Why I Stopped Blogging

I’m sorry to all you subscribers for disappearing so quickly. Something happened that took up a great deal of my attention. My dear wife was diagnosed with dementia, and I instinctively chose to immediately withdraw from most leisure activities to concentrate on her care. For those of you who may believe in divine providence (as I do), I was able to spot the symptoms because of my previous experience as a dementia caregiver.

Over the past couple of years, I had noticed a decline in Mary’s cognitive abilities. They all seemed to be related to short-term memory and/or subtle conceptualization. I might have missed the signs, but we’re talking about an exceptionally smart and accomplished woman. To have her turn into a “regular” sweet old lady isn’t something most would even notice. Her level of normal conversation isn’t affected much yet. She can drive and dress herself. She brushes her teeth and bathes by herself.

However, she was also in charge of paying monthly bills, because I was still working. Things began to go unpaid. We started getting calls and mail from creditors. She would apologize profusely, but it kept happening with increasing frequency, and it was completely out of character. She’s super-responsible by both nature and habit. She just plain forgot what had been paid, and what had not.

Unopened junk mail began accumulating, covering every available space on counters, tables and desks. I saw this exact symptom with her aunt, who is now in skilled nursing care for Alzheimer’s. Sometimes dementia runs in families. She was unable to sort out what was important from what could/should be thrown away. This is an indication of a loss in logic capabilities.

Then she began having a hard time finding the words she wished to say. Not the complex terms most of us might need a minute to recall (calibration, recidivism, impingement) but simple words like “remote” and “leash”.

There was an increased tendency to misplace her keys, purse or wallet. Until we were able to establish enough behavior modification (you always put “this thing” in the same spot upon entering the house, or getting in the car – NO EXCEPTIONS) these disappearances zoomed up to about 20 times per day.

By this time, I gave notice at the Urgent Care where I worked. We had appointments with neurologists, and she performed a complete battery of clinical tests which indicated a loss of approximately 30 IQ points. Her original doctor was impressed. Most dementia patients do not get spotted at an early stage. The earlier a diagnosis is established, the more effective the drugs are at slowing the process of decline. She was prescribed Aricept. She didn’t experience uncomfortable side effects adjusting to it, and it has cleared up some of the “fog”, though I know the drug is usually only effective for a few years. There are other drugs used at later stages.

Mary has had occasional depression while coming to terms with her condition, but it’s important to keep the patient engaged in the tasks that help manage their own care. So we do that. I have a history of emotional dissociation (a PTSD legacy) that helped me become a good medical assistant and tech, so I’m not as sad about this as some of our friends think I should be. I’m used to re-framing things in favor of the positives, and I am always, always fascinated to study disease processes. It’s a coping mechanism, but also a way of seeing things others can’t appreciate.

Unlike cancer, heart disease, and other things people die from, dementia doesn’t physically hurt. It’s more of an existential loss, an irreversible simplification of the adult personality. It returns the patient to their own childhood and infant self, until it causes death when the brain stops managing body functions. Mary has unrelated spinal pain issues, and that’s her focus most mornings. She’s cranky and distracted until her maintenance painkillers kick in. The rest of the time she’s pleasant and compassionate, though we do have many of the same conversations several times a day.

Because we caught this so early, Mary may take a decade or more to get to the point of 24-hour care. She’s 70 now, so other issues of decline or disease might overtake this. Or researchers might develop more effective treatments. I’m a good scientist. I’m not assuming much of anything. We work on this one day at a time, and observe what goes on, making smart choices as needed.

I waited for about a year to reveal this publicly, until she was comfortable with my doing it. One thing about me that is unusual is the fact that I definitely do NOT consider this a great tragedy, as most people seem to. We all have to die of something. All machines eventually wear out beyond repair. All that is material must pass. It could be a lot worse. I’ve SEEN a lot worse.

We still live in a community surrounded by great natural beauty, with neighbors and friends we love and have fun with. We’ve got a terrific, super-smart dog (who flunked out of the service training because he doesn’t like to share his toys). I’ve got arthritis in my hands, but it’s still manageable. We’ve got enough money to cover our medical costs so far. Life’s still well worth the effort. I’m enjoying whatever can be enjoyed.

I do apologize for having to keep my online readers in the dark though. Patient confidentiality is an old habit I was trained for.

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The Cost of a “Free” and Appropriate Education

A Pocket Full of Motherhood

Stampa

Back in 1973, under section 504 of the Individuals with Disabilities Act, a new world was formed for students with all types of disabilities. It is specifically defined as, “Under Section 504, FAPE is defined as “the provision of regular or special education and related aids and services that are designed to meet individual needs of handicapped persons as well as the needs of non-handicapped persons are met and based on adherence to procedural safeguards outlined in the law.” [source] FAPE is an acronym that stands for a free and appropriate public education.

While any education system is fraught with challenges and difficulties of all types, I personally believe that nothing has caused more confusion than the introduction of special education students into the classroom. Please don’t misunderstand me! I am in no way, shape, or form suggesting that children with special needs should not be included in…

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My beautiful spirit name

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There

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On the Darkest Hours: When you Think of Giving Up Writing

(i’m writing a bit more, just not blogging as much. I found this inspiring.)

Dar Writes

Darlene Reilley's desk Writing…or not…

On the Darkest Hours: When You Think of Giving Up Writing

The writer lows suck. Based on my experience and research, all writers get them – the dark moments when you wonder if it matters. You ask: Does anything I write make a difference? Is there a point to it all? Should I set down my pen and walk away? Shouldn’t I be doing something else? Is this really what I want?

You must choose a path.

The question leads to one of two places.

Yes, only two places.

You want to make it more complicated than this, bring in outside factors like jobs and kids and dogs and school – in the end it boils down to one of two things:

  1. Write.
  2. Don’t write.

There is no judgement here.

Either you write or you do not.

Choose the path that works for you.

Scary or no, this…

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What elephants teach us about cancer prevention

Science Chronicle

File 20170425 12640 ojvxvk Elephants express many extra genes derived from the critical tumour suppressor gene TP53. – Photo: Stephen Tan/Flickr

Joshua Schiffman, University of Utah and Lisa Abegglen, University of Utah

Every time a cell divides, there is a chance for a mutation (mistake) to occur in the DNA – the substance that carries genetic information in all living organisms. These mutations can lead to cancer. The Conversation

If all cells have a similar chance of developing cancer-causing mutations, then very large and long-lived animals with more cells undergoing more cell divisions should develop cancer at a higher rate than smaller, short-lived animals with fewer cells dividing over less time.

But in 1977, Sir Richard Peto noted thathumans develop cancer at a rate similar to mice. This is despite having 1,000 times as many cells and living 30 times as long. Another example of this phenomenon can be found in elephants. They…

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World Press Fredom Day

Brussels Diplomatic

World Press Freedom Day is marked every year on 3 May, but there is little reason to celebrate as journalists continue to be repressed and persecuted all over the world. The challenges facing the press are discussed by Parliament’s human rights subcommittee on Thursday morning, with a special focus on the growing threat of disinformation. .

The internet technologies have created new opportunities for the media, and greatest advantage in promoting democracy representing threat to authoritarian powers, resting on filtering news to manipulate public opinion.

IT technologies and social media cause the traditional mass media profound crisis in the leading democracies as the USA, where the president accuses mass media of misrepresenting his views, preferring social media, namely Twitter to communicate with the citizens.

During the debate on 4 May, members of the human rights subcommittee will discuss the World Press Freedom index compiled by Reporters without Borders as well…

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Three Poems About Marriage

literary lew

The following poem beautifully and, kind of darkly, describes the duress that marriage presents to two people who have opted to engage in the process of becoming, “one flesh.”  I like to think, facetiously, that marriage was invented by the gods just to torment mankind, forcing two diametrically opposed forces to live together under the same roof.  Traditional life has controlled the tension of this union of opposites by implementing overt power, defining the term “marriage” as a relationship in which the female would be subservient to the male.  Technically this subservience went to the extent that it deprived women of a subjective experience, that their desire should only be to please their husband. But women usually managed to get their pound of flesh in the relationship which Alfred Hitchcock beautifully and darkly portrayed in his movie “Frenzy.”  In this movie a psychopathic killer was on a rampage of grisly…

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Poulenc Couldn’t Believe What Ravel Said about Saint-Saëns

Kile Smith | composer

Camille Saint-Saëns

On Discoveries from the Fleisher Collection, Saturday 5–6 pm on WRTI-FM… One hundred years ago, 18-year-old Francis Poulenc was looking for a composition teacher, and being recommended by the pianist Ricardo Viñes to Maurice Ravel, went to meet him, scores in hand. Ravel was already well-known, having composed much of the music for which he is famous today.

He was also part of the new breezes blowing through French music at the time of the First World War. Generations were traveling in new directions with Claude Debussy, Erik Satie, Ravel, and others, away from the German symphonic tradition and away from the 19th century. Viñes and Ravel were part of a group, in fact, that met regularly to play for each other and to discuss these very issues. “The Apaches” they called themselves, the name not only of the Native American nation, but also a French word…

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Jesse Winchester Remembered … The Songwriters’ Songwriter

The Immortal Jukebox

Sometimes I’m asked because of my eclectic tastes if there is one under appreciated, lesser known artist who deserves to be much better known.

i always answer – Jesse Winchester.

To explain why and to pay tribute to his wonderful songs three years after his death I am Reblogging my Post on him from 2014.

An investment in Jesse Winchester records will pay you dividends for your lifetime.

Jesse  Winchester died at the age of 69 in April 2014.

I first heard him in the mid 1970s on Charlie Gillett’s rightly legendary radio show, ‘Honky Tonk’ which became my open university course on 20th century popular music.

Jesse Winchester was a highly accomplished songwriter and an affecting singer who could hush a room with the intensity of his performances.

He was recognised by fellow songwriters of the calibre of Elvis Costello, John Prine and Ron Sexsmith as a master of…

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A life worth reading

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Author Eric Hoffer discusses the pain of writing

Creative thinking and the creative process

By Dennis Mellersh

The creative thinking process, when applied to the craft or art of writing original material can be painful and difficult for expert and beginner alike.

Eric Hoffer, the longshoreman/philosopher, who became famous for his originality in writing non-fiction about the human condition, confessed that the act of writing was quite difficult for him.

The process was made even more onerous by the fact that, once he became established as a recognized writer, people had higher expectations of his work than they did when he was first discovered as someone who worked on the shipping docks but who wrote serious non-fiction in his spare time.

One of his books, Working and Thinking on the Waterfront, consists of entries he made in a series of notebooks or journals he kept from from June 1958 to May 1959, and outlines some of his writing struggles.

In the preface to the…

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Sunny Afternoon in Florence: The Painter Who Never Runs out of Colours

Letters From The Clouds

Walking down the ancient streets of Florence I once met a painter. He only had one arm, with his long mustaches and his brown beret looked like he had come out of a painting himself! His work was different from all the other artists’: he was not interested in drawing landscapes or portraits he would only paint beautiful castles made of ice, stones, marble or flowers. And in order to make people believe those castles were real he would include furniture of all époques and a full floor plan of course. Observing him from the side he seemed like the type of person that, regardless of his misfortune, would never run out of colours.

“Castles, I sell castles,” He would shout every now and then to the crowd of tourists around him before painting his silent notes and thoughts back on canvas. Isn’t what art is all about? Depicting yourself…

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Things to know

Music as meditation. How wonderful! Here is a whole online course in Raga.

Shastriya Raga

Sangeeta is defined as ‘Samyak Geetam sangeetam‘ –  a melodious tone and is mostly practiced in southern parts of India. It’s known that practicing music improvises the concentration level, thinking capability , grasping power and intellect. Overall, Shatriya sangeeta can transport a man from mortal state to a divine state.

There are 7 swara’s (series on musical note) , called “Sapta Swaras” , viz Sa, Ri, Ga, Ma, Pa, Da, Ni. These swara’s have their own naming conventions :

Sa   – Shadja

Ri    – Rishabha

Ga   – Gandhara

Ma  – Madhyama

Pa   – Panchama

Da  – Daiwata

Ni   – Nishada

Sa and Pa swara’s remain constant ie they are unalterable and are called “Prakruti Swara’s“, whereas swara’s like Ri, Ga, Ma, Da, Ni varies and are called as “Vikruti swara’s“.These Vikruti Swara’s have different flavors…

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RETURN OF THE FLY (1959) ON THE TEXAS 27 FILM VAULT

Balladeer's Blog

*** FEATURING A MAJOR MILESTONE IN THE SHOW’S HISTORY ***

Morning Breath Morning Breath

BEFORE MST3K THERE WAS … THE TEXAS 27 FILM VAULT!

In the mid-1980s The Texas 27 Film Vault was the show to watch on Saturday nights to see “Film Vault Technicians First Class” Randy Clower and Richard Malmos show and mock bad and campy movies preceded by episodes of old Republic serials. Machine-gun toting Randy and Richard would also have comedic sci-fi adventures before and after commercial breaks. 

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of this neglected cult series via my research into really old newspapers, my interview with Randy Clower and recollections from my fellow fans of this show. Keep those emails and comments coming “Vaulties”. Here’s another review of a movie shown when a date can be verified.  

EPISODE ORIGINALLY BROADCAST: Saturday August 9th, 1986 from 10:30pm to 1am.  * Special thanks to my fellow T27FV fan Spearman for…

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100 Performances Oscars Forgot – 1/20

Filmotomy

RE-POST – Originally Published September 2015.

As we get sucked into the awards season vacuum again, I grabbed hold of a few of my like-minded film-freaks (follow them on Twitter if you don’t already) to ask them about some of the performances over the years, and the responses came thick and fast. So with quite a number of my own, I ought to let them do the talking about Oscar absentees. Here are the first 5 of a fascinating list of 100 (enough to make you dizzy) men and women that the Academy let slip away.

aa001

James Stewart for Vertigo (1958) — Clarence Moye @chmoye

I come here to praise Jimmy Stewart’s un-nominated Vertigo performance, not bury those who were nominated in his place. Just looking at the list of nominees, Stewart’s spirit can rest easy that his towering performance in what is arguably Alfred Hitchcock’s most personal film has more…

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TGIF Quote!

makesandcastlesnotwar

Life is like arriving late for a movie, having to figure out what was going on without bothering everybody with a lot of questions, and then being unexpectedly called away before you find out how it ends.

~ Joseph Campbell

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My Thank You Note to President Trump

Change comes from internal as well as external actions.

Interrupting the Silence

Mr. President, I did not vote for you and I never thought I would be saying this but I owe you a debt of gratitude. Less than a week into your presidency you have already done for me something I do not think Mrs. Clinton could have or would have done had she been elected president.

Your words and actions have inspired me. They have struck a chord deep within me. You have challenged me to be and do better. The violence in your words and actions have been a mirror before me. I do not like what I see. I do not want to be what I see. I may not have said or done many of the things you have; that, however, is not an excuse or justification for the violence that does inhabit some of my thoughts, words, and actions. In that regard, maybe we are not…

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Article 50 explained in Post-it notes

I’m well-versed in American government, but not as familiar with UK law. I was confused about the mechanics of “Brexit”. This simplification improved my understanding.

Middlesex Minds

The government today lost its Supreme Court appeal and an Act of Parliament will now be required to trigger the infamous Article 50. But just what is Article 50? Lecturer in EU law Dr Joelle Grogan and her colleague Georgia Price, Department and Programme Administrator in the School of Law, explain with the aid of Post-its.

Article 50 Dr Joelle Grogan

Post-it photo by JogiBaer2 (CC BY 2.0)

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Trump? Wall? In the 1950s?

Just happened to see this episode myself on the METV channel. I was wondering when someone would write about it. Was there a 1958 rift in space-time?

The Lester & Charlie Review

trump-wall-western-tv-show

When will history learn that we repeat ourselves?

Watch a clip of this 1950s television Western, where a man named Trump comes to town and promises to solve everyone’s problems by building a wall.

Spoiler alert: Didn’t work that time, either.

***

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