Had a nice vacation

Saw a ton of people. Mom, my uncle Brian, Dad, My Aunt Cathy and uncle Doug, my cousin Beth and her husband Evan and their adorable little girl Zita, even my stepsister Coleman! That’s a lot of family packed into one week, it was too short. The Bach family is the target for my next vacation. My brother is down there with my aunt, uncle, and cousin on that side of the family. And they’re in Virginia Beach, I really don’t have any excuse to not see them…

Did a few things that I hadn’t done in a long time over that week. First, I used canned shaving cream. I have been using shaving soaps and and creams for the past three years but I decided that I didn’t want the hassle of packing them and a brush. Man, what a difference, that canned stuff sucks! Yes, it was a much thicker lather than I usually get, but it really dried out my skin and the blade didn’t glide nearly as well. The hell of it is that it is the same price as the good stuff, not going to do that again!

The other thing I did was listen to FM in the car. Ugh. I have been listening to my iPod, and more recently to LastFM or Slacker Radio in my car for the last 2 years. I do not miss FM at all. It was filled with nothing but commercials and people yakking. Oh, and some really terrible music to boot. I really don’t mind paying in order to avoid commercials, and I love the ability to skip songs and tell them to never play that again… Technology really is wonderful. My drives are so much nicer because of my iPhone.

Saw my Neuro today

He looked at my latest MRIs and found that nothing has changed in my head, no new lesions! Whew! It seems as though my Tysabri is doing its job in keeping the disease at bay. The challenge now is to figure out why I don’t feel as good as I did last year. I feel more tired, weaker, a little more muddle headed, and my very short term memory seems to be shot to hell. It isn’t uncommon for me to have my hand near the shampoo and wonder if I’ve already washed my hair. Or I think of something I want to look up online when I’m done doing the thing I’m doing at present. Even if, and maybe especially if, it is 30 seconds later, it is frequently gone.

My doctor thinks I might have some sort of underlying sleep issue like apnea. Could be I suppose. We’re also experimenting with some of my other medicines to see if they are the cause of any of these issues. He mentioned the possibility of Ritilin to help combat the fatigue. It seems that it is fairly common for folks with MS to take it.

There is also the distinct possibility that I am just really put of shape. That wouldn’t explain the memory thing, but it could certainly help explain a lot of the other things. Trouble is that I am frequently wiped out, especially after work. Exercising wipes me out, even going into the next day. I don’t feel as though I can work when I’m that wiped out. It’s a big reason why I’m in the shape I’m in. I wonder if I’m going to have to take some time off of work just to get going on that. I’ll talk to my doctor about that and look into gym memberships again. Groan, taking a pill is so much easier than going to the gym…

So I’m glad that the big stuff seems to be behaving itself, now to work on the smaller stuff…

More arcade nostalgia for the iPad

Just downloaded Galaga for the iPad. For those of you not familiar with 80’s arcade games, Galaga was probably the pinnacle of the space invaders type games. Space invaders is a classic of course, it was the first arcade game to start a craze, the likes of which weren’t seen again until Pacman came along. Japan actually suffered a shortage of 25 yen pieces because of the game. But by the time the 80’s rolled around, Space Invaders was pretty dated. I only ever saw 2 or 3 of those games in the wild, they were old by the time I got to the arcades. Galaga was a lot more colorful, and added in some new action with swooping aliens, and tractor beams that could capture your ship. With careful shooting, you could get it back and then shoot with two ships at the same time.

IMG 0003

 

This just came up in the App Store recently, and it was FREE!!! No more quarters, and lots more smiles. They have several versions available to purchase, but I’m sticking with the classic one for now. Lots of fun…

In celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the war on drugs…

… a little joke.

Q: What’s the worst thing that could happen to a kid that tries pot?

A: He could go to jail.

 

We are now at a point where the treatment is far worse than the disease. The number of non-violent people languishing in prison for doing something that only effects them is truly sad. The violence that has arisen from the black market of banned substances is horrifying. The kicker is that the vast majority of all of these problems revolve around marijuana, cocaine, and heroin. Of the three, marijuana is, by far, the biggest one, and least dangerous. Even more outrageous, there are a multitude of even more dangerous substances, alcohol included, that are perfectly legal.

it’s time to end the war on people that do things to their body that the government doesn’t like. Ending the “war” is the humane thing to do, 40 years is way too long and we have ruined enough people’s lives.

Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease

I got a cold last month and it brought me down. Often times, a cold for me is a time for my MS to get noticeably worse, this last time was one of those times. The trouble was that some of the MS symptoms stuck around for a while after the cold was gone. Fatigue, cloudy head, dizziness, etc. At a couple of weeks into it, I gave up and called my neuro, didn’t think I could keep up my normal schedule the way I was going.

Wouldn’t you know it, that phone call seemed to banish the worst of the symptoms. By the time I got to the doctor’s, I was feeling mostly OK. Still really tired, but much better than I had been. We chatted, I got some anti-spacticity drugs, an appointment for an MRI (which is today), and a follow up appointment.

The anti-spacticity medicine has mostly helped me sleep better, which has helped with the fatigue. I usually had no trouble falling asleep, the trouble was getting deep sleep. My legs and hips would routinely stiffen up, waking me up. Cramps were fairly common too. The sudden adrenaline rush of severe pain made it difficult to go back to sleep afterwards. That seems to be mostly taken care of now.

That particular drug is one that I needed to gradually up the dosage on. When I got to my final dosage several days ago, my condition deteriorated badly. I was so dizzy I was having trouble sitting sometimes. I was also having some significant cognitive issues. That’s fine on my day off, but I had to call in to work the next day. I had an inkling that the drug I had been taking since January could be the culprit. I didn’t take it the next day and felt better, but I was still bad enough/freaked out that I didn’t go to work. I didn’t take it the next day and felt fine.

Well, when I say fine, I mean not dizzy and I could think. Of course since I wasn’t taking the drug to help my legs, I felt pretty weak. I could think and my world wasn’t spinning, so on balance (har har) I think that was an improvement. Essentially, I was back to where I was in January.

So why the sudden issues? I dunno, maybe it was some sort of interaction with the two drugs? The good news is that since I’m taking these drugs to make me feel better, I can stop taking them if they don’t do that. It’s aggravating, I had to use up several days of vacation and I’m not sure how I’ll pay for the actual vacation I’ve already scheduled. I guess the good news is that I’m back to work. We’ll see if there is any news with the MRI. I’m hoping this next week will be uneventful… Oh for a boring life:)

Debt makes the world go down

Greece is teetering on the edge of default. They are also threatening to take down Spain, Portugal, Ireland and who knows who else. Iceland has already gone through the wringer. Japan is in bad shape, even before the earthquake came around they were on life support. In addition to that, the world continues to be caught in the throes of a recession that won’t go away. Home prices keep falling. What is the common denominator between all of these things? Debt.

There is both private and public debt, but that line has increasingly become blurred. Governments around the world promise more benefits than they can afford. When the bill comes due, they raise taxes to try to generate the funds necessary. Is that public debt? When the mortgage crisis hit, governments were quick to rush in and take care of bad debts. Is that private debt? The European countries that currently have the biggest problems don’t have the excuse of costly wars to use. They were just going about business as usual when all of a sudden, they couldn’t afford it any longer. Other countries like France, Germany, the UK, and the US are hoping to avoid getting to that point.

Debt puts you in a precarious position. You might be able to keep borrowing in order to pay current bills as long as nothing comes up. But then there’s an earthquake, a housing bubble pops, or your lenders simply decide you aren’t such a good risk after all. The further in debt you are, the less it takes to really screw you up.

 

Living debt free, or even with a surplus is obviously a better way to live, but few want to do that at any level. There are too many incentives to go into debt, not least of all the taxation of income from investment. Put tax breaks for home debt and forced low interest rates and you have the perfect combo to convince people to spend instead of save. I think absent screwed up incentives, people would save more and avoid debt.

Would the governments? Not they way they are structured now. Politicians will always have the incentive to promise people more for their votes. The only way around this is to set limits. I would like to set limits on what the government is involved in, but I would be happy with setting limits on what it can spend. Balanced budget anyone?

Debt is bad, debt is dangerous. At current levels, it will also be a big burden on the generations to come. We need to foster a culture of saving, not of debt.

Gays on TV and hypocrisy

The latest episode of Doctor Who had several references to gay characters. In both cases, they were couples, one was a married couple. Predictably, this has elicited cries of “Such ideas shouldn’t be in a children’s show!” The clear implication is that children shouldn’t be exposed to… you know, the kind of things that homosexuals do.

 

SIGH

 

The hypocrisy is sickening. Gay couples are associated with sex, so they are not appropriate for children, but heterosexual couples are about love so they are positive influences. I think that it is very much like racism in that we don’t always realize the baggage we bring to depictions of people. For many people, they get uncomfortable about homosexuals because of what they “do.” Never mind that heterosexual couples engage in the same practices…

 

Here’s the thing, kids, watching a kids show, are not going to think of that. There is nothing scarring or dangerous about showing a couple engaged in couple banter. If you think that gays just shouldn’t be shown, that’s very close to saying that they shouldn’t exist. Gay people, whether you like it or not, do exist. It’s in everyone’s interest to see them in normal relationships. Pretending that they are some sort of exotic, deviant species does nobody any favors, especially children. Maybe if more adults stopped acting like children this world would be abetter place.

More on the department of education and their weapons

Thanks to the fine people at CATO, we now know why the department of education was serving a search warrant. They, along with the 30 other inspector generals were granted full police power by the Homeland Security Act of 2002. It isn’t clear how many of those organizations have taken advantage of this law, but it will be interesting to see if the Department of Labor, The Export-Import Bank of the US, or even the Tennessee Valley Authority will be serving search warrants SWAT style. Usually I’d laugh, but none of those are more ridiculous than the department of education arming themselves and busting down doors. thank goodness the department of education is leading the way in the fight against terrorism…

Commando cops in the department of education

This report has been going around the internet today detailing how a SWAT team broke down a guy’s door, handcuffed him, threw him and his three pre-teen children into a squad car for hours at a time, all in the name of an investigation into his estranged wife who doesn’t even live there any more. The initial reports said that the raid was about unpaid student loans, the Department of education has strongly denied this, claiming that they issue 30-35 search warrants a year for investigations into bribery, fraud, and embezzlement. Why any of those things would require a SWAT team is anyone’s guess. The fact that the department of education is arming themselves isn’t in question. Here’s an order for 27 short barreled shotguns for the apparently commando organization.

 

I understand that sometimes cops have to go after armed, dangerous people. But the department of education? What possible justification do they have for arming anyone? Never mind the commando tactics, what if one of the SWAT members tripped and set off his gun? What’s the point of endangering, humiliating, and scaring little kids for a possible bribery case?

This is an easy case to complain about, but there are more and more cases like this popping up. There is a clear trend in the militarization of police, with deadly results. Check out this map to see the body count of innocents, unarmed suspects, and even policemen. It also shows unnecessary raids on doctors and sick people. I’m assuming that the vast majority of these raids involve the “war on drugs,” one more reason to decriminalize drugs. Now we have to watch out for the department of education… Lovely.

 

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ال يمن مجنون لكن مسكين

Last night, I had not one, but two friends tell me they wanted to go back to Yemen… right now. As crazy as that sounds, I do understand where they are coming from. Despite the tribalism that is starting to rip Yemen apart, there is something special about the place that makes so many westerners want to go back. As I remember, those two friends were more than a little crazy and ready to get the hell out of Yemen the last time I saw them. Another friend came and saw me three times in Yemen, each time he said it would be his last. He has been back since. An Australian came to Sana’a as part of her sweep up Eastern Africa expecting to stay 3 weeks. She was there 6 months. I was more than a little crazy by the time I left too, but I miss it.

 

I hope that whatever has been kept under wraps for 30 years can be sorted out somewhat quickly. I am dead set against any American involvement in whatever is to come in Yemen. Some say that Al Queda is too dangerous to allow them to get a foothold in Yemen. I’ll point to their fearsome success of blowing up a guys underwear and the shipping ink cartridge “bombs.” Their attempts in Yemen were pretty pathetic, the running joke was that none of their plans were coming to fruition because none of them wanted to give up their cell phone to act as a detonator. Yes, they attempted to bomb the American embassy, but they didn’t get close and only managed to kill some Yemeni troops and a single, unlucky American. Their crowning moment happened in 2000 with the attack on the Cole. Yes, Americans were killed, but the damage could have been minimized if even basic security procedures were followed. When a missile cruiser is damaged at all and deaths occur from an attack from an inflatable boat, someone fell down on the job. The Unabomber was a far more effective terrorist and yet we didn’t need a single Tomahawk missile or special ops group to get him. All of the same things that are being said about Yemen were also said about Somalia. As it turns out, a chaotic situation is not conducive to world-wide terror plots. Too much energy and time is spent on maintaining local power and influence. The crazier it is in Yemen, the less likely Queda will be able to mount any attacks at all. Even if they did, their attempts in recent memory have been laughable.

More than any of that though, I don’t want us doing anything that gives Yemenis reason to hate us. It”s bad enough that we supported Salah all these years. We have to let them figure things out on their own and find their own balance. Raining missiles down on them or attacking them will not make us the good guys. Don’t give Queda recruiting fodder. I would like to go back one day, please don’t make the US the enemy.