Monday, November 29, 2010

dependant, fatigued, helpless....ick, this is me?

I narrate the medical aspects of this blog, in general, to give others a picture of what occurs: the hundreds of tests, the strange conversations, the interaction of the medical system, neurological and chronic aspects. I’ve not wanted to turn this into the equivalent of the Weather Network of my Health (“There is a fatigue storm front coming down from the decision to sort my tuba collection yesterday and will likely be staying for several days”).

The difficulty is that my not so great health affects me more and more and there are days, strung together where I ‘deal’ with stuff and then just sit or lie there recovering. And since a blog post takes focus and energy and about 4 hours, that is challenging me. Am I worse? Since I don’t remember a lot, I don’t know. In THIS now, I am worse with a lot of fatigue, but also (due to the patch) less pain. I am hoping this isn’t the time where I sit still and try to survive, going dark often in communication. But since right now I just don’t have the energy or rebound to be able to comment or write back, that is how it seems to be (solutions, anyone?). For example, it has been a while (many weeks?) since I am able to read the mail that comes for me, as my voice gives out, and it fatigues the brain so much to access the verbal links. So I lie or lean back while it is read to me. Maybe this isn’t how you want to think of me, I know it is not how I like to think of myself. That is not saying I don’t love getting post, I do, I just run out of lung and diaphragm strength to read it aloud.

I’m not dead, I’m hanging in there and hoping for good days to finish the blog post I have 2/3rds done. But as Linda getting very ill yesterday demonstrated, the amount I can care for myself is extremely limited at this point. Tasks I can do by myself: go to bathroom (sometimes even get off toilet), recline and breathe (most of the time, except the breathing needs help), put DVD into computer and push play, type a little, pick up a drink bottle (about 70% of the day, and most days, but some days need help with that), eat if food is brought to me, read (except when one eye is wonky or both, or the material is too difficult).

I get 1-3 hours twice a day when I have higher energy, then it all goes. If I did something hard and strenuous that morning or the day before or the day before that, then it will just be low energy (head-rest, and arm supports). Thursday I woke LATE to go to boxing so I could do 100 push ups and 125 sit ups, and heavy bag work. I sweated. It was first time in two weeks I was strong enough to go to boxing.

I’m not ready for this ride to come to a full and complete stop, but it sure does seem to be slowing down. I guess the blogging daily thing is out.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Victoria Snow Day! Bus accidents and Linda blown home

Snow Day! The AVERAGE temperature for this day over the last 30 years is 8 degrees C (50’s), but it is blowing snow hard, accidents abound, it is with wind, a temp of –17 C., and the library as well as most offices have closed early. It is an official ‘snow day’ and not the kind of NICE snow days I remember as a kid.
I remember snow days where lots of snow fell and the snow plows couldn’t plow all the roads so school was cancelled. I don't remember THIS kind, where the roads were snowed over in an hour, then frozen by the wind while the wind blew light cars and trucks into the oncoming lanes and traffic.

Here is a Victoria Transit Bus which slid backwards downhill causing a 12 car pileup (weather network: you think I wheeled out to verify?).This is one of the hazards of working in Transit, that regardless of weather, you don’t show up for work, you don’t get paid AND you get a mark on your record. But then, since Victoria is essentially a mountain top which sticks out of the sea, almost all routes have hills, and some very severe hill slopes (particularly near the university). On an icy road, it is impossible, particularly with a double decker bus to make it up the top of the hill, regardless that the number 14 and number 11 are the two most common bus routes. A crash is a suspension as is flipping over a bus (which happened last time it snowed like this here, I saw the bus).

Linda and I had planned to go to the library as I wanted to go wheeling. Linda told me when giving me my pills that there was no point, as it was snowing and she went at 2:00. So here is Victoria a month ago, and the 'good sun days', while here is poor Linda by the time she got towards the library: the major road she was on had disappeared under the white. And while there the library announced it was closing due to snow. Since to get to the library I have to go up and then down a hill, wheeling there is a worry. Going up is not the worry (if possible) so much as the short and steep hill near home, as little skinny wheels can make a great sled downhill, with just about as much control and yelling as I had when flying toward the road on a sled as a kid.

I was up late today due to a 3.5 hour nap to try and make up for the lack of sleep on the weekend when I did postcards. I had tried to ‘push’ my body by shaving hours of sleep and working mostly through the night. It seems that the pain may be under control but not my health as what I could do previous, I cannot do now: I had a seizure and was paralyzed for a while and had to sleep and try again in the morning. But we did get 71 postcards done, and with the 39 done last week that makes for 110 postcards in two weeks.Postcards in winter are a good thing (summer for those down under).

This weekend was all postcards, but last weekend we had gone to the Award Winning carver of soap, often written up in newspapers, as she has a two weekend Xmas sale. She had her usual lemons, pears and Asian pears but also some Xmas tangerines as well. Plus she sells bars of her all-natural soap in blackberry, kiwi-lime and a host of other delightful scents (the blackberry sells out quickly while the kiwi-lime is very addictive, Linda got us both). She carves the clams and seashells of the seashore we are used to seeing, as both soap carvings and right into her bars of soap. And because she lets me come early, so I avoid blocking the whole Xmas house she has made, I was able to get one of the carved vellum books, with a seashell in the cover, all carved from soap. I am a bibliophile, even when it is soap, all things books related make me hum. I also got one of her ‘mini fruit’ samplers, which have a mini pear, lemon and tangerine all in one as they smell lush and look great.The soap sampler makes a great Xmas present for putting by the bathroom. I estimated that the sampler and the carved vellum books (of which there were only four) would go quickly, and not be seen until next year (not that I am a 'hoarder' or the like). I have done most of my shopping for Xmas presents, I just need to be able to arrange to mail them out now.

I can see why many Canadians go south for the winter, particularly if this very atypical weather continues. While many would blame global warming, I prefer to use the ‘buzz phrase’ from 10 or 15 years ago and blame ‘El Nino’ which, if flowers turned out smaller or the plums were lopsided, everyone would go, “El Nino!” which made no sense to me then or now. Global Warming makes more sense to me, but since it involves several hundred million people dying, I prefer to live in a fantasy about that; though with wheeling, and my cycling and running before that, I actually clean the air by sucking all that smog into my lungs and breathing out clean carbon dioxide. If I could stick a tree in the backpack of my wheelchair, I think we would have an oxygen balance….if I could ever wheel anywhere with a tree attached to my wheelchair.

Good day for staying inside and watching the snowwhile holding some mulled wine, going to use that mulled wine mix we picked up in Chatto’s in Pasadena (Linda made us a cup of red mulled wine last night with it and it was Yum!). And hopefully it will soon return to the 'kind and feathery' snow that is associated with 'white Xmas', cat girls and Robert Frost poems as opposed to 'The Cremation of Sam MeGee' style snow, which is blowing in our window cracks now.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Incendiary Monomania and 'Nuked by Nice'

I have been working a bit on my book. It involves fire. So I read my books on fire. And about firejumpers, and arson, and Waterbombers. As a worker said after I talked for five minutes about how wonderful forest fires were, “You like fire a bit, don’t you?”

Do I tell her how my grandfather taught me how to make fires over two stories tall? How to make them hotter, to create 'Chimney's of air flow'? Naw, leave that for next visit, “Er…yes. I have a bit of ‘pathological fire-setting’, now I don't have 'Pyromania' you understand." Make the 'me nice and not dangerous smile', "See, I prefer the 19th century term, ‘Incendiary Monomania’”

Worker: “Mono…wha?”

Elizabeth: “Monomania, you know, times of total and utter fixation upon that beautiful flame, which really only wants to live and reproduce and just because it happens to want to consume every thing on the planet doesn’t make it ‘bad’ just...hungry.”
Worker: “Eh….er……”

Oh dear, oh dear, they don’t look reassured by my calm logical explanation. I tell them, “Don’t worry, Linda doesn’t let me have matches anymore, or even let me set myself on fire.”

Worker: “Yourself….ON fire..” Their face manages to make it look as if they are backing away even though they have no where to go.

I talk in that ‘trying to talk very fast so they don’t call the police or run and hide’, “Well, there are many substances which burn at less than 98 degrees.”

Worker: “Ahhh!”

“Yes, the important thing is not to Oxidize the fire by moving your arm around a lot when it is on fire, yes, that is bad. Also hair burns at far less than 98 degrees, as do hair bangs, and eyebrows.”

Worker: “Yeah, I think I need to go wash some dishes.”

The important thing is to remember: 1) lots of safety precautions and 2) don’t ever say, “Don’t worry, there’s no way this could get out of control….”
And if you end up looking like Hello Kitty here, then maybe it is time to seek professional help.
At the postcard project yesterday, I got NUKED by nice. Love Bomb asks people once a week to spend five minutes to leave a comment online with a person who is doing good, needing some cheering up, or could use some love. I think it is a brilliant idea so I joined. Confirm your email and they send it right to your inbox. They do the ‘bomb’ on Friday, and I encourage people to sign up: it is part of ‘It Starts With Us’. I figure that since ‘Love Bomb’ do the heavy lifting of finding someone to reach out to, I can certainly spend five minutes to help remind a person that they matter and what they do matters. Plus, I get to part of an organization that is ‘going to TAKE OVER THE WORLD!’......I mean, ‘change the world’ – Linda says I watched WAY too much 'Pinky and the Brain.'

Still, seems the right way to end the week.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Burma VJ: underground journalism in a Saffron Revolution

The forbidden name, one which will get you 12 years in jail? No, not Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Award laureate and winner of the 1990 Elections with 80% of the vote (the only elections in 20+ years until last week). Winning the election against the Junta Generals got her arrested, and 20 years of house arrest. But, the name which is feared the most: Rambo. Yes, Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo.When Health Care workers and 500 medics from the Mae Tao Clinic secretly hike jungles to villages to treat amputees from land mines, teach women how to delivery babies and do operations they take with them the most banned movie in Burma, Rambo IV.

“You wanna die for something, or live for nothing?” is Rambo’s catchphrase in the film and one you hear a lot from those who go on the six month missions of health care from Thailand into Burma where 1 in 12 women die in childbirth and 1 in 3 children die before age five. Mae Tao Clinic was set up after the 1988 protest clamp-down. Rambo IV is set in Burma, and avidly watched by villagers on portable screens brought in by medics, which shows a big name action hero fighting back against the brutality of the Junta Generals on the Burmese people (of course Rambo is there to save the WHITE careworker, but hey…). Generals don’t take criticism well. These medics are now seen as ‘enemies’ of the state and are regularly shot, wounded or killed on treks, trips in and out and if found in villages. They have treated 800,000.

I watched Burma VJ, a documentary on high risk journalism taking place in Burma to keep a media voice alive. For me, I have been fevered and out of it, off and on, realizing that my ability to control my body and energy are beyond me. So much for my hopes of daily blogging, but I still hope for three times a week, but right now must, like a sailboat in a storm, go with where I am blown, looking for the times of calm. I give what bits of me I can, as much as I can.I haven't given up.

In Burma VJ (video journalism), which has won over 40 awards, the DVD is centered around Rangoon, it tells the story of how for 19 years, since the 1988 uprising, there has been no large demonstration. The 1988 demonstration uprisings against the Generals was joined by all of society including police but ended when the Army opened fire in deliberate and systematic attacks, killing over 3000 civilians. Now, with secret police everywhere, getting anyone to talk politics is impossible due to a belief that they will ‘noted’ and taken away in the dead of night, or attacked there and wrestled into the back of a truck. Having a camera is dangerous and filming on digital camcorders have to be done from hiding in the armpit or in a bag. ‘Joshua’ and his mentor has a group of journalists who film and then upload by satellite to Sweden, or smuggle it over the border to Thailand for editing and rebroadcasting back into Burma: DFB The Democratic Voice of Burma.

Joshua covers protests in 2007, done by committed individuals who know they might have at most 4-5 minutes before their banner is destroyed and they arrested. Protests increase when the Generals double the price of petrol/gas in a single day. One brave activist woman comes, surrounded by male friends, who link around her to resist the secret police. Single voices speaking up for those who dare not. Joshua follows too close and his camera is seen. He is taken to the police station where his camera is seized and he is released, to try to get him to lead them to others. Joshua has to leave Burma, setting up a remote headquarters on the border to co-ordinate placing photojournalist and editing footage. His reporters have the secret headquarters, plus a series of safe houses, and a connection of cell phones.

Suddenly the individual protests get a giant boost as the Buddhist monks appear in crimson and saffron, marching barefoot and with bowls upside down, to say they will take no rice from the Generals. The monks, all 400,000 have gone on strike, as they feel the government is hurting the people, and the religion, spurred by the beating of monks in a rural town. They want an apology from the government.

Monks are sacred, and in appearing, they are untouchable, as they are the only group so large that the government is scared of them. And the line of monks goes as far as can be seen, walking while the people applaud. Joshua is in telephone conversations with the Monk leaders in what will be known as the ‘Saffron Revolution’. DFB journalists approach the monks, but they are turned away in belief they are secret police. But in that exact moment, the secret police, hearing a DFB journalist identify himself, attack. The monks, immediately defend, linking in non-violent shields to protect the journalist. From that point on, the monks and DFB work together. This 2007 uprising gets larger day by day until the monks, a huge column of them, march to the house where Aung San Suu Kyi is guarded by layers of guards, roadblocks and army to stop anyone from seeing her, under ‘house arrest’. She greets the monks at the door and DFB records and transmits: Burma gets to see the first image of the ‘heart’ of Burma in years. Change will happen? Suddenly the video shot by DFB is the only footage of this remarkable revolution.

The government waits, but then decides to target the monks, and as things start to turn ugly, the journalist who have been with them are targeted (Soldiers shout, "Find the Cameras!"). Abruptly all internet in and out of Burma is cut. A curfew is imposed along in an announcement that night from speakers on telephone poles. Plus, the city is told, it is now illegal for five people to meet or be together in any one place. Will the monks come the next day? Will this stop the protests? DFB, with the satellite link, still broadcasts images and footage, running on CNN, BBC, and other international agencies. This is underground journalism: the years of training to take footage learned from Thailand journalists, Joshua spreads out photojournalists around an event to get footage in case one or two of them is caught, and the images get out. At the secret headquarters they watch the videos of a dead monk upload to the satellite, hoping it gets out before the government traces the signal, or raids them.

If you want the whole story, first hand of the Saffron Uprising and the coverage of it (including interviews with monks in the extras) you need to rent or buy the DVD (it has only grossed just over $130,000). But toward the end Joshua is heading covertly into the mountains of Burma to walk secretly all the way back to Rangoon, to rebuild DFB.

DFB is still here, with footage of Aung San Suu Kyi release last week AFTER the Elections where the military government’s created party won the majority of the votes (surprise!), with monitoring from ambassadors from North Korea. Many, many accounts of villages where the army coming in, telling the elder to have everyone turn out for ‘voting’, the names written down and then the army leaves without the villagers being asked who they want to vote for.

In an odd sidebar, Suu Kyi was a week from serving her full sentence and release in 2008 when an American citizen, a Christian, swam the lake to approach and entered the house from the water saying ‘He had been sent by God.” The military used this as an excuse to add 18 months to her sentence. So please, no more missions from God okay?

I wondered, “How does a Government employ SO many secret agents, plainclothes agents, police and military?” Answer: Oil, Natural Gas and China. Much like the USA vetoes any sanctions or actions passed in the United Nations against certain favorite countries, China does the same for Burma. For the citizen in Burma they can’t understand why the United Nations doesn’t come in, after more than 23 years. Natural Gas counts for half of Burma’s exports, most to China, also oil drilling and pumping occur with a host of countries including North Korea, China, and Australia and companies like Chevron.

I recommend Burma VJ, the documentary even if you have no interest in Burma’s politics or history simply to see how to organize an effective alternative media under the most oppressive situations (five people gathering is illegal?). For now, the government has said today that complaints against the elections is a 3 year prison sentence. The journalists caught all get life sentences, as there is no greater crime than filming what goes on. This obviously makes Burma a poor tourism attraction. Watch the DVD just to see some acts of incredible journalism, as one photojournalist barely escaping death multiple times in a day, being targeted by solders but continuing to bob up from behind a wall to get a few seconds of films. Filming behind a bush as the the trucks arrive and the soldiers pour out. In one case, a journalist calls from inside a ‘trap’ (a group of protestors surrounded by army with guns), his camera gone, he begs Joshua to record his verbal narration which occurs with screams and shots in the background until the phone suddenly cuts off.

“Better to die for something than live for nothing.”

Friday, November 12, 2010

My ticket out of 'Pain World'

I have heard of this strange and wondrous place filled with colour, motion, and all sorts of complex variations: I think they call it, ‘outside’. I want to visit there sometime soon!

I have been offline, working through some drug reactions of my new medications. One is for Edema and the other for pain. It seems I kinda have a GP, but like a long distance love affair, we can only see each other for short periods every couple weeks. And we both have several years to catch up on. I thought if he didn’t drop me by the third meeting, then, next meeting, I would finally stop feeling ill and not sleeping the night before going to see him (is that 'love' or 'trauma triggers'?)

I played it cool and waited at least sixty seconds maybe even seventy before asking, “So, you’ve read my file, do you think I’m a nut case?”

I like to start subtle and then slowly work towards what I want to know.

He had to leave early, and we weren’t really understanding each other as he was asking about ‘Why not see this person?” Because many doctors have done the ‘its your fault’ or ‘I can’t do anything’ route I thought he was thinking I had the disease that person specialized in. But instead, he had specialist who didn’t seem to have much concrete info, and if a name showed up in the file, he wanted to know if we had gone and where the report was. Locally he is pretty hooked up, but also realizes that there are few doctors and so his questions were about ‘Where can I refer you to get some treatment instead of being handed off?”

Since I had never had a GP who thought that way, I thought we were back at ‘I need to find the exact disease or I don’t treat at all’ that so many GP’s (about 15) have had. That’s even what they say when they turn me down with “I haven’t treated this disease.”

So I asked, “Do you think I have a disease?” (I know, I am there with $30,000 in medical equipment because I have odd hobbies?)

Yes. Later he said, “You have a rare disease so it may be a problem to find someone.” The impression was that he wanted to find someone to oversee as a specialist, to administer treatment, not test. I thought we wanted proof, so I talked science. But no, he didn’t want to talk about nerve conduction comparisons, or blood tests, but about who would give treatment. I though the ‘dancing doctor’ we saw in the ER the night I had the bad seizure cycle might. He knew him, he said he will refer me, even though the neurologist is retired.

He wanted to know the issues. Was the pain control enough? I had the patch for two weeks and it wasn’t enough, so we went to two. That was better but not enough. So now I am three of the three day patches of Fentynal. Linda explained how two patches weren’t enough. I was saying it was a LOT better, “I don’t wake up with my teeth clenched, and have them clenched all day, I don’t have to do this…” and showed him the hunched over position, fists balled and shaking a little that I can be in for up to two hours. When I talk he looked at me, and smiled a little about the teeth clenching, and nodded.

He listened to Linda and I for a couple minutes, believed what we said and increased the dose of a regulated narcotic.

He didn’t: Turn to Linda to ask if I was telling the truth (most specialist and doctors), say that maybe I should see a pain specialist (in nine months), nod and do nothing, ask me what illegal drugs I take (most GP’s I’ve had), give me an HIV and Hep-C test (most GP’s, sometimes monthly). He believed. He got it.

Pain makes the world into 'Pain World' which looks like a very different place. In pain world having fishing hooks dug into the bone, spikes and barbed wire turned inward are just part of breathing: having someone put a machete into your spine or spears in your joints simply means it is afternoon. He understood, better than I, how much I needed out of 'Pain World'.

I think that he works almost exclusively with palliative patients helps him understand what pain can do. He never saw me or treated me as an addict or having a mental problem. I had physical problems and he was going to help fix those, a little at a time while he arranged for treatment and assessment of my condition to improve quality of life and prolong life. His attitude seems to be: Okay, you're ill,really ill, so what do we do to improve your life?

He’s seen the results and he gets that other specialist wouldn’t have experience with it, and nodded when we told him other GP’s said, “I just don’t know what to do.” And dropped me as a patient. He said that I have a very rare disease and we have to hope there is someone who can help. He said that it may come down to the Mayo Clinic. He was serious. I said, “I don’t think that will be funded by BC medical.” He knows Linda is unemployed and he is going to try to get some of our pain pills under ‘Pharmacare’ but said, with the weary voice of someone who had done it far too many times, “I send it in, they send it back, it takes hours, but yes, we have to try.” A Doctor who was leaving us to go do a house call, who cares.

I have some renewals, new patches and a new medication which is making me dizzy and nauseous, which keeps me staying still or in bed a bit more. Over time, it is meant to take off the edema. He didn’t question, he just wrote the prescription. As Linda said later, “He works with terminal patients…he’s seen lots of Edema.”

Plus, with my new found ‘less pain’ I have been sleeping for the first time in a long time, right through the night. First eight hour sleep in years maybe, not woken by the pain that brings me to semi-consciousness, then full consciousness at least three times a night. The down side is the ‘patch’ is different for each person and mine seems to run out on day three (when I DID wake this morning with my teeth clenched). I think having such a high resting heart rate (now usually around 100-105 beats per minute) might be accelerating the absorbing of the pain medication.

Emotionally, I am still scared: can’t quite let myself hope entirely, commit emotionally, so I am stuck waiting. Yes, he has done more to improve my life in six weeks than all the doctors in the last two years. But, I am wanting to believe in him, awaiting some sort of ‘normal’ where I just go see him on routine visits and refills, and I get treatment and we have some sort of progression evaluation. But I’ve been dropped so often, after believing in so many, it is hard to totally commit (“Next time,” I tell myself, “If he talks about longer term treatment plans then ‘next time’ I will start telling people I have a GP again.”)

Also with the decreased pain, I have been pushing myself, and did that too much over the weekend, stealing sleep and working hard, using the pain free state to push on until my body just collapsed. When that is how I end up taking my nap three days in a row, I think, “Maybe I should stick to my schedule instead….”

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Aussie/Oz: Necropolis & 1922 Qantas, Canadian Waterbombers, Ghibli Totoro Catbus and other wonders

Make a run for the fun! Yes, it is a Totoro taking off with a sack of acorns: those cute totoro, you can’t help but chase them. More on the fun Totoro’s later!

Thank you to the person who sent me a modern day postcard of Necropolis Station, later known as Mortuary Station, outside of Sidney.This was a train station in marble, carvings, gargoyles, stained glass windows and a bell tower for tolling the dead AND for announcing time to departure mentioned in the blog post “Necropolis: A tale of two Victorian cities”. After the war it was sold from the Sydney Necropolis (still open for business if you wish to be part of the largest Victorian graveyard city in the world) and sent by truck to Canberra where it opened as the All Saints Church in 1958. Here is the 'modern' postcard.It shows, like a bouquet of roses, that Terminus is developing a nice little cemetery of its own in Canberra.

Not only that, Linda found this 1922 postcard from Qantas, Australia’s oldest airline and the world’s second oldest continuous airline. Founded in 1920, the first aircraft was a Avro 504K which carried post, 1 pilot and 2 passengers. According to Wilkepedia, no new planes until 1926, so I went to Qantas directly, because I have an Armstrong Whitworth FK8 from 1922. Qantas took 871 passengers in two planes from 1920-1922, in the Avro 504K and a BE2E both war surplus planes which took a bit of maintaining (pieces would fly off mid-flight but 54,000 km were logged without incident by end of 1921). The Armstrong Whitworth is mentioned here at Quantas, where it was used on the NEW mail service from Charleville to Cloncurry. The AW FK8 carried pilot, THREE passengers and post going 70 mph. Except on the inaqural day, after three attempts, it couldn’t take off, and was found the revs were 50 down, just enough not to take off. So the G-Aude (pictured in the postcard above) was pulled out, it had opened the service the previous day, Nov 1, 1922. I think they had it in the shop for maintenance from yesterday’s flight of the same route. But on NOV 2, with the first paying passenger, some plane needed to get off the ground NOW. Let me know in comments or email if you want this postcard as it IS for the postcard project, and if you like it, it is going sent out to you!

Thanks to Aviatrix (who is now in Cambodia, making life better by building houses), I have a greater interest in finding rare airplane postcards. Like Linda’s find when I was ill: the world’s LARGEST operational flying boat, the Mars Martin (still in production), which seems to be based in my home town, Victoria. Originally the ‘big four’ they were bombers before being sold after 87,000 hours of flying and used for firefighting. Now the Hawaii Mars (bottom drop) and the Philippine Mars, side drop, continue in Canada to fight the dozens to hundreds of fires in BC and in other parts of Canada and the US. In her post on the Clipper Ship card I got her, she invited her readers to request postcards from me. And I would expand that to anyone who is interested in airplanes, whether a pilot or a lover or old or rare planes. Just email me (mpshiel@hotmail.com) and let me know the type of planes, trains, auto postcards you would like. I have two of the Mars Martin (and Linda is trying to find a couple more, so please ask email and ask for one! FREE!). The Mars Martin is an amazing plane, using 4 propellers and in coming down for a landing but keeping the speed at 70 knots, the two scoops below will suck up 7,200 US gallons of water (more than 1 ton a second) in 25 seconds. Due to the added weight, it is a practiced art to keep the Mars Martin at 70 knots, and take off with 7,200 US gallons of water and 600 gallons of foam concentrate. The foam concentrate allows for 21 ‘runs’ of precision drops low over trees (this postcard can be yours!) and then water pick-ups, each ‘run’ takes in total 15 minutes for a full drop, and reload, and ready to drop again. Here you can see a Mars Martin reloading the 7,200 US gallons of water (45 accident free years!)


Cool!

I also have a postcard of the Canadian Golden Hawks (the flight group before the snowbirds) and it will be sent to anyone who loves airshows and precision flying. So honestly, please let me know. Help me because I have these cool postcards and I want to get them to the people who are interested in them. So if you are interested, don't think 'Oh, I'm sure someone else will want it', just say, "Hey me, okay?" because you would be doing me a FAVOR. If two people want the same postcard, I will try to find another of it, or like it. Let me worry about that!

I also have some retro and rare car postcards, from the Cadillac to 1913 Electric cars and this Pierce Arrow postcard here,showing that yes, life is better, indeed, life seems to be better with a Pierce Arrow. I will admit the woman in the chair looks like she is saying, “Thanks Irene, that was a GREAT series of orgasms, I am just going to feel the glow.” While Irene, who is a Butch in the Sheets, is offering her tea with THAT smile of intimacy before the Pierce Arrow takes her home. I think that is called having ‘Lesbian Goggles’. All these can be yours!

But for those who like their women Noir, Hard Boiled heroines, there is a bunch of Femme Fatales postcardsI got them in recently and would LOVE to send them good home (or a 'naughty' one!) – just let me know.

Oh, and for those who Love the ocean, and the interaction of water and light, there is a series called Water Light Time. The book is out of print and costs $150, but they made some postcards (also out of print) and so if you love the sea, let me know so I can send them to you.

I like giving gifts. And thank you for those who send postcards and gifts, I think you know the joy that giving can bring. Sure these postcards may be a bit rare but what? I am going to save them for retirement? I asked Linda if she thought even if we got a different diagnosis, I was going to live a LONG time (like 4-5 years). Nope. So please, while I still have some energy, and I have these beautiful things to give away, lets get at it.

I like beautiful things too, that’s what my wishlist is about. It has everything from Ghibli’s Kiki stamps to put on postcards, to the series Lie to Me season 2 (finally out on DVD!).I did some research and found out why I like Lie to Me so much. The two writers (a female pair that write together) who wrote for Joss Whedon, and wrong the last seasons of Angel as well as Dollhouse Season 1 were pulled and put on Lie to Me instead of writing Dollhouse season 2. That’s because when Fox brought them in they told Joss they had got him the writers, but unlike the actors who were under Joss’ production company, Fox had signed the contract with the writers. So they renewed season 2 of Dollhouse but pulled the writers to create Lie to Me. I like these women writer (much like the woman who wrote Life, and the one who wrote Mercy – women writers seem to ‘click’ with me), they are intellectual but also emotionally challenging.

As for Linda, I work to get her stuff. Psssst! Don’t tell Linda but I recently ordered this amazingly adorable music box from Japan for her.It is from the Ghibli Studio’s film Kiki’s Delivery Service about a young witch who must learn away from home and stays with a family bakery while she learns to fly and does her delivery service. Here she is filling in on a slow day, a bit bored with her ‘familiar’, a cat called Jiji, who talks (if you haven’t seen the movie, please do! It has a Zepplin in it!).So please don’t tell her, I want it to be a surprise. Cool though.

I spent yesterday, when I wasn’t at the doctors working on people’s presents. Linda said last year I sent out loads of presents but didn’t get much connection in terms of Winter or Solstice gifts. And with us having two NEW medications to pay for (more on that tomorrow), she wants me to keep it simple. So I am trying to give out really cool postcards as gifts to START with. But I won’t know who to send what postcard to unless you tell me, okay?

On the wishlist, I also put books of animals up close (I got her Polar Obsessions book for helping with Ebay, she loved it – the guy has the only close pictures of Narwhales, plus he was taken under the wing of a mother sealion, who kept trying to feed him dead penquins), and romances. She has a new book on caregiving as I am getting weaker. I put up some Hello Kitty special wooden chopsticks, the new Pop Picture book (I like people to read to me when I go neuroblind or look at pictures when I lose language). But also a manga on BURMA (yes, Burma manga!) called Burma Chronicles. The manga, high rated and awards, is a story over time of the people of Burma observed from a husband who draws while his wife works there with Doctors without Bordersit is about $10-13. What amazes me, is while I have a hard time leaving the apartment I can still learn about the world! So I think if you want a glimpse into Burmese culture and life as it changes under the regime, as I do, this is one manga to get! Plus there is a manga about the Canadian North by a famous Japanese artist (what do they think of moose?), and The Next Continent, a story of Japan moving forward to making a moon base (I SO would love this, wouldn't you?): Japanese Science Fiction – I love it. Also on the wish list is a non-fiction book of stories by a psychologist, much like Oliver Sacks, a book I hope will help me understand some of my childhood, called: the boy who was raised as a dog – about childhood trauma. I was trained as a dog, which drew me to this, leg taps to heel, whistles to come, to walk 3 paces ahead, to be silent and on point. You may think it odd, but it is my memory and life. Recognizing yourself as property, as a thing to be used and what can come from that, in term of how you are treated and view yourself is hard. It isn't low self esteem, it is the knowledge that rebelling would probably result in being put down (Is this true? Probably not, but if a person is treated like a dog, and the dog is too much of a burden and put down, what does the child think they have to do to survive?). I want to read these stories and see.

A lighter note - Thank you, thank you to the person who sent the Skelanimal blanket. I can now wash my other one! And I LOVE it. I used it to keep me from getting frostbite yesterday as I took Indy to the Doctors and back. With the rigid suspension, Indy does far better than I on these horrid curb cuts (think of a stack of egg crates going to the doctor and comes back….mush). Wham, Bam, I am a pinball getting slammed back and forth and someone up there is happy I am racking up ‘bumper points’. And BOO to Linda to pointed to my leg and suddenly with intensity asked, "Is that a SNAKE?!" (God, to be unable to move limbs and have her do that!) It turns out she wanted to know if that was a skelanimal snake or not. I begged her, "Don't DOOOOOO that!"

Finally, something SOOOO cute and cool I had to show you for YOUR gift list. First is a set of Totoro puzzles. There are four, come in a special holder and they go from 15 pieces up to 80,so as your child improves and grows, so does the complexity. It is pretty reasonable ($39.95) on Amazon, imported from Japan. Adult puzzles from Totoro, Kiki and Laputa are about $12-18. But the best was kept until last: a CAT BUS. And not just a cat bus, but a cat bus with Totoro passengers! How 'too cool for school' is that?There is a large grey, a ghost white and a tiny white that is sewn into the door. You (or a child) can put the totoro’s or anything into the cat bus to give them a ride. The two smaller ones are connected by string, so they can’t get lost. This is the medium size, and there is a small size – but only one of each, so if you know a child who loves Totoro (and the only children who don’t need to see the film, My Neighbor Totoro!), here is the ultimate toy.

Tomorrow, I will talk about the dull stuff like pills and stuff, but today is for gifts, and stories. I hope you saw something you like (if so, let me know) or saw something you might like to get someone. Giving is fun, honest.

And remember, don’t tell Linda about the music box!