Monday, October 14, 2019

Dribs and Drabs

I don't have much news right now, so a few links to recent internet items I enjoyed:


As well as loving the sight of a wee bear's antics (Who's been playing on my staircase?") I learned a new word: 'parkour'. For anyone else who is as out of the modern word loop as I am, here's some information about that word: https://www.britannica.com/sports/parkour.

Here's the article with a video included.

Bear Family Breaks Into Home And Cub Parkours Down The Staircase







A piece from Ian Welsh's blog might be of use to some of us - or even to all of us, in due course when, and if, things suddenly go haywire. (A general link to all of Ian Welsh's blog pages is among assorted links in the sidebar.)

Link:

https://www.ianwelsh.net/open-thread-and-preparing-for-power-outs/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+IanWelsh+%28Ian+Welsh%29







The Sartorialist has been a daily stop on my internet wanderings for many years. Recently the blog's presentation style has changed. Now we can see beaucoup street fashion instead of just one or two pieces of the master photographer's work per day. Commenting is no longer available on the blog page, but probably remains available on other parts of the net, into which I do not venture (Facebook, Instagram and suchlike).







Just a peek at the slippers I had begun knitting at the time of my previous post. They are not particularly stylish, but they are warm and good enough for keeping the tootsies comfortable while watching TV on a winter evening. Decoration will be changed when I can find something better - or try to make a couple of pom-poms to attach.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Two Needles... of the Non-Medical Variety

The photograph is evidence of what I've been doing lately to keep myself occupied, instead of regularly scribbling on the blog. I had been wondering whether I would be able to remember how to knit - even how to cast on the stitches with which to knit! In my younger years I used to knit a lot, sewed too, and embroidered. I left it all behind with the coming of a home computer, back in England. This, of course, opened the door to the internet tempting me with lots of different things to do.

A week or two ago I found a free knitting pattern on the internet for the scarf you see around my neck in the photo. I bought the recommended yarn and knitting needles online.

I had first learned how to knit in junior school, back in Hull, England - at around 6 or 7 years old. We were taught how to knit a cover for a wooden coat hanger. My Mum kept my rather clumsy cherry red effort in use, in her wardrobe, during the rest of her life. Mum was an expert Fair Isle knitter - something she had done in the evenings and nights during the long war years - so many fearful hours in Hull, waiting for the Air Raid siren; waiting more eagerly for the "All Clear!" Eventually Mum was able to add a little finesse to my basic, clunky, knitting ability. I never did reach her level of skill and patience to knit the beautiful intricate patterns of Fair Isle such as she produced. I loved wearing the oft-admired sweaters she knitted for me.

It turns out that knitting, basic knitting at least, is bit like riding a bike - one of those things you never forget how to do. With yarn and needles to hand I cast on X number of stitches with never a thought of "Now - how do I do this?"

The pattern of the scarf in the photo, said to be easy enough for beginners, was called "English Rib", though I've seen similar patterns elsewhere under different names. Hardest thing to remember, for me, was "am I on Row One or Row Two?" (of the simple 2-row pattern). After a couple of errors I got the hang of it. The scarf was finished rather quickly, thanks to thick yarn and fat needles.

I've just begun the piece of knitting I'm holding in the photograph. It is going to develop (I hope) into slippers, from a pattern available, free, in numerous places on the internet. The basic pattern is said to be "decades old", and very easy to do as the slippers are knitted flat. Pattern suggests using two strands at once of a certain type of yarn, something likely to slow me down, along with the choice of slimmer needles, but will produce more sturdy slippers. We shall see. Perhaps there'll be a photo later on, as evenings grow cooler at last, attesting to the viability of flat-knit wool-warm slippers.



A few knit-wise words from other ladies:

“Advice for New Knitters - When choosing a pattern, look for ones that have words such as "simple", "basic", and "easy". If you see the words "intriguing", "challenging", or "intricate", look elsewhere. If you happen across a pattern that says "heirloom", slowly put down the pattern and back away. "Heirloom" is knitting code for "This pattern is so difficult that you would consider death a relief".”
― Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, At Knit's End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much.
“Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn't hurt the untroubled spirit either.”
― Elizabeth Zimmerman.

“She was passionate about knitting because it allowed her to reach a state of peacefulness, and she loved to embroider because it let her express her creativity. Both activities were liberating. They allowed her to exist outside of time.”
― Laura Esquivel, Pierced by the Sun.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Grouch, Grumble, Whine....

A frustrating and tiring few days put me in a dark mood this week.

Acquiring a refill of my pain medication - a generic of the brand Norco - is becoming more difficult by the month. I obtained the paper prescription, signed in ink by my temporry oncologist, as required now by law when medications involving opioids are refilled. We took the prescription to the pharmacy we've used for the past 15 years. On being presented with the written prescription the rather unhelpful young lady at the drop-off counter told me "Sorry we can't fill that, we are getting a new wholesaler and we have none in stock. You'll have to go to another pharmacy." "Well", said I, "I could wait for a day or two, I still have a some tablets left. Would you have the medication available in a few days' time?" "No, we don't know when, or if, we'll have them". A bit fishy, that!

We drove to CVS pharmacy just across the road, to be told by a kindly young guy at their drop-off desk. "Sorry, we're all out of those tablets, people coming from the pharmacy across the road have cleaned us out. We might have some by early next week. I'd try Walgreens - not Walmart as they'd likely send you away as you're not a regular customer."

Onward to Walgreens. These pharmacy visits entail a fair amount of walking, and I, the painfully walking wounded one, was not delighted by the fact that pharmacy counters in the large stores are right at the back, farthest away from the entrances - so lots of painful steps for me. Even dosed up with the pain pills, using a quad-cane, walking far is not easy for me.

Walgreens, after checking my identity and Medicare details, seemed willing to fill my prescription. They were very busy - lines forming at the pick-up and drop-of counters all the time. They said to come back to pick up the tablets in around 45 minutes. We returned over an hour later. Medications not yet ready for me, so we decided to wait until the next day to collect - to avoid yet another trail to the back of the store that day. Later on, a phone call from the pharmacist at Walgreens told me that I would need the doctor's further authority for the number of pills required by the prescription. (I'd have thought that the prescription itself was that authority!) The doc had allowed for 8 tablets per day (for a month) instead of 6 per day. New regulations mean that extra authority from the doctor will be required for that amount of tablets. I told the pharmacist that, as I take only 6 tablets per day, could he please just fill the prescription for that amount? He agreed to do this, and changed the number of pills stated on the prescription. So, yet another trip to Walgreens the next day, though with rested legs.
At last, I had the tablets in my hot sticky hands. I say hot and sticky advisedly. It was around 95 degrees in town during these adventures, adding to my annoyance and discomfort.

I had hoped that Walgreens might deal with a different generic manufacturer than the one used by our usual pharmacy. Sadly no, that didn't happen - same generic manufacturer, who shall remain nameless. I am convinced, as are many people online, that the generic of Norco made by this particular manufacturer is not as effective as the brand medication itself, or pills made by several other generic manufacturers. It is thought, by regular users of this medication, that not long after December 2017, when panic erupted over deaths by addiction to opioids in the USA, especially in Oklahoma, the effectiveness of these tablets as pain relief medication took a nosedive. Those who had been taking the medication before and after the opioid crisis suspect that some manufacturers have adjusted make-up of these tablets, possibly by changing additional ingredients used in their manufacture. I suspect (a wild guess on my part) that the way the tablets were being used by addicts for purposes other than pain relief, may have been the reason for change. Addicts crushed the tablets. Perhaps some generic manufacturers added an ingredient to prevent easy crushing which, in turn, could also prevent proper digestion of the pain-relieving ingredients. So those of us who genuinely need pain relief go to the back of the queue, we don't matter!

Pain relief from the pills, for me, is minimal but better than nothing. Morphine at the strengths tried already brings even less relief. I'll be asking the temporary oncologist, next time I see him, if there's something else I could try. I'd buy the brand name Norco tablets, even just to try, if they weren't so ridiculously expensive - in the order of $500 + per month!

Whinge, whinge, grouch and grumble! A wheelchair beckons!

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

2020 & All That

I've written next to nothing about the presidential election due in November 2020 - too many other things on my mind, I guess. Early this year, before medical issues for a second time snatched my attention, I did take a look at the natal charts of some likely Democratic contenders, even before they had announced their candidacies. I came to the conclusion that, of those I investigated, most likely to do well according to their natal charts and upcoming planetary transits, were Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker. My posts on the topic from earlier this year can be accessed via the label cloud in the sidebar (scroll way down); just click on "presidential candidates 2020". Many moons have passed since those posts. Elizabeth Warren is, indeed, as I + her natal chart suspected, doing well in the polls - second only to Joe Biden in most of them.

I came to the conclusion, early on, that my own preferred candidate, Bernie Sanders, will not be allowed anywhere near the Democratic nomination by the DNC - nor will my other favourite candidate Tulsi Gabbard. Sad, but true. It has been said that the DNC would rather see another Trump presidency than ever countenance a US President Bernie Sanders. This - THIS - is what is so wrong about politics in the USA, and in the UK these days come to that. Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader there is equally vilified by many!


I'd not feel too badly about a president Warren with Booker as her VP, given the rest of the choices available. I shall now make Warren/Booker my prediction! I'd be surprised if Joe Biden can sustain his current lead - I rather hope not - he's just another Republican-lite in my estimation.

Of course, if I haven't shuffled off already by November 2020, I'll be 81 going on 82, and probably fixing to shuffle off before very much longer, so my feelings on this issue are somewhat irrelevant. I'd love to know how it all turns out though, and whether astrology worked well in this particular case.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

What to Write About?





Time to write something - but what to write about? Nothing has changed much since my last update, in relation to medical matters. I have found, after brief experimenting, that medical marijuana tincture - a drop under the tongue, does help to increase my appetite and decrease any feelings of nausea - side effect of my two anti-cancer medications. That's a worthwhile finding - I'd like to put back some of the weight I've lost. No more vaping the MM though, until the current findings about vaping in general are clarified as to whether nicotine or THC (part of marijuana) are involved - could even be both, I suppose. Pain-when-walking remains my main bugbear. Pain relief from my pain medication is good for a short time only, once it has kicked in. Sometimes I think the relief is improving, but not consistently, the following day can bring it back seemingly worse than ever at times. The radiation oncologist said, in regard to this, that bones are not consistent. It's something to watch and note. Perhaps the improvements will, as time goes by, last longer and longer - this is what the oncologist suspects, and I can but hope!


News on a wider scale continues, for me, to revolve around the UK's pantomime known as Brexit, and the USA's pantomime known as President Donald Trump.

Brexit news and the current doings of Prime Minister of the UK, Boris Johnson (aka Donald Trump lite), become more unbelievable by the day - even by the hour this week. I didn't believe anything could possibly make Donald Trump appear to be more presidential - but this week's doings in the UK did it for me! It took a lot though. On President Trump, there's a long-running thread at Quora asking:

https://www.quora.com/Whats-the-best-Donald-Trump-joke-you-have-heard

I read through most of the thread but found most of the jokes a tad lame. Maybe my sense of humour has been lost along with my weight! This joke was the only one that managed to raise as much as a chuckle:

Trump is doing a meet-and-greet at a crowded venue and his security detail is being extra watchful. One of them is a new guy and he’s extra jumpy.

Suddenly, a gunman bursts from the crowd, aiming his weapon at the President. Pandemonium ensues. The rookie bodyguard screams “Mickey Mouse!!!” at the top of his voice and this startles the would be assassin to the point that his aim is off and the shot goes over Trump’s head.

Some bodyguards wrestle the assailant to the ground, while others hustle the President to safety. Disaster averted.

Later, during debriefing, the head of the security detail congratulates the rookie. Without his quick thinking, he tells him, the President might very well be dead.

“But I’m puzzled” he said. “Why on earth would you yell 'Mickey Mouse'?”

“I’m new”, explained the rookie, sheepishly. “I panicked. I meant to yell 'Donald! Duck!!'”

Friday, August 30, 2019

Updated and Backdated

Quick medical update first: The oncologist and the radiation oncologist I saw earlier this week on follow-up appointments both gave me a thorough "going over", declared me good for a while longer - well, anyway until my next appointments with both I guess; that will not be for 2 months. Perhaps I'll not be shuffling off before then, barring accidents and the unexpected, fingers crossed!

The temporary stand-in oncologist advised, with regard to pills for my pain-while-walking, that I can try using a double dose of the the minimum dose extended release morphine tablets, prescribed in July by another stand-in oncologist. The pills as prescribed had had no effect on my pain, so I just didn't take them and relied on the previous pain pills I'd been using. I'm now trying this new regime, with my old pain pills available for "break-through pain". I'm still not overly impressed with the morphine, the effect so far isn't as beneficial as my usual pain pills, but maybe lasts a little longer. I shall give it a longer testing and experimenting time.



I'm not sure how much longer Learning Curve on the Ecliptic will survive, in view of the fact that I shall have to buy a new computer before January 2020. Windows 7 operating system, which I use, will no longer be supported by Microsoft after that; this old computer has a hitch in its sound system so needs replacing anyway. I'm posting much less frequently than in years past. Survival of Learning Curve, at all, will depend on how compatible I find myself with Windows 10 once I've replaced my old faithful machine and operating system.


It was around this time of year in 2006 that I first jumped into Blogger and tried my hand at blogging. For many years I posted daily, initially about astrology, later on a variety of topics. In 2015 a kind commenter suggested that I should write some posts telling a little about my life. I was wary of doing so at first as it seemed particularly self-indulgent. Ah well, a bit of navel-gazing has never hurt anyone, so I began a weekend series of posts on my own life story. By the end of the series I found that I had actually enjoyed those backward glances.

Thinks: With a bit of filling out, this post could stand for the full week ahead, so...below is a list of links to the 8 parts of that self-indulgent story of my life mentioned above. Any stray passing reader might be brave enough to sample an episode - or two - or perhaps just take a look at the pictures.

Self Indulgence - episode 1
Self Indulgence - episode 2
Self Indulgence - episode 3
Self Indulgence - episode 4
Self Indulgence - episode 5
Self Indulgence - episode 6
Self Indulgence - episode 7
Self Indulgence - episode 8