Tuesday, January 19, 2021

5121 Grandmother's Attitudes

 I've been thinking about my grandmother a lot lately.  Well, over the past few years, actually.  Mainly since all this white supremacist crap has been scaring me.  

I don't know for sure when Gramma was born, but I think it was probably just before 1900.  I was born in 1944, so when my father was off flying jets in Europe during WWII, Mom and I lived with Gramma and Grampa in Scranton, Pa., along with my great-Gramma.  I don't really remember Great-Gramma because she died while I was still a toddler.  What was most interesting about her was that she was born in Wales (I think) and she hated the English, and refused to speak English.  She spoke only Welsh.  I never heard my Grandparents speak Welsh, and my mother certainly didn't, so I don't know how that worked in the household.

There's a LOT I don't know about my family.

Anyway, that means my grandparents (maternal - I never met my paternal grandparents at all, even though they lived nearby) went through WWI and the great depression.  One story from that time was that my grandfather avoided being drafted for WWI by shooting off his right big toe.  Just "went hunting" one day, and shot it off "while climbing a fence".  

My grandmother's skin was so white you could see the blood vessels under it.  My mother's skin was like that when she was young, before she started tanning.  Gramma was a member of the Puritan chirch.  Went to church every Sunday.  Founding member of the local chapter.  Allowed no spirits or tobacco or swearing in her house.  Member of the women's auxiliary, which raised money for the church every year by baking and selling Welsh cookies.  Now you can buy them all over Scranton, but back then, the ladies were sworn to protect the recipe, and the Puritan church was the only place you could get them.  They sold like, well, hot cakes. (Snork!)  Gramma was highly respected in her community.

Now, the other side.  The side that bothers me now.  

Gramma pretty much hated "others".

She passionately hated the Irish.  They were all drunks and would cheat you blind.

She hated Catholics.  They took from the poor to give to the pope.

She hated the Jews.  "They killed our Lord!"  Um, Gramma, Jesus was Jewish.  "No, Jesus was Christian!"

The only good people were from Wales or England.  The Scots were barbarians.  The French were dissolute. The Nordic people and Dutch were maybe ok, but people from eastern Europe were untrustworthy.  Spanish and Italians were completely unacceptable, not only because they were probably secretly Catholic even if they said they weren't, but also because their skin was too dark, always a fatal flaw.

She judged people by their last names.  Your name could not end in any vowel except 'e' or 'y'.  She would not patronize any business where the owner's name ended in "a", "i", or "o" unless there was no other option, because they would cheat you blind.  The Greeks were the worst.

Asians and Africans weren't really people. God hated them, obviously, look where he put them.  By the way, that "not really people" was literal.  They were so subhuman, she gave them no more consideration than the stray dog in the street.

It wasn't just Gramma.  It seemed like all her friends thought the same.  They'd stand on the steps outside church and say terribly nasty things about the parishioners attending the Catholic church around the corner, and then pass through the church doors and act all sweet and loving and holy.  

Even as a child, that disgusted me.

Gramma was a product of her time.

My mother had a few of the same attitudes in her youth, but when she got away from that environment and met more people, gradually it all melted away.  Like, when I was a child there were certain classmates I was not allowed to play with because they weren't "our kind", but that gradually faded away.  

Now, I like to think I have no automatic prejudices, and neither do most of the people I know.  

So all these white supremacists confuse me.  And scare me.  How have they reverted to my grandmother?  I don't understand.

Actually, I am aware of one prejudice I do have.  I dislike people who are willfully ignorant.  Who don't think, who refuse to think.


Later - I got to thinking about my grandmother's family names.  What letters did they end with?

Bloss, Evans, Williams, Morris, Jones, Davis, and Gyrmyn. 

Gyrmyn LOOKS Welsh, more so even than the others, but it's actually a very old English name.  The others are some of the most common names in Wales.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

5120 Keeping Me Awake

 I haven't been updating much lately because I can't see very well these days --- nothing important, just a detail involving my prescription and the fact that I'm hiding from 'Rona.  But I felt it important to share this video.  It's 16 minutes long.  Stick with it all the way to the end.  Don't watch it if you like to sleep.




Tuesday, July 16, 2019

5119 A Day That Will Live In Infamy

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

This is a comment found on a YouTube video.  Forgive the formatting (lousy Blogger).


 Douglas Barton
Douglas Barton
1 minute ago
What is it like to live in the United States under Donald Trump?

Donald Trump is the worst president I’ve lived under, and I am 80. As many have stated, he
simply doesn’t have the mind for the job. I thought that after he was elected he might
choose to become the president of all the people. Unfortunately, that has not come to pass.

He really is a narcissist. He’s only in it for himself. He’s not even in it for his base. In fact,
he uses his base to get what he wants and massage his tender ego. But, what is worse than
Donald Trump is the tribalism that has come to the surface because of him. The rise in hate
is more than sad. It’s a travesty.

62,979,879 voted for Trump, 65,844,954 voted for Clinton 70,000,000 did not vote for
anyone, the worst voter turnout for a Presidential election in history.

It's changed how I feel about my country. I honestly didn't think this could happen here. It's
changed my view of the Republican Party, to see how they've fallen into a lockstep behind
this man. It's changed how I feel about my neighbors. (This was the worst, by far, the day
after the election, when I was literally in shock, and couldn't look at anyone, anywhere
without a feeling of suspicion and rage: Did YOU vote for him?)

It's changed how I feel about the right-wing media, from annoyance and irritation to fear and
loathing, having now seen the overwhelming power of propaganda, and a feeling of
impotence to fight against it. It's changed how I feel about the Evangelical Christian
community, from a quirky variant of Christianity to a malevolent force for evil. It's changed
my perception of humanity in general, to see how easily people can be reduced to mindless,
tribal allegiances, and how to hate and fear Trump's tolerance and love.

Among the more outspoken of conservative and religiously involved people I see on a face-
to-face basis, the intensity of anger and bitterness toward my America I hear coming out of
their heads is gut-wrenching. I can see a Nazi party from the so-called do ultra-conservative
ideologues. The USA had evolved into several nations, we have become tribal and ferocious
with each other. Many speak of politicians from the other tribe with a ferocity of hatred that
would equate more realistically to someone who’d broken into their house and
dismembered their pets. Yet, the rage is justified on the basis of what these public figures
represent, their ideologies rather than any specific harm. As I listen to what these people
have to say, what I feel is the school shooter mentality being expressed.

Probably the worst part is that all the disgusting, racist, sexist, revolting people have come
out of hiding. They think that because Trump won that they have been vindicated, and
somehow has a license to be their sick self in public whereas before they had to hide their
deplorable behavior in the name of being “politically correct.” They seem to delight in their
bright red hats and Confederate flags, using racial slurs is far more common and every time
you call them out on it they start carrying on about how you’re a “snowflake.”

America is now hated and laughed at around the World. From withdrawing from the Paris
Climate Accord, to threatening NATO and our NATO allies, to praising Putin and other
world dictators, to imposing nonsensical tariffs, Trump has relinquished America’s role as
the leader of the free world, and relegated the U.S. to the new role of a laughingstock that
can’t be trusted. And then there’s bashing the free press, bashing law enforcement, bashing
the judicial system, insulting and threatening everyone and everything that don’t agree with
him. Trump is tearing the country apart to the point that I truly believe a civil war is in the
offing if he is allowed to continue to serve. Yeah, other than that, everything is just ducky in
the old U.S.A.

I don't know what else to add. At age 80, there has been no day in my life that has changed
who I am and how I feel about the world as much as Nov. 8, 2016, a day that for me, will
live in infamy.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

5118 GOP Jesus

April 16, 2019


Friday, March 29, 2019

5117 I'm Back!

March 28, 2019

Man, it's been a year.  Actually, I thought it was longer.  Before I get into what's been going on over the past year, here's a bit I found a long time ago and saved.

Comment on YouTube video, December 11, 2017 "Late Night With Seth Meyers, from user Mr. N ---

Liberals need to relax. Trump is making America great again! Just look at the progress made since the election: 
1. Unprecedented levels of ongoing civic engagement. 
2. Millions of Americans now know who their state and federal representatives are without having to google. 
3. Millions of Americans are exercising more. They're holding signs and marching every week. 
4. Alec Baldwin is great again. Everyone's forgotten he's kind of a jerk. 
5. The Postal Service is enjoying the influx cash due to stamps purchased by millions of people for letter and postcard campaigns. 
6. Likewise, the pharmaceutical industry is enjoying record growth in sales of anti-depressants. 
7. Millions of Americans now know how to call their elected officials and know exactly what to say to be effective. 
8. Footage of town hall meetings is now entertaining. 
9. Tens of millions of people are now correctly spelling words like emoluments, narcissist, fascist, misogynist, holocaust and cognitive dissonance. 
10. Everyone knows more about the rise of Hitler than they did last year. 
11. Everyone knows more about legislation, branches of power and how checks and balances work. 
12. Marginalized groups are experiencing a surge in white allies. 
13. White people in record numbers have just learned that racism is not dead. (See #6) 
14. White people in record numbers also finally understand that Obamacare IS the Affordable Care Act. 
15. Stephen Colbert's "Late Night" finally gained the elusive #1 spot in late night talk shows, and Seth Meyers is finding his footing as today's Jon Stewart. 
16. "Mike Pence" has donated millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood since Nov. 9th. 
17. Melissa FREAKING McCarthy. 
18. Travel ban protesters put $24 million into ACLU coffers in just 48 hours, enabling them to hire 200 more attorneys. Lawyers are now heroes. 
19. As people seek veracity in their news sources, respected news outlets are happily reporting a substantial increase in subscriptions, a boon to a struggling industry vital to our democracy. 
20. Live streaming court cases and congressional sessions are now as popular as the Kardashians. 
21. Massive cleanup of facebook friend lists. 
22. People are reading classic literature again.  Sales of George Orwell's "1984" increased by 10,000% after the inauguration. (Yes, that is true. 10,000%. 9th grade Lit teachers all over the country are now rock stars.) 
 23. More than ever before, Americans are aware that education is important. Like, super important. 
24. Now, more than anytime in history, everyone believes that anyone can be President. Seriously, anyone.


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

5116 Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking is gone.  I am sad.  I guess I thought he could stop time.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

5115 Share this, please!

Saturday, February 17, 2018

I'm not involved in any social networks that could help to distribute this, but everyone needs to watch it.  Please, those few people who read this blog, please pass this on.  Twitter, FaceBook, whatever.  This young lady is amazing, and she says words that everyone needs to hear.


Thursday, January 11, 2018

5114 A spot of good news

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

My primary care physician insisted that I had to see a dermatologist about the spots on my left shoulder.  I have two black raised thingies, near the neck and just above the collar bone.  They grew over the space of a year to about the size of the pink part of a fingernail, almost thirty years ago, and haven't changed an iota since then.  One is soft, one is hard and rough.  Both have a "neck", no apparent attachment below the surface.  Absolutely everyone who has ever seen them, even complete strangers, has expressed concern.

So, ok.  I'll get them checked.  (By the way, the chemo I had last year happens to be also used for skin cancer.)

The dermatologist looked at them.  The soft one is an angioma, a benign tumor of blood vessel tissue.  It never gets cancerous, and can be removed, but because they are usually full of blood, it would have to be cauterized to prevent excessive bleeding.  The rough one is seborrheic keratosis, a benign tumor of the outer skin layer.  It's easy to remove.  They rarely go cancerous, but we should watch for changes just in case.  Given how long I've had this thing with no change, it's probably not going to be a problem.

I asked him if they SHOULD be removed, and he asked me if they bothered me, and I said no, not at all, except for people bugging me about them all the time, and he said that in that case, shrug, no, neither needs removal.

I also showed him some spots on my face, both near the right whatchamacallit - the straight piece that goes from the side of my glasses to my ears - both tiny flat rough spots, one near the corner of my eye that's light brownish and one closer to my ear that's colorless.  Both have appeared within the past year and a half.  Again, they are both
seborrheic keratosis.  He asked if they bother me?  No, especially because there's a spot about an inch above the nose piece of my glasses that "goes that way" for a year or two every few years, and then it goes away.  (I kind of liked it because it looked like a Hindu bindi.)  Ok.  They can be removed, but certainly don't need to be.

You know, my PCP spoke highly of this guy, and now I'm pretty impressed, too.  Too many doctors would yell "Might be precancerous!  Must do a biopsy!" to protect themselves.   What the hell, it's no skin off their nose (sorry about that joke).  This guy apparently has confidence in his diagnoses.

By the way, if you look up images of  angiomas or seborrheic keratosis online, mine look nothing like those things.  The black spots on my shoulder are oval and well-shaped, separated that tiny bit from the base by a neck, so the surrounding skin is neat.  The only thing alarming about them is that they're black.  The spots on my face are flat and perfectly round (for now, anyway), smaller than an eraser head.  

Even though I hadn't been worried about any of it, I can't believe how much better I feel.  Maybe it's just because now when people point in horror, I can say, yes, they've been checked out, and they're ok (so get off my back) (and that includes you, Dr. Primary Care).  Sheesh!

Monday, January 01, 2018

5113 I'm still here!

January 1, 2018

I haven't updated here since September.  Don't know exactly why, I guess because nothing's happening.  Read the previous entry, multiply by the number of posts I should have made, and that's about it.

I'm taking the Femara every day, and I hate it.  I always have had aches and pains all over (fibro), and this stuff makes more bone and joint pain, so for about two hours in the morning I move bent over like those ancient folks with the walkers.  I'm going through a second menopause.  My hair is starting to fall out again. 

I am so tired all the time.  I have no muscle tone anymore.  By afternoon I can stand straight and walk pretty well, and I think I look ok, but lately clerks are being so gentle with me, packing bags lightly, carrying things out to the car for me and so on, so I think maybe I actually must look pretty awful.  I don't mind.  I'm too tired and depressed to care.

I know what I need.  I need exercise.  I need to get out more.  I need to move more.  I need to start seriously working on recovering.  There's nothing else wrong with me, except that I have allowed the past year and a half to grind me down, and when I think about where I was physically before all this (before New Jersey got hold of me!), that's when I get depressed.  I just have to work a little harder to get back to where I was once.  At 73 it may not be easy, but it's durn well possible.

Well, that's all for now.  I have a zillion things to do (2017 financial stuff that has to be wrapped up, mostly), and it seems like everything takes twice as long now as it should.  But --- I'll try to get back into the blog habit.  It's the only way I can be sure what happened when....

Thursday, September 14, 2017

5112 Medical update - eyes and mammo

September 14, 2017

I had the second treatment with the macular specialist for my right eye yesterday.

Before I saw the doctor, the technician did the usual "read the chart" thing, and did a scan of the back of my eyeball.  I did better with the chart than I did last month, and my scan results were spectacular!  The doctor was impressed.  He said they don't usually see results like this until nearly a year into treatment.  His excitement was palpable.

It's nice to get some good news.   And again, I felt nothing when he did the shot into the eye.


I think I forgot to mention it, but I finally got another mammogram a week or so ago.  I  had a followup visit with the radiation oncologist and he asked when I'd had my last mammo, and I said it was over a year ago, before the diagnosis, and I'd been asking when I'd get the next, and everyone just shrugged, and I was getting concerned, so he wrote me the prescription for a diagnostic scan right then and there.  (A diagnostic mammogram is different from a regular mammo - it's done with a radiologist looking at it in real time, as it's happening, so if there's anything questionable they can reshoot or zoom in right then, and you get the results immediately.)  I am all clear.  I was concerned about all the scar tissue in the right breast, and the underside of that breast where there's some hard scar tissue is very sensitive to pressure, but she said no problem, they could see clear through it.

Another way the diagnostic mammo is different from a regular is that the diagnostic mammogram is much more, uh, I don't know the word to use.  It's much tighter, and they cram more of the material in, like you're being eaten by the machine.  I still have the chemo port implant in my chest, about 1.5 inches below my collar bone.  The technician crammed so much of my chest into the machine that the port was actually squished between the plates.   Remember, I'm in my 70s, and that breast is a DD, so the breast is pretty far down these days. So to squish up to less than an inch from the collar bone is pretty durn impressive.  In my entire life, that's the first time a mammo hurt - that port is hard!

My left breast is a DD.  Now that the mutilated right has settled down, I estimate it to be about a C.  I like the C  much better!  When I wear the right bra that raises up and cinches down the left, and clothing that skims rather than clings, you can barely see a difference.  (Yes, there is a difference, but it's not immediately obvious.)  However, because of the tenderness in the scar tissue, I prefer to do without a bra as much as possible, and then the difference is glaring. The unfettered left is MUCH lower, and it, uh, swings, whereas the right is high and tight.  Sigh.  By the time I'd be medically approved for surgery to reduce the left to match, I'll be too old to care anymore.

Anyway, clear,  both breasts.  Not much, but I'll take it.


Oh, something I don't understand.  The chemo doctor said that if I get a tumor in the left breast, or another in the right, it is not considered a a recurrence of the original cancer (not metastatic), but brand new cancer with likely different characteristics.  If bits of the original tumor has traveled at all, it would go to the lungs, brain, liver, kidneys, bone, etc. etc. etc.  Not the other breast.

I don't understand why it doesn't ever metastasize to the other breast (his implication).  Doesn't make sense to me.  If I were a wandering breast tumor cell, that's where I'd go....

Monday, September 04, 2017

5111 Unusually amusing video

Monday, September 4, 2017

This is funny.  It's just under 9 minutes long, but when it ends, you'll wish it had been longer.


Friday, August 25, 2017

5110 Interference

Friday, August 25, 2017

FYI, in case it ever comes up in discussion, these are the Instances of the United States overthrowing, or attempting to overthrow, a foreign government since the Second World War. (* indicates successful ouster of a government) 

China 1949 to early 1960s
Albania 1949-53
East Germany 1950s
Iran 1953 *
Guatemala 1954 *
Costa Rica mid-1950s
Syria 1956-7
Egypt 1957
Indonesia 1957-8
British Guiana 1953-64 *
Iraq 1963 *
North Vietnam 1945-73
Cambodia 1955-70 *
Laos 1958 *, 1959 *, 1960 *
Ecuador 1960-63 *
Congo 1960 *
France 1965
Brazil 1962-64 *
Dominican Republic 1963 *
Cuba 1959 to present
Bolivia 1964 *
Indonesia 1965 *
Ghana 1966 *
Chile 1964-73 *
Greece 1967 *
Costa Rica 1970-71
Bolivia 1971 *
Australia 1973-75 *
Angola 1975, 1980s
Zaire 1975
Portugal 1974-76 *
Jamaica 1976-80 *
Seychelles 1979-81
Chad 1981-82 *
Grenada 1983 *
South Yemen 1982-84
Suriname 1982-84
Fiji 1987 *
Libya 1980s
Nicaragua 1981-90 *
Panama 1989 *
Bulgaria 1990 *
Albania 1991 *
Iraq 1991
Afghanistan 1980s *
Somalia 1993
Yugoslavia 1999-2000 *
Ecuador 2000 *
Afghanistan 2001 *
Venezuela 2002 *
Iraq 2003 *
Haiti 2004 *
Somalia 2007 to present
Honduras 2009
Libya 2011 *
Syria 2012

I know I have little respect for commenters on YouTube videos, but this comes from a prolific and erudite commenter whom I respect enormously.  He did not cite his sources.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

5109 Surreal City

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

On the 10th, Daughter, Hercules, Nugget, and I went to Manhattan and visited the 9/11 memorial.

We drove north to some NJ town (I forget the name) across from our target, parked in a multi-story garage, walked about a block to a train/metro/subway station, and took the train under the river, emerging about a block from the memorial park.  All very efficient.   

The station we came out to was huge, all white marble, multilevel with hundreds of very expensive glittering shops, amazingly clean, more like a mall in Dubai than the subway stations I remember from when I was taking company classes in NYC in the '70s.  There were hallways leading off from the cavernous glass-roofed central section, and everywhere there were stairs!  Stairs stairs, and more stairs.  I can "do" stairs, but I don't trust my right knee, so I take stairs with one hand gripping the railing, and two steps per tread.  Yes, there were elevators at either end, but you have to go up and down stairs to get to them.  Very poor design. 

It was surreal.  New York City wasn't New York City.  Not the way I remember it, anyway.  In all the walking we did that day, I didn't see one single rat, squirrel, panhandler, or pigeon the whole time we were there.  No pigeons!  None.  What did they do to them?  What is Pale Male finding to eat?  The sidewalks, streets, and curbs were all clean, not so much as a scrap of paper or cigarette butt or melted ice cream puddle anywhere, which was doubly strange because there were almost no trash barrels anywhere, either.  I found exactly two over maybe ten blocks of wanders.  There's no way it could be just this neighborhood - if there are were pigeons up the street, they'd find their way here.  They fly, you know.  Surreal.

So, we went to the pools.  They are the footprints of the buildings, so I expected them to be larger.  The first name I read on the wall was a woman "and her unborn child".  That was too sad.  I didn't read any more names.  

Water pours down the inner walls and then into a smaller deeper pit in the center.  I wondered where the water came from and where it went.  

Then we went to the tall building.  I don't know what they call it.  Seems like it's still called the world trade center.  I don't know what businesses might be in the building, didn't see any identifying signs.  We went in a tourist door bypassing the long line because we had tickets, and were herded through a security check, and to a bank of elevators, down corridors with moving pictures on the walls, and all I could think of was the herding at Disney.  

We were going up to the observation deck a jillion stories up.  The elevator walls showed moving pictures of the view we were to see, and there was NO feeling of movement.  The Sears tower in Chicago isn't as high, but a.) I remember my ears popping there, a lot, and b.) the elevator didn't go all the way up in Chicago, you had to switch halfway up to a second elevator to go the rest of the way.  This elevator went all the way up in seconds (how?), and my ears only slightly clicked.  It started to feel like it wasn't real.

We emerged to a reception area where the windows had a covering showing more moving pictures and people nattered at us for a bit.  You can rent for $15 an ipad thingy that you point out the windows and it shows the view and has labels on the things you can see.  Daughter and Hercules didn't want to rent one, but I did because I wanted to know what I was looking at (but it wasn't intuitive and for the first hour it wasn't "looking at" the same view I was). Then the panels over the windows rose, and we saw the real view, and everybody oohed and aahed. 

We moved up a level, and were in an area with windows all around, 360 view.  Walk around, point ipad, lose Daughter, find her, lose Hercules and Nugget, find them, lose everybody, call on cell phone, rinse, repeat.  Everything was labelled "world", but that's not the world out there, it's Manhattan and New Jersey.  And the haze was preventing seeing the upper end of the island or very far into New Jersey.

There was a large circle at one point with a glass floor, and supposedly you could stand on the floor and look down on the streets below.  But, uh, what's below that floor is the inside of the building, folks.  Hercules said we were actually probably looking at a televised view of the street.  And that's when it all got very weird for me.

The hallways at the bottom had projections of street views.  The elevator had projections on the walls.  There were no buttons in the elevator, we just got on and it went up.  No feeling of movement, no ear discomfort.  The "glass floor" was a projection.  I saw nothing out the windows at the top that would convince me it was not ALL projection.   All of it out those windows, just Plato's shadows.  I sensed no sway.  Seems like there should be some sway.  Maybe we actually just went up six floors, and we're just looking at a big screen wrapped around the building.  No pigeons?  Clean gutters?  Maybe it's all been fake since we got off the train?  WHERE ARE WE?!?!

I really seriously started to doubt it all.  Really.  Seriously.  No kidding.  It was not a good feeling.

After we left there, we went looking for somewhere to eat.  We walked a few blocks up West, and finally I picked a place with an outdoor patio, my treat.  Nugget got two deviled eggs, Daughter got a salad, I got a hamburger and fries (which Nugget ate), and Hercules at first refused to order anything, complaining about city prices and repeating that when he worked in the city he always carried his lunch, but I think Daughter convinced him to order some small appetizer, Gramma's paying, remember?  I forget.  Anyway, it came to $80.  It felt like NYC again.

We walked around some more, then Daughter and Hercules decided they wanted to walk in the park along the river.  I knew my sauntering would slow the three of them down, so I found a place to sit next to a real honest-to-gosh trash can on West Street, near the entrance to an indoor mall, only the second one I'd seen all day, this one with an ash tray arrangement on top, and told them that it was an ideal place to sit and people-watch for an hour.  Besides, my memories of the city included filthy streets, so I had worn closed shoes, (but without socks, because it's August), and I was working on a blister on the back of my heel, so sitting would be nice.  Daughter said, "Sir next to a trash bin?", and I pointed out that the freakin' thing was spotless!  It looked polished!  In fact, over the next hour or so I put two butts in the ashtray, and damn if each butt wasn't gone the next time I turned around.  Like magic!  Better than Disney.  It was getting surreal again.

And then we went home.  That was Thursday.  The next day was my ophthalmologist's appointment where I got the totally painless shot in my eyeball, and then on Saturday my hips started complaining - but not very much.  I actually was rather proud that I was able to walk so much.  I have GOT to start getting more exercise!

And, seriously, I am still worried about what they did to the pigeons.  And the panhandlers.  (I did see one dirtywaterdog cart.  I guess there's still some NYC in NYC.)

Monday, August 21, 2017

5108 Eclipse

Monday, August 21, 2017

Nothing much happened here.  We were supposed to get something like 73-78% (I'm not going to look it up again), and it was clear skies out there, but there was just a slight dimming as it passed.  I was watching the sun patches under the tree in the front yard, and saw no shadow move into them.  Birds didn't seem to react, either.  I don't understand.

The last equivalent eclipse I experienced was in 1969, I think, in Kingston, New York.  It was about the same percentage as this one, but I seem to remember it as much different.  It got noticeably darker and cooler, and you could see the moon's shadow move across the sun patches under trees.  Eerie.

I watched a live broadcast on YouTube of when it first hit land (Oregon?  I'm not going to look it up) this morning, and I made the mistake of reading the comments scrolling down the right side of the screen.  Screams of "FAKE!  I'm in Pennsylvania right now, and the sun looks just like normal!"  And so on.  Some people were displaying their smarts by pointing out that it requires a full moon, since a quarter moon or new moon wouldn't fully cover the sun.  

I despair. 

Others were excited because "It won't happen again for 100 years!"  It won't happen here for a while, but there are multiple solar eclipses every single year.  It's just that the vast majority are over the ocean, or desolate or inaccessible areas of Mongolia or the Russian taiga.  Also, the path is relatively short - one or two thousand miles altogether.  I felt sorry for that young lady in France who was begging folks to tell her when it would reach Europe.

I should know better by now - do not read YouTube comments!  It leads to thoughts of suicide.

5107 Collisions at sea

Monday, August 21, 2017

There have been two collisions between US warships and large commercial ships in the Pacific in the past two months, nasty enough to rip holes in the steel.

I don't understand how that can happen.  It's not like the other guy came out from behind a tree, or from around a corner.


Edit 8/23/17 - Actually, there have been four, not two, collisions in the Pacific since January, two with fatalities.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

5106 Medical update - eyes

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

As if surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, meds that make me ache, and three teeth pulled in one day weren't enough, I am now getting monthly injections in my eyeball.  Yeah.  In the eyeball.  Told ya it was icky.

I've had this eyeglass prescription for like five years now, so back in maybe early May when I noticed I was having difficulty reading street signs, I wasn't surprised.  It's about time.  Went to my optometrist.  Couldn't read anything on the screen with my right eye.  The big "E", but nothing else.  Left eye was fine.
She freaked and did a bunch of more tests, and informed me that she suspected macular degeneration, in both eyes, and recommended that I see an ophthalmologist ASAP.

Macular degeneration?  For many years I've had one of those grids, you know, all the little squares with the dot in the middle, on my refrigerator.  You're supposed to look at the dot with each eye, and check that the grid looks regular.  I really have been doing it occasionally.  Always looked just fine to me.

I called the optometrist's  first choice recommendation, and got an appointment several weeks out.  I gave them my insurance info, she assured me the accepted it, and my optometrist sent copies of my scans etc.

The DAY BEFORE the appointment, the ophthalmologist's office called to inform me that they didn't actually take my insurance.  Oops.  Appointment cancelled.  Three weeks plus down the drain.

I went online to my insurance company to find a doctor on their list of physicians, and there were no ophthalmologists listed.  The next Monday I called the insurance company, and got two recommendations.  I made an appointment with the first.  Two weeks later, that office called to ask what specifically I was calling about, because they noticed I was an adult, and their office handles mostly pediatric strabismus.  Another two weeks down.

So I called the second recommendation.  I actually made it into the office that time, and got examined.  When I told the ophthalmologist that the optometrist suspected macular degeneration, she shook her head. 
"Um, no, I don't do that.  You need a macular specialist."  Like, I'm supposed to know about the specialties, and who does what?  So I asked her to examine me anyway and see if she agrees with that preliminary diagnosis, and if so, can she recommend a macular specialist?

She said ok, and diagnosed wet macular degeneration in both eyes, the right more advanced, and gave me some names that she was sure took my insurance, one of whom she highly recommended.

Great.  After two months, we're making some headway.  In the meantime, the right eye has deteriorated.  It had gone from sometimes no noticeable problem on some days to now constant grayed-out blurred central vision every day, and the past couple of weeks I'm getting some roundish areas of sparkle.  Oh, and the grid on the refrigerator is now wavy - when the right eye is clear enough to see it.

Saw the finally right doctor on Friday, August 4th.  Exam.  I think it was last Thursday Daughter drove me in for the first treatment.  You know, I knew I was going to get a shot in the right eyeball, but for some reason I wasn't nervous at all, which surprised me!

The technician put several kinds of drops in my eyes, then several rounds of numbing drops, then a shot of Novocaine (!) very shallowly under the outer layer (I forget whether that was the doctor or the technician) which worried me at first because that crap hurts when you get it anywhere else, but I didn't feel anything at all.  At. All!

Then the doctor futzed around a bit, once for all of two seconds using a clampy thing to hold the eye open while telling me to look at the tip of my nose, then he announced all done.  I don't even know when I got the injection.

I said, "That's it?"  I asked him why we're treating only the right eye if both are degenerating, and he said that the right eye is wet, the left is dry.  The left may at some time go to wet, but for now we don't have to mess with it.  He also said that we can halt the progression, and with the least little luck we can probably even get regression and restore much of the right eye vision.

I'll get a shot in the eye of Avastin once a month now for I don't know how long.

When the numbing wore off, there was no pain.  That evening I had a small blood spot on the top, under the upper eyelid, but the next morning it was gone.


I hate New Jersey.  I swear I didn't get old until I moved here.

Oh, and what bugs me the most is that no one will give me a new prescription for lenses, even just for the left eye, because "it will change as you go through treatment", so I STILL can't read street names until I'm almost on top of them.  No fair! 

Also, if you look up wet macular degeneration, you'll see examples of the vision loss.  I'm not that bad.  I can see big things with my right eye just fine.  I can't see detail.  I can see the microwave across the room, I can see the clock on it, I just can't read the time on it.  On good days I can read the time.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

5105 Medical Update - teeth

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

As reported earlier, I'm taking generic Femara.  After the first few weeks, I no longer have the hot flashes.  I do have bone, joint, and muscle pain, but I've always had that, so I don't know whether it's the Femara or not.  No big deal.

I have slight osteopenia in my left hip, so the chemo doc wants to put me on Fosamax  to protect my bones from the Femara.  That has its own set of side effects.  For some strange reason it especially likes to cause problems with the jaw bones, so I need to have all dental work taken care of now, because if there's anything wrong with the jaw bones, it won't heal.  When I was entubated for the lumpectomy, apparently they smashed a molar on the upper right, and shortly after surgery it crumbled, so something had to be done about that.  (By the way, every time I have been entubated, they've either broken a tooth or dislocated my jaw - which I don't understand, because when I was an EMT, we never broke anyone's mouth.  We never had to push that hard.  The opening you aim for is straight back there, and as long as you aim straight....)

So, dentist.  I found one, got an appointment right off, explained the situation and what I wanted done, and the time constraints.   He took xrays, and worked up a plan right then, said I had to pay for it ALL before he'd start, they have an arrangement with a loan shark if I don't have it up front, and said I had to follow his instructions and do everything he said or he'd refuse to treat me.  

If I hadn't been under time pressure, I'd have thought about it more.

His bill was $12,000, but he was giving me a discount so all he wanted was $9,000 paid in full before he started.  I don't have dental insurance.

I moved some money around online, called Schwab to sell some stock so I could replace that money to pay some insurance premiums and real estate taxes coming up soon, and wrote him a check that day, and the next business day he started.  Pulled three teeth, and did something involving lasers and scraping.

THEN I looked at the plan, thought about it, and did some research.  The broken tooth on the upper right did need pulling.  I'd had a root canal on that tooth  and it was capped or something, so I had no pain from it, but it still needed to be fixed somehow.  He pulled two more teeth on the bottom right because in the xrays, it showed blank areas under the crowns, just above the roots.  Neither of those teeth had been bothering me, and the xrays showed just blank spaces, there was NO INFECTION!  Now I wonder why they needed pulling.  It's possible that was just empty space, or packing.

The laser and scraping was root planing, on 1/4 of my mouth, three more quarters to go.  But I remembered that when he was poking around in my mouth, he dictated to the technician on that first visit  "periodontal disease, slight."  So given what I wanted when I came in, did I need that?

Plus, they gave me a special rotating electric toothbrush and a special mouthwash, which showed up on the bill.  No option.  No refusal.  My gums and palate are extremely ticklish and I told the technician there was NO WAY I'd be able to use the damn thing, my regular brush and routine seem to be doing fine, but, well, doctor says....

Now I got mad.  I didn't want to go back, called and cancelled my next appointment ($250 charge for cancelling) and said I was willing to pay for work done, but wanted a refund of the remaining $9,000 deposit.  The gal gave me an argument, said they couldn't refund anything because he "gave you a discount".

The earlier research I'd done before going showed glowing reviews of the practice.  I dug deeper.  Turns out this guy's license had been suspended for five years in 2010.  I found the actual legal consent decree he'd had to sign to get his suspension reduced to six weeks with the remainder of the time on probation, with a healthy fine spread over those five years.  He'd been suspended for doing unnecessary procedures (bingo), charging for materials not used, not offering patients the option of purchasing things outside (like the toothbrush and mouthwash, bingo) as the dental association requires, and not refunding payments when patients bail (bingo).

That was three weeks ago.  No refund yet.  I may have to sue the SOB.  And I WILL notify the NJ dental board.

So, that's been going on.

I may have to see another dentist.  I think he may have left some fragment of that upper tooth in there.

There's more. Eyes.  Next post for the really icky stuff.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

5104 All the news that's fit to .... whatever.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

 "Trump: a poor person's idea of what a rich person is, 
a stupid person's idea of what smart person is, 
a weak person's idea of what strong person is." 
Fran Leibowitz, Chris Falcinelli, and others


On Korea.  I almost died of eyeroll when Trump did his tough-guy act.  Having no concept of history or motivations, he's played right into Kim's hands.  The Kim dynasty is terribly afraid of revolution and of being deposed, so they've been ruling through fear, convincing the populace that the Americans want to invade and conquer them, and "only we can save you".  The people have no access to outside news/views, and they still remember the war in the 50's, so that used to work.  But that was a long time ago, and people are forgetting, so Kim needs to refresh that fear.

Please watch the following video.  This is an Australian guy who has lived in Japan for many years (Japanese wife and children and the whole bit), and he expresses exactly what the rest of the world sees.  I don't claim to know much of anything about international stuff, but I agree with his observations 100%.  And he's living in Japan, where if anyone should be freaking out like the US is, it should be them!  Unlike the US, however, they know what's going on.   (He's just driving and talking, so it's not necessary to actually watch the video.  You can just listen.)



On Charlottesville.  This blog post from Greg expresses my thoughts perfectly.  Enjoy.


On Medicare and health care insurance.  I just realized something horrifying!  Republicans would love to gut Medicare, but are afraid to.  Medicare doesn't (normally) kick in until you are into your mid-60s.  So all they have to do is make sure that people who would cost Medicare the most (the least healthy seniors) simply don't make it into or much past their mid-60s!  Voila!  Medicare costs cut.


On American Exceptionalism. I believe the following came from The Newsroom (2012–2014), an American drama television series created by Aaron Sorkin, airing on HBO, that chronicles the behind-the-scenes events at the fictional Atlantis Cable News (ACN) channel.
There's absolutely no evidence to support the statement that we're the greatest country in the world. We're seventh in literacy. Twenty-seventh in math. Twenty-second in science. Forty-ninth in life expectancy. A hundred and seventy-eighth in infant mortality. Third in median household income. Number four in labor force and number four in exports. We lead the world in only three categories: Number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real, and defense spending,

And with a straight face, you're gonna sit there and tell students that America is so star-spangled awesome that we're the only ones in the world who have freedom? Canada has freedom. Japan has freedom. The U.K. France. Italy. Germany. Spain. Australia. BELGIUM has freedom. Two hundred and seven sovereign states in the world, like, a hundred and eighty of them have freedom.

Now none of this is the fault of a twenty-year-old college student, but you nonetheless are without a doubt a member of the worst, period, generation, period, ever, period. So when you ask what makes us the greatest country in the world, I dunno what the f**k you're talkin' about.  


On art. I discovered the Museum of Bad Art, and therein discovered the painting "Lucy in the Field with Flowers".  I am madly in love with it, and have scoured the internet trying to find a print.  Doesn't exist, except as a small part of a poster for the museum.  I don't know why I like it so much.  I just do.
http://www.amusingplanet.com/2017/01/the-museum-of-bad-art.html   Scroll down a bit, it's the second painting on the page.


On my health.  Stuff going on.  NEXT POST, I promise.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

5103 I'm still here, and there, and ....

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Rabbi Julius Gordon: "Love is not blind - it sees more, not less.
But because it sees more, it is willing to see less."


Wow.  It's been something like six weeks since I updated here, and a month since the end (May 8th?) of radiation.  My absence was not on purpose - it's just that there were higher priorities, and very little energy.

With the doctors I kept denying that I was fatigued.  I was wrong, I guess.  It crept up on me so slowly I didn't recognize it.  After the first two rounds of chemo I didn't feel a need for daytime naps at all, and I guess that was my definition of fatigue.  On Tuesday, May 23, I woke up in the morning with all kinds of energy - suddenly!  It was as if someone had flipped my on-switch overnight.  Really, it was really that sudden.  Pow!  I'm back!

And I can't believe how bad the house is.  I hadn't done laundry in months.  The piles of dirty clothes were huge (yeah, I have a LOT of clothes, I've worn things in the past few months that I hadn't seen in years).  Literally mountains.  I can't remember when I last changed the sheets, and it's hard to change the sheets just yet because the bed footboard and the end of the bed are covered in "can get another wearing out of this maybe" clothes.

The day after I finished the radiation I got started on the anti-aromatase FEMARA® (letrozole), which sort of blocks estrogen.  There's some confusion as to whether my tumor was estrogen-sensitive or not, so the doctor decided to err on the side of caution.  If I can tolerate it, I'll be taking it for five years.  Some of the possible side effects are significant, but so far all I've noticed is hot flashes - about 8 or 10 short and tolerable flashes a day.  That's kind of funny - when I went through menopause I had a total of two hot flashes the entire time.  

Other side effects include muscle, bone, and joint pain, and I've got that, but I've ALWAYS had so much random pain that I can't tell what's the normal pain and what might be the medication.   

Well, we'll see where it goes.

Last Friday Daughter and I wandered all over Ikea (a big store) for almost three hours, and I was very proud of my energy - didn't need to sit down at all.  Saturday I was still fine.  Sunday my hips and thighs rebelled, and I'm still achy.  I'll have to start a regular exercise program.


It took me forever to clear up the medical bills mess.  The breast center, the oncology area (chemo and radiation), radiology, and some but not all of the doctors bill separately.  I have to register anew every time I go to the medical center, and every day's procedures (every registration) gets a new account number.  The first bill will be itemized, but any subsequent reminders for the same day won't say anything about what it's for, just that X dollars are owed.  I was often confused as to whether or not I'd already paid it and my payment and the reminder had crossed in the mail.  Sometimes when I registered they wanted my share of the out-of-pocket up front, but mostly they didn't.  The upfront payments were estimates, since it hadn't gone through the insurance yet, and then when the "real" bill arrived, it might or might not show the upfront amount I'd already paid.

So as I got more and more tired, it got harder and harder to figure out what the status was.  It got to the point where a few bills went to collection, and then it got even more complicated, since the collection notices didn't say what the account number, procedure, department, or date of service was - just the amount due, which was not necessarily unique enough to match up to a bill.  


So once the on-switch got flipped and I could think again, I spent some time in an few billing offices and got it all straightened out.  You know those up-front payments that didn't show as credits on bills?  It turns out that apparently those amounts were credited to earlier bills (with no notice to me), so the nice ladies in the billing offices were able to hand me several older bills with "Don't pay this one, or this one, or this one...) written on them.  The only way I'd have known not to pay them would have been the lack of "overdue" reminders.  

This, by the way, has been my experience with hospital billing for centuries.  There are some real horror stories with Jay's billing.  Albany Medical Center had one, count 'em, one, little old lady handling all billing and payments, and she was easily confused.  

Last night, at midnight, I drove to the post office and dropped the last batch of checks and payment slips in the outside mailbox.

Very large load off.

There will still be bills to come.  I decided to keep the implanted chemo port because I'm sure there will be future blood draws and possibly other scans possibly with contrast and my veins are not cooperative for stuff like that, so I need to go in and have the port flushed every six weeks, and I have to see the chemo doc every four weeks (but I suspect that will end up being every six weeks, since he's in that same area).  But those bills won't be arriving in quick succession, so I should be able to keep on top of them.

Getting late.  Bye for now....

Sunday, April 30, 2017

5102 Radiation Flagellation

 Sunday, April 30, 2017

Sometimes you can't really know what someone is saying to you. You hear the words, but sometimes the words carry a meaning different from their dictionary definition. If you have no other basis for interpretation, you interpret from your own base. In an intimate relationship, the only way to fully understand the other person's messages, or lack thereof, is to understand their motivations, how their mind works, what their concerns and priorities are. If you don't understand that, you don't have an intimate relationship. You're just skimming along the surface. -- Me --


 Taking a shower the other day, I found myself wishing someone would invent MY shower.  It's kind of like a car wash.  Jets shoot water straight out from the wall for the full length of the body (temperature, height, and pressure adjustable).  Then you push a button and soapy water comes out of the jets, covering you in foam, and then shuts off.  There's a pause while you can either scrub yourself, or stand next to a rotating bar covered with strips of that stuff that's used for those scrubby puffs (you know, the material that doesn't hold water and rinses clean) which slaps you like a mean massage.  Another button gets you a full body spray rinse with clear water.  Another button gets jets of hot air.  Clean, dry, and done.  If it's good enough for cars and dishes, why not for people?  I want this!


In many Victorian novels, a woman is described as having a "long upper lip"  (or sometimes a short one, but usually long).  I was never too sure how to picture that.  Is that a wide mouth?  Then why not describe it as a wide mouth?

I recently found the answer, I don't remember where, but here it is.  That central groove from the nose to the upper lip is called the philtrim, and it's the philtrim that's described as long or short.  So a woman with a "long upper lip" doesn't have a long lip at all - it's that she has more distance between her nose and mouth, and that was once considered more aristocratic (a long face).


I'm almost finished with the radiation.  The last should be May 8th, I think.  I say "I think" because they keep changing things on me.  

Back when the plan was based on the needle biopsy lab results, I was told I'd have a lumpectomy, four rounds of chemotherapy, then 33 sessions of radiation, and then an anti-estrogen for a few years.  After the lumpectomy, after someone (oh, yeah, that was me) thought to check the lab results on the excised tumor and it was discovered the report was drastically different (I still think they screwed up and mixed up my needle biopsy with someone else, because it's so very different), I was told when starting chemo that I'd have six rounds instead of four.  That grew to eight.  

When I started radiation, I was told I'd have 28 sessions of whole breast, and 5 "boost" sessions at the end, which is electron (I think) radiation focused on the tumor bed, for a total of 33.   Last Tuesday was session number 24.  

My regular radiation oncologist was on vacation last Tuesday, so I saw a different doctor, and he was concerned because my skin was peeling in the crease under the breast, so he decided my skin needed a break, so the next day we'd start the boost, and then finish the "last two whole breast sessions" at the end.  I pointed out that there would actually be four more whole after the five boost, and he said there'd be seven boost, not five.    My head is spinning.   I wish they'd stop changing things on me.

Another reason this bothers me is that everything I've read cautions that the whole breast radiation must not skip any sessions, since it must be tightly consecutive to be accumulative (I guess weekends don't count, eh?).  And there was one Monday we had to skip because the machine was down.  So, uh, will those last two be wasted effort?  

I hope the regular guy is back by next Tuesday.  I'll have the fifth boost that day, and maybe he'll say to go back to five?  


Everybody says that the radiation doesn't hurt.  That's true.  The machine buzzes for a few seconds, and you feel nothing.  Everything else I read said there may be some skin problems, like a bad sunburn.  Sometimes the skin gets really bad, like blisters, weeping, and yuck.

I've got a lot of red.  The worst part is in the crease under the breast.  That got fiery red, then grey, then started to peel (but no blisters).  That's why the substitute doc decided to "take a break" and do the boosts now.  Where it peeled it's new pink skin, and it's not at all painful. None of the skin is painful.

But everywhere I've read has said the internal breast shouldn't hurt.  Some of the scar tissue in there might get hard and ache, stuff like that.  But wow!  I HURT!

I mention the pain in the breast to the doctor every Tuesday, and he just passes it off.  Like he thinks I'm hysterical or overreacting.  On the outer side, toward the underarm, it feels like someone has grabbed a handful of breast inside and is squeezing and twisting it.  Not all the time.  Randomly, a few times a day, for like 20 seconds, which is long enough, believe me!  On the inner side, near the sternum, that's like bee stings inside there.  Three times in the past five days it's felt like someone was stabbing me over and over with an ice pick.  Twice I was driving home from a session, on the Garden State Parkway at the time, and had to pull over until it stopped.  I hiss and ouch ouch ouch with every stab.  

I can't wait to stop beating myself up

Monday, March 20, 2017

5101 Tattoo!

Monday, March 20, 2017

We need a president who is fluent in at least one language.


I now have seven tattoos!  They are tiny black dots, three on my back, three on my chest, and one on the back of my left upper arm, acquired last Tuesday, and to be used to position my body in exactly the same position for all of the radiation treatments.  I can barely see them, they're that tiny.  

Well, they scrapped any musings I may have had regarding any "real" tattoos.  They HURT!  One little poke each, and it hurt so much I can't imagine getting multiple pokes - and I've had two babies with no anesthesia whatsoever, and no yelping, so it's not like I'm a wimp.  I've just got this thing about people poking holes in my skin, I guess (which, actually, is why I opted to have the babies naturally in the first place).

I go in tomorrow for a "dry run".  The treatment is done with me lying face down on a framework that has the right breast falling through a hole, and the beams go across that breast.  This is supposed to avoid exposing the lungs and heart etc.  That framework doesn't look like it's made of lead, so I don't know about that....


The Angel is no longer my tax guy, since I fired Piper.  I needed to find someone down here, so I'm using the folks (a husband-wife team) who do Daughter and Hercules' taxes.  

I took my packet in to him on Sunday.  He was very impressed that I had everything separated and clipped, with sticky-tab labels and all.  He showed me a few files from other clients, just big jumbles of forms and papers.  I can't imagine how disorganized they were.  How do those people know if everything is there?