August 2007 Archives

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August 30, 2007
Quote of the Day

Apropos of nothing....

The public cannot be too curious concerning the characters of public men.
Samuel Adams

Posted by Russ at 05:39 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
August 29, 2007
Bad Analogy, But It'll Have To Do

In order to keep my Real Man bona fides current — disability being no excuse — yesterday I crutched my way out to the garage and used a power tool (Porter Cable circular saw) to destroy something.

[Insert grunting noises here.]

Now disposed of: the crate in which my lathe was delivered, and which has been needlessly hanging about in the garage, in a manner not unlike Larry Craig in an airport men's room stall, but entirely without the wide stance.

Posted by Russ at 01:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
August 27, 2007
'Nuff Said

About the Vick dog-fighting/cruelty case: almost everything I might have to say, I said three years ago, with one addendum.

This is as clear an example as one might wish of what can happen when people are coddled and unceasingly told "you can do no wrong" simply because they have athletic ability.

In most cases, it merely leads to an inflated ego.

Sometimes, though, it creates a sociopath.

Posted by Russ at 07:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
August 23, 2007
Golden Day

50 years ago today, my parents were married.

For the time being, celebrations are being kept to a minimum. We'll have a big shin-dig once all of us can gather at the homestead in Santa Barbara.

Still, it's a good day. The only thing that could make it better would be if Dad was still here to celebrate the occasion with us.

Posted by Russ at 05:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Seeing Double

I saw this posted yesterday on MySpace*, and thought the article was rather interesting.

Interesting, indeed. I wrote it almost three years ago.

Annoying, that. If I depended on my writing for my living (which, I might mention, I used to do) or on hit-counts for my self-worth, I'd be steamed by someone lifting my work, even though (as in this instance) the "lifter" makes no attempt to pretend the work is their own.

They're called hyperlinks, people. Use them. If you don't know how, you perhaps ought not to have a web page of your own.

* [No, I don't troll MySpace; I saw it in my referrer logs. Would I be wrong to think most MySpace users are retarded?]

Posted by Russ at 11:19 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
August 21, 2007
Things That Have Caught My Eye Today

A modicum of sanity in Oregon, where charges of felonious butt-swatting against two 13-year-old boys have been dropped. I don't care who you are, butt-swatting when a 13-year-old should in no way mark you as a sex offender for life. Indeed, I can't think of too many things a 13-year-old can do that ought to label them for life. Are you the same person now that you were when you were 13?

Steve H. prognosticates. He may be on to something there. Me, I think we're looking at a major redefinition of the term "boob-tube."

No, Gary, it's not just you.

Garofalo to join cast of "24." Fonzie to jump shark.

Louisiana Democrats attack Bobby Jindal's religion. (Isn't Louisiana a heavily Catholic state?) They once tried a whisper campaign about his ethnicity, so this really comes as no surprise. That they have to take his words out of context is not only unsurprising, it's pretty much the standard modus operandi for Democrats these days.

John Edwards: not so bright. Less bright: the people who ever voted for him for anything.

Breaking and entering? Illegal. Squatting? Not so much.

LOL, cat.

Posted by Russ at 01:00 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
August 20, 2007

Last night I spent some time watching the History International channel, a program called The Imperial Japanese Navy: Kaigun, which covered the IJN from it's inception during the Meiji Restoration up until the present day. An interesting program, but ultimately disappointing.

So basically, I spent two hours hearing things I already knew from other sources. Two hours of my life that I won't get back. Two hours during which I could have been watching DVRed episodes of Cash in the Attic or How It's Made, or possibly even New Yankee Workshop. But no, I watched something redundantly educational.

Worst of all: two whole hours of documentary, and not one single solitary reference to Godzilla.

You'd think a 400-foot tall lizard would at least rate a mention.

I sense a coverup.

Posted by Russ at 09:32 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
August 18, 2007
What Nerve!

I had another appointment with my neurologist yesterday. A sort of "let's take another look at everything" visit.

He's no slacker. He's won awards, and apparently he is the doc of choice for area athletes.

Right away, MS and ALS were conclusively ruled out of contention; though the doc (and, to be honest, I) expected MS, there was no evidence whatsoever on the MRIs to indicate either.

The cisternogram two weeks ago ruled out hydrocephalus. I do apparently have quite large first and second ventricles, though there is no readily identifiable cause for such. The third and fourth ventricles are normal. The enlarged ventricles might possibly be congenital, or might have been caused by something else sometime in the past (though I do not seem to ever have had any illness to explain the matter) but in any event the neurologist believes it is not active hydrocephalus.

Based on the tests he did in the office yesterday, whatever it is that I have is indeed a problem with the central nervous system. How can he tell? When you go to the doctor and he taps your knee with a hammer to test your reflexes, that's just one of the reflex tests that can be done. Do the same to your Achilles tendon or to the inside of your knee, and you're testing the central nervous system... and mine isn't working quite right.

On top of that is the ongoing and increasing muscular weakness in my legs (though my upper body strength is as good as or better than usual.)

Try this little experiment: sit in an ordinary chair. Then lift one foot off the floor by raising your knee straight up. Easy, right?

Not for me it isn't. I cannot do it at all, which reflects extreme weakness in some muscle or other in the hip area. Nor can I squeeze my knees together or push them apart with any force. I can barely use my hamstrings; my quads are doing comparatively well, but less than half of the muscle mass reacts when I try to do leg extensions.

Interestingly (to me, at least) some of the muscles which don't react to voluntary impulses do occasionally spasm or cramp pretty strongly. There's something there — I just can't control it.

Further, nothing we've seen rules out an additional diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy. The prospects of my ever again walking without a cane or crutches seem, to me, to be increasingly remote.

On the plus side, I'm finally getting a handicap tag for my truck. At least I'll get decent parking wherever I go. It's only good for six months, though — we're trying to be optimistic, I suppose.

More importantly — most importantly — I'm being referred to Duke Med for what might be called an extended second opinion. Seems my neurologist is friends with the head of neurology there. Excellent. I hope in this case two heads will in fact be better than one.

Posted by Russ at 09:00 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
August 15, 2007
A Very Good Listen

My musical tastes are pretty eclectic, but I like to think that I have a pretty high standard for what counts as worthwhile. The unintended side effect of that is that there are not a lot of musicians I'm willing to listen to over the long term, and even fewer to whom I'll pay good money to get a CD.

I've recently found (thanks, in a roundabout way, to Laurence) another CD to add to my collection:

Matthew Ebel, Beer & Coffee.

Yes, that's a link to a place you can buy it. No, it's not Amazon. No, I don't get a referral fee. This post is a purely unsolicited and uncompensated endorsement.

Try a representative sample or two from his website:

"Drive Away" and "Tennessee Never Cried (Live)" — good stuff.

No, great stuff.

Personally, I think Ebel sounds like Billy Joel might have, had he grown up somewhere other than New York... and had more soul.

Give him a listen, then buy the CD.

Posted by Russ at 09:09 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
August 14, 2007
Mystery: Ongoing

I went to see my regular doctor yesterday, on a sort of "touching bases" visit. As he is not a neurologist, I didn't actually expect any answers.

He did, however, talk to my neurologist, who has apparently declared himself "baffled."


I see the neurologist again on Friday; he'll be doing another exam, just in case something has been missed in previous exams. I'm hoping there will be an "a ha!" moment. And no, I don't mean the 1980s pop group from Norway, even though I think their music video was pretty cleverly done.

I have a bad feeling that when all this is done (assuming it ever gets done) I'm going to end up with a disease named after me. [Note to my little brother: no, not "geekitis."]

I'll be seeing my regular doc again in a few weeks. Why, I'm not sure, but it will give me a chance to ask about the TV, which I completely forgot to do yesterday. Oh, and about a handicap tag for the truck. I figure if I can get decent parking, I ought to do just that.

Posted by Russ at 01:04 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
August 10, 2007
Vitally Important Question

If a doctor prescribes physical therapy, could home gym equipment (Nautilus, Bowflex, what have you) then be tax-deductible as a medical expense?

Followup, 11Aug: While I'm at it, maybe I can get a prescription for a bigscreen TV. I'm not quite sure why a doc might prescribe one, though.

Posted by Russ at 06:36 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)
August 06, 2007
Happy Birthday, Sis

My little sister is having her ??th birthday today.

No, I'm not telling.

Posted by Russ at 12:37 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
August 03, 2007

I've just received a call from the neurologist's office. Having seen the results of the cisternogram done earlier this week, there is now some doubt as to the accuracy of the hydrocephalus diagnosis. Specificaly, the cisternogram showed no buildup of fluid in my brain.

I'm confused.

Something is definitely wrong; my legs work rather less than well, after all. Hardly at all, really. But having ruled out MS and ALS, and now pretty much ruling out the hydrocephalus... what is left? Perhaps we'll know more after my next trip to the neurologist.

Damn, this is aggravating. Now we're back to not knowing again.

Posted by Russ at 05:45 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)
Nocturnal Invader

Like most cats, Mycah hardly ever sleeps: only when she's not pooping or begging for food.

On rare occasions (perhaps six nights a week) she will decide to join me on the bed when I hit the rack. I suppose she thinks herself justified in doing so. After all, once I'm supine, she pretty much has a captive audience.

Well, not so much the audience part. She takes advantage of my recent immobility to demand — not request, but demand — skritches. She's even figured out where to position herself so that she's within arm's reach, at the right distance for effective skritch reception. Such a schemer, she is.

I am willing to deliver the skritches, but that's not the point, not at all. She is using me, just as she expects to be fed and watered and to have her poop scooped. Such a needy kitty.

And of course, a sleeping victim is so much easier to dispatch... which I have no doubt she'll do to me, once she figures out how to use can openers and poop scoopers on her own.

"Bad kitty! No homicide! Bad!" Naaaah, it's no use. Cats don't listen.

No one in my family believed that a cat would possibly spend time on something as comfortable as a Sealy Posturepedic (nature's Stoics, they are, preferring hard tile floors and the like) even when presented with evidence in the form of a Hefty bag full of cat hair collected from my sheets over the course of a week. I therefore cleverly left my camera on the nightstand, hoping to ambush my nocturnal nemesis.

[Click for larger.]


I'll give her this much, though: at least she doesn't try to steal the covers.

The Friday Ark is ready for boarding.

The Carnival of the Cats is coming soon, to Life from a Cat's Perspective.

Posted by Russ at 03:29 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
August 02, 2007
Quote of the Day
Even though America is a happy place, there are still some unhappy people here. They are unhappy that the president stole an election and that the government is spying on their phone. That's how happy America is: In other countries, people have real things to be unhappy about, but in America you have to make things up to be unhappy about.

The inimitable Frank J., in "A Happy Editorial About America"

See also Eiland's Theory of Compensatory Misery.

Posted by Russ at 01:03 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
August 01, 2007

The nerve conduction test... let's just say I hope I don't have to go through that again any time soon.

Here's how the test goes: electrical sensors, similar to those used in electrocardiograms, are affixed to various locations on the body (the legs in my case); machine-generated electrical impulses are then sent down the nerve pathways.

In short: they tazered me. Repeatedly. For half an hour. I think they enjoyed it.

Damn you, Luigi Galvani. Damn you.

No concrete results yet, of course (Same day? Are you kidding?) but mutterings of peripheral neuropathy could be heard from down the halls.


Posted by Russ at 06:25 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Get the Geiger Counter
Well I'm not uptight
Not unattracted
Turn me on tonight
'Cause I'm radioactive (radioactive)

The lumbar puncture Monday went rather well. Though I was at the hospital for perhaps two hours, the procedure itself took only about ten minutes, and contrary to my expectations, wasn't even a little bit uncomfortable, much less actually painful.

The point of the procedure, of course, was to introduce a radioactive isotope — Indium 111 — into my spinal fluid so that later scans can track the flow thereof. The first such scan, yesterday, was another ten-minute affair. I expect that the second, scheduled for noon today, will be no different.

I've no idea what the results might be. I just hope the doc can make sense of the scans and find out what it is he needs to know.

After the cisternogram scan at about noon, I have another completely different test procedure: the electromyogram, or nerve conduction test. Should be fun... depending on how you define "fun."

Posted by Russ at 09:31 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)