Thursday, January 31, 2013

Harder To Dispute: Sprout-Eaters Have Less Risk Of Dying Of Heart Disease

Feb 1 (Reuters) - In yet more evidence that avoiding meat is good for the health, a UK study has found that vegetarians are one-third less likely to be hospitalized or die from heart disease than meat and fish eaters.


"We're able to be slightly more certain that it is something that's in the vegetarian diet that's causing vegetarians to have a lower risk of heart disease," said Francesca Crowe, who led the new study at the University of Oxford.

This is on our fridge door
Some conditions apply; read the article. Your mileage may vary. So may mine, but I'm "dancin' with them as brung me," as the late great Darrell Royal (probably not himself a vegetarian, though he lived to age 88) said. My not particularly severe lacto-ovo-veggie diet can't possibly be worse for me than a typical carnivorous American's diet today. I do not proselytize at all, but this is how I eat and how I intend to continue eating.

Afterthought: this makes good evolutionary sense: it's a lot easier to hunt and catch vegetables, and you don't even need a firearm to harvest them.

Monday, January 28, 2013

I Cannot...

... do this today. I'll be back when posting doesn't feel like banging my head through walls... maybe in a few days.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Higgledy Piggledy, Physical Therapy...

It's a promising beginning for a double dactyl, but it will have to wait, because I have too much, um, physical therapy on my plate at the moment.

I haven't forgotten the blogosphere or this blog, but when even the simplest household acts require twice the time and four times the energy, it's a bit overwhelming. E.g., imagine going to the bathroom, on a walker, on only one leg.

Or changing clothes. Or rinsing a dish in the kitchen sink while sitting in a wheelchair. AND having assignments of exercises, some supervised by your P.T., some using fancy equipment but many just as difficult using cut-out sections of colorful balloons, either gripped in your hands or tied in knots around your leg(s) and the chair you're sitting in. Or lifting weights that seem tiny when you read the numbers on them, but not so small on the 10th, 15th, 20th... repetition of some simple exercise.

Or learning to climb the shallowest step from a brick patio to a wooden deck using a walker... when you lack one foot or one leg.

Or walking around a typical American 3-2-2 house on a walker for every. damned. thing. you. need. to. do in the course of a day.

I'm sure jams knows exactly what I mean; he's been through it. I don't doubt others of you have some first-hand experience as well.

Twice this week I've slept 12 hours in a night. The greatest injustice is that Stella can't do the same herself, and goodness knows most of the housework falls on her, including the chores that once were mine. With luck, they will be mine again at the conclusion of this process. But that's weeks or even months away.

Still, none of us has any real complaint, compared to the many children with disabilities (and their caregivers) who face all these things and more. And my disability, though permanent, can often be remedied to a point of resuming a more-or-less normal life. How many people, including children, have no such prospect? I have no basis for bellyaching.

For an amputee, balance is the key
I suppose the WSJ sees these kids as "lucky duckies" because they receive government benefits including some tax breaks. There's about as much basic human compassion in these members of the 1% as in Republican candidates in the last election. And they wonder why they did so poorly in that election. And I wonder why Democrats cut GOPers any slack at all. I mean, it's not as if the 1% never ends up physically disabled...

If this post has a point, it is that the political IS personal, the more personal for those with greater disabilities, and more personal in the other direction for people with greater advantages.

I know none of the people in these pictures personally. But I share a bond with all of them. We face a challenge which does not confront people who have no major disability. Every day we face such a challenge... sometimes with good grace, sometimes with unrestrained frustration, but it is always there in front of us. Steering a wheelchair through narrow hallways or balancing on a walker as one transitions from a chair or bed or wheelchair to our primary means of mobility... at least for now... or making it up a single stair (even 2" or 3", even just one), we grin and grit teeth and go for it. It is a game we win every time we arrive on our feet (or foot) without crashing, or return to the table with a dish not shattered on the floor, or just plain make it to the bathroom with no accidents. The victories in this life are small but savored unreservedly by every one of us you see in those pics.

Join us in our fortune, good and ill... it's like nothing the WSJ's self-satisfied "lucky duckies" are likely to experience in their lives. We are alive, when we might so easily not have been... and damn, we know it every single moment. Join us!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Mine won't look like this
Yesterday morning I met with the surgeon who did my amputation, for a post-op follow-up. As had every other knowledgeable medical person who had viewed the stump, he pronounced the result quite satisfactory, and forwarded x-rays and advice to the leader of the team who will design and construct my prosthesis with a recommendation of "EPOP" ... early post-op prosthesis, i.e., they should proceed soon with that design and construction.

This morning I met with that team. After evaluation, they upgraded the recommendation to "IPOP" ... immediate post-op prosthesis, i.e., they are beginning the process (both on my body and in the shop) right away, and I should have a shrinking of the stump into an appropriate cone shape and a first attempt at a prosthesis within weeks, not months. I am dumbfounded!

This does not mean I will be running races immediately. It is usual to receive several successive prostheses which fit better on each try, and I must be trained extensively in use of the prosthesis, in my home, with a walker. But I never expected to be this far along so early in the process. I am thrilled, and a bit frightened. But I accept the good results, not as a right, nor as a God-given boon, but as a stroke of extraordinary fortune... and exceptional luck in choosing hospitals, clinics, surgeons and therapists, and of course literally hours of help every day from the lovely Stella. My primary care provider of many years deserves an "attaboy" as well; he steered me to the right institutions and persons along the way, and told me "get thee to a hospital" at just the proper time.

It's not all over, of course. There's much work to do, by me and by my doctors. But with luck, I should be walking... yes, walking on two legs, one natural, one prosthetic... sometime this very spring. "Walking with a step in the spring," I suppose I could say... and oops, I guess I did say that...

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Belated MLK, Jr. Day Acknowledgement

I didn't mean to allow the day to pass without some mention of what Martin Luther King, Jr. and his followers meant to our society and to the world, but I've faced a few obstacles lately...

King? Some liken him to Mohandas Gandhi, and I won't deny the similarities, but King brought an American perspective to an age-old battle. Someone remarked (who? sorry; can't remember) that King's speeches were so numerous and effective that the American media confines its attention today to his "safe" speeches, to topics scarcely controversial, and avoids those that confront the evils of racism head-on. And who among his followers can ever forget "Beyond Vietnam: a Time to Break Silence," and who in today's mainstream media deliberately presents this centerpiece of King's antiwar stance, delivered in the turmoil of 1967?

In short, our society has not wholly absorbed the full impact and meaning of Dr. King's work, and may not yet do so for several more generations. A nation born with a dual classification of human beings... slaves and slaveholders... is guaranteed trouble for its life as a nation. Dr. King offered hope, but not even he could offer solutions to race/class behaviors evoking that much hate.

We must take up the battle as best we can, and not expect it to be won in our own individual lifetimes. A dream? that we indeed have. But what we may actually expect does not include full racial equality any time soon. All we can do is push onward... and push back against the racism newly resurgent in the era of the first Black American president, no matter what we may think of the latter's presidential career.

Keep the faith!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Free 'States', Slave Patrols And The Second Amendment

Thom Hartmann, at Truthout, writes "The Second Amendment was Ratified to Preserve Slavery," and the evidence he presents appears to validate that statement. The amendment's use of "free State" instead of "free Country" (our Founders knew the difference) was inserted to obtain the vote of Virginia, a slave state, and to preserve Virginia's slave patrol, the militia of which the amendment speaks. Hartmann reminds us in that context that "[f]ounders Patrick Henry, George Mason, and James Madison were totally clear on that... and we all should be too." Read the rest of his documentation: it appears very likely to me that "free State[s]" rather than a "free Country" are what the 2nd Amendment is really about, and that that "well-regulated Militia" referred to what was otherwise known as a "slave patrol." In those terms, it is not as noble an aim as it might seem under another interpretation.

If the 2nd Amendment was inserted, not as a device to defend the nation, but rather as a means to uphold slavery in the slave states, then that amendment should have been abolished, or at least reinterpreted, when the 13th and 14th Amendments were ratified. Somehow that never happened, but the clear intent of those two amendments is the abolition of slavery in America... so it must happen. It is time to remove the ambiguity and interpret the 2nd Amendment properly as an amendment supporting slavery... an amendment invalidated by the 13th and 14th Amendments.

This is going to put a few people's drawers in a knot...

(H/T Michael Moore. Article linked above is offsite, not on

AFTERTHOUGHT: I find it interesting that so many of the commenters on the Hartmann thread seem unwilling to talk about guns, gun rights and slavery at all. Many of them are seeking a particular outcome, as have many Americans in general for over a century and a half. Antonin Scalia notwithstanding, we have a question of constitutional intent here, not a matter to be resolved by parsing constitutional text (at least not in today's English), and the question, to my thinking, must be resolved based on whether the 2nd Amendment is compatible with the institution of slavery, which was abolished in the 13th and 14th Amendments. I'm not saying it's simple, but I am saying it is an issue of gun rights in the context of the abolition of slavery... and that if Hartmann is right, the 2nd Amendment is in peril and has been so since ratification of the 13th and 14th Amendments. YMMV.

NRA: Any Lie Will Do, If It Serves A Political Purpose

Most sane people would assume that President Obama's daughters' school, Sidwell Friends School, does not have armed guards in its employ. Sidwell, affiliated with the Religious Society of Friends (i.e., Quakers), is about as committed a nonviolent institution as exists anywhere in the United States. And they actively deny that their school guards are packing... at all.

Yet the N.R.A. (forget about my publishing a link; find it yourself), in a TV ad, called the president an "elitist hypocrite" for sending his daughters to a school that has armed guards while opposing such guards at other schools.

So... what gives? what's really going on?

Simple, really... the N.R.A., in its ad, is a bunch of goddamned outright liars.

Yes, apparently it is that simple. Believe Quakers, or believe self-serving liars? I know who I believe.

And their Middle School just took its second First Place debate trophy in the DC Urban Debate League. I'm not sure it's wise for anyone to face down young people packin' words that big...

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Guns In The Country; Guns In The Town

Late 18th-century artist Thomas Rowlandson published two etched aquatints titled Four o'Clock in the Country (date 1788) and Four O'Clock in [the] Town (date unspecified). Each etching is a caricature of a gentleman being undressed (town, preparing for bed) or dressed (country, preparing for the hunt) by his maidservants (or perhaps his wife) at 4 A.M., a deliberate mockery of the difference of the two lifestyles. The point was clear even more than two centuries ago: town and country people lead dramatically different lives.

And so they still do. Josh Marshall, in "Speaking for my Tribe," couches the difference in his descriptions of the difference in reactions of today's Americans, country-dwellers and city-dwellers (Marshall is the latter), in their reactions to the habit of carrying firearms. His point is that, to people in the country, carrying weapons as protected by the Second Amendment, is normal and (apparently) unthreatening, while to city-dwellers like Marshall and me, carrying a gun (often shortened to "carrying") is often perceived as an open threat to others. I tend to believe this distinction will never change. Country people need guns, arguably for hunting, eliminating dangerous critters, feeding the family, etc. City people arguably have every right to fear guns because of their hostile and often criminal use in large cities. If you expect to resolve this dispute, forget it; it's here to stay.

The Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of a personal right to bear arms, "personal" as opposed to a right that exists only in the context of forming a militia to protect the citizenry. Many of us who live in inner cities don't feel the love. Most of us don't own guns (I don't) and would as soon live without them, at least in the city. Virtually everyone in the city knows some family that has lost a member to gun-inflicted crime. By analogy, many country folk frequently hunt for the food on their table. Both sides have good reasons for their feelings toward firearms. I can't say country-dwellers are wrong, only that they are advocating for the lifestyle they necessarily lead. And I'm certainly not about to say city-dwellers are wrong; too many of us are murdered by blatant criminal use of firearms.

What to do? There are no easy answers. Read Marshall's well-argued article. I can only hope you can agree that there really are two sides to this one... and that neither side is about to be argued out of his/her position. Not I, at least... I am happy for you to own and carry a gun in Livingston, TX, but if you're packin' in Houston, which you are legally allowed to do, I hope we never meet.

ASIDE: Sheriff Joe Arpaio says he may not enforce any new gun laws. Respect for the law is not necessarily a characteristic of advocates of guns as societal safety measures. YMMV.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Back Home To Comfort Food

Tonight I dined on comfort food in the manner of my younger days, having eaten disgustingly healthily while in hospital: in celebration of coming home, I had an Antone's Po' Boy (the falafel sandwich; there are many others available) and Zapp's Potato Chips (the original, available here but originally from Louisiana... perhaps made from an oil well; it's hard to tell).

Po' Boy, Carnivore's Version
Antone's Po' Boy started up over a half century ago as a deli and sandwich shop; the original location (since demolished) was in Houston, on Taft north of West Gray, a few blocks from where I grew up. The sandwiches, then as now, were excellent, though when I lived nearby, my family was in no position to treat ourselves to such delights very often.

As for Zapp's chips, good Cajun Ron Zappe died in 2010 at age 67, and as many have remarked, no one needed to ask what he died of. They were, and are, the ultimate fatty salty kettle-cooked potato chip; others are mere imitations.

No, I had not been craving these "indelicacies," but when Stella brought them home to me, I wasted no time polishing them off. Ah, memories of the old neighborhood, not to mention living off the fat of the land...

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

IT (And PT And OT, And Probably ET), Phone Home!

Of all the annoying aspects of homecoming, the utter demise of my home land-line phone has to be the most vexing. The failure must have happened in the first couple of weeks I spent in hospital: the land line itself did not fail, but the failure of the old VTech multi-handset cordless phone's base unit answering system exposed all incoming calls to the AT&T CallNotes® behind it, which I normally do not use... at least not intentionally. It's just part of the package I subscribe to, normally eclipsed by the phone's answering system, which I do use intentionally. Not "do"; "did" ... it's dead, Jim.

The result? Voice messages from ancient history emerged from the void. Forty of them... 40 messages... floated forward from holidays, elections, hurricanes and power failures past, SBCGlobal system failures from hours to weeks long. Four years' worth of incoming voice messages came alive again, and all newer messages were swallowed by the hungry system.

Needless to say, as I had never used CallNotes® in a practical setting, I had long since lost the printed documentation supplied by Ma Bell. The Blue-and-White-Striped Lady is not fond of putting her documentation on the web, so it took considerable browsing... and one phone call to a very testy help representative... to obtain enough info to work out the rest in my fatigued brain. No, none of it was difficult. Yes, all of it was (apparently intentionally) obscured from public view. Oh, and the testy rep gave partially bad info, of which I had to figure out which parts to ignore.

Why did I so desperately need a working answer system or voicemail? because this old house has only one jack for my phone line (which must have been used as a phone for a business at home a few years back... Stella's line enters at several points; mine at only one). When my line survived while my fancy phone failed, there remained only one POTS ("plain old telephone service") phone in my boneyard, which I was forced to hook up to it. The whole setup... the end of the drop and the POTS phone... was about 5-10 minutes by walker from my usual seat in the den, which meant that I missed most phone calls, which meant that I really needed to provide callers an answering system to talk to. Now they will soon have one. It's cumbersome, but it beats nothing.

Step Two was to acquire a replacement fancy phone. Where does one look on the 'net, and what does one look for? Search for any obvious set of terms, e.g., cordless speakerphone without answering, and try to make practical sense of the thousands of phones for sale out there. It isn't easy. In the above query, "with" matches "without" and is enough to drive one crazy, or to Best Buy... if indeed anything could drive a person with my physical failings to a big-box store! Eventually, Amazon came to the rescue... Amazon and about three hours of poring over ads. I ended up ordering a less-than-brand-new design of Panasonic's familiar cordless phone, without an answering system which could interfere with CallNotes®. I can only hope this does the trick.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

COLA And Chained CPI: What Are They? What Impacts Would Obama's Proposed Changes Have?

A New York Times editorial discusses these (at greater length than most editorials) and concludes that President Obama, having not gotten his tax concessions from Republicans as they did not get their lowered cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs), still seems "determined to include the COLA cut" in forthcoming negotiations... a policy evidently harmful to seniors currently receiving Social Security benefits and liable to be even more harmful as years go by.

If someone can give me a good answer why any Democrat should advocate striking such an obvious blow against seniors... the population cohort overwhelmingly most supportive of the Democratic Party (and quite possibly directly responsible for Mr. Obama's re-election)... I'd really like to hear it. Otherwise, this "chained CPI" approach is nothing but another failure of Democrats to act like Democrats... and thus another sharp stick in the eyes of senior citizens who have supported that party.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Krugman: Mr. President, Use Your Platinum Ca... Um, Coin

The thing is, the coin option sounds silly, but it clearly obeys the letter of the law. As far as I can tell, none of the other options — other than outright surrender — has the same virtue. Failing to pay debt service would be a breach of contract. Paying contractors, and maybe Social Security recipients, in scrip would violate the law, which says that they should be paid — not given IOUs. Deciding that the president has the right to ignore the debt limit after all would avoid these legal breaches at the expense of another breach.
Indeed, what else would be legal and would work? That's why Obama can be counted on NOT to do it... :-(

(Krugman provides some details here.)

UPDATE: Treasury says they won't do it. WTF happens now? And who gave an executive department the authority to override a presidential order? Stranger and stranger...

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Goin' Home... Goin' Home... UPDATED

Actually I AM home (but hum the Dvorak anyway). I'm sitting at the computer... my very own, with my familiar keyboard, mouse and display. The chair is a different matter; my old office chair is slightly too low for me to do a proper launch off of it to mount the walker. But I'll get over things like that in time, and for the moment, any old chair with arms and stable footing will do the trick.

Hospitals have amazing capabilities and their docs and nurses and techs can do equally amazing things, but believe me, there's no place like home... for better and worse. My first real challenge here was taking the walker up a shallow step from the brick patio to the deck, on the way to the back door. Without Stella's assistance, and that of my good friend and neighbor George Batten, I might still be sitting outside trying to figure out a way to get in. The solution to the ascent was simpler than I imagined: I just had to muster more nerve than good sense, and go for it. In part, it's a strength problem, and the additional physical therapy and such that I receive at home should improve my fitness to get from here to there considerably.

I didn't take my camera to the hospital, so I can't show you the wild post-midnight parties of doctors and nurses. I also can't show them to you because as far as I can tell, no such parties ever happened, at least not in the hospital. But allow me my occasional fantasy; otherwise, the hospital is a dull place indeed. My only nonmedical accomplishment was reading most of Leonard Susskind's The Black Hole War (hey, my first link in four weeks!) about Susskind's intellectual battle with Stephen Hawking over questions of information falling into a black hole and various conservation laws (do you like physics? read this book!), and reading all of Mike Lofgren's The Party is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless, and the Middle Class Got Shafted. (Thanks to the Battens for that one!)

With luck, I'll manage perhaps a post a day. The blog will contribute to my mental health, if not to anyone else's...

UPDATE: for years, I've recited this tongue-twister:
A skunk sat on a stump. The skunk thunk the stump stunk and the stump thunk the skunk stunk.

Today, Stella gave me a coming-home present: a doggie chew-toy in the form of a skunk, which I can set... where else... on my stump. Some senses of humor never change!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Tomorrow? Tomorrow? There's Always Tomorrow?

The last request for more advanced rehab has finally been turned down more or less absolutely, so I am slated... maybe... to be discharged and sent home Thursday or Friday. Maybe once that happens I'll have something real to say.

The hospital experience here ain't M*A*S*H, but it isn't horrible either, at least most of the time. I'll have a series of brief (but required!) appointments for further training and the design, construction, fitting and testing of a prosthesis. As one who can't shut up even when he probably should, I'll keep you posted on progress.

Wish me luck in placating Stella, who is unhappy with me about something...
Awakened by 6:00am vampire, young one made mess of 2 veins. Will talk w/docs soon, but Thu dischg looks less likely.

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Monday, January 7, 2013

No Exit Possible Exit

Physical and occupational therapy are going decently well, though not smashingly. There is some rumor that I may be let out of this joint on Thursday, though I wouldn't bet on it yet. Time will tell.

Stella and my excellent landlord are frantically readying the house for my return. I admit I am scared of applying all these newly learned techniques... walking, peeing, climbing one step, all on a walker... in a real-world setting. At the same time, I miss the kitties terribly, I miss the sight of the tall trees in the back yard, and I miss my own computer, with its not-Windows operating system and vastly more comfortable keyboard. I shall be very glad indeed to get home, Thursday or a week later. Keep your fingers crossed...
Bill Bates (1/7/1920-8/1/1995) As good and dedicated an American as ever lived. RIP, Dad.

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Saturday, January 5, 2013

While I'm In Hospital...

... don't bother posting YouTubes or any other active content in comments. Hospital network will censor them and I can't see them. Pictures of beans are fine; they know how to count those...

The diff between hospital and jail is that most of the time, in jail, your sentence is of a predetermined length. Not here in hospital, though; I could be here forever.  :-(

Friday, January 4, 2013

Defense Against The Dark, Um, The Medical Arts -- hosp pharm is challenging my anti-D med I've taken for 2yr. Grrrr...

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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The (Bleep!)ing Republican Party

The "great" Dick Cheney still makes his influence felt as John Boehner reportedly tells Harry Reid to "go (bleep!) yourself." Two weeks I've spent in hospital, and not a thing has changed out there...
Morning stretches with Theraband(tm). Afternoon: Allemande, Courante, Gigue?

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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

George+Barbara (NOT Bush!) brgt a book, The Party is Over, by fmr GOPer Mike Lofgren. Righteous rant!

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I Found It!

The computer in the activity room, that is. When I'm not exhausted from physical therapy etc., I'll come back (if allowed) and write a real blog post. For now, I need more wheelchair roaming for my physical and mental wellbeing. See you soon, I hope. (Stella says hello.)

- The One-Legged Wonder

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