Friday, February 15, 2013

"Don't change your weekend plans," joshed Brian Williams

Last night, on the evening news, there was much chuckling and joshing about the "near miss" that NASA assured the world would occur today, as a football-field sized asteroid was to pass within 17,000 miles of Earth.

"Don't change your weekend plans," joked Brian Williams of NBC.

These things freak me out, as I can barely watch even the most ridiculous of disaster movies without needing macaroni-and-cheese peppered with hot sauce, followed by oil-popped, well salted popcorn, all washed down with one Diet Coke after another.  Oh, and I need people, lots of people, all also eating comfort foods, and who know how to cuddle.

But I trusted Brian, and I trusted NASA.

So check this out:

Video posted on YouTube Friday appeared to catch an explosion caused by a meteor 
streaking over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk.

Video said to have been recorded on Friday in the Russian city of Chelyabinsk as a meteor passed low overhead. An explosion can be heard clearly at the 7-minute mark of the video.

Video recorded from the dashboard camera of a car in the Russian city of Chelyabinsk on Friday.

Video uploaded to YouTube on Friday was said to have been recorded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk (although the camera’s time stamp displays an earlier date).

Video posted on YouTube on Friday showed a smoke trail and a loud explosion after a meteor passed over Siberia.

Video of a meteor from a dashboard camera in the Russian town of Nizhniy Tagil.

The news is obviously in the process of being gathered, and rumors are flying.  Many injuries are already reported, and at one news outlet, I saw a claim of 500 dead.

Keep your eyes and ears open, as this story is going to mutate, and, considering the Russian news service, morph from one thing into another.  At this point, though, I believe Russian dashboard cams more than the revered NASA and the almost equally respected Brian Williams.

I pray the calamities are not greater than what is being whispered now.

Remember the dinosaurs?  The Ice Age?

Want some Rocky Road?

Oh, now I am reading that this was totally unrelated to the "small" asteroid about which Williams joked and NASA shrugged.  I am informed that:

Russian experts believe the blast was caused by a 10-ton meteor known as a bolide, which created a powerful shock wave when it reached the Earth’s atmosphere, the Russian Academy of Sciences said in a statement. Scientists believe the bolide exploded and evaporated at a height of about 20 to 30 miles above the Earth’s surface, but that small fragments — meteorites — may have reached the ground, the statement said. 
The governor of the Chelyabinsk district reported that material from the sky had fallen into a lake on the outskirts of a city about 50 miles west of Chelyabinsk. Officials told Russian news agencies that they had sent police officers there. 
A small asteroid, known as 2012 DA14, was expected to pass close to Earth later Friday, NASA reported on its Web site. Aleksandr Y. Dudorov, a physicist at Chelyabinsk State University, said it was possible that the meteorite may have been flying alongside the asteroid. 
“What we witnessed today may have been the precursor of that asteroid,” said Mr. Dudorov in a telephone interview. 
Others, however disputed that view, saying there was almost certainly no connection. Prof. Alan Fitzsimmons, an astronomer at the Astrophysics Research Centre at Queen’s University Belfast, told the BBC that 2012 Da14 was approaching Earth from the south, while the meteor struck the Earth’s atmosphere in the northern hemisphere, indicating the objects were traveling in different directions. “This is literally a cosmic coincidence, although a spectacular one,” he said.

Until someone I really trust, and I don't know whom that's gonna be -- Mister Greenjeans is dead, as is his pal, Captain Kangaroo -- I'm making rice pudding.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Kate McRae: NED, No Evidence of Disease

From Kate McRae's CaringBridge site, here is her mother Holly's update on the latest clean set of scans. Yes, 2 years post relapse, when her likelihood of survival was, honestly, nearly nonexistent, Kate goes marching on!

from the tiny sparrow foundation,
an organization worth supporting!

Kate's MRI was great, indicating no evidence of cancer! It was probably the most encouraging appointment we have had to date. Even good news has always been laced with the reality of heinous side effects. So after we gasp for air celebrating the clean, we simultaneously guard our hearts for the disappointing realities that may follow. 

But this was different. We spoke candidly about where we were, 2 years from relapse, and what that meant. And what the ugly treatment side effects meant for her now. Her Dr said the reality that she had survived 2 years post relapse, was incredible. Statistically that was few and fleeting. But he seemed even more surprised that she was thriving. I won't go into unneeded detail as some things we just keep close to our hearts, but he was positive. And hopeful. And then he ended with "now maybe I can say to a family that is not offered much in the way of statistical hope, BUT I know this little girl....." 

Oh thank you Jesus..

In the next few months we go back to tackling the issue of growth hormone and return to Houston for followups with her radiation oncologist and for a battery of neuro-cognitive tests. Praying for the same bit of impossible. 

No Jackass Movie, But There's Always LaPierre

woodblock print: dear reader, can you
help me identify the aritst, "EW"?
Hi all, from this crowded bed.

We decided to forego some of our usual silliness -- roasting marshmallows in bed with flamethrowers,  Cirque du Soleil routines with the four-poster's delicate canopies -- and read each other selections of News From the Day, mostly out of the United States of America, since Tête de Hergé hasn't had much newsworthy going on.  Well, there is the recent crimewave, but since we had the accused in bed with us, that didn't seem a very compassionate topic.  Bianca has taken this recent setback in stride, is back on the medication that we thought were vitamins but turned out to be potent anti-psychotics, and has spearheaded a campaign to have her 4 new sets of mug shots reshot by a local glam photographer.  Then they could double as advertisements for the new operatic season.

That's my Bonne et Belle Bianca Castafiore, always thinking.

Will Fred and I ever get our money back from the Milanese Nightingale for all the bail outs?  We don't know and try to adhere to the ancient wisdom that when you give, you give freely, with no expectation of thanks, appreciation, and especially -- no expectation of being paid back.  Ideally, we will one day reach the apex, that lofty place where one rejoices at being lucky enough to have been able to help, period.  Talk to me when I can be a true socialist and not have to soil my moral and political (what is the difference?) beliefs because I owe more money for medication in one month than I make in two.

Allow me to quote Mises:

A stock market is crucial to the existence of capitalism and private property. For it means that there is a functioning market in the exchange of private titles to the means of production. There can be no genuine private ownership of capital without a stock market: there can be no true socialism if such a market is allowed to exist.

The corollary?  All the Biancas stay in jail if GOOG dips below 700.

Of course, I haven't focused my laser brain on how the concept of "bail" and the rules of detention might be altered in a truly socialist society.  Mixing the "idea" of Bianca with any notion of greater good sort of shortcircuits my few remaining mother boards.

And yes, I know that quoting Ludwig von Mises is ridiculous, libertarian that he was, but I am surrounded by slippery slopes, such that I fear to make even one muscle twitch (as if I could control them!) and I then fall into some self-defining slide down Socialist Hill, or fall into the Libertarian Lava Flow.  With one major spasm, God forbid, I could be tumbling down Capitalist Crest into the Scary Valley of Invented Values.

Oops.  There I go again.

Anyway -- the worst of segues, but it's all I got, people, it's all I got -- I slept and slept again, and when I woke, the Dobby glommed upon me, goo-goo eyed and kissing my nose, my eyelids, then entangling his little claws in my earrings...  Well, when I woke, I couldn't get out of bed.

Not did not "want" to get out of bed (as in lazy, or as in the pain was that bad).  Not "chose" to stay in bed because, Lordy Lordy, isn't that the dream of every woman?  Not "was so depressed it seemed useless" to leave the quilts behind.

No, it was more that I'd lost control of my legs, which had also, in a separatist political ploy, added intense spasm and pain to their secessionist tendencies.

Dobby helped me develop the needed one-two-three strategy of the right medication, the breathing technique, and a few old PT tricks so that I could make it to the wheelchair {yoo-hoo!}, rev that baby up and make it to the bathroom.

Sorry, you may want to leave now.  Too much information, that sort of thing.

Thrilled as I was to make it to the bathroom, I was less than thrilled to have a meager output of urine, less even than yesterday, when my kidneys were lost in the hot, dry desert.  And I was frankly upset to discover severe g.i. bleeding -- yes, tarry, bloody stool.  It hasn't ever really stopped since we checked into the hearsepital last month, but had much improved.

But it was entirely my fault.  Two days ago, I was mentally weak.  I felt that the fever was besting me, defeating me, dominating me.  One syllable words exited my mouth as two, or hung, unfinished off my lower lip.

So I took the ibuprofen from its hiding place and took 400 mg.  Ultimately, in those two days, I took three doses of 400 mg.  And woke today knowing my hemoglobin was back to its favorite game of "How Low Can We Go?" -- played in competitive pairs.  Hemoglobin and Hematocrit facing off with fry-an-egg-on-my-head Febrility joined with an abundance of Neutrophil Dominatrices.

It was a cloudy, rainy day, at least on the lands of the Haddock Holding Company, and I was freezing, for reasons you don't need repeated.  First came Dobby -- who had briefly abandoned me for a bite of luscious kibble -- and then came Buddy, kind of shy but a wonderful source of warmth.  Then The Castafiore pirouetted her way into the bedroom, did an amazing leap, and landed squarely on my right leg.

I don't remember the next half-hour but when I regained consciousness, Fred, Sven, Cabana Boy, and, oddly enough, Abbott Truffatore had all arrived, with pillows, poofs, and fuzzy throws.  Some enterprising soul had ordered a huge box of samplers from -- and so it really felt like a kiss and a promise of some sort of Valentine's Day.

We had succulent dates, Turkish figs, vegetable chips, chocolate covered espresso beans, and spicy lime and chillied pistachios.  We had freeze-dried Fruit Cocktail and kumkwat slices, and some raw concoction that could have passed for old-fashioned fudge.

Me?  I sucked on the spicy lime and chillied pistachio shells, taking the donated leavings of one and all.  Fred's eyes sparkled, and I called him "Valentine," because he is, he is, my sweet, dear Fred.  He was the only one who knew my stomach could handle coffee -- with lots of sweet milk -- and quietly set it on my bedside table.

We thought of watching a movie, but when Tante Louise arrived, the wrench landed in the middle of that idea, for she has lists of proscriptions of what should and should not be watched.  Nothing with nipples.  No comedies. No historical reenactments that don't concur with Howard Zinn.

So that meant no Jackass movies, the one thing we had just agreed upon before she came breezing in.  I went back to sucking on pistachio shells.

But Tante Louise never disappoints.  Looking at our crestfallen faces, she handed out some actual homemade pecan brownies (but special, if you get my drift) and proposed that we substitute Jackass News of the Day for the Jackass movies.

We had fun with that, and with the American Congress being back in session, it wasn't hard to find material, though we divided our attention between those cowboys and other countries of the world that still supported monarchs.

There was much laughter and tossing of yogurt-coated pretzels.  Who knew that Sven had such a compelling reading voice?  That Tante Louise could mimic Queen Elizabeth to an almost scary degree?  The Abbott, of course, was rich in tales direct from The Vatican, though every now and then he dabbed a damp eye, having served in the Hitler Youth with the outgoing pontiff.

But what ended the hilarity, while winning top vote (in AllPoetry fashion, "clappies" from everyone!), was Wayne LaPierre's piece from the Daily Caller, which was actually, I believe, a fund-raising letter for the NRA.

Why should the pile of marvelous humanity and animal life curled and curlicued upon our bed have all the fun?  I am just sorry that you cannot hear Marmy Fluffy Butt's reading of it, as she leant Executive Vice-President her best occasional *ack*-*ack* treatment (she's in mid-development of a hefty hairball).

Here are some of the most choice morsels, and then I must get some more rest.  Before the crowd dispersed, they remade the bed with the sweetest smelling, softest quilts and pillows;  they lowered the lights so that only the mesmerizing flicker of the fireplace remained; and carefully tucked me in, insofar as one may tuck without any actual tucking going on.  It was the enactment of a beautiful friendship prayer.

Now, to dissipate that rock-a-baby lullaby mood, here is the beginning of Mr. LaPierre's article. Need I say that I've no problem with defenders of the Second Amendment?  Oh. Okay!  I've no problem with defenders of the Second Amendment.  But just as I think most of the oft-cited Founding Fathers would be shocked at how some think their thoughts immutable, when what they most prized was a constant questioning, and appropriate adaptation -- a vigilance not to a war of bullets but a vigilance against simple-minded demagoguery, a dumbing-down of the citizenry.

I say again, I've no problem with the Second Amendment.  But neither do I have a problem with a complete revision of the American Constitution, enlivened and updated by bright, freedom-loving, and world-aware patriots.  If there need be an NRA as a protector of civil liberty, I hope its members choose such a patriot -- in lieu of LaPierre -- to represent them.

I am thinking that Vegas would be a great place to hold the Constitutional Convention.

Perhaps I had better top off my pistachio shells with some yogurt rich in probiotics.  G'night, Dear Readers.

Guns and Gear:  Stand and Fight
Before I tell you how the NRA and our members are going to Stand And Fight politically and in the courts, let’s acknowledge that all over this country, tens of millions of Americans are already preparing to Stand And Fight to protect their families and homes. 
These good Americans are prudently getting ready to protect themselves. 
It has always been sensible for good citizens to own and carry firearms for lawful protection against violent criminals who prey on decent people. 
During the second Obama term, however, additional threats are growing. Latin American drug gangs have invaded every city of significant size in the United States. Phoenix is already one of the kidnapping capitals of the world, and though the states on the U.S./Mexico border may be the first places in the nation to suffer from cartel violence, by no means are they the last. 
The president flagrantly defies the 2006 federal law ordering the construction of a secure border fence along the entire Mexican border. So the border today remains porous not only to people seeking jobs in the U.S., but to criminals whose jobs are murder, rape, robbery and kidnapping. Ominously, the border also remains open to agents of al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. Numerous intelligence sources have confirmed that foreign terrorists have identified the southern U.S. border as their path of entry into the country. 
When the next terrorist attack comes, the Obama administration won’t accept responsibility. Instead, it will do what it does every time: blame a scapegoat and count on Obama’s “mainstream” media enablers to go along. 
A heinous act of mass murder—either by terrorists or by some psychotic who should have been locked up long ago—will be the pretext to unleash a tsunami of gun control. 
No wonder Americans are buying guns in record numbers right now, while they still can and before their choice about which firearm is right for their family is taken away forever. 
After Hurricane Sandy, we saw the hellish world that the gun prohibitionists see as their utopia. Looters ran wild in south Brooklyn. There was no food, water or electricity. And if you wanted to walk several miles to get supplies, you better get back before dark, or you might not get home at all. 
Anti-gun New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg had already done everything he could to prevent law-abiding New Yorkers from owning guns, and he has made sure that no ordinary citizen will ever be allowed to carry a gun. He even refused to allow the National Guard into the city to restore civil order because Guardsmen carry guns! 
Meanwhile, President Obama is leading this country to financial ruin, borrowing over a trillion dollars a year for phony “stimulus” spending and other payoffs for his political cronies. Nobody knows if or when the fiscal collapse will come, but if the country is broke, there likely won’t be enough money to pay for police protection. And the American people know it. 
Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Riots. Terrorists. Gangs. Lone criminals. These are perils we are sure to face—not just maybe. It’s not paranoia to buy a gun. It’s survival. It’s responsible behavior, and it’s time we encourage law-abiding Americans to do just that. 
Since the election, millions of Americans have been lining up in front of gun stores, Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops exercising their freedom while they still have it. They are demonstrating they have a mass determination to buy, own and use firearms. Millions of Americans are using market forces like never before to demonstrate their ardent support for our firearm freedoms. That’s one of the very best ways we can Stand And Fight. 
Inevitably, the anti-gun media and the gun-ban lobbies are demonizing the purchase of firearms. They call us “extremists” because we wonder whether we will be able to buy a semi-auto in three years or, even in some states, later this year. That’s despite the fact that President Obama long ago made clear that he wants to ban them all! 
The media try to make rank-and-file Americans feel guilty about buying a gun. The enemies of freedom demonize gun buyers and portray us as social lepers. But we know the truth. We know that responsible gun ownership exemplifies what is good and right about America. 
Responsible Americans realize that the world as we know it has changed. We, the American people, clearly see the daunting forces we will undoubtedly face: terrorists, crime, drug gangs, the possibility of Euro-style debt riots, civil unrest or natural disaster. 
Gun owners are not buying firearms because they anticipate a confrontation with the government. Rather, we anticipate confrontations where the government isn’t there—or simply doesn’t show up in time. 
To preserve the inalienable, individual human right to keep and bear arms—to withstand the siege that is coming—the NRA is building a four-year communications and resistance movement. The enemies of the Second Amendment will be met with unprecedented defiance, commitment and determination. We will Stand And Fight.

Read more:

"Can You Help?"

If you have CRPS, you're probably used to having medical types whipping out cameras and photographing your dystrophic beauty.  Believe me, I know what a boost it can be to the ego, and I remember the early days, when the ensuing struggle with vanity was almost a lost cause.

Since then, I've watched a lot of America's Next Top Model, learned all I could from Tyra and
The Jays, and now when a doctor pulls out a camcorder or a smartphone, depending on his specialty, I give him either a Fierce Eye or a full body Smize, then put my worst foot forward.

Yes, I jest, in a way.  It has become rare for me to be interested in "raising awareness for CRPS," even when it's done by art ('cause you know what an art patron I am, particularly of the bad and the grotesque!) because of the huge gaping emptiness that ensues.  I think I once wrote a post asking what came after "awareness."

Ah, but this is precisely where I am at risk of selling my soul to the Hornèd One (I tell you, hanging out at All Poetry has its perks -- Did you catch that?  "Hornèd"?  I added another syllable and set back poetry a hundred years with hardly any effort at all!).  This is when people manage to signal one another behind my back, shaking their heads in pitying sadness.  I hate pitying sadness.

If we're gonna do this, my fellow CRPSers?  We're gonna do it with Fierce Eyes one day, and a slinky Smize the next, and with engaging snark peppered with factoids from the NINDS cheat sheet.  "Yes, my brother, yes, my sister, that factoid is straight from the mouth of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, a major subdivision of the National Institutes of Health... snap..."

Or we can try this other thing that I just heard about on Twitter.  Read about on Twitter.  Since my Twitter experiences are mostly hallucinogenic, I hear, see, read, touch, and taste the flitting, flying 140 characters of stuff before me.  Sometimes, I feel them, too.

So there is this girl.  Her name is Nadia, and she is a Brit.  She is 17 years old and in her second year of studying Art and Design.  Her Dad has CRPS / RSD and she decided to organize her final project for school around the idea of a visual campaign to raise awareness of this disorder, disease, this madness, this... well, this CRPS / RSD thingy.

What she is asking is pretty simple, though it takes a bit of courage to put yourself out there.  Leave it to a smart and talented 17 year old to believe in us -- that we can show the world, or at least whoever sees her art show, what CRPS / RSD can look like.

You are to hold a placard of some sort -- paper, cardboard, whatever doesn't hurt you -- and record on it your name (optional), where you live, the areas of your body afflicted, how long since you've been diagnosed, and then sum up yourself or your experience with the pain of CRPS... in one word.

Nadia requests that you email your photos to and kindly remember that she has a deadline to receive them by 20 May 2013.  Obviously, if you have questions about the project, or formatting, or anything, email her directly.

What won me over was the photo of her Dad.  I expected something artsy-fartsy, maybe in scary black and white (though shooting CRPS in black and white feels like one is almost insulting the disease, you know?) -- maybe he'd sport a top hat and bunny slippers.  Or -- and this is tiresome -- he'd be half-collapsed, hand across his defeated brow, staring death rays at the camera.

Instead, she, or her Mom, or someone, took a snapshot of her Dad, just her Dad, and there's a lot of love in the mere act, and there's a real awareness of what CRPS is doing to that dear Dad.

Oh, boogers.  I am using it without her permission.  Well... hmmm.   She is distributing it on Twitter as an example of what she is looking for, so I'm hoping that I am just extending her own gesture.  I'll shoot a copy of this post over the pond to see if it's okay.  I promise.  I swear.  (Huge sigh of relief.  It's okay.  And Nadia took the picture, and apparently he, as will most of us, struggled with that one-word choice.  Thanks for the permission, and again, it's a great photo.)

I like his face.  I understand his face.

For me, the hard part of participating in Nadia's Project was dealing with the whole "awareness" issue, until that hair was finally so split as to be nonexistent.  The photograph was easy, except that it hurt to do it, but that's nothing.  Making the sign appear legible took three tries and that, too, was a bit hard.  Also hard -- time since diagnosis?  How many people with CRPS had it for years prior to diagnosis {waving::hands::like::a::maniac}?  Also... that ONE word bit.  I went with something that I feel captures the real moi as well as the impact of CRPS pain -- what a word coup!  But it was a difficult moment, deciding whether to tell the truth or to lie.  So I did what I thought Nadia would want, and used her Father for a reference.

This is what I just sent her:

By the way, those are two of the SIX (that's SIX) cotton/linen blend throw pillows that I got for $40 (that's FORTY buckaroos, mis amigos!).  They are a bit matchy-matchy for my taste but make a great clean and nature-oriented background for a shot of my necrotic and nasty feet.

I did not picture my face because I did not want to.  Then I wouldn't be able to see through the tears to type.  Sob.  Sob.  Besides, I love keeping track of my feet on the color wheel of the seasons.  We are in full winter here, and so, my feet are, of course, smaller than you've probably ever seen them, and much more in the blue range than the red.  I remember when Fred and I lived in a half-room cabin up in the hills, no electricity, leaky roof, dirt floor -- but we always had a guitar to play and blessèd free time to watch my feet change color for entertainment.  (We had one of them as-seen-on-TV Olde Brooklyn Lanterns.)

So let's help Nadia, and through Nadia, ourselves, via her final art project.  And here's a big hope and a prayer that her Dad feels better soon.

NOTE: Up top, in the first line "CRPS" is linked to the photographic gallery section of the Clinical Practice Guidelines, first put together by Dr. Anthony Kirkpatrick, now in its Third Edition and overseen by a distinguished Scientific Advisory Committee.  I happen to think it's a great document, and with a little time and work, accessible even to us laypeople.  So should a doctor give you The Shrug, and say something like "well, we're all working in the dark, here!" -- first, buy her an Olde Brooklyn Lantern and then gift him with a printout of the Third Edition of the Clinical Practice Guidelines.

Cameron Crazies!

And since I've had a hard day...


"Plumlee and Cook Lead Duke Past North Carolina 73-68."

What was that?  Hmm?

"No. 2 Duke Tops North Carolina 73-68"

CRPS Open Access Article: BMC Neurology

Hooray, once again, for Open Access research articles from BMC Neurology.  In this instance, it's another well done bit of research that points toward... the inflammatory process. Surprise!

I'm only reproducing here the abstract and author information, so that you can decide if you'd like to pour yourself a cup or a glass of something and peruse the longer, very technical article.  This one is definitely beyond me, but there is always information to be gleaned, learning to be done.

Do you hear it?  "Tomorrow, tomorrow..." is playing somewhere nearby.  Well, I'll just crank up some Bonnie Raitt.

I'm on a Bonnie Raitt kick.

Okay, back to business.  First, a word about BMC Neurology and its publication policies:

BMC Neurology is an open access, peer-reviewed journal that considers articles on all aspects of the prevention, diagnosis and management of neurological disorders, as well as related molecular genetics, pathophysiology, and epidemiology. 
It is journal policy to publish work deemed by peer reviewers to be a coherent and sound addition to scientific knowledge and to put less emphasis on interest levels, provided that the research constitutes a useful contribution to the field.

They have, as I said, an open-access policy to most research, as well as a freely accessible database of case reports.  It's an enlightened approach and one much appreciated by individuals and families/friends attempting to research illnesses and who are at times desperate for information that normally must be purchased on the basis of a short abstract teaser.  Just in case it hasn't sunk in yet, or you are just coming out of shock:

Open access 
All articles published by BMC Neurology are made freely and permanently accessible online immediately upon publication, without subscription charges or registration barriers... 
Authors of articles published in BMC Neurology are the copyright holders of their articles and have granted to any third party, in advance and in perpetuity, the right to use, reproduce or disseminate the article, according to the BioMed Central copyright and license agreement.

Clearly, money must change hands at some point, and this is accomplished by a system of "article-processing charges," bless their souls.  Note, however, that:  "We routinely waive charges for authors from low-income countries."

There is still time to send a Valentine!

The CRPS / RSD article in question is:

Morphological macrovascular alterations in complex regional pain syndrome type I demonstrated by increased intima-media thickness
BMC Neurology 2013, 13:14
Nicola Derenthal1Tim Maecken2Elena Krumova1,4Alfried Germing3 andChristoph Maier1*

Although intima-media thickness (IMT) was increased in several inflammatory diseases, studies investigating whether the inflammatory processes lead to macrovascular alteration with increased IMT in complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) lack.

Well. Blogger HTML dislikes the Methods and Results sections of the Abstract because they come too close, in their statistical formulations, to HTML code.  Good thing this is an OPEN ACCESS research article, eh?


The increased IMT of peripheral arteries in CRPS suggests ongoing inflammatory process. Until now, only endothelial dysfunction has been reported. The presented morphological macrovascular alterations might explain the treatment resistance of some CRPS patients.

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:
Received: 14 September 2012
Accepted: 3 February 2013
Published: 6 February 2013

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Dobby's Sermon on the Mount

It was Dobby's turn to wake me at the Point of Ridiculous Amount of Sleep today.  We've been poking fun at Dobby, relentlessly rubbing his soft white belly until he almost faints away in joy.  He gained half of a pound!  Fred reported, and I take umbrage with this statement, that the vet actually said, "That's about as much as you want him to gain." Our runt!  That Fred himself birthed because Marmy, frankly, was just done with this birth thing.  "I pushed out four, what more do you want?"  

"One more, Marmy, just one more!" And there was poor Dobby, half-here, half-there, as confused then as he is confused now.  So Fred became midhusband, gently drew him out, broke the sac, rubbed the non-breathing kitten until that kitten complained.

Marmy frequently would do unmotherly things, like get all pissed off at kittens that wished to suckle.  They'd all latch on (except Dobby, who went a long time without nourishment, as he preferred climbing to Marmy's head than searching out a milky teat), and she'd heave a sigh of exasperation, toss Dobby across the room with a flick of her head, then stand and stalk away, strewing mewling babies across the floor, eyes still closed, completely lost, and cold.  I lived in fear of rolling over those tiny yelling things with my badass power wheelchair, in fear that retrieving them with grabbers would mar their sweet perfection like a jackass obstetrician man with forceps.

Dobby has a tiny head.  But, yes, okay, maybe he now has a chin that was not there last year.  An Elizabethan ruff of sorts.  My theory of Dobby's success is that he strives, in this multi-cat environment, to remain steadily at Number Two.  Let Marmy and Buddy fight, challenge and re-challenge, for the rights to being Number One, Dobby is always right there, a sweet but ferocious Number Two.  Whenever we settle things, and it's rare, whenever there's a Number Three, an undisputed Number One, Dobby treads with care.  He does not offend in either direction and he gets to do one of his favorite things -- make and maintain peace.

But I think he has a near-primordial memory -- well, okay, maybe a pre-first-gasp memory, before he felt Fred's warm hands warm him -- of that terrible place of being half-here, half-there, which is very different from striving to stay Number Two, please understand.

Dobby panics when he cannot find my arms.  Dobby nears frenzy when I cover my face in a desire to be as much left alone as left unseen.  But Dobby throws his extra one-half pound around when I am gone away in sleep too long.  "Enough," Dobby cries, "is enough."

Fred had just taken one of the Haddock Corporation miniature submarines, stuffed with five of the genetically indentured Domestic Staff, who always get religion when Lent creeps into view, Bianca, whom we found (and who needs repentance badly), Sven, and Cabana Boy, who really just wanted to get off the grounds -- and descended carefully down the moat and into the physics-twisted time tunnels, all headed to what they call "church."

Dobby was left with me -- probably snoring, definitely yelling every few minutes (I do that when I sleep, because the Screaming Ninny CRPS Spasms are back, and I am in pain, even asleep).  My arms were hidden from the dear runt, which he considers worse than putting one's elbows on the dining table.  My head was graced with a lovely, light, soft, sweet-smelling quilt -- which suddenly was not so light (he's gained half a damned pound, youse guys), nor so soft, as he ventured forth a... clawed paw, basically into my open mouth.

My first thought was, weirdly enough, "Serial killer!"

I don't know.  Maybe it came from the bad novel I last read, when last I was conscious.

What would you think if so wakened?  A quilt being shoved in your mouth, eight and a half pounds sitting on your face, your left leg (Are you sure, prof?  Left leg or right leg?  Where the hell is the leg that is doing that Screaming Ninny CRPS Dystonia dance?  And who the heck gives a flying burrito, prof, when there's a serial killer on your head?) spasming to beat the band?*  You'll note my usual fascination with the origin of phrases, and I learned, in reading about "beat the band," that a better option, in this case, might be "beat the banshee" -- because, well, banshees are probably as loud as my snores and cranky sleep complaints, and "banshees in legend...wail loudly; but... they traditionally do so only when somebody is about to die..."

But Sweet Dobby quickly identified himself as my attacker and set about to help me disengage from the killer quilt.  He issued encouraging purrs, and used his talons to pull at the rude, rude covering that separated him from She-Who-Feeds-Me.

Finally eye-to-eye, he kissed me on the nose.

He put the Big Lovin' on me and then delivered his Sermon on The Mount (still pretty much my head).  "We don't care how you feel -- good, bad, tired, depressed, high or low -- you must still wake up and do your job, and in an outwardly happy and friendly way.  Got it?"

"Yes, Dobby," I croaked.  "And if you will kindly get off my head, may I go the bathroom, and then serve you in any way you please?"

He kissed me on the nose again, and whispered:  "A few reminders, Sleeper, The Walking Dead returns tonight, and you know how Fred loves his zombies, so prepare yourself.  Marmy had a hairball or two, so watch where you roll in the main salon, and Buddy is feeling neglected, so do whatever it is you do with him, sniff.  And we were all kinda wondering... do you feel like doing a little cooking after you clean the Quarters?  Something in a nice salmon sashimi or a delicately herbed roast chicken?"

I love Dobby the Runt, forever Number Two.

Dobby's beautiful star face, as he was being dominated by a sibling,
 back when his old soul weighed just a feather...

to beat the band.*

Q From Tracey: What is the origin of to beat the band, as in phrases like it was raining to beat the band. Is there any reason — beyond muddling one’s phrases — why one would use to beat the banshee instead of to beat the band?
A I’ve come across a few examples of to beat the banshee; it makes a sort of sense, banshees in legend being known to wail loudly; but as they traditionally do so only when somebody is about to die, it’s perhaps not a good analogy when you are trying to say that something is being done or is happening to a superlative degree. But you’re right, of course, to suggest that it’s a variation on the older to beat the band. There’s quite a history of attempts to explain this phrase.
Eric Partridge (whom several reference works follow) suggested it was linked to a yet older expression to beat Banagher, to surpass everything, which is known from 1830. Banagher is a town on the Shannon in County Offaly, Ireland; before the Great Reform Act of 1832 it was a rotten or pocket borough, one which sent two members to Parliament but which had a tiny electorate controlled by the local magnate, who therefore had the election “in his pocket”. It is said that when somebody referred to a particularly egregious example of a rotten borough, say one in which every voter was a man employed by the landowner, the reply might come back “Well, that beats Banagher”. The story sounds highly suspect, not least because there’s an entry in Captain Francis Grose’s Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue of 1785 which says: “He beats Banaghan; an Irish saying of one who tells wonderful stories. Perhaps Banaghan was a minstrel famous for dealing in the marvellous”. So it’s far from certain that the original had anything to do with Irish rotten boroughs.
Whatever the original form, and despite those who advocate it, it’s unlikely to be the true origin of to beat the band, for two reasons. Firstly, the American version of the Banagher story always seems to have been in the form that bangs Banagher, as here from The Living Age of 1844: “That bangs Banagher, and all the world knows Banagher bangs the devil”. Secondly, to beat the band appears only at the end of that century (it’s recorded first from 1897) and originally seems to have turned up in direct references to music making. As here in a story, The Transit of Gloria Mundy (ho, ho) by Chester Bailey Fernald in The Century magazine in 1899: “Then it was ‘The Sweet By and By,‘ with all hands going as ye please in the chorus, and she belting the little music-box to beat the band”. And here in a little skit of 1900 by Guy Wetmore Carryl,The Sycophantic Fox and the Gullible Raven, in which he humorously retells Aesop’s fable:
“Sweet fowl,” he said, “I understand
You’re more than merely natty:
I hear you sing to beat the band
And Adelina Patti.
Pray render with your liquid tongue
A bit from ‘Gotterdammerung’.”
I’m fairly sure that to beat the band originally meant that you sang or played or shouted louder even than an orchestra and so, by later extension, came to refer to anything superlative. Just for once, the common-sense explanation may be the correct one, and there’s no need to invoke Irish towns or Irish storytellers, let alone banshees.