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We salute the Grammy nomination of the late great Dave Van Ronk's final concert album:
". . . and the tin pan bended and the story ended . . ."
DVR Grammy CD
Watch the 47th Grammy's and look for DVR's Wife and Producer, Andrea Vuocolo Vanronk, and our beloved Christine Lavin [who helped edit it]
February 13, 2005 8PM on CBS.

click here

William Valdez is our Son-in-Law Extrodinaire.
You can support our troops via this site, and support William, personally, if you wish. His TFT ID is 1862195
Thank you!

don't recycle bush


Listen to Hober

US Faces of the Fallen:
ĽUS Fatalities in Iraq

ĽUS Fatalities; "Operation Enduring Freedom"

Civilian casualties update
  Tuesday   August 31   2004

Another "Kerry-for-president" request for help...

I donated today because as of midnight tonight, a "matching contribution" will cease -- so please donate today -- the letter I received follows:

"We're closing in on one of the most important deadlines of this presidential election year. Tonight at midnight, the Democratic Party will reach its critical August fundraising deadline. Every dollar you contribute today will be matched by a group of dedicated Democrats.

This program was only supposed to match $2 million in contributions -- but these supporters have upped their challenge, and now will match EVERY dollar that you contribute before midnight tonight. Make your contribution today and double your impact:


A year ago, nobody thought that you could beat George Bush's fundraising machine. Yet through your contributions, our campaign was able to outraise George Bush every month from March through July. Now you have a chance to make history again and help the Democratic Party out raise the Republican Party.

Never has it been more important that we stand by John Kerry, John Edwards and other Democrats locked in tough must-win races. Your matched contributions will fund the most comprehensive field program in the history of modern politics and deliver the message that a stronger America begins at home. During this week, the Republican Party will try and put their spin on what amounts to a steady record of Missions Not Accomplished.

Drug companies count their billions while seniors count the number of pills they can afford. Halliburton counts its billions while our troops count the number of soldiers in their unit without body armor. The Saudis count their billions while we count the rising cost of gasoline. The friends of George Bush and Dick Cheney count their tax refunds while the average American counts the days until the next paycheck.

America can do better, and you can help.

Please make a contribution today:



Mary Beth Cahill
Campaign Manager"

Pax, Vote!

 07:41 PM - link -    

  Sunday   August 29   2004

Please check out the online video clips fomer this mirror site of Ben Barnes, the former Lieutenant Governor of Texas.

Also, it looks like I had to miss a fine outing at Tacoma yesterday due to flares of pain et al from the MRI -- if you are interested in reading the article, link here.

tacoma rally

Gen. Wesley Clark, John Kerry and Jim Rassmann, whom Kerry saved while the two served in Vietnam, greet the crowd at the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma yesterday.

I'm still on a flare a big bad one -- positive vibes and healing ones are requested if y'all are in the mood.

Kindest Regards,

 09:22 AM - link -    

  Saturday   August 28   2004

Well, wasn't I the perky one yesterday, full of wisdom...who knew that today there would be extra dues to pay. For those of usns who are PWCI (people with chronic illnesses) there is frequently this level of denial always at bay. Although everything I mentioned about how to help one through the MRI experience stil holds true, I have an addendum.

I forget that my being "strong" or active or "out there" often has negative consequences. MRI, and gearing up for same is not an exception at all.

This AM I woke up, feeling killer pain all over my back (with the gradual building up of Rx I was doing in prep of the MRI yesterday, it masked the immediate pain of laying stiffly on a metal "bed" with a sheet between me an it). I also had to hold a position for a VERY long time, and that is also not normal to the restless PWFM.

So, I suggest that if you are susceptible to pain and exhaustion like myself, that you PLAN on the day after being for pure rest and recovery. Believe it or not, this is the 3rd time today I woke up, and it's after 7:00 PM!

It's been a long time since I've had a "fibro-flare" and /or day with my body reacting this way.

Be good to yourself, and don't feel the guilts the day after if you react like I did -- make sure your SO or any other peeps around you take care to not put you in your place! Believe me, there is nobody who is more angry at me than me today for not being able to make the Kerry rally than myself today!

Peace, take care of yourself,

 07:33 PM - link -    

MRI -- Are you experienced? I am.

In hopes of making this a one stop site with helpful suggestions regarding your first head or neck MRI I'm sharing mine.

One brilliant thing, is that there are so many sites out there that have the TLA (three letter acronym) MRI in them, that it's pretty exciting to be able to research things that have historically been secret. OTOH, to find the few really helpful sites, it took a lot of time and stress and frustration which added to the MRI Experience. I'm hoping this entry helps you avoid same.

MRI is the TLA for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Every site agrees that the actual process is painless, but they caution that it can be "uncomfortable". What they are referring to is generally not keeping still for a period of time on a metal table, but the experience of being in a very small space that makes loud and strange noises -- emphasis on LOUDNESS.

I googled far and wide for a clip of the mysterious sound to help prepare myself, and finally found this URL which does have one clip. The loudness via your computer can not do it justice, nor is this the only sound your MRI machine will make. For two of my imagings, the noises, thumping, and ratatatating actually vibrated the cylinder I was in! But this link give you a decent sampling taking some of the "unknown" element away.

I also fired off an email off to my co-cure moderators dear friends /family /soulmates. Of course they came through with helpful information. I learned that the headphones they will offer (WGH allowed me to bring my own CD, more about that later) will NOT block out the audio of the MRI. They also told me to not be shy about asking my Tech to "crank it up" in my headphones -- good hint. As they also suffer from a plethora of chronic illness that deal with pain and fatique, they mentioned it would be stressful and painful being still in a single position for that length of time. They all encouraged me to make sure my MD prescribes some good Rx to minimize pain and anxiety. Xanax seems to be the drug of choice.

My physician didn't have anything specific for me to use, just suggested I manage my current truckload of meds myself to get to a place of comfort. 20/20 hindsight, I wish I pressed Dr Waite more for help in this, but what I ended up doing is starting the night before adding low mg of Rx and taking my last PRN pill about 30 minutes before the testing, which helped, but was not perfect. FWIW, none of my Rx include Xanax.

I spoke to my therapist, and she was wonderfully supportive. She mentioned that there was a hospital in Western Washington that does have an "open" MRI, but since I wanted to get it over with, I opted to try this first, and cry uncle if I couldn't do it, and ask for it later (FYI, I asked my Tech, and he told me that it was located in Everett). I also learned that Marilyn also had an MRI, and her honesty about the experience was pure love and allowed me to be afraid, but knowing that despite same, one can survive the experience. My thoughts turned to Marilyn often when I felt shakey during the session.

I also phoned the hospital yesterday to talk to the MRI folk and try to get their information about the process and what to expect. Knowledge is power for me this time because anxiety and fear of the unkown exacerbated my claustrophobia and anxiety. The tech, Gregg, was very kind. He didn't have much time to give, he was with a patient, but he said, if things got really bad, if I signalled him, he could pull me out between images. Although I know I probably wouldn't do it, or be encouraged, he gave me an option that gave me the feeling of some control. The idea that there would be a fan generating breeze sounded right for me, since I even have to keep windows open, or at least ajar in my house to alleviate that claustrophobic feeling.

To give y'all a break from my ramblings for a bit, here's another link that I found so very helpful and comforting while I was searching -- it added the personal touch, and a real experience...a letter by Nancy Conn-Levin; "Coping with the MRI Experience".

Back to the future, August 27th 2004.

Regarding the option of having someone in the room with you to help ground you, as Nancy mentioned in the above paper, I learned that if you want to accomplish this (Gordy was discouraged from doing it because he didn't have paperwork et al ready) you should make sure that the papers and questionaires that you have filled prior to the MRI, is also filled out by your "helper". S/he should also make sure s/he is wearing the appropriate clothing (i.e. no metal, watches, or zippers et al) which might tip the scales allowing them to be a part of the process and be in the room with you, touching your leg(s) and grounding you.

Now, about what to listen to. For me, I found the perfect CD. You know we're involved with TestingTesting and Live at SoundTrap, so I had access to as yet edited CD of a Live Performance (yet intimate) I attended, and could therefore bring myself back to that time and place.

Even when I was healthy, and interested in New Age-ish types of things, I could never manage to get to, nor find, that "special place" people talk about. Nor could meditate and find a "zen moment". So, because this was an actual memory and place -- it allowed me to "ground" myself or find a "special place". It was a real time, and the music was pleasantly distracting, and the chatter made it familiar and friendly.

If you have a CD of a concert you saw live, which has a mix of mostly music, with some chatter, and, like me, you are not able to utilize guided imagery, self-hypnosis or meditation, I recommend you use the live CD trick I lucked out with.

Greg let me bring my "cheshire cat toy" and keep it on my belly to help ground be, and since my mind races, I needed wood nearby to "knock on" -- a "Monk"-like OCD /superstition of mine which I could hold to "knock on". He didn't even make me feel foolish with these requests. Gregg also let me have a sheet under my lumbar, and per Marilyn's suggestion, a wash cloth over my eyes.

All systems go. I highly recommend that if you are claustrophobic, then lie down, close your eyes, put the washcloth on, and let your Tech put the headphones on you. Gregg assured me that he would be monitoring me. He did, and he could talk to me through the headphones. He was very conscious of what was going on. He even saw when I had a "bad moment" one time, and took time, without telling me, to wait until I could relax, ok, BREATHE again . I would like to share with you, that you should work very hard to NOT move your hands, unfortunately, I did.

I barely moved, and I touched the top of the cylinder. Dang! Very unsettling. That was a very defining moment for me, to avoid all the negative feelings and thoughts I had that scared me to pieces about small spaces. The fan wasn't enough, I was hot, I had to find my breath. Slowly in and out, finally I worked on, and managed to calm down enough to hear and finally listen to the audio tape and "escape" and traverse time and space from inside a casket..er MRI cylinder to the concert yet again.

Not soon enough, yet not not as badly as it could have been, I felt a gentle touch on my foot, and next the table I was on, slid out from the cylinder. Gregg gently spoke to me, and helped me get up "slowly", he coached as he grabbed my hands, and he actually congratulated me, and told me "good job", and escorted me back to where my jacket was.

He showed me to Gordy, and soon we left, glad to be on my way, and through with the MRI for today. Like Marilyn, I made it through to the other side.

I hope this helps.

Best of luck to you. Kind regards,
..Zoe, conqueror of MRI du jour

 01:19 AM - link -    

  Wednesday   August 25   2004

This time of year, so close to Nov 2nd 2004, I find myself having to be pretty darn careful before I "delete before reading" my email that it says Erection v. Election!

 06:44 PM - link -    

  Tuesday   August 24   2004

Happy Birthday shnookums!!!
60 Down, 60 more on the way!


 11:50 PM - link -    

I'm going to the Tacoma Dome and I hope to see you there too! I'm psyched!!!

If you can make it, link here for tickets, and /or to volunteer this Saturday:

Me, my Mom and Gordy are really hopeful it will be an exciting event ...!

 11:46 PM - link -    

An email alert came across my screen today linking me to this article from the Washington Post [it's just so tasty in a scary sort of way -- yum!]:

Reprising a War With Words

By Dana Milbank
Tuesday, August 17, 2004; Page A13

"We actually misnamed the war on terror," he said. "It ought to be the Struggle Against Ideological Extremists Who Do Not Believe in Free Societies Who Happen to Use Terror as a Weapon to Try to Shake the Conscience of the Free World."

Or, if you prefer to abbreviate, SAIEWDNBIFSWHTUTAAWTTTSTCOTFW.
The day before, when signing a Pentagon spending bill, Bush delighted late-night comics when he said that our enemies "never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."

While Democrats rushed to agree with that accidental Bush admission, they couldn't compete with the brief but forceful way he summed up his candidacy the previous day in Davenport, Iowa: "We stand for things."

Vote! Peace,

 10:25 AM - link -    

  Sunday   August 15   2004

This entry was initiated by yet another day of my doing the most I can, which was pretty much nothing, and my shame for my inability to do more than a day of working on worrying out one of my cat's knots (they are prolific, and it is a battle -- Zach usually wins), not going to either Costco or the Coupeville Arts Festival that I wanted to go to as I missed the Chochookum craft fair, and that's it for the island for the year, and my washing and working on my hair was accomplished, and messing around with a new way to put my plethora of stuff hidden away, and my laptop on so G can reach his drawers more easily, and doing G's bandage, and being "shrink" and Nurse for my Mom.

That's the day.

I also started working on my FM site, but have broken it, and don't have the cognizance to fix it today, and so I gave up.

OTOH, G worked his tail off installing the hose thing on the back yard, testing the restore product on his Korean chest, and scrubbed his bread baking pans way cleaner than before.

I tried a bit after him with a different product, and some came off, but since my left hand is always numb of late, I couldn't hold it well, and my right arm is still FUBAR and using pressure to scrub the pans, has sent my arm, shoulder, fingers, elbow, into a flare, and I now am using an ice pack as I write.

What an amazing accomplishment I did today, eh?

Well, here's the letter that hits on some of my issues and feelings from another person living on this side of the pain wrote:


A Letter to Normals from a Person With Chronic Pain

Having chronic pain means many things change, and a lot of them are invisible. Unlike having cancer or being hurt in an accident, most people do not understand even a little about chronic pain and its effects, and of those that think they know, many are actually misinformed.

In the spirit of informing those who wish to understand:
These are the things that I would like you to understand about me before you judge me.

Please understand that being sick doesn't mean I'm not still a human being. I have to spend most of my day in considerable pain and exhaustion, and if you visit, sometimes I probably don't seem like much fun to be with, but I'm still me, stuck inside this body. I still worry about school, my family, my friends, and most of the time, I'd still like to hear you talk about yours, too.

Please understand the difference between "happy" and "healthy". When you've got the flu, you probably feel miserable with it, but I've been sick for years. I can't be miserable all the time. In fact, I work hard at not being miserable. So, if you're talking to me and I sound happy, it means I'm happy. that's all. It doesn't mean that I'm not in a lot of pain, or extremely tired, or that I'm getting better, or any of those things. Please don't say, "Oh, you're sounding better!" or "But you look so healthy!" I am merely coping. I am sounding happy and trying to look normal. If you want to comment on that, you're welcome.

Please understand that being able to stand up for ten minutes doesn't necessarily mean that I can stand up for twenty minutes, or an hour. Just because I managed to stand up for thirty minutes yesterday doesn't mean that I can do the same today. With a lot of diseases you're either paralyzed, or you can move. With this one, it gets more confusing everyday. It can be like a yo-yo. I never know from day to day, how I am going to feel when I wake up. In most cases, I never know from minute to minute. That is one of the hardest and most frustrating components of chronic pain.

Please repeat the above paragraph substituting, "sitting", "walking", "thinking", "concentrating", "being sociable" and so on, it applies to everything. That's what chronic pain does to you.

Please understand that chronic pain is variable. It's quite possible (for many, it's common) that one day I am able to walk to the park and back, while the next day I'll have trouble getting to the next room. Please don't attack me when I'm ill by saying, "But you did it before!" or "Oh, come on, I know you can do this!" If you want me to do something, then ask if I can. In a similar vein, I may need to cancel a previous commitment at the last minute. If this happens, please do not take it personally. If you are able, please try to always remember how very lucky you are, to be physically able to do all of the things that you can do.

Please understand that "getting out and doing things" does not make me feel better, and can often make me seriously worse. You don't know what I go through or how I suffer in my own private time. Telling me that I need to exercise, or do some things to "get my mind off of it", may frustrate me to tears, and is not correct. if I was capable of doing some things any or all of the time, don't you know that I would? I am working with my doctors and I am doing what I am supposed to do. Another statement that hurts is, "You just need to push yourself more, try harder". Obviously, chronic pain can deal with the whole body, or be localized to specific areas. Sometimes participating in a single activity for a short or a long period of time can cause more damage and physical pain than you could ever imagine. Not to mention the recovery time, which can be intense. You can't always read it on my face or in my body language. Also, chronic pain may cause secondary depression (wouldn't you get depressed and down if you were hurting constantly for months or years?), but it is not created by depression.

Please understand that if I say I have to sit down,lie down, stay in bed, or take these pills now, that probably means that I do have to do it right now, it can't be put off or forgotten just because I'm somewhere, or I'm right in the middle of doing something. Chronic pain does not forgive, nor does it wait for anyone.

If you want to suggest a cure to me, please don't. It's not because I don't appreciate the thought, and it's not because I don't want to get well. Lord knows that isn't true. In all likelihood, if you've heard of it or tried it, so have I. In some cases, I have been made sicker, not better. This can involve side effects or allergic reactions, as is the case with herbal remedies. It also includes failure, which in and of itself can make me feel even lower. If there were something that cured, or even helped people with my form of chronic pain, then we'd know about it. There is worldwide networking (both on and off the Internet) between people with chronic pain. If something worked, we would KNOW. It's definitely not for lack of trying. If, after reading this, you still feel the need to suggest a cure, then so be it. I may take what you said and discuss it with my doctor.

If I seem touchy, it's probably because I am. It's not how I try to be. As a matter of fact, I try very hard to be normal. I hope you will try to understand. I have been, and am still, going through a lot. Chronic pain is hard for you to understand unless you have had it. It wreaks havoc on the body and the mind. It is exhausting and exasperating. Almost all the time, I know that I am doing my best to cope with this, and live my life to the best of my ability. I ask you to bear with me, and accept me as I am. I know that you cannot literally understand my situation unless you have been in my shoes, but as much as is possible, I am asking you to try to be understanding in general.

In many ways I depend on you, people who are not sick. I need you to visit me when I am too sick to go out. Sometimes I need you help me with the shopping, the cooking or the cleaning. I may need you to take me to the doctor, or to the store. You are my link to the "normalcy" of life. You can help me to keep in touch with the parts of life that I miss and fully intend to undertake again, just as soon as I am able.

I know that I asked a lot from you, and I do thank you for listening. It really does mean a lot.

Adapted from a work by Bek Oberin"

 05:40 PM - link -    

What are they thinking?!?

[Quote below from Michael Moore's site:]
August 10th, 2004 4:12 pm
'Fahrenheit 9/11' Interview of CIA Nominee Porter Goss: "I am not qualified."
Is this really the guy who should be running the CIA?
See for yourself (2MB file - QuickTime required):

On Tuesday, August 10th, 2004, George W. Bush nominated Florida Rep. Porter Goss to head the Central Intelligence Agency.

Rep. Porter Goss, appeared briefly in Michael Moore's 'Fahrenheit 9/11.' But part of his March 3, 2004 interview for the movie, which did not make it into the film, has suddenly taken on major significance. The following is an excerpt from the interview:

INTERVIEWER: [Y]ou come from intelligence. This is what you did, this is what you know.

REP. GOSS: Uh, that was, uh, 35 years ago.


REP. GOSS: It is true I was in CIA from approximately the late 50's to approximately the early 70's. And it's true I was a case officer, clandestine services office and yes I do understand the core mission of the business. I couldn't get a job with CIA today. I am not qualified. I don't have the language skills. I, you know, my language skills were romance languages and stuff. We're looking for Arabists today. I don't have the cultural background probably. And I certainly don't have the technical skills, uh, as my children remind me every day, "Dad you got to get better on your computer." Uh, so, the things that you need to have, I don't have.
-- Rep. Porter Goss, March 3, 2004, Washington, DC

[Quote below from Michael Moore's site:]
These statements directly contradict President Bush's comments on Mr. Goss. Pointing to his CIA experience, Bush said, "He knows the CIA inside and out" and "He's the right man to lead this important agency at this critical moment in our nation's history."

 01:48 AM - link -    

  Friday   August 13   2004

Kerry /Edwards tag-line update:

Stronger at Home, Respected in the World

I like it! Pax, Vote!

 02:14 PM - link -    

  Thursday   August 12   2004

Ready to hear a wonderfully old-fashioned tell it like it is, folk song?
Christine Lavin has just posted one -- she's amazing (and for those who don't know, she lives in NYC, and was "there" during 9/11) -- click here for the .mp3!

 10:34 PM - link -    

  Wednesday   August 11   2004

One Picture Speaks...

New York lockdown

Cops plan zero tolerance for violent protests at the GOP Convention. Militant groups plan to disrupt the city like never before. Welcome, delegates!


 10:59 AM - link -    

  Friday   August 6   2004

This is from TV Guide... sarcasm & tongue in cheek is all directly quoted -- kewl:

HOOKED: "The presidential race may be heatin' up, and folks may be frettin' over terror alerts, but Dubya's gone fishin'. Tonight at 8 pm/ET, you can find the President on Fishing with Roland Martin on the Outdoor Life Network. Host Martin joins Bush at his Crawford, Tex., ranch, where they spent a day bass fishing on his 11-acre man-made lake. Must be nice."

 02:43 PM - link -    

  Wednesday   August 4   2004

This is WRONG...but since Will has to go, please send your prayers and protective safety vibes to William Valdez, Jenny's husband, Robyn and Evan's Dad, and our Son-in-law who, last night, we heard is getting ready to head for Ramadi, Iraq.

He leave this Saturday, August 8th '04 after doing his year and 1/2 hardship duty in Korea. He was supposed to come home and be stationed in Fort Lewis, but instead is heading for a year's tour in Iraq -- and without leave.

We love and miss him, and can't wait until he comes home and can see his family and his baby boy, Evan (who is a HOOT!!! Evan is so alert, cute, smiles, chats, and even rolled over, and Robyn insists he said "Robyn" -- Evan is about 9 weeks old, but looks and acts older -- what do kids these days do to make such brilliant and smart children?!?).

This snap is from Evan's Birth-day...

At China City, Evan is there, but asleep in his car seat out of camera range
look at the love-glow looks being exchanged...sigh!

Be safe, come home soon! ..peace, vote!

 10:15 AM - link -    

"walk this way..." Igor [prnounced Eye-gore] from "Young Frankenstien" [pronounced Steen] -- there's more!