Monday, January 31, 2011

Pic of the Day: Fox Geography

Wonkette ran this yesterday and I can't resist a good dig at those morons on the far & stupid right.

Can anyone tell me why "Iraq" is spelled "E-G-Y-P-T" on the Fox map?

At least they got Iran in the right spot, but the Egyptians are a few boundaries to the left, southwest of Israel & Jordan.

Can't really expect better when these morons didn't even know the difference between "Yamato" and "Yamamoto" on April 7, 2009, when one of their balloon-heads announced that on This Day in History in 1945, the Japanese Battleship Yamamoto was sunk. Yamamoto was a Japanese admiral, shot down by a flight of P-38 Lightnings. The Yamato was the ship.

Possible Good News on Medicaid

A little background, first. Ever since the Grapefruit days, I've been trying to navigate my way through all the ins and outs of getting medical assistance.

The surgery to repair a simple testicular hydrocele--the "Grapefruit" (it still amuses me to call it that, but it's never been as bad as it was before I resorted to the do-it-yourself fix)--would be several thousand bucks. Something like $1500 to the doctor doing the surgery (the same guy who was going to remove my kidney a few weeks ago), a few more to the hospital, some more to the anesthesiologist, and that's all for an outpatient procedure. I'd be home the same day. Since money was an issue, the Urologist sent me to a financial counselor in-house, who pointed me to Medicaid.

I quickly found that I wasn't qualified--too young, among other things.

Then came the torn aorta, a week in the hospital, and close to $53,000 in medical bills, mostly handled by the hospital's Uncompensated Care charity system. The hospital's counselors pointed to Medicaid again, and I tried to explain that I wasn't qualified.

Then it was back to the Urologist, who was concerned about the growth on my kidney that had been found while my aorta was being inspected. He said it had to come out, and again ushered me to the financial counselor, who ran the phones, called the local Medicaid people, and was told that all I needed to do was apply online. Surgery date was set, everything was put in motion, and I went home to work on the application.

Took maybe 2 weeks for them to reply: I wasn't qualified. They didn't say why.

I drove to the local office, and only then--after all this digging--did I learn that I'd have to go through Social Security and apply for Disability. Different social worker at the hospital, more paperwork and phone calls, and now I'm looking at three different pieces of paper from the Medicaid people looking for more information about my condition and proof of citizenship.

I'm hoping their sudden attention's a good thing.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Pic of the Day: Heroes (7 different ones).

(back row) Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis, Judith Resnik
(front row) Michael J. Smith, Dick Scobee, Ronald McNair

I wasn't around for the loss of the Apollo 1 crew, but I remember where I was the day the Challenger was lost, January 28, 1986. It was a typical, boring high school English class. The principal made the announcement that the shuttle had exploded and all aboard were killed.

For a few years, I was comforted by the thought that they were killed outright in the explosion of the External Tank. Then I learned that the real damage to the crew cabin--and the event that killed the crew--happened when it hit the Atlantic Ocean at more than 200 miles per hour. I still get chills thinking about that.

The Challenger crew are heroes for the same reason all the space-jockeys are heroes: there's something about a person who will strap himself to a highly-explosive mixture of kerosene and liquid oxygen, or liquid hydrogen and oxygen, or to a pair of solid-fueled boosters that can't be stopped once they're burning. You get in the chair on something like this and willingly ride that metal bomb into space, you're a bona-fide hero, even if all you do is get space-sick. At that point, going to the moon, walking around, driving a moonbuggy, packing up and coming back this way is just gravy.

But once you do all that and come back, you're a freaking LEGEND.

If you don't make's tragedy, but no less heroic, because such people know the risks and take them anyway.

Pic of the Day: Some People are IDIOTS.

No, Elton John's not an idiot in this case (though he IS an idiot for playing at Pigboy Limbaugh's wedding, money or no).

Nope, the idiot in this case is the person who took it upon themselves to make this magazine rack "safe" by turning all the mags with John, his man, and the baby around so the highly offensive covers wouldn't show.

I turned them back, then remembered that I've got a little camera for grabbing pics of stuff like this, for later mockery on the blog.

When I commented on the magazines, the clerk at the store told me about a customer who came in, shopped around, brought his stuff up to the counter, then stopped and pointed down behind the counter at the porn mags.

"I didn't know you could still legally sell those here," he said. The clerk told him that they've always been there.

"I can't shop here." Dumbass just walks out, leaving the stuff on the counter, unpaid for.

That's just stupid.

About as stupid as this religious goofball with whom I worked at a convenience store in 1993. He was so devoted to his religious stuff that he made sure everyone saw him reading his little book on breaks (i.e., when there was work to be done), he tried to hijack the store radio to some religious crap (manager told him she'd kneecap him if he touched her radio again), and wouldn't stock the cooler because his religion prohibited him from touching alcohol.

This same religidiot was arrested and dragged from the store on warrants for beating his wife and selling drugs. What a prince.

w000000t! (Knees & Kidneys...and Fort Pickens)

Rolled out of bed this morning afternoon and was able to walk around without the crutch--no foot pain, no knee pain--for the first time in almost 2 weeks.

Maybe now I can get back to getting ready for a ride down to Fort Pickens. I had it all planned out. The Tuesday before my knee went out was going to be the warmest we've seen in a few weeks, the winds calm. I haven't been to "my fort" in more than a year. I've been wanting to go somewhere--anywhere--to get out of this damn house after being stuck indoors for 6 months.

I doubt I'll be able to walk the entire thing in a single lap, but there are plenty of places in a fort to sit or lean, plenty of new details to see, or old ones to see again. The brickwork in the old fort is amazing, especially once you stop to consider that everything was done by hand--and more poignant when you realize that a black slave worked with a file to shape a specific brick to fit a specific place. When you touch one, you're touching the work of a man who didn't own his own life. It's a chilling thought, yes, but it reminds me of how far we've come since 1834, when the fort was completed. Now we have a black president. How cool is that?

My favorite thought about Pickens, though, is that it was never in Rebel hands during the Civil War. It was built to protect the channel between the Gulf of Mexico and Pensacola Bay, one of four forts guarding the channel and Pensacola Harbor and the Navy shipyard. When the Rebels turned traitor in 1861, they took the other three--Forts McRee, Barrancas, and a small work called the Advanced Redoubt. But they couldn't get to Pickens in the sort of numbers that would have let them take the fort. They lacked the ships, they lacked the troops, and because of Pickens sitting right at the entrance to the bay, they couldn't use the shipyard or harbor to support or supply their efforts elsewhere.

A few hundred men in one fort held off thousands and thwarted the Rebels. I like that.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Knees and Ankles...and kidneys

It's been about a week since I first felt the piercing pain in my knee warning me that I was about to be unable to get around for the next few days. My knees have been taking turns with this crap since the middle of 2006--fluid buildup, swelling, inflammation, can't bend it, can't put any stress on the joint, can't let my lower leg "hang" free, can't pile it up on pillows...everything makes it hurt, so about all I can do is lie there and try sleeping and wish for some serious painkillers.

Doc #1 says it's a torn meniscus--one of two cartilage pads cushioning the knee joint. Stay off it, use crutches if I have to move around. Doc #2 says it's gout--and he drew maybe 15cc's of fluid out of my knee. I think the second one's the right one, since it's caused by the accumulation of uric acid and my right kidney's on the way out with a suspected carcinoma. One thing that caught my eye on the Wikipedia "gout" entry: "Diuretics have been associated with attacks of gout."

I'm on three different diuretics as part of my blood pressure meds; knowing there's a link lets me put up a timeline: Almost 2 weeks ago, I couldn't put weight on my left foot. It was swollen, so I leaned a little harder on my right leg and took a little more of one diuretic in hopes of reducing that swelling. Two days later, my right knee got inflamed from the extra work and from the effects of the diuretic. Today--nine days later--I got some goop siphoned out of my knee through a long-ass needle poked in under my kneecap. I still can't walk as well as before: Doc #2 asked me why I was still using the crutch. My leg hasn't been bearing my weight completely for more than a week, that's why. Besides, I still have the crutch, might as well use it!

Feels much better with all that gunk out of it--much less pain, more flexible, not nearly as hot, but you can still push on the kneecap and see adjacent skin pushed up by displaced fluid. Pretty neat how a few minutes with a syringe (and a good mechanic) made such a difference. Maybe someday I'll be in a position to pay this guy and the other docs, nurses, techs, clerks, transport jockeys and such what they're worth for patching me up and keeping this decrepit body of mine limping (if not trotting yet) along.

I did finally find something that'll touch the pain: 500 milligram acetaminophen. Aspirin's out as long as I'm taking Lasix (bad, bad interaction). Ibuprofen wouldn't even touch it. I even tried some leftover Panlor SS, but that was less than useless for pain relief even if it does have codeine. About all it did was make me itch all over after 2 days. Made me miss that Dilaudid and Lortab the hospital gave me back in July.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Things To Do on my Sister's Birthday.

1) Stare at the wall on the right side of my bed until the pain forces me to roll over.

2) Roll over.

3) Star across my room at the far wall until the pain forces me to roll over.

4) Repeat as needed.

It actually started sometime Wednesday with a constant pain on the inner side of my right knee. This, after 48 hours of pain and swelling in my left foot, both caused by the same fluid buildup I'm taking diuretics to treat--part of the cocktail of blood pressure meds I've been on since July.

I was still able to move around on my own early Thursday morning, but by noon I couldn't stand or stand any movement or pressure on that knee. My world shrank to a twin bed, my TV remote, a jug of store-brand "Kool-Aid," and a bottle of Ibuprofen. A couple of those every 6 hours seems to be taking the worst of the pain, but it's still the single worst pain I've ever had, even including that aortic dissection. I've been through it before, this fluid buildup and inflammation in one knee or the other, several times a year since 2006. Got it covered: bed rest, fan, electric blanket, hunker down till it blows over. I can tell how far along it is by how hot my knee is over the inflamed spots and how long I can lie on one side or the other before having to roll.

Things were bad enough last night that I floated through an entire showing of "Scary Movie 4" on Comedy Central. I'm pretty sure that it sucked as badly as I thought it did, but several days worth of little sleep have left me pretty loopy.

Much better this morning; I was able to stand and totter around a bit for the first time in 48 hours.

[Update--what's it got to do with Big-C Cancer? I originally had this post under "Blood Pressure" thinking that it had some link to the BP troubles I've been having. It does, but only in that the BP troubles are caused by that golf-ball-sized "mass" [a freaking tumor, but the doctors don't like to call it that] in my right kidney. Now it'll be grouped where it belongs.]

Monday, January 17, 2011

Two Years!

January 8th market the second year with the silver '81 Citation X-11. Other than last year's "Homewrecker Tour" road trip to Forts Gaines and Morgan and the out-of-gas hike in May, I didn't have any big adventures in 2010. I replaced a few worn-out parts, but two days after I replaced the lower radiator hose in July I was in the hospital with a ruptured hose of my own. Since then, about all I can manage is driving. I'm a year late on an oil change, still have two motor mounts and a wiper motor sitting on the floorboard waiting to be installed, bodywork to do, a drooping headliner...I might be able to manage the oil change right now. She deserves better.

Even so, I'm still on the Honeymoon with this car. I know every sound--the whirring of the alternator, the creaking suspension on a cold morning, the grinding sound from the right-rear brakes when the humidity is high (my '83 did it too, even with new brakes), the slipping power-steering belt (chirps or screeches, depending on how embarrassing she wants to be). Some of things need fixing, yes, but they're still part of the character of a thirty-year-old car still running along when so many of her sisters are long gone.

The best way to describe the little flutter I still get when I see or drive it is to compare myself to Captain Malcolm Reynolds in "Firefly" or Han Solo in "Star Wars." Both of them are freighter captains, both running old ships that other people sneer at, either shrugging off the critiques or starting a bar fight. You've got to know your audience, after all. Can't beat on a paying customer, but that drunk Spacer who called your ship a flying shitheap kind of requires bare-knuckled diplomacy. Besides, what's a bar without a bar fight?

I used to get the same sort of ribbing over my '83 Citation from mechanic co-workers calling her a "Shitation," but I just shrugged it off because I can't fight without getting my ass whipped, I don't drink, and this isn't a movie.

Anyway, I've tried to describe this attitude I've had with my various cars, only to hear it described nicely in the final scene of "Serenity:"

Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: But it ain't all buttons and charts, little albatross. You know what the first rule of flying is? Well, I suppose you do, since you already know what I'm about to say.

River Tam: I do. But I like to hear you say it.

Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: Love. You can learn all the math in the 'Verse, but you take a boat in the air that you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as a turn of the worlds. Love keeps her in the air when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurtin' before she keens. Makes her a home.

Sounds about right. Apparently I'm doing something right: she starts right up, gets me where I need to go, and just like her "little sister" did before her, she always brings me home. As long as there's gas.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

All About Her. All About Them.

Yup, that crazy fake-Alaskan cow is making the Tuscon shootings and the discourse all about herself.

At least she waited for the bodies to get cold.

At least she stayed out of the public eye for 4 days--but she made up with it with a 7-minute dose of arrogance and stupidity that surpasses ANYthing she's done before. She whines about a "blood libel" in the comments about her reprehensible "gunsight" rhetoric during the 2010 campaign, and the "don't retreat--reload!!" crap she spewed. Blood libel? What the ever-lovin' fark would she know about blood libel? Her family's not Jewish, hasn't been accused of using babies' blood to make matzoh. What an utter pig. She was probably out of the public eye this long so she could learn her lines. Either that or she was building the cross she's dangling herself from in her hypocritical fake-martyrdom.

Hell, there's more but I can't even rant about her stupid ass in the manner she deserves; the Rude Pundit can and does. He even offers a link to her video; I won't. But if you watch it, look at the little white square reflected in her glasses: a teleprompter!

Meanwhile, President Obama's attending a memorial service tonight in Tuscon, doing the right and Presidential thing, because this is about those who were killed, those who were injured, not about him.

But what are Boner and his classy Republicans doing, back in DC? Why, holding a cocktail party. Professional excuse-makers point out that this is a Really Important Cocktail Party, so I guess we've got to give him a pass.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Pic of the Day: Morning Glories

This is for Christina Taylor Green, the 9-year old girl who was killed in yesterday's shootings in Tuscon, AZ.

She was on the student council at her school. She played baseball and took ballet.

She was born on September 11, 2001.

Pic of the Day: Palin's Targets, only bigger.

Thanks to PZ Myers' Pharyngula blog, I learned that there's an even bigger version of Clampett Spice's hit-map, with her name all over it.

I can hardly wait to see what Clampett Spice Tweets about the shootings.


Update (Jan. 11, 2011): The silence from Caribou Barbie has been telling...and deafening. I bet it's causing near-physical pain for her to avoid public attention, but since her Facebook post expressing her condolences after the shootings, she hasn't so much as Tweeted.

Instead, the coward has been tough-talk emailing one of the few people as crazy as she is (Glenn Beck) and hiding behind her conservative Big Brothers, hoping they'll fight for her.

Some moron named Mansour denies that those little crosshairs are crosshairs--they're surveyor's marks!

Her sorry ass is trying to play the victim, here, making it About Sarah Palin. The attempted assassination of a U.S. Congresswoman, the assassination of a Federal Judge, the murders of five more including a nine-year-old girl, and the wounding of a dozen more bystanders, and Palin's a martyr, the victim--the same role she's been playing for two years.

Still, there's a very bright side to all this: her star is falling. Her second book's sales are so bad the distributors are sending them back in droves. Her first book's out in paperback now, and sales are nothing like the first round.

Her TLC show--Clampett Spice's Alaska or somesuch--hasn't been picked up for a second season. Her Fox Noise show apparently disappointed even the faithful.

One can hope that all this means that she'll fade away.

Pic of the Day: Palin's Targets.

Yeah, it's probably tacky to post this, but appropriate in the wake of the shootings in Tuscon, Arizona this morning. Democratic Representative Giffords was shot and wounded and a Federal judge was killed by some Glock-waving prick.

So it's appropriate that Sara "Don't retreat--reload!" Palin's "hit list" map be posted on any available surface. This same picture ran for months on behalf of various right-wing tea-bagging scumbags, most notably on, where "the 20" referred to the 20 crosshaired Congressional districts seen on the map. Those are all Democrats who voted for Health Care Reform. The site has been pulled down, so at least there's someone with some sense--or at least someone trying to cover their asses.

Stay classy, Snowbillies and "Second Amendment Remedy" assholes: one of the people killed was a child. Fark all of you.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Evading the Knife!

It's a miracle! It's a miracle!

No, no it isn't. *sigh*

I was set up for this crap a month ago and have been waiting all this time, wanting to just get it all over with, wanting to be done with the recovery and back on my feet, hoping that I'd be able to finally move along in better health and all that.


No, I got a call yesterday morning--barely 24 hours before I was due to check-in--and was told that it's off because my Medicaid application was turned down last week. That was rejected because I'm not listed as disabled and don't fit the other criteria laid out by Social Security.

I've been fighting for maybe 4 months NOT to get myself classified as disabled--trying to get back to work, trying to get recouperated from July's torn aorta, not willing to take that step, because in my mind I haven't considered myself disabled. But the reality of it is that in the 6 months since my aorta separated, I'm not that much better. I still have trouble walking very far; 500 feet is about it before my knees and right leg start to go (same leg that went numb in July). There's no way I can run. I can't stand for more than a few minutes at a time. Even riding an 18-speed bicycle--the smoothest bike I've ever been on, with the easiest gearing you could want--leaves me exhausted after a low-speed roll around the block.

So now I'll be working with a hospital social worker who knows how to handle the Social Security stuff to help me get enrolled; it'll take several months from what I've read at their site, then it's another try at the Medicaid system, THEN the kidney.

All that build-up, all the waiting and getting things ready... *grumble*

I cleaned my freaking ROOM! :p~~~~~

Seriously. My untidiness is legendary. And now I can't find stuff.