All about Meniere’s Disease. Updated periodically.
When I’m questioned about why I’m retired already, or when someone airs doubts like are you really disabled? the subject of Meniere’s disease is bound to surface. It is bound to surface because Meniere’s disease is the answer to both questions. If you just stumbled across this article on my blog and want to know what is Meniere’s disease? I’ve never heard of it. I can understand that feeling. I’d never heard of it before its symptoms wrecked my life.
The phone buzzes with a notification. “Chest is open. She is on pump now. Everything progressing normally.” The Wife is undergoing open heart surgery. I sit in the waiting room alone, mercifully mask free because of this.
I remember the first time I heard open heart surgery used as a phrase. My grandfather had undergone a quintuple bypass back in the seventies. The surgeons had marveled at the complexity and his near-miraculous survival at the time.
The doctors and nurses now refer to these kinds of procedures as routine. “We do them all the time.” My heart doesn’t know this, refuses to accept that the opening of that beloved chest could be anything less than a near imminent death event. My all too active imagination can paint the scene in Technicolor for me, if I allow it.
I don’t allow it. I don’t want to see, to think of her that way. A piece of meat on the cutting table. Instead I will fill my head with classical music and meditate on the reunion we will have in a few short hours. No other outcome will be entertained no matter how many times those ravens of doubt perch over my mental doorways. I will see her again. We will embrace and she will chide me for being a silly sentimental old man.
That is the picture I will paint in my head instead of those other nightmares. Time enough for the nightmares afterwards.
The Wife has complained repeatedly that her renewed heart beats too fast. When she airs her complaints, I quietly thank her cardiologist for making sure her heart continued to beat regardless of pace. I would have missed her presence, her voice, if he hadn’t. It would have been difficult to find a reason to go on without her heart beating next to mine. Hopefully that predicament has been postponed for another twenty years. Here’s hoping we both make it to our fiftieth anniversary.
This is not news. I have never been allowed the delusion of control. Even my own hands defy my control, putting lines on paper wherever their whimsy takes them. Inanimate objects seem to argue with my attempts to put them where I want them.
Control is something to be dreamed about, not something that can be realized. I rarely even bother to dream of it.
Don’t forget that most men with nothing would rather protect the possibility of becoming rich than face the reality of being poor.
John Dickinson, 1776
Today I discovered to my horror that I have never written a proper review for my favorite Independence Day movie. Facebook reminded me that I sat down on July 4, 2013 and watched the Blu-ray version of:
But on that day eight years ago, I wrote a single line of text as a review for Facebook. I also quoted the movie twice, the quotes I include here, but all in all, not much of a review for a movie that I have seen no less than a score of times now. I searched the blog for a review; and while I have mentioned the movie many times here, I have never written an article just for the movie itself. I will rectify this lack of a proper review here and now.
1776 started life as a musical written by Peter Stone and the movie was written by Stone and directed by Peter H. Hunt. I have watched a variant of this film on the fourth of July every year since the Wife convinced me that musicals could be interesting by forcing me to sit down and watch A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum back at the beginning of our relationship. After that movie it was time to watch My Fair Lady and Victor/Victoria to name just two of my favorite musicals. On and on this introduction to the genre went, until I actually wanted to watch The Sound of Music for myself, and then I had to admit that there were some musicals that were okay. Somewhere in the middle of this educational series we sat down and watched a friend’s laserdisc copy of 1776.
The story of the existence of this version of the film is a tale all on its own. Peter Stone wrote his narrative on the creation of the Declaration of Independence back in 1969, and it was performed on Broadway 1,217 times. It was an unlikely success given its subject matter and the fact that the play went nearly thirty minutes between songs in the first act. It is a who-dun-it of a story about events that we know transpired successfully, and yet you wonder how it ever happened as you watch the actors on the screen. After the play left Broadway it was picked up to be made into a movie, the screenplay for which Peter Stone also wrote. He and the director struck up a good working relationship, and both were pleased with the resulting film when they put it to bed in preparation for its scheduled wide release.
Unbeknownst to them, the producer of the film, Jack Warner, had gotten a personal phone call from Tricky Dick Nixon, requesting that the musical not be released without at least being modified from the stage play. Specifically, he wanted this song removed from the film:
Jack Warner happily obliged, taking a handy pair of scissors to the film that he had told the director and the writer would not be altered from their approved cut. In the end he removed not only the offending song, but several other scenes and verses of songs so that the film flowed more to his personal liking.
After this radical revision it should have been no mystery why the movie went on to financial failure, being shoved into the historical waist bin along with the objectionable parts of the movie that Jack Warner removed. Except that the removed sections were not destroyed as Jack Warner directed. His secretary took the scenes out of the trash and preserved them so that they could be returned to the film’s director. This way he would know what had happened to the movie that he had so lovingly crafted over the preceding years, but had never been allowed to be seen by movie goers.
Decades went by, and interests came and went. There was talk of a revival of the Broadway musical, and along with it the question of what happened to the movie version that had tanked so horribly when it was released? Enough interest was generated that Pioneer contacted Warner Brothers and Peter Hunt about creating a laserdisc version of the movie for interested collectors.
Peter Hunt decided to reassemble the original film for Pioneer’s laserdisc version. The movie is complete with Jack Warner’s scribbles at the edit points, and the dust and scratch marks on several of the removed scenes. One removed scene was only available in black and white, a test-run, a connective shot that explains why some characters are outside the hall when the crucial independence declaration arrived from Virginia. There is a secondary audio on the laserdisc that goes into more depth about the story that I’ve related here as well. If you have a laserdisc player, you really should own a copy of this movie on laserdisc. It, like the making of The Abyss on its laserdisc release, is unique. There is no place else to find the exact content that is on that disc.
Watching that version of the film is to travel back in time to the years when it was made, an interesting juxtaposition between the times that were being celebrated with song, and the times when America was burning with internecine conflicts at the hands of the most ruthless man then living, the sitting President of the United states. It is nice to have that perspective as we nurse ourselves back from the brink of destruction, yet again. It’s hard to know how to feel this July fourth.
The United States has survived the presidency of the despot, Donald Trump, and the pandemic that he allowed to rage unchecked across the country and the world while he worried about what this meant for his re-election chances. The sun still rises and sets without him in the White House today, and it is quietly reassuring to not be told what it is that pisses Joe Biden off every single day that we wake up. What a nice change from the last four years of hell that we have all endured.
The Blu-ray version of 1776 is different from the raw attempt at destruction that is on display in the laserdisc copy of the film. Gone are the jarring ink-marks and color changes that announce Jack Warner’s and Tricky Dick’s violent raping of the movie before it was allowed to be seen by American audiences. The scenes flow smoothly in and out of song, just the way the director left it. Just the way he intended it to be seen. It was a nice contrast to experience the film the way it should have been seen back in 1972. A nice change from the conflict that has consumed us all for the last few decades.
I find this depth of hindsight inspiring. The hand of destruction escaped at the last moment, leaving the people to reflect on what it was that we almost allowed to happen. Again. And again. And again. Let us recommit ourselves to the experiment that started in 1776. It would be a shame to let all the sacrifice be for nothing if we don’t. Watch the reconstructed version of the movie, or see if you can find that secondary audio track that I mention on the laserdisc. Be inspired, yourself.
Commitment, Abby, commitment! There are only two creatures of value on the face of this earth: those with a commitment, and those who require the commitment of others.
Our analyses thus far have yielded a fairly simple story: throughout the crisis, the level of hardship faced by U.S. households can be directly linked to the federal government’s response. Despite historically high unemployment, in July 2020 we found that rates of hardship were stable—and in some cases declining—following the roll-out of Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act income support programs such as Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) and expanded unemployment insurance. Hardship remained relatively stable into early fall 2020 before increasing markedly in November and December 2020 as the economic recovery stalled and Congress delayed action on further relief measures. The trends we see in these hardship data are consistent with trends in other metrics of well-being during the crisis.
…This really shouldn’t be news. I am flabbergasted that it is news.
These people who are being kicked off of their unemployment benefits are going to be out on the street in record numbers, that is what is going to happen. Poor, starving people living out on the street with the other homeless people who represent a vast swath of the population that have been failed by the American dream.
My Pinterest account hovers on the verge of abandonment. I do need someplace online to catalog the images I’m fond of now that Flickr wants to charge me to keep more than a thousand images online. Poor Flickr, Another victim of the downfall of Yahoo! Like Tumblr, I abandoned my Flickr account rather than submit to the authority of Verizon.
Instagram is much easier for sharing my own images and I use it routinely for sharing images I create on my phone. If you want to test it’s usefulness, try getting a photo into Instagram from a Windows desktop. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
…Are you back yet?
Yeah, that’s right. You can’t load photos if you don’t have a camera attached to the computer. So much for Instagram’s usefulness to me at home, although it does at least attempt to address the fact that you can’t author images without a camera. If the platform has a camera though, any image you have on the device can be used, even if you don’t author it.
Don’t do a Google image search and then save images directly to your Pinboards. Pinterest stupidly just sends you back to Google when you try to reverse lookup your image, and it doesn’t highlight the image you clicked on as being the result you saved to the board in the first place. Pinterest is almost completely useless as an image catalog that is easily accessible. If you want to save images to Pinterest that you found through an image search, you have to go to the page the image comes from and then save the image to Pinterest directly. You’ll have to do that anyway the next time you think you might want to use that image for something.
The most use I’ve had for Pinterest is saving images that Windows has thrown at me as part of the Windows 10 logon screen, and I’ve wanted to track down exactly where the picture was taken. Bing, for its part, is nearly as useless as Pinterest as far as establishing authorship for any given image. This is one of those things that we as internet users really need to start addressing. Where do these images and ideas come from? Who is responsible for them? Who owns them? There is no collecting authority for image authorship, but there probably should be.
Pinterest is currently the bane of all image searches on Google, and this makes me question why I use it at all. Mostly I use it because I can’t afford to keep a copy of every single image I might want to reference later. I’ll either run out of hard drive space, or have so many files to sort through that I can’t find the image I want anyway. So I group them on Pinterest according to some loose heuristics and pretend that organization makes sense.
However, every time I go looking for an image from Bing or any other cool image platform (including Pinterest) I am inundated with useless Pinterest image results. Useless? Try right-clicking on this image and then clicking on one of the Pinterest results. Now find the image on that board. Go ahead, I’ll wait again.
Are you back yet? No? I didn’t think so.
Time’s up. Did you find the image or where it comes from? Now you know my pain. I was presented the image as this thumbnail on Pinterest:
I had to screenshot and then crop the central image because I couldn’t find the image in the 20k+ images on the author’s one board. Then I pasted it into a blank Chrome tab and did an image search appending this string:
To the search string. Magically, all the Pinterest results are removed from the results if you add that string. I then discovered that the image came from an etsy account and that the steampunk wrist band I was looking at was sold out. Oh, well. Cool image anyway. In replicating the exact search I had done moments ago, now I discover that some of the Pinterest results do take me to the exact image I want to see. This is doubly frustrating because I have wasted all the time it took to write this daily beef. Fuck you, Pinterest!
While listening to the Rachel Maddow show tonight, I noted that she casually referenced Earth 2 as the place where Donald Trump is still president. It was an amusing bit of Science Fiction trivia to bring back to the front of mind for a few minutes while contemplating the looming destruction of democracy as we know it at the hands of the Republican’s favorite tyrant. The idea of a mirror Earth is one of the tropes that you hear repeatedly over and over again wandering around in and out of fandom. Pramila Jayapal can be forgiven for not knowing the reference later in the show. I doubt very many people do know it, or they might even be confused as to which Scifi/fantasy experience is the one being referenced.
I mean, there are multiple references that will come up if you go looking for the phrase Earth Two on Google. There was a recent television show and even a 2011 movie that run along the same vein. I had to go looking for the title of the movie that I was pretty sure Rachel was referencing myself because I hadn’t seen it since I moved out of that garish Abilene apartment that I shared with a friend back in 1984.
My roommate had one of the first VCR’s on the market, and he had compiled a pretty impressive catalog of movies including an off-air copy of Journey to the Far Side of the Sun, the film by Gerry Anderson’s production company that was released in 1969. That is where the phrase Earth 2 comes from. The uneducated rube that I was at the time made fun of the cheezie effects in the film, even though I had been a serious fan of the Thunderbirds series produced by the same company back in 1966.
The movie was named Doppelgänger in Europe. Americans had to have a more explanatory title. Mystery isn’t a thing that the mundane American viewer can appreciate, I guess. here’s the trailer:
This is where the idea of a mirror Earth came from. While Star Trek’s Mirror, Mirror episode aired earlier than this movie it wasn’t in production before Doppelgänger was and doesn’t feature a mirror Earth suspended in space in the same universe as our own.
The fascination with evil twins predates this film, true. That goes back to the beginning of recorded history; and if you wanted to, you could say that Earth 2 is a reference to the duality of existence that has been a part of philosophy for a very long time. I don’t know how that could be seen as anything other than a hasty generalization, though. Give credit where credit is due, Doppelgänger is where the idea of a mirror Earth comes from today, no matter how widely spread the fear of the evil twin is in the media we consume.
I can’t find the movie anywhere that I can watch it without paying for it at the moment. I’ll have to keep looking because I really would like to sit down and watch it all the way through at least once without mocking it again. It’s the least I can do.
I have a lot of nostalgia for those old marionette shows, and not just the Thunderbirds series. I doubt that I would still find them edge-of-the-seat suspenseful like I did as a six year old child. There have been multiple attempts to restart Thunderbirds with modern digital effects and new stories:
…and I have resisted the urge to watch any of it as an adult, even the old shows themselves. They were so cool back in the sixties when they came on right after school. I would run home just to watch them with Major Astro and they were probably why I wanted to watch Star Trek when it debuted. I can’t imagine how they could be anything other than embarrassing to watch as an adult. Like the Hardy Boys and Tom Swift, the adult experience can’t hold a candle to the memories of a child.
The featured image is a screenshot I took of a pivotal scene in the movie. I discovered a version of it streaming online and watched it through for completions’ sake. It was much better than I remembered it being, and yet just as flawed as I thought it would be on watching it again. It was both memorable and flawed in fundamental ways. If you can find it to watch somewhere, you should give it a chance and let me know what you think.
I’ll believe it when I see it. If Trump’s base can be relied upon to double down on their support of Trump yet again (and why not?) then this kind of revelation will only harden opposition to Trump and his supporters. I don’t know how this all ends other than in blood and Civil War, but I do know that anyone who values the country that they knew as the United States in prior times can not be willing to allow a return to power for anyone who supports a traitor like Trump is, and that most of his closest advisors are. They should all be up on charges already and I remain mystified as to why those charges have not been issued.
Why would Russia release this information? Because it will further destabilize the United States. Because Trump failed to do the job he was put into office to do. What job was that? Maria Butina asked the key question in 2015, and Trump promised to fulfill that obligation. Promised to remove sanctions and improve relations with Russia, a job he failed spectacularly at achieving. Scuttling the infidel that failed them, but that is still being encouraged to fight for a return to power, further divides the nation.
We can’t even get a measure designed to ensure access to the vote for all Americans passed through the Senate as it stands now. We are on the verge of becoming a failed state already. A few more nudges may well send us over the edge into oblivion. Perhaps that is Putin’s hope. I know it isn’t McCaffrey’s. He hopes that exposing the truth will take the wind out of Trump’s supporters and the Republican party. I don’t think that any of them believe in truth anymore or would know it when they saw it.
I’ve been taking part in illness tracking with outbreaksnearme.org since the Spring of 2020, when the Trumpist COVID debacle was in full swing. Ya’ll remember those days right? The hazy smoke-filled days as civilization fell? The zombies roaming the streets swarming the unwary?
There was no official testing to be had. No way to know who was sick and who wasn’t and no way to socialize without risking your own life. So we hunkered down without any government to been seen, no authority coming to the rescue, waiting for the chance to score some toilet paper from the remains of the local shopping center while covered in protective gear to keep the zombie plague at bay.
When outbreaksnearme.org started it called itself COVID near you but within a few months the organizers realized that they could use the more generalized data to track spreads of any infectious disease in the population. It also allowed people who just had symptoms to report themselves sick even when they didn’t know what it was.
A full year has passed since those hellish days of anarchy, with me always always responding “healthy” to the prompt:
COVID Near You is now Outbreaks Near Me! We now track flu too. Are you still healthy? Please answer Healthy or Sick. Reply STOP at any time to unsubscribe.
Today I finally had to respond with sick. The Wife has been out galivanting around town joyful at having escaped from the zombie apocalypse, mask-less and fancy-free for the first time in recent memory. While she was out having a good time she apparently picked up a bug. I, of course, caught it from her because that is what I do. I’m three days into it now, a nasty cough, aches and pains, and chest tightness that is triggering the Meniere’s symptoms. I’m having a joyful time.
It’s almost enough to make you miss 2020. Hunkered down in your hovel, hoping to score a clean corncob to wipe your ass with. Zombies scratching at the walls while you heat yourself next to the fire you made from the last chair in the house, boiling the leather upholstery for something to drink and chew on later. At least there was only one disease out there then. One disease that made you want to chew on the brains of your neighbors.
…although the lethargy spread out over nearly a week. I’m only getting back to my old habits now, three weeks later. Getting back to my old habits just in time for the Wife to be hospitalized with some other unrelated illness. Ah, the joys of normal life.
As I look back over my history on Facebook, it is your contributions that still make me laugh years later. Make me laugh or make me think that maybe you understood better than I did what it was I should be doing with my life. I wish you were here so that I could tell you; you made a difference, and I miss you.
I am slowly giving up my obsession with death. It is hard to accept that life goes on when it clearly ends suddenly and unexpectedly all around us everyday. Living in anticipation of dying is a boring way to live. I almost want my death to show up in a way that I hadn’t expected. My last thought being “well, I didn’t expect that.” Almost.
As my friends and family slowly drop away, leaving me walking forwards more and more alone, I begin to wonder at the journey itself as it continues. Why does it continue? Maybe I should be trying to enjoy it more? Making more of a difference myself? Time to get back to the writing. It is one of a very few things that I can still do. Can still do and might make a difference.