Monday, March 18, 2019

Little Things

There's bigger things, of course.  Like being able to spend hours every day doing Spring yard work.  A couple months ago I barely had strength enough to get up a flight of stairs.

But sometimes it's the little things.

So many cans have pull-tab lids:  tuna fish, cat food, canned beans.  The seltzer water I drink.  For a while I couldn't open them without sliding a knife into the tab and using it to lever the tab and lid up.   That peculiar thing neuropathy made my fingers both too sore and too numb to pull  up on the tab. Yesterday I realized that I was opening pull-tab cans without needing "help" for the first time in 3 months.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Three Out Of Four Completed

Surgery - Done
6 rounds of chemo - Done
6 weeks of daily radiation in Winchester - Done
Maintenance chemo (side effect free) every 3 weeks - In progress

Feeling much better than I did a few weeks ago.  The main problem left by the chemo is neuropathy - a weird combination of pain and numbness - in my hands and feet.  And my big toes hurt.

Yeah, that's ugly.  Sorry.  I'll be seeing a podiatrist regularly for a while.

I have a dandy "sunburn" from the radiation.  But it's not like I haven't had a bad sunburn before.  My last treatment was Monday - the itching and tenderness is already abating.   I never did have any other side effect from the treatment.  Compared to chemo, radiation was a breeze.

Despite the weather's best efforts, I walk for 45 minutes to an hour most days.  I need to start working on upper body and hand strength, though:  my forearms are visibly thinner than when this started, and I can barely rack the slide on my Kahr.  Cold wet stuff needs to stop falling out of the sky so I can tackle the yard.  A rake would do me more good than any gym can.

My taste buds are back - I'm eating anything that can't get away from me.  It took a bit after I got back in January to get out of the anemia and get my potassium up to where it should be, but all the numbers are normal now.  I guess as things heal the need for a lot of nutrients will no longer be a good excuse for "I want some of that.  And that. Yummy!  And, oh yes, THAT." 

And I have hair.  Well, sort of.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Gules, Three Lions Passant Gaurdant, Or

Even though I have some knowledge of the language of heraldry, I always want to ask "Or what?"  Gules = red. Three lions, easy enough, but passant means not rearing and gaurdant means looking towards you rather than forward.  Or = the lions are gold in color.

Since I have to wear a hat - 'cause bald in Winter = COLD! -  I figured I might as well have some fun with it.  I've been sticking pins that represent my ancestry on my favorite one.

Left to right would be my clan badge, the US flag of course, the thistle of Scotland, and the harp of Ireland.  My latest arrived in the mail today.

Yes, it's part of the arms of England.  But specifically it's the arms of the House of Plantagenet.  I'm a descendant of  Henry III Plantagenet, King of England.  Born 1207, died 1272.  I have, last I checked, about 26 million cousins world wide.   I'm having a brain fart right now:  I can't remember whether my line is from Edward I or his sister Margaret of Scotland.  I need to dig The Big Book out of storage and check.

The pin isn't quite right:  the rest of the blazon is "armed and langued azure", which means the claws and tongue should be blue.  But it's a small pin so that's forgiven.  And I can never remember that part anyway.

I need two more pins for the majority of the rest of my heritage:  Switzerland and the Alsace-Lorraine.  Switzerland is easy:

But I ran into a problem when searching the Alsace-Lorraine:

Oh, great.  Mostly French but right up against Germany, so they share search key words.  And the Alsace-Lorraine didn't even exist as an entity when that branch of my family came to America.  They arrived in Philadelphia in the 1740s:  the territory was created in 1871 when it was ceded to Germany after the Franco-German War.  So a little digging online, since I remembered that I'd seen a family tree following the line in question.  We're from the Duchy of Lorraine part.  That I can find, but the pin's a bit big.

And turns out the Swiss line is the Canton of Bern.  Bet I can find a pin for that.  Somewhere.

I  would also like to find one for my Felton line, since that's the branch I'm heavily involved in.

Gules, two lions passant ermine, crowned or.  Oddly, I've found dog tags but not a pin.  But somebody has to make them.  I just haven't found the website.

Running across the pins carrying a swastika reminded me of an irony concerning a symbol now viewed in a good chunk of the world as representing evil:  the swastika is a good luck symbol that has been around for thousands of years, and is still viewed as meaning good fortune in several eastern religions.   The word itself is from ancient Sanskrit, and in our time people would probably be surprised at its meaning:  "well-being."

3,200 year old swastika necklace from northern Iran

Greek helmet from 350-325 BCE Herculaneum, Greece
As the gammadion cross, it was widely used as a Christian symbol:

From a 4th century Byzantine church excavated in Northern Israel
Effigy of Bishop William Eddington (died 1366) at Winchester Cathedral
Which would be why visitors are probably surprised to see swastikas in the floor tiling of the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling, WV.  The cathedral was built in 1926, and I wonder if their presence caused the renovation committee heartburn when they hit the floor restoration point in their planning a few years ago.

The pre-Nazi years of the 20th century saw a swastika boom that appears to have been driven by fascination with Heinrich Schliemann's discovery of the symbol at Troy and his theories concerning it.  Everybody and his brother appropriated the design.

And then, for just a very few years, the swastika was appropriated for something so evil, so opposite what it has meant for thousands of years that I wouldn't consider wearing anything carrying it even if no one else could see it.

To quote the narrator of a trivia moment on a radio station I stream:  "Weird, huh?"

Friday, February 15, 2019


Two red lights run.  Three vehicals completely totaled and at least one other damaged.  Six people, including a 5 year old, sent to the ER.  And all she got was a $250 fine and 2 points on her license.  Are we supposed to be grateful that the motion to dismiss because she was sorry was denied?

And, after waiting for their own insurance to cut a check - BECAUSE IDIOT NO FAULT STATE - they bought a used suv that turned out to have something f***ked up with the wiring.  They had it 3 days and then it went back to the dealer and it's been sitting there ever since awaiting resolution because their mechanics can't figure it out.  They had to rent a vehical for this weekend's long scheduled birthday weekend for my granddaughter.  And when SIL picked the rental up he found drugs hidden in the cigarette lighter.

They could have stayed in Baltimore and gotten immigrants who can't drive and drug stashes.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

A Calculation Or Two

Let's accept that the outline for the New Green Deal that disappeared from AOC's website was a stupid mistake on her office's part: someone uploaded a very rough draft.  It would have been much simpler for them to admit to that rather than offer various excuses ranging from the document never having been there (sorry, the internet is forever) to the site being hacked. The guy who wrote it also should not have gone on Tucker Carlson's show and said that he didn't have anything to do with that draft when the metadata shows that he's the author.  Again, the internet is forever.  But, as Jeff Kuhner says, "Let that go."

The actual NGD resolution is less juvenile, more professional.  It's still a unicorn farting because it's so superficial, but that just makes it more frightening.  Couch pablum in highfalutin language and it's still pablum, but a lot more people will swallow that pablum.

There is, for instance, the fascination with high-speed rail.  Get rid of cars, get rid of planes.  Everybody is on rails.  Except a lot of us who don't live in cities and have a bit of a hike to get to things don't quite understand how we are supposed to do that without wheels.  My grocery store is 8 miles away and I live on a mountain.  Are they paying for one of those little electric cars to take me?  Lots of luck getting across my road right now: the potholes would swallow one of those death-trap Smart Cars and we won't even discuss how well a light-weight car would do when there's snow on the roads here.  But, again, let that go.

Also, let go the whole environmental impact of the mining and processing of the products needed to build and maintain that rail system.

First, a map.

These are just the  cities of +10,000 population as of 2016.  It doesn't include all those little towns across the U.S. that have a population under 10,000.  But see how dense it is in some areas?  Apparently we are going to run rail between all these cities PLUS a lot of towns not shown.  But even if we don't run rail between all the cities, here's an example:  the great circle distance from BWI airport in Baltimore to LAX in Los Angeles is 2,329 mi.  You can snag a flight that takes 6 hours point to point.  It won't follow a great circle path entirely, but it's close enough for an example.

On land via the fastest highway route, it's 2,662 mi. between the two.

High speed rail, on the other hand, is considered to be 120 mph on old lines to 160 mph on new lines.  So, non-stop rail would be, at best, 19 hours on the slower end and 14 hours on the faster end if you use the great circle distance.  If you follow a more earthly route, that's 22 hours and 16 hours respectively.  However, the rail lines aren't going to follow a great circle or even the most direct highway route and they aren't going to be non-stop.  They will be city to city, with stops at various cities.  I refer back to the map:  there could be a whole lot of stops in some areas.  So folks can leave Baltimore in the morning and be in San Diego for dinner.  OR they can go back to the "good ol' days" of cross country train travel that will, in reality, take not hours but days.  Yeah, that works for businesses.  And has anyone looked up the cost of a sleeper berth on the train?

We aren't talking about somebody's tour of America train vacation.  We are talking about the need to cross a continent.

And while they are whining about 800,000 government employees getting their pay checks late, it doesn't seem to bother them that more than 540,000 people worked in the U.S. airline industry as of 2016.  That's before you count in things like the retail industry, car rental, etc., attached to airports.  Their checks won't be just late, they'll be completely gone.  Why doesn't that merit the same hysteria?

Friday, February 8, 2019

I Have a Hat

And I'm fond of it.

My hair is beginning to come back in, but it's going to be a while, and I've learned that being bald in the Winter is COLD.  

So I keep that hat at hand and wear it when appropriate, i.e., when it decides to be Winter.  I always know where my hat is.

But I don't know where THIS hat is:

The lieutenant governor of Virginia, Justin Fairfax, has been accused of rape.  The accuser has given a lot of detail.  A few minutes ago I heard that another woman has come forward with a second rape allegation.  But I haven't seen or heard hide nor hair from the p*ssy hat brigade about Fairfax.

But what's a couple rapes in the face of Trump saying "p*ssy" a decade ago?