2011 May


Seems I ordered and received two copies of Frank Bailey’s Blind Allegiance by mistake and rather than go to the trouble and expense of shipping one copy back to the states and waiting around for a refund and dealing with the hassle of money exchange rates and fees, I thought I might just treat someone downunder to a free copy.

So – if you’re anywhere in Australia and you’d like Frank’s book just send me a mailing address via email (asciident@yahoo.com.au) and I’ll be happy to send it along. There’s only one so it will go to the first person who responds 🙂

I also ordered A singular Woman, the story of Barack Obama’s mother so my winter nighttime reading material is shaping up really well. Now I’m off to properly order Joe McGinniss’ version of The Rogue which is what I was after in the first place rofl!

============ UPDATE ============

Tania in South Australia has a book coming in the mail!

Cool 🙂

2ND UPDATE 24 MARCH 2016
Because WordPress doesn’t allow for me to bring this post into today’s date I’m writing a whole new post – you can join it here: New post March 2016

Maybe there’s hope yet!

Original post and comments below the line…


Wow that title sounds like an old west saga – is it just me or can you see Fess Parker standing over a day-old campfire in his raccoon hat talking to Little Sou as they track the sudden disappearance of Chief Big Feather who was last seen at the top of Itchy Heels Rock and… oh wait. How many of you even know the name Fess Parker? Heh. Yeah that’s what I thought. Ok on to the real post 🙂

Last week spouse dragged me kicking and screaming to an evening of fireworks at our local mall. The fireworks were scheduled on the river to mark the opening of our shire’s annual week-long fair. Normally I would have been a happy camper to go along but it had rained all night the night before and all day and it was cold. I could not wrap my head around going to an outdoor event in the cold and rain (and mud – bleh) to watch fireworks that may or may not have been visible in the cloud cover and fog. But he really wanted to go so I pulled my socks up and tagged along.

Literally just as we crossed the bridge the rain subsided and by the time we parked the car the clouds and fog were receding. Receding? Evaporating? Well I’m sure there’s a proper word for clouds and fog going wherever it is they go when we suddenly can”t see them but it eludes me at the moment. We walked around the mall for a bit then made our way to the outdoor area designated for the ‘watchers’.

When the fireworks began I tried to plan my camera ‘clicks’ but gave up and just held it on the railing and clicked as fast as I could. Out of 244 ‘clicks’ I ended up with about a dozen decent shots and a half dozen absolutely magnificent shots. The one shown here reminded me of a champagne bottle exploding. I scaled it down to fit this post and will clean it up when I’m ready to enlarge it. But not bad for a dismal day and a now antique digital camera!

One of the reasons I was especially grumbly about this trip across the river was that towards the beginning of last week I had a strange and unpleasant experience that just gradually kept getting worse. Itchy heels. When I was first diagnosed with diabetes, I was warned that one day I would experience some tingling in my toes and fingers, that as time went on the long term effects of having too much sugar in my blood would show up as poor circulation, kidney problems, liver troubles, weight gain, failing eyesight and oh brother the list goes on.

So far I’ve been extremely lucky. I have regular check-ups and tests and while my diabetic ‘marker’ is sometimes too high for my doctor’s liking, I have managed to maintain healthy kidneys and liver, good eyesight and so far (knock wood) no numbness of limbs. So when I woke up at 2 am with this mild itching on both of my heels I thought – wow this must be how it starts. It persisted all the next day, though still mild and not too hard to ignore. The second night was worse. It was as if I’d stepped into a pile of itching powder that only affected the heels and I rubbed them against a roughly textured throw rug to make it stop long enough to find something soothing. I had a cream for tinnea (athlete’s foot) and generously applied it to both heels. I slept poorly for a few hours then it started up again making sleep virtually impossible.

I have an appointment with my diabetes doctor set for the first week in June, (the earliest I can get in to see him) and decided to tough it out until then. By Thursday, though, the itching was persisting during the day as well and I really wasn’t keen on putting hot shoes and socks on and itching in public from the warmth. It seems to be the warmth of the blankets and socks that exacerbate the itching. Since Friday afternoon I’ve not been able to sleep for more than just a couple of hours at a time so now I’m dealing with a bit of sleep deprivation on top – not a happy combination eh?

About 4 am this morning, as I sat poised on the edge of my chair at my desk, trying to get relief from the side of an old, worn out Easter basket, fantasizing about what we might have downstairs  in the workshop – you know – like maybe a nice rough woodfile or medium grade sandpaper – it occured to me that I was sitting in front of this generation’s best research tool ever: Google.

I typed itchy heels into the Google command bar and hit enter.  Oh my word. A menu popped up with suggestions: – at night – causes – of feet – I picked plain old itchy heels and hit enter.

1,470,000 hits. You’ve got to be kidding me right? Almost 1.5 million responses! What did we ever do before Google???

So I started down the list, looking for answers or causes or relief – and then I stumbled onto this website and was completely taken aback. An odd site called heelspur.com had placed in a separate file on a separate site this compilation of hundreds of people, all asking  the same question:  My heels itch so bad I can’t sleep is there any way to stop the itching?

From 2003 through 2009, literally hundreds of people with the same complaint had come together almost like a community. First there’s the question, then the realization that other people are out there with the exact same problem, then the realization that nobody knows – anything about this – this what – what do we even call it?

Here’s the common denominator in this thread: Everyone experiences it sometimes in the day but always, always at night within an hour or two after falling asleep. And nothing provides relief. Not a cream or a salve, not washing with bleach or rubbing tea tree oil – sometimes temporary relief comes with each of these things but it never ever lasts and you end up back at square one in only hours or a few days. No one has a rash or discolouration of any type, no build up of callous skin, no allergies to speak of, not new products or foods to rule out. Just this God awful persistent itch.

Here are the differences: The people on this site have been to dermatologists, sports doctors, neurologists, dieticians – some have undergone the expense of MRI’s, others have paid thousands of dollars going to all different specialists and having blood tests, allergy tests, allergy shots, the works. Others have tried homeopathic, chiropractic and accupuncture. Some completely change lifestyles. One gentleman was sure it was something he’d picked up at a gym and he stopped going for his workouts. One man thought it was from wearing shoes and socks everyday and another thought it was from going barefoot. One woman had her feet scraped often thinking it was a bacteria that got under the calloused parts of her feet. Another woman had it only on the balls of her feet and not the heels at all but the itching was identical to what everyone was describing. A few people said it happened to only one heel and not the other.

One man says he keeps a grass welcome mat under his side of the bed so when it wakes him at night he can just dig in his heels and rub and rub until the itching stops, hopefully long enough to get back to sleep.

And these are all different people with different lifestyles. Athletes, non-athletes, fat people, skinny people, vegetarians, hot dog fans, diabetics, non-diabetics, men and women alike aged between 20 and 70, in different cultures in different countries all experiencing the exact same dilemma.

I can’t adequately describe the sensation. The itching is maddening. It is all encompassing. You think about nothing else but ways you might try to stop the itching. It is a completely insane physical complaint.

In reading all the ways people have tried to deal with this ridiculously sounding crisis, one man said he tried some Ibuprofen and it seemed to give him some relief. Well I have Ibuprofen in my medicine cabinet and it sounded a lot saner than the poor woman who deliberately went to a public swimming pool once a month to scrub her feet hard against the coarse surface of the chlorine-covered pool floor – so I got a glass of water and took one tablet. Still itchy. About 30 minutes later I took a second. Thirty minutes after that I took a third and within ten minutes the itching was subsiding. By 6 am I was crawling back into bed hoping for at least two hours sleep before it started up again…

Spouse woke me up around 1:30pm. I opened my eyes and waited for the itch. It wasn’t there. All day long I have waited for the itch amd all day long it’s been gone. I don’t know for how long, but I will take one tablet at bedtime from now until my doctor appointment in June. I don’t hold any hope for being told what this mysterious itchy heel thing is, but I will mention it to him anyway and show him the website. Six years of online questions with no medical authority ever once stepping in to give an answer or solution. Too weird.

This is the link to the comments.  It’s worth a few minutes scanning to see the amount of total frustration shared by all these people and how some of them came togetgher to try and solve a problem nobody else seemed able to solve. The commenters slowly evolve into an entire community who in turn welcome newcomers who came online to get answers, only to find there were only more people with the same question. Frustrating, of course, but there’s also a great deal of relief in the simple discovery –  you’re not alone.

For all the things the internet does wrong, once in a while it does something really, really right. Kudos to the developers of search engines and the programmers who have made it possible for total strangers around the globe to click a button, browse a menu and immediately jump into a conversation that could improve their quality of life.

Here are a few of the better fireworks photos from last week. Click each to enlarge – feel free to share 🙂

     

============ UPDATE ============
07 April 2012

Every couple of months I notice that this post attracts a new comment from someone who (like the rest of us Googled in quiet desperation looking for a cure.So because there are still people searching for answers to this ridiculously irritating yet medically-unpublished condition I thought I’d take a moment (while my arm is healing from having been broken in January and I’m retraining myself to type with two hands and use the mouse without screaming) to bring you all up on my personal progress/experience. I’m also adding it to my current folder so it doesn’t get dropped from a search engine.

I’m not sure any of the techniques/herbs/medications accomplished anything to be honest. Almost everything I tried gave an illusion of granting relief temporarily but none for any substantial amount of time. I purchased a roughly-textured doormat and kept it by my bed but while I got relief, the skin on the bottoms of my feet began to suffer.

Eventually I purchased a thickly-shagged bath mat with a rubber no-slip bottom and that did the trick.
There was just enough scruffy texture to satisfy the itch but not enough to break the skin. It was enough to let me sleep – which is what I needed to recover the most. Without sleep the rest of your mind and body fall apart and then nothing goes well.

A week after writing this post I met with my GP who happens to also hold credentials in dermatology. He was flummoxed. He made phone calls to other specialists on my behalf – and no one knew what I was on about. My doctor did advise, however, to never take more than 1200mg of Ibuprofen per day, (6 x 200  mg tablets) and then only for short periods of time, never prolonged periods. The itching returned just days after I’d begun taking it so I gave it up easily.

Then, sometime in late June, probably just around a month after originally writing this post, the itching came to a full stop and never – never once – returned.

No explanation. No cure. The mysterious itching that had taken over my life simply stopped and never came back.

My advice to anyone seeking an answer is this:  When it itches,  scratch it. Not so hard the skin breaks, but just until there’s this sort of almost burning sensation. Like you’ve generated heat, just like the heat you get from rubbing two sticks together when attempting to build a campfire. That ‘just-before-it-becomes-unbearable’ b it of heat seems to be the signal that all the itching is going to stop for a bit. Take advantage of that. Get some sleep. With any luck it will eventually just stop for you too.

Oh and complain to your doctor. The more doct0rs who9 hear about this from their patients, the better chance we all have for someone in the medical profession to sit up and take notice – and find some decent remedies!

My thanks to all the commenters – along with my sincerest sympathies. This is not a club any of us wanted to join, eh?

 

By now I’m sure you all think I have a fetish for Sarah Palin’s full-length, red winter coat. Pfft. Red isn’t even my colour. But yes, here we are again addressing this bit of fur-topped cloth because while looking for a photo which promised to prove beyond doubt that Sarah was in fact showing a baby bump as early as February 2008,  I instead tripped over all of this:

16 February 2008

To review – Sarah’s spokesperson, while giving the press a statement on behalf of the Palins, Mr. & Mrs. Todd, only hours after the supposed birth of son Trig, set the timeline for Sarah’s alleged pregnancy. The bub was born that morning, 18 April 2008 at 36 weeks making him exactly one month premature. Sarah has laughingly bragged about having only been pregnant for a month. I often believe that’s more truth than irony as she only had to fake it for 30 days. Telling the world she was only pregnant for a month may well be the honest truth – making that her little joke on the rest of us. But I digress.

If Sarah Palin was 36 weeks pregnant on the morning of 18 April 2008 that meant she was 30 weeks pregnant at the photo-op with the Target Mascot on 1 March 2008 (below) and subsequently 28 weeks pregnant when she waved the checkered flag at the finish of the 2008 Iron Dog Race in the video above.

For those unfamiliar (yes, I’m looking at all the men now) with how weeks and trimesters work let me offer a brief explanation. Without going into menstruation cycles and counting backwards to flow times (stop cringing boys you can shoulder this for a few more seconds) to calculate due dates, just know a human pregnancy is 9 months divided into three sections – or trimesters. The first trimester is from 1-12 weeks, the second is week 13 through 27 and the third is week 28 through 40. (And while all women are different, there are certain physical traits which occur in all pregnancies, inherent to each of the different trimesters.)

Technically the first trimester includes the 2 weeks just prior to conception and the three are calculated as: 1-12, 13-27, 28-42 weeks in all. I only mention this because in the photos I’m about to show you, there will be natural discrepancies in some cases of 1-2 weeks in how the following women are measuring their number of weeks pregnant and it would be impossible for me to make corrections. So for the purpose of this post I am taking these women’s claims at face value.

So minor discrepancies aside, the important thing to remember is none of these pregnant women are in their first trimester. All are reporting being at between 28 and 30 weeks along and regardless of inaccuracies in measurments, all are well beyond the stage of being able to hide a growing 2-3 lb fetus wrapped in a bubble of amniotic fluid surrounded by body fat.

At the Iron Dog Race Sarah would have been – by her own admission – around 28 weeks pregnant or, at the beginning of her third trimester. The baby would have been 2 lbs. 6 oz (the birth weight of 6 lbs. 2 oz sets this number).

I invite you to look at the video again. Wait! What? At :14 how does she bend backwards? How is her posture so erect? Where’s the arched back that adjusts ones posture to compensate for the front bulge? Why isn’t she doing the duck walk? Pregnant women beyond the first trimester have a definitive ‘waddle’ due to a spreading pelvis and the pressure exerted from housing a small person in your abdominal cavity. The front load causes your normal balance to be off-kilter making it difficult to bend forward, certainly but… tossing your head back, kicking your foot out and leaning backwards is a pipe dream for us mere mortals.

Walking with your legs together? Not after the pelvis has begun to spread, parting your hips like Moses and the Red Sea you don’t.

Maybe it’s because she is in such great shape, being so thin and having tight abs…

Hmm…

It’s got to be the red coat! It’s enchanted! It’s magical! There’s just no other explanation! Otherwise how could Sarah do this just two weeks later:

Well let’s be fair. We all have different body shapes and sizes. Maybe Sarah was slimmer than the woman above.

Oops.

A magic coat that makes a 3 lb bub and 5 lbs worth of amniotic fluid disappear when you want to bend over and pet a dog! Sarah’s missed her calling. It appears the real fortune is in marketing a whole line of Made in Alaska Enchanted Red Winter Coats!

(Ok but… what animal do you need to shoot to get it?)

Many bloggers including those at Palin’s Q&A, Joe McGinniss and The Immoral Minority (links to the right) have weighed in on Sarah Palin’s latest slip of the tongue when, in answering a question during a Fox interview said (regarding how presidential candidates should be treated):

“There’s gotta be the preparation on all the candidates’ parts for those gotchas. That’s what the lamestream media is known for nowadays is the gotcha, trip-up questions, and I just have to be prepared for it and overcome it.”

The slip, of course is in having included herself among the candidates by saying “I” instead of ‘they’ and it’s made a lot of skeptics rethink their opinion of whether or not Ms. Palin will be tossing her bumpit into the 2012 ring.

I would like to add my opinion – if I may.

Sarah Palin has been running for President since she first stepped onto the national political stage as John McCain’s running mate in the fall of 2008. And she hasn’t stopped, not for a minute. In her mind she is not just a viable candidate but America’s only choice. She has fantasized and lived over and over again her acceptance speech, inauguration address, what she’ll wear, how her hair will look – the expressions on all of her children’s faces as they stare adoringly back at her from the sidelines…

Sarah Palin has no actual clue what running for president of a country means in terms of what she needs to know socially, economically or professionally (but you can bet she practiced the Queen’s wave to perfection). It is of absolutely no consequence to her that she is – among those who have sought this office before and now – the most ill-prepared woman of all times. To Sarah, preparing to run for the highest office in the land means making a list of all-purpose comebacks for those darned ‘gotcha’ questions. It’s 2011 and she still thinks and speaks in talking points. (Sadly, we can thank McCain’s staff for teaching her that little trick…)

Sarah said “I” because deep inside that disturbingly childish mind of hers she has already chosen new drapes for the oval office, counted the number of servants who will be at her beck and call, made one list of people she wants jailed for daring to cross her and another for people to whom she can crow “I told ya so” with self-righteous, vengeful glee.

I know in my heart that Sarah believes she’s running. She’s thought about nothing else since that first spotlight shone down upon her and she felt the warmth of a cheering audience. She quit her job so she would be free to make enough money to travel the country and stand in spotlight after spotlight after spotlight. To Sarah, this is how to prepare for an election ergo, she is prepared.

But when it finally sinks into Sarah’s hubristic head that in the real world people are going to ask her questions she does not want to answer,  that her one-liner talking point comebacks will not stave off an aggressive reporter and that her children won’t be allowed to provide a distraction, she’ll cut and run like a small fishing boat being chased by an enormous whale.

Sarah is her biggest doting fan. She’s fallen for her own talking points and believes her own bull. Of course she’s running.  She’s just not running for long.

Especially if this is true:
-Oz

BTW – Is it just me or has anyone else noticed that the more power Sarah perceives she has the more ill-mannered she becomes? I’ve noticed she’s begun cutting people off in mid-sentence, seems less careful about veiling her insults and speaks progressively louder when she thinks the person listening isn’t getting what she’s saying?

Wouldn’t a temper tantrum on camera be just lovely right about now?

PS – Geoffrey Dunn’s book is like having found a security blanket. It’s so comforting to see in print what some of us have been out here suspecting and feeling for over two years. His insights are thoughtful and spot on. Although I’m not done yet (Dunn yet? *chuckle*) I highly recommend the read 🙂

… try to wrap your head around this photo. This was the photo that did it for me. A lot of focus of late has been on the pink scarf flat stomach shot but back in November of 2008 we didn’t all have access to the same photos, most of the governors website photos were being scrubbed faster than the rest of us could record them with screenshots – and this was the one remaining photo that convinced me beyond doubt that Sarah Palin had faked her pregnancy.

From Oz Mudflats November 2008:

I defy anyone, anywhere, to have a pregnant woman duplicate this pose at 30 weeks. Sarah is clearly bending where a 30 week fetus should have made bending impossible. Her slim winter coat is fully zipped around her midsection. You can tell by the cut that it is not a maternity coat. It is a normal coat. Her knees are bent forward, she’s reaching with one arm fully extended and she’s not falling over.

For the record – I could not have stood like this in my second trimester – any of them – and this is 30 weeks – or 4 weeks into a third trimester. I could not button or zip any of my normal winter coats past the first trimester. I could not have bent at the knees, reached down and bent forward at the same time. And I was a dancer with extremely disciplined muscles.

Here – let me lighten this photo for you:

There is some misinformation in my older blog posts, but this isn’t it. In the early days we got the timeline wrong on her flights and travel from Texas to Wasilla. It took several months and many discussions with people who actually live in Alaska to sort the facts from rumours and misinformation. This is about none of that. This is about physics. Period.

This pose of Sarah’s was simply not possible. A 30-week fetus doesn’t just disappear because mom decides to bend over and pet a dog.

I’m off to read Geoffrey Dunn’s new book now… can you smell the popcorn?

Overslept this morning (I’m old – it happens) and when spouse heard me walking into the kitchen he hollered “Package for  you – I put it on your desk.” Flicked the switch on the kettle, climbed into my fuzzy winter slippers and warm, snuggly robe, hurriedly fixed a cuppa and opened the door to my office.

And there it was, in all its glory, begging to be freed from its cold cardboard shipping sleeve. It travelled more than 6000 miles in just under 72 hours. Not bad.

Looks like spouse will be doing the Rocky marathon without me. I’m happy to help with the popcorn though!

Thanks Geoffrey!

Spouse came up behind me while I was stretched out on the bed watching television. Winter has arrived early in Queensland. Days are shorter – nights are cold. Evenings spent watching television under the covers will be the perfect norm for a while.

Spouse curled up beside me and pulled my hair aside letting the cool night air waft across my bare neck. He leaned forward, his breath, heavy and warm and softly cooed…

“Don’t make any plans for the weekend.”

“Ooo. Why? What do you have in mind?”

“Rocky I, II, III and IV are on cable. And I just bought popcorn.”

Suddenly I heard my mother’s voice saying “…let him live, sweetie, let him live.”

That small albeit wise admonition has helped keep my marriage together lo  these many years.  On the other hand – Sly Stone and popcorn. Life just doesn’t get any better…

Next Page »