Thursday, December 31, 2009

I have not abandoned the denizens of The Manor

Ah, things are happening here at Marlinspike Hall; The game is afoot.

Fred has come down with the flu but is being absolutely valiant. I am a dedicated nurse and awesome cook 'n bottle-washer, so odds are that he'll survive. Still, I am sure he'd rather spend New Year's Eve more upright than prone.
As it is, we'll be watching films and perhaps beginning the long awaited Deadwood Marathon Festival. It depends on how he is feeling. He is blessed with the ability to sleep when he feels rotten, so Our Big Plans may need to wait.

The Mother-Unit, we learned last night, fell again -- not just "again," but in the EXACT SPOT where she took a dive before. Not only does she once again have a hip fracture, it is the SAME HIP that she fractured in the aforementioned previous dive. Apparently, she wants her picture to appear next to "déjà vu" in the dictionary.

She was scheduled for (pancreatic and gall bladder) surgery in a few weeks -- I don't know now whether that will be possible or even advisable. There is no intervention planned for her new fracture. It's unclear to me, as yet, where the new fracture is located. She had a THR, and that's apparently intact. Good thoughts go out to her and to my half-siblings who are taking care of her, and who are doubtless at wit's end right now.

Dr. PainDude's PA rearranged some of my meds in an effort to introduce me to this novel concept of sleep -- a word that likely occurs more in this blog than any other object of desire. I got about five hours last night, which is already an improvement. Tonight, the goal is to cobble those hours together!

Just a bit ago, I checked on the news about Lindsey Baum, the 11 year old missing since 26 June 2009 from McCleary, Washington. There is no news to relay, and that's sad.

People are still desperately working to keep her name and face before law enforcement and the media. To that end, click here for Interpol's poster about Lindsey. There's been a fair amount of discussion about the picture on the poster, with most commenters feeling it is not the "best," or makes her look "too old." Well, she is older, as well as being at an age where change comes rapidly. She also was last seen wearing a hoodie, and this complements that information. Also, I doubt she is grinning from ear to ear since her abduction. That is, one picture where she isn't mugging for the camera is probably a good idea! [One suspects Interpol has its reasons, and they are probably well-founded!]

And to bolster my continuing disbelief at this line of "inquiry," I read about a new psychic lead in the case. Please note that the author does not claim, herself, to be psychic. No, she is just acting upon the psychic gleanings of a friend. *That* really clears things up. Anyway, suspicion now is being focused on a minister, thanks to these paranormal efforts... Holy cow, the moronic are multiplying: uh, i am not psychic but i know someone who might be and so i think we should say nasty and unsubstantiated things about this guy she's zeroed in on.

Anyways, I think we should re-think Wayne W. I think he does protest too much. Has anyone else seen his comments on the local news web pages? Also, why did he take down all of the photos of his "missionary" mission down in Mexico with all of those children? Hmmmmmm. Have we ever figured out what church he is a "pastor" for? He also works doing some sort of environmental work as well? He had access to Lindsey and Josh for sure. Does anyone know what the good pastor drives? Just following up on a psychic hunch for whatever it is worth.

By the way, I am certainly not psychic, the hunch is from another person who supposedly has psychic abilities. I am a skeptic, but an open-minded one, lol!

She goes on to cite a Facebook page where WW is linked to a men's worship group, saying suggestively, like a little sexpot of a psychic kitten:

"Just how many churches is Wayne W. connected to?" A minister? With multiple connections to several churches? Verrryyy suspicious.

She then cites an article this poor man wrote, at the end of which he mentions his children. Ever the shrewd one, she mews: "He says he has children? Where are they?"

Turns my turnable stomach, this nonsense.

Believe it or not, I am still working on a blog post and have not abandoned the denizens of The Manor.

Que dieu vous bénisse in the coming new year and decade. May there be an end to hunger and lost children, and a movement toward peace.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

NORD announces availability of marrow transplant funds

I pass along this announcement from the NORD (National Organization for Rare Disorders) e-News, December 2009 Edition:

Miami Children’s Hospital in Miami Florida has funds available to cover the cost of bone marrow transplantation for patients with financial need. Patients must be between the ages of 0-21 and in need of an allogenic transplant. American citizenship is not required. For more information contact Linda Oher, RN at (305)662-8283 or .

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Gift

A few weeks back, thinking it would be a way to save money and be a marvelous gift, I asked my two brother-units for used copies of the two books that had been the most formative to the person they each have become.

The Grader Boob, an English prof who is absolutely under the gun at this time of the year, dealing with final grades and student complaints, instead sent me a very generous gift certificate to Amazon. Whether he knows it or not, the student emails that he included in our recent correspondance were his real gift - a representative piece of his life.

The request had really already been answered over the course of the years we have known each other as siblings. He schooled me, seeming to step into the role of Guide from about the time I was eight or nine, and has never stopped. He shocks me with claims that I have schooled him, that I am The One Possessing Knowledge.

My other brother-unit, Tumbleweed, left the "family" -- hmmm, hey! It was about the same time Grader Boob Actively Assumed the Mantle of Sibling Voice of Social Conscience (Dabbling in Rock N Roll). A temporal coincidence? I think not.

Tumbleweed, who now prefers to be called TW, was a young runaway with an old soul. Grader Boob and I loved him with all our hearts, and the many years that passed without word of him were... let's just say difficult. Doubtless, I have little right to claim any difficulty whatsoever, given the harsh realities that TW encountered, but I do, I do lay claim to those years as Hard Times.

He, at least, had been able to leave. He had been free. Doing whatever he wanted to do.


I mean, switch the genders in Joni Mitchell's Cactus Tree, and there you have it.


I grew up "while he was so busy being free."

It is only recently that I've discovered my anger at TW. It's not Big Anger; It does not overwhelm -- it's one of your best recipes, having the restraint of a secret bit of heat that hits the back of the tongue in a salty delay.

He had no shelter, no food, was shot once, almost died then, and several other times. He did what one does to survive, maybe more. He loved and won, loved and lost. He and a porn star had a daughter, who now has a daughter of her own. Predictably, they are almost strangers. He met some of the most famous people of his generation. He wrote some stuff, published, read, hid some stuff. He ate out of trash cans, lived in a tent. Learned and learned, stored it and shared it. In fact, if you listen carefully to him, the thing he seems to have dedicated himself most to is the sharing. He did not want anyone to leave him unelevated, unfed, cold.

As for the pain inside the man?
I don't dare go there, unless invited, and I have not been invited.

In my adolescence, he was Seymour to Grader Boob's Buddy. TW was the fourth sick artist adjacent to sick Kierkegaard, sick Kafka, and sick van Gogh. I was into the Glass family, and jealous of its members, when I was all of eleven. This famously convoluted passage copied unevenly across an unlined page in a very uncertain 11-year-old hand has been tucked inside my Bible during all these intervening mumblemumble years:

But where does by far the bulk, the whole ambulance load, of pain really come from? Where must it come from? Isn't the true poet or painter a seer? Isn't he, actually, the only seer we have on earth? […] In a seer, what part of the human anatomy would necessarily be required to take the most abuse? The eyes, certainly. Please, dear general reader, as a last indulgence (if you're still here), re-read those two short passages from Kafka and Kierkegaard I started out with. Isn't it clear? Don't those cries come straight from the eyes? However contradictory the coroner's report - whether he pronounces Consumption or Loneliness or Suicide to be the cause of death -isn't it plain how the true artist-seer actually dies? I say […] that the true artist-seer, the heavenly fool who can and does produce beauty, is mainly dazzled to death by his own scruples, the blinding shapes and colors of his own sacred human conscience. (Salinger's Seymour, An Introduction)

I'd have edited out the reference to the epigraphs if I didn't also have as profound a writerly relationship with them, were they not also emblemmatic of my imaginary life with the real Tumbleweed.

The actors by their presence always convince me, to my horror, that most of what I've written about them until now is false. It is false because I write about them with steadfast love (even now, while I write it down, this, too, becomes false) but varying ability, and this varying ability does not hit off the real actors loudly and correctly but loses itself dully in this love that will never be satisfied with the ability and therefore thinks it is protecting the actors by preventing this ability from exercising itself.
– Franz Kafka

It is (to describe it figuratively) as if an author were to make a slip of the pen, and as if this clerical error became conscious of being such. Perhaps this was no error but in a far higher sense was an essential part of the whole exposition. It is, then, as if this clerical error were to revolt against the author, out of hatred for him, were to forbid him to correct it, and were to say, "No, I will not be erased, I will stand as a witness against thee, that thou art a very poor writer."– Søren Kierkegaard

A few years back, TW settled, somewhat, spending a few months of the year painting houses around Lake Tahoe, five months or so leading hikers and other serious adventurers in treks throughout the Grand Canyon. The rest of the time, he works as a bookie, in order to earn money, he says, "for cat food."

A few weeks back, thinking it would be a way to save money and be a marvelous gift, I asked my two brother-units for used copies of the two books that had been the most formative to the person they each have become.

This is what was in the Christmas box from my big brother that Fred fetched, this morning, from just beyond the drawbridge, in the icy grass next to the frozen moat. (TW took my request to heart.)

The items, at present, are dumped in the middle of our bed, and are recorded in the order of their haphazard retrieval.

1. Grateful Dead, Winterland, 6/9/77 (cassette tape, live)

The Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodleloo

On the day that I was born
Daddy sat down and cried
I had the mark just as plain as day
which could not be denied
They say that Cain caught Abel
rolling loaded dice,
ace of spades behind his ear
and him not thinking twice

Mississippi Uptown Toodleloo
Hello baby, I'm gone, goodbye
Half a cup of rock and rye
Farewell to you old southern sky
I'm on my way - on my way

If all you got to live for
is what you left behind
get yourself a powder charge
and seal that silver mine
I lost my boots in transit babe
A pile of smoking leather
Nailed a retread to my feet
and prayed for better weather

Mississippi Uptown Toodleloo
Hello, baby, I'm gone, good-bye
Half a cup of rock and rye
Farewell to you old southern sky
I'm on my way - on my way

They say that when your ship comes in
the first man takes the sails
The second takes the afterdeck
The third the planks and rails
What's the point to callin shots?
This cue ain't straight in line
Cueball's made of styrofoam
and no one's got the time

Mississippi Uptown Toodleloo
Hello baby, I'm gone, goodbye
Half a cup of rock and rye
Farewell to you old southern sky
I'm on my way - on my way

Across the Rio Grand-eo
Across the lazy river
Across the Rio Grand-eo
Across the lazy river

2. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard: page 139 is turned down. She is writing about the actual texture of the planet, about a contour globe.

What do I make of all this texture? What does it mean about the kind of world in which I have been set down? The texture of the world, its filigree and scrollwork, means that there is the possibility of beauty here, a beauty inexhaustible in its complexity, which opens to my knock, which answers in me a call I do not remember calling, and which trains me to the wild and extravagant nature of the spirit I seek.

3. Grateful Dead, Winterland 12/31/78 Side A; Oakland Auditorium Arena [w/joan baez on baby blue] 12/31/87 Side B (cassette tape, live)

4. Grateful Dead, Winterland 10/18/74, 3/18/77

5. The Complete Columbia Recordings, 1955-1961, Miles Davis and John Coltane (audio CDs)

6. Go Further, a Ron Mann film (DVD, 2003) "...explores the idea that the single individual is the key to large-scale transformational change. The film follows actor Woody Harrelson as he takes a small group of friends on a bio-fuelled bus-ride down the Pacific Coast Highway..."

7. Peter Brook's Marat/Sade (DVD, 1967)

8. Jacques Perrin, Winged Migration (DVD, 2001)

9. Glenn Gould: Bach -- The French Suites (Audio CD, 1973, 1974 CBS Records)

10. Carolan's Cottage, Joemy Wilson: Music of Turlough O'Carolan (1670-1738) on the Hammered Dulcimer Vol. II (Audio CD, Dargason Music, 1986)

11. Hotwalker: Charles Bukowski & A Ballad for Gone by Tom Russell (audio CD, homemade)

From Stylus Magazine, Reviewed by: Dom Passantino; Reviewed on: 2005-03-25
"It starts off as novelty. Within five minutes of the album starting, you’re laughing. You’re laughing half out of humour, half out of 'What on earth am I listening to?' What you’re listening to is a half-cut helium-voiced midget slurring the tale of the time he and Charles Bukowski drunkenly hijacked a diesel locomotive and drove it from downtown Los Angeles to Pacoima. By the time the album’s over, you’re not laughing, you’re discovered that that midget you were listening to died a few months after recording his vocals, the stage is littered with innumerable other corpses and lost hopes of America, and the smile has been wiped completely from your face, replaced by a stunned gape. Hotwalker isn’t just one of the best albums of this decade; it’s also probably the best documentary that the 2000s have yet produced.

A hotwalker is the name given to the guy at a racetrack who walks hot horses around in a circle to cool them down. Little Jack Horton used to be a hotwalker. He used to be a lot of things, carnival freak, poet, stuntman, 'Voice of the Great American Midway,' human cannonball, stuntman, friend of Charles Bukowski, preacher, alcoholic, philosopher, and alive. He was the midget in question (or 'little person' as he aggressively refers to himself, for an album that rails repeatedly against political correctness they do make concessions for our stumpy brethren) we just mentioned.

Hotwalker is the new album by Tom Russell, except it really isn’t his album. Of the 19 tracks present on this thing he only takes performance credits for nine of them. It’s part documentary, part mix-album, part museum exhibit, part evening spent listening to a rambling bar drunk who occasionally has a moment of clarity which you can’t help but share with him.

The whole enterprise is subtitled 'Charles Bukowski And A Ballad For Gone America,' and that’s what this is, an unapologetically backwards look that’s haunted with ghosts. Charles Bukowski, Jack Kerouac, Lenny Bruce, Harry Partch, Edward Abbey, Dave Van Ronk, Rambling Jack Elliot, a eulogy for each and every single one of these guys and the America they fought for. As a man who’s written for Johnny Cash, it’s no surprise that Russell fetishises the outlaw, and the whole thing is a paean to playing by your own rules. He knows that all of these people have voices strong enough to tell their own stories, and he lets them tell it. So Bukowski performs 'On The Hustle,' exchanging jokes with the audience about his alcoholism. Lenny Bruce asks the audience if there’s any other losers in tonight, before using the loneliness of his divorce as material. So many other voices flutter through, a choir of the damned, and each one has something to say. And Russell isn’t Michael Moore, he knows that the correct place for a documentary maker is out of the picture making sure his subjects get the screen time they deserve.

When he does veer into view, though, his contributions are absolutely perfect. He tells of times spent at Dave Van Ronk’s house, as a drunken Van Ronk would shout at even drunker houseguests, hopeful poets wondering if Dylan had dropped any songs down the back of the sofa, as his wife played the same track over and over again: 'LISTEN TO THIS GODDAMN SONG, YOU PEOPLE.'

12. Pirate's Choice Orchestra Baobab: The Legendary 1982 Session (Audio CD, World Circuit, recorded 1982, digitally remastered 1989) i laughed with joy to see this included - it's just... superb.

13. dick's picks #14; The Grateful Dead, boston music hall, 11/30/73, 12/2/73 (cassette tape, live)

dark star
words by Robert Hunter; music by Garcia, Kreutzmann, Lesh, McKernan, and Weir

Dark star crashes
pouring its light
into ashes

Reason tatters
the forces tear loose
from the axis

Searchlight casting
for faults in the
clouds of delusion

shall we go,
you and I
While we can?
the transitive nightfall
of diamonds

Mirror shatters
in formless reflections
of matter

Glass hand dissolving
to ice petal flowers

Lady in velvet
in the nights of goodbye

Shall we go,
you and I
While we can?
the transitive nightfall
of diamonds

spinning a set the stars through which the tattered tales of axis roll about the waxen wind of never set to motion in the unbecoming round about the reason hardly matters nor the wise through which the stars were set in spin

#14. Grateful Dead, long beach arena 12/14/80, winterland 10/16/74 (cassette tape, live)

#15. Grateful Dead, greek theatre, berkeley, 5/21/82 (cassette tape, live)
crossed out: Placido Domingo (from bravissimo, domingo!) and Felix Mendelssohn's A midsummer night's dream
clipping of a nature morte by cézanne as "cover art"

Playing In The Band
Words by Robert Hunter; music by Bob Weir

Some folks trust to reason
Others trust to might
I don't trust to nothing
But I know it come out right

Say it once again now
Oh I hope you understand
When it's done and over
Lord, a man is just a man

Playing in the band
Daybreak on the land

Some folks look for answers
Others look for fights
Some folks up in treetops
Just look to see the sights

I can tell your future
Look what's in your hand
But I can't stop for nothing
I'm just playing in the band

Playing in the band
Daybreak on the land

Standing on a tower
World at my command
You just keep a turning
While I'm playing in the band

If a man among you
Got no sin upon his hand
Let him cast a stone at me
For playing in the band

Playing in the band
Daybreak on the land
Playing in the band
Daybreak Daybreak on the land

#16. An Oral and Visual Portrait of the Grateful Dead: Playing in the Band
[An Updated Memorial Edition]
by David Gans and Peter Simon, foreward by Phil Lesh
St. Martin's Griffin, 1985

With a bit of paper stuck in between pages 188 and 189, at the beginning of Chapter 15, Epilogue: "that's me, holding the microphones, berkeley's greek theatre, early 1980s" and, indeed, there he is, front and center, bearded and beautiful. Photo by Bruce Polonsky.

#17. A Novel: The Year of the French by Thomas Flanagan
Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1979

"In 1798, Irish patriots, committed to freeing their country from England, landed with a company of French troops in County Mayo, in westernmost Ireland. They were supposed to be an advance guard, followed by other French ships with the leader of the rebellion, Wolfe Tone. Briefly they triumphed, raising hopes among the impoverished local peasantry and gathering a group of supporters. But before long the insurgency collapsed in the face of a brutal English counterattack.

Very few books succeed in registering the sudden terrible impact of historical events; Thomas Flanagan's is one. Subtly conceived, masterfully paced, with a wide and memorable cast of characters, The Year of the French brings to life peasants and landlords, Protestants and Catholics, along with old and abiding questions of secular and religious commitments, empire, occupation, and rebellion. It is quite simply a great historical novel."

#18. Encounters with the Archdruid by John McPhee
The Noonday Press, 1971
Three wildernesses, Four ecologies...

#19. A People's History of the United States, 1492-Present by Howard Zinn
Harper Collins, 1980, revised and edited 1995

#20. The Grateful Dead, Vancouver, B.C. 6/25/73 and Olympia Theater, Paris, France 5/4/72 (cassette tape, live)

#21. The Grateful Dead, Cow Palace, San Francisco 12/31/72 and Spartan Stadium, San Jose 4/22/79 (cassette tape, live)

Crossed out: Brahms, Chamber Music and Charles Mingus (ending with Mood Indigo)

#22. Bob Dylan, Royal Albert Hall, Manchester England, 5/17/66 (cassette tape, live)

#23. The Grateful Dead, Oakland Auditorium Arena, 12/31/81 (cassette tape, live)
Crossed out: Minnesota 10/19/71

#24. One Tibetan Windhorse Prayer Flag Garland, Handmade in Nepal by Tibetan Handicraft Industry for International Campaign for Tibet, 888-Tibet-Now

Contains a variety of important symbols in Tibetan Buddhism. These include the Endless Knot, representing the interrelatedness of all things; the Double Dorje or Diamond Scepter, symbolizing the indestructible and compassionate nature of Buddhaís teachings; the Buddha or awakened one, who introduced the Dharma or Buddhist teachings into this world; and the Healing Mantra, a matrix of Tibetan symbols that make up a healing mantra or sacred prayer. Hanging flags are believed to constantly be sending their prayers to the universe. To dispose of old flags with respect, please burn them.

Friday, December 18, 2009

News From University Land: "I really don't want to lose bright futures" or The Beg for Mercy Option

You may have noticed that the promised posts based on the paper detritus of my teaching career, as comemorated by a half-assed, half-hearted "portfolio," have not happened.

Oh, I love the implications of the passive voice!

I think of it as VictimSpeak, in English, at least. A former friend likes to describe her mistakes as things that "happen," that "occur," that "take place." She has issues, it seems, with agency.

Anyway, to fill the void, right on cue, my professorial brother-unit sent a few of his end-of-semester frantic emails from failing students. I am tempted to opine that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

First, though, I have to say that this particular Brother Unit, known affectionately as Grader Boob, probably sent me these emails in an effort to appease my wrath.

Whatever could he have done, this peace-loving, kind-hearted individual?

HE MOVED! Earlier in the day, his Christmas card and gift arrived. I happened to glance at the address label and almost fell on the floor. My most beloved brother had moved from the apartment serving as his home for nearly all of the past 30 years! And failed to tell me!

To add bloody insult to cavernous injury? He wayyyyyy overspent on the gift, forgetting that I *know* both how hard he works and how little he makes as a public university prof being strung along with piecemeal employment. Oh, and in Southern Climes, too, where erudition is seen for what it is: NotFootball.

Loving him intensely, as I do, I fired off a caring electronic letter that might have gone like this:

turn the volume UP, because i am yelling at you:
ONE: when the hell did you move?
next time you move, son, you TELL moi...
i ain't letting loose of you. not for one day, a few weeks, nuh-uh!
TWO: you overspent, grader boob, and fred and i are onto you now like white on rice. (don't you hate that expression?)
the right and gracious thing to do would be to simply thank you for the amazon gift certificate.

your angry sister

Perhaps you have noticed a tendency on my part to overreact from time to time. What can I say? My former friend might announce that she hates when that happens to her.

Anyway, now you are up-to-date, and so I present you with Grader Boob's Response:

Who knew Christmas could make people so passionate?
Let me, all while chuckling, deal with some of your points.
Physically, I've not moved. The county decided to rename the connection to my apartment, so although the main drag is still 20 yards away, they decided to confuse everything by changing my address to the apartment access road. So, HAH, I didn't move!
As for overspending, turnabout is fair play; you really overspent on my birthday--nobody sends $75 gift cards. Bdays are $5, maybe $10, max. And I thought you were college-educated!
Hope you enjoyed the card. (And if you really feel I overspent, give $50 from yours to Fred: For goodness sakes, it's his birthday!)
[Indeed, Fred was a Xmas baby!]
Much love to the angry denizens of Marlinspike Hall, deep, deep in the Tête de Hergé (très décédé, d'ailleurs).
Grader Boob

PS. I'm enclosing a couple of student excuses.

#1: Professor I am really truly sorry these papers are so late i truly hope you can still accept them.On sunday I wen and my computer crashed according to my uncle it has a trojan
virus on Wednesday when I wanted to make it to class to explain the reason for them being so late my car broke down and is now in the shop not to mention I have come down with the H1N1 virus and have been feeling extremely ill I was able to finally come out of the the house
to get to a computer where I could send you these essays I promise this was not a purposeful chain of actions but more precisely one in which I couldnt do anything about.Im hoping you can accept these because in my best efforts I have re-written my papers and got them to you as quickly as possible.Sorry about all of this and I appreciate all you have done especially how wonderful of a professor I have learned a lot and am now enrolled in the Religious Studies department.
[you've gotta admit that this final touch of enrolling in religious studies is close to Begging Genius; on the basis of that, alone, i'd have caved.]

#2: Professor, This e-mail is for one purpose and one purpose only. I am going to beg you and use sound logic to convince you to take away the 3% reduction for being absent to allow me to get a C- in the class instead of a D+. I did not use my beg for mercy on any other assignments of this semester. Also, unlike the other ways in which people begged for mercy my begging doesn't require you to go back and re-grade things you have already graded. It requires much less work than that and it's not so terribly boring. Also you could consider all the time and thought I put into drafting this email as a class periods worth of work so it would be like I made it up just like your other beg for mercy cases would have been. I am metaphorically on my hands and knees here Prof. I really don't want to lose bright futures. Obviously I could have avoided being in this situation by getting my act together on the journals and oral presentation, but without doing those I still think I put in a C level for Comp 1. Please consider taking away the absence that is going to kill me. Tommy
Response from Prof to Tommy:
Hi Thomas--
After reading the first line, I stopped.
Your grade is in the numbers, all of which you earned by submitting work and by skipping
classes--even after you were told that you could not afford any more absences.
Professor Grader Boob
Tommy, who ought to stop, chooses not to:
I did not miss class from sleeping in or from being a lazy college student. I'm not
going to roll out with a whole sob story but I assure you I knew what I could afford but
I made certain choices and in the end I know I am accountable for those, but I'm still
going to try to make it to a C so that I don't get so screwed over. I made it all the
days I could, and now is my last stitch effort to encourage you to cut me a break and
accept absences as my area requiring mercy.

#3 is described as "a brief email exchange between a varsity football player
and myself":

Hey mr. I am willing to do anything to to get a c in ur class cause I will not be
ineligible and won't be able to play football and I will lose my scholarship is there any
way you can help out thank.

Hi Jamar--
Unfortunately, since you didn't turn in much work this semester, you haven't earned a
passing grade.
Your average, according to Blackboard, is an 11, so you're actually 40 points below an F.
Your grade is in the math.
Professor Grader Boob

Ok well the work I did turn into u gave me zero on it .

My dear sweet brother ends this epistolary masterpiece this way:

It just sort of makes you want to cry...or laugh.
G Boob

*** () *** () *** () *** () *** () *** () *** () *** () *** () *** () *** () *** () *** () *** () *** () *** () *** () *** () *** () *** () *** () ***


Subject: Re: you're gonna get it...
Date: Sat, 19 Dec 2009 07:41:26 -0500

ummm {} why, hello!

hey, was someone raising a ruckus 'round here? silly someone.

that's totally retarded - that you should go from the perfectly respectable
"North x Avenue" to the sissified "PansyAss Drive." let's say,
for the Sake of Argument, that what you say is... true. 'splain me this:
how did you end up in apartment ONE HUNDRED AND TWO, huh? huh?
[versus his prior apartment designation of A-1, a great identifier, like the steak sauce]

it's seven a.m. here in marlinspike hall, deep, deep in the tête de hergé and so on and so forth. the cats have long been fed, dobby is requesting butt-whacking (please don't turn us in to the SPCA), and i am watching "bastard out of carolina." all the makings of a fine, fine day.

ummm. thank you very kindly much for the amazon gift certificate, unbelievably extravagant and irritating though it might be.

love the student begging! what's up with the "beg for mercy" -- tommy's
invention or some new pedagogical trickery? you can tell moi. remember, i used to bean them in the head with chalk.

smooches galore, and remember you can always swing by here for a few hours
or a month. love, the retired educator, your sis

The change in apartment # has been the oddest part of the whole deal.
They've split what used to be building A into four #s--377, 378, 379, 380--with each of these components having the same #ed apartments--101, 102, 103, 104.
It makes no sense to me, seeming to be even more confusing than the prior set up, which, of course, had Building A nowhere near Building B.
The Beg for Mercy option is on the course schedule as Beg for Mercy Day, a day on which they're supposed to come to class and present a viable argument asking me to reread revised material. I never tell them that the revision option is almost always allowed; I want them to convince me that their next effort will be worth my time.
As for your kind invite, I'm amenable to sometime during the spring break, so I'll let you know once the semester gets a-going. During holiday time, I'd just as soon spend the time catching up on lost sleep, so I'm not looking forward to any travelling.
Well, off to grade some online work.
Mucho amore to the Cat Clan.
Grader Boob

*the p0rtrait is of françois rabelais, humanist and poofy hat designee

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

RSDSA SURVEY: Veterans and Active Duty Military Personnel with CRPS

Most likely, if you have arrived here thanks to a search, you already know the ins-and-outs involved in talking about Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. You probably call this disorder RSD when you speak with certain people, and CRPS when you speak with others. If you are a brave soul, maybe you try to spit out "CRPS Types One and Two [Slash] RSD" before succumbing to respiratory distress.

The rest of you deserve an explanation -- and our encouragement!

I guess you could say that RSD is the common name used for the official designation of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). In 1993, the International Association for the Study of Pain designated CRPS as the correct term, and further divided it into two types, the division being based primarily on the presence or absence of nerve lesions (following the inciting injury or insult, whatever it may have been, *if* one is known).

Type I, formerly known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), Sudeck's atrophy, reflex neurovascular dystrophy (RND) or algoneurodystrophy, does NOT have demonstrable nerve lesions.

Type II, formerly known as causalgia, IS the result of demonstrable nerve damage.

In all likelihood, these divisions will further evolve as research into the course and origins of CRPS progresses.

"Retired Educator, you are boring us to death..."

Yeah? Well, snap out of it. Though the symptoms are essentially the same, the etiology is not. More importantly, the name change is a step away from the increasingly disproved old theories of "it's all about an overactive sympathetic nervous system..."

In fact, I may puke on the next "expert" who trots out that tired old stuff, telling me that "RSD just means that someone flipped the 'ON' switch to the sympathetic nervous system and forget to switch it 'OFF' {chucklechuckle}."

I got yer sympathetic nervous system right here, Chuckles...

And on the level of the pragmatic, the name change has necessarily been embraced by the health care systems within the USA -- for instance, you do not apply for SSDI on the basis of RSD -- no, you must apply on the basis of CRPS, Type 1 or Type 2. There has to be a measure of standardization.

Some of us {sniffsniff} are so blessed that we can lay claim to both types!

Okay, so... I recommend that those who are newly diagnosed ask their health care provider if there is any significance to the Name Game inherent to CRPS/RSD. If the question is sloughed off, or if you are told that the difference is meaningless, you may want to further investigate that person's knowledge of the rapidly accruing new frameworks of the disease. True, it may change nothing of your actual experiences with the symptoms -- but down the line, you will want to be involved with a doctor capable of inferring new treatments.

One of the cruelest relationships involved with this disease is its predictable surge in times of war, when one can depend on plenty of traumatic injuries to limbs and brains... It is sad but true that many advances in the diagnosis and treatment of CRPS stem from the intensified research it undergoes when the guns and roadside bombs start going off.

And so, at last, we come to the rightful topic of this blog entry!

The following information and initiative comes from -- who else? -- Jim Broatch, Executive Director of RSDSA, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome Association, and all around Good Egg.

Connecting to Veterans and Active Duty Military Personnel

Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) was first described by Dr. Silas Weir Mitchell, a Union Army Surgeon, in 1864 after having witnessed the experience of injured soldiers in the Civil War. Unfortunately, we are finding more and more veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan who are suffering from CRPS or chronic pain.

This September, the Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome Association (RSDSA) was invited to exhibit at the VA/DOD Evolving Paradigms II, a national conference for personnel and organizations involving in caring for returning veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. While exhibiting at the Conference, it became apparent that some of the VA staff were not familiar with the treatment of CRPS or its telltale signs.

After the DOD/VA Conference, RSDSA built a webpage with Resources for Veterans with CRPS, linked from our homepage. RSDSA is now reaching out to veterans and military personnel with CRPS, as well as their caregivers, to determine how RSDSA can increase its support to veterans.

Target Audience
Veterans and Active Duty Military Personnel with CRPS


•·Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a neurologic pain syndrome that can be characterized by severe, burning pain; changes in skin color or temperature; excessive sweating in an affected area of the body, or sweating for no reason at all; tissue swelling (edema) in the affected area; weakness or movement problems in the affected area; changes in hair growth or nail growth in the affected area
•·CRPS was previously referred to as either reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) or causalgia.

Your contact information and answers will remain anonymous. Read RSDSA's Privacy Policy


And the best of luck to each and every one of you.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

I don't know why...

I do not know why, so don't ask, but *God*, how I love this commercial, this guy!

Point Of Know Return

(Steve Walsh / Phil Ehart / Robby Steinhardt)

I heard the men saying something
The captains tell they pay you well
And they say they need sailing men to
Show the way, and leave today
Was it you that said, "How long, how long?"

They say the sea turns so dark that
You know it's time, you see the sign
They say the point demons guard is
An ocean grave, for all the brave,
Was it you that said, "How long, how long,
How long to the point of know return?"

Your father, he said he needs you
Your mother, she says she loves you
Your brothers, they echo your words:
"How far to the point of know return?"
"Well, how long?"

Today I found a message floating
In the sea from you to me
It said that when you could see it
You cried with fear, the Point was near
Was it you that said, "How long, how long
To the Point of Know Return?"

When Kimbo Slice Met PimpleHead

If you don't know Kimbo Slice, allow me to introduce you. He is the large, built guy with the arms that are 90 feet long.

In the video below, he is fighting Houston "PimpleHead" Alexander, usually known for his speed and aggression. For some reason, PimpleHead changed his tactics and presented himself as an excessively cautious, tentative fighter who, to all appearances, appeared brain dead. La Bonne et Belle Bianca Castafiore was heard to opine that the massive zit inside his cranium must finally be releasing its PussPoison.

The guy who posted the video edited out the first round, for which he deserves your deepest thanks, as it consisted of "circle, circle, circle." I believe it was Alexander's i-will-bore-you-to-death technique, with the only saving grace being his occasional kicks.

Of course, Kimbo Slice did not acquit himself well, either, but is more easily forgiven, being new to the octagon venue and all. Harumph.

Indeed, had AcneTête pursued the kicking game with just a *little* more alacrity, he'd have won the match. Kimbo was nearly hobbled by the end due to the accumulated damage to his left leg.

The fans made known their displeasure and while I never condone booing, I understood.

This was Kimbo's first official UFC win (I *think*). New to MMA, he has had a long career outside the UFC, of course, with an international reputation as one of the world's fiercest street fighters -- most of his fights are available on the web.

In the numerous, heavy-handed clips of The Slice on TUF, he presented as some sort of Zen master. He also came off as timid, which is not a word I'd ever have associated with anyone owning that physique. The Fredster tells me the mot juste, the mot propre, would be "judicious," as Kimbo's legs and knees are showing the effects of years of abuse. Still, as someone who needs to impress impresario Dana White with much derring-do, refusing a fight, as he did at the end of TUF, was not the most judicious of choices.
Anyway... the coffee was weak and generally disappointing this morning. That's *my* excuse for blogging about a fight that wasn't at all spectacular. The impetus, honestly? BJ clobbering Diego last night, but most especially? My man Frank Mir, putting a quick and -- according to what I hear -- merciful end to things for Cheick Kongo. And the extreme frustration of not having Pay Per View...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

nothing you can think that is not the moon

it's been a messy day here in marlinspike hall, deep, deep in the tête de hergé (très décédé, d'ailleurs). the mess has involved miscommunication atop fatigue, and the way back seems to be along introspective paths.

instinctually, i turned to my brother-unit tw, man and photographer extraordinaire. a superb brother-unit, too.

sometimes a sister needs a brother, needs a god.

please remember that while i steal with impunity from one of his blogs, American Idyll -- *you* must write and ask permission for any reproduction of his work.

the photographs that spoke to me today were published monday, december 7 and do bear remarkable semblance to moonscapes. at least, the moonscapes that *i* have seen.

i'd rather learn
from one bird
how to sing
than teach
ten thousand stars
how not to dance.
--e.e. cummings

there is nothing
you can see that
is not a flower.
there is nothing
you can think that
is not the moon.

Lindsey Baum and the Belly of the Beast

It's frustrating to have only rumor and probable coincidence to report about missing 11-year-old Lindsey Baum.

Around 9:15 pm on June 26, Lindsey J. Baum, then a 10-year old from the tiny town of McCleary, Washington, disappeared while walking from a friend's house to her home, only four short blocks away. Two of those four blocks are reported to be somewhat industrial -- though we are talking *rural* small town.

One block away is access to a major highway.

She'd just had an argument with her brother, but most everyone notes that she wasn't storming off mad. She didn't have the accoutrements you'd think of when thinking of a runaway -- no money, no cell phone, no change of clothes.

Some friends set out with her, so she was accompanied for a while before they peeled off to go to their own homes for dinner, or homework, a bath or shower, whatever.

Despite an intensive police search including the FBI and high-tech tools, along with frequent weekend searches conducted with volunteers from her hometown -- the case remains unsolved.

Some housekeeping items:

Family, friends and law enforcement officials hope that raising the amount of the reward for information about Lindsey Baum will encourage tips in the case. Currently, the reward money amounts to $10,000. If you would like to help in this effort, donations for the reward can be mailed directly to Sterlings Savings Bank at the following address:

Lindsey Baum Reward Fund
P.O. Box 600
McCleary, WA 98557

[In a formal and highly scientific study, I compared, via statistics, the number of (tweeted) hits that two nearly identical statements about Lindsey received. The difference? One statement mentioned the reward, and the other did not. The remark including the monetary reward received approximately 20% more attention. I've conducted the "experiment" three times now, alternating the order of presentation and attempting to publish each statement quickly, one right after the other.]

Yesterday, a local news station,, updated an earlier story about what one hopes is a terrible coincidence involving Lindsey Baum's relatives:

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Relatives of Lindsey Baum, the McCleary 10*-year-old girl [*11]who vanished in June, called Olympia police last month to report a stranger in their backyard.

The homeowner said the man was crouching beneath the bedroom window of Baum's two female cousins, who are 9 and 12 years old.

Olympia Police said any connection between the two cases is coincidental, but Grays Harbor County investigators have been in touch with Olympia Detectives about the Nov. 13 incident.

Investigators in the Baum case have not identified any suspects in the girl's disappearance.

"It's scary," said Derric, the father of the girls who did not want his last name published. Derric said he and his wife were already nervous about their kids' safety after what happened to his niece.

"It even makes you more cautious about your own children," said Derric.

Olympia police have released a sketch of the suspect from the case in the backyard break-in. Detectives said the man may be responsible for two attempted luring cases in Olympia in November.

On Nov. 10, about eight blocks from the house where the man was seen, a man approached a 10-year-old girl and asked if she needed a ride. She ran home and police were contacted.

On November 24, about two miles from the home, a 9-year-old girl said a stranger asked her if she could help him load groceries into her car. She said no and ran away.

In both incidents, the man was reportedly driving a silver car.

Detectives said the girls did not think the man in the sketch released by police was the man that approached them, but police said it's possible he could be responsible for all three incidents.

When Derric confronted the man in his backyard , he asked what the man was doing. Derric said the man told him he was a building inspector. Derric said when he asked the man for his I.D., the man walked quickly to his car, and drove off. Derric told police the man was driving a silver Mazda.

[NOTE: The video at King5 TV site includes a sketch of the suspect (and the rather remarkable hole in his right ear lobe!)]

I will spare you the explicit details that the "forensic astrologists" have come up with, as well as the conclusions of a witch living in Japan who has been gifted with dreams containing the name of a suspect (or three). It is disconcerting to note the degree of specificity these folks manage to come up with, and how deftly they incorporate real factoids into their fictions. I have found myself with a racing heart, and hope near at hand, while reading their insights -- forgetting that I'm not dealing with people well-grounded in reality. What? Why, yes, I *do* have a slightly pejorative opinion of the occult arts. How ever did you know?

If the belly of the beast interests you, or if you just want to "learn how forensic astrology works and gathers critical details and key actions pertaining to crimes," visit the mentalists at Websleuths. If you are a practitioner, please leave a blank comment to help me understand...

The self-described "Eclectic Wiccan Pagan - Former U.S. Goth - Japanese Language Speaker," goes by the Twitter name of "ren1999 ." S/he also goes by Kira3696 on other sites. S/he coyly announced, back on 16 July: "I am a psychic detective working on the case of Lindsey Baum. No really. Did you know that about me?"

Ren1999 has deleted this tweet from 3 October, in which a suspect is identified. Soon thereafter, I believe, something was said about a vehicle, but I failed to copy that communication.

D*le Allen Walt*rs G*lder. His online nickname may be "Alice Waters" and possibly indicates he posted to missing Lindsey Baum's website.

Ren/Kira frequents the Wicca Online Community, where he has his own page with a profile name of "Jon Tomas." There, Ren/Kira has the assistance of one "Lady Ella HPS" and sidekicks "Catt" and "Pat P 53" -- who join in discussions about Lindsey in one of their forums.

I am not sure how {whistle::whistle}, but investigators are well aware of this individual. Of course, it is barbaric, the pain this sort of thing is causing for Lindsey's parents, family, and friends, not to mention the amount of time law enforcement has to waste in investigating these "findings" -- and their "finders." Because, of course, one's initial impulse is to wonder if these psychic sleuthes might not include the actual kidnapper, who is enjoying a bit of Twisted Sport.

Lady Ella, on 15 July:
MM A ten year old girl has been missing for over two weeks in McCleary Washington. I have gotten some visons about the situation, and they are being acknowleged, however we all got together for Purple Owl and had great results. Everyones help is needed desparately. do you think that we could put our differences aside amd do a spell to help find her, this has Nothing to do with me, but a child. Please soften your hearts and help find her ..............Blessed BE, The Lady Ella

Catt answers: Do they have anything to go on? Did anyone see anything. The more information I have the better. We could do a spell very like the one we did for Purple Owl. Does everyone remember what we did? You can go look at the discussion called Bring a Rapist to Justice. We just need to change the who and it will work the same. Do you think she is still alive? Do you think she was kidnapped or is she lost? I'll be happy to help.

Lady Ella ramps things up with: MM Appearently she left her friends house sometime after 9 pm and had to walk 4 blocks to her home, alone......She never made it home..........In my visions I saw an older model white van, the type with the doors on the back,,,,,,,,,,I saw woods and then I saw a body of water with a bridge spaning it.......Here's the best part, I saw a white male in his 30's, his head was shaved and he had a goatee. The shirt that he was wearing had the sleeves cut off. I can see his face a clear as day and could pick him out of a line-up or photo. Sadly, I don't think that the little girl is still alive. I also feel that this monster is known by the family...............This is all that I have gotten so far but I'll let you know if more should come to me. Thank You very much . Blessed Be, The Lady Ella

Anyway, it goes on. And on.

Ren/Kira fuels the fire, and soon the visions and suspects are, blessed be, practically climbing out of the woodwork. I confess to being especially defensive about ren1999's invocation of "Alice Waters," as I am a longtime fan of the lady, and her food!

In fact, let us pause in the abundance of our lives, and dégustons today's menu at Chez Panisse:

Saturday, December 12
An apéritif
Warm spiny lobster salad with cardoons and artichokes
Monterey Bay squid ragout pasta with zinfandel and leeks
Grilled rack, loin, and leg of James Ranch lamb in zinfandel sauce with roasted vegetables
and braised endives and greens
Meyer lemon soufflé

There is much more nonsense out there than I can stomach, and to have it be associated with the task of finding missing children makes it especially odious. Each time I post an "update," I make myself revisit these urchins, and sometimes find new visionaries and charlatans, all the while wondering if Lindsey Baum could even begin to fathom herself as the lead topic in the "Crones and Elders" section of an online Wiccan Community, Please note, I've nothing against wicca. I'm sure to have mentioned at some point that The Fredster is a druid, no?

Still? Seeing just some of the weirdness out there, I worry about an important but small detail escaping notice.

What kind of monster took Lindsey? And do I have the right to denigrate anyone who is working against him? I need to go back and leave my overly-developed ego at the door.

Happy Hanukkah

The Hanukkah Story
Published: December 10, 2009

Tonight Jewish kids will light the menorah, spin their dreidels and get their presents, but Hanukkah is the most adult of holidays. It commemorates an event in which the good guys did horrible things, the bad guys did good things and in which everybody is flummoxed by insoluble conflicts that remain with us today. It’s a holiday that accurately reflects how politics is, how history is, how life is.

It begins with the spread of Greek culture. Alexander’s Empire, and the smaller empires that succeeded it, brought modernizing ideas and institutions to the Middle East. At its best, Hellenistic culture emphasized the power of reason and the importance of individual conscience. It brought theaters, gymnasiums and debating societies to the cities. It raised living standards, especially in places like Jerusalem.

Many Jewish reformers embraced these improvements. The Greeks had one central idea: their aspirations to create an advanced universal culture. And the Jews had their own central idea: the idea of one true God. The reformers wanted to merge these two ideas.

Urbane Jews assimilated parts of Greek culture into their own, taking Greek names like Jason, exercising in the gymnasium and prospering within Greek institutions. Not all Jews assimilated. Some resisted quietly. Others fled to the hills. But Jerusalem did well. The Seleucid dynasty, which had political control over the area, was not merely tolerant; it used imperial money to help promote the diverse religions within its sphere.

In 167 B.C., however, the Seleucid king, Antiochus IV, issued a series of decrees defiling the temple, confiscating wealth and banning Jewish practice, under penalty of death. It’s unclear why he did this. Some historians believe that extremist Jewish reformers were in control and were hoping to wipe out what they saw as the primitive remnants of their faith. Others believe Antiochus thought the Jews were disloyal fifth columnists in his struggle against the Egyptians and, hence, was hoping to assimilate them into his nation.

Regardless, those who refused to eat pork were killed in an early case of pure religious martyrdom.

As Jeffrey Goldberg, who is writing a book on this period, points out, the Jews were slow to revolt. The cultural pressure on Jewish practice had been mounting; it was only when it hit an insane political level that Jewish traditionalists took up arms. When they did, the first person they killed was a fellow Jew.

In the town of Modin, a Jew who was attempting to perform a sacrifice on a new Greek altar was slaughtered by Mattathias, the old head of a priestly family. Mattathias’s five sons, led by Judah Maccabee, then led an insurgent revolt against the regime.

The Jewish civil war raised questions: Who is a Jew? Who gets to define the right level of observance? It also created a spiritual crisis. This was not a battle between tribes. It was a battle between theologies and threw up all sorts of issues about why bad things happen to faithful believers and what happens in the afterlife — issues that would reverberate in the region for centuries, to epic effect.

The Maccabees are best understood as moderate fanatics. They were not in total revolt against Greek culture. They used Greek constitutional language to explain themselves. They created a festival to commemorate their triumph (which is part of Greek, not Jewish, culture). Before long, they were electing their priests.

On the other hand, they were fighting heroically for their traditions and the survival of their faith. If they found uncircumcised Jews, they performed forced circumcisions. They had no interest in religious liberty within the Jewish community and believed religion was a collective regimen, not an individual choice.

They were not the last bunch of angry, bearded religious guys to win an insurgency campaign against a great power in the Middle East, but they may have been among the first. They retook Jerusalem in 164 B.C. and rededicated the temple. Their regime quickly became corrupt, brutal and reactionary. The concept of reform had been discredited by the Hellenizing extremists. Practice stagnated. Scholarship withered. The Maccabees became religious oppressors themselves, fatefully inviting the Romans into Jerusalem.

Generations of Sunday school teachers have turned Hanukkah into the story of unified Jewish bravery against an anti-Semitic Hellenic empire. Settlers in the West Bank tell it as a story of how the Jewish hard-core defeated the corrupt, assimilated Jewish masses. Rabbis later added the lamp miracle to give God at least a bit part in the proceedings.

But there is no erasing the complex ironies of the events, the way progress, heroism and brutality weave through all sides. The Maccabees heroically preserved the Jewish faith. But there is no honest way to tell their story as a self-congratulatory morality tale. The lesson of Hanukkah is that even the struggles that saved a people are dappled with tragic irony, complexity and unattractive choices.

As posited by Judaism 101: The Traditional Hanukkah Story

And, in a nod to another tradition, here is Adam Sandler's original Chanukah (Hanukkah) Song:

Friday, December 11, 2009

Malignancy as a Complication of CRPS

Malignancy as a Possible Complication of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome: A Case Report
© 2009 American Academy of Pain Medicine, Pain Medicine
Published Online: 9 Dec 2009

Rick Kennedy, FRCA,* Joan Hester, FRCA, MSc, FFPMRCA,* and Dominic W. N. Simon, FRCS (Tr & Orth), BSc †
*Department of Pain Relief, King's College Hospital, London; † Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital, Basingstoke, Hampshire, UK

Correspondence to Rick Kennedy, FRCA
Anaesthetic Department, St Thomas' Hospital
Lambeth Palace Road, London SE1 7EH, UK
Tel: 44-7986360997; Fax: 00-61893463481
Sources of support: None was received.

A synovial sarcoma presented in the knee of a young woman 20 years after the onset of pain which was attributed to complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). Was this a chance occurrence, or could there be any link between the two conditions? Did the pain itself and the persistent inflammatory and immunological response to pain contribute to the development of malignancy, or could the malignancy have been present subclinically for many years and have contributed to the ongoing pain syndrome? This case report looks into the diagnosis of synovial sarcoma and CRPS and the relationship between the neurogenic inflammation seen in CRPS and that seen in malignancies. The diagnosis of CRPS is a diagnosis of exclusion. Constant vigilance of patients with this unpleasant condition is necessary.


Clinical Question: Is CRPS-I associated with malignancy?

Bone metastases can mimic a Complex Regional Pain Syndrome I

Rheumatic Manifestations in Malignancy

Squamous Cell Carcinoma Occurring Within Incision of Recently Implanted Spinal Cord

Complex regional pain syndrome type I in cancer patients

The Upper Room

Let Mahalia sing you into and through the Upper Room. It's a boring post; She's not!

It's a cold December morning, quite beautiful.

Retired Educator, here. Over the course of several days last week, The Manor Hazmat Team and I excavated my office, hidden in the nosebleed section of one of the more neglected wings. We reclaimed that space in the name of All That is Good and Holy in Marlinspike Hall -- deep, deep in the Tête de Hergé (Très Décédé, D'ailleurs).

Inexplicably, I decided to change the wall art from trustworthy and overseen impressionistes to a series by Miró, and thereby managed to lend a decidedly childlike air to the room. Not the look I was going for but that's okay. I can do childlike. I like childlike. On my very best days, I am childlike.

Actually, in the right light, in the proper frame of mind? Miró's work asserts itself as more ELEMENTAL than jejune, just not in the typically monumental way that I normally envision les principes de bases -- as found in Rothko, for example. Our Private and Supremely Elegant Manor Suite is done in Rothko -- nicely set off by row upon row of mirrored ceiling tile. Sure, there are moments when the blocks of color oppress and Rothko's famed depression almost bleeds out and your thoughts turn all helterskelter-like.

Ummm, right?

In the course of things, have I ever mentioned that Fred was once the recipient of an Honorary Chapter Medalist Award, given by the American Society of Interior Designers? Yes, he was! I remember the frenzy. He had to assemble several portfolios, each representative of his various and eccentric Philosophies of Design, to which he had to attach a typewritten version of his originally longhanded thesis, "In Defense of Polyester." After first creating it, he spiffed up his CV, finagled the requisite three ASID Chapter Board Member endorsements, provided a detailed bulleted list of the location and patronage of his famed trompe l'oeil wall and window treatment creations, as well as proffering proof of degrees, honors, citations, arrests, outstanding parking tickets, and so forth.

Anyway, he's an Award Winner!

What he has done in our suite of rooms is create an intricate system of wall hangings that can be kept rolled up, much like the various canvas panels for the Big Top in a circus. On those days when a heavy fog hangs over Captain Haddock's holdings, and the Rothkos, all tragic and impending, loom extra large -- we just drop the canvas leaves of our Moroccan-style tent. There are several design choices available per wall, or we can choose to disguise the structural planes with billowy fabrics in an amorous hommage to the Ottoman Harem.

For some ungodly reason, Fred has it in his head to paint a mural on one of my recently uncovered office walls. It figures, no? I cannot get the man to consult his extant and lengthy "honey do" list -- but this, he will do, right away.

Just the archaelogy involved in reaching the original wall dampens my resolve -- steaming away layers of period wallpaper, chipping, disintegrating paint, all the way down to creative combinations of wood, stone, mud, straw, peat.

"What kind of mural have you in mind?" I ask him, curious.

"Something restful, yet vibrant, something unique to you, yet universal..." I swear, I think his eyes were crossing with the effort of coming up with that bit of effluvium. In the interest of saving you time, I cut the transcription short: you know how I dislike rambling.

I finally convinced The Fredster to try a fairly muted, tonal abstract in the form of a fresco, the very idea of which may keep him occupied through the winter. Right on cue to distract My Darling Artisan, the chirping Bonne et Belle Bianca Castafiore arrived on scene wrapped in a voluminous and inexplicablly Miró-like japanese kimono (MavenMatron sized) and sporting the latest trend in Foot-Binding -- high-heeled torture devices that keep the wearer interminably en pointe:

The first task I set the Handy Man? A new, reinforced door with three foolproof locks. The Castafiore may show little interest in my recuperated space *today* -- but who knows how she may feel tomorrow, eh?

It is a good place in which to sit and write, my office, defended now by a reinforced steel door with a set of bright-nickel finished, interfaced-and-intwined redundant locks.

Look out the window at The Copse and The Rarest of Birds in Our Aviary, and you see the proof of our failed attempts at gardening and animal husbandry. Suckers and Sprouts, Suckers and Sprouts! We forgot to trim back the new growth in The Copse for a few, cough, years, and Nature has gone wild, as is Nature's Wont. The Gamekeeper's predilection is for birds of prey, as evidenced by the Gaggle of Red Kites, once hunted to extinction, now clearly in full recovery within Our Aviary's netting. I fear the advent of Red Kite Zombies, the reanimated dead with no prey but their own kind.


All the more reason to turn inward, to my warm, inviting, and elemental home office!

Shucks, I wish it were that simple, a turning away from what amounts to a huge Bio-Botanical Failure to Cooperate, in favor of the turning inward to some hoped for Trope of Instant Wisdom [Just Add Water and Stir].

But the Unfortunate Real World cannot be kept out, even from this well-planned and superbly-appointed lair (there is a club chair done in actual Corinthian Leather, fashioned from an equally actual 1976 Chrysler Cordoba).

In the course of clearing out mounds of paperwork from my last stint as a teacher, I found some items that proved very dear, and some that I would like to share. They represent, on the one hand, the unseen and unacknowledged work of teachers, and, on the other, the often unrecognized realities at work in the lives of today's teenagers, Our Belovèd Yute.

And then there are just the oddities that represent public high school education in what is euphemistically known as "the urban environment."

So stay tuned. After a nap or coma, I'm going to tackle deficiency reports and guardian contact forms in the next post.

While you're patiently waiting, please enjoy this recorded message from Ricardo Gonzalo Pedro Montalbán y Merino...

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

WORDLE SOLUTIONS and How The Computer Ate My Blog Post

Howdy High, There, Buckaroos! Retired Educator, here.

Since the 2009 Thanksgiving Wordle Challenge was such a Total Yawn, despite my best efforts at prostitution through Tweeter, I am posting the solutions below. Actually, I am doing this because of an inability to get any real writing done. Last night, I labored over a long post on ketamine, about which I was quite proud, and it went *poof*. Out, gone, aloft in the blogosphere, more of my amorphous nonsense.

I am one of those people who rolls eyes when folks lament, long and loud, how the computer "lost" or "ate" their work. They usually further insist that they *did* save it, really!

"That there computer has a mind of its own..." Right, Grandpa.

No, computers only do what we "tell" them to do.

Or so I thought.

That ketamine coma post was really good. It had none of my normal foolishness. It toed a line now obscured by a strong and unexpected imaginary sand storm that quickly reduced visibilty to nil. You know how hard sand can be on high-end electronics.

I dotted every "i" and researched every outrageous claim, underlining what I knew to be the truth at the expense of facts that I chose simply to ignore. It rivaled the work I produced while perched on top of the rooster weathervane that, itself, was planted atop the highest point of the Ivory Tower. Now, *that* was a breathtaking act of unbalanced derring-do!

In fact, when brought nearly to fruition (around 8 pm, 7 December), the ketamine coma piece could not help but bring to mind my unparralleled study of Parisian graffiti produced in the various revolutionary spaces of May 1968.

Ever since stabbing Fred with that sharp, rusty fork yesterday evening for suggesting, perkily, that I "just" get right back to work and reproduce what the 'puter clearly deliberately disposed of... Ever since then, Fred has been wimpering and tossing out the odd and clearly unrehearsed "baaaad computer, baaaaad" in between moans and the mounting double threats of sepsis and lockjaw.

It's good to see him make an effort.

So I guess we will scrape up the money to have some Urgent Care version of a longstanding family doctor [whom our people always repay in quart jars of homemade strawberry preserves and 5 or so fresh eggs] lance what is festering on and around The Fredster.

I heard -- down on the corner -- that if we offer the Urgent Care Admissions Clerk a fresh potted-meat sandwich, we can get a complimentary vasectomy. I say "we," but I really mean "Fred."

Anyway, I appreciate your faithfulness and truly do apologize for the bizarreries of late. I realize that when one's life begins to be nothing but a stringing together of missteps and the totally unforeseen, it's perhaps time to re-evaluate things.

These deep thoughts, and others, I toss into the frigid cold of this December night, and laugh.

So here's the skinny on the Wordles:

#9: "At the little town of Vevay, in Switzerland, there is a particularly comfortable hotel." These are the opening lines to Henry James' Daisy Miller.

#10: The inimitable Gabriel García Márquez and his lovely One Hundred Years of Solitude: "Amaranta Úrsula returned with the angels of December, driven on a sailor's breeze, leading her husband by a silk rope tied around his neck."

#11: "One day, perhaps, the world may taste the pickles of history." From Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children.

#12: "Contrary to expectation, there was a touch of gaiety in the air, with total strangers willing to engage in conversation on any topic, though uppermost in everyone's mind were the scarcity of fuel and the increasingly frequent power cuts." Okay, so this one? You either knew it or you did not. I truly think the first 3 were possible to tease and reason out... Though the fact that Madame Fresca could not is perhaps ample evidence to the contrary. #12 was taken from the first chapter of Gifts by Nuruddin Farah.

There is, admittedly, a small part of me that thinks you are all Evil-Doers of the Nth Degree who simply did not desire that Fred and I should enjoy an evening alone together, and so, you played dumb and refused to win the 2009 Thanksgiving Wordle Challenge Prize of taking La Bonne et Belle Bianca Castafiore to the Dairy Queen.

That's okay. I'll get you next time.

Monday, December 7, 2009

More evidence for supraspinal mechanism in CRPS/RSD

From H. Uematsu, M. Sumitani, A. Yozu, Y. Otake, M. Shibata, T. Mashimo, and S. Miyauchi of the Department of Acute Critical Medicine (Anesthesiology) of Osaka University's Graduate School of Medicine comes this study [via PubMed]:

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) Impairs Visuospatial Perception, whereas Post-Herpetic Neuralgia (PHN) does not: Possible Implications for Supraspinal Mechanism of CRPS, published in the Annals of the Academy of Medicine, Singapore (2009 Nov;38(11):931-6).

Introduction -- Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) patients show impaired visuospatial perception in the dark, as compared to normal patients with acute nociceptive pain. The purpose of this study is 2-fold: (i) to ascertain whether this distorted visuospatial perception is related to the chronicity of pain, and (ii) to analyse visuospatial perception of CRPS in comparison with another neuropathic pain condition.
Materials and Methods -- We evaluated visual subjective body-midline (vSM) representation in 27 patients with post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN) and 22 with CRPS under light and dark conditions. A red laser dot was projected onto a screen and moved horizontally towards the sagittal plane of the objective body-midline (OM). Each participant was asked to direct the dot to a position where it crossed their vSM. The distance between the vSM and OM was analysed to determine how and in which direction the vSM deviated.
Results -- Under light condition, all vSM judgments approximately matched the OM. However, in the dark, CRPS patients, but not PHN patients, showed a shifted vSM towards the affected side.
Conclusion -- We demonstrated that chronic pain does not always impair visuospatial perception. The aetiology of PHN is limited to the peripheral nervous system, whereas the distorted visuospatial perception suggests a supraspinal aetiology of CRPS.

Friday, December 4, 2009

CRPS / RSD and the Ketamine Coma Study

"Your Turn" with Kathy Fountain from Fox 13 Tampa, FL. Discusses CRPS/RSD and the Ketamine coma study. Features Dr. Anthony Kirkpatrick -- one of the world's foremost CRPS/RSD researchers:

After nearly twenty years of dedicated service to the University of South Florida College of Medicine in Tampa, Anthony F. Kirkpatrick, MD, PhD, left to establish the RSD / CRPS Treatment Center and Research Institute, the world's first institute of its kind, dedicated exclusively to RSD / CRPS. The Institute opened its Ambulatory Surgical Center in February 2008 and is headquartered in Tampa.

Ketamine Coma live broadcast Fox 13 Tampa

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving Wordle Challenge 2009 [#12]

Sorry to be so tardy in posting Wordle Challenge #12, as it is now Sunday evening, November 29, and Thanksgiving is very much over. Still, there may be one or three of you, or Fresca, who may still opt to take a peek at this jumble of words, with a mind to bringing some last minute order out of chaos.

To see the history of Wordle Challenges, click here.

The object is to unscramble the wordle, then identify the novel from which it came, as well as the author.

Don't cheat.

This is the fourth of the four promised. The author hails from the continent of Africa -- joining the previously represented North America, South America, and Asia.

I am uncertain about my choice of literary passage this time. Though extremely known, the author's name is not a household word -- a reflection on the poverty of the household. And the quote here is... well, odd. On point, but odd.

The prize for solving this one? I honestly don't know. (Are you picking up on my growing sense of profound personal defeat?)

How about recognition for a job well done? Eh? How does that strike you?

Wordle: 2009 Thanksgiving Wordle Challenge #12

Saturday, November 28, 2009

2009 Thanksgiving Wordle Challenge [#11]

Hello, Gentle Reader.

Here is the third of four 2009 Thanksgiving Wordle Challenges, the eleventh overall. To see the entire Incredible History Of Wordle Challenges, click here.

The object is to unscramble the wordle, then identify the novel from which it came, as well as the author.

Don't cheat.

If -- after a good, solid *90* seconds -- you cannot place your unscrambled wordle, you may ask two people, in turn, to aid you in identifying novel and novelist. The prohibition against search engines and other underhanded treachery remains in place for your smarty-panted friends.

We're offering a new prize with Wordle Challenge No. 11 -- the exact address and phone number of its author, plus one Richelieu faux pearl clip on/screw earring, goldtone.

Good luck!

Wordle: 2009 Thanksgiving Wordle Challenge #11

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Wordle Challenge 2009 [#10]

Happy Thanksgiving Eve, Darling Readers! I sense the frenzy of defrosting, parboiling, baking, and scrubbing of toilets going on out there. I feel, and share, your pain.

Oh, who are we kidding? We love it!

Still, it makes all kinds of sense to take the occasional Wordle Break, cleansing the mind even as we make devious culinary plans to cleanse palates.

This is the second in our Thanksgiving Wordle Challenge 2009 series. Ms. Marmy the Fluffy Butted Feline has been reading over my shoulder, advising me on wordle style and color choices. At her suggestion, I reined in my urge to use weird fonts and out-of-this-world color choices, and have stayed in the realm of plodding realism.

The Magical Ms. Marmy has given this wordle her famous "*ack*:*ack*" of approval.

{cough::cough} [What do you think, La Fresca? Too many hints? Well, in my defense, 'tis the season for giving, yo.]

Directions: Unscramble the Wordle below, then identify the novel and author from which the Wordle was formed.

To see the History of Wordle Challenges, go here.

At this time, we're thinking that Thanksgiving Wordle Challenge 2009 will consist of a total of four Wordle Challenges. Two down, two to go. And yes, as promised on Twitter by @The_Castafiore, we are attempting to represent a different continent per wordle. Should you happen to be a representative of the continents we fail to honor, I beg your pardon and beseech your forbearance.

Because @The_Castafiore could not restrain her wagging tongue and tip-tapping fingers, we are also committed to featuring Island Nations during the Xmas Wordle Challenges.

What's that? Hmm? Oh, the prize! Tickets for you and four of your closest friends to the 2010 New Year's Day 9:20 AM début of Gounod's Faust, that which keeps La Bonne et Belle Bianca Castafiore busy and out of trouble. Unfortunately, we cannot swing the cost of transportation to Tête de Hergé and hope that won't deter you from the competition. We'll get you here somehow, even if we have to send the submarine.

Wordle: Thanksgiving Wordle Challenge 2009 [#10]

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009 Wordle Challenge [#9]

If you are as close to brain death as I am, you will welcome this straightforward and fun task of bringing order out of chaos:

Yes, it's Wordle Time.

This time out, Fresca need not refrain. She is the Reigning Wordlemeister of the Known World and it was bad of me to ask her to hold back last time out. She's also something of a writer, filmmaker, photographer, and All Around Good Egg.

Particularly as she went on to win...
And was the only respondant!

We have new prizes as incentive! Okay, it's the same prize. {put:upon:sigh}What can I say? Fred and I are downright hungry for an evening alone. It is The Opera Hiatus Season -- meaning that all Manor residents are home. All. Day. Long.

How long can you listen to "ah, je r-i-i-i-i-s de me voir si belle dans ce miroir-oir-oir!" before becoming complètement dingue?

Winner of Thanksgiving Wordle Challenge 2009 [#9] will have the chance to escort La Bonne et Belle Bianca Castafiore to the local Dairy Queen, just a few kilometers south of Captain Haddock's Ancestral Home. You can pick her up anytime...

We'll leave the drawbridge down and take the alligators out of The Moat.

Directions: Unscramble the Wordle below, then identify the novel and author from which the Wordle was formed.

To see the History of Wordle Challenges, go here.

At this time, we're thinking that Thanksgiving Wordle Challenge 2009 will consist of a total of four Wordle Challenges.

Wordle: Thanksgiving Wordle Challenge 2009 [#9]