Saturday, 22 December 2012

Les Miserables, and so this is Xmas....

A very merry Xmas to everyone. Yes I'm back and this time I'm back to stay. The last nine months have been a living hell and I thank everyone for hanging in there with me. I'm now able to write again. There's much to catch up on but for today my return to the internet coincides with witnessing movie history in the making.

My wife and I have just returned from watching Les Miserables at the local cinema. This version takes the musical film genre to new heights.. Russel Crowe (Javert) gets big billing for this one and whilst I have no criticisms of his performance I thought he did what he does best - he played Russell Crowe. The show stoppers however have to be Hugh Jackman (Jean Valjean) and Anne Hathaway (Fantine). Jackman powered through the movie displaying the full range of his acting talent as well as his singing, but for me, the moment celluloid history was made was when Hathaway sang 'I dreamed a dream' - go see it, crumple in your seat and wallow in tears. For the entire duration of the song the director never once moves the camera from her face and it's no wonder, her face keeps the rhythm while her eyes sing the melody. I have no idea what the record for the longest time spent on one person's face is in a movie - but this has to be a contender, it also has to be a contender for an oscar. It's probably the most powerful piece of cinematography I have ever seen. A marvellous piece of work by Hathaway that left me spellbound.

Over the next few weeks I'll bring you up to date with what's been happening to me including some pretty astounding neuropsychology findings. In the meantime however; it's good to be back and wishing everyone the fullest and safest Xmas and New Year.

Monday, 20 February 2012

A Horribly Busy Day...

My wife surprised me with some good news today. Remember when my lap top died and went to heaven and yet she somehow miraculously resurrected it? Well, unbeknown to me she took the longish book I had been writing for the last year out of it, edited it and published it on Amazon as a Kindle book (Just in case I died during surgery lol). I was pleasantly surprised to see it there when I scurried off to see if I had sold any of the 'Auld Lang Syne' books in the last month.

It's a niche market - not everyone's cup of tea - but at least it's now 'out there'.

So often is she 'writing' - and so often am I - that we communicate across the office using chat on the computers by sending each other links to interesting stuff on the internet, weird stories, novel ideas - it sounds dysfunctional but can be very humorous and every now and then we do talk to one another in real life. Today, when I thanked her for formatting it and publishing it for me - I asked her why she took it upon herself to do so...had to laugh at her mailed reply...

'Because I know you Rory - this would have been your response if I'd asked you to do it...'

Women, they know too much about us men.



Sunday, 19 February 2012

Rory D Grant - The Naked Truth

If this blog post 'joins up' at the end - then well and good. If not, it's because it's Sunday, sweltering heat first thing in the morning here in Brisbane, and with no kids here today I have wayyyyy too much time to think about fragmented, disjointed things - and yet my little brain tells me they are all connected. Oh and if nudity affronts you - look away now.

It all started with Cathy at Life on the Muskoka River who'd been taking pictures in her underwear (not of her underwear I hasten to add).

I then ran across a very brave Canadian Judge (Ontario Superior Court Judge Anne Malloy) who refused to sentence someone to the MANDATORY 3 year prison sentence demanded by law in the case of Leroy Smickle. His crime? He was posing in his underwear late at night, in his own apartment, for his own Facebook profile picture holding a gun. The cops bust in looking for his cousin (Leroy Smickle was wanted for nothing) - and arrest him instead for having a 'restricted loaded weapon' (which he had dropped along with his lap top at the shock of the door being kicked in). As Judge Malloy put it - sentencing him to what the law demands (3 years in prison) would be "unfair, outrageous, abhorrent and intolerable" - She sentenced him to a year of house arrest (which is still pretty crap given there really was no 'crime' or criminal intent).

Anyway, underwear was still on my mind as I was thinking of stripping down to mine in this heat - 'but what if the cops bust in looking for someone else? And the broken button on my boxer shorts gives too much away? Could I be charged with pointing a weapon at them? Even if it's a pretty harmless one?'

That got me to thinking about nipples. Not sure why but it did. And the crazy laws which pervade the USA about certain parts of the body. I remembered an ad I had seen being slated on the internet from Florida - Here it is -

Notice anything? All those big butch guys have no nipples. Seems it's against the law in Florida to display nipples in advertisments. From nipples it was only a small drop down to buttocks, and the lengths America goes to to keep them covered up...I remembered being outraged at the TV series NYPD Blue being fined $1.4 million dollars by the FCC for showing a 'buttock' on one of it's airings - a fine that took eight years to be overturned in a higher court. So what? The audience saw someone's ass (or at least half of it) - are we so ashamed of the human body that we pretend someone having a shower doesn't actually have an ass (as was the case in NYPD Blue)?

Then...I remembered...I don't talk much about 'private bits'...and on one occasion where I had to see a doctor to enquire about what I perceived as a problem with mine - I sat in the waiting room running through what the most 'user friendly' terminology to use would be - how do I tell the female Doc I want her to look at my.....'thing'? 
Do I say 'Penis'? Willie? Privates? John Thomas? It was perplexing me no end and when I finally reached her room and she asked in a mix of Indian/Scottish accent - 'What can I help you with Mr Grant?'
I kind of spluttered ''s my Birdie Doctor'
"Many happy returns." She said, and sat patiently waiting for what ailed me....

So I'm not the greatest conversationalist when it comes to 'bits' but I do have very strong opinions about them.

I'm no prude, I'm all for people getting naked though I don't do it myself....maybe when I was younger I would've been braver but in my entire life I have only posed naked for a picture with my instrument in full view once. And that was because my dear wife didn't think I would have the balls to do it. I'm a sucker for challenges.

It was so empowering I even thought of enrolling as a model for art students so they could master the art of drawing wrinkles accurately....

Hmmm - I don't think it did join up did it lol?

Let's blame the post op drugs :)



Saturday, 18 February 2012

The Deafening Silence....

'Knowledge is power'...or so the saying goes. One of the most liberating, uplifting aspects of modernity (or post modernity depending on your viewpoint) - is the way knowledge circulates, and of course the advent of the internet in its own way empowers us all. There are threats to the 'knowledge' available on the internet however and they have been well documented and raged against. President Obama doesn't just have his finger ever close to a 'red button of death' - it's only a reach away to the proposed internet 'kill switch'. To be honest, he doesn't need any new legislative power to kill the internet in the USA - it already exists. The Communications Act of 1934 gives him all the power he needs to stop you and I chatting should he get fed up with us;

Upon proclamation by the President that there exists war or a threat of war, or a state of public peril or disaster or other national emergency, or in order to preserve the neutrality of the United States, the President, if he deems it necessary in the interest of national security or defense, may suspend or amend, for such time as he may see fit, the rules and regulations applicable to any or all stations or devices capable of emitting electromagnetic radiations within the jurisdiction of the United States”

But there's an even greater danger in my opinion. Our knowledge is fed to us via the media (and shaped by the media too) - but even they can only feed us media pies made from the 'raw meat' they source. Much of what we need to know to survive on this god-forsaken planet emanates from science and scientists. What if you could 'shut them down? Silence them?' What if that very 'meaty' finding a scientist wants to feed everyone is devoured by the Government without us ever even getting a whiff of it? In very large part it is already happening.

The Government of Canada has been quite intentionally suppressing scientists and the important findings they have come up with for years now. It's shocking, unacceptable. How on earth this piece of 'policy' slipped through the Canadian system I do not know as I have always found Canadians to be fiercely libertarian. We've been Muzzled  

Ok, so one country keeping their scientist's quiet doesn't quite warrant a 'the global sky is falling' conspiracy theory from me - but it's not just the Canadians. Only two years ago the British Government 'dismissed' neutral scientists from their drug advisory boards because they did not return findings which sat nicely with the Governments own 'policy' view on certain drugs (This in its own way also impacts upon research funding). So outraged were the scientists that their research was being ignored that mass resignations followed - did it matter to the British Government? Apart from some short term embarrassment, no, not really. It was business as usual. Of course there are deeper and murkier scientific tales of woe - The eminent British Biological Warfare Scientist Dr David Kelly dared to question Britain's dossier on Iraq's 'weapons of mass destruction' - then after 'going missing' for a while, turns up dead in a field by means of suicide - that's possibly understandable - the 'Public Inquiry' into his death will bring things to light we all thought - 'Oh yeah - in an unprecedented move the Government decided the 'Public Inquiry' findings were to remain secret for 70 years'. Fortunately, public outrage and pressure has finally had the findings released - and they raise more questions than they answer.

And today in steps the NSABB - The who? The US National Security Advisory Board for Biotechnology. So where do they fit in? Well, once again it seems, they want scientists and science to 'shut up'. They don't want anyone knowing about 'Bird Flu' - they don't want the finer details published by scientists, discussed publicly by scientists and God forbid that we, the great unwashed, should ever understand what the scientists are talking about - we might just engage in biological terrorism if we understood it all... It's just the flu

I sincerely hope David Shukman, the Science editor over at the BBC doesn't mind me quoting sections of what he had to say here - but I thought he summed it up succinctly...
These talks go to the heart of a fundamental debate over whether scientists should operate openly and publish all their findings - which is a basic principle of modern research - or whether some subjects are so sensitive that some key details should only be available to a carefully vetted audience.
The researchers passionately believe that the best way to tackle the threat of a pandemic is to understand how the virus can mutate, and that only by releasing their results in scientific journals will progress be made.
Ranged against them are experts in security who argue that too much information in the public domain will create another weapon for terrorists.
It's a highly sensitive dispute - the scientists fear that any kind of censorship will set a precedent of government control over their work.

You know, there was a time when any scientist who knew how to make a nuclear weapon would be shadowed by the Secret Service in whichever country they lived in. Now so many people know how to make a nuclear bomb it's impossible to devote that kind of manpower to protecting or watching them. But I can't for the life of me remember when the last 'rogue' nuclear device went off...let me think....oh yeah...never.

When the open dissemination of academic findings is stifled, stilted or silenced - then we have truly entered the era of fascism.

This isn't about protecting us from 'terrorism' or harm - it's more shots in the war for control of our minds and our view of reality.

(Tomorrow if I blog about what a great family game 'Twister' is, or that kittens are cuddly - you'll know they got to me.)



Friday, 17 February 2012

Life is a Stage... well, Theatre at Least

First off, can I thank you all for your wonderful well wishes. Deeply and humbly appreciated.

So, are you ready for this?

I was nervous, apprehensive but delighted my surgery was going ahead. For all of about five minutes.
Upon admission the nurse looks at my notes and says "Okay, surgery to the right arm ..."
"No, left-arm." I pointed out.
She giggles and says  "Oh, sorry," and crosses something out on the  paperwork.
I'm then told my anaesthetist will be here to interview me in a minute. Enter stage left ' Dave  the anaesthetist.'
"Hi, I'm Dave, your anaesthetist today."
After running through what I had eaten in the last 24 hours Dave seemed happy and confirmed that he was conversant with my medical history and within a couple of hours my surgery would be underway. He assured me he'd have me asleep in less than 30 seconds.  He then tells me a surgeon will speak to me in a minute. Enter stage left a 7 foot tall surgeon (I kid you not - he was a giant).
"Hi there Mr Grant. So, we are operating on your right arm today." Says he looking at my notes.
"No, left arm."
"Ah okay." he says, crossing something out on the paperwork. "I just need to draw on your arm now to highlight where the incisions will take place." He then takes my left arm and using a marker pen draws a line from my elbow to my wrist where he draws an arrowhead and some letters. "There we are, we'll have that sorted for you in a few hours. We do a lot of carpal tunnel syndrome surgery here. We'll soon have you fixed up."
"I don't have carpal tunnel syndrome. I have cubital tunnel syndrome."
Surprised, he stares at me, the paperwork, then at his artwork on my arm. Reaching for a medicated swab he then erases it all and starts again, only this time the line goes from my wrist to my elbow with the Arrowhead and lettering being completed at my elbow. My wife looks at me and I look at her and clearly we are both thinking the same thing.
' Does anyone here know what they are doing? '
And so I'm sent off to get into the garb I'll be wearing in theatre before being called to go lie on a bed ready to be wheeled in. As I'm lying there a woman in theatre dress hovers over me, "Hello there Mr Grant, I'm Monica your anaesthetist for today."
"I already have one. Dave. I spoke to him earlier."
"No, you must be mistaken. I'm your anaesthetist for today. Just been reading your notes. Won't be long now."
With that said, theatre porters start pushing me along the corridor towards theatre.
"Why you stopping here?" Asks porter one.
"He's theatre five." says porter two.
"Nah, he's theatre seven." insists porter one.
"Well lets just put him in five, if it's wrong they can move him around."
But what if theatre five is a sex change operation or a limb removal? I think to myself, but I'm beyond protesting.

Nurses gather around, stick needles in me, hitch up drips and offer reassurance before wheeling me properly into theatre five. It's all systems go. A face appears above mine, she's holding in her hand a green face mask, "Hello, I'm Jasmine, your anaesthetist for today."
Before I could tell her about Dave and Monica, the mask was on and I was asleep.

My one and a half hour surgery became a four-hour surgery. Not sure why, but it panicked the life out of my poor wife who was given no information (maybe they were sticking my balls back on after realising their mistake?).

I woke up in recovery before being sent to a ward.
"Three days you'll be here Mr Grant." The nurse said , "Or at least until you can hold water down, food down, pee more than 20 mm and move your fingers."
I did all four in less than five hours and begged to go home.

I was aching, drugged up to the eyeballs and tired, but once home I had to telephone my dad who I knew would be worried. What on earth possessed me to do that?
"Hi dad, it's me."
"Rory, your son"
"Can't be, he's in the hospital."
"I'm out. I'm home."
"It sounds like you, did they cancel your operation again?"
"No, they did it."
"And they've kicked you out already? What kind of health service is that?"
"No, I asked to get out. Everything seems to have gone okay."
"So exactly what they did they do son?"
"They took the damaged nerves in my arm and relocated them elsewhere in the arm and now I can move my fingers, even if only slightly."
"Oh my God, that's incredible. They take the nerves out of one arm, put them in the other arm and yet they still work the fingers on the original arm. It's amazing what they can do these days son."
"Well no, they relocated them in the same arm dad."
"That's what I mean, don't you see how incredible that is? They bundle them all up in the one arm and yet they work both arms! Amazing!"
(Big sigh) "Yes dad, yes. All my nerves are now in my right arm but they operate the left. Next year, they're going to put my brain in my buttock to cure my sciatica."
"Ah now you're talking nonsense son, it must be the anaesthetic. I'd better let you get some sleep. Great to hear you're okay! I'll tell your sisters you're well and about that amazing surgery. Fantastic what they can do these days. Bye son!"

Thank you once again everyone :)


Monday, 13 February 2012

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Now you see it...

Quick post before I go to bed - I've been working like a trojan today. I spray blasted the pavers on the porch to rid it of weeds growing between the pavers themselves - took me hours but by God we've got the cleanest pavers in Australia now. As I had the spraying machine out I thought I'd clean the batshitmobile too - didn't occur to me that it might be a bit too powerful for the car - but my wife rarely looks at the paintwork so hopefully it'll be sometime before she realises half of it is missing (I can always blame it on acid in bat crap or something).
But, but, but, the whole point of this blog post is to yap on about my favourite hobby - Photography! It's not just the taking of pictures I love - I love Post Processing (see, I am weird).

All tonight (and it's after midnight now) - I've been working on a picture of my eldest stepdaughter. I tried to catch her just 'naturally smiling' when she was with the dog that day we were all out together. Unfortunately that means you gotta take whatever else is in the picture at the same time too...if you look at the original example on the left you'll see a maroon pole which I hated, also on the left you'll see an elbow sticking in, and the roof of the cabin behind her points into her head. But I wanted to save it, I think I did. I took the pole out, smudged out the elbow and made the roof of the cabin appear to be behind the tree to stop it from 'pointing' into her head. I love Photoshop...

Did it work?

Oh, and so you don't think we are constantly lovey dovey like the Ingles' in Little House on the Prairie or the Brady bunch - on that same day here's how one sister totally ruined another sister's 'nice shot'...

G'night everyone - Great to be back :)


Wednesday, 8 February 2012

If I had my life all over again...

I'd be a photographer. Yes I would. I love taking photographs. Today's blog is a happy one but nothing happy seems to happen these days without a dose of misery to kick it off - so let's get that bit out of the way first.
For a year now I've been writing various short stories and one work of non fiction, all of which disappeared when my lap top died (My wife has repeatedly told me - 'Once you're finished writing for the day, e-mail yourself what you have done and it means it will never be lost'.)

Of course stupid old 'My lap top will never break' me - has never e-mailed anything. Lap top died and all my work went with it. So the New Year was miserable - a year's work gone in a second.

My arm has become so bad that a solid plastic truss rod has been inserted down the length of my padded splint to stop me from bending the arm - my arm has to be outstretched at all times. You can't drink beer and eat a pepper steak pie at the same time like that - more misery.

Anyway - my three wonderful step daughters all happened to be in our house at the same time - (the eldest lives in her own place, the middle one is never here (always with friends) so to have all three here at the same time is really pretty rare). But I thought 'damn it to hell! Get yourself dressed up lassies and we'll go spend an hour taking pictures of you all together'
The wisest (the youngest), asked how I intended to hold a camera when I can't hold a beer and a steak pie?
"Coz I'm taking this damned truss rod out!"

And off we went to the bushland.

To be honest - I was delighted with the results...

And then Brenna decided to turn the camera on me lol - I had no idea how much this illness had aged me until I saw this - I was horrified, but what the hell - just wait and see the difference in two weeks time (oh and I hadn't shaved coz I can't use my other hand to pull my skin tight lol - not because I was just lazy)...

This is titled 'old tramp living in the woods...'

Thanks to my wife's genius with 'techy' things - I now have a working lap top again, my work has been rescued, I've e-mailed it all to myself, my surgery is 5 days away - things are getting better :)


Monday, 6 February 2012

This is Major Tom to Ground Control...

Don't ask - It's been terrible. Ok, ask. No, no need, I'll tell you.
Life has been ****.
I spend every day in a drug induced stupor, by night time I want to cry with the pain - and to cap it all my keyboard stopped working so I couldn't access my desktop because I can't enter anything in the password section to get into my lap top.
"Not to worry" thinks I. Once my surgery is over I can fix it all. Yeah right, what a stupid naive idiot I can be sometimes.

Thanks to my brainy wee wife she worked out that Windows 7 has an on screen keyboard which means I can sit here and 'click' - (the click button still works) - each and every letter I need to get on line and then try to access speech to text to get things moving again (Please note that on the blue password screen there's a white icon down bottom left which leads to an on-screen keyboard should you ever have a dead keyboard). So here I am, angry, frustrated, annoyed, stupefied and absolutely raging at our run of bad luck.

Last week I fasted before my surgery. I did everything I was supposed to do - had an iodine soaked shower the night before, looked out clean underwear, brushed my teeth and packed my wee bag ready to leave for my 6:45 am surgery. At midnight the hospital called me to cancel the surgery - the surgeon had taken ill.

It's now rescheduled for the 13th.

I still haven't got speech to text up and running properly (It keeps giving me my daughter's speech files and not my own as the files have been corrupted while I've been trying to fix the keyboard problem ) so this is a 'point and click' post which has taken me forever to make appear.

"Ground control to Major Tom your circuit's dead, there's something wrong..."
"So I floating in my tin can, Far above the Moon,
Planet Earth is Blue and there's nothing I can do...."

Not in a good mood - and have been missing you all. No one to grump at but the kids. I sincerely hope everything is well with you all down there on the Blue planet.