Monday, November 22, 2010

The Catch-all Diagnosis

I won't try to hide the reality I've had issues with my digestive system going back decades and more so since the early 1980's after a bout of the flu left it unable to really recover some sense of normal as before. The doctors said while the vast majority of people get the flu get diarrhea, a few get the opposite, a near-complete shutdown of their digestive system.

Part of this is due to having to take bicillin and amoxicillin among others for Rheumatic Fever at age 3 and afterward necessary for such things as dental visits to fight any possible strep bacteria in the body through the gums, one of the easiest places for germs and bacteria to enter the body. These are, however, universal antibiotics which destroys the flora in the digestive tract where they regrow until the body controls them.

Until of course, the bacteria becomes resistant to antibiotics and the body's own controls. This creates the opportunity for them to grow out of control and play havoc with the body. And then it became Irritated Bowel Syndrome (IBS), first named by a few specialists for a general digestive system disorder so medical professionals would consider developing tests and treatment.

And while IBS was once the bane of Gastroentrologists, saying it was all in the patient's imagination, diet, health, fitness, etc. despite the obvious symptons and signs which tests were at worst non-existent or at best inconclusive, it is now the boon of them where they don't have to really spend a lot of time trying to really determine the cause and then a treatment.

They simply say, "You have IBS, live with it." And then they prescribe the standard generic treatment, lower your fats, lower your dairy intake, eat more fiber - even take a fibrer supplement, fruit and vegetables, and the most obvious one, excercise more. Something a health specialist or nutrutionalist could have told you that and saved you a lot of money.

And even when you can recite a litany of symtoms and signs pointing in a direction, it's easier not to believe the patient, at least until you have clear and obvious test results. But then they have to start with the obvious and work through their litany of tests to ever so slowly remove one diagnosis after another until they get tired, the insurance won't, and you can't, pay, or you give up. And then it's, "You have IBS, live with it."

But what bothers me more is when the test prove nothing but the symptoms and signs still show something maybe related or not fully known, they simply ignore you. Such is the case with the condition Pseudomembranous colitis. But the test can prove deceptive if the toxin isn't present in blood tests or signs in the stools as the test are only looking for a few types of toxins associated with the bacteria.

And so it's easy to dismiss a patient presenting the condition without clear and obvious proof and then tell them, "You have IBS, live with it." Until of course it worsens where it is clear and obvious, and the patient is totally frustrated and angry at the gastroentrologists. In the meantime the patient is trying a variety of diets and excercise programs with nothing to show for treating the condition.

And so it's down the medical rabbit hole I go, again, five years later and a little worse for the wear and time.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

iPad Zagat To Go

I bought the Zagat To Go app on the Apple iPad app store ($10) and I discovered it's not what it's claim to be, although very good and useful, not necessarily complete. But my complaint is that when I went to use the off-line feature it popped up a box saying my version was not compatible with the latest on-line version of the database and I needed to use the "Update" tool, except the tool didn't work.

I followed their instruction requiring a wifi connection (no 3G) with two different wifi networks and got the same result, nothing. It's like they didn't update the iPad version or didn't make the old database available. That sucks. But what suck more, or is it worse?, is that when I went to send e-mail, I had to search and scroll through a host of answers to find the question wasn't asked or answered.

So I tried the customer support (contact) feature except it required a login account or my Facebook account. But using Facebook I have to surrender permission for them to drain all my user and friend information with no control of how it's used. So I created an account with them except when I went to send e-mail it wanted a ton of information about a simple question, like all the technical information on my iPad to get into it.

Like I'm going to give them that? It's a simple question. I don't need them to access my iPad. They can answer it very quickly and easily, is the latest iPad version on Apple's iPad app store compatible or not with their on-line database to download the information they offer to buyers? If not, why not, and when will it be compatible.

I hate government intrustion into my life like the next person but I hate corporate intrusion worse when it's excessive. And while I still like the Zagat To Go app, I won't recommend it until they fix this problem with an update.

JMO - Shades of Vietnam

I've watching and listening to the news and analysis stories about President Obama's war plan in Afghanistan. I won't argue President Bush screwed the new President trying to get victory there and find Osama Bin Laden. Bush screwed the military and the American people there. He was and is an utter failure as a war President.

But what concerns me more is Obama's move to the right and even more right than Bush over war, intelligence and terrorism. He's turn hawk with the full support of the military who love war and love the power and money that comes with it. They'll sell war whenever and wherever they can and they hooked Obama completely into two wars we'll never leave. We won't and can't leave Iraq for a long time as it's center to our Middle East policy.

And we can't leave Afghanistan. Not that we actually can and plan, but all of this year's talk from the President are shades of President Johnson in 1964-66 when he escalated the war when eventually (1968) we had half a million troops there. Today in Afghanistan we have upwards of 250,000 troops, logistics forces and contractors in Afghanistan excluding the NATO forces which is 50-100,000.

In short, it's becoming another Vietnam in numbers, in tone and in policy. Everything Obama, and much of what the NATO commader is saying, is reminscent of what Johnson said about Vietnam and eventually the bombing of North Vietham and the secret wars in Laos and Cambodia. Only now it's Pakistan with the military and contract special forces and drones.

And recently the NATO commander said we're there until 2014 and President Obama said at the earliest, meaning 2016 and beyond because the Afghan forces and police will never get up to speed and the Afghan government will never be strong enough beyond the corruption. And that's the issues.

It's because the Afghans know we will stay until they're ready and they can simply delay. And more so, they love our billions of dollars in support for the government, military/police and building projects. Why ask the cash cow (us) to leave?

And we know the Taliban has more patience than we do. They outlasted the Soviet army and occupation government. They'll outlast our armies (US and NATO) and our proped-up government, just like we did in Vietnam. Clearly the Taliban aren't the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army who had China as backers, but they have something almost as good, Pakistan, who has our money too.

President Obama and the Democrats have gone hawk on us more hawk than the Republicans. They've lost touch with what America and American values are about to avoid being painted as weak. It's just a poltiical war here as a real one there, and it's all for the same reasons and purposes, not Afghanistan, but here and the power of Congress and the White House. It's all about politics.

The people see this and know this, and if there is no real progress there in 2012, you can be the Democratic base and Indepedents will do then what happened in 1968 to Johnson and the Democrats. And we know the Republicans aren't better or really that different, just more obvious with their rhetoric. We're smarter than they think.

So, Mr. President, take notice, for a student of history you're going down the road to repeat it, only about 35 years later. What don't you see or understand is that we want and need a different road and destination there and here. Our fight isn't in or with Afghanistan anymore, it's here with people, jobs, the economy, healthcare (sorry, you only fixed some of it), and everything effecting the lives of everyday people.

That's what you should do, focus on that and here. Or you'll face a voice of your base, and not for you but against you. Just like President Johnson did in 1968. The people won then (although we lost the election to a liar and crook) and we can win now too.

Friday, November 19, 2010

JMO - Thinking Out Loud

I haven't posted much lately, especially opinion pieces, and partly, well mostly, because the pundits are often saying the same thing and nothing changes, so why voice something no one wants to hear let alone listen and then actually maybe think and discuss? So, I've been jotting down thoughts for columns never to write them beyond a thought, and then decided to write an opinion piece with just the the thoughts. And remember they're just random thoughts with no real intention other than just being a random thought.

First, with the Republicans boycotting the President's offer for dinner, do you think the Republicans are racist? Not? Well, if Obama was caucausian, would they still boycott him? Or are they just inconsiderate assholes? The Democrats always met with then President Bush, so what's the problem of a dinner at the White House. Hell, I'd go to talk with the President. Not that I agree with him but it sure would be interesting.

First rule in good politics, don't mistake discussion for answer. Second rule, there is only one rule. So, why do politicians never read, let alone follow, their own rules and then actually do something? Besides being corrupt and hating ordinary peoplle (minus a few good ones if that's possible)?

When you lose power at home, why do we always open the refrigerator expecting the light to work?

To the Republicans taking control of the House, the old adage, "Be careful what you wish for." Well, you won and now you have to do something you haven't done in over two years. A little rusty? Well, you have two years or you'll face the same anger you loved when it was aimed at Democrats. Just remember to wear you target t-shirt in public to remind us who you are. Or not, because we'll see your face again real soon.

And more, don't mistake words for action or ideas for results. You can't talk your way out of nothing to show but words of hate for and fear of the Democrats. We're not stupid. You didn't win, the Democrats lost. That's their mistake. Yours is assuming too much and thinking you can do what you want. Take heart, we're not just listening but watching and expecting action and results. You know the things you preach is America and American.

The Taliban, as some general have said, are winning. Not by victory, but by numbers. And not by lives but by dollars. They're using our money funnelled from the Afghan government, drug cartels and other sources, to do now what the Viet Cong did in Vietnam, wage a cheap war causing us here and there to spend billions on equipment, technology and firepower while they use cheap Russian automatic rifles, RPG's and IED's.

With the move to add Abrahms M1 tanks to Afghanistan we're becoming the Soviets in Afghanistan. They were defeated with our money and weapons supplied to the Taliban and war lords. Now we're on the other side doing the same thing and getting the same results. Temporary victories for longterm defeat. Can we sustain this? For how long before we're run out of money and equipment? Or the voters vote against the war?

If God made man is his own image, why are we so ugly? Or is it that God created evolution and watched what we became?

Sign on a bridge in Poughkeepsie, NY, "The penalty for jumping off the bridge is death." Really?

If you think Obama has done a bad job with the economy, think what John McCain would have done and where we would be now? Then wonder why the Republicans don't get it. Or do and think you don't. Do they really think we that gullible or stupid?

The reason we still have a recession is that the Democrats didn't do enough. And that's thanks to the Republicans helping the same people, corporations, who lobby them and fund their campaigns against the Democrats. So we're paying the corporations to pay Republicans to vote with the Democrats for money for corporation and then lie they're did to get your vote against the Democrats, Your money and the old adage, what goes around comes around, and back to us. Our money turned into hate and fear.

Almost everyone one in Congress is owned by corporations. Both parties, nearly all members, owned by Corporations, who then pass bills to aid corporations or funnel more money to them and the rich. That's the state of our republic and democracy, a military-industrial, now corporation-congressional, complex. Makes one wonder what Eisenhower would think or say.

Are TSA workers who do the full body searchers sexual perverts? Makes you wonder why anyone would have or do that job unless they get something from it beside satisfaction for a good job. But what kind of good job?

And the "erased" 35,000 images from a scanner, do we really believe TSA when they say they delete all the images soon after they're taken? Yeah, right. And as someone asked in an interview, do you think they won't save and circulate images of famous people or celebrities? Yeah right? And we trust TSA thinking they're not perverts who love porn?

Just think about the idea that if you watch the instant the sun rises above the horizon, someone else halfway around the world is watching that same sun set just below the horizon. And the only thing between you and them at that moment in time is space. The space of the earth we share. As we greet the day, they say good night.

While the conservative media proclaimed the verdict in the trial of the terrorist, convicted of 1 of 285 counts and sentenced to 20 years, an acquital the liberal media called it a conviction. So, who's right? Or is the terrorist who masterminded the 1998 bombings of two US embassies in Africa just like any top level criminal who escapes conviction on the actual deed and only convicted on the plot itself? Did justice prevail and was justice served? Or does the government decide to use military tribunals again where a conviction is predetermined, only the severity and sentence left to the board?

The photo: Sometimes even Paradise is closed due to the weather.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Small Theft or a Small Thief?

Sunday mornning are always trips to the local Safeway store where I live here in Gig Harbor (catchy name huh? and yes it has historical significance) to get the three Sunday papers and groceries, some only available at Safeway. This last Sunday I did my rounds up and down the aisles to fill the carry basket (always a carry basket to limit what I buy) and went to the checkout stand. This Safeway is a typically designed one with 8 of them in a row facing the front of the store.

When I was going through checkout a squirrel raced across the front of the checkout stands along the front of the video checkout and branch of the local bank. In his mouth was a small candy bar, a Halloween size Nestle Crunch bar. He ran past the Starbucks stand to the exit door and under the electric carts just inside the store. A store clerk coming in startled him when he tried to get through the open door and he went back under the carts.

When the door opened for a customer coming it, the squirrel raced out the door and into the space for grocery carts. The cashier said the squirrel is a frequent shopper (although he doesn't stop to checkout and scan his card) and has learned how to trip the doors open or wait for customers to trigger them to open.

So, it appears this little guy asked himself why chase around the great outdoors and forest surrounding the store and store nuts when you can just go to the store and get them almost just as easy? And you don't have to face the possibility of a predator who favor squirrels for dinner. He does, however, have to brave the hazardous world of shoppers and carts, but I suspect he faster against both of those harzards.

But I have to say, he does need to read the nutrition guidelines though that too much chocolate and sugar isn't good for you and maybe consider something from the produce department. The cashier did say that no one yet has seen how he manages to get a candy bar from the shelf, and obviously candy what he favors, or maybe he's still sampling the choices of the whole aisle of candy bars.

The clerk who followed him came in to say the squirrel went to a safe spot under the grocery carts chewed through the wrapper and enjoyed his Nestle Crunch. And of course should anyone decide to file a report of the theft, he'll obviously be on the security cameras, like he cares or fears of being caught, and the worst that would happen is he's released into the forest he already lives.

Friday, November 5, 2010

JMO - PS Mr President

Reading the news on the interviews with the Republican leaders in the House and Senate, there one obvious piece of advice I think you know but often seem to either forget or ignore in your negotiations with the Republicans in the 111th Congressional Session. And that is despite everything they tell you in meetings at the White House, don't trust them as far as you see them leaving the White House.

They'll be polite when they're there, they'll be conciliatory with you for agreements, and they'll be positive and supportive in joint press interviews with reporters. But make no mistake when they drive away, you can know that all promises were left at the gate onto Pennsylvania Avenue and all bets are off about compromise. They'll go back to themselves and you'll be left holding their shit in your hands and piss on your face.

It's not what they say, it's what they do, and don't trust them until you see them do what they agree. Otherwise, it's just words to tell the public it wasn't true. If we the public and voters have seen it and still see it, why don't you. But then you're supposed to be smarter than that aren't you?

JMO - Dear Republicans

To the Republican candidates who won and the incumbents who return and more so to the Tea Party candidates who won, it's my country and it's my Constiution and government too! and don't you think for one moment you and your insane views have the right to decide for all of us. We didn't elect you, and you weren't elected to do what you think.

You were elected out of anger against the Democrats and some anger to President Obama. To many, not me because I voted for the Democrats out of frustration, you were and are the lesser of evils. Voting for that doesn't mean many voters liked you, it's just they hated the Democrats more. It's that simple. So don't inflate your ego past the truth and reality.

And remember you don't own this country. You don't own the people. And you don't own the Constitution. So don't abscond with any of it thinking you're bigger or more important than the rest of us. You're not! And if you do try to steal our country, then we will meet in two years and see how well you fare with the voters.

So remember.

It's my country, my Government and my Constitution too!

Don't you forget that, and if you do, we'll be here for 2012 to see your political time is short-lived.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

JMO - Dear Mr. President

As was said, you and the Democrats got your butt kicked, and not just the normal mid-term thumping that often happens, but a real ass kicking down the block. You lost the House, the most productive body in Congress. And you barely have the Senate, who under Senator Reid has to be the worse in recent history for passing legislation for the people. Talk all you want about the successes and there are plenty for Americans, but you and Harry didn't get the message out, let alone the right one.

I'm on your side here. You stood high as President but forgot about the people, real people. You and the Democrats did help people, not near as much as you could and as much as some, like, me, wanted. You simply decided that waging a political fight for real democratic goals wasn't as important as winning, which was more a victory for the Republicans than us.

Mostly though, through all the fight and political victory dance you forgot to show you did help us. You made it invisible when it should have been very visible. If you had, you might have held the House or at least minized the damage to a working level to recover the House in 2012, which now is unlikely barring some extraordinary political or economic event.

And now I'm hearing you're not just willing but ready to "reconile" with the Republicans on many issues because you think it's right for the Democrats to get and be humilated even more by bowing to the Republicans because you're afraid they might say something. What are you thinking?

We elected you to represent democratic values, policies and issues, and now after jettisoning our values and goals for political expediency for victories, but now you're ready to launch us into deep space by becoming a Republican and giving them the political ammunition in 2012 to unseat you as president. To borrow the phrase, are you stupid or what?

I'm sorry to be critical when you have accomplished a lot for America and Americans, but you now learned it came at a price, a real big price, your political future but with voters and your own party and more so your base. You left us along the road shortly after you were inaugurated, and you expect us to return to believe and then support you in 2012. Do you think we're stupid or what?

Well, we're not stupid and neither are you, so why are you acting like you are by conceding to the Republicans? Do you read all the democratic-leaning columnists, bloggers and newshows? They're giving you good advice, to stand up and stand against the Republicans. Not just get some backbone, get some balls. Don't play elitist intellectual. Be and express your passions with passion.

At the rate you're going, you will be a one term president, but not because the Republicans may win but because you may lose your own party as you've already lost your liberal and progressive base. They, and me, will support another candidate if only to get your attention to be a Democrat not a Republican.

We won't want political rhetoric, again, we're alreayd heard that and learned how little you meant it, like less than zero. We won't want your promises to and for change, because we know you won't mean it let alone do it. We're not that stupid. You fucked us too many times now.

So what will you do? You can't go back and foward offers two choices. You can cower and cave in to the House Republicans, sounding presidential of course, but still looking bad - ever heard the tale of the emperor with no clothes? Or you can stand tall as President and don't negotiate our democracy away for hollow political victories. Victory when we lose isn't victory.

Well, if you cower and cave in, we'll see it and will remind you in 2012. We you stand tall and fight, we'll see that too and support you in 2012. As they say, the ball, Mr. President, is and will be in your court for the next two years.