Friday, April 27, 2007

No cow

At the supermarket the other day I stumbled across the vitamins aisle. I'm in the market for two specific supplements, so I thought I'd at least have a look.

The first is vitamin D. It has long been believed D supplements can be beneficial for folks with MS, and the formal scientific evidence for this is mounting. I'm not looking to megadose or anything, but figure regularly suplementing my D intake would probably be a good thing.

The second thing I was looking for was flaxseed oil. I've used flaxseed in cooking before (it makes a good binding agent in baked goods), but never taken it as a supplement. The reason I would do this is because it is a very good non-animal based source of omega-3 fatty acids, another nutrient of probable benefit to MS patients. As I usually do when buying anything with ingredient lists on the bottle I turned the bottle around to read the list. This is important to do, given the pencant shown by producers for slipping animal-based ingredients in places you wouldn't necessarily expect them.

The big thing I look out for in medicine and the like is gelatin. Those gel-caps may be easy to swallow, but are often made of a substance I avoid. The ingredient list clarified what the gel-caps were made of in the product I was looking at. Sort of.

"non-bovine". OK, thanks. But that raises more questions than it answers. How about porcine? If the gel-caps are non-animal product in origin, why specify cow? Is there a big Hindu market for flaxseed supplements I don't know about? Wouldn't most folks interested in non-bovine material also want to know if pig skin is involved?

I was too confused by all this to buy anything. I'm all for full disclosure and 'say what you mean' and all, but can't figure out just what they are trying to say (beyond the obvious literal 'no cow')

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Dave and the Purple Finch OR Want some cheese with that?

Yesterday there were two birds raising a ruckus in the lot where I parked at work.

Well, it is the season when birds tend to get noisy (breeding season, ya know). No big surprise there. I didn't recognize the vocalizations, so decided I needed a visual ID.

I had trouble seeing the fine detail I would need to make a positive ID. I don't know if my trouble was related to having MS (visual problems are fairly common with the disease), but certainly felt like it was. The natural tenency is to blame MS for anything not quite right.

I'm pretty certain I was looking at a pair of Purple Finches. But not being able to make a positive ID was very frustrating.

Folks tend to underestimate the effect of little annoyances like that. The big things (like having to use a walker) are, well, BIG. Easier just to accept them. The little things, though, seem like they'd be easier to have more control over. Because they seem like they should be easy, it is stressful when they aren't. For example, the most difficult thing I do on a daily basis is put on/take off my socks. Sometimes I get so frustrated I have to just sit for a while and calm down.

By now you're probably wondering what that is about cheese up in the title. It is part of a joke. "Would you like some cheese with that whine?" Yeah, I'm whineing. Oh poor me and stuff. I'm a regular country song. Now if only I had a dog, and my dog stole my car ...

But better to whine a little about stuff that really doesn't matter than waste energy fretting over the big stuff.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Friendly advice for Ted Nugent

I don't really care for Ted Nugent. Musically, he is just not my cuppa tea. His activities outside music ... well, let's just say we don't have a lot in common. One commonality we do share is that we are both strongly opinionated and want to share our thoughts with the world. I have this blog. Ted has many venues available to him. Based on his recent item on about the Virginia Tech killings, I thought I'd share some friendly advice with him.

1) Don't hinge your conclusions on demonstrably false statements.

Ted bemoans that the 'good guys' didn't have guns. Uhh ... Ted. Look at the pictures from VT. See the SWAT team? See those long stick-like objects they are carrying? Those are GUNS, Ted. Now, I know you probably meant if the folks in the classroom were armed things may have turned out differently. There'd be something in that to discuss. But as stated, you make claims that are easily disproven.

2) Don't declare folks who disagree with you to be evil.

Even if they are, folks generally react poorly to being called evil. If your goal is hearts and minds, it is best not to turn them off to your message before it can even be considered. You want folks to consider the merits of your arguments, not feel morally questioned.

3) Don't treat the 'other side' like idiots.

I don't know how else to put this. We all know fertilizer was used in the Oklahoma City bombing. It is insulting to pretend anyone believes there is no difference between fertilizer (main usage: uhh ... fertilizing) and guns (main purpose: putting little holes in things).

So, just a little friendly advice there. Gun issues aren't really my area, so I'll leave actual discussion of these things to those who know more about the issue than I do.

Me? I'm pretty much evil according to Ted (all the tree-hugging hippy crap I do ...) But not so evil that I can't make the simple suggestions above.

Monday, April 23, 2007


The entry I intended to post tonight has been delayed because I wrote it in spare moments at work and then forgot to email it to myself so I could post it.


Friday, April 20, 2007

You Lose

Six months ago I had an incident with my car that caused me to miss several days of work. Absences are of course tracked and we are only alloted so many. No big deal. I wasn't at the point where I would get in trouble. Then I had my accident and missed a few days due to that.

I still wasn't in hot water yet. But I was very close. If I got too ill to come in or my car broke down or something it would have caused big problems (and the potential would exist for loosing my job). The situation caused an awful lot of anxiety. Needlessly I'm sure, but I still felt a big weight on my shoulders.

Meanwhile I'm trying to regain the confidence I lost in the accident. And little things kept happening - I dented my rental, the DMV threatened to revoke my licence if I didn't document that I was able to drive in spite of MS, the transmission on my car started acting up, I repeatedly overslept (but never actually ended up late)... I felt like there was some external entity trying to, if not outright steal my mobility, push me hard enough that I'd give up and surrender it.

After six months our absences 'fall off', and no longer are counted against us. Over half my absences fall off next week. I'm sitting in pretty good shape then, attendence-wise. I no longer feel like my job or my ability to get around easily is in jeopardy.

I don't really believe something out there was trying to reduce me to giving up. Proceeding as if there was gives me something to get angry at, though. It's hard to shake your fist at nothing. Much easier to vent at an imaginary personification of the situation. And, like now, you reach a point where it seems the floodwaters are receding and you can look the imaginary entity who has been playing that imaginary game square in the imaginary eye and say ...

you lose.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Daytona dissonance

Almost two months ago I watched the Daytona 500. This is the first race of the NASCAR season, and we got TWO special musical performances instead of the usual one during the pre-race. Both left me with a dissonent feeling that things just weren't right.

First up was Some Pop Country Guy. Sorry, but I didn't care enough to remember his name. What struck me about Some Pop Country Guy was how he stood while he sang. He hit a distinctive stance with one foot up on a stage monitor. I've seen that stance before. The singer was Bruce Dickenson of Iron Maiden. Was Some Country Pop Guy doing this intentionally? Was he trying to evoke Dickenson even though their respective styles are miles apart?

Second was American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson. Typical overproduced top-40, but the guitar bridge in one of the songs sounded familiar. One section the guitars were front and center, unobscured by any other instrument. At this point I figured out why the bridge sounded familiar - it was pretty much the main riff from Black Sabbath's "Iron Man". Whoa. In a top-40 pop type song. Does not compute. Smoke is coming from my ears and everything.

Daytona was, as I said, a while before this post. In general I am behind on life. For example, I just read Years Best Fantasy 2001.


You Lose tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Tired today (another benefit of having MS), so just odds and ends ....

The most recent issue of insideMS is illustrated with 3 super hero-type characters ... one with a mask remeniscent of Elongated Man (why did he even bother, given his gimmick was EVERYBODY KNEW HIS IDENTITY?) or Green Lantern, who reminds me of Liberty Belle, one who looks just like the female version of Judomaster, and one who is sort of a generic type - with a spitcurl just like Superman. If you aren't familiar with some of those heros don't be ashamed, unless one you are not familiar with is Superman. That's sort of basic cultural knowlege.

News reports on the Virginia Tech massacre led me to believe the writing the killer did in his major courses was vile and disturbing. AOL news has posted two of his plays online. What is disturbing about them is that a senior in English produced work so poorly written. If I was in a class and we workshopped them I would have difficulty finding much good to say. As far as disturbing content, they are far from pleasent but I have read MUCH more disturbing work. Life ain't all sunshine and lollypops, folks.

Not at all to trivialize events, though. From the news I was lead to believe reading his writing might shed some light on WHY. Nope.

The Minnesota chapter of the National MS Society is sponsoring a talk on humor and MS. I may go to that. Seeing the funny side certainly helps me cope.


You Lose in two days.

Monday, April 16, 2007


Our president George W Bush has done good and bad.

Bad - probably the most memorable will be avoiding imminent victory over al Qaeda by invading Iraq.

Good - hold on. I'll think of something.

But perhaps the greatest legacy of W's administration is changing the start date of daylight savings time.

I have a dozen-odd things that tell time in my apartment, and thanks to the change in DST start time most of them are incorrect. Just reset them, I know. And then at the end of the year it gets messed up again.

One reason I have things that automatically take DST into account is so that they will, you know, automatically take things into account. In one fell swoop W destroyed confidence in my time pieces.


You Lose in 4 days.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

If you struggle, you will get baked goods

The grocery store I usually shop at has a very not flat parking lot. There are loads of little hills and valleys that you don't really notice.

Unless, that is, you have questionable walking skills to begin with.

The exit of the store is particularly challenging. Between the door and the actual lot the ground is at a fairly steep angle - at least a 5 or 10 % grade. Trying to control a shopping cart going down that is always an adventure. Most trips I don't even bother and don't purchase more than I can carry without a cart. Forget about a 6 pack of pop or something equally akward.

The other day I must have really wanted that 6 pack, because I gave using a cart a go. Of course this lead to a struggle to keep said cart under control while trying to get my groceries to my car. A couple saw me struggling and offered to help.

I'm not very good at accepting charity (it makes me very uncomfortable to do so), but from a practical standpoint I could use a little assistance, so I said sure. The woman in the couple pushed the cart for me. "I'm putting a little something extra in your groceries." she said. I said she didn't have to feel obligated, but she insisted, so "Thanks" I said. I figured she was leaving me a loaf of bread or something.

And she did. As a start.

When I unpacked my groceries, I found I had been given that loaf of bread ... and a bag of minicroissants, a bag of dinner rolls, a dozen donuts, and two 3-packs of muffins.

Yikes. That's a lot of food.

The thing I like about this story (other than the muffins .... mmmmm ... muffins) is that I'm not sure why 'guy having trouble walking' adds up to 'give guy donuts', but it made her feel good to do so, and she did so in a way that left my dignity intact. Win-win situation.

I like when those happen.


You Lose in six days.

Friday, April 13, 2007


You Lose in seven days.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Widget tales

Often I find the overuse of widgets on web pages annoying. This is often a situation compounded by extremely poor graphic design. So I thought I should give everyone a look 'behind the widgets' at some of the stuff I do see fit to junk this blog up with ....


A good way to get to know a person is by the stuff they look at that they think you should take a peek at as well. The link list hereis very much a work in progress, and maybe a little misleading (I got on a sports kick...). It does however point at some of the things I'm interested in, so it at least somewhat fulfills its purpose.


I think it is genetic. My grandmother never really went anywhere but still watched the weather on the evening news religiously. I go places, which just adds to my need to know what the weather will be like. For some reason this winter I've felt that stronger than ever. I was checking out and saw the weather thingy ....


At one time I was going to use 'Dave holds up a magazine pointing to a photgraph taken early/mid 60s of a bikini-clad woman playing a Telecaster guitar' but the other day at work a fortunate accident produced the photo I'm acctually using. Here is the original:

OK, here is not the photo. Why can't I get images to upload? Anyway, the portion with me was totally incedental. Not intentional at all.
OK, this works from elsewhere. Here we try again:

Monday, April 9, 2007

Barbara Gordon is Batgirl (Barbara Gordon trilogy III)

It occured to me that some folks reading this blog might not know who Barbara Gordon is.

Barbara Gordon is Batgirl.

The original, true, unhyphenated Batgirl. She was proceeded by Kathy Kane in the early 60s (Bat-Girl, more of a Robin clone than an independant character in her own right) and has been followed by Cassandra Cain, but to most people my age (or familiar with the campy Batman TV show) Barbara Gordon is THE Batgirl.

She is also my favorite comic book character.

Many of her early appearances (her first was in 1966) are not very notable. The character was often written as Batman with boobs. Harmless fun, but hardly the pinnacle of sequential fiction.

Things got a little more serious in 1988, in the one shot Batman: The Killing Joke. In an attempt to drive Commisioner Gordon insane the Joker shoots Barbara in the spine, paralyzing her. At the time I had no idea how important that would become to me personally.

This was not the end of Barbara's crimefighting career. She resurfaced a little later as Oracle, seen only as a computer generated face. Eventually she became a sort of communication hub for the DC universe, and currently directs a small team of heroes in the book Birds of Prey. She still uses a wheelchair.

Where this really gets to me personally can be summed up with something Gail Simone said on a message board when asked who Batgirl is now.

"Barbara Gordon is Batgirl".

Not was. Is. True she doesn't put on long underwear and jump around the rooftops of Gotham anymore, but the fundamental fact of Barbara's WHO does not change because she uses a wheelchair. I'm not there (yet ... we'll see what lies in the future) but I do have fairly severe mobility problems. I personally find Barbara's story and the way it has played out ... inspirational.

Inspiration from a funny book. Who woulda thunk it?

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Gail Simone (Barbara Gordon trilogy II)

[I'm not real happy with the writing in this entry. Better to get it posted than revise it endlessly, though. For more info see the Wikipedia entry on Gail Simone, or her blog.]

When folks find out I am a comic collector inevitably one question they have (if they are interested enough to have a question) is "who is your favorite comics writer?" Thinking of writers from the golden age to the current day, right now I'd pick Gail Simone.

This is partly because she is responsible for the scene in Birds of Prey #85 discussed yesterday. If you remove this scene from consideration Gail is in the top picks, but the top spot goes to Otto Binder. Binder was responsible for many of the stories put out by the publisher Fawcett (think Captain Marvel. The SHAZAM one.) The quality level he maintained is amazing, especially given the sheer quantity of material.

There are reasons beyond the one scene to follow Gail Simone, though. For instance, she demonstrated a facility with comedy (which is a VERY VERY difficult thing) on the title Deadpool. One of the outstanding aspects of her work on Birds of Prey (and I think of BOP as her 'main' title, although she works on several) is the attention given to the relationships between the characters. Comic book writing is often treated as a lesser art, even by the writers themselves. Gail doesn't do this, a main reason her work is highly reccomended. It is unusual to find a writer who understands her characters to the extent that Gail does.

The scene described in the last post well demonstrates many of the qualities of her work. Barbara Gordon reacts in what feels to me like a very genuine manner (and true to her established characterization) to her leg movement. Likewise for her friends, family, and colleagues.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Twitch (Barbara Gordon trilogy I)

My favorite individual scene from a comic comes from Birds of Prey #85. At the end of the issue, Barbara Gordon's leg twitches.

A little explanation is probably in order. Barbara Gordon is paralyzed from the waist down.

Granted, there was some pseudo-scientific junk involved in the WHY, but the beauty of this scene is in what actually happens. The entire event could have been handled much less powerfully (and less believably), with Barbara jumping up and doing cartwheels or somesuch, but that is not what happened. Her leg twitched. That was enough. Both Barbara and those close to her celebrated the event. Often the little events in life are most significant. Barbara wasn't cured, but able to do something she couldn't earlier. Speaking as someone familiar with similar (but not quite as extreme) issues, that is many times all you can ask.

For example, a few weeks back I stood up in the middle of my living room. Big deal, right? The important thing though, is that I can't do that (usually I have to pull myself up using some sort of hand hold), yet I just up and did it one day. Of course, then I was standing in the middle of the room with no ability to go any place, but still. Small victories.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Somewhere else

The scene is the same small laboratory room we have seen before. This time the roof is open and a sleek silver rocket stands in the center of the room. Loud explosive noises can be heard over the scientist's muttering.

"Almost over now." BOOM! "Almost gone ... But your ressurection! It will live on as my greatest achievment." BOOM! "You came from ... out there. Time to go back.Proof that this world was here ..." BOOM!

The scientist shuffles off towards a small room attached to the laboratory. A rush of noise, and the room fills with flame

The scientist returns to the now empty room. He smiles.

The scene is now above a planet very like our own. As patches of red erupt on the surface pieces of crust are flung in to cold space.

They are accompanied by the shock wave of the explosion. And by a tiny silver ship, heading home.