Monday, September 25, 2006

Five Years with a Time Bomb

Five years ago this winter, I was diagnosed with MS. I woke up one morning with limited vision in my right eye. After visiting my eye doctor, he ordered an MRI because he suspected it was optic neuritis, a symptom of MS.

That was a very scary time for me. I didn't know much about MS, but I pictured myself in a wheelchair for the rest of my life. After the MRI, and the confirmation of MS, I saw a neurologist. He explained it all to me, and put me into a clinical trial for Rebif. That didn't go well, as it began to affect my liver. Plus it was kicking my ass with nasty flu-like side effects. I wasn't sorry to be taken off it. Ever since, for the past 4.5 years, I have been taking a shot of Copaxone every single day. And not a single negative side effect from it.

A little over a year after my initial diagnosis, I had another MRI. I wasn't sure that I wanted one. After all, do I really want to know if the disease is progressing if there is nothing that can be done about it? I'm kind of weird - I sometimes feel like what you don't know isn't going to hurt you. I know that is incredibly naive, but sometimes I really don't want to know. Do you understand what I mean? But the doctor talked me into it, and it was great news. Everything was stable.

This past month, I had my third MRI. The first one in three years. I have been feeling fine. No new symptoms. Life is good. I try not to think about it too much. Take my shot every day. I figured it would be the same as last time. No worries.

Well, this morning the nurse from my neurologist's office called. He is 'concerned' about the MRI from last week..... he wants me to come in to the office to possibly change my meds. I can't stop thinking about this today. I am completely bummed..... I have been doing fine. The disease has been benign for the most part. And now this? It just plain sucks. Hopefully, the monster will stay asleep... Now I will be paranoid about everything.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Another Day, Another Tantrum

Every parent has experienced the fury of toddler temper tantrums at one point or another. They are frustrating, at times frightening, and always annoying. And every parent also knows that the first rule of dealing with tantrums is DO NOT GIVE IN. And when the calm finally sets in, do not reward the child for calming down. All of that is negative reinforcement.

Well, once again, the toddlers of the world are having a tantrum. Muslim fury at pope jihad comments. Let's see what it is they're screaming about now.... oh, same old thing. They are insulted. They insist on an apology. They are a religion of peace. And one other thing - the shock and awe of it all is gone. When we hear that Muslims are 'furious' 'upset' 'demanding an apology', it all seems like the movie Groundhog Day. What? Again? *yawn* blah blah blah

And the grownups of the world are giving them exactly what they want: mass media attention, and apologies. Oh my.... that should hold them for a couple of days until the next tantrum.

This is getting very annoying and very old. If they want to be treated as equal citizens of the world community and sit at the table with the grownups, then they damn well better grow up themselves!

Sorry.... but I have no sympathy for them anymore. At all. They need to join the 21st century where everyone is used to being insulted at one time or another. Shit happens. People get insulted. People get over it. End of story.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Let's Talk about Radio

I really don't listen to radio that much. In fact, the only time I listen is when I am driving. A few years ago, I loved to listen to The Bob and Tom Show on 102.3 here in Austin. Unfortunately, the station didn't renew their syndication contract, the station changed formats (twice) and I don't listen to that station AT ALL anymore.

Bob and Tom had (have?) one of the best morning talk/comedy shows on radio. There were times that I would be laughing out loud while I was driving. I really missed them on my morning drive. Bob and Tom do internet stream, but you have to pay for it. Screw that. First of all, I don't have a computer in my car. And that's the only time I listen to radio, really. It's a shame because I really enjoyed them. They sell plenty of CDs and stuff on their website, but I'm cheap. I'm just not interested enough to pay for it.

After they were gone, I tried to listen to Dudley and Bob on KLBJ. That lasts about ten minutes with me, then I get disgusted and switch the station. It is very rare that they don't irritate me. I really tried to listen to these guys, because they are local, but no one is more annoying than Dale Dudley. He's an overgrown frat boy with a serious case of BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome) and he's always yelling about something. It's not the politics that bother me so much. Hell, I didn't vote for Bush. But I don't live my life complaining about him. There's an election every four years, and his two terms are almost up. I am fed up with the constant Bush hate. It's as bad as the Muslim riots. Repetitive and unimaginative. And Mr. Dudley is one of those obsessives who is off the deep end. I don't have to agree with people politically to enjoy them. Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert - funny. Bill Maher/Al Franken/Dale Dudley - deranged and not funny. I'm just too tired of all the political hate in this country. Their humor is mean-spirited at times, also. It sort of reminds me of those assholes in high school who thought they were too cool for everyone else and spent all their time making fun of the kids who were 'not as cool'. These are the kind of guys that trigger the Columbine impulse in their peers. They have their fans, and that's great for them. I just don't like being annoyed when I'd rather be entertained. *shrug*

Well..... now I have this amazing thing called an Ipod. And I have just discovered Podcasts! When I was in high school in Philadelphia, I always listened to WMMR. And on ITunes, I discovered that WMMR's morning show, Preston and Steve is available for podcast subscription. And it's free! (for now anyway). I had never heard of these guys, so I figured I would give them a try. They are great! And it's good to hear about Philly again. So I can download their show, and play it in the car or when I walk the dogs.... I really enjoy it even if I get it a day later. I'm not sure why they offer it for free (and without commercials) but I love it!

It's amazing to me how technology is giving us more choices all the time.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Sad Anniversaries

Tonight is September 10. And we are inundated with television and print remembrances of 9/11/2001. And I have come to tears several times today. Damn the NFL and the wonderful pregame of the Giants/Colts game tonight in New Jersey. More tears. I don't mean 'damn them' in a bad way. Because in a way, I needed to feel this way today. I thought that I was beyond tears after five years. I am incredibly grateful that I am not.

So in the past couple of weeks, we have seen more of the Katrina devastation. And I am sad for all those whose lives are still in a mess. But at the same time, I can't help comparing the two events.

The attacks on the WTC center provoked so many emotions in me, and those feelings are still strong today especially. This morning there was a special on HBO. And I was moved to tears for the first time today. My son had a hockey game, and while I was sitting outside waiting for the game to start, I took a scrap of paper and just wrote the following: anger, horror, shock, despair, pride, anger, no fear, commitment, resolve, just do it, don't appease ever, firm. Resolve to live. They can be damned.

As you can see, the emotions were at the surface. And one word was repeated several times on that scrap of paper: PRIDE. I remember the NYPD and NYFD heroes. I remember thinking they were amazing - and how heartbreaking that so many gave their lives just doing their jobs. And it occurred to me at that moment: Where were the heroes of Katrina? That was what was missing in all that mess. Where were their police and their firefighters and their heroes? The WTC attack was shocking and sudden and unexpected and catastrophic. Katrina was no shock, really. Hurricanes never are. Yes, the levee breaks weren't expected....... but then again, who could ever expect anything man builds to withstand Mother Nature at her most deadly?

That was the difference that I saw today, in a sudden epiphany. Where the hell were New Orleans' heroes? They weren't there.... they were failed by their public servants and their public officials. Rudy Giuliani was there, almost buried by the rubble, breathing the toxic air, leading.... where was Ray Nagin? Where were the friggin' heroes for the people of New Orleans?

What a difference...... I will never ever forget the firefighters and police of New York on that horrible day. I will never forget the sorrowful wail of the bagpipes at all the funerals for New York's FINEST (and "finest" is an understatement of epic proportions). I will never forget that in the horror of that day, I felt so much pride for these hardworking American citizens.

God Bless New York, all it's citizens and public servants, and God Bless America. And to all those who wish us harm, damn you to the bowels of hell.

Update: I came across this essay, Tribes on another blog which says everything much better than I could ever say... an excerpt:

So, on one hand, we have a very blue city – New York – confronted, out of the clear morning of a perfect fall day, with no warning – with a terror attack, and they march toward the sounds of screams and falling bodies and die by the hundreds. On the other hand, we have New Orleans law enforcement – also blue – whining about wet shoes and helping themselves to the happy period of lawlessness that followed an event that had been expected for no less than seventy-two hours.

In New York, we had a governor who got every available resource on the ground as fast as it could get there, and in Louisiana we have a governor who...cried. Governor, your job is to not cry. Your job is to be strong. We have plenty of civilians crying. You want to cry, cry in the car on the way home like everybody else did four years ago. Crying Governors, race-baiting mayors and looting police do not a Finest Hour make.

In New Orleans we have a mayor who left some 400-500 buses sitting fueled and underwater in the Ray Nagin Memorial Motor Pool saying that evil white conservative America was selling out his people within 24 hours of the catastrophe, from a safe and dry and adequately toileted location, while four years ago we had a Mayor who ran to the site of the disaster so quickly it is a full-blown miracle he was not killed when a building collapsed literally on top of his magnificent, combed-over head.

Now, much has been made of the fact that Ray Nagin is an incompetent, race-baiting black man, and Rudy Giuliani, who was neither, is white. Also, feminists are upset that people dare attack Governor Blanco because she is incompetent, weak, indecisive, and also a woman. And no doubt there are salivating long-haired, short-cortexed idiots just waiting for this to be over so they can sail into the comments section and tell me what a racist and misogynist I am.

Well, here’s the news flash: Nagin isn’t incompetent because he’s black. He’s incompetent because he’s incompetent. Condoleeza Rice is black. Colin Powell is black. Ted Kennedy, a man well-acquainted with rising water crises is as white as they come. Kennedy is incompetent; Rice and Powell are two of the most competent people on the planet.

This is about tribes, all right: not black and white tribes, but rather a battle between the capable and the culpable.

I have just one response: Hell Yeah! This is a long essay, but read the whole thing. It is well worth the time.

Sunday, September 03, 2006


September has come, but it is only chronological. The landscape does not change. The landscape of Texas in summer reminds me of northeastern winters - no color, no life except for the truly hardy, and no vibrancy.

The few flowers which have survived the unrelenting heat and lack of rain seem anemic and as faded as a 20 year-old silk corsage tucked into the bottom of a matron's hope chest. Even the crape myrtle which are still blooming lack vibrancy. It seems as though they have been washed in hot water and bleach. Faded and wan, the blooms seem to be disappearing into a monochromatic world.

The lawns which are watered are green and yet they are drab. Even still there are patches of brown, especially along sidewalks and driveways where the concrete soaks up the sun and radiates heat twenty-four hours a day. The trees live, and the flowers exist, but they are not flourishing. They look as tired as I feel.

This is late summer in Texas. Where the only color is the brightness of the sky. And yet I long for clouds. A gray day in this gray landscape is actually a blessing. It seems unfair that the sky is so blue and the sun is so bright when everything else lacks luster.

I cannot wait for it to end.