Doing battle with daily dragons

Thursday, February 09, 2006

So Long, Farewell....

To mark my blogaversary, this will be the final post on Blogger. Now that the SQL problem with Wordpress seems to be under control, I shall make my way over to my new premises at I still haven't entirely gotten the walls painted or unpacked all the boxes yet, but it's furnished enough to sleep in.

Pretty please update any blogrolls accordingly! Cheers!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

"No, Mr. Bond.....I Expect You to Die."

I understand that there's going to be a certain amount of vilification of criminals in the press, but I thought it was bad form of BBC online to use the cover photo from Abu Hamza's top ten album, "Songs to Slay Infidels By".

Monday, February 06, 2006

A World Gone Mad

Just a little wisdom for today:

" Personally its not God I dislike, its his fan club I cant stand."


On a day when the news is dominated about people globally setting fire to things due to something some guy drew on the back of a cocktail napkin, I’m sitting here thinking belly-related thoughts.

Despite the apparent sweet deal of lying around and sleeping all day, you might be surprised to discover that there actually ARE some drawbacks of letting someone cut you open. Bruising, oozing and snoozing, one might say.

The procedure went smoothly. The Chiltern Hospital has rooms nicer than some Holiday Inns I’ve stayed in, plus you get the added fun of a bed that moves, (“Bed goes up, bed goes down. Bed goes up, bed goes down.”) room service every hour (although most hotels I know won’t give you codeine on demand) and every Sky channel known to man.

At any rate, as I was not awake myownself during said procedure, my surgeon was kind enough to take some souvenir photos. This is what he found:

That’s right. Not a damn thing. Turns out that instead a nasty reproductive disease, I instead have something that can be treated almost exclusively with Bran Flakes. I would like to blame my incredibly wet GP for not thinking of IBS before jumping to the conclusion that I had endometriosis (IBS is apparently CONSTANTLY misdiagnosed for endo. You’d think, that after cutting open enough women about my age, GP’s might be more inclined to make you eat more roughage for a month to see if that made any difference before wheeling you into the OR) but the truth is, after fertility problems, I was pleased at least to eliminate any obvious physical problems, despite the two week or so of recovery time.

Thanks to everyone for all the good wishes. If some final tweaking goes smoothly this evening, I hope to be able to permanently move into my new home on the web sometime tomorrow. Check back for an address to update blogrolls!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Back From The Dead

Just wanted to say everything went okay and that I'll be back among the living in a few days.

If anyone ever asks you if, for fun, they can fill your abdominal cavity with air, for the love of god, say no.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Adventures in Medicine: Part Three

Yet another chapter in the continuing saga of one woman’s close encounters with Health Care.

I know that January is a largely soul destroying month. Credit card bills from Christmas land in your letter box, the weather is trying it’s damnest to sap your energy, strength and will to live and your gut is slowly encroaching on your belt line. But if anyone has a little good will to spare to direct my way on Thursday, it would be much appreciated.

I’m a little apprehensive regarding the particular procedure I’ve got to undergo as it’s the first one I’ve ever had that will involve actual honest-to-god cutting. It seems like a terrible contradiction: In college, I let a girl called Serena stick a needle though my nose, using nothing but an ice cube for anesthetic, but the idea of a qualified professional poking a hole in my belly while being blissfully unconscious fills me with un-nameable dread.


The procedure is called a laparoscopy/hysteroscopy. The laparoscopy involves a very tiny incision being made under your bellybutton (Just for the record, this does NOT make your butt fall off. I’ve been made aware of a certain childhood myth perpetuated by sadistic adults that leads one to believe if your bellybutton ever comes undone, it will result in the loss of your posterior. THIS IS NOT TRUE) so that the surgeon can insert a tiny camera and have a good old nose around your lower abdomen. The hysteroscopy is pretty much the same but involves another camera being inserted into another notorious female orifice to get a view of the womb. (or a womb with a view, to quote another tired joke.)

The NHS, being terrifically over stretched, simply can’t investigate all fertility problems. A lot of you know (although some of you don’t) that we’ve had to deal with 2 miscarriages in the past year and a half. The lack of support that we experienced from the NHS was breathtaking; both during and after. I was fobbed off twice by GP’s who curtly said, “Oh, it’s very common,” as if I had a cold, and we were offered no aftercare or even sympathy. Of COURSE it’s common. Medical science believes it occurs in up to ¼ of ALL pregnancies, but this fact doesn’t make up for the crushing disappointment. Not being willing to suffer through a 3rd before qualifying for NHS investigation, I’ve been blessed enough to have been thrown a lifeline by AXA-PPP.

I didn’t deal much with insurance companies in the States. I was covered fully under my parent’s phenomenal insurance until I graduated from college and after that, I had only catastrophic coverage while living in Minneapolis, before I moved to the UK. My dad was always the one who spent hours on the phone with the people determined to screw you out of cover despite the fact that you paid for it monthly.

But for some reason, AXA-PPP doesn’t seem to operate this way.

Me: Oh great and merciful insurer, I’ve got to have an unpleasant procedure involving my nether regions. In the name of all that is holy and just, I beseech you to pay for it seeing as how, you know, I give you money every month for just this eventuality.

AXA Rep: Erm, yeah, that’s fine. You’re covered.

Me: .....................................

AXA Rep: Ma’am? Are you still there?

Me: I HAVE called an insurance company right? This isn’t the Samaritan’s hotline or something?

AXA Rep: Do you need anything else?

Me: Will you marry me?

I HAVE AN INSURANCE COMPANY THAT ACTUALLY DOES WHAT IT’S SUPPOSED TO. No fighting, no disputes. In the depths of despair, all I must do is remember them and feel that my faith in mankind is restored.

So on Thursday, spare a thought for me and my bellybutton. We’re both hoping for smooth sailing.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Blues Primer

Somewhere out in the far reaches of the solar system, there are 2 bleeping boxes silently whizzing through space. These boxes, launched into space in 1977, have passed through the heliopause, outside of which our sun holds no dominion. In addition to millions of dollars worth of technology, these boxes also serve as mankind’s ambassadors in deep space. Their golden records contain mathematical maps pointing back towards earth, diagrams of human beings and sounds from all over Earth, including a recording of a made in 1927 by a bluesman called Blind Willie Johnson.

One has to wonder what those who discover the Voyager’s golden records will think of the Blues. Chances are Blind Willie Johnson would have something particularly wise and laconic to say on the subject.

The Rock Star and I were watching Wim Wender’s documentary “Soul of a Man” last night; one part of a seven part series for PBS featuring different directors (including Clint Eastwood, who is an accomplished blues pianist, by the way.) and their take on the blues brought under one banner by producer, Martin Scorsese. I have to admit to being a bit late in “getting” the blues, although The Rock Star has been a huge fan for a decade or so. I’ve picked up a good deal of my musical taste from him (which is lucky for both of us. I can’t imagine what might have happened if I couldn’t stand Guns N Roses.) and have come to admire not only the music, but the rich tradition behind it. Without the blues, there would have been no rock and roll. Rock was just the blues sung faster by white people.

Record company exec #1 (circa 1950)- Well, we got all this black music that sells okay, but what do you reckon we have to do to make some real money off of it?

Record company exec #2 (circa 1950)- I’ve got it! Hey you! Skinny white kid with the funny hair! Yeah, you! The one who can’t stop shaking his ass! Come here! Plug in that there guitar and speed these 12 bars up!

Skinny kid with the funny hair who can’t stop shaking his ass- Thank ya vera much.

The blues are an acquired taste. And these are 10 of the songs and artists that acted as my primer, so I thought I’d share. They’ll have you howling, “WHOOOOOA, BABY” in no time.

1) Dark was the Night, Cold Was the Ground- Blind Willie Johnson- Ry Cooder called it a “The most soulful, transcendent piece in all American music." Serious hairs on the back of your neck kind of stuff. It’s inclusion on Voyager’s golden record served to further validate the work of a man who died penniless in the late 40’s, living in the burnt out ruins of his house.

2) Hard Time Killing Floor Blues- Skip James (as recorded by Chris Thomas King)- Old blues recordings are sometimes hard to get next to due to the quality and often modern recordings are more palatable without losing the spirit of the original. Chris Thomas King, for any of you who’ve seen “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?”, played Tommy Johnson in the film, subject of the famous “Devil at the Crossroads” myth and cousin of legendary bluesman, Robert Johnson.

3) Come On in My Kitchen- Robert Johnson (as recorded by Keb Mo)- Johnson, who recorded some of the most covered blues songs in history, didn’t live to see his 30th birthday. In true blues tradition, legend has it his whisky was poisoned by a jealous husband. If you didn’t die from alcoholism, a beating after cheating at cards or jumping out someone’s bedroom window, you just ain’t got the blues. I got turned onto Keb Mo (real name, Kevin Moore; not a particularly inspiring blues name) while working in Borders in Minneapolis and we received one of his promotional CD’s. I played it whenever I was stuck back at the music information desk and thoroughly annoyed all my colleagues. The Rock Star has seen him twice and I’m very jealous.

4) Boom Boom and House Rent Boogie- John Lee Hooker- John Lee Hooker, at the time his autobiography was published when he was in his 80’s, was still going to bed at night with 2 blondes at a time. House Rent Boogie is more of a narrative than a song, and one that seriously tickled the Rock Star and me.

5) Mannish Boy- Muddy Waters (as recorded by Muddy Waters/Johnny Winter)- Chances are you know this song already- it is the classic parodied blues tune.

When I was at summer camp as a kid, we used to play “the Blues Game” at night in our cabins, taking turns making up songs about each other. They tended to go something like this:

Kid 1- His name is Mike…

Rest of the cabin- Da NA na NA na.

Kid 1- He better cover his head…

Rest of the cabin- Da NA na NA na.

Kid 1- Cause at 3 in the morning…

Rest of the cabin- Da NA na NA na.

Kid 1- Gonna put a snake in his bed!

Then the cabin would collapse into laughter and Mike would attempt to destroy everyone involved. This usually went on all night.

6) The Constipation Blues- Screamin Jay Hawkins- Hawkins was a serious oddball character in the Blues. I suppose you could call this a parody, but it’s definitely good for a laugh. Anyone who’s ever been stopped up can probably claim to have suffered from the blues.

7) The Thrill is Gone- BB King- “Blues Boy” King is probably the best known modern Blues performer of them all. At 80, he’s still touring. We’re hoping to catch him on the UK leg of his tour this year.

8) Pride and Joy- Stevie Ray Vaughn- A lot of people were rocking up the blues in the 60’s through the 90’s, but few did it better than SRV. “Texas Flood” is a must-own album.

9) Riverside-Kenny Wayne Shepherd- Kenny Wayne Shepherd owes a lot of his style to SRV (whose amp he sat on as a boy and listened to the great man do his thang.) but brings a fresh approach to texas blues/rock. This isn’t a traditional blues piece, but it’s brilliant and soulful nonetheless.

10) Burning Hell- Joe Bonamassa- a relatively new kid on the blues scene, but with serious axe skills and a gravely voice, he completely incinerates the stage.

Whoa, baby.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Four Things

Clive tagged me earlier with the "Four Things" meme, which I was awfully grateful for, because, like him with the hair, I have bugger all to write about today, having been absorbed in the rather tedious process of trying to rebuild my blog in Word Press.


Four Jobs I've had

  1. Silversmith
  2. Actor
  3. Bookseller
  4. Personal Assistant

Four Movies I can watch over and over

  1. Dogma
  2. The Godfather
  3. O Brother, Where Art Thou?
  4. Monsters Inc.

Four Places I've lived

  1. Mt. Airy, Maryland
  2. Goshen, Indiana
  3. Minneapolis, Minnesota
  4. Pitstone, UK

Four Places I've vacationed

  1. Las Vegas, Nevada
  2. New York, New York
  3. Banff, Canada
  4. Cornwall, UK

Four of my Favorite Dishes

  1. Pepperoni pizza with mushrooms
  2. Chicken stir fry with pineapple
  3. a buritto with beef, black beans, tomatoes, mexican rice, sour cream and guacamole
  4. Shoo fly pie

Four sites I visit daily

  1. BBC News
  2. MSNBC News

Four places I would rather be right now

  1. Somewhere with either
  2. Sun
  3. or
  4. Snow

Four Bloggers I am tagging to do this meme

  1. Darth Phil
  2. Alkelda the Gleeful
  3. abcgirl
  4. kmsqrd