65).


Sunday, April 16, 2006

The only time

I was a little boy of about four. My father took me out on the front porch. He gave me a little paper cup. He had a bottle of Coke. He poured a little Coke into the small cup. He told me I could ask him for more any time I wanted, and he would give it to me. He drank from the bottle. I drank from the cup. Mine was gone. I asked for more. He gave me some. I drank it and asked for more. He told me to slow down. I waited a little while and asked for more. He gave me some. I drank it and asked for more. He began to admonish me. I was upset. The Coke was so sweet and so good and I was little. I wanted more! I wanted more! He glared at me and lectured me. Then I waited a very long, long time. Or what must have seemed to a small boy to be a very long, long time, and I asked for more. "No!" he barked, and finished the bottle.

That was the only time we ever did that.

Saturday, April 15, 2006


When I was a kid one of the tools my father had on the rack in the basement was a WWII German paratrooper's knife. No, he didn't wrestle it out of the hands of a bodyguard on the day he killed Hitler. My father was in Europe in WWII, slept in ditches, ate C rations, but he flew a typewriter, if you know what I mean. The Battle of the Bulge was that desperate that Patton marched him and every other warm body he could find toward the lines. Be thankful the battle ended before my father got to the line, or you might not be reading this blog. Or you might be reading it in German.

I think he found the knife in a cave. It was wood and metal and it operated well.

One of the things he said was that everyone was required to carry this waterproof 'air mattress.' But, he said, no one slept on it -- and everyone knew it was a bodybag.

Jansenist left early Friday morning, so the last I saw of him was Thursday night. He's an amazing house guest: He slept on the fold-out sofa, as several other guests have -- but he's the only one who folds up the sofa and even his sheets and blankets every day.

The forces of the Evil One have been massing for an attack, but a series of small-unit actions in the rear have kept him at bay. Now that he's in a fixed position, today I plan to bring in the fast movers -- Citurcel, probiotic and ox bile -- to supplement the daily barrage of mineral oil. Only unconditional surrender will be accepted.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Di-hydrous oxide

Y'all are probably familiar with the social experiment (or political action) wherein somebody gets a bunch of people to sign a petition to ban di-hydrous oxide, which is responsible for killing so many people each year by sealing off their lungs.

It's dangerous stuff. It's water. It's H2O.

This meme has been around since the 1970s, when the conservative movement began striking back in disgust at what it saw as the excesses of environmentalism, feminism, and the welfare state.

Some kid, I think, in high school, embarrassed a whole bunch of people by getting their signatures on a petition to ban di-hydrous oxide.

One day I was walking down the hall with my best friend in high school -- I'm pretty sure it was 1980 -- when some kid with a clipboard approached us and asked us to sign a petition to ban di-hydrous oxide.

I considered myself a conservative in high school -- I can only thank fate for making me too young to vote for that dangerous hypocrite Ronald Reagan in 1980. I no longer believe such labels are useful, so step way back if you think I'll accept a label like 'conservative' or 'liberal.' That's bunk. I'm an American.

I was innately suspicious of everything, and not just because I considered myself a conservative. It's my nature. My pal, who we'll call "Tony," was innately good-natured.

When the guy said "di-hydrous oxide" my mind began to slowly crank.

"Di-hydrous oxide? You mean water?" I said.

"No, I mean di-hydrous oxide," he replied, launching into his spiel about how dangerous it was.

Now, I consider this unfair. I mean, if you're going to try to make people look like fools for signing up to ban di-hydrous oxide, you ought to find a way to let those who think it is water off the hook.

But from his perspective, if he admits that to just one person, word will spread quickly through the entire target population, and he'll get few signatures. So I guess he felt that he had to keep up the act.

While the scam did not involve money (or an accomplice -- which would have helped a lot), this was, in my opinion, a classic confidence scheme.

He went on and on about how dangerous di-hydrous oxide was, and I figured I must have been mistaken to think it was water. He seemed so sure.

Ultimately my friend signed, and I didn't. When word of the spoof went around a few days later, I made fun of my friend for signing. I acted like I had known all along that di-hydrous oxide was water. "Why'd you sign it?" I mocked.

If my memory after all these years serves, my friend claimed that he had also known, but had done it as a favor to the guy: "He wanted signatures."

What saved me from the same fate was my resentful nature. I didn't think a petition would do much good, certainly not one organized by a kid in high school. I didn't like the idea of grassroots action, and I resented the guy because I had been wrong about di-hydrous oxide being water. He made me look silly, so no way was I going to sign his petition.

But I felt guilty.

Thursday, April 13, 2006


The best dialog in Saving Private Ryan, for my money, is about Vechio. Vechio is a character not actually in the movie, but remembered by Captain Miller and Sergeant Horvath at night in a church, not long after Private Caparzo was killed by a sniper.

The Vechio dialog is not very far at all from two rather artificial monologues, one in which Wade talks about his mother and another in which Miller talks about the moral arithmetic of sending men to die.

The Vechio dialog, however, seems much more natural:

Miller: What was the name of that kid, at Anzio, the one who was always walking around on his hands, you know, and he ... was singing that song, about the man on the flying trapeze?

Horvath: Vechio.

Miller: Yeah, Vechio, he was a goofy kid.

Horvath: Remember, he used to pee a "V" on everybody's jacket ... for Vechio, for Victory?

Miller: Vechio.

Horvath: He was so short. He was a midget. Most guys asked, "How'd you get to be a Ranger?" He got shot in the foot once didn't he, and he had to walk with his hands to the...?

Miller: Yeah. He could -- He could walk faster on his hands. [Unintelligible] faster on his hands. ...Vechio! ... Yeah ... Caparzo.

That's when you realize that Vechio, like Caparzo, is dead.


Scott points out this article. Good thing I don't have a uterus:

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Treatment with thalidomide or its analog lenalidomide prolongs life in mice with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), scientists report.
Lead investigator Dr. Mahmoud Kiaei told Reuters Health that small clinical trials are already underway in the US and in Germany "and we hope to set up a larger clinical trial in New York to examine the efficacy of these drugs in ALS patients."

ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is an incurable progressive degenerative neurologic disorder in which nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord die, leading to muscle wasting and total paralysis.

In the Journal of Neuroscience, Dr. Kiaei of Weill Cornell Medical Center, New York and colleagues note that there is increased activity of inflammatory mediators including TNF-alpha in the spinal cords of patients with ALS and in ALS mice.

The researchers found that early treatment of such mice with thalidomide or lenalidomide, which attenuate TNF-alpha and like proteins, significantly increased mean survival from 130 days to more than 150 days.

Use of either agent also attenuated weight loss, enhanced motor performance and decreased motor neuron cell death.

The study of these immune-modulating drugs "showed for the first time they were effective in ALS transgenic mice," Kiaei said. "Due to a high percentage of survival extension, it does provide a high level of merit for these drugs to be taken into clinical trial."

SOURCE: Journal of Neuroscience, March 2006

Left grip is 24 pounds (20, 20, 24), right grip is 67 pounds (66, 60, 67).

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Chess date

When I was a kid I desperately wanted to play chess. That was before the internet and even before personal computers. There was this horrible girl who lived across the street with her sister, girls we completely wrote off as useless human beings. They were the ravaged products of class pretension, unhealthy notions of femininity, and alcoholic parents.

The younger one I didn't know so well, but I regarded both as complete losers. Everything they did or said was embarrassing, and the best policy was to avoid them.

One day in high school, however, so desperate for chess was I, that on the trudge home from the bus stop I made a proposal in the defeated voice you would use when saying "I choose death by lethal injection."

I asked if one of them wanted to come to my house and play chess.

Delighted, they said they would both come ... but they just needed a few minutes to get ready, and then they'd be right over.

I went to my house, set up the chess board at the kitchen table, and waited. And waited and waited and waited. More than an hour went by, and then they appeared. They were all dressed up, had elaborate hair, and were wearing jewelry and perfume.

Lest you get the wrong idea and think they were secretly in love with me, let me remind you that I was a short, pimply, grim, antisocial geek. If they had any interest at all in me they would have made it known at some point over the years. But they despised me as much as I despised them.

So why get all dolled up? They were in love with themselves, with the idea of being women going on a date.

Once they finally arrived, I didn't get up. "OK, which one of you wants to play first?"

"Oh, we'll both play!"

"It's really better if one person makes the decisions. Otherwise you're likely to lose."

"No, we decided that we both want to play."

"OK," I said, "Here's my move."


They started gabbing like it was a cocktail party about what move to make. They would gesture with pieces and then theatrically disagree, speculate, vacillate, and chatter. The point seemed to be to prolong the deliberation as long as possible, to be social.

They were both in theater groups outside school.

Finally, after 10 minutes of their chatter, I demanded that they make a move. Within seconds, they did. It was a stupid move.

I would move and they would gab, moving rarely.

The squalid little game took forever, so long that when my parents came home from wherever they'd been, they beheld a frustrated little teenage boy sitting furiously at a table before a chess board while two tall, overdressed teenage girls stood bantering with each other as if entertaining the Prince of Wales.

My parents looked shocked. They must have known then that I was desperate for chess.

At some point before I graduated high school they gave me the finest, most extravagant gift of my entire childhood: An electronic chess board with a simple computer inside that played chess.

Who needs stupid girls?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Hooah Brouhaha

There are some Bush supporters and Intelligent Design folks who are worried about those darned illegals and that danged ACLU -- at a blog called "Hooah Wife." But to the credit of the rather fetching and tolerant woman who started the site, Greta, she has invited others to contribute to the blog. I have been lucky enough to have been given that honor. On the site, I frequently spar with people who support warrantless wiretaps. So when I ran across a news story on Sunday about how China spies on its citizens, I was inspired to flavor the article about the Chinese program in American terms, and ask if people would support such a hypothetical program. To my horror, several did. On Monday, I revealed the basis of the hypothetical, and maturely and restrainedly called people Commies. Some feathers were ruffled. God Bless America.

Left grip is 26 pounds (22, 25, 26), right grip is 70 pounds (60, 70, 65). Yesterday, because a provisions error by the home nursing agency, I did not have a ceftriaxone dose. But I resumed today, about four hours before I took these metrics.


Monday, April 10, 2006

Little pitchers

One time when I was less than six my father said something about the neighbors next door and down the hill, the ones with the pool that you could see through the fence and trees that separated us. What he said was unkind, resentful, maybe a ittle angry. I do not remember the exact words, but let's assume it was "Those people are just rich show-offs."

The next day I stood at the fence looking down through the trees at the swimming pool of the rich show-offs. I grabbed some dirt clods and heaved them over the fence into the pool of those rich show offs. I got several in there. Then I went about the rest of my day.

The next day, or perhaps that very afternoon, this lady showed up at our house. She was the lady from next door. She and my mother were not upset but they both wanted to know why I had thrown the dirt clods. They might have been a little amused. I said it was because they were rich show-offs.

It struck both the ladies that these were not my own words. Oh my. The conversation ended and the lady went home.

I seem to recall, but I am not sure about this, some kind of hushed conversation when my father came home about the fact that little pitchers have big ears.

Left grip is 24 pounds (24, 23, 21), right grip is 70 pounds (70, 64, 67).


Sunday, April 09, 2006

Tuna fish victory

Constipation really messes with my appetite, kills it. But I gotta eat. It often leaves me hungry but disgusted by the thought of food. The Tuesday after my most recent battle, at lunch time, I felt a promising zest for solid food -- but didn't know quite what. Burrito? Nah -- too heavy. Fast food hamburger? -- Nah, too poisonous, and not quite right. I wanted something light in texture, not dense. Tuna fish sandwich? Yes! With tomatoes? Yes! Cheese? No! So I made it and ate it and that was a real victory. Then I drank an Ensure.

Left grip is 22 pounds (21, 22, 19), right grip is 72 pounds (65, 72, 63).

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Notes to son

From time to time when I had something corrective to say to my son, and when he's on a rampage of yelling and misbehavior, I have printed out my message and handed it to him in the form of a note. If I tried to verbally deliver the message, I'd probably get interrupted, and he'd get more upset.

But when I've given him a note he has often calmed down and changed his behavior for the better. I think he may appreciate the respect involved in my giving him a note: It implies thoughtfulness, and it recognizes one of his skills.

What he may not have yet realized that if you read an entire letter or note, you have allowed someone to get their whole point across to you. And whole points are usually better formed than half arguments.

My friend Jansenist is staying at our house for a week. He is great with kids. They love him, just like they love my oldest sister. Like her, he listens, in the sense that he takes seriously what they say, and he's willing to play. I think it's important to keep your 'fresh eyes' open throughout life, and these two people have done it.

Friday, April 07, 2006

In which I hook up with Femi-Mommy

Sleeping next to my beautiful, loving wife on Wednesday morning, I had a dream in which I was Femi-Mommy's new boyfriend. Dreams often overlook logic and the implications of real life, or allow contradictions to coexist, and this was such a dream. I'd guess that in the dream I was about 10 years younger. And I wasn't disabled, though in the dream I never reflected on this. I was doing the kind of work I used to do: Driving long distances, having technical meetings with client companies, and writing computer code for them.

The dream started out with a new car. I was happy that it was a Volkswagen (Passat or Jetta), but later learned that it was some cheap American sedan. After work, I pulled up in the evening at a large, 19th-century building. It was probably an apartment house, because Femi didn't occupy all of it. But her place was huge, with plenty of rooms, various levels, staircases, and dark, ornate hardwood everywhere.

In the dream, we had had a night or two of passion, and in the brief interactions I had with her, I thought she was hoping I would stick around and be part of her life. I certainly intended to, but she didn't know that. In the dream she had pigtails, but she was more blond than in her photos. I didn't notice any tattoos, or think about them. She was also taller than in real life, probably about 5'6".

There was no sex in this dream, unless you count the part where I tried to excite her by chewing on her nipples. They were pink and ropy. I didn't hear any moans of pleasure, and there was no writhing and grasping, so I figured maybe I was using a bad technique, and gave it up.

The project at work was huge and complex, and I was often shuffling through requirements and specifications documents while on the phone. Femi, for her part, was busy with huge dinner parties for large groups of friends.

Speaking of friends, Femi's best friend was a young gay man who dressed in brown clothes and had nice shoes. Lefty, I guess that guy was you. I knew that at some point the young gay man would want to quiz me about my intentions toward Femi, and I was prepared to offer assurances that I was commitment material, in the gf-bf terms that commitment manifests in when you're that young.

The work project was so demanding, the commute so long, and Femi's dinner parties so involved, that though we had been lovers for two days, we rarely saw each other. I was on the phone at one point, shuffling some documents, when I heard Femi interacting with Genius Girl, her daughter. I thought: Huh! I'm imposing all the child duties on Femi just the way I do to my wife and kids.

Normally in dreams where I am put into a life separated from my real family, if I remember them, I desperately want to get back to them. But in this dream that didn't happen -- nor did I examine at all the massive contradiction between having a real family and being Femi-Mommy's boyfriend at the same time. I also didn't reflect on the fact that the reason my darling wife does all the kid work is my disability and fatigue.

The other major contradiction, the one I like the best, involves Femi's real-life boyfriend, Freckle Boy. He showed up at the second dinner party, completely welcome by everyone, including me. He was there because he loves Femi and GG and is part of their lives. It did not occur to me, at all, to examine the whole jealousy/rivalry thing in the dream. (Please refrain from the obvious homoerotic humor). It was an unrecognized contradiction. FB was there because he is devoted to them.

Toward the end of the dream GG and I talked to Femi about a spelling game we had played with letter blocks. It wasn't Boggle, but it was something like it. I was happy to have some kid interaction.

At the very end of the dream I was leaving the great big place to get in the car and go home for the night. Why I wasn't staying with Femi wasn't explored either. Anyway, as I was walking out with the gay male Lefty substitute, my last thought was that it was a heck of a huge commute.

I woke up and said to my special wife, "I had a dream I hooked up with Femi-Mommy." My voice is slurred, though, so she said: "You had a dream you took care of many mommies?"

Something like that.

Thursday, April 06, 2006


NoWhere Girl asked me to get "more naked" in my blog. Here, I comply. Ordinarily I'd cover my nipple with a red star to prevent lust from entering your hearts, but this photo, showing the round subdermal "port" that was surgically installed to enable daily IV infusions of antibiotics, wrinkles from the tape used to affix the needle, the surgery scar, and gummy tape residue from where I secure the line that dangles from the needle usually inserted into the port -- plus unknown orange stuff (disinfectant?)) -- is just so ugly that it should forfend lust effectively. This photo is the first I have ever seen of the port, which is usually covered by the needle and tape.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


As a kid I was unaware that people talk to each other, and that the main currency of exchange is what other people think about a given person. Or maybe, given that I had an inferiority complex, I thought that no one cared about my opinions, beyond whoever might be talking to me out of boredom.

This led to several incidents in which I would tell person A my low opinion of person B, and person B would soon appear and mysteriously probe around the topic of my grudge. I would usually lie or evade, which must have satisfied person B regarding their power and status.

I don't know when I finally wised up, but I would sincerely hope that it was in the aftermath of the Wall Interview in junior high school. I was leaning against a wall, right next to a projecting pillar of bricks. Alex appeared and asked me what I thought of Michael.

Only recently, I had been a member of Michael's court, until I realized that I served only as a target of scorn. After attempting, unsuccessfully, to kick Michael's shins, I left the court, and never returned.

I told Alex what I thought of Michael, probably using a lot of curse words but -- if my memory serves -- also laying out a rather cogent psychological analysis of the jerk. As soon as I finished saying my bit, Michael appeared from the other side of the bricks, smugly said hello to me, and walked away.

Too gullible about human nature to deduce what had happened, I asked Alex a stupid question: "Did you know he was standing there, could you see him?"

Alex said of course.

Finally I understood that it had been a trick. "Why would you DO that?" I demanded.

Alex shrugged. "For fun."

Oh, we're safe all right, with Bush protecting us

Brian J. Doyle, 55, was arrested at his residence in Maryland on charges of use of a computer to seduce a child and transmission of harmful material to a minor. The charges were issued out of Polk County, Fla.


During other online conversations, Doyle revealed his name, that he worked for the Homeland Security Department and offered his office and government issued cell phone numbers, the sheriff's office said.

Some of you political hacks might be tempted to say that this reflects badly on Bush. But you're wrong. I know who it reflects badly on. That's right: Clinton! For fostering an atmosphere conducive to inappropriate sex encounters with young women.

Left grip is 25 pounds (23, 25, 24), right grip is 70 pounds (70, 66, 67).

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Current medications

A reader asked for a report on my current medications. They are:

  1. 2 g IV ceftriaxone daily, intended effect: kill Lyme organisms.

  2. 100 mg minocycline q12, intended effect: kill Lyme organisms.

  3. 10 mg Namenda twice a week, intended effect: reduce involuntary laughing. Side-effect: constipation, so taking only twice a week instead of once daily.

  4. 300 mg ursodiol, intended effect: Guard against tendency of ceftriaxone to induce gall stones. Side effect: constipation, so experimenting every few days instead of twice daily.

  5. DHEA 75 mg, to increase testosterone in pursuit of muscle mass.

  6. Creatine 5 g per day, to reduce cramping and supply muscles with more energy. Three weeks on, one week off.

  7. Naltrexone 4.5 mg daily, as an experiment.

  8. multivitamin.

Left grip is 24 pounds (24, 20, 22), right grip is 65 pounds (65, 65, 62).

Monday, April 03, 2006


I'm pretty sure that as a toddler I was a biter. Kids who bite are a problem. I didn't bite only when angry, I bit when happy too. I was warned, scolded, and educated many times. It didn't sink in.

Then one day they introduced me to another boy about my size, we happily greeted each other. I was so happy to meet him that I bit him -- at the exact same time that he happily bit me.

Ow. It was shocking!

Introducing two biters to each other is a time-honored way to end the habit. I'd like to think that my mother knew this, and deliberately arranged for me to meet the other biter.

I never bit again, as far as I know, without permission.

Left grip is 24 pounds (22, 24, 22), right grip is 74 pounds (74, 67, 65), inhale volume is TK mL.


Sunday, April 02, 2006

Evil One rides

The Evil One rides again, destroying our villages and towns, copulating with the sacred animals of our temples. We hate him.

After yet another victorious poopie Wednesday morning, I thought, "Things are going so well that I can take another of these ursodiol." I had done it once or twice before since making the Namenda biweekly, and gotten away with it. I think my mistake was in taking a Namenda that same night.

Thus: ow!

At 3:07 PM I survived yet another battle with Satan, Beelzebub, Old Scratch, Lucifer, Mephistopheles, Angra Mainyu, Ahriman, the Devil.

I was reduced to a trembling, moaning, animal, barely able to stand, much less walk. It's the closest that any man will ever come to childbirth. But at the end, you don't get a wonderful new baby to love: You only get to flush the toilet.

I am so sick of this cycle. Last night I was supposed to take a Namenda. I have decided that I am going to experiment with stopping the Namenda entirely. I may use it as needed if my laughing becomes excessive. I might take the ursodiol sometimes, but that will be probationary.

Sick of this!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Gutter time

I went to the paleodentist1 Friday, and after I got out of the car I had to negotiate a curb. I got the cane and both feet up on the sidewalk but then started tipping back. I fell backward, managing to get my right foot behind me, then fell on my keister, with my head going straight out toward traffic as a car went by. As soon as I hit, I twisted my head and torso towards the gutter. Safe, and as I later discovered, unhurt except for a reminder on my left butt. I crawled up onto the sidewalk. The heck with standing. I knelt there with my cane, in the middle of the sidewalk. I'm too weak to stand on my own, even with a cane, certainly after a fall. I contemplated crawling toward the gate posts. I looked up, thinking about asking a pedestrian for help, just as a grown man walked past me. There are some people who just don't help other people. A young man accompanied by a young woman did help me stand up. The paleodentist put his finger in the back of my mouth and I didn't gag. He said that their office will try to work out the insurance coverage, then take an impression and make a palatal lift for me that will help improve my speech and swallowing.

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by