Fountain of youth?

A customer told me that he started using Apple products, “Probably before you were alive.” I told him I doubted that and asked when he used his first Apple product. He started in 1985. That blew me away, did he really think I was only 25? I’ve been told I look young, but 25?

 

Believe it or not, I do credit my job (along with good shaves) with my youthful demeanor. There is little real stress, anything that comes up is short lived. The only real stress I have in my life revolve around my health issues. When they do not rear their ugly heads, I throughly enjoy my job. I am working, spending the days of my life, doing something that I really enjoy. I’m pretty sure that is the real secret of youth. Yes, I’m sure I could get paid more at another job, but between the non-payroll benefits (insurance, stock purchase plan, stable company, productive job) and my enjoyment of it, I think I’ve got the best deal I could hope for. As I drove down to my mother’s place today, I realized that this vacation has much more to do with resting (and hopefully healing) than getting away from the job. I’ll enjoy this vacation, but I won’t mind going back to work either:-)

I don’t even care if it works…

… I’m in love. I could stare at this all day.

 

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Of course, this looks like it should be amazing. Fuji has always made good lenses and everyone has been waiting for them to make another camera with their amazing sensors. This could be it, this could be the thing that gets me to buy a camera. We’ll see what the price is, I’m hoping it’s south of a grand.

Punk Rock and Dinah Shore

Here’s one that folks don’t hear a lot. It’s from an Austrailian punk band called the Victims. The song is “Television Addict” and it was released back in ’77. There was a slightly more famous version (at least here in the states)done by the Helicopters, but this is the original.

I love the “snarl” of the guitar. Just goes to show that you don’t have to play super fast to be intense. It surprised me that they were Aussies, I had assumed that they were British. I guess that’s because I’m so used to hearing British punks. There’s a certain sneering and snarling (there’s that word again) that’s only possible with a British accent. Or maybe and Aussie one too…

I’m also blown away by one line in there. Up until this line, I enjoy it as just another great song, but then it gets put into a very specific time frame…

“Just because I watch DINAH SHORE doesn’t mean I need a facelift!”

Good grief, Dinah Shore? That’s… old. That’s stuff my grandmother watched, that’s a TV show that was on before I really paid attention to TV. With that one line I am hit over the head with the fact that this song is 33 years old. That kills me. This music will always be about youth and it’s hard to think that these guys are now in their 50’s and maybe 60’s. I guess my father has the same reaction when he hears the Rolling Stones and even Chuck Berry.

Anyway, enjoy a little obscure punk rock, I’ll post more if I run something worthwhile.

A gender role/culture question

When did women start liking professional sports? I distinctly remember high school and earlier when it was strictly a guy thing. There’s no question that there is a lot more female fans than ever before, and it seems to be across most sports. I also know that the various leagues marketed sports to women, but did anyone notice the cultural shift? I know that there are still fewer female sports fans then male, but the ranks have grown considerably over the years. Ladies, any observations about you or your friends becoming sports fans?

More frivolous spending (games)

I’m not much of a gamer, but I do, on occasion spend some time playing them. Recently, I have spent an unconscionable amount of time playing Bejewelled. The thing about that is that I haven’t really gotten any better. I think my all time high score is north of 200,000, but I have friends that reliably beat me with scores in the 400,000’s. How they do it I have no idea.

Waayyy back when, I first got addicted to long term computer games by playing first Ultima 3 and then Ultima 4 on my friend’s Commodore 64. We had to fan the 1541 drives to prevent overheating and spent untold days adventuring in that world. Ultima 5 and others past that seemed to dedicate too many resources to the graphics and not enough on game play. I got out of those types of games for the most part.

I happened across Spiderweb software several years ago and it struck a nostalgic chord with me. Avernum 4 really did remind me of those Ultima games. I bought it before I went to Yemen just in case I had a few minutes to kill over there. It did its job admirably. On a whim, I downloaded their most recent game, Avernum 6 and got hooked all over again.

 

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I went ahead and paid for the thing after getting hooked on the enormous demo. No, it isn’t very graphically rich (I wonder if it could be run in an iPad), but it sure is fun. If you like wandering around killing bad things, I highly recommend it.

 

I also downloaded a game for my iPod touch, the infamous “Angry Birds.”

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There’s a good reason why this is a huge seller, it’s really, really addictive. All you do is slingshot birds into fortresses made of different materials and kill the pigs inside. I know, sounds stupid, but it is just the right combo of easy to understand and difficult to master that makes it fun. There are also eleventy billion levels to get through too, that makes your 99 cents a great investment. I plan on killing a lot of time with this on the go. Fun will be had!

Early warning signs of MS

I’m writing this post for anyone that might find it via Google in the future. Looking back, I can see a lot of early signs of my MS, but because I didn’t pay enough attention and couldn’t find anything about them, I ignored them. Would I have gotten treatment sooner? I dunno, but it would have been nice to have the option.

 

Keep in mind that MS is a disease with an enormous variation. It affects different people in different ways. These are the things that happened to me in the years leading up to my diagnosis, when it couldn’t be ignored any longer. Having these things doesn’t mean you have MS of course, but they were early indicators for me.

Tremors while yawning. I noticed 4 or 5 years ago that when I yawned, my arms and hands would shake. It seemed a little odd, but harmless at the time. Now, I know it is a symptom of screwed up reflexes, and that is going to point towards some sort of neurological issue.

 

Leg stiffness. 5 or 6 years ago my legs started to lock up on me in the morning. It didn’t hurt, but it would prevent me from doing anything until I loosened up. Here’s the way it worked, I woke up, decided to move and then BLAM! my legs would go rigid. It would last about 30 seconds and then everything was fine again. A few years later this would happen to me any time I sat down for a while. I chalked all of this up to getting older and stiffer. It never really bothered me, but it was odd. Now I know that this is called spasticity and once again, points towards some underlying neurological issue.

 

Weak legs. The first time I noticed this was about 5 or 6 years ago. It was right after a hurricane (can’t remember the name) and my mother;s place had been hit fairly hard. I went down there to help with the clean up. One of the things we needed to do was to find and bring back all of the sections of fence that had been strewn everywhere. My stepfather and I would wander around looking for pieces and then carry them back. It was hard work, but nothing too outrageous. I was able to do this for, oh I dunno, an hour or so when my legs turned to absolute jelly. This wasn’t a normal tired feeling, this was “about to fall over” kind of feeling. I chalked it up to being out of shape, which I was. It bugged me a little since it was so unusual, but I had a handy explanation and let it go. This happened again 3 years later on an extended hike in Yemen. Once again, it was a longish hike, maybe 12 kilometers or so, but nothing too bad. Yes, there was some minor climbing, as in there was a grade, but really nothing any sort of person in reasonable health couldn’t handle. Once again, I started out fine, but about 2/3 of the way through, my legs totally gave out on me. I was wobbly legged and unbalanced for the rest of the hike. In both cases, once I sat down for a half hour or so, I was fine. There was no soreness, or even tightness the next day. This is not normal. If you overextend your muscles, you should expect to feel the burning sensation from all of the lactic acid building up. You should also feel the effects over the next several days. I had neither, if anything, my legs felt a little numb. I have no idea of the mechanism behind this, but it is a common feature of my life now, and it is consistent with having MS.

 

Numbness. I had been working in retail for 7 years or so when I noticed that there were times when I felt that my feet were numb. Looking back, it wasn’t really numbness, it was loss of proprioception. Doctors test for this in a variety of ways, but the most descriptive is that I could no longer feel vibrations against my foot or legs. In day to day sensations, it feels like the inside of my leg or foot is numb, like I can’t feel the muscles in them. Once again, I assumed that since I was on my feet for so long, and for so many years, reduced sensation was a normal thing. It’s not. Nowadays, the loss has progressed such that I don’t actually know where my feet are or what position my legs are in. It is fairly common for me to wonder why I can’t move my leg only to realize my other leg is on top of it.

 

Those were the first symptoms that I had for MS. They started to present themselves about 5 years before I was diagnosed. It is possible that if I had pursued any of these things that I could have prevented further loss. The punchline of this whole thing is that those things are not normal, you should at the very least have your GP do a neurologic exam (test reflexes, etc.) if not see a neurologist if you have any of these issues. All of these started as intermittent things and gradually over several years became more pronounced. Just get checked out, there’s no downside…

Unnerved (MS related)

The day after my first Tysabri infusion, I felt pretty good. Part of me thinks I felt better than normal, but like I said before, I’m going to try to not go crazy looking for improvements just yet. Of course, I also said the same thing about side effects. Well…

I woke up at 7:00 with a splitting headache. I’ve woken up with headaches before, but not like this one. I got out of bed and popped some alieve. That’s when I notice something else, I can’t look at anything bright as it intensifies the pain. Doh. I go back to bed and wait for the alieve to kick in. Half an hour goes by and I still have my eyes closed. The pain has subsided a bit, but it is now concentrated in an area behind my right eye. I open my eyes and try looking outside. Bad idea. Headache is still there…

 

I called into work and told them that I was at the very least going to be late and that I might not show up at all. I fell asleep again and woke up around 11:30. Still with the headache, still concentrated behind my right eye. I decided not to go to work. It wasn’t as though I was debilitated, but I was starting to worry a bit. The nurse told me that some side effects of tysabri occur during the month, not just right after the infusion. She also said the really bad ones would seem like a stroke. Hmm, this was a rather bad headache, not really what you think of as a stroke,  but there was that odd localization… I did a little googling and found out that yes, headaches are a rather common side effect. By 3:30 I was feeling OK but a bit shaken. I was also relived/horrified that I have the next two days off. It’ll be good to see if this is an ongoing thing, but it does look suspicious. The thought also occured to me that I am now taking drugs to counteract the side effects of other drugs. Yes, I know that over the counter pain killers barely qualify as drugs, but it is a situation that I was hoping never to get into.

Going forward, I think I can handle this if it happens again, at least after the alieve kicks in. I think I’ll start looking for those positive effects now that a negative one has made itself known to me.

 

Speaking of going crazy.. (camera stuff)

Remember the camera I was lusting for? that super small Sony one? I just went a little crazier for it. There are a slew of adaptors being made so that various other brands can be used on it! This is huge. I’ve always been a lens geek, and this could allow me to use a bunch of different ones on the same camera. Sure, they make the run of the mill Canon, Nikon, and old Minolta lens adaptors, but I’m far more interested in the Pentax K, Leica M, Contax SLR, and Contax G(!) adaptors. The Contax G lenses in particular are way underpriced right now. It’s a lens geek’s dream….

 

Check out the page to see what I mean. Yeah, it’s in Japanese, but the pictures tell the whole story.

 

 

 

First treatment down

As expected, it was a non event. Spent a little over two hours with an IV stuck in me. I was the only one getting an infusion that late so I sat there and chatted with the nurse the whole time. I think I’ve got her convinced to go to Yemen…

 

And now comes the freak out period. This drug is known for having one very rare, big possible side effect (an infection usually leading to death) and a whole host of little, potentially annoying ones like urinary tract infections, joint pain, headaches, nausea, etc. The big one is easy to notice, she said you’ll think you’re having a stroke. The trick with the other side effects is that they are common enough with MS anyway, so it’s hard to know what is causing the problem.

The drug is supposed to help prevent new lesions and hopefully stall the progress of the disease. There are lots of reports of people regaining strength and walking ability though. The nurse was real careful about making sure I understood that I shouldn’t expect those things to happen with this drug, but they could happen.

I promised myself I wasn’t going to make myself crazy looking for effects, but  i don’t see any way around it. I’ll be carefully watching for both positive and negative effects and wondering if that pang or momentary good feeling is caused by the drug or just my imagination. Please bear with me while I quietly go nuts…

My next camera?

I know, I hardly ever shoot these days, so why am I looking at cameras? Habit I guess, I started looking around for the hell of it and was amazed to see some of the newer cameras out there. It looks like they are actually starting to make the camera that I had wished for back when I was selling them. I wanted a small camera with a 35mm sized sensor in it. In the years since, I have come to appreciate some of the depth of field advantages of a smaller sensor. Plus, the high ISO limitations that used to come along with the smaller sensors has disappeared. The new APS-sized sensors absolutely smoke 35mm in high ISO situations. So I think I could easily use a camera with a sensor smaller than 35mm, but I still want a really small camera. Is this the one for me?

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Yes, it’s a Sony. So what? I predicted long ago that when cameras became electronic gadgets as opposed to mechanical ones that the electronics manufacturers would rise to the occasion. Sure enough, Sony, Samsung, and Panasonic are all making strong pushes in the camera world. The images I’ve seen have been more than good enough, and the video looks fantastic. The key for me is that it’s small, small enough that I don’t mind carrying it around. They have even managed to get around not having a viewfinder by making the screen tilt-able. I would be able to use this like the TLR cameras I used to use. I love waist level finders, and this would work well.

 

Of course, the amount of money that this costs would go a long ways towards a new computer. So for now, this will be one more cool thing (ooh! shiny!) that I’m not going to buy. I’ll probably hold off on buying a new camera until I actually go on another trip. Lord knows when that might be…