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Sunday, May 24, 2020

Black Holes

Read the New York Times today. At least check out the front page.

Just FYI and shit, I have a goddamn right to a long, happy fucking life – every bit as much as someone who is healthy, whole and 41 versus 61. I will not lay down and die so that you can go to the gym, get a haircut, sit at the bar swilling cheap white wine and Bud. I will NOT lose my life so that you can shop ‘till you drop, show off yur bikini bod on Nantasket or eat roast duck at Mistral.

Most folks that I know are staying in (apart from essential worker bees) – only going out for groceries and doc appointments that can’t be done online. We’re staying safe or as safe as is possible. This may well be what life looks like until a vaccine is invented and made widely available. I’m not counting on wide availability happening while Sparky Stupidhead is in the White House. Motherfucker’s gonna try to make it so only wealthy whites can be safe. To his banjaxed brain, the rest of us should live in fear, grateful for bread scraps tossed in the dirt at our betters’ feet.

Yeah, fuck you and the ugly ass SUV you rode in on.


If vote by mail isn’t possible, I WILL don a poor person’s HAZMAT suit and stand in line for days to vote the grifting, murderous Shitheel Administration out of office – him, his passel of laughably slugbrained children, the animatronic wife-bot and every other swindling simpleton in his avaricious orbit.

AND, for all the yahoos who think humans are all that and a bag of chips, check this out :

3.5 billion light years from Earth — a significant chunk of the way across the visible Universe — lies a monster. It's called OJ287, and it's an active galaxy, one with a tremendous amount of energy blasting out of its nucleus.
~~~snip~~~
The power source for this galaxy is a black hole in its center that is abjectly soul-crushing in its proportions: It has a mass of 18.4 billion times the mass of the Sun — that's the mass of a small galaxy, except it's all compressed down into a single object.
~~~snip~~~
OJ 287’s black hole isn't alone. It's a binary black hole, with a second one orbiting it  This companion is only — only! — 150 million times the Sun's mass. For comparison, the supermassive black hole in the center of the Milky Way is about 4 million solar masses, so even this smaller one in OJ 287 positively dwarfs ours.
(source)
Shit man, black holes…they don’t give a fuck about pesky little planets in hillbilly galaxies like ours. They’ll steal yur candy and fuck you up, mes amis.
The message of this lecture is that black holes ain’t as black as they are painted. They are not the eternal prisons they were once though…things can get out of a black hole both on the outside and possibly to another universe. So if you feel you are in a black hole, don’t give up – there’s a way out.
~ Stephen Hawking 

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Oh Look!

It’s Saturday. How do I know – my days of the week pill boxes. Isn't that how everyone observes the passage of time?

I haven’t been outta the house (apart from daily 30 minute walks) since my May 13th MRI. That’s TEN goddamn days ago. Yes, I’m going a bit nutzoid.

Yesterday I was in a rage because, and this is mega understandable, I WAS OUT OF CHOCOLATE! HOW could I be out of chocolate – it’s the most important of the food groups.

Remember mes amis, I don’t have much truck with the food part of the kitchen. When Ten went out to Oregon late last month (to attend to some urgent family business and YES he’ll return), that room was fully transformed into my painting studio. I emptied the grub out of most of the cupboards, replacing it with art supplies and dish-ware that I no longer use.

The point here is that I texted Jen to scream my frustration. She allowed that I still had some Easter candy in a red plastic container, sitting on top of the microwave (your microwave is to the right of the sink. Oh…thanks). Yup, it was there – a dozen wee, foil swaddled, milk chocolate eggs. WHY did I still have these? HOW did they survive prior chocolate emergencies?

Because, ya see, I loathe these tightly wrapped little fuckers. It takes WAY too long to free each tiny egg from their colorful encasements – the foil never comes off in one neat piece. PLUS I much prefer dark over milk chocolate. So, I finally get to the goods, pop it in my mouth and wonder – was it worth the effort?

Instead of walkies this morning, Jen’s taking me to the grocery. I get to go inside the store and everything – WHEEEEE! I can restock all my important comestibles. Ya know, tempeh, soy cheese, egg rolls, raspberries, Brussel sprouts, dark chocolate and COFFEE. Important shit!
~~~~~~~
For those horrified souls watching our train wreck of a country, there are now, as I'm writing this, 97,686 dead from the Trump Plague. If the Liposuction Dumpster Fire in Chief wasn’t an illiterate, petty, hate filled obscenity – if he was capable of understanding the responsibilities of his job, had been paying attention and acted quickly, intelligently (stop laughing – I KNOW that’s not even possible in an alternate, NOT supremely banjaxed universe), we would have far fewer deaths to mourn.
If the United States had mustered the same kind of political and public will against the virus on March 1, the researchers found, 54,000 fewer Americans would have died of the illness. (source)
But no. We’e closing in on 100,000 dead Americans and we're reopening for biz, haircuts, pints of Bud at the bar and MORE death. Just FYI, us peasants can’t further enrich the One Percenters pockets if we’re rockin' the Totentanz.

On May 12, 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) advised governments that before reopening, rates of positivity in testing (ie, out of all tests conducted, how many came back positive for COVID-19) of should remain at 5% or lower for at least 14 days. (source)
Check out where Massachusetts sits on the spectrum. Governor Baker is being cautious BUT, to my mind NOT cautious enough. There are/have been 90,889 total cases here and 6,228 deaths. We’re trending downward but with more than 200 fresh deaths in the last few days, the sitch still seems mega dodgy.
~~~~~
Jen and I are just back from an exciting food shopping expedition where everyone was polite, wearing a mask, aware of other shoppers around them AND toilet paper’s back in stock! All in all NOT the horror show experience I’d expected after reading nothing but news reports for the past week

Yes, I’ve ordered fresh escapist literature. The news is just too, TOO much lately. OK, by "lately," I mean "the last three years."

I’ve been reading Lynne Truss’s Talk to the Hand,  A battle-cry for civilized behavior from the author of the multi-million selling Eats, Shoots and Leaves . Wonderfully written – witty, smart and smooth but…I find myself 50 pages in and there’s STILL no spaceships, wisecracking, besieged scientists, alternate dimensions or even one measly vampire.

Honest to fuck, what’s an old broad gotta do to get some reality ditching reading matter?

Friday, May 22, 2020

A Few Things

Ten sent pics from Oregon!
1) It’s NOT a good idea to read one’s MRI reports without having the actual scans (and one of them ultra smart, top neurologists) handy. Why would I do this and how is it possible?

The Patients Gateway site auto sends me all my test results. OF bloody COURSE I read them Do I understand them? Not usually BUT I’m mega motivated to stay on top of all my bullshit bodily challenges.

The MRIs are an exception to my general med report ignorance. NO, I don’t grok them like Docs Plotkin and Barker BUT I CAN get a good sense of wut up in Bean Central. After all, Baby’s first neurologist, Doctor Ojeman (AKA God) taught me how to read (and evaluate) those suckers.

The Trump Plague bullshit has thrown a spanner into my semiannual tumor trials. The scan report hit my Patients Gateway inbox AFTER my online appointment with Plotkin. AND, because the meeting was online, I didn’t get to view the MRIs with him.

Text without visuals is scary…for me anyway. I wanna SEE what I’m up against. For some odd reason, I find that calming. Nothing’s any different from what Doc P. and I discussed on Tuesday – I’m in for more brain slice and dice action (if I don’t make the INTUITT-NF2 clinical trials team), this coming winter. I’ve done this dance half a dozen or so times before – I can do it again. Yes it’s scary but, Hell’s bells, I’m in the goddamn pro-brain surgery leagues – I've got the T-shirt and everything.

2) If one is looking to get snot slinging schnockered because, fer instance, one’s MRI report was a bit hair-raising, it’s best NOT to do this with Jen. I hear you asking, “what the fuck’s up with THAT shit, Donna?” Well, it’s like this – while Jen crafts a brill cocktail, she serves it up in wee demitasse cups. WHY? Because it slows us down so’s we don’t drink too much, becoming freakazoid zombie alkies. It’s so we stay healthy and shit. Dig?

Just FYI, four tiny cups of cocktail (which, I suspect, was mostly fruit juice anyway) did not bring me to my knees at the porcelain gates. Yur shocked, right? I was def calmed down but that probably had more to do with a rousing convo about our fave songs/albums.

I asked, if you had to pick just ONE album to listen to for the rest of your life, which would it be? (Oni picked something by Coltrane. Jen chose Green Day and I picked The Jeff Beck Group’s disc Truth.

We have some seriously diverse musical tastes here in Valhalla.

3) When we come out of this lockdown thing, when shops are open once more, BUY SHIT FROM INDEPENDENT RETAILERS, NOT the greedheaded piggies who soaked up all the Plague aid that was meant to go to small businesses! For that matter, if you’re looking to pick up a birthday prezzie or something of that sort, buy from local artisans.

Consider shopping with, fer instance:
  • Rustic Spirits. They make an abso-fucking-brill margarita. It’s premixed in a wine type bottle. It’s light, NOT too sweet and just tasty as fuck. The dude who crafts this is local and a customer of Jen’s.
  • Jasmine Keane. This is my pal Brenda. She makes THE most beautiful, funky, cool glass bead jewelry (AND accessories…like wine bottle stoppers and more)
That's it – happy Friday! It IS Friday...right?

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Day?

What day is it? Wut? Thursday? Yur sure?

For those of you still attempting to adjust to the whole working from home deal, I RILLY would have thought that – after five fucking years of freelance/at home gigging, I’d be all acclimated to how differently time and the days of the week behave. Nope!  Just FYI and shit, don’t get your this-disorientation-will-pass hopes up.

At least, living in New England versus Southern California, I know the season. It’s spring…yes? I got that one right, didn’t I?
This is Sanford Stadium in Georgia.
It holds a little more than 95,000 people.
This is how many people are now dead
due to Trump and his Republican Party’s
incompetence, greed and stone idiocy.
As of this morning there are/have been 1,593,297 cases of the Trump Plague here in the previously decent U.S. of A. We’re now up to 95,000 deaths. 95,000! But sure, let’s all flood the bars, stadiums and churches and fuck those fucking masks too. Republicans – the most shortsighted, greedheaded and dimwitted souls on the planet.

Massachusetts has begun a Four-Phase Approach reopening. Each phase will last for three weeks at minimum.
If public health data trends are negative, specific industries, regions, and/or the entire Commonwealth may need to return to an earlier phase
Right now, there’s not a LOT different than the Stay At Home, pre-Four Phase, time. Construction and manufacturing kicked back in on Monday. This was immediately noticeable to me as the dilapidated house next door is now being gutted for teardown and rebuild.

All my doc appointments (apart from MRIs and bloodwork) are still done online. I’ve a general physical later today. I’m guessing there won’t be a pelvic or booby exam. Just a hunch. (what's the good Doc gonna do – yell show us yur tits at the screen?)

Beaches and parks can reopen on the 25th of the month. Nantasket at dawn here I come! Also, I’m doing MUCH better with my walking – my balance isn’t quite as banjaxed – so I’ll be able to hike in the Blue Hills later this month. Yea!

Shops and pubs won’t be open until July or August but I’m cool with that. Of fucking course I am – I want to continue living and shit!

On this morning’s walk, Jen and I passed just one other bemasked hoofer. Dunno if I mentioned this already but I realized (OK, Jen clued me in) my endurance and breathing is significantly better when there are fewer people out and about. People, unmasked potential COVID carrying humans, they unnerve me – I steer clear. All that watching out means I’m not focusing on my balance. I bob, weave and, just generally – with my arms flung out like a tightrope walker, look like a chubby zombie stumbling up the street. FYI, this is NOT one of my more attractive, graceful looks.

In any case, I’m up to a mile to a mile and a half on six out of seven days. That may not sound like much but, for me, it’s awesome.

Next, mebbe this weekend, Jen and I are gonna try some light jogging. She’s attempting, after painful, debilitating, post marathon foot and joint issues, to get back in the game – taking it very slow. I’m gonna tag along. After all my running dreams (where it felt like flying), I wanna give it a go.

Who knows?

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Results

This was NOT the news I was looking for.

Had a brain slice followup appointment with my awesome neurologist, Doc Plotkin, yesterday. Hopeful self-delusion had me figuring that he’d say everything’s groovy (the big cheese neurologist version of that, at any rate) – at least until the thoracic spine MRI results come in (June 3).

Well, nope-areeno. Apparently Donna’s Tumor Garden and Bullshit Factory has been working, thriving and growing during 45’s fuckwadian plague. I’d say “Gee, glad something’s been booming during quarantine” but, ya know, in this case, that’s a big, fat, fucking lie.

One, maybe more, of my bean meningiomas has been bulking up. Shit’s not critical yet but it’s threatening in that direction.

I asked about the super-duper, new INTUITT-NF2 (Innovative Trial for Understanding the Impact of Targeted Therapies in NF2) – can I get in on the clinical trials or is MORE fucking surgery a lock. The answer? It depends on my personal chemistry – will it happily hookup with the INTUITT-NF2 magic pills or no.

This feels like a Star Trekian Match.com – can I get a date with the tri-laser connector of my dreams or no? Right now, I’m on the list – in line to meet the, potentially, magic pills live and in person. Will we hit it off in real life or no?

If not, me and scalpel wizard, Doc Barker, will be doing the OR dance yet again. This'd be our fifth go 'round.

I’ll have another brain MRI in November. Depending on how fast this chubby fucker (I believe I’ll name him George) is putting on the weight AND depending on whether or not, with all the COVID crap, my chemistry’s been reviewed, analyzed, and OKed for liftoff, I may very well be back under the bright OR lights in the Lunder Building by December.

But wait, there’s MORE – if my June 3rd MRI shows sig growth on the ol' spine meningioma farm, I’ll have my back ripped apart again by the fab, knife wielding Doc Coumans.

One more body horror and I’ll have a surgical hat trick. *yea?*

Meanwhile, it's Wednesday which is Pub Night at Jen and Oni's Magic Food Emporium and Cat Bar. We'll have goldfish crackers, vino and Thai grub (MMMMMM!). An ep of Star Trek: Discovery or Lucifer will be viewed and discussed. Major chill WILL be achieved.
She's one helluva bartender when she can be pried away from her stuffed animals.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Coco Comes to the Rescue


I couldn’t drift off into the Land Of Nod last night. After a restless, sleep-ain’t-gonna-happen couple of hours, I turned on the light. Coco leaped from her high window perch onto the bed, quick marched up to my face and asked, clearly, “You alright? Here, lemme sit just below your chin. I’ll purr – you’ll be asleep in no time.”

As uszh, the cat was right.

This morning I have Rita Marley in my head, singing Bed's Too Big Without You. I can’t find a YouTube clip of this ANYwhere – not that I could hear it but I’d really like to watch/experience it. Sheila Hylton’s version is cool and all but, all these years later, Rita’s – which came out just after Bob shuffled off this mortal coil – is the one that resonates.

Ten’s side of the bed, like a meadow evolving into a forest, has become, essentially, a library. There are half a dozen books, my iPad and junk mail that I use as bookmarks. Coco, when not napping on my hip, sleeps just below the non-fiction section.

Bed’s too big without him.

I know I’ve got to be patient but…sheesh…I’m more talented at handstands and grand jetés (hint, I couldn’t do either of those to save my life) than calm waiting.

In this new Trump Plague normal where I can’t,
  • take myself out for a laid back fish ’n’ chip lunch
  • go to the grocery without a bodyguard (Jen and Ten insist)
  • travel to Iceland for a good long float
  • fly to Pittsburgh to visit Vati
  • have a long, chilled out walk on Nantasket
patience is even more elusive.

Staying busy would be helpful but my concentration is a slight, evanescent thing – here for a minute and then *ZING* gone.
  • I need to do my taxes.
  • I’ve been intending to (and have made mini-moves towards) setting up an Etsy page.
  • I thought of bringing my wheel up to the front porch – throw some bowls and plates.
  • Cleaning out my basement would be smartly absorbing.
Awesome BUT I have the attention span of a coked up kitten AND have hit a wall of sloth. I can paint for 10 minutes at a go so that's something, eh?

Possibly I should go with this frazzle brained state and binge watch old Big Bang and Star Trek eps? That'd be better/healthier than getting into fights on Twitter (which I can totally see happening :(

I see my neurologist (Doc Plotkin) today for an online checkup. We’ll discuss my recent-ish surgery and MRIs. I’ve already read the reports/analysis (published on Patient’s Gateway) and, based on these, don’t expect any urgent OR action.

Even if Doc P. pronounces me splendido later this morning, I’m not fully off the hook. Still to come, on June 3rd, my make up thoracic spine scan. That’s the MRI I was to have in March BUT freaked out. This one MAY show that I’ve got more spine slice-age coming.

I’ll also hit him up for info on INTUITT-NF2 (Innovative Trial for Understanding the Impact of Targeted Therapies in NF2) – still in the clinical trials state. Will I be a candidate for this new nonsurgical treatment scheme or no?

Possibly this is why I couldn’t sleep last night.

Gee, D…YA THINK!?

Monday, May 18, 2020

Hell

Does Hell exist?
What is hell? Hell is oneself.
Hell is alone, the other figures in it
Merely projections. There is nothing to escape from
And nothing to escape to. One is always alone.

~ T.S. Eliot 
Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre describes Hell as a pit of fire which one can duck by keeping in good health and not dying.

Neat trick if you can manage it.

Jean-Paul Sartre says, in No Exit, that Hell is other people.

Is this Hell?

Does Hell look like the third panel of Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights with nearly everyone getting reamed with nasty sharp objects? I realize this may well be the preferred kink for some. For these people, the ones who DO enjoy spikey ass pokes, would Hell be all gentle foot massages with chamomile and rose essential oils?

In the teevee show, Lucifer, Hell is your own guilt and regrets played out over and over and over again. You live an endless loop of the crimes from which you feel deep shame, remorse and/or grief.

Maze, one of the devil’s hot helpers says that:
"In Hell, I have to use their own guilt against them as torture.”

Essentially, we are the authors, the directors of our own painful paybacks. Seems like an effective punishment (and, perhaps, deterrent) to me.

But wait…does this mean that, IF this Hell exists, Captain Incompetent Chaos will never experience the wretched suffering, misery and torments of the abyss? After all, Prez Disgustamino Dolt-face has no regrets.
We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell.
~ Oscar Wilde 
In the teevee show (which, if you hadn’t noticed, I just LOVE) Mr. Morningstar says, (I’m paraphrasing the fuck outta this quote since I can’t find his exact words), that he’s not the root of all evil in this world. We humans do a bang-up job on the heinous iniquities front all on our own.

Yup, I can totes dig it.
Maybe this world is another planet’s Hell.
~ Aldous Huxley
Maybe this world is our very own Hell. It could also be Heaven – metaphorically or otherwise.

What would Heaven look like?

Dunno but in MY Heaven, I get to paint all the damn time (and never have to clean up). I have hearing and can listen to Bach, Vivaldi, Orff, Reich, Led Zeppelin, NIN, Paul Simon, Jeff Beck, Richard Thompson etc., etc., etc., 24/7. Dark chocolate covered cherries grow on trees and have NO calories! There are cats everywhere and they all get along. This would be Heaven.

There are no Republicans in Heaven…DUH.

The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.
~ Dante Alighieri

Sunday, May 17, 2020

I am the lotus, goo goo g'joob

This is the story of how we begin to remember
This is the powerful pulsing of love in the vein
After the dream of falling and calling your name out
These are the roots of rhythm
And the roots of rhythm remain

Under African SkiesPaul Simon with Miriam Makeba 

I had an album or two of Makeba's but simply can’t bring any of her songs to mind this morning. Dammit!
 
Earlier, I woke from a disturbing dream. Ten and I were returning from a trip to Africa. (In real life, I've never been) We had been to Morocco, Cameroon and Senegal – that part was glorious. Then, back in the U.S., at an airport in some unrecognizable West Coast city, we became separated in the crowd at customs.

How would we find each other again in this sea of humans? If we couldn’t, how would I find my way to where we were staying? How would I, as a deaf person, deal with all the officials asking so many questions? I was melting down into a full blown panic attack.

Then I remembered:
  • We both have tiny-phones. We’ll call, connect and find each other.
  • IF we couldn’t hook up at the airport, I could grab a cab to our crib du jour.
  • Dealing with the customs questioners? OH please! I’ve been deaf for 15 years now and have dealt with plenty of inquiring officials, pleasant AND decidedly otherwise. I know this road – easy peasy.
Ten and I DID find eachother at the airport, hopped into his truck and drove straight across a vast, wind tossed lake, to our home for the night.

If you feel lost, disappointed, hesitant, or weak, return to yourself, to who you are, here and now and when you get there, you will discover yourself, like a lotus flower in full bloom, even in a muddy pond, beautiful and strong.
~ Masaru Emoto, Secret Life of Water 

Some beautiful paths can't be discovered without getting lost.
~ Erol Ozan

They say that somewhere in Africa the elephants have a secret grave where they go to lie down, unburden their wrinkled gray bodies, and soar away, light spirits at the end
~ Robert R. McCammon, Boy's Life

Our fathers fought bravely. But do you know the biggest weapon unleashed by the enemy against them? It was not the Maxim gun. It was division among them. Why? Because a people united in faith are stronger than the bomb.
~ Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, A Grain of Wheat 

 This “faith” which Ngũgĩ referenced was faith in the resistance – Kenyans fighting for independence from British rule. If sane Americans can steer clear of division, if we can, like the Kenyans, unite in our resistance of Preznint Ego-mad Idiot, Moscow Mitch and their disgustingly, disturbed and sycophantic cult, we WILL win. United, we can make a better country for all of us NOT just the über rich.

What I took away from witnessing the broken climbers in Moshi was this: “Everything is easy until it isn’t.”
~ Josh Gates, Destination Truth: Memoirs of a Monster Hunter

The measure of civilized behavior is compassion.
~ Paul Theroux, Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town 

Damn straight!