Friday, June 30, 2006

Shower technique

When it became too perilous and difficult to bend over, I stopped soaping myself below the knees in the shower. That was a few months ago. I do dry myself below the knees by leaning against something and reaching down. So I suppose I could soap that way too. But, nah. I dry the tops of my feet by dangling the towel across them.

GARDEZ, Afghanistan -- The US government routinely failed to give detainees at Guantanamo Bay access to witnesses who might have helped them prove their assertions of innocence, saying it could not locate the vast majority of the witnesses the terror suspects requested at special military hearings.


In one case, the State Department said that it could not locate Ismail Khan, the well-known minister of energy in Afghan president Hamid Karzai's cabinet, who meets frequently with American diplomats.

In another case, tribunal officials said they could not contact a prisoner in US custody in Bagram, Afghanistan, because the US officials holding him failed to respond to their inquiries.


Thursday, June 29, 2006


As a freshman in high school, I took German. As I have mentioned, I was tiny: very skinny, and shorter than all the girls in school. There were a couple of tall, muscular, popular guys in the class who were sophomores. I mean popular in the sense that most people didn't consider them beneath contempt, as they did me. These popular guys tolerated me. I wouldn't say they were my friends, but they were in-class friends. They actually seemed to enjoy my banter. I was amusing, like a talking dog.

So one day, one of the two calls me up, at home. His mom was in the background and he checked with her if it would be all right if he came over to my house on a certain day. He was friendly and bantering like in class.

I thought: "Wow, this is what social interaction is like for normal people!" I was glad to be considered normal, and wondered if maybe I was on the road to becoming normal.

I spent the interval day or days coming up with more of my weird, witty banter to amuse this guy. He was coming to my house, to see me, and hang out. I thought I should have some good material for him, make a good impression, maybe be accepted by the crowd ... and some day, a girlfriend! That would be after the Human Growth Hormone treatments, of course. Oh yes, even though it was only 1978, I knew about those.

So on the actual day, the guy comes over, wearing shorts, which showed the manly hairs on his bulky legs. I never wore shorts. I kept myself fully covered at all times.

He sat down in my house, about 10 feet from me, and I began to feel a bit of stage fright. I mean, how odd that he would come to me house to talk to me -- when he could get the same banter at greater convenience any school day.

I tried out my material on him, and he looked exhausted and bored. I remember now that his name was Eric. He looked like he was enduring something unpleasant. Trying to spark something in my audience, I tried more and more bits on him, faster and faster. He sank deeper into boredom and revulsion.

Then suddenly he stood up and said he had to go. I don't know how long he was there, but I'm going to guess only 10 or 15 minutes.

As a result of the incident, I considered myself a social failure. But not for very long. I knew I was a social failure, but it did very soon occur to me that Eric had used me as an excuse to get out from under his mom's thumb. Probably right after he left my place he went to party with his friends, or engage in some other illicit behavior.

I resented his using me, and treated him cautiously afterwards. I resolved that I would never agree to let a popular kid come 'hang out' with me when there was no apparant reason. And none ever asked again.

Lesson learned.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


I remember being small, unable to take my own shoes off. I was sitting down and trying. My sister three years older sat across form me and taunted me. "You can't even take your own shoes off. You don't know how. You'll never be able to do it."

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


The investigation of the 2003 space shuttle Columbia disaster was budgeted $50 million, based in part on the cost of the investigation into the 1986 Challenger disaster.

What was the initial budget for the 9/11 Commission, which investigated the most severe terrorist attack ever on the United States?

9/11 Commision initial budget...
$3 million
$15 million
$80.8 million
$100 million
$1 billion
Free polls from

Next-day ANSWER: While 39% said $15 million, 35% (Perhaps test-wise people gaming me? But it is public information...) said $3 million. The answer is $3 million. Through two subsequent increases, it went to $15 million total. Bush opposed the creation of any such commission. It's interesting that the investigation of a shuttle disaster involving primarily one agency merits a $50 million budget, but a multi-agency, multi-national investigation involving the deaths of thousands of people and with profound security implications merits $3 million.

Monday, June 26, 2006

One rotor or two?

My dad used to go golfing and take me as his caddy. This was when I was probably eight or 10, I am not sure. I do know that on one of these golf trips I met the son of my father's boss, who I was told had just come back from Vietnam: A helicopter pilot. I assume this was 1973 or earlier. So I would have been 10 or younger. I was a real aviation freak, I loved airplanes. They told me this about him, that he was just back from Vietnam.

I looked at him and said, "Really?" He squared off to me and said, "Yes. I suppose you have some questions."

He seemed prepared, perhaps resigned. "Yes, I have a question. Did you fly helicopters with one rotor, or two?"

"Two," he said.


"That's it?" he said, amused.

"That's it."

Then my father and his boss urged me to ride on the back of the son's motorcycle. I refused. They said I would have fun, implied that I should like it. I was certain I did not want to do it. When the son roared away I was doubly sure.

But the real story was that my father went golfing. I was his caddy. I was small, very small as a kid. Short, and skinny too. When I finally entered high school in 1978, I weighed less than 90 pounds and stood 4 feet 10 and a half inches tall. I was smaller than everyone, including all of the girls.

No, I am not sure exactly how old I was when he first started using me as his caddy, but I can tell you that a full set of gold clubs can be very heavy. Even a half set. In a leather bag mounted on an old metal frame on wheels. I recall that the handle came up to my shoulder level when I hauled it, two-handed, up the slopes. Mostly I remember pulling it uphill.

We lived in a very hot place. Inland, brown hills, shimmering heat, and back in those days, lots and lots of thick, ugly smog.

It was not cruel and unusual punishment that I should pull this bag filled with clubs, but it was strenuous, and from time to time I refused. I was not interested in going. He took me anyway.

Being so small, the clubs were much too big for me. He did let me putt. I was a decent putter, sinking some that were long shots, and he told me I was good at it.

"Can I play?"

"The clubs are too big for you."

"Can you get me some clubs?"

"That would be too expensive, and you would grow out of them."

"Maybe we can find some old clubs, and cut them down."

"No, that wouldn't work."

So I continued on, as his caddy. From time to time I would still say I did not want to go with him, and he would take me anyway.

One day the boss went golfing with us. I caddied for my father and the boss caddied for himself. When we got to the end of the nine, the boss went into the clubhouse. My father and I never went into the clubhouse. We waited a minute for the boss. I assume he had a quick drink, but I don't know. When he came out, though, he handed me a big, cold can of Coke, dripping with cool condensation. My memory is that he was uphill from me, and I saw the back of his hand as he dangled the Coke to me. His hand was about at the level of my chin.

"For you," he said. To him it was a casual gesture, a courtesy, perhaps even beneath his consideration. I was stunned.

"Thanks!" I said, with gratitude and amazement.

His head swiveled oiver to my father and he smiled. "You never buy this kid anything, do you?"

My father smiled and shrugged.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

That's how they get you

I recall being a small boy and riding in the car with my father. We were very hungry and he stopped in a gas station. He got something quick to eat, I don't remember what, and he shared some with me, so that we could make it home and eat properly.

I saw a rack with salted peanuts hanging on it.

"I want some of those peanuts," I said. We were, I recall, back in the car when I said this. The peanuts were visible from the car, on a rack.

"No," my father explained, "The peanuts make you thirsty. That's how they get you to buy a Coke."

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Shocking immoral behavior

We were in a church to hear my son play piano, and they did the stand-up-sit-down thing, which I figured my wheelchair parked next to the pew exempted me from. My dutiful wife was standing up when I thought about playfully grabbing her taut, shapely ass. Then it crossed my mind: This is a church! That sort of thing is just not done! A few minutes after she sat down, I felt my darling wife's hand slide along the pew and squeeze my once-taut ass.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Kids want to try everything

Kids want to try everything, experiment with different ways of being. Some people, even people with kids, don't know this. They'll observe my kids doing something good, like reading, and go on and on about how their kids don't read, they want to watch TV. Kids respond really strongly to peer models, and they want to try everything, experiment with different ways of being. All you're doing when you talk like that in front of my kids is planting the idea that they should eschew books and watch TV. Fortunately that's not going to happen, because they're book addicts, and we don't watch TV. At all. But think about what you're doing.

Here are some other things not to say to my kids:

"When I was a kid, I couldn't wait until summer, because I hated school."

"Do you know girls have cooties? Haven't gotten there yet? Believe me, you will."

"Are you popular?"

"Are you going to have a nap?"

Thursday, June 22, 2006


So let's say you're running a counter-insurgency war and you kill a guy in an air strike, a guy you've been pumping up in the media for over a year. Let's say there was absolutely no informer tip that led you to the bad guy.

What should you do? Announce that an informer tip led you to the bad guy.

Announce that you've paid a reward. It messes with their heads. It gets them suspecting each other.

"Habibi, where'd you get the money for those new sandals?"

Now, on the other hand, if you actually did have an informer, you have to weigh the risk to all of your other informers across the country of announcing that an informer tip helped you wax the bad guy. All that suspicion could harm your informant network, if you have one that's better than what the Abwehr thought they had going against Britain.

You wouldn't want to risk that, because as "Gary Brecher" has pointed out, counter-insurgency war is all about informers. Without them, you lose.

The fact that we announced that an informer helped us bag Zarqawi indicates to me that we have zero informants in Iraq, or that they have never provided any actionable information.

Left grip is 17 pounds (15, 15, 17), right grip is 50 pounds (48, 50, 50).

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


A couple of weeks ago I stopped doing the kitchen cleanup after dinner. It got to be too much. My saintly wife does it all now, after putting the kids to bed.

We pay a helper lady to come over a few hours hours each week. Usually it's laundry or cooking, but recently she trimmed my toenails and fingernails. That's a bit of a challenge too.

Left grip is 17 pounds (17, 16, 17), right grip is 51 pounds (50, 51, 50).


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

You can check out any time you like


In high school there were songs that I liked, that I think most people liked. I liked them with a certain sense of shame, because I knew that they were either bubble-gum songs, or shallow. But I liked them (without admitting it, of course). Officially I liked Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin (with a slight sense of embarrassment that these were '60s groups. But music in the late '70s and early '80s was so BAD -- there was no other option!).

But certain big hits by Neil Sedaka, Paul Anka, and other fluff buttons were fun. Fun!

You mercilessly condemned these songs. I kept my mouth shut. "OK, don't admit that you like that one. Sure, his criticisms are valid, true even. But the song is fun!"

I remember when you ridiculed "Hotel California." We were walking South past some brick planter on the East side of campus, near the half-circle driveway. You said among other things that the "Mercedes Benz-uh" was the most stupid "uh" of all time. I thought: "OK, there's another one I can't admit enjoying..."

However, I must say that, having listened to this song yet again, I am required to tell you that the "uh!" is more of a sexual grunt, as in "unh!" And there is a very slight pause between "Benz" and "unh!" It is, I am very sure, a comment on the Benz rather than a suffix of the word.

Don't know if that changes your thinking at all, but I couldn't any longer endure these years of living a lie.

Monday, June 19, 2006


If you know me in real life, and I didn't personally invite you to read this blog, please send me an email about reading this blog.

We went to meet the surgeon who can install the feeding tube. He had my trust, and then I noticed -- his computer is a Macintosh! And it was an older model, probably a G3. This enhanced my opinion of him. Because the pressure on doctors to be PC is so strong, his use of an older Mac indicates that he's probably able to think independently, maybe even to think in terms of what's best for the patient, rather than just go along with the crowd. I'd like to see what the results of the Lyme drugs are, and see where my weight heads, before deciding whether to get the tube.

Sunday, June 18, 2006


When kids are hungry or tired they get really cranky and stubborn. A little food or nap would cheer them right up, but they angrily refuse the food or nap.

If you childless wonders think the answer is to give them snacks or naps before they get grumpy, keep in mind that when they're happy, they're playing, and they refuse to stop playing in order to eat or nap. You can put the food in front of them but they'll ignore it. Call them to nap and they refuse to go.

Saturday, June 17, 2006


One of the subs on our addition job is a big, tall dyke with tattoos on her. I peeked through the plastic curtain the other day in search of my darling wife, who was with the dyke. And there, operating an electric drill on the floor, with the moon rising between her shirt hem and pant waist, was a lithe, butch young blond woman with cropped hair. Yes! I didn't so much groove on her sexually as just cheer the notion that our dyke subcontractor would have a whole crew of dyke workers. Anyway, just guessing: She might.

They wanted to come on a Saturday. And today's employee is a guy, so it's not an all-dyke outfit.

Friday, June 16, 2006


She was our doula for the birth of both of our children. She gave my glorious wife and I such a sense of calm and confidence. It is hard to describe. But the woman emitted strength. She made us feel safe, in what can be a very frightening place, the hospital.

Vigorous and happy, she was teaching one of her childbirth classes on Friday, weeping a little when a friend explained to her about the support group that is forming for us. She really wanted to help, and left a voicemail apologizing for a schedule conflict the night of the meeting. How I long to hear that voice now. But fortunately her daughter sounds exactly like her. She had a stroke Sunday and is brain dead. Her family is going to donate her organs.

We're going to her memorial no matter what. There will be hundreds of people there saying what I am telling you now. She was strong. She was loved by so many people.

I hope someone will also say: She was lucky, to go out so suddenly, in her prime. I give the Klingon salute, and say "K'plagh!" to recognize a life well-lived. Let us be happy for her.

Thursday, June 15, 2006


Taking pills is easier thanks to my new technique, but -- I think -- also because I've discovered a new superpower in my tongue. It seems like this is a recent development. Or maybe I've only just noticed it. But the right side of my tongue, towards the back, seems a bit more capable then I would have expected. If I swish the pill over to that side, I feel more confident that a successful swallow will occur. I am accustomed to expect titanic pill swallowing battles from five to 10 minutes per capsule. But with my new technique and my tongue's new superpower, it's often one minute or less.

An example from a few days ago: I took three pills, sequentially. After inserting the pill and some smoothie, and bending so that my face was parallel to the floor, I tried to swallow. The first pill went down on the second try, so, within 15 seconds. The next two pills went down on the first try, within three seconds! I was astounded.

Meanwhile my right biceps is not performing well. It's weak. But I have this sense that my speech may have become ever so slightly better, or at least not gotten worse. I was becoming a complete mush mouth and I expected that to continue to progress.

So here's the wishful thinking: I lost limb strength early and tongue coordination much later, so the antibiotics are going to roll back the disease by starting with the tongue. The self-deception (or accurate perception?) would be that limb strength may continue to decline during the recovery, because you can't turn a battleship in a bathtub, but tongue coordination will lead the way out.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Days since diagnosis

So I wanted to get one of those counter thingies that count how many days it's been since the Norman Conquest, or until Bush is supposed to leave office (Hah! Like that'll ever happen!)

I wanted it to display the number of days since my diagnosis. The reason for this is that my metrics charts have DSD as the x-axis. It's annoying to me to recalculate the DSD every time I skip a few days. And despite that I have several times tried, I don't see a way, using the date functions in my spreadsheet, to make it automatically calculate.

So I searched on the web and found the days-elapsed counter you now see in the right sidebar. It was javascript. I ripped out all the comments and stupid verbiage attacking John Kerry, changed the date, and voila!

...It turned out that my spreadsheet DSD was about 20 days short. I must have skipped those days by just using the cell-above-plus-one approach in the spreadsheet when skipping actual days of testing. I didn't fix the spreadsheet data. I figure 20 days out of 880+ doesn't distort the chart much.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


I used to brush my teeth within minutes of eating. These days, however, my process of eating, then drinking smoothies, then taking pills and drinking Citrucel (the morning example), and the length of time it takes me to eat, often means that I brush teeth hours after eating, if I remember at all. Dark stuff stays in there for a long time. I noticed this week that thing have gotten yellow and even light orange up by the gums. Fortunately my most recent checkup had revealed no new cavities. I wonder what will be found at the next one. I tried using the flossy thing my dear wife bought me, that allows you to floss with one hand, but it doesn't work. I have begun frequent Listerine use. One more thing to add to my self-maintenance chores.

Your suggestion that I should now get the feeding tube is duly ignored.

I am so relieved! For the past 12 days I have 'made' every morning after waking up. But this morning, no. However, at 11 AM, we had launch. So glad! I think the probiotics, which I skipped yesterday, and perhaps the day before, matter a lot.

Left grip is 23 pounds (20, 23, 20), right grip is 52 pounds (52, 51, 52).


Monday, June 12, 2006

Lower energy bills

We save a bunch of money on our utility bill by using compact flourescent bulbs in all of our light fixtures and lamps. We also keep computers, TVs and other devices that draw power even when off, on power strips which we switch off when not using the device. The passive use of power really adds up.

We bought a very energy-efficient washer and refrigerator. Our electric bill is now small. Once, during the height of the Enron scam, it went over $400 for just one month!

Yes, CF bulbs cost more, but they last longer, aren't as fragile, and pay for themselves within 500 hours of use. And better costs more, anyway.

You too save yourself a bunch of money and not think about the fact that you're helping fight Global Warming.

Sunday, June 11, 2006


I recently posted about Global Warming at the pro-Bush blog I contribute to. Here's an example of some of the commentary. I make the replies to Don in the text below:

> They recently discovered evidence of a tropical climate once existed around the South Pole. That sounds like a pretty big change, much more than we are seeing now.

Your confused misapplication of this fact lies in failing to account for plate tectonics, often called continental drift. Here's an animation.

The Antarctic has moved from warmer areas to where it is now. But in the last 600,000 years, there's been no warming trend remotely like the current one.

> We will see in 2040 when the Global Warming “scientists” have been totally discredited, and “scientists” began warning about Global Cooling.

Do you have children or grandchildren, Don?

> There are political claims on both sides.

On what side is the science, though?

>>>In the particular case of Global Warming, people that want to pull the US down…

>>Name one.


Circular reasoning, Don. You think Global Warming adherents want to pull the US down, so when I ask you to back that up by naming one, you name me, because as a Global Warming adherent, you reason that I must want to pull the US down. Circular reasoning.

> >This is an illusory choice. We don’t have to choose between the economy and the environment.

>Really? What changes do you suggest. Koyto???

Kyoto seems like a good framework to halt Global Warming. What specific provisions of Kyoto do you object to? Specifics please, not hyperbolic generalizations based on straw-man arguments and imputed statements.

>>Name the two countries that have not signed on to Kyoto.

>China and India

No, China and India have signed and ratified Kyoto. The two countries which refuse to participate are the United States and Australia. Here's a map.

> They definitely will.

You're saying that your brave leader George Bush, or his brave Republican successor, would be unable to bring any pressure to modify their behavior? 'Definitely' is an absolute word.

> There is a lot more wrecking this world than a little bit of CO2

Please quantify 'a little.' Your point is well taken, though, as the ignorance and politically-based denial we see here demonstrates.

By the way, Don, China is going to see among the most severe coastal flooding, as will Bangladesh, right next to India. Potentially 100 MILLION refugees will be created. I think this might help motivate China and India to adhere to Kyoto.

Don, care to comment on your errors of fact in this thread, or do you prefer to ignore it and just move on?

>I am not going to get into an echange where you yell that your fantasies are facts. In fact I think this thread has gone on too long as it is.

OK, so you refuse to acknowledge your errors. But please tell me … is plate tectonics a ‘fantasy’ in your book? Like Darwinian evolution?

Or is my statement that the US and Australia have declined to prticipate in Kyoto the fantasy, and you’re sticking with your claim that it’s China and India?

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Me time

Everybody needs at least a small amount of time that they consider their own, with no obligations. I have lots of time to myself, but even if there is some chess or blogging involved, it usually is hung heavy with the obligation of the pills or drugs or nutrition or anti-constipation routines I need to do. Or shower or dress or get somewhere without falling down. I like having a predictable, homebody routine. That makes me feel good. But with doctor appointments, construction, and kid events, I don't always have a sense of 'me time.'

I know, it breaks your heart. I don't even have a job, and I'm complaining.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Used to

I used to be a runner! I was swift, strong and agile! I could run down most every one of you people! Now I can't stand up on my own.

When I was about 30 or so I was running on the quarter-mile track when a guy passed me convincingly. Some competitive/runner part of me wanted to keep up, so I ran faster and cruised behind him. This went on for a bit until he picked up the pace, which I matched. I don't know how many times he quickened, but it was several. We ran at least half a mile in this way. My body started wondering when it might quit. When you're a runner pushed to the limit, your leg muscles don't ache, your legs just get leaden, and your lungs don't burn, but you do feel this sense of strain on your entire viscera. It might not even be in your body. Maybe it's behind your eyes, but it's there. You're fit, you're fast, and you have endurance, but this pace is too much.

Then he added sprints. I sprinted with him, matching each of his footfalls with my own, at the same moment. That must have been annoying.

He kept up the astounding pace and kept hitting me with sprints, clearly trying to break me. At first I had wondered whether he even knew I was there, but he was competing with me.

It was grueling. It went on and on. That disembodied sense of doom cried out for me to stop. I didn't. One thing I knew, he was an amazing runner, for an average guy. I didn't think the same of myself, because I knew ... I was gonna break down. Any second now ... just a few more steps ... I'd have to go home ... defeated.

The runner suddenly stopped! He whirled. "Why are you pacing me?!" He was angry.

"I can follow anyone I want," I puffed, trying to sound casual as my lungs passed huge amounts of air.

"I get PAID to do this!" he shouted. I shrugged and walked off the track, knowing that I had broken him, and his feigned outrage was his excuse to stop.

It didn't occur to me until just now that my retort might have been: "Really? Well, can you refer me to someone I can pay to do this? I mean, someone faster than you?"

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Poopie report

You may think that my motor neuron disorder is the main health challenge I have, but I tell you it's constipation. That's what's killing me. The MND is just the anvil, the constipation is the hammer. So I spend most of my attention these days on keeping the Evil One at bay.

After the awful episode that was resolved June 1 -- which came only a week after the prior crisis -- I have been hyper-vigilant, on the assumption that I am now dependent on laxatives.

I even picked up the prescription Miralax (Polyethylene Glycol 3350), planning to take it daily, all in order to forfend the Evil One. Drug dependence is a big deal for me, and something I'd like to avoid. But the Evil One is just so awful that I'd gladly become a laxative addict in order to escape the torture. I am tired of being killed.

On June 1, I started doing Citrucel before bed as well as in the morning, in the hopes that maybe I could forfend the laxative dependence for a bit. I produced a poopie on each of the mornings of June 2, 3, 4, 5 6, 7, and 8.

That's encouraging. But usually the Evil One strikes just when I start to get my hopes up, after a good series like this. I'm not going to get my hopes up until July 1.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Chess against Republicans

I had another satisfying game against a Bush supporter. He was tagged 'soreloser1000,' which is an admirable name, but in reality he was just sore.

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

soreloser1000 says: I voted for Bush because I am a good American, and am from the more genteel side of the U.S., thank you.

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

soreloser1000 says: And what is the relevance of that trivia?

soreloser1000 says: Hitler had a big following, doesn't mean he was right

brainhell: Even an 11-year-old is entitled to have an opinion

soreloser1000 says: Right, that's why I'm being so easy on you.

brainhell: Come and get your love.

soreloser1000 says: And where do you get your love, Mr. Liberal tree hugger?

That's when I mated him.

brainhell: from you -- bend over again

I challenged him to a rematch, but the system told me:

Your previous opponent has left. soreloser1000 is not logged in.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Pill report

I have a new technique for swallowing pills that seems to be helping. It makes use of what had been an obstacle. Some of the pills I take are powders in capsules, so they have small amounts of air in them and will float, even in my mouth. So the new trick is to take the pill with liquid, as usual, but turn my face down, so that the pill floats up toward the back of my throat, in a better position for swallowing.

I have been pleased to learn that the rifampin I started recently does not have a bitter taste when allowed to dissolve in liquid. The minocycline is too bitter and has to be swallowed before the capsule dissolves. The quinine tablets I switched to after the capsules got too big (and proved too bitter to dissolve), turn out to be not too bitter to dissolve in the mouth. In more good news, the magnesium malate I started taking yesterday can be dissolved in water without making an awful taste. I also do this to the creatine and the DHEA.

The ox bile pills that should help fight off gall stones from ceftriaxone use turned out to be too big to swallow, and way too disgustingly bitter when dissolved. I am supposed to go get an ultrasound to see if they can detect gall stones forming.

Monday, June 05, 2006

James Dean

The right has captured rebellion. Intellectual rebellion is too hard. The counter-culture now just means finding affirmation for being uncouth. Being politically incorrect is easier when it involves beer.

The so-called Left started the most recent round of personal rebellion in the '50s and '60s. Then the right captured it in the late '70s.

James Dean would be a Republican.

Sunday, June 04, 2006


I am very sensitive to unnecessary noise, and I assume that my father, with his vastly more frustrated and annoyed personality, was too. We learned to do most things carefully and quietly, to avoid angering him and, frankly, because it's the best way. Handling things smoothly and gently, with precision, is a mark of class. Banging and fumbling things is not.

Our family dining experience -- insofar as was possible with three kids -- was a remarkably quiet and civil event, at least in terms of the hushed employment of utensils. The vile things that were said were another matter, but it was very rare that a metal spoon would clatter against a china bowl. And so it was all the more remarkable when I discovered my father doing it on purpose.

I forget how old I was, but I'm guessing I was five. There was some topic of conversation on which I wanted to self-congratulate. I don't remember what it was, but I wanted to share my thoughts and approach on the issue.

I was probably about to say something annoying and stupid. But I thought I was sharing wisdom with the masses. I started to say my bit, amid the palimpsest of voices, but I was cut off by my father's utensils clattering on his plate.

Due to the brief paused the racket drew from me, I lost the floor. I waited till the siblings were done repeating their own self heraldry, and then started in with my bit -- but was again foiled by the noise from my father's plate. The thought formed in my mind: Could he be doing that on purpose because he's annoyed by what he thinks I'm going to say?

I tested my hypothesis by trying several more times to offer my thoughts on the subject at hand, each time to be interrupted by a dramatic racket from my father's plate. I concluded that he was annoyed, and this was his way of showing it.

It's rare that I saw my parents for what they were, instead of ignoring my own impressions or making up excuses for them. This was one time.

When my son he being obstreperous at the dinner table, and is about to repeat some childish, rebellious nonsense, I have noticed my own fork clattering deliberately at the edge of the plate.

Maybe if I can control the urge, my kids won't pass it on to their kids.

Saturday, June 03, 2006


For some twisted reason, when we were kids, a snack was called a 'treat.' So when we were hungry in the afternoon, we'd say "Can I have a treat?" This was bizarre because it makes necessary food sound like a reward for proper behavior.

My father had a bizarre relationship to food. He was raised during the Great Depression, but his twisted psychology had to be personal, rather than a product of an era.

He once carped to my mother that "These kids eat five meals a day!" I counted them in my head. Breakfast, lunch, dinner ... snack. Where was the fifth? Much of what he said was emotional.

If you prepared a snack for yourself in the afternoon, he would come from wherever he was in the house and stand there watching you. It was like he was bearing witness to your shame. I think he was absorbing some kind of personal karma points by comparing his goodness to your sin.

Yes my younger sister and I are very thin, but I couldn't gain much weight even when I was young, lifting weights, and eating like a horse, and she's just plain thin. But my older sister is big, fleshy and round. So go figure.

The kicker was when I was not eating enough dinner one night, and I claimed not to be hungry.

"That's because you eat so much junk food!" he said.

I thought junk food was cola, chips, Twinkies, french fries, Ho-Ho's, Ding Dongs, and licorice sticks. I rarely got access to any of that stuff.

I was puzzled. "I had corn flakes for treat today. Is that junk food?"

"Yes it is."


Friday, June 02, 2006

etiquette for this blog

As I mentioned at the bottom of the first post, I intended the blog for friends and soul-mates, and complete strangers too. My wife reads it. I have not shared it with family. I have also not shared it with all my friends. This is not an attempt to exclude anyone, but rather reflects the fact that my inspiration for this blog was to create it for my friends. I inform my family of my progress in other ways. One pal has broadened the circle by suggesting other mutual friends for me to add. I also welcome complete strangers, as this is a public blog. I would just ask that my friends not "out" me by including material that identifies me in this blog, or by sharing the blog with other people without asking me. I set up the comments section just in case people wanted to chime in. Friends are welcome to add comments, but I guess I set up the comments section to let strangers chime in if they wanted to.

Let's say you are a relative or friend who I had not told about this blog, and you stumble on it and make the connection. Obviously, in practical terms, I can't compel you to tell me, but I ask you to tell me. Thanks.

But of those invited friends, I ask you to ask me before you out me as the blog author, or share the blog with other people who already know me.

A group of friends and neighbors, plus relatives and former coworkers, held a meeting the night of June 1 to organize a support network for our family.

It was stunning and very touching to see 40 people in one room all trying to do good and show that they care. Amazing.

I had worried that someone might blurt about the blog, because I prefer to keep in touch with family and neighbors personally, not via the internet. I think only three people there knew about the blog.

One asked me about it and then clammed up when I gave him the hush signal (finger over lips).

Another later started making an announcement about how great my blog is. I interrupted and gave the hush signal. Then he started to give the URL! I overrode him and denied that there was any blog, to much laughter.


One of the advantages of the blog is that other than a few really close friends, most readers have never met me. It allows me to be more open. So those of you who came here as a result of the meeting, please send me a private email letting me know. Don't put your name, or my name, in the comments!

I suffered awful constipation in the morning, but even so, went to my son's kindergarten, where he presented his mom and sister and I for share day. I sat there in the wheelchair with my guts and ass pipe grinding away. Such a pain you should never know. And I covered my mouth so I wouldn't accidentally spray saliva on the kids (I still have remnants of the cough). I also tried to orient my legs in such a way that they wouldn't jiggle up and down as they tend to.

Very comfortable. A little more agony and by 3:05 PM I passed the tractor.

But as the day wore on I sometimes caught a sour whiff of my own scat. The smell must have permeated my sweat pants.

I caught another foul whiff as I was gingerly standing up with the aid of the wall, at the end of the meeting. The hostess, who is a stunning beauty in the same category as my majestic wife, bent down to move a chair for me, thus putting her nose within inches of my stank. I shifted to the side. She shifted her nose, like a wing man to my ass, to get a better angle on the chair. I shifted again. She shifted. By the end of the dance I was huddled against the wall thinking: Please don't smell it! Please don't smell it!

Sigh. She smelled it. And some of you who have come here as a result of that meeting can avoid being smells by contacting me privately about your discovery.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Dr. Quack visit

We went to see Dr. Quack, with the Evil One trying to strike again. It had only been one day that I skipped, but apparently there was backlog. I am taking milk of magnesia, a laxative. I don't care if I'm getting dependent on laxatives, I just refuse to again endure what I did last time. And I think that with proper tactics, I may be able to overcome any such dependence.

Dr. Quack expected me to begin taking the Rifampin a while ago, but I'd understood him to say that he'd tell me when to start taking it. Apparently the major side effect is that every fluid I emit will be colored orange. Yes, even.

I'm to take them on an empty stomach. I started yesterday. 300 mg for 15 days, then 600 mg.

As far as I know, none of the results but one of the four small vials that are drawn from me weekly has ever been forwarded to him. He called them to request that he get results.

But on the basis of the May 10 results he's seen, he wants me to start taking 1000 mg of magnesium malate daily, because apparently I'm shedding calcium.

He wants the home nurse to draw for parathyroid hormone the next time she saps me. I'd say the odds are not good of him ever seeing the results.

He wants me to calendarize my subjective impressions of my symptoms. He wants me to start doing grip strength metrics again, thinks I must be depressed to have stopped, may not have bought my story about constipation and the awful cough (which came back for one week after I said I thought I was through it).

But most importantly he gave us something to judge him by. He said that five or six months after starting the daily ceftriaxone infusions, we should expect to see improvement. That would be September 2. I have made a calendar reminder for myself.

I subjectively feel that my pill swallowing may be improving slightly. Maybe my stability too. But it's hard to say, because I felt this after being nearly killed by the most recent constipation plus cough. The recovery from that may be all the 'improvement' I perceived.

My vision work right now centers around the concept of 'bottoming out.' It doesn't matter whether it's true or not, in terms of its effect, but I picture an airplane which has almost struck the ground in a dive pulling out straight and level before gradually beginning to rise again (It has engine trouble). That plane is me, I hope. I tell myself I am bottoming out.

I hate this constipation issue passionately. If I could cure this, I might skip the cure for whatever is attacking my nervous system. What I endure while yet still functioning seems astounding to me. But not when I consider what others suffer.

Left grip is 24 pounds (20, 24, 21), right grip is 55 pounds (55, 51, 45). Getting worse on the right, not sure why.

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