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:

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.)


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:

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

Monday, August 26, 2019

Tardy Update-ish

Well....I guess it's time I posted an update here, but there's not much to report at present. Perhaps after Wednesday I'll have news worth recording, after two medical appointments - follow-ups. These will be mainly in relation to issues following my radiation course a few weeks ago, and checking state of blood after several weeks on the Ibrance medication - those expensive pills for which, amazingly, I haven't yet had to pay anything out of pocket.

Medical marijuana news: I've decided to stay off it for a few days. I hadn't been taking much anyway - a drop of tincture once or twice a day. The sleepiness, my only consistently noticeable effect from MM, has been increasing daily, along with a general feeling of being "not quite with it". Up with that I will not put! No MM today, and already I feel slightly less doped-up. There were a couple of tries at vaping a few days ago, no more of that until I read more of recent reports that vaping (not sure if re nicotine or marijuana) has been causing some kind of lung disease.

Cartoons below came from my oldest (in both senses) friend in the UK - she was born a week after yours truly.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Medical Update MM-Wise

YAY!! I received my Medical Marijuana card on Saturday! We visited a dispensary, bought some tincture, a gummie and a plastic straw filled with "High Honey", as my first-time try-outs. I tried the last-mentioned on Saturday evening - no effect! I did fall asleep in front of TV late evening - but I do that most evenings anyway. This morning I tried a couple of small drops of the tincture (under the tongue), which haven't done anything so far. Finding the right stuff for my needs, and the right doses, will take time. Everyone is so different, useful advice can't really be offered. I'm looking for help with my pain-when-walking and occasional nausea and loss of appetite. Experimentation is recommended, always starting with lowest dose. The woman in the dispensary said to even cut the gummie into 4 and take a quarter only at first - I'll experiment with that later. We shall visit another dispensary, to buy the necessary equipment to do "vaping", the dispensary we visited on Saturday was out of stock. I really do not fancy smoking the stuff, vapor seems like the next best thing.

The past week saw irradiated skin around my chest and under-arm areas peeling away, leaving one painfully awkward raw place under-arm requiring a dressing. I had to seek assistance and advice from a nurse. Glad to say that, with husband's assistance with the dressing, it's now much less raw and improving daily.

Friday, August 02, 2019

Frustration Station (Medical Update)

The blog has been silent for a week. It was a week filled with annoyance and frustrations initiated by our visit last Saturday - as mentioned in the second paragraph of my previous post, above. That appointment, at a local Medical Marijuana dispensary, did not work out at all as expected! Rather than bore the underwear off any stray reader, I'll try to nutshell the tale, but it isn't easy to tell briefly. This could well ramble on.

I, allegedly, had the last appointment of the day at a local dispensary where I had assumed a doctor would be present to recommend (or not) medical marijuana (MM) for me. It turned out, however, that there were numerous "walk-ins" to be dealt with after me - the small waiting room was heaving with these when we arrived.

A good imitation of chaos ensued.

My "interview with a doctor" consisted of a few minutes talking to an elderly guy on a laptop screen. The doc seemed less interested in listening to what I was telling him about my ailments than in attaching his own labels to me. After a few minutes he gave the assistant some code numbers. That was that, doctor-wise.

I was then handed over to an assistant and "the boss" to provide my documentary proofs of identity (my US passport), proof of residency in Oklahoma (my Voter ID card), and my Medicare card. These were scanned or photographed, and a photograph was taken of me (passport style). There were some mumblings about proof of residency, and there being a need to submit the top sheet to the deeds to joint ownership of our house. This should have been unnecessary, as the Voter ID card was one listed as acceptable proof of residency in the state. We agreed to send what they had requested, by e-mail, and the "boss" would call me later that evening to finalise things and get my debit card number for payment of $20 to the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA), and submit my application to OMMA. I had paid "the boss" $75 in cash for his part in the process, for which he gave a peculiar type of receipt on my husband's cellphone - something we have yet to decipher. All the time we were there, by the way, "the boss" guy was dealing with at least one, sometimes two, other applicants concurrently with me.

We went home, searched for house deeds, found what seemed to be appropriate and sent it to the e-address we'd been given. Then.....nothing. No phone call that evening, none the next day nor on the day after.

We visited the dispensary on Tuesday, explained what had happened (or hadn't happened) to a lady who seemed to be in charge there. She made a phone call to "the owner" (as in "the boss") who allegedly told her he would call us that evening. He didn't. More calls to the dispensary followed next day, with promises made by recipient to call me back. Nobody ever called back.

It was Thursday by now - I had steam coming out of my ears. Another call to the dispensary - this time I let it rip a lot more than I had during past phone calls. The guy at the other end of the line said "We were only hosting the event, it was nothing to do with us". GRRR! I told him that as hosts to something, they had to take some responsibility for what had gone on. He promised to call the owner of the outfit who had "organised" Saturday's chaotic event. Nothing further was heard by that afternoon.

At some point, someone had given me a phone number which led to an answering machine at the offices of "the owner", in Oklahoma City. I decided to leave a message on it. I guessed my message would be just one of thousands and like everything else I'd done, be completely ignored. The answering machine cut me off after a few seconds, but I kept going back each time, continuing my call, ending with pleas to "please, please, please will somebody ring me back!" Ten minutes later somebody did. It was "the boss". That turned out to be a very long phone call, an hour or more with lots of waiting time included. What had gone on on Saturday was repeated over again, as though Saturday's visit had never happened. This time, eventually, I was asked for my debit card number and that was that. He said I should receive confirmation that my application had been received by the OMMA, and that my MM card should be with me in around 5 to 7 days - possibly by Wednesday next. I got the confirmation from OMMA within a few minutes.

On reflection, and upon further reading around, using name of "the boss", I began to realise that there is a veritable flood of applicants in the state, a never-ending flood it seems, and "the boss" and his organisation are trying to deal with the flood, but without adequate means (or so it appears to me, now).

Fingers crossed that the train, having at last left Frustration Station, will arrive at the proper destination bringing with it my MM card, to enable me to buy some MM to assist with my pain-when-walking and my nausea/loss of appetite.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Medical Update plus Something Completely Different, with Ian Lang.

Radiation therapy course finishes this morning! YAY!!!!
My second 21 days of Ibrance began mid-week after 7 days free of the demon pill. Oddly enough the loss of appetite and nauseous feelings increased during that 7 days off - I was expecting the opposite. I really need to be eating more. I'm oncologistless at present, so I asked one of the senior nurses about the nausea. She very kindly sent a couple of prescriptions to be picked up - 2 different nausea medications specifically for problems caused by chemotherapy and other cancer-related therapies. One of these medications worked a treat on the first trial, not as well the second time - but I'm to take them alternately, and for a particular reason didn't do that initially- better luck next time, I hope.

On the medical marijuana front, I have an appointment at a local MM dispensary late tomorrow afternoon (I managed to get their last appointment - my stars must have been aligned!) I'll see a visiting physician who will (I hope) give me a recommendation letter to send to the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority, so as to get me an MM Card. That card will enable me to buy product at any dispensary in the state. This appointment will cost me $75, a little cheaper than expected, and because I'm on Medicare the cost of the MM Card will be just $20 (as against $100 for those not on Medicare or Medicaid.) Around 10 days, after sending (online) proof of identity, residence, the recommendation letter, with a digital photograph of myself, and my Medicare card + the dosh, all to the OMMA, I shall hope to be set up to buy something which might help on several fronts.

And now for something completely different....

I'm calling on Ian Lang of Quora to provide a lighter note. As any regular readers will remember, Ian has very kindly given his blanket permission for me to use his writings on my blog. Here's what he had to say - waxing all poetic for a change - in answer to this question.

What do British people think of Boris Johnson as their PM?

Non-British readers will likely need a translation of "soss" : it's short for sausage; and should any readers in the USA be thinking of 'chips' as known in their world (= a bag of crisps in the UK), chips are something akin to steak fries in the United States - certainly not like French fries which are way too skinny for their own good!

What do British people think of Boris Johnson as their PM?

I think unlike John Masefield, I’ll stay away from the sea

And focus all my wishes on soss ’n’ chips for tea.

I think I’d not like to be at work in summer’s hot enthrall-

I think that is much better though, than watching the football.

I think I really can’t be arsed, with who it is in charge;

Johnson, Corbyn, Hunt, Leadsom, or that bloke Farage.

For I think that in some future age, it will be so much fooey.

In five billion years, as well we know, the sun will go kablooey.

And all that we have said and done and all our silly rhymes

Will be vapourised. Including those with lines that don’t suit the rest of the metre and aren’t made into couplets.

I think then, that we should not dwell on our human worries of toss,

Yet cast our minds to glorious times, when there are chips, and soss.

And splendidly, egg as well, if you’re lucky.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Quick Journal Update on the Medical Front After Wednesday's Follow-Up Appointment

After my radiation session yesterday afternoon, we had to take a 40 minute drive to a Cancer Center in a neighbouring city, for "Lab Work" (blood analysis) - in connection to the Ibrance therapy I've followed for the past 21 days. The purpose was to discover whether Ibrance therapy has affected my blood too severely to continue treatment. It has affected white cell count, but that was expected, and in my case it is not a severe enough change to preclude continuation of the "targeted therapy" Ibrance offers. I was given this information, not by my usual oncologist, but by a young doctor who informed us that my oncologist left her position at the end of last week. That was a surprise! He also said that, for a time, our town will not have a visiting oncologist, the previous doctor's replacement will not be "doing" the Cancer Center in our town. Ah well, I suppose that something will be sorted out for us sooner or later.

The young doctor we saw yesterday tried to be helpful in regard to my severe pain-when-walking issue. He suggested that I try a different medication, at least until the radiation and Ibrance effects fully kick in for me. He suggested extended relief morphine tablets, and prescribed a month's supply, one pill twice a day. If there happens to be any "break-through pain" I can still supplement with my usual pain pills - this need is likely to be fairly infrequent. As it turned out, not as infrequent as I'd hoped. I took one morphine pill at 7.30 PM but it had no effect whatsoever on the pain-while-walking. I'm back to the pain pills already. Disappointing! I'll make further enquiries about the morphine tablets tomorrow - perhaps it will take time to get into the system - or perhaps the dose prescribed is too small.

The doctor we saw also advised me as to medical marijuana. He said that, in these circumstances, considering current lack of oncologist, it might be preferable to use the doctor who visits the medical marijuana outlet in our town as my recommending physician. Now I need to look into what'll be needed for that, in addition to an extra payment of $100 for the doctor's fee. The next visit of the speciality doctor to our town's outlet for MM isn't until 8 August.

We shall now await news from the specialist pharmacy in Texas who deal with Ibrance, as to what I'm going to have to co-pay for another 21 days' tablets. I do have a nice 7 days off the demon pills now though, to allow time for my body to re-orient itself a little.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Another Medical Update

Not a lot to report...let's see....

Radiation ongoing, usually for 5 days per week, on chest wall area, it will continue for another 2 weeks. I'm now needing to cover the radiated area with some soothing cream, containing a little lidocaine - expensive at the pharmacy and not covered by Medicare ($45-50 per tube). I was pleasantly surprised when the nurse gave me a tube, paid for by a charitable foundation. A whole pile of the stuff had been provided by the foundation for radiation patients' use.

Walking is still very painful when my weight goes onto left leg; pain pills at maximum dose help a little for a few hours, but do not eliminate pain. Radiologist says that if pain doesn't improve in a few weeks he'll consider more radiation shots, but healing will take time.

Re oral medication: The Ibrance daily doses are coming up to the 21-day cut-off period, when 7 days off it will follow. I have to go to a nearby town for blood test in relation to this on Wednesday, to make sure the medication hasn't adversely affected my blood count, also to establish whether this, very expensive, medication is to continue, and at what cost. A substantial co-pay is going to be needed this time, for sure.

I've been adjusting my blood pressure medications recently, the usual dosage was proving to be too strong, probably due to my loss of weight, and/or as a side effect of the pain pills. To be on the safe side I saw our GP on Thursday, to check that the way I'd adjusted dosage was the best way. It was.

I mentioned to our GP that I'm starting to lose my appetite (again), probably due to the Ibrance meds. I want to put weight on now, not take it off! I asked whether he would recommend that I apply for a medical marijuana license to help with appetite, and perhaps pain also. He offered me a prescription for a medication that is a synthetic version of marijuana, or the parts of the herbal version that are helpful: Marinol (or its generic equivalent). I decided to accept a month's worth - it cost me $135 for 30 tablets. Doctor said that my oncologist would probably feel comfortable to recommend herbal medical marijuana, which could eventually work out cheaper, after the $100 dollars for a license. He prescribed a low dose of the Marinol generic (due to my age. I do NOT want to get dizzy and fall!)It is to be taken at bedtime. Not much to show for it after just three tablets. I'm hoping to see the oncologist on Wednesday, and will ask then about possibility of medical marijuana rather than Marinol. I've read that Marinol can have some nasty side effects that the herbal version does not have.

Monday, July 08, 2019

Jeffrey Epstein....Again!

My post of January 2015:
Jeffrey Epstein -
Le scandale du Jour.

Yesterday (The Daily Beast):
Jeffrey Epstein Arrested for Sex Trafficking of Minors

Billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein was arrested for allegedly sex trafficking dozens of minors in New York and Florida between 2002 and 2005, and will appear in court in New York on Monday, according to three law enforcement sources. Saturday's arrest by the FBI-NYPD Crimes Against Children Task Force comes about 12 years after the 66-year-old financier essentially got a slap on the wrist for allegedly molesting dozens of underage girls in Florida.

For more than a decade, Epstein’s alleged abuse of minors has been the subject of lawsuits brought by victims, investigations by local and federal authorities, and exposés in the press. But despite the attention cast on his alleged sex crimes, the hedge-funder has managed to avoid any meaningful jail time, let alone federal charges.

Better late than...

Thursday, July 04, 2019

It's That Day Again + Medical Update.

Happy Indi Day - for me also - kind of. I have no radiation or medical appointments until Monday! Also, I'm happy because the course of radiation related to lesions on my hip and leg is done - for now anyway. The treatments on my chest wall will continue for a few more weeks - as a precaution - making the sessions shorter.

Pain pills are still necessary, but not working especially well. Dr K. kindly provided a refill prescription yesterday. Such prescriptions, for medications which include any kind of opioids, have recently come under a spate of New Rules, to safeguard those who would use opioids for purposes other than pain relief, sometimes accidentally killing themselves. That is all fine and good, but the complications involved in obtaining these medications now mean that even cancer patients cannot obtain refills without the requisite prescription, on paper (no fax or e-mail) signed in ink, by the ordering physician, and handed to the pharmacy. These rules were followed by us yesterday afternoon - to the letter. What did the pharmacy say? "Sorry these are not due until tomorrow (4th July) and we are closed for Independence Day so we'll have the refill ready on Friday". My response: "What am I supposed to do tomorrow, when I run out?" She: "Do you want to pay for a day's worth, the insurance will not pay until tomorrow and we are closed." Me: "So, as you are closed, should you not compensate for that by filling the prescription today?" Nope! If I had agreed to pay for one day's tablets it would have cost me $60+ for the generic. Ridiculous! I guess the fact that I'm English, and that Independence Day is the fly in the ointment, didn't help ;-)

Dang! I was cross and getting hotter under the collar! I'll manage, but some people in the same position might not. This is so unfair to those who need opioids for all the right reasons.

I do suspect that the generic of my pain medication, stocked by our pharmacy, doesn't work well, possibly due to certain cheaper "fillers" used. Comments online by those who have been taking the pills for years have indicated that this is the case - do I believe online commentary? Hmmm? I had, earlier, asked what the charge would be for the branded version of the same medication, not covered by insurance. One would, I was told, have to buy a full 100 tablet bottle of the original branded version, its cost, with discount, would be $500. Sigh. The generic, to be collected Friday, will have to suffice!

Friday, June 28, 2019

Not Particularly Radiant!

Today, Friday 28 June, I'll be undergoing the third session of my course of radiation. I'm not yet sure exactly how long the full course will be, but the schedule I've been given covers the next four weeks. Perhaps there'll be more - don't know - nobody has told me. I do know that next week's sessions will be limited to 3, due to Independence Day on Thursday, and presumably the departmental staff having a long weekend added to that. In a way this is good for me too - it gets me started, limbered up hopefully, on two shorter weeks, which have to feel easier than the usual 5-day week of treatments.

What I'd been led to believe, during the run up to undertaking the radiation course, has been proved wrong. It was along the lines of, "Oh, radiation is easy, it'll take you longer to get undressed than the actual treatment will take - it's virtually in and out of the treatment room". Nope! In my case it isn't! My treatments take between 25 and 30 minutes - even longer than the PET scan I had recently, and are more uncomfortable. I have three sites needing treatment, left chest wall (behind the mastectomy site) and both hip areas. My treatments take much longer than those of the average patient with a single treatment site. I'm not happy about it, but I'm stuck with it. Lying on the very hard plank for an extended length of time is terribly uncomfortable for me, and if I happen to move just a teeny bit the operators are not pleased with me - I understand why, but.... Ah well, I guess I can take it for a few weeks, maybe it'll get easier when the pain begins to recede in my legs and hips. At present, after Dr E's procedures the other day, I'm in quite a bit of pain. Whinge whinge. There - I needed a good whinge!

You've gotta larf! No pillows available for me - best I got were two small facecloths under my tailbone.

I've started the Ibrance tablets course, and am drinking lots of fluids, including lots of extra plain water to stave off nausea.

Do I see application for a "weed" license on my horizon? Maybe. It would probably be $100 well spent. There's an outlet in our town, even! Oklahoma has surpassed itself - at least on the medical marijuana front if on nothing else.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Update - Procedures with Dr. E.

Yesterday I had a 12.45 PM appointment with the radiologist, Dr E. for some 'local' bone cancer treatment on the lesions on specific bones in my pelvic area - better known to me as my hips. These have been increasingly troublesome lately, pain-wise. Instructed to take no food or drink after 5 AM (other than sips of water with necessary blood pressure or pain medications), I set my alarm for 4.30am, so that I could drink part of a bottle of high protein shake to "keep me going". Then it was back to sleep for a while longer.

The procedure was a little more complex than I had imagined, but Dr E. explained very clearly what it was all about. He also assured me that the PET scan I had last week showed no signs of my breast cancer having spread elsewhere - just to these two bones in my pelvic area. That was a relief, my imagination had run riot during past days!

These procedures necessitated some anesthesia because fairly thick "needles" are inserted to...well...I don't want to think about that! Once clad in hospital gown, lying on a trolley with iv inserted, I was wheeled into the designated operating area. The procedure room had a CAT scan machine all fired up. After the usual, rather awkward and painful shuffle from trolley to hard plank linked to the scanning machine, the anesthetist chatted with me for a while. He asked if I needed some pain medication - to which I nodded - that pesky plank was decidedly harder than the trolley's soft upholstery and my tail bone was hurting already. Soon after that I must've just drifted off without warning.

The next thing I knew was trying to open my eyes to see the clock on the wall opposite, in the room where husband was waiting. I couldn't see the time, mainly because my glasses were in my handbag! It was "3 something" - don't clearly remember, nor does anyjazz. Dr E. came in to talk to us before we left, assured us that all had gone exactly as planned. He said that after a day or two I should begin to feel the benefit: some residual pain from the big needle injections at first then, I'm hoping, less pain than before. I am to take it very, very easy, on my left leg especially, for a day or two - no exertions. The doctor emphasised that the main work, the "heavy lifting", of zapping the malignant cells will happen during the radiation course I'm about to begin; that will be later today, I think, and will be in charge of Dr. K. I'm to report to the Cancer Center at 2 p.m. Also there's the issue of those expensive pills - probably I'll begin the first 21 days of those today too.

We got home from the Imaging Center at around 5 PM, after a quick stop at McDonald's for an iced caramel coffee for me, parched as I was, having had nothing to eat or drink since 5 AM; then a wait at the pharmacy while the pharmacists checked, and double checked, with both involved doctors, that some slightly stronger pain pills prescribed by Dr E. (bless him!) were in order.

So, the beat goes on.....

Saturday, June 22, 2019


My April 27 post took my breast cancer story up to the point when, after some time had passed following my left breast re-excision mastectomy, the drain tube had been removed, followed later by all the stitches. All my posts relating to breast cancer, by the way, can be accessed by clicking on "breast cancer" in the label cloud - in the sidebar, below and to the right.

Story continues: I saw the oncologist, on May 29 - she whom I hadn't seen since November 2018 - when all had seemed to be going so well, around six months after my lumpectomy. Oncologist appointments scheduled after that had had to be cancelled as things began to move on quickly.

So...on May 29, the oncologist brought herself up to date on newer developments, on the breast cancer's possibility of metastasis, taking into account my weight loss during past months. I'd attributed this loss mainly to the lymphocytic colitis I had been found to suffer from, following a colonoscopy; she was unaware of this. Anyway, she referred me to the radiation department for an assessment, ordered a CT scan, and prescribed another course of estrogen-blockers (the pesky tablets I had to stop taking early on in my tales of woe). This time she prescribed a lower dose and different generic type as a starter.

A CT scan was carried out the next day. This showed that my early stage breast cancers had indeed spread into some of my bones (apparently a favourite place for spreading BC to roam into). In my case it has roamed into left femur and right hip. I'd been having problems, and pain, but had put it down to arthritis or side effects from other medications. I'd had other things, such as surgery, on my mind for some weeks!

During an interview with the radiation oncologist a few days later, he told me that bone cancer is treatable, can be controlled quite well by various means. He set me up for an appointment to plan a course of radiation on my chest wall, and on both hip areas. This was done, on Thursday this week, by simulating the radiation I shall need, using a special machine to make a plan of how, when, where and for how long radiation will be focused. For this planning session we had to travel to a nearby city (40 minutes distant) because the required machine is not available in our hometown. Fortunately, the eventual daily radiation procedures can be done in our hometown. Radiation oncologist also advised me to have a PET scan; the other oncologist had also recommended this. A PET scan can show any other tiny lesions lurking throughout the body (excluding brain) and give detail on how one's organs are working. I was not keen on lying on a hard, flat board for 25 minutes in an enclosed space, but did so, earlier this week - I think it was Tuesday. Days and dates have morphed into a blur, it began to seem as though a ton of bricks had fallen on me from a great height! Setting out the order of things here is proving helpful to me so, dear reader, please feel free to skim or move to the last paragraph should things become too wordy by half!

I didn't enjoy the PET scan but it was not as difficult as expected. It was carried out, quite unexpectedly to me, using a travelling PET scanner. The machine, situated in an area within the trailer of a huge truck, was in town that day just for yours truly, at 8 AM, and for one other lady afterwards. One technician and a driver/assistant made up the crew. The truck would later be on its way north, to Kansas and beyond hauling its precious cargo, stopping at hospitals here and there to carry out its helpful business.

Another layer of treatment from the oncologist is still to begin : a second set of pills to go with the estrogen-blockers. These tablets are going to be ridiculously expensive, even with all kinds of discounts deducted from the price. Ibrance is the name of this ultra-expensive medication; its purpose is known as "targeted therapy", rather different from chemotherapy which is an all-encompassing zapper. Ibrance targets only specific types of cancer cells. There will, inevitably, be side effects, some of which could pass me by, but my immune system will be weaker, so avoidance of bugs and germs will be the order of the day from now on. Ridiculously expensive, I said ? With no discounts or insurance the current price is, I've been told, between 14 thousand and 15 thousand dollars per 21 days. The pills are taken for 21 days of each month with 7 days off. Obviously, nobody could afford those prices - per month!

Medicare has accepted an Ibrance prescription for my treatment, as has our supplementary insurance. The pills can only be supplied by specialist pharmacies. I'm dealing with such a one in Austin, Texas. The pharmacy people have been working to secure discounts for me from various sources. So far they have a single $5,500 donation from the PAN Foundation, to be used as the pharmacy sees fit. My Medicare, and the medication supplement side of Medicare will cover some part of the first month's cost; some of the $5,500 will be used to cover the rest, the pharmacy has told me. So, initially, for 21 days' pills, I'll pay nothing. Once I've accepted the arrangements and am "in the program" the specialist pharmacy tell me that they will work on securing more discounts. I've been warned that co-pays, from then on, could still be high - between $300 to $700 per month. Sigh. We'll cover what we can for as long as we feel it reasonable to do so, and IF the tablets are shown to be zapping the nasties after several months. I shall be tested routinely and regularly to ensure blood counts don't go too low, as well as to discover what improvements have occurred - if any. It's said, online, that this medication has been found to be quite powerful and very successful in many cases. I won't know if I don't try. There is no generic version available. The Ibrance pills for the first 21 days were delivered yesterday (Summer Solstice) via FedEx. I shall not begin my course until Wednesday next due to other procedures scheduled for Tuesday, about which, please read on, if you have the patience.

Something more was fixed up just two days ago. As well as the multi-week radiation course being planned for me, the radiologist at our local hospital is going to do some "local treatments" on the lesions in my left femur and right hip (iliac bone I think). This will take place on Tuesday next (25 June). I'll be under light anesthesia during the procedures (similar to the level of "knock-out" used during a colonoscopy). The radiologist will put an injection in one side (left femur, I think), and perform an "ablation" on the iliac on the right. I think that an ablation is a kind of very strong electrical zap to deliver a mighty blow to the malignant cells, hastening relief from pain. I've only a sketchy idea about these procedures though, haven't yet been told about them in detail.

At the age of 80 + years I'd have limited time on Planet Earth in any event - with or without latest health-related developments. If I can retain a reasonable quality of life while taking the recommended medications and treatments, and it helps me to spend more time with my husband - who is now 82 - I shall count myself very lucky indeed.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read version):Breast cancer has spread from left breast (now fully removed) to the bones in my left femur and right iliac. A variety of tests and treatments are available, some have been already undertaken others are still to begin. I'm 80 years old so I do not expect miracles, but a little more time would be good - as long as quality of life remains reasonable.

Saturday, June 15, 2019


Learning Curve OTE will remain on hiatus for a few days more, pending clarification of the state of my continuing medical issues. Once I know for sure what's what I'll "journal it" here. For now, all I'll say, regarding my state of mind, is something I heard during an episode of "Third Rock from the Sun", a night or two ago - declared by "Harry" played by French Stewart (my favourite character in the programme):

"When life gives you the damn lemons!"

Monday, June 10, 2019

Has America "fallen out of love with itself"?

"Has America fallen out of love with itself? In the 60's I think we all loved America and its cars and its landscapes and its dance and its music. Has this ended for good?"

The above question, posed at Quora, proposes an interesting concept. I wasn't in the USA in the 1960s. From my home in the UK I had no knowledge of how the people of the USA were feeling, in general, at that time.

Perhaps, if the USA has "fallen out of love with itself", that is part of the process of a new country struggling to grow up. I suspect that there's still a long way to go before full maturity sets in for the USA. Even when maturity is reached, sometimes a country can begin to slide back into a period of decline and incompetence - take, for instance, the current Brexit debacle in the UK.

Here are snips from three answers with differing points of view on the Quora question, though these do not fully answer whether the USA has really "fallen out of love with itself". Has it? Perhaps more eyes have been opened courtesy of the internet. People now have access to much more information than they had in the 1960s. Wool can still be pulled over eyes, manipulation and propaganda still take place - for sure - but there's more opportunity for critical thinking and in depth research than there ever was in decades past.

Part of answer by Robert Martin Pollack
Yes it has. What you witnessed in the 60’s was one last outburst of creativity fueled by people who grew up in the twilight era of the republic. It was an era where people could still connect with each other and it was safe to interact with others. Hitchhiking was relatively safe and it was even possible for girls to hitch rides without being molested or raped. One could go to concerts and hear great music and see light shows for a reasonable amount that was affordable to just about anyone. This was still a wealthy country and people had disposable income so there were large numbers of places that had live music and where you could dance. Since then everything has become very atomized. All the places where people used to go to enjoy themselves and relax have been driven out of business. The few that remain are so expensive they are beyond the reach of the average person who now just barely has enough money to survive. If you ever take public transportation, everyone has the same bristly attitude - don’t you dare try and talk to me.

Ross Driedger answered:
Wait, what?! Are you kidding me? There were protests against the war in Vietnam, one of those led to the shooting deaths of four students by the Ohio National Guard (Kent State shootings). Woodstock was decried as immoral by many social conservatives (all that rock music, nudity and free love — Damned Hippies!). Racism was systemic, overt and rampant, even more than it is today.
People were terrified that the Soviet Union could, at any moment, launch a nuclear strike against the USA.
And Evelyn Elwell Uyemura wrote:
Maybe your memory is a bit hazy.
In the 1960s there were riots in many major American cities, Civil Rights and anti-war demonstrations on a regular basis, and an entire “counter-culture” that rejected all the values and trappings of American life.

(And much of the most popular music was British, not American!)

Thursday, June 06, 2019


Apropos of nothing at all, husband "Anyjazz" came up with the following the other day, so I have taken the liberty of borrowing it.

Many years ago I read a piece about intuition and premonition that made a lot of sense. It basically said that the brain is working all the time, collecting things. The background sounds and changes in color and temperature, movements of things around it and general details that are of little or no use to the person at the time, are none-the-less stored in the memory in a just-in-case file. We don’t realize the brain is doing that for us but running our body and consciousness is only a small task for it, so it gets bored and collects things.

The writer said that this collection of details may be at least part of things like déjà vu, clairvoyance, premonition and what we call intuition. We are unaware of it, but the brain knows. Sometimes it realizes it can be a help, and slips in a few details of knowledge we didn’t know we had. We don’t know where it originated.

Think of those crime stories where a witness is placed under hypnosis to reveal details they were unable to call up for themselves. The details were there, the witness just didn’t know it.

There are stories of people who made hard choices based on “gut feeling” or “what was in the heart", or whatever the popular phrase is now. Then it turns out the choice was right, in the face of all the opposition. The brain knew and gave them subtle advice.

Imagination is probably supplemented by these sub consciously collected details. A child is particularly good at it because a child’s brain is collecting things at an enormous rate. The child has no idea of the meaning of most of the world around it but the brain stores everything anyway.

Many dreams may be like this too. During sleep, when duties are at a minimum, the brain is at least, partly awake. So, it plays. It assembles interesting things and plays with them, based on what it knows. Sometimes it brings out some of those things it collected that you ignored or missed at the time.

Wish I had kept the article.

Monday, June 03, 2019

Carpe Diem (in case the future sucks!)

Trying to predict the future, by whatever method, often turns out to be what's commonly known as "a mug's game".

I have a very old copy of Pathfinder Town Journal, dated December 1953 - picked it up in an antique store on our travels many years ago. When the magazine was published, topics were much the same as we find in magazines and on the internet today, but many steps back: the atom bomb, elections, new car models, black and white TVs, cookie recipes, weather and more. No astrology column. There's a paragraph in a piece titled Looking Ahead asking : "What will the US be like in 1963?" John E. Haines, VP of Minneapolis-Honeywell Regulator Co. predicted that in 10 years from 1953:

Planes will fly round the world non-stop in less than 18 hours.
Rockets will reach the moon.
Residential air conditioning will be as commonplace as automatic heating is today.
Houses will be built of plastics.

Not bad! He did rather well, I thought. I wonder, though, did anyone see the hippie culture coming? It took over more or less where the "Beat Generation" left off, a year or so later than 1963 though. Did anyone predict it? I suspect not.

For a smile or two in much the same vein, pay a visit to the illustrations at
A 19th-Century Vision of the Year 2000.

Now.... I asked in a blog post here, in late 2012, what might the USA be like 10 years from then? That'd be 2022/3. Ten year spans don't always see major differences occur on a national level - on a personal level, yes, certainly! Just for fun, I said in 2012, let's haul out the ol' crystal ball. As there was more than enough doomladen commentary and fiction around, I decided to aim for a somewhat brighter version of 2022/3. However, due to my rose coloured glasses approach, I have become the personification of that "mug in the game". It's almost seven years on now - do any of my intentionally starry eyed predictions look any nearer to coming true? Not a chance! Here they are, or were.

The USA has, for 5 years, had benefit of a very efficiently run national system of health care, with state of the art hospitals and clinics available to all, financed by a reasonable level of contribution by all citizens and residents, at a rate according to their earnings level.

A simply administered cure for some types of cancer has been discovered.

A completely biodegradable material invented to take the place of plastics in most applications.

The US Constitution, after years of struggle, updated and amended in two areas: corporate personhood rescinded, and the Second Amendment re-written and clarified.

All US military occupation abroad terminated in 2021, surplus weaponry still being destroyed and materials re-cycled. Currently in process of finalising nuclear arms agreements worldwide. A small but efficient military force remains in place in the US. The majority of military personnel are employed in a range of capacities updating, re-building and extending a variety of public transit networks, nation-wide, and running them efficiently on behalf of the government.

Saturday, June 01, 2019

Can the Corporations Ever be Corralled?

Among the archives at Daykeeper Journal, website of the late Maya del Mar, astrologer, I found this article which, though written in 2002, is even more relevant today. We are now just a year or so away from that key date mentioned in her last paragraph: 2020. The "democratic movement" has shifted towards the left in recent years, but the establishment, corporate Democrats will be loath to let go of the reins and allow such candidates as Bernie Sanders to take over. I suspect a few more years will still have to pass, after 2020, before the final exit of the corporate Democrat clan.

Why Corporations Rule the Nation
Ms del Mar began thus:

"Corporations provide the matrix for our lives.

Our lives are shaped and governed by corporations. The consumer culture, the sea in which we live, is run by corporate image-making, advertising, and media control. Corporate values become cultural values. Corporate politics become government politics. Every area of our lives is fashioned by the dominant corporate culture.

The corporate movement grows implacably, like a giant amoeba, and threatens to take over the world, and destroy it in the process. As it grows, it shuts out democracy and effective decision-making. It is no wonder that people have quit voting and quit paying attention to civic life. We feel disempowered—and in many ways we are.

How can astrology shed light on this growth of corporate power?

She explains the cycles of the outer planets and the relevance of those current at the time of writing. She then goes on to look at the chart for the birth of the USA using 4 July 1776 at 5:10 PM, Philadelphia.

The United States has a lucky chart. The U.S. Declaration of Independence chart (7-4-1776, 5:10 p.m., Philadelphia) is blessed with a grand earth trine, which means material success comes easily to this nation........... We have the resources to enable us to develop models for harmonious, bountiful living.

However, this great gift of earth energy has been co-opted by corporations, and much of it transformed into toxins and garbage. The early idealistic political vision of Americans has been gradually subverted by the corporate bottom line of making profit for the corporation. Earth, tangible goods, is also the raw material of corporations.

The U.S. chart is also fortunate in having a Sagittarius Ascendant. This makes Jupiter the chart ruler, governing all U.S. expression of energy. Jupiter is the greater benefic, and shows good fortune and expansion. It is also especially associated with corporations (and old boys’ groups).

20-year Jupiter-Saturn cycles show the social-business character of our everyday lives...........For most of this nation’s history, we have had Jupiter and Saturn joining every 20 years in earth signs.... This earth phase really went into full gear in 1842, as the Civil War was building up...... We have just experienced our last Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in earth signs for the next 600 years, in May of 2000. This one was at 23 Taurus. Taurus is the most fixed, determined, and possessive of the earth signs. It is loathe to let go. The last conjunction in Taurus was in 1881, which began the "gilded age," the time of millionaires, consolidations, mansions, and high living. Corporations came into their own then.

Now we are closing the long earth cycle with Taurus. Will corporations extend their power, as they have in the past? Will we, the people, look at their excesses and corruption, and decide to take charge of them again? Will we reclaim democracy? Or will it be that the 200-year earth period was the time for corporations to grow into ruling the world — regardless of who and what gets hurt and destroyed?

This last Taurus conjunction in May 2000 ties in very nicely with the U.S. chart. It helps U.S. corporations move ahead with the steamroller effect until 2020, when we begin the air cycle in Aquarius. In the meantime we can begin to rebuild a democratic movement, and be ready to emerge with some sovereign infrastructure by 2020.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The Power of Words and Language, with Ian Lang

Calling once again on Ian Lang, at Quora, for this post on the topic:
What powers do words and language have?

Ian has given me blanket permission to use any of his Quora answers on my blog. Thank you, Ian! Here is what he wrote in answer to the above question. A round of appreciative applause from yours truly, Ian!

From Ian Lang, Leading Technician:

Ooh, words.

It’s often said that the pen is mightier than the sword, thanks to Bulwer-Lytton. With this in mind I went into Harrods and got myself a really nice Cross-Townsend and went and poked some members of the Blues and Royals with it during the Trooping of the Colour last year.

Bulwer-Lytton, you were not right I’m afraid. This year I’m going to try it with a Montblanc but I’m not terribly hopeful.

Words though. They do have a power. In Western languages we have an alphabet based on the Roman one, and in English there are twenty-six ugly little characters (thirty-six if you count numerals too) which, when strung together in just the right way, can delight, enthrall, cause despair, joy, pain, love, hate, jealousy, anger and all emotions between.

Daily I thank God for the circumstances that caused me to be able to read and write for I’m sure I would have made a most miserable illiterate, and words cast to paper (or as in these days to the server) are the shapers of our history, and the echoes of our lives.

Writing and Oratory are the two most important skills any person can have. Applied properly, they can cause the world to shake. Let’s have a look at this chap:

Cicero. His letters and speeches were of such perfection that they ringed for two thousand years and still today anybody who does Latin at school will be tormented with and influenced by him. He could strike chords in men’s souls and such an accomplished gobshite was he that they had to murder him to shut him up.

Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet). Jesus, I thought I was a snarky bastard, but this bloke could take snarkiness to an art form. His writings so chimed with the stroppy, awkward squad of pre-revolutionary France that he was exiled and his books were burnt. He’s widely thought to have made the first serious cracks in the Ancien Régime.

Then there’s this bloke:
I’m sure he needs no introduction. Now think what you like about him personally and politically. But can you, through the power of your voice alone, persuade millions of people that have seen the slaughter of a great war in Europe a mere twenty-one years previously, take a course of action that’s going to land them in an even bigger one and make them think that this is a good idea? Because I can’t.

Up against him was an equally brilliant gobshite:

Sometimes I just wish I’d been around at that time because I don’t think there’s ever been anybody before or since that’s been better at using the English language to do something really on the face of it monumentally stupid, and yet fire up enough spirit to not only actually do it but do it so well that the opposing side is completely crushed. The German War Machine rolled right over Europe unstoppably. It got to the English Channel. It’s a hop, skip and jump over twenty-two miles. All it’s got to do is get to London and the game’s finished. We couldn’t stop them in France and Belgium. They’re on the Channel Islands. It’s bloody hopeless. Except-

A fat little bloke educated at Harrow who likes a drink and a smoke stands up and effectively says:

“Right. No. We’re not giving in to this little bastard. We’re going to kick his arse roundly and if we all have to die in the attempt so be it.”

But he delivers a factual account of how hopeless it looks and then at the end puts in shining words:

“We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”

God almighty. The British Army’s been booted out of Europe. The Luftwaffe is at its highest glory. The Wehrmacht just can’t be beaten. There’s U-boats everywhere and we could easily starve. The only advantage we’ve got is the Royal Navy and the Home Radar. Neither going to help if the Germans can get air superiority. And it’s a BIG and very cocky Luftwaffe now. The sensible thing is to sue for peace. And yet……and yet………

What did Winston just say? Hey, do y’know what? He’s right! "Bollocks to Hitler! If he thinks he’s just walking in here he’s got another bloody think coming. Right. Sleeves up. Boots on. We’ve stuff to do.”

And it rang with every man and woman in the UK, and didn’t stop there. Men of the Empire came. Men of Europe came. Men from countries who had nothing whatsoever to do with it came. All because they’d read and heard the words of power emanating. Who’d have thought that some ink and some electro-magnetic waves could do that?

To our shame, in so many ways we today are not the equal of what our grandparents were and one of those deficiencies we suffer is in the field of literary and oratory works. There is no Orwell writing his simple but resonant sentences now. There is no Churchill stirring us on to punch well above our weight. Where is the Voltaire that can mock for millions? Perhaps our lives are too easy; perhaps our days are filled with business and we have no time for the craft now.

Sic transit gloria mundi.

Which doesn’t mean that some woman threw up in my van at the beginning of the week. But it’d be nice to think so.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Memorial Weekend

Memorial Weekend (in the USA) has come around once again. Memorial Day itself will be on Monday, 27 May.

I can, in good conscience, do no other but post the following, with which I wholeheartedly agree.

In 1974, Howard Zinn was invited by Tom Winship, editor of the Boston Globe, who had been bold enough in 1971 to print part of the top secret Pentagon Papers on the history of the Vietnam War, to write a bi-weekly column for the op-ed page of the newspaper. He did that for about a year and a half. The column below appeared June 2, 1976, in connection with that year's Memorial Day. After it appeared, Zinn's column was cancelled.
Memorial Day will be celebrated as usual, by high-speed collisions of automobiles and bodies strewn on highways and the sound of ambulance sirens throughout the land.

It will also be celebrated by the display of flags, the sound of bugles and drums, by parades and speeches and unthinking applause.

It will be celebrated by giant corporations, which make guns, bombs, fighter planes, aircraft carriers and an endless assortment of military junk and which await the $100 billion in contracts to be approved soon by Congress and the President.

There was a young woman in New Hampshire who refused to allow her husband, killed in Vietnam, to be given a military burial. She rejected the hollow ceremony ordered by those who sent him and 50,000 others to their deaths. Her courage should be cherished on Memorial Day. There were the B52 pilots who refused to fly those last vicious raids of Nixon's and Kissinger's war. Have any of the great universities, so quick to give honorary degrees to God-knows-whom, thought to honor those men at this Commencement time, on this Memorial Day?

No politician who voted funds for war, no business contractor for the military, no general who ordered young men into battle, no FBI man who spied on anti-war activities, should be invited to public ceremonies on this sacred day. Let the dead of past wars he honored. Let those who live pledge themselves never to embark on mass slaughter again.