Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Finally, a new car...

I finally took the plunge. After lots of research and lots of looking, I finally bought a new car a couple of days ago. New car, new style, bright new color! I went from a 1991 sports car to a 2006 sports car that looks (and feels) brand new.

For once I had a crazy day (with 37 phone calls before 10:30...all in crisis mode), and I wasn't melting in the heat and looking for a shady place to park. It was hard to say goodbye to ole Bessy. She went through a lot with me...radiators being stolen, trips across country, and many, many other memories (some good, some bad). So, now a new car, with new memories to make...

And, ahhh, to have a new, air conditioned car again! For the first time in ages, when someone asked me if it was getting hot out there today, I actually said I hadn't noticed.

The New Wheels

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Heat & Weakness...and Let It Go Already!

I have driven my car for too many summers now without air conditioning. I never planned on keeping it as long as I have, and should have put the money into it when it gave out. This wouldn't be such a problem if I wasn't in and out of my car several times a day (and there are only so many shady parking spots). It also probably wouldn't be such a problem if I didn't have Multiple Sclerosis.

My MS is pretty manageable. I work a very hectic job in social services, and also do freelance writing and photography. Most people are shocked when they find out I have MS. They have no idea.

When the humidity and heat goes way up, however, the regular problems I have from time to time become much more frequent and much less manageable. After melting in the heat all day, I often come home and literally collapse. My eyes are blurry, my legs feel weak, my head is fuzzy - and I often have what feels like the start of a migraine.

Put in a better way, Julie Stachowiak, Ph.D.
, describes it quite well on her blog. It's that anxious feeling that overwhelms you when the heat starts going up:

"For many of us with multiple sclerosis (MS), summer fills us with anxiety. Hot weather means MS symptoms and, well, suffering.

Heat intolerance in MS shows up as a "pseudoexacerbation" -- the experience of having symptoms appear or worsen due to heat exposure. This is different than a true relapse. In the case of a pseudoexacerbation, when the body’s temperature returns to normal, these symptoms disappear. No damage, such as inflammation, demyelination or new lesions, has been done during these pseudoexacerbations.

Heat intolerance is felt as increased symptoms, such as:
  • Decreased cognitive function
  • Numbness in the extremities
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision, known as Uhthoff’s sign
  • Tremor
  • Weakness

Really, any MS symptoms can be much worse in the heat. Sometimes, symptoms appear that we might not have felt before, which is the result of a lesion in a corresponding area of the brain or spinal cord that was slight enough that it did not cause a relapse or symptoms dramatic enough to notice."

So, yes heat makes MS worse. And, yes there is an emotional attachment to my little sports car. It took me across country packed to the roof with necessities while the rest of my belongings sat in storage. It had the radiator stolen out of it (a whole other story), it has gotten me through so many things...and it's still a very cool looking car. When I bought it is had 31,000 miles on it. It now has almost 191,000.

But, attachment or not, it's time. It's cute, it's fun, it handles great in the snow. It will probably go another 100,000 miles easily. But, it isn't worth putting the money into it to fix the air.

So cool or not, it's just too hot.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Don't Hate Her Because She's Beautiful?

On a recent news broadcast it was reported that a conservative writer named A.W.R. Hawkins wrote a piece entitled, "Liberals Hate Palin Because She’s Beautiful." According to Hawkins:
"Liberals have never liked former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. They don’t like that she didn’t go to an Ivy League school, that she doesn’t follow the usual protocol of not speaking until a liberal says it’s okay to do so, and that she chose to carry her Down Syndrome baby to term instead of aborting it. (That last one really drives them crazy.)

They dislike her political support for smaller government, tax cuts, and a strong military. They are outraged by her ongoing push for drilling in ANWR, her participation in hunting sports, and the fact that she’s a card-carrying, Life Member of the NRA.

But all these reasons are trumped by the fact that they despise her beauty. It pushes them over the edge to know that she doesn’t just shoot an assault rifle, but makes an assault rifle look good when shooting it."

From a woman's perspective, let me set the record straight on just a couple of things: I could care less where a person goes to school, as long as they are well-educated and intelligent. On carrying her baby to term, that was an admirable choice as his mother. It is yet another generalization that all liberals are pro-abortion. On the NRA matter: I'm an animal lover, I don't care for guns, and I'm a vegetarian. But, I'm not one of those people who say everyone has to eat like I do. If you hunt and eat your meat (and it isn't just for sport), I don't have a problem with that either. But, to say she "makes an assault rifle look good when shooting it?" Really? Does anyone look good shooting an assault rifle?

The real issues are different:

#1: She isn't all that beautiful. She's sort of pretty - if you can get past the deer-in-the-headlights look. But even if she was gorgeous, liberals are continuously criticized for being intellectuals and independent thinkers (which is really a compliment, by the way). To say they hate someone because she is so pretty, is not really sticking with the whole intellectual thing. It also discounts (once again) all the heterosexual women who don't look at her that way anyway.

#2: She does annoy me, but I don't hate her. My concern with her is she isn't all that bright and only talks about things that she has memorized. Simply said, she is just plain unqualified. There are many people who have stepped out to run for president who are unqualified - male and female, Republican and Democrat. If someone is going by looks alone, they aren't looking deep enough. This isn't a PTA position or a part in a summer play - it is running the country.

#3: As I've said before, the woman has set educated, intelligent, feminist women back years. When she came out in her tight little skirts and spike heels, with her hair perfectly teased that was - again - fine for other forums. Not for vice presidential debates. Not for serious political issues in a time when we have some major ones.

#4: I've always thought Antonio Banderas is, well, pretty fine. If he came out looking all hot and touted off all kinds of memorized political points, guess what? I still wouldn't vote for him for president. Because he isn't qualified.

I have a lot of friends who are beautiful, educated, very intelligent women with good jobs, many of them moms, some of them not, and guess what - they see things the same way. Enough with the superficial junk. She isn't that pretty. She isn't that smart. And even if she looked like Giselle Bündchen, she just plain isn't qualified.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Wasn't Their Old Logo "Beyond Petroleum?"

There are many bad things about this whole BP Disaster. There's the loss of human life, the loss of wildlife, the obvious pollution of the ocean that will take years to clean up, the loss of money for businesses - not to mention that the gulf coast gets socked...again!

I used to always get my gas at BP stations. This was more for convenience than anything else. Where I live, it seems there is a BP gas station every few miles. You literally have to drive out of your way to find a different station.

Unfortunately, it isn't that a disaster like this hasn't happened before. It's just the outright greediness, complete negligence, lack of being able to see possible consequences - and have a plan in place - is ridiculous! And this is from a company that has BILLIONS in profits each year and could have clearly afforded to have a plan when something like this DID happen.

Flicker is running a contest for new logos for BP
right now. People are angry and creative at the same time. There are so many good ones. My personal favorite so far:

029 by Greenpeace UK.

I have a car and I have to drive it (even though it's a little car). In my line of work, I have no choice. If I could bike or walk to work, I would. But, most Americans do use oil, and the added problem of depending on foreign oil is not good either. It is more that the record profits made by this company, lack of planning for disasters, and complete disregard for wildlife and for people is sickening.

Quite frankly, this all sucks. Especially for New Orleans. And it isn't even hurricane season yet.

I think it is worth the drive to go elsewhere.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Those Who Save Us

I finished a book last night that is still with me. Very haunting, very sad....extremely well written. "Those Who Save Us," by Jenna Blum, flips back and forth between a mother in 1940's Germany during World War II, and 1993-1997 Minnesota from her grown daughter's perspective in Minneapolis.

Many parts of the story are very difficult to read - the atrocities inflicted on the Jewish people of the time, the enormous cruelty of the Nazi's, and the horrible struggles of the German people that carry forth into the modern day with both mother and daughter. The vivid images, the sadness and horror of what people lived something that we should never forget. My Uncle Bill, who was one of the soldiers who marched into Dachau, was much like the character, Anna. All these years later, he will not speak of it.

On another interesting note, the detailed descriptions of Minnesota and the cold winters here are obviously written by a woman who has lived here.

A very well-researched, worthwhile read, Blum says it best at the end. In her acknowledgements at the back of the book, Blum states: "And to the survivors themselves, who demonstrated unparalleled courage and generosity in sharing their stories, I cannot express adequate gratitude in words: perhaps it will suffice to say that you are living miracles and nothing you have said will ever be forgotten."