Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Halloween Show!

I don't get it.

Never did.  But really, doctor, I think it started in the second grade, in Ms. Wright's class (yeah I know they didn't say Ms. in 1962 but I can't remember if it was Miss or Mrs.). Google says Whipple School was on 5th Avenue (no, the building is on 4th Avenue) and 121st St (this is correct).  A child care center is there now.  But in 1962, that place of red brick and metal fire escapes held Kindergarten through third grade for the Lansingburgh section of Troy, NY. And in the back of the building, on the left, was Ms. Wright's home room.

Halloween 1962.  We had no idea, or a very vague one at best, that the world had just come as close to nuclear war as it had ever come just a few days early with the Cuban Missile Crisis. All we knew was Halloween was coming, and "who were you gonna dress up as?"

I had my plan: 

Yep, right from the department store (J.M. Fields). Mask and costume.  Halloween was the day you could wear your costume to school, and the principal had allowed us to have a party in the afternoon.  Desks were put in a circle and every child had to do a short talk about who they were pretending to be and why.  Now this is 50 years back (wow) so memory of being 7 is a challenge, but I do recall Jim Zlotnick was dressed as an astronaut and he climbed under a desk, curled up in a semi foetal position, back on the floor.. He yelled '10, 9, 8, 7, 6......" and on down to "Blast off!" and then went back to his seat.  I have no idea what anyone else did.  I know what I did.  I got to the middle of the floor and

Yabba. Dabba. Do.

Then I went back to my seat.  My first and final public performance until I threw up in Mrs. Hamilton's 4th grade class, but that's another blog (Great Moments in Vomit History).

That night I went trick or treating with some neighbors.  We went to what was soon to be described, in Lansingburgh lore, as the Addams Family House:

I have been in actual haunted houses. Nothing creeps me out like this place does, even 50 years later.  But what did Halloween in for me was a vanilla colored brick house six blocks from my home. I rang the bell, as I was told by my neighbors to do, and waited.  The door was opened by a tall swarthy man with slicked back hair, and a bowling shirt, black slacks and white Hush Puppies. He had a big cigar in his left hand. Loud music came from behind him.

"What the hell do you want?" he said in his best Tony Manero voice.

"Trick or treat?" I said.

He looked at me, and then the rest of the group.  He did one of those "Jeez, can you believe this?" shakes of the head.

"Kid, its my poker night. I don't do no tricks or treats. Get outta here."

Slam.  I suddenly had to go to the bathroom.  I asked to go home.  Sure, I had gotten candy, trolling behind the group (just ahead of the guy in the Charlie Brown ghost costume, who got the rock) and grabbing the dregs.  I went home, and never did go out again.  I went a party, I think, the following year, but then stayed home and answered the door, which soon fell into neglect (the answering, not the door), and now Halloween for me is an annoyance.  My wife answers the door now, and coo-hoos over the kids.

"I don't do no tricks or treats."

Maybe thats why I had problems at my job in a welfare office, doctor.  At age six, I could not understand why I was asking people to give me candy, and I didn't know many of these people at all.  And why were they giving this stuff to me? I was not going to hurt them or play tricks on them if they didn't.  I never went back and egged Tony Manero's house.  But oddly I still look at that place each time I'm in Lansingburgh.  I just never got understood why you go to a building, ask people you don't know for something, and then if they don't do it, threaten them, but if that's what you want to do, fine, have a great time.  Most do.

Now if you're talking spooky stuff, I'll take a HP Lovecraft story anytime.

HP. Born weird. Lived weird. Died weird.  Thanks, Howard.

Isn't weird a great word?

So that's where I'll be going soon. To the book shelf. The weird book shelf, where HP, Mr. Poe and Mr. Bradbury reside in weird bliss, terrifying each other with stories old and new and weird.

Happy Halloween.  Here's something really scary. We are now officially in the "Holiday Season."

Thanks for reading.  More soon.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Disney for the insane and home bound - Epilogue

And I did say it was great to be home, but I would like to get some sleep. But not tonight, thanks MS, so here I am near one in the morning at my desk and outside my window Sandy is whipping the trees and dropping rain on my leaf covered back yard.  Or so I assume as it's dark outside.

Even with the wind wiggling trees and leaves tearing at the windshield, I still had a doctor's appointment today and made it down to Troy without hitting any media people standing around outdoors talking about how terrible it was to be standing around outdoors.  The doctor recommended physical therapy for the quasi-perpetual back pain I've had, and we reviewed all the recent blood work. Doing fine there, anyway.  Good to know the body (on its own) is working OK.  The brain, well.....

I stopped in Lansingburgh and took some pictures of the homes I'd lived in, which I'll talk about some other time.  Only mentioning it here as there is a group of Burghers on Facebook who reminisce about living in The Burgh over the last 50 years, and they are having a luncheon this Saturday which I may attend, depending on blah, blah, etc.

Okay, on to the Disney wrap up.  I will admit that this time I walked a little too much.  MSers out there might know the feeling in their legs (assuming you have feeling in your legs) of from your calves down to your toes...

that can only by me be described as "corn husks".  Your legs, all the bone and muscles, have been replaced by stiff cornstalks and it's your responsibility to maneuver without falling over.  So you tighten up every other muscle concerned with walking and try to get around, which causes problems elsewhere (see above lower back pain problems).

So the first thing is pacing yourself.  Even with cutting back as we did, I was still near tears as we got out of EPCOT (which stands for Every Person Comes Out Tired [not mine, but I like it]).  Next year, even slower.  Whether I'll be using a cane full time, or something else, or nothing, the pace we set this year was just too much.  It may be we can have a park day at the beginning and the end of the week, with down days in between.  Since EPCOT is the real focus, and the Wine and Food Festival being why we go when we go, there will be more of a concentration on that, maybe even to extent of staying at Boardwalk and make getting to the park less of a chore.

Second, and I referred to this in the last post (#50!) the jacuzzi, or at least some other form of relaxation has to be part of your time.  Yeah, this is a vacation, so act like it!  This is more difficult when you're shepherding kids to get the proper shot with Donald D and Goofy, I'm sure, but moms and dads, take time for yourself.  Getting down to Disney or any resort takes planning and if you're an MSer, it seems to take three times the energy to do half the fun.  Down days are needed, because if you don't do it, MS will do it for you.

If you're in a wheelchair or using a walker, here's what I've noticed.  Adults will step aside or try to not hinder your passing too much.  Children may not, as they dash about being children.  I was 8 once, and I dashed about too.  But its more about the crowds here.  The bipolar half of me absolutely hates crowds.  The MS part sees hoards all going to Casey's for a hot dog the same time I am, meaning I have to stand in line with them.  Standing means pain.  So what do I do? Go to baseball games, vacation resorts, NYC, etc., and son of a gun there are those damn  people again.  I'm exhausted just typing about it.  Can you get rid of the crowds?  Well, you could have the media go on for days and days about a storm that is going to hit wherever you're going, and maybe it'll cut down on the group.  But there's also acceptance of what is.  Referring to Disney World, go to the early openings.  Fast Pass rides to make sure you get what you'd like, especially the very popular Toy Story ride in Hollywood Studios.

Here's a good idea.  Tell them.  Disney, for all their flaws, does go out of their way to help their guests enjoy the resort.  They can make suggestions for transport, and better ways to get around the Park maze.  Play the MS card. You got handed this deal, you didn't ask for it.  Got the handicapped sticker?  You use that, right?  I do.  There are plenty of days when I park a bit of a ways away from where I'm going and hoof it, but just as many where I hone in on those slots like an 85 year old driving a El Dorado. It depends.

A reminder here that with PPMS, I'm missin' the remission.  All crappy, all the time.

But they tell me I look great.

OK, that's it for Disney and vacation time.  On to other things.  Thanks for reading (1600 + page views!) and I'll talk to you soon.  Bye Mickey!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Disney for the insane and the yes, I'm in a lot of pain, thanks! group. Final entry.

So we're sitting in the airport getting ready to fly home on this cloudy afternoon.  News was filled with Hurricane/Tropical Storm Sandy and how we will all die oh my god so keep watching this channel and see the commercials for politicians, okay?  Not sure why we're going home at all as we've heard in Orlando is that we'll be covered up to our pip picks in snow as the Greatest Storm since Creation gets ready to hit New York.

Since the last two days were DisneyPark oriented, I just lumped the days together so I can concentrate on reactions to the stresses, and fun, of the days.  As always, there are plenty of blogs and websites that talk about the parks and attractions, so check those for basic info.

Thursday we started with breakfast at the Rainforest Cafe outside Animal Kingdom.  This is an annual stop for us as the food is quite good, and the coffee gets you ready for what awaits you.

This is an entrance picture to the Cafe. The fish are fascinating to watch, and this time we watched a diver cleaning the inside of the tank.  I guess somebody has to.

So into the Kingdom.  The park is spacious so there would be a lot of walking involved.  I brought my portable walking stick (slim trim version of the regular one), but didn't really need it as the ground is fake dirt with leaves and foot prints impressed in it.  We decided we would not do any of the more hectic rides, such as Expedition Everest (I just closed my eyes anyway), Dinosaur, or Kali River Rapids (which I actually like) and settled for the mundane Kiliminjaro Safari...

and the bird show...

A cup of tea, a few shops and we were outta there. I'm glad that Kiliminjaro dropped the hokey "let's get the bad poachers" game and allowed us to see and admire the animals without getting the sledgehammer message pounded into us.  Yes, we understand the need to protect these animals, these fellow beings on the planet, but to the guy with a wife and three kids from Indiana, there's little he can do, except hope his kids get the message as well.  Respect for all life, because it is so precious.  If nothing else, maybe you'll smile at someone more.

So what I found was that anyone with MS, or any disease that affects the limbs, going to Disney World and staying on the property should really think about assuring their rooms have a jacuzzi.  What a neat relaxing feeling to sit in that warm water and let it circle around the throbbing or numb muscles, getting some small relief.  My wife and I compared legs.  Her legs are soft and pliable, mine are brick like.  So I laid there in the swirling tide until it was time to dress for dinner.  

Dinner at....

Rarely do I eat a lot of meat loaf, or a lot of meat, but meatloaf was just all over the place, and I could not resist.  Our lucky streak continued as a delay in dinner resulted in free drinks.  And home for the World Series.

Friday was the last full day and we compromised on a short visit to the Magic Kingdom before hitting EPCOT.  We have our favorites and I knew this would not take long, so I was not worried about walking.  It's 70 dollars a day to rent a scooter from Disney, so I'm glad it was not neccessary for me, but for a lot of others it seems, yes.
You know, you hear on the news about obesity and you can see when you walk around Disney, and any place the public gathers, how fat some folks are.  Now I'm overweight for a guy 5'6" by about 20+ pounds, but it used to be worse, and I should not  judge, and I'm not trying not to, however I have Multiple Sclerosis and have difficulty walking (you may have picked up on that) but I can still move, in fact I insist on it.  I know I have a serious medical problem and am trying to adjust to it.  That does not mean I won't have a Coca Cola on a hot day.  Food is not that big with me (the weight is from earlier days), so whatever Jackie and I (or just Jackie) decide upon is fine with me, and I limit my intake.  I do not miss out on things, though. Life is too short, and I do enjoy myself some, but life is also too short to screw around with it.  Why make things worse by adding unneeded pounds? I'm borderline on sugar, etc., and I'll need to look into that more, but we really need to be more aware that we're hurting ourselves.  And Disney and company DO NOT HELP BY CONSTANTLY PLACING HIGH SUGAR CONTENT DRINKS AND FOODS before us, especially children.  This is a place that is allegedly dedicated to families, and yet it continues to shove high priced sugar laced beverages at the public all the time.  And don't get me started on turkey legs. (Full disclosure - I have had one. All I needed.)  The Farmer's Market in Liberty Square at Magic Kingdom offers fresh fruits for snacks, as well as Doritos and energy drinks. Guess which they sell more of?
But on the fantasy front, there's nothing like the music from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies on the ride - and there has been some slight changes in music and characters since last year. 
 The above is just a favorite scene of mine from the ride, with the wind and rain lashing the ghost ship.  You can hear the music, right? Dead men tell no tales.
After that a quick stroll through Frontierland - not quite able to handle the rides there anymore, thank you, and the Haunted Mansion line was too long. We do the Mansion each time we're here, so no biggie to miss it.  The Hall of Presidents is always enjoyable and we wanted to see it as this might be the last "Obama speech" one.  Every in office President says the same thing about Liberty since Bill Clinton in 1993.  President Obama added the Presidential Oath (done correctly) in 2009.  Oddly, there is very little in the way of American History souvenirs in the souvenir shop, Heritage Hall.  It is mostly Halloween. Don't get it.

We did a quick run of the shops on Main Street and then left, but not before admiring the Castle.  I may have my criticisms of Disney, but there is nothing to touch the child in your heart than to take that turn on to Main Street and see the castle.
And I can not wait until I see it again.
OK, on to EPCOT.  A negotiation occured here about how we wanted to proceed, and whether I needed a break to head back to our rooms for a bit.  But I know this disease, and if I got back to that room and the comfy couches and books, I would not move.  So we compromised (we've been married 27 years for a reason) that we'd take a back way to EPCOT (through Disney's Boardwalk) and a short stroll and we entered EPCOT.
OK, I gotta put the iconic EPCOT Spaceship Earth in as it is Jackie's favorite ride, and we've done the ride for years and years. 

we entered near Great Britain, and noshed and drank our way around.  I freely admit to three desserts and two glasses of wine.  A fast walk, or as fast as I can manage,through Future World and we departed as the winds of Sandy picked up and rattled even the strongest walls.  The bus back, dinner at Wolfgang Puck's, and we packed to come home.  The jacuzzi called my name, but once I laid down on the bed, I was not moving.
Sandy knocked the plane around a bit on Saturday, but we arrived back no worse for wear.  And vacation ends.  It's now Sunday and we're in catch up on the laundry and go grocery shopping time. 
While on the plane, Jackie and I talked about what future Disney trips may entail.  More on that in the next post.  I hope you enjoyed this series as much as I did. Disney World means a lot to us, but, as Dorothy said, there's no place like home.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Disney for the insane and the slow moving Day 3

Welcome to Wednesday.  This will be very short.  In the morning, which for me started at 4:30 AM, because MS wanted it to, and I sat in the early morning peace on our balcony.  The only sounds were the burble of the swimming pool in the distance, the chirp of the crickets (the only bug allowed in Disney World, except bees but they're considered Cast Members for flower upkeep) and the grinding sound of trucks making things appear or disappear as needed.  Clouds rolled across the early morning sky, threatening and then delivering rain but stopping before park openings.  I dozed a bit more, and full morning came.

We had breakfast, shopped, and relaxed before lunch with friends and their enchanting three year old granddaughter.  A boat ride back to Downtown Disney, farewells, and watching the World Series.

I'm using a different browser this time, so let's see if its any better.  Maybe this picture will show:

Okay, that's a start.  We're hitting the parks tomorrow (Thursday).

Disney for the insane and disabled Day 2!

Good morning from  the happiest so forth and so on.  A decent night's sleep in a king size bed after watching the Giants thrash the Cardinals ( and the non-baseball fans out there would think that that is what would happen - the Giants being giants and the cardinals being about what six inches tall? Unless you had a whole lot of birds and did the whole Tippi Hedren thing).

I was able to get the picture from the welcome home center in place, but the bottom of yesterday's
Post did not come out as well as I'd hoped.  We'll try and do better today.

And, as the Joker said, here.. we..go.

We began the day with a nice breakfast on the porch, and then Jackie went to work out.  I thought about doors.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

My pants were falling off.

It was when my pants started to come down as we entered the restaurant that I realized what day it was.

Should probably explain that, I guess.

Since I retired I've dropped anywhere from 12-15 pounds, depending on what day it is.  Fewer lattes, perhaps.  Anyway, my waist has remained, according to pant size, a 34.  The pounds are leaving from other places.  But there must be some waist removal as I now need to wear a belt, sometimes, not all the time, just sometimes.

Like today.  Just ran an errand or two and then met my wife at an Italian restaurant she wanted to try.  I opened the door to the SUV, and swung my legs out to the left (slowly), and then dropped to the ground.  My jeans, buttoned and zipped, kept going.  I grabbed a belt loop, and pulled back, making sure no one, including my wife, saw it.  I walked stiffly to the door, but I do that now anyway.

As we waited for our food, I reminded myself that someone else had the same problem.  My father Lou had to deal with this same mess, but that poor guy, thirty plus years back, had no idea what hit him.  I remember seeing.him walking around our house, looking out windows, dressed in his fur hat and heavy jacket in June.  He had the"shuffle" and his jeans were hanging off his skinny butt, like a flag at half mast.  We'd stop him, adjust him, and he'd go on his way or sit in the kitchen and shake.

We don't share the heavy duty shaking - yet - but it's starting to get tougher to pick up an English muffin.

My father died on October 19, 1979.

Now the bipolar part of me wants equal time, so let's hop exactly 25 years into the future to October 19 2004.  A dear friend at my job was leaving the Department of Social Services for a position with New York State.  There was going to be a small farewell party for her at a certain time during the day.  I promised to be there.  But I wasn't.  I was in another county listening to some fool talk about his excellent employment programs for welfare recipients. He went on and on and I kept looking at my watch, hoping he would have a stroke or something.  And on and on he went.  Finally we were freed from bondage and I dashed back to work, but the party was done, and my friend gone. Great.

The next morning I found a message on my voicemail from my friend saying a tearful goodbye. It touched me like few things ever have.  Having recently learned that another person I was close to was retiring very soon, and with this message, and the bleakness of a job that I disliked and that despite 300 other employees in the building I was alone, well, my bipolar brothers and sisters, you may know what's coming.  Yep. Freak out.

Yelling, throwing objects, tears steaming down my face, the worst depression I ever felt, and it went on for months until Christmas Eve when a few too many pills and a little too much wine, and my wife came home from visiting family to see her husband unresponsive on the couch.  Fortunately a lot of yelling and shaking of my arm on my wife's part stirred me awake.  Was it deliberate? I'm not sure, maybe not, but something in me wanted to go, but a lot more wanted to stay.

Glad I did.  I got into therapy, got the help I needed, and the right drugs, and tried to relax some.  Meditation, Qi Gong, and Buddhism studies gave me the ability to understand, and handle life, which came in quite handy a few years later when MS moved in, and my pants started to fall off.

I've seen my friends from DSS a few times since they left, and they are doing well.  I'm happy for them, and I've good memories of those days.  October 19 will always have meaning for me, how can it not? But we need the past to show how far we've come, then be in this moment, and then be in the next.

And, of course, when possible, be in the moment with a belt around your jeans.  Because like the man said "Look like a fool, with your pants on the ground."

Thanks for reading.  Next one's from Disney World.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Star Trek: The Cognition Factor

Medical Log, Stardate 7713.4.  I continue to monitor Captain Kirk’s behavior as he recovers from his injuries suffered on Zandaria 5.  I have released him to active duty, under protest, my own.  However, I have an ally on the bridge who will keep me informed of any problems.

The bridge of the USS Enterprise.

“Captain’s Log, Stardate 7713.6.”

“Five, sir.”

“What, Mr. Sulu?”

“It’s Stardate 7713.5, sir.”

Jim Kirk frowned.

“Really?  I thought that looked like a five on the printout here.  Anyway, Stardate 7713.5, the Enterprise has just left orbit from the planet Zandaria 5 where we had meetings with, uh, with…what’s their name again?”

“The Zandarians, Captain,” said Mr. Spock.  “Following their capturing and torturing of you and three security people.”

“Right,” said Kirk.  “The Zandarians.  Their leader Santias Mark captured…”

Kirk stopped as his first officer had moved over to stand by his chair.

“Captain,” Spock said.

Kirk adjusted his position in his command chair.  His legs ached and tingled, as if he had been working out for hours, yet he’d only been in Sickbay since beaming back from Zandaria 5.  Either a workout or sex with a Klingon woman, not that he’d ever done that. He recalled that he hadn’t had sex in a while, and then thought about Carol Marcus and then a horse in his uncle’s barn in Iowa and…

“Captain Kirk!”

Jim looked up from his reverie. His green blooded Vulcan first officer still remained at his side.

“You have been staring at the floor for ten minutes. I ask again, sir.  Are you well?”

Kirk began to answer, but was stopped by Lieutenant Uhura’s voice.  Spock walked back his chair and pressed a button on his desktop.  Kirk, relieved that Spock was now otherwise engaged, swiveled his chair to look at his beautiful communications officer.

“Yes, Lieutenant?”

Uhura batted her eyelashes at her commander, more to see if he was paying attention, but Kirk was focused.

“Captain, I have Admiral Komack from Starfleet Command.  Priority One.”

Kirk nodded.  This was business, finally.

“On Screen.”

The screen that normally displayed the path of the stars moving by the Enterprise flickered for a half second and then showed a distinguished white haired man sitting behind a desk, the Federation flag behind him.  The man’s craggily face had a kind smile.  He wore the gold uniform of Command.

“Hello, Jim,” he said.

“Admiral,” responded Kirk.  He tapped a finger on the arm of his chair.  What was this guy’s first name?

The rear lift doors made the thwocking sound that announced an arrival or departure from the bridge, as common a sound to the bridge crew as the beeps and bleeps from the equipment.  But this time Dr. Leonard McCoy stepped out from the lift and walked toward the science station.  Mr. Spock indicated the Captain.  The doctor turned to listen.

The admiral continued.

“Jim, I need you and the Enterprise to proceed to Ledo—ooo—nomy---argh---mulans--- massing on –der.”

Kirk looked at the screen in confusion.

“One moment, please Admiral.  Uhura, can you clean that up?  I can barely understand it.”

The bridge fell into that uncomfortable silence that Kirk always could detect as something was perceived wrong.

“Captain, I’m sorry, but there was no problem.  It was perfect.  I think we all understood it.”

“Really?” Kirk said, not hiding his annoyance.  Crystal clear to everyone else?”

Spock stood.

“Indeed, Captain.  The Admiral was quite specific with our orders.  We are to proceed to the Ledotian system as soon as possible, and join with other Starfleet ships to confront a massing Romulan fleet of eighty or more ships gathering at the border.  Correct, Admiral?”

“Very articulate, Mr. Spock.  Did you get that version, Captain?”

Kirk, now wondering what was going on, asked Uhura to replay the Admiral’s message again.  It was as Spock said.

“Very article indeed, Mr. Spock.”

“Articulate, sir?”

Kirk looked at the young man who was sitting next to Sulu.

“That’s what I said, Mister….Mister.”

God, what was his name? The mop top haired kid?

“Chekov, sir.  Pavel Andreievich. Navigator. I’ve been sitting here three years. And you said article.”

“I made a mistake, Mister Chekov.  I am allowed. I am human.  And if there is anyone else on the bridge that has something to say before we go to face the Romulans and try to prevent interstellar war, please speak up now.”

Leonard McCoy stepped down.

“I will.  Captain Kirk, you are relieved of command. Via Starfleet regulations, as Chief Medical Officer, I certify you are not fit for command.  Mr. Spock, do you concur?”

Kirk was stunned. 

“Bones, I-”

Spock stepped down from his station.

“I concur, Doctor.  Admiral, as you have seen, the Captain remains disoriented and unable to comprehend certain communications, plus the files you have reviewed from Dr. McCoy and my own observations, the Captain should not be in command.”

The bridge crew merely sat in shock at what could be called mutiny, or a coup, considering that Starfleet was in on it.  They were each considering their options, or waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Kirk started to get up from his chair, but was restrained by Spock.  McCoy reached over to Kirk with a hypospray.  The Captain resisted but Spock moved Kirk’s body toward the injector.

“Jim,” McCoy chided. “It’s for your own good.”

Kirk railed against the people betraying him right up through the Admiral.  He had heard “It’s for your own good” too many times on too many worlds.  He felt the spray enter him.

And then he opened his eyes.  On the bridge. Crew around him. Spock and Bones, the latter with a mild grin.  On the screen, Admiral Komack.  The bridge was making all its normal noises.

And he had a headache.

“I know,” McCoy said. “Headache, right? Get some coffee into you. The pain will disappear by the end of your shift, and you’ll be fine.”

The crew returned to business, letting out a group sigh.  You never knew on this starship.

“Bones, what was-“

“Jim, I told you that you had not recovered fully from the neurological torture the Zandarians inflicted on you.  You may have felt fine, you sure told me that enough, but there were levels in the brain that had not been treated.  Every minute you were not in treatment, lesions were moving through your brain destroying the myelin that allows communication between your brain and body.  Your body ached, you couldn’t remember names and found communication difficult, and you were over reacting.”

Spock nodded.

“Indeed, Captain.  You called me “Pointy Ears” at our last meeting.”

Kirk pondered that.

“I apologize, Spock.”

“Not necessary, Captain. In fact it made me quite anxious to speak with Doctor McCoy to see what could be done.”

“Anxious?” McCoy asked. “An emotion, Spock?”

“A concern for the proper functioning of the ship, Doctor, expressed in your primitive human language.  We contacted Admiral Komack, and he agreed to assist.”

“Jim, I really was concerned, “the Admiral said.  “The Enterprise is our flagship, with the finest crew in the fleet.  I could not have even a hint of a problem.  When I saw the files from the good Doctor and Mr. Spock, I knew there was something wrong, and this time your body hadn’t been taken over by an old lover, or split into good and bad, or sent to another universe.  You were just sick, and needed help. We had to provide it somehow.  So I knew if we gave you something like a crisis, even you could see your timing was off.”

“And me being stuck up overbearing Jim Kirk, you knew I would do anything to keep this chair,” Jim said.

“It is where you belong, sair,” said Mr. Scott.

“So, no emergency?” Kirk said to the screen.

“Oh, the Romulans are there, but it’s their territory.  Now if the Enterprise feels like wandering by on patrol, sort of wave the flag, but stay on our side of the border, that might be a nice way to spend the day.  There are plenty of other problems for you folks that I’ve sent along in your mail.  Pick one.  Tomorrow.  For now, thank you Doctor and Mr. Spock for your help.  Komack out.”

The screen returned to the path of streaming stars.  Spock returned to his station.

Kirk turned to his doctor.

“Bones, what was that? What was really happening to me?”

The Doctor sighed.

“The Zandarians use the mind control on their people and their enemies, to make sure they had fewer enemies.  You and the security staff were the first humans they tried it on, and it gave you all a neurological disorder that as close as I can pin it down acted like a disorder that was on Earth for many centuries.  Multiple Sclerosis, but a very fast moving version. Progressive, it was called.”

Kirk nodded.

“I think I had a relative with that.  A great-great aunt or something.”

McCoy uh-huhed.

“Yes, it was easily treated but the large pharmaceutical companies of the time made more money treating and then inventing more symptoms than finding a cure.  It took the third world war to put a stop to that.  Whatever was left decided to work for the benefit of all.  They still made money but had all new challenges.  MS was forgotten. Until today.”

“Until now,” Kirk said.  “Security staff, how are they?”

“You know, Jim, I was amazed.  Here was a group of red shirted security people beaming down with you, and none of them died.  They all got the hypospray like you did, and are fine.  It was so easy to cure, treating the brain as a separate organic being.”

McCoy slapped his Captain on the side, and for some reason said “Buckle up!” and headed for the lift.

Kirk said for a moment, while the crew waited.

“Did I take naps?” he asked. “Here?”

“Yes, sir,” Sulu said, “every few hours.”

“They were from five point five four to twenty eight point thirteen minutes in duration,” added Spock.

Kirk sighed.

“And how long has this been going on? Seems like time was sort of off.”

“Seventeen days, three hours, twenty six minutes since we departed Zandaria 5 and Dr. McCoy noticed the symptoms. You have been rather uncooperative.”

Kirk rubbed his forehead. He should have been removed from command weeks ago.

“My apologies, ladies and gentlemen. But right now, I feel great.  Mr. Spock shall we go wave the flag?”

Spock considered that.

“There is no air in space to assist in the flag waving, Captain, but perhaps if the Romulans know the flagship of the Federation is in the area, they will remain on their best behavior.”

Kirk agreed.

“Mr.Chekov, come around to 92.62.7.  Mr. Sulu, warp four.  Let’s go.”

A yeoman came over and gave the Captain a coffee, just the way he liked it.

It was all just the way he liked it.  He was fortunate, his era was fortunate, that the diseases of the past that caused so much suffering to countless millions would remain there. In the past.

The Enterprise went to warp, and the adventure continued.

 Star Trek was created by Gene Roddenberry, and is the property of Paramount Pictures and CBS. No copyright infringement is intended.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me for the 55th consecutive year!

Hi.  I'm sitting in the Saratoga Barnes and Noble treating myself to lunch and a mocha before heading down for water therapy.  The sandwhich is quite good.  Had a chance to walk around and check out some new releases (books, not sandwiches). I see J K Rowling's new novel is out.  What? No Harry? No Hermoine? No thanks.  Bill O'Reilly's Killing Kennedy is on the shelves, and I'll save you the money, it follows various possibilities for that tragedy in Dallas, but then defaults to the Warren Commission. I might recommend that we work toward the better world JFK envisioned than just rehash the tawdry events that lead up to Dealey Plaza.  The other books are by TV stars I do not know, monster book writers (books about monsters of all types, and monster sized books) and diet books that always end up selling in the dollar store bins

I walk among the printed words and knick knacks that B and N holds and wonder if the novels I'm working on will ever appear here. Probably not, but I don't care, I am really enjoying the creative process.  Like this. And thanks to a large amount of drugs in my system I can go on and on.  Lucky for you I know when to shut up.

Such is life at age 56.  I was born on October 9 1956 in Troy New York.  Here is the story of my birth.  For those of you not familiar with the Albany Troy Schenectady area, you may still find this interesting if  just for the sitcom value. 

First, the cast of characters:  Marge Martin (mom), Lou Martin (dad [and a tip of the cap to Lou on his 92nd birthday]), Teresa and Jimmy Norton (neighbors), a nurse, and a Freihofer's Bread Company delivery truck, like this one...
It may have been red in color, but the size and shape was like that.  Oh, one more person. Me.
It starts late on October eighth.  My sister and brother are in bed and my mother is resting with my father before he begins the morning shift at the Freihofer plant, getting his orders for bread, cookies, cakes and placing them on his truck and making deliveries to homes.  Yes, that actually did happen, Gen X and Millenials.  Lou goes to work, taking the only car in the house, leaving my mother and kids alone.  On the first floor rest the Norton's, friends of Marge and Lou, and we are grateful for that.
My mother wakes up around two o'clock in the morning.  My father is gone, and she knows the baby (me) is on its way.  Her mother (Grandma Frances) is working at Samaritan hospital back when nurses lived at the hospital. She's not available.  Marge gets out of bed, checks on my soon to be brother and sister, and then creeps downstairs to knock on the door of the Norton's.  The Nortons, alerted earlier they may be needed, are ready.  There's only one problem.  They don't have a car.
"But I do thave the truck!," Mr. Norton said as he grabbed his hat.  He indicated the vehicle to my  mother.  A Freihofer's truck (like the one in the picture).  It has one seat for the driver/delivery guy and places to stand and hold on as it hit bumps and swung the curves of old roads for anyone else who was riding.
Like my nine month pregnant Mom.  She looked at Mrs. Norton. 
"Margie, it'll be fine.  I'll go up with your kids.  Mine are snoring like logs."
Mrs. Norton scooted up the stairs, and my mother, for lack of options (no money for a cab), follows along and tries as delicately as possible to find to squeeze in the truck door and then find a spot to sit amongst the coffee cakes, cookies, breads and pies. 
"Make yourself ta home," said Mr. Norton as he got the truck started.  Marge chose a spot near the oatmeal raisin boxes and squatted there, holding on to a shelf for balance.  The truck, which never went much more than 30 mph, chugged along to Samaritan hospital up the hill (known to folks in my neck of the woods as Oil Mill Hill) and staggering along the road, a road my father now up in the boondocks for early deliveries, passed hours ago.  He would not know anything until he came home. No phones in vehicles then.
So Lou didn't know about the following conversation between my mother, Mr. Norton, and the night nurse as paperwork was completed at Samaritan.
Nurse: Name?
Mom: Marge Martin
Nurse: This is Mr. Martin?

Mom: No, we're not married.
Mr. Norton: No, we're married but not to each other.
Nurse: I see.
Mom: Look, he's just a neighbor.
Nurse: So where is your husband?
Mom shrugged.  "I don't know.  Brusnwick maybe"
Mr. Norton: Yeah.  Brunswick is about right.
The nurse put her pen down.
Nurse: "Where is the father of the child?"
Mom and Mr. Norton: "Brunswick."
Fortunately, around this time my grandmother arrived to sort things out and get my mother ready to deliver.  I swear this where I picked up my comic timing.  And I also think the first smell I ever smelled was not the sterility of the delivery room, but oatmeal raisin cookies.
Years later, at my father in law's funeral at the veteran's cemetery in Saratoga, my mother was walking among the graves and noticed a familiar name.  She called me over, and pointed to Jimmy Norton's grave. 
"They lived downstairs from us." my mother said.  My mother in law came over and said "I know his wife."  It seemed that when our families moved from our original house, the Martin's stayed in Lansingburgh and the Norton's moved to Clifton Park where my wife grew up.  Mrs. Norton met my wife's mom and they became friends.  And so it was that some 45 years after the original event my mom and Mrs. Norton were reunited and relived that amazing day with lots of laughter.
I'm the only survivor of that day 56 years ago, so I get to tell the story.  They have been amazing years inbetween with highs and lows, and now the battles are raging within my body.  But I came in with a good story, and I hope I go out with a lot of better ones shared.
By the way, the sports fans in the readership may have seen that had I been born on 10/8/56, I would have been born on the day of Don Larsen's perfect game against the Brooklyn Dodgers.  But I held out for the ninth, the day the Dodgers won 13-0.  I've been a National League fan ever since. Imagine if I'd been in a rush? Born on a Yankee day? Wow, things might have been very different. But I know somewhere in a box in the garage is a Yankee cap.  Residual effect. That and oatmeal cookies.
More soon.  Thanks for reading.