Thursday, March 3, 2011



my first ketamine treatment
will be on 14 march.

take that, crps!  BOP!  ZAP!  BOING!

in the meantime, i need to get
a port put in for i.v. access...

this is me pretending otherwise

it's 1 am on the day i will get either a thumb up or down about receiving subanesthetic ketamine therapy to treat CRPS.

all this time, all this reading, all the people i have spoken with... and NOW i read that glaucoma is a dealbreaker? 

this is me pretending that i do not know.  this is me getting ready to print out the "new patient" forms again, so as NOT to mention glaucoma.

good night.

sweet dreams.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Fred: Back in the Day

Fred pouring some in-air Hennessy

A colleague from his days in Ethiopia discovered this telling photograph of Our Beloved Fred, clearly at ease as they flew over the arid terrain they were charged with mapping.  I'm guessing this was snapped at the *end* of a long hot day of topographical fun and games...

The Ethiopia-United States Mapping Mission, also known as the Ethi-U.S. Mapping Mission, was an operation undertaken by the United States Army during the 1960s to provide up-to-date topographic map coverage of the entire country of Ethiopia. The soldiers who conducted the mapping operations on the ground during that time used the latest surveying and mapping techniques and were exposed to many hardships and dangers, but they completed their mission near the end of the decade. The maps that were created still serve as the base maps for the country of Ethiopia and are presently being updated and maintained by the Ethiopian Mapping Authority.
Fred loved the country so much that at the end of his famously difficult tour of duty (he suffered several severe bouts of Hennessy Elbow) -- he stuck around for a number of years as an advising civilian.  Today, we honor Ethiopia by sponsoring kids through ChildFund International.

an after hours edit:  i haven't told fred that the picture is posted here... i hope it's okay by him, as there is something about it -- yes, beyond his inclusion in it -- that is likeable.  he said they called the plane "the vomit comet," as it's time was mostly spent landing and taking off, with little level air cruising in between.  we had an interesting conversation a few minutes ago.  he was unaware that the map making mission was listed on wikipedia -- fred is precisely the type of person who does not google himself or the events of his life, thankyouverymuch, as he was there and remembers it all well.  still, i wanted his reaction to the characterization of "the men" of the mission as... well, cowboys and adventurers: 

The topographic surveyors and their aviation support pilots and crew served on field parties that endured sweltering heat in this Sub Saharan region of Africa. They also struggled to subsist in remote areas of the country that included jungles, deserts, dense bush, mountains and swamps that harbored deadly snakes, crocodiles, lions, leopards, hyenas, hippos, cape buffalo, elephants, wild dogs, dangerous bees and ants, aggressive tribes of baboons and sometimes hostile natives, not to mention any number of malignant diseases. In addition, these troops and their support personnel were frequently required to conduct their operations in active war zones along the Somalia and Sudan borders, where brutal wars and indiscriminate killing had been going on for years, [2] and the area of the country that is now Eritrea, where the Eritrean Liberation Front was engaged in armed struggle with imperial Ethiopian forces. [3]

even before he started answering, my mind filled with the memory of his stories, and the realization of how long it has been since he shared any of them.  i realized i was hungry for those tales, often funny, often underplaying the role of danger, always light on the emotional and physical toll he sometimes paid.

most engaging were stories of the other men, their drinking, their drinking and driving (somehow not so bad a thing when you are a bunch of guys in a truck streaking across the uncharted desert), and the inevitable stories of conflict with career military types, not to mention military rules, in general. 

largely, though, they were left to their own wild devices, with the occasional big brass dropping in to praise their isolated work.  uniforms were unheard of, and it sounds like the only schedule they respected was a sketch of one that allowed for the mapping to get done according to flight schedules and the unrelenting rules of daylight and the permission of the weather.

they swam in the same watering holes as hippos, not knowing hippos were at all dangerous.  they managed to crash the truck (it must have been a series of trucks) in that wide, empty expanse of desert, by running into some barrier that i cannot remember.  i guess steering was optional.

when queried about the cognac, fred allowed as to never being "without a crate."

they loved "boonies," and i still get upset at hearing how their pet baby boonie disappeared from the end of his tether one night, with the assistance of a leopard.  then i get upset at the thought of a leopard near my sleeping fred!

he stares into space and lapses into a monotone when he tells of having to retrieve the body of a peace corps volunteer... from the inside of a crocodile.

that same tone relates stories of crashes -- of trucks, of planes, of helicopters.

a smile toys with his lovely lush lower lip when he thinks of the beautiful ethiopian woman he loved and lived with, for a while.

another smile appears when he falls back into the memory of that camaraderie of men, and when he thinks of the country, of the people, of the mornings when the lions of haile selassie, that lion of judah, walked by his tent.

cowboy, adventurer, friend, scientist, lover, and moralist -- all...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

World News Quiz: Sheen versus Gaddafi

Richard Adams, with the UK's Guardian, has put together a test for the discerning entertainment news addict -- it's up to you to determine how much entertainment value there is in someone like Muammar Gaddafi.

Or in someone like Charlie Sheen, for that matter.  (Though I am among those that think he is ill and should not be afforded such a spotlight in the midst of his unfortunate acting out.  I'm sure he'll be okay once he gets some sort of treatment.  Plus, I read somewhere [a phrase that causes me to break out in weeping red rashes] that Charlie claims a lot of great support from Mel Gibson...)

Sigh.  You've got to feel for Martin.

Anyway, Adams asks that you choose the author of a string of phrases.  I scored 50%.  To wet your whistle, here are the first four, then click on CONTINUE to finish the rest and get your score:

1. I have defeated this earthworm with my words – imagine what I
would have done with my fire-breathing fists

Sheen or Gaddafi?

2. Your face will melt off and your children will weep over your exploded body

Sheen or Gaddafi?

3. Life without dignity is worthless

Sheen or Gaddafi?

4. I'm extremely old-fashioned, I'm a nobleman, I'm chivalrous

Sheen or Gaddafi?

CONTINUE at the UK Guardian website...

1.  Sheen
2.  Sheen
3.  Gaddafi
4.  Sheen

Monday, February 28, 2011

f'blasticball! f'blasticball! allez, dooook-uh!

Several things:  Does covering the CRPS-induced craters on my face with flesh-colored bandaids really hide the problem?  Why is Fred opening canned vegetables for chop suey rather than using the beautiful fresh vegetables in the fridge?  About what kind of things am I likely to hallucinate when under the influence of subanesthetic ketamine?  Should I turn myself in to the authorities for having caused the Blue Devils (60) to fall to the Hokies (64) -- though I want it to be clear I had *nothing* to do with Pittsburgh or Texas screwing up? 

Yes, I felt the skittling * weight of NCAA basketball descend upon The Manor over the weekend.  In case I proved unresponsive to its skittling weight, out of the corners of my increasingly blind eyes there were repeated hints that La Bonne et Belle Bianca Castafiore, The Milanese Nightingale, herself, had embarked upon the annual costuming for the collegiate tournaments.  Dragging her trunks of operatic stage finery into the light cast by the wide stone hearth in the Medieval Kitchen (the gathering spot for our wing within Marlinspike Hall), Bianca descended into a frenzied madness as she developed the governing rules for the Fashionable Viewer.

Unfortunately, she put most of her stylistic tenets in aggravated slavic Syldavian, a language that neither Fred nor I speak, and even less understand.  A Slovak lifer who married into the Manor Domestic Dynasty Staff, Klára Králová, claims fluency -- but even so, she and The Castafiore have nearly come to blows over the translation of the Syldavian motto, Eih bennek, eih blavek.  Such a disagreement among speakers wouldn't normally be a big deal (Remember:  Native speakers disagree!), except that it was added, in 1234 AD, to the Haddock Family crest.   As one of those annoying word ribbons draped over ancient crossed swords, believed to be the first illustrated pair of Damascus blades, Captain Haddock asserts its meaning to be: "If you gather thistles, expect prickles."    (Never forget:  Those who lack fluency assert!)

Some linguistic experts, and you know how they are, insist that the best approach to Syldavian is via the intricately fine grammar of the Marollien dialect, according to which Eih bennek, eih blavek means nothing less than:  "Here I am, here I stay."
Marols or Marollien (also known as Brusselse Sproek, brusseler, brusseleir, brusselair or brusseleer [1]) was a dialect spoken in Brussels. Essentially it is a Dutch dialect incorporating many words of French origin as well as a sprinkling of Spanish dating back to the rule of the Low Countries by the Habsburgs (1519-1713). Its name refers to a district of Brussels called Marollen (Marolles), a neighborhood in the central municipality of Brussels, not far from the Palace of Justice. The district takes its name from the former abbey of the nuns Maria Colentes (Marikollen). It was a working-class neighborhood, though now it has become a fashionable part of the city. Marols is described as "totally indecipherable to the foreigner (which covers everyone not born in the Marolles) which is probably a good thing as it is richly abusive."[1]

The Théâtre Royal de Toone in Brussels puts on puppet plays in Marols.[1]

Yeah, so... anyway... collegiate basketball is entering the richness of tournament season, and we're feeling it here at The Manor.  Duke will fall, no doubt, from its number one ranking today, but not to worry:  That's exactly what we want;  That's exactly what we planned on.  We are peaking, in our own inimitable way, precisely when a reintroduction to humility does the greatest good.

Everyone knows Duke would have won easily if I had not ignored My Jinx Impact.  I don't feel like explaining -- yet again -- my deleterious effect on various sporting empires.  You can get the essence of the situation in this former post:    Mala Fortuna -- Stanford Stops the Streak.

By the leavings of her search, it looks like La Bonne et Belle Bianca will be wearing a cross-section of jewel-toned satins.  Oh... my.

Like the drums of Khazad Dum, rolling upward from the depths of our saline moat, we hear the beginnings of that diverse call to action, that urge to tap the toe:

f'blasticball! f'blasticball! allez, dooook-uh! allez, dooook-uh! [shuffle shuffle]
f'blasticball! f'blasticball! allez, dooook-uh! allez, dooook-uh! [shuffle shuffle]

* A made-up word; A "skittling weight" is what I imagine as the tactile impact of a frenetic crab climbing a human thigh -- under water. Under ocean water. [NOT a reference to cough syrup abuse.