Here’s What I’ve Read Online This Week

Best Mothers of the Animal Kingdom – I’m really glad I’m not an octopus.

The Beauty and the Bartender – a dating service tale with a heart-warming twist.

How to make cheap wine taste better  – knowledge is free.

A lost girl remembered – an excerpt and follow-up from The Poisoner’s Handbook.

The Costs of Not Vaccinating – the story of a 2008 measles outbreak in Tucson.  

Parasites, boogers, and garlic – oh, and don’t scratch.

Are Talking Heads Blowing Hot Air – Yes, mostly. The literature review beginning on p. 5 of the pdf names a book I now want to read – Expert Political Judgment. The best part of the study begins on page 17 with descriptions of the 26 columnists and types of predictions they made. While the numbers make some of them look good, the descriptions lead me right back to the hot air conclusion.

Ten Peeves About Greenies

I’m Still Here

You know the old saying about when it rains it pours. It’s been pouring around here for a while. And you can bet your sweet bippy I’m not about to ask what else can go wrong!

Most of what’s gone wrong has resolved or is well on its way to being resolved. One issue (that I’m not going to write about) I’ve simply shoved away for a time.

One issue I will write about is my worry that my husband was developing a dementia of some sort on top of his numerous well-documented (and mostly well-treated) physical problems. Finally, I get the courage and impetus to broach the subject with him and we see his doctor.

Sure ‘nuf, he flunks the mini-test warranting further exploration. The first thing done is an MRI to rule out stuff. One of the things to be ruled out is normal pressure hydrocephalus. And the MRI indicates that might be the problem – but before we get those results back, he passes out and falls hitting his face on our metal trash can.

I hear the crash and find him conscious, but not coherent at all. I call 911 and refuse his requests to help him up. I’ve got to compliment the Shreveport Fire Department and EMS people. They got here quick and they were as compassionate and helpful with my panic as they were my husband’s disorientation.

So we’re off to the ER and find out about the implications of the MRI and that other causes of fainting now have to be ruled out also. Then we experience the horror of being hospitalized over the weekend.

It took approximately 6 hours for my husband to return to “normal”. It was very much like being with someone coming out of anesthesia, though maybe a bit slower. We were told by various representatives of specialists that several tests needed to be done. The first was 24 hour heart monitoring. By the time that was finished, we were told (on a Saturday morning) that the other tests couldn’t be done until Monday or later.

Now… there’s nothing worse than being in the hospital when you feel as good as you ever do… or “fine” if that’s the word to use. The remainder of these tests — a specialized MRI, EEG, ECG, tilt table test for orthostatic hypotension, etc., are all tests that can be and are routinely done on an outpatient basis.

So… perhaps we were wrong insisting on going home. However, I’m not sure that these tests would have been done sooner had he stayed in the hospital.

After leaving the hospital (not against doctor’s advice btw) I ran into more trouble than I’ve ever had before scheduling these various tests. One of the problems turns out to be that the hospitalist intern was now acting (or trying to act) as primary care doc – and he would certainly not be the doc of our choice. Another problem was that the consulting cardiologist in the hospital was also not the cardiologist who has been treating my husband for over 15 years.

Then there was the crazy neurologist. Yes, crazy. My husband and I had both been referred to this neurologist a few years ago and the best way to describe his diagnostic technique is that he refuses to diagnose. So… we were not thrilled, but also felt we had no choice but to try to use him.

There’s a lot of appointment making strangeness, but I’ll not go into that right now.

As it stands now, my husband is having a cardiac cath done next week because he failed the stress test needed to clear him for surgery to install a shunt to treat the normal pressure hydrocephalus.

Of course during all this, I get my annual cold which turns into bronchitis and am pretty much out of commission for a few weeks.

We have an appointment with a second neurosurgeon also. As of now, the main differences between the two neurosurgeons is the brand of programmable shunt they use, the ease of interacting with their staffs, and the location of the operating room… and, of course, their reputations.

One of them is the chief of neurosurgery at LSU medical school and hospital. He practices with a group of neurosurgeons that has managed to not renew the practice’s domain name, has an indescribably poor telephone system that makes making an appointment next to impossible, and… includes the neurosurgeon that scared the hell out of me a few years ago about my meningioma.

I do not think that the neurosurgeon that I rejected a few years ago reflects on the skills of the chief of the department. But I have to ask why the department continues to allow a doctor whose physical impairments quite clearly portray an inability to operate to continue doing so.

The other doctor is one who just might have what I think could be an unethical relationship with a medical device manufacturer. This is merely a suspicion… and I do NOT think that doctors who look to the manufacturer of devices for training are necessarily unethical.

Regardless which surgeon we choose, this is a no guarantees procedure. First, there’s no way of knowing whether his dementia symptoms are caused by the normal pressure hydrocephalus. And there’s also the possibility that some are and others are not. The surgery itself is sort of a test to determine cause.

It’s also a step that I think must be taken. The possibility that this surgery can stop the dementia symptoms where they are now (mild) cannot be discounted. The possibility that the surgery could reduce the symptoms cannot be overlooked, even though that is not likely.

Of course, he could have Alzheimer’s or some other dementia as well as having normal pressure hydrocephalus dementia. I can’t say that is a reason to not have the surgery. One cause seems better than two, doesn’t it?

So… we wait. We’ll see.

Next up – what’s with this shortage of drugs?

I’ve Been Inspired

Until pointed out to me by this wonderfully inciteful* person – Larry Sheldon – in comments at Classical Values, I had no idea that linking to or commenting on posts by other bloggers could lead to those other bloggers taking over my blog!

Since I periodically lose interest in posting and too often let this space sit idly unblogged, I think that would be a wonderful thing to happen here, so here are my links to Little Green Footballs (Charles Johnson) and Andrew Sullivan. Sullivan, it appears, has also lost interest in blogging on his blog, so maybe he’ll take it up here.

*not a misspelling :-)

Just One More

I’m really good at breaking promises to myself. One of them was that I wasn’t going to post more photos of my grandchildren. Oh, don’t think I worried about boring the internet… I worried about overwhelming it with cuteness.

But then I got this photo in an email today. I bought the doll she’s chewing on for her before she was born, hoping… no, intending, that it would become her “lovey”. I accidentally stumbled upon the doll that serves as her older sister’s “lovey” and it has meant a lot to me that she loves that doll so much.

“Lovey” status isn’t quite there yet, but I’d say maybe it’s well on the way!

It’s Just A Small Town Race For Mayor

NOTE: The following is me thinking out loud, organizing my thoughts, and a journal of sorts. This disclaimer is meant to serve as notice that none of the following thoughts are set in concrete. It’s all a learning experience.

My father is running for mayor of his small town for the 2nd time. I wasn’t involved much the first time other than getting a kick out of snagging a hat and a pen with his name on them.

This time my father asked me to help him. And while he truly has nothing but the well-being and survival of the little town he lives in at heart, he was also at a bit of a loss when I asked him just exactly what it was he wanted to accomplish.

I sat across from him in his living room and said “Why do you want to be mayor? Convince me to vote for you.” I made notes of what he said then and asked lots and lots of questions. 

The first time he ran he was facing an incumbent who got enough votes to avoid a run-off. People adjust and anyone proposing to change the status quo faces an uphill battle. Thus, incumbents have an advantage.

This time, there is no incumbent running and there were four people asking the voters to give them the job. Oh wait… because I am totally biased let me rephrase that – there were three people asking for the POSITION and one asking for the job.

To be completely honest, one of those three who asked for the position is thoroughly naive, well-meaning, and would probably have performed decently, if with less competence than needed. I told my Dad several times that if he didn’t win, I hoped this man did.   

Out of the four, my Dad got the most votes – around 38% – but not enough to avoid a run-off with the guy who got around 22% of the vote.

Thus, 40% of the original vote is theoretically up for grabs.  

Let’s backtrack to my question to my Dad: why do you want to be mayor? His first answers were truly political. “I can do a better job.” “I’m more qualified than the other candidates.” “I have experience.”

But… after some not completely pleasant conversations it boiled down to “I want to, and know how to, fix the water, drainage, and street problems.”

AHA! I can work with that. Everybody in town wants those problems solved, so all the candidate has to do is convince the voters that he knows how to and can fix them. Now that we’ve identified the problem to be solved, all I’ve got to do is convince the voters that all those “political” answers are true. This candidate is more qualified, experienced, and can do a better job than the others.

Those issues are also indisputably something local government should be concerned with. 

One of the candidates that did not make the run-off presented himself as a union-affiliated progressive with some (rather unrelated) experience. The other presented himself as more or less a blank slate with limited, but possibly more leadership-related experience. The two in the run-off are more equally matched — neither are progressives or blank slates. They both have experience, though one of them (not my father) also has an easily identifiable financial interest in one aspect of city services.

The two candidates that most prominently campaigned on the city acting to change something are my father and the progressive. Obviously, the greater number of voters think basic infrastructure is the area where action is needed vs. the other’s idea of getting federal grants for beautification. (Of course, I’m not biased… what makes you think that?)

The progressive didn’t make the run-off. My father’s competition in the run-off does have some experience but is unfocused.

As one of the unofficial campaign managers for my father, I’m rather flummoxed on how to appeal to those who voted for the two candidates that didn’t make the run-off.  At the same time, I am thinking that if those who voted for my father show up again, that will be enough.

So… the run-off campaign is more complicated. How do I motivate those who originally voted for my father to turn out again? How do I motivate those who voted for the candidates who didn’t make the run-off to vote for my father instead of his opponent?

The other unofficial campaign manager got unilaterally vetoed on the issue of ever mentioning an opponent in the general election. All the campaign materials focused on the issues of water/drainage/streets and the knowledge/experience to fix those problems.

My gut instinct is to continue that focus. The other unofficial campaign manager is suggesting “politeness” in asking specifically the voters who voted for the two losing candidates for their votes, while thanking those who voted for my father and suggesting that those who voted for his run-off opponent vote “as they wish”.

Can we say “wimpy”? Of course we can. But is that right? Maybe it is gracious instead.

I should also say that I think my father’s success was mostly due to his and his supporters going door to door asking for votes. That tactic really has little to do with issues. Neither of us unofficial campaign managers had anything at all to do with that. (We’re both recluses.) Our focus was on newspaper ads and printed campaign material. AND on getting the candidate to present a coherent and easily repeated message. Oh wait… that was just me.

Bottom line for my father is that my method wins because I’m the only one of his unofficial campaign managers that will provide him with ad copy and campaign materials that he can actually use.

But… I worry that I’m wrong in my methods and way of political thinking. Perhaps my opposing (though less mechanically capable) unofficial campaign manager is right. Are appearances… politeness (in politics???) and personalities more important than issues?

The one thing both unofficial campaign managers agree on is that our candidate would serve the interests of this small town best. He has nothing to personally gain by winning. His status is secure. So is that of his family. And, since it’s a small town, it should be noted that family status is secure regardless which of the two run-off candidates win. It’s not that they are related, but it’s not that they are not unrelated either. If you don’t understand that, you are  not from a small town!

To me, that’s simply one more reason not to mention the other candidate in any campaign materials.

On a purely personal level, I wish my father had never entered this race. I figure he’s got another 10-13 years to live and I selfishly want him spending that time leisurely with his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

On the other hand, he wants to do this. He asked for my help. I’ve got to give him my best… and hope that what I think is best (if he agrees) will win. Because he wants to win, I do to.

If Only It Were Just A Pain In The Ass

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I caught a cold and it morphed into a sinus infection and bronchitis and I got drugs to make the trip to S. Carolina possible.

What I got was pack of methylprednisone. I knew it wasn’t a cure, but I also knew it would help stop the spiral of the bronchitis coughing (I had bronchitis really really bad several years ago and the coughing seems to be partly due to inflammation… caused by coughing!)

And I knew it would make me feel better. That along with a nasal spray to help drain my sinuses would make the trip possible.

What I didn’t expect was how good I felt by the 2nd day on the methylprednisone. I had an energy level I hadn’t experienced in maybe 10 years and my body ceased to hurt everywhere. I realized that I’d forgotten what a pain free day felt like.

In addition to some fairly severe injuries to knees and ankles (no one ever accused me of being graceful) during youth and as a young adult, I am also dealing with the family tendency toward severe osteoarthritis, carpal tunnel (from hand-sewing more than keyboard use), ulnar nerve entrapment in both elbows, odd little irritants possibly due to a meningioma, and the general physical insults of aging.

None of these things are really serious. I’m actually quite healthy and would be more so if moving were not literally such a pain everywhere but in the ass. I generally do OK with acetaminophen and/or naproxen.

Or so I thought. I realize now that I’ve learned to accept a certain level of pain as “normal”.  In a way, I hate the reminder of what pain free feels like though I enjoyed it immensely.

I had a bit of a rebound effect from the steroid. This past Friday and Saturday were horrible. I took all the acetaminophen and naproxen I thought was safe and it didn’t make a dent in the whole body (excepting the ass) pain.

That’s over and I’m back to my normally accepted level of pain now… but I remember fondly my pain free week.

My First Daughter-in-Law

It was a lovely wedding — the bride beautiful, the groom handsome, and the location magnificent.

Someone said they’d been told you never really feel like a mother-in-law until you have a son-in-law because having a daughter-in-law was just like having another daughter. 

Since I’ve known for several years now that having a son-in-law is like having a son, I’m thrilled to know that it works the same way with a daughter-in-law!

Welcome to the family!

Haphazard Links And Whatnots

I caught a cold. Maybe it would be more accurate to say it caught me because I certainly wasn’t chasing it. It morphed into a raging bull of a sinus infection and is threatening bronchitis. So I finally called my doctor today. I’ve got drugs!

Had I not really wanted to go to S. Carolina in a few days to attend a beach wedding and get to see some of my favorite people, I might have suffered in silence for another week or so until this thing clears itself up. Well, not exactly in silence. Between the hacking cough, moans, groans, and complaints of why me, why now, and… well, suffering in silence is not my forte.

Speaking of silence… remember this sound? If you do, you are either an old (but connected) fart or you live in some totally boondocks area. Or you could be younger and remember this as a sort of lullaby because Momma was going online as soon as she could get you to bed!

Boondock is an interesting word. It’s derived from Tagalog bundok, meaning mountain and came into use in the U.S. after WWII. I’m thrilled to learn another Tagolog word that I can remember other than “utot“.  

Speaking of smelly — Glenn Beck really let one go when he said that evolution is being forced down our throats because he’s never seen a half-monkey, half person. A few of the more strident “lefty” sites have ridiculed him without really laying out why he is “not even wrong“. Elisheva Hannah Levin is explaining everything clearly in a series of posts. The first two are Glenn Beck’s Monkey Show: Overview and Glenn Beck’s Monkey Show: Not Even Wrong. Check Ragamuffin Studies for the third in the series.    

From not even wrong to just plain wrong… Amity Shlaes explains the rules of the game. Will politicians ever learn to play fair?

Heck, politicians have trouble playing in tune at all. They don’t know what the frequency is any more than did Dan Rather’s assailants.

Internet Friends

Much has been written about how people can fool you on the internet and that’s certainly true. But I think these are the same people who would try to fool you in person.

But I don’t read enough about the people you meet on the internet who end up being real good friends even if you never meet them in real life face to face. These are real people who enrich my real life with the words they write, the pictures they post, and the good and the bad times they share.

You know who you are. And thank you… thank you.

Saturday Afternoon Random Observations

1. Stupid people abound on both sides of the U.S. partisan divide. The funniest thing is that sometimes their ‘arguments’ are interchangeable to a high degree.

2. A neighbor playing music outdoors is rather pleasant provided that neighbor is at least a block away.

3. I like sitting on the front porch.

4. A front porch should have a ceiling fan and table on which to rest a glass of wine.

5. Our new neighbors across the street park and enter their driveway just like the old neighbors did. Cars back up the driveway and go in the garage. Pickups enter hood first and park in the driveway to the far right.

6. It doesn’t really bother me to share my glass of wine with a small bug or two as long as they don’t stay in there too long. Why is this? A large bug landing in the glass gets it tossed as does one of any size that’s been in there an unidentified length of time. This may be related to the five second rule.

7. Regarding #1, stupidity is not necessarily correlated with educational achievement or the lack thereof. The ability to express stupidity succinctly is.

A Cautionary Tale

I mentioned a while back that I’m into a novel-reading phase. I’ve always liked medical, military, cop, crime novels. One of my favorite books and probably my favorite movie is Hunt for Red October. I also like science fiction and westerns. (For what it’s not worth, my 2nd favorite movie is Airplane.)

Considering the genres I like, you know I’ve read some crap. But some of it was fairly well written with believable, if predictable, plots and characters.

I’m also not a very forgiving reader when my quite forgiving tolerance level is not met. An author who churns out a few obvious pot-boilers, takes advantage of his/her reputation by publishing previously unpublishable work, or doesn’t even make a half-assed effort to get well-known technology straight gets stricken permanently from reading list.  Tom Clancy finally made that list. It will take a lot for someone to persuade me to read anything new by him again.

And it’s also typical of me that I don’t remember the name of the book that I threw against the wall that put him on my never bother to read again list.

So, I find myself out of town recently with an uncomfortable computer setup and without my stash of reading material. On a trip to the local WalMart (18 miles away) I decide to pick up a novel. I see one by Robin Cook. I vaguely remember the name and reading some of his medical mysteries in the 1990s and earlier. And I wondered why I hadn’t heard of him lately.

Here’s the caution: ALWAYS read the Amazon reviews. If I had, I’d know why I hadn’t heard about him in years and would have not considered buying it. The book I bought – Intervention – garnered 62 (out of 99 total) 1 star reviews. At least one of those reviewers said it got one star because Amazon doesn’t allow zero stars. Several reviewers echoed my thought exactly: The worst book I’ve ever read.

Out Of The Mouths Of Babes

My 3 year old granddaughter visited a fire station today. This is an account of the conversation with her Mom on the way home:

I asked her what she should do if her clothes are on fire, and she said “put on different clothes and put the other ones in the hamper!” When I asked her if she’d like to be a firefighter one day, she said “no thank you, I’m going to be Sleeping Beauty because I already have that dress.”

Now, you must admit there’s a certain practicality in her thinking.

Campaigning Is Hard

It is for me anyway — it requires thinking!

I cannot quite imagine the work that goes into a large campaign because the one I’ve been working on is for mayor of a very small town. There are no large events to plan, not much travel (gotta get to the county seat occasionally), and only one reporter to deal with. He’s a nice guy who asks questions by mail, and so far the same ones of each candidate.

It’s all very low key although my father is one of four candidates. Yet even in a small town that one thinks they know a bit about, there’s still research and planning to be done. One of the main questions I needed answered was “Why do you want to be mayor?” After that got distilled down to one or two sentences, it was a little easier to put together some campaign rhetoric.

For a small, low-budget campaign, I don’t think we’ve done too badly. There are signs up, there are campaign cards being distributed, newspaper ads are in the works, and we’re trying this social media thing out. The campaign has a Facebook page and email! It will be very interesting to see what kind of response that gets.

Roland Bush for Mayor

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