Political Engineer

Mr. Cold's Meditations

Death in the Family
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Uncle Boojy passed away this afternoon. His given name was Charles Prejean, he and my Aunt Pat were the relatives that lived in Gramercy, LA not too far from where I was in New Orleans. He was diagnosed with cancer in late August I believe, but by the time they found it it had already spread everywhere. I made it a point to get up there as often as I could since then. It was not as often as I wanted, as I was unemployed and gas funds were short. but generally I managed to get up there twice or three times a month.

I never wrote about it here, because it was important to me not to talk to him or about him as though he was already dead. He was always one of my favorite relatives, a unique and irreplaceable character. He was funny, he was smart, he was adventurous, he was creative, and there wasnt a mean bone in the man's body. Most unusually these sorts of things were said about the man when he was still in perfect health. And so it was important to me to put on my game face, act like everything was normal, and preserve both his dignity and the personality traits I found so appealing.

The EMT class actually helped a lot in that department. It taught me about death and dying, treating the terminally ill with dignity, and how to confront such issues. More importantly it taught me enough about signs, symptoms, and basic medicine to be able to give pointers and suggestions to improve his comfort level as the chemotherapy treatments and the cancer took their toll on his body.

It did not, however, teach me how to keep my game face on and hide my horror as a big, healthy 6 foot plus man wasted away to frail wisps with limbs in front of me. That nobody can teach. I sucked it up and did it because I was there for his good cheer, not mine. More importantly than that though, was the fact that he had confidence in my judgement. Part of it was the knowledge I had before, part of it was the newfound authority in my voice from the things I picked up in the EMT course. But for whatever reason he thought I was some sort of genius or prodigy. I knew that any sign of weakness on my part would make him feel worse than if somebody else did it.

I brought him movies I had burned that I thought he might enjoy. As he couldnt get around so much movies were really the only entertainment available to him. And we would chit-chat about this and that. His favorite subjects were restaurants he has loved and music stores he has loved. wherever he travelled, wherever he lived, he always hunted down the best kept secret diners and dive restaurants and music stores. Oh he had other hobbies and interests, but those were his favorites. And we had fun, just like before when he wasnt sick.

We all knew what the outcome was likely to be, and by the time I left we knew this day was coming soon. But it doesnt really make it any easier. But I was glad I got to spend the time with him before he went. I wish it could have been more, but I was grateful for what I got. And I was glad he got to see me on my way to finishing up my schooling and moving forward with my life, the way he wanted me to. But I didnt want him to go either. Its easy to forget when someone has been around all your life that nobody lives forever, and that to everyone there is a beginning and an end. I'll miss him, and so will everyone who knew him.

The trick here is to read the whole thing and pay special attention to the last paragraph...
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A real sign from Canadian Fisheries and Wildlife in British Columbia. Again, read the WHOLE THING from start to finish. Do not skip anything. It is the most awesome sign I've seen in a while.

new development on old news.
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So some years ago I ended up quitting the Tulane Hullabaloo more or less due to a profound indignity I had to suffer that was an unfortunate wakeup call to the fact that the real world is not a meritocracy. I had been passed over for a promotion everyone knew I deserved to Chief Copy Editor in favor of the girl the editor in chief was shtupping.

This was a girl who on thursdays before the paper went to press, if she showed up at all, she showed up late and left early and missed big things. After she edited stories I used to have to go over them again and catch what she missed. I stayed in there all night with the incumbent chief until the job was done, and no story I edited EVER got through looking less than professionally done. No copy errors and no style errors either.

So the editor has the nerve to try and ask me to stay. He had no response when I called him on it. I told him he could forget it. I continued to write opinion articles for Kat, the opinions editor at the time. But I refused to edit under his girlfriend, who was an incompetent airhead, drove off anyone with any sense at all, and ended up basically flushing the paper down the toilet for a while copy editing wise, which more or less put it out of the running for a lot of awards.

Well I was looking on facebook at suggested friends and there this broad was, with the old editors last name. Its good to know he didnt just give me the shaft for any old college floozie. He screwed me out of the position I had earned for his future wife.

More evidence my decision to finish up premed and go to med school is correct
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About a month ago Tristan posted this article about a girl with intractable sneezes (12,000 a day roughly) that was baffling doctors. I noticed right away the tic like nature of it and suggested it was a tic disorder related to Tourette Syndrome. They clearly werent proper productive sneezes, were repetitive, waxed and waned in severity throughout the day, became more frequent when attention was called to it or during stress, and disappeared during sleep. Proper Tourettes Syndrome is manifest in childhood, not adolescence. The diagnostic criteria indicates that tics must be initially manifest at age 6 or younger. I suggested it was one of several closely related tic disorders or, less likely, a brain lesion along the circuit pathways involved in tic disorders like corpus striatum-thalamus-cortical circuits. that was at the beginning of november.

Well it turns out that after a month and dozens of doctors with dozens of theories that all were dead ends an official diagnosis was finally handed down of PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcus), which is a Tourettes Related condition discovered a little over a decade ago that I became familiar with at a Tourettes Syndrome Association Medical Symposiam (a CME accreditation seminar I crashed at the national conference in DC). Its basically Tourettes symptoms caused by a fairly rare reaction to a Strep infection which produces micro-lesion like patterns of damage on the aforementioned brain circuits relating to tic disorders. Researchers believe it accounts for 5-10% of Tourettes Syndrome diagnoses. But since it can manifest any time from infancy through teenage years it is sometimes diagnosed as adult tic disorder. she had had a "cold" just before the onset of symptoms, as did her sister. Her sister recovered normally, but she began sneezing intractably. That is about par for the course with PANDAS.

So the question is...am I good or am I good.

In honor of Armistice Day, a poem from World War I by Wilfred Owen
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Wilfred Owen

Dulce Et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.

GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!-- An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime.--
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,--
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.*

*For those who dont know, that phrase is etched over the entryway to Arlington National Cemetery and many other monuments. Its translation is along the lines of "It is sweet and honorable to die for one's country."

And now for something completely awesome...
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Welcome to Bod By Zod, courtesy of Robot Chicken

Attention everyone!
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I would like to draw your attention to a recent discovery, and what I am now endorsing as the most awesome site ever.


Its like Jay Leno's "Headlines" only 10 times better.

Sign of the Times?
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Graffiti spotted on a French Quarter wall:

"If you are looking for sympathy you'll find it right between shit and syphillis in the dictionary."

Does anybody besides me remember when graffiti used to be lively, irreverent, crude, crass, and carefree? "For a good time call Melanie (504) 444-4444" or "Made a poo-poo drew a choo-choo." or "Here I sit all broken hearted. Tried to shit but only farted."

Are those days over? Has the shit-disturbing youth of this country reached such profound levels of darkness and cynicism that this is what we can expect to see written on the walls in years to come? How depressing! I'm of half a mind to go out with a spray can or permanent marker and write on the same wall "Poop and fart jokes 4 life!"

I wont, because I'm an upstanding member of the community, but I've definitely got the urge to do so.

What's Wrong With This Picture
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I borrowed this screencap from spartonian and wish to engage in a little experiment. Who can tell me what is wrong with this picture:


Comments will be screened until I figure I have received pretty much all of the replies I am going to get.

Edit: congratulations to the people on my f-list, you are all in the top 14 percent of intellects in this country. last time I checked 86% of graduating US high school seniors could not identify Iraq or Afghanistan on a map. Apparently a bunch of those went to work for Fox News, but all commenters noticed that Iraq was mislabled "Egypt" so give yourselves a pat on the back for proving my friends are disproportionately smart people.

new userpic
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I like it. I will probably switch back to my old default pic in a week or so and just use this as my moderator usericon on my communities, but for now I am finding it entertaining.


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