Monday, December 25, 2006

My Son Claude, the Christmas Baby.

My son Claude was born on Christmas Day, in 1957. His expectant mother and father went outside on Christmas Eve hoping to see a bright new shining star in the heavens. Unfortunately, it was cloudy.
All kidding aside, Claude has been an enduring gift. He has also been an inspiration because of his courage and tenacity in the face of adversity, often against long odds. He and Monica have produced two beautiful children. And, finally, he has a great sense of humor (it's genetic!). Merry Christmas, Happy Birthday and a Happy New Year, Claude. I love you!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Savannah checks out new home, will stay!

Miss Savannah Lucille Thompson-Jones, after checking out her new living arrangements, decided to share the Rockville home of her parents, Caroline and Darryl. She especially likes her two big brothers, Asher and Kai. Savannah recently passed the eight pound mark and, judging from her eating habits, she seems intent on gaining more.
Savannah's grandfather, Pop Pop Siltman, when interviewed, said he only regrets he was unable to provide similar blog coverage for the births of all his children and grandchildren.
Blog management has announced plans to provide additional coverage of other family members whose names have, thus far, been mentioned only in passing. An attempt will be made to locate and secure rights to photos which will be used to illustrate past blessed events. Stay tuned for future news of this and other breaking news!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

My friend Phil.

I met Phil in 1961; my first day on a new job in Arlington, Virginia. I was assigned a desk next to his; we've been friends ever since. I don't recall much of our early friendship, but he seemed reminiscent of other colorful characters I had encountered since leaving a small Texas college nearly a decade earlier. I was married to my first wife Claudette at the time; our son Claude was 2 years old. Phil was single and when Judy, his future wife, arrived on the scene, we became good friends.

I recall Phil seeking my advice when mulling over the prospect of marriage. Ever ready to dispense pop psychology, I opined that, because of their different religious backgrounds, marriage might be problematic. It is humbling to reflex back over the past 50 years and note that they are still together while I am in my third (and last) marriage. Just to show what good sports they are, I was best man at their wedding. The ceremony was memorable in many ways, not the least of which was the amusing gaffe by the priest who performed the ceremony. Meaning to say, "Greater love hath no man than he lay down his life for a friend" (a noble sentiment), he inexplicably said, "Greater love hath no man than he lay down his wife for a friend."
Unsure that I had heard correctly, I was afraid to look at Phil, fearing that we might collapse into gales of laughter as we did so often on the golf course.

We remained close as Phil and Judy started their family. They had a girl (Carol), a boy (Charles), and another girl (Barbara). Later, they spent seven years in Europe. While they were gone, Claudette and I separated and divorced. By the time Phil and Judy returned, I had met Vicki, my second wife, and they were back in time to attend the ceremony. Some years later, after Vicki and I divorced, I met and married my third wife, Nancy. Gracious as ever, and obviously immune to shock, Phil and Judy immediately welcomed her into our lives.

I can hear Phil as he reads this. “Hey I thought this was supposed to be about me!” Never one to soft pedal his opinion, Phil gets right to the heart of the matter and lets you know exactly how he feels. Fair enough! Let’s move on.

Note to reader: Phil will probably dispute much of these recollections; that is his nature. Although he has mellowed considerably since the early days, he is still disinclined to suffer fools gladly. Click here to see an early example.

Describing Phil is difficult. He falls into no discernible type or classification. He is as much at ease watching an Opera or a Broadway musical as he is touting a horse race or analyzing a baseball game. He loves a good joke, but rarely admits it. He is quick to spot pretense or sham and even quicker to point it out. He can be counted on to give an honest answer whether you want to hear it or not. He is there when needed most. He has been very supportive during my many trials and tribulations.

Finally, it is not unusual to answer the phone and hear the voice on the other end say, “Hey, sh*thead! What's up?” That would be my friend Phil, of course.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

If I was a used car, I wouldn't spend any more money on me.

During a recent early morning bout with Insomnia, I started a mental inventory of my various ailments. Not an intellectually challenging exercise, it's true, but I had limited options at the time.
#1. my left shoulder injured 5 years ago. A severely torn rotator cuff; The surgeon said the odds of successful surgery and recovery were less than 50%.
#2. my right shoulder not quite as bad; just a tear in the rotator cuff. Again, the risk/benefit ratio wasn't encouraging.
#3. my left knee is also a longstanding problem. When it was operated on about 25 years ago, I was told I'd need a knee replacement in a few years, so I'm way overdue on that one.
#4. my lower back is also a longtime problem. It hurts constantly, especially when I do something stupid like standing or walking.

Last night I recalled the inventory of ailments discussed above. I was feeling their effects at the time, and said to myself, "At least I still have my good right knee". Shortly thereafter, I got a bad cramp in my right calf.

At this point, one might well ask, "Why not do something about the situation rather than just bitching." Fair question. I have taken action to ease my condition. I recently took a series of shots for my lower back, and have an appointment next week with a surgeon to get a recommendation on that option. I've had physical therapy on a variety of problem areas with little success. I had a hernia repair a couple months ago and a Carpal Tunnel Syndrome procedure a year ago. My overall physical condition is further compounded by two other factors - Arthritis and Parkinson's Disease. These factors exacerbate the other problems.

This litany of problems was not compiled to engender sympathy. My pain is minor when compared to countless others. The real point is that simply trying to fix individual problems doesn't guarantee success. What's really needed is someone with broad medical expertise to consider all my problems, the relative priority of each, the recovery time required for each, and come up with an action plan based on all these factors.
Any volunteers?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Freedom of Speech: 1950's Alabama

My 11/05/06 post described the tense racial atmosphere of Montgomery, Alabama in the late 1950's. It was a time of bus boycotts, freedom riders, and burning and bombing of churches. Some whites were tolerant and did what they could to oppose bigotry and reduce the level of violence. Unfortunately, these people were often ostracized, threatened, or worse. But it must also be noted that most whites growing up in Montgomery had been told by their authority figures (parents, preachers, politicians, editors, law enforcement officials), that Segregation was God’s will and Integration a Communist plot. So it’s no great surprise that many of these southerners felt their way of life was being threatened.

In any event, newspaper editors, for the most part, sided with the power structure. So it was with some trepidation that I wrote the following letter to the Editor. It was an attempt to poke fun at the bigoted opinions which appeared regularly in a daily column entitled, "Grandma". I did not consider my actions brave or heroic, especially since I had appealed to the editor for anonymity. But I did feel vastly superior to this editor who, by publishing my name with the letter, left my family in a very vulnerable position. We received several threatening letters and phone calls. I suppose he thought he was teaching me a lesson. Click here to see letter.

Ironically, I was never really comfortable with the term Integration. I suppose it was because segregationists always railed against "forced integration". The implication, of course, was that people of different races would never voluntarily live together in peace. I preferred the term desegregation, which I took to mean that each person must have the same rights and responsibilities as everyone else.

My experiences as a child growing up in East Texas had already convinced me that separate schools were not equal. I had only to compare the schools I attended with those available to blacks. Likewise,I could buy a house anywhere I wanted, assuming I had the money; blacks could not. The list of injustices committed is long and shameful.

This is not to say everything has worked out exactly as we had hoped. But who would contend that changes were not necessary and appropriate? What thinking person could, in good conscience, wish to return to the days of slavery, lynchings, and Jim Crow?

Although no one is guaranteed success in this country, everyone should have an equal opportunity to become successful.

Monday, December 04, 2006

News Flash! Future Miss America and Rhodes Scholar arrives in Rockville.

Savannah Lucille Thompson-Jones arrived just after 5PM on Monday, December 4, 2006. She weighed in at 7 pounds, 3 ounces, and measured 19 and 1/4th inches in length. Savanna's mom, Caroline, praised her daughter for making a quick, although not pain free, entry into the world. Savannah's dad, Darryl, rose to the occasion, losing nary a son in Caroline's absence.
Your reporter will continue to find and correct errors in this story, if any do exist, and to provide additional information, if it becomes available. For example, click here.
Someone famous once said that newspapers are the first rough draft of history. So, cut this poor scribe some slack.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

A Brief history, Nancy and her Progeny

One Sunday morning, in the spring of 1985, I visited the Seneca Valley Unitarian Fellowship in Montgomery Village, Maryland. As I surveyed the scene, my eyes focused on the attractive woman asking visitors to sign the guest book. I made a mental note to learn more about her (Nancy Vaughn Thompson, as it turns out).
During the following week, we met again (not entirely by chance) at a fellowship newcomers party. As we chatted it up a bit, I learned that my step-children were on the same local swim team as her daughters (Malinda and Caroline).
Well, one thing led to another; we went to Kentucky to meet her folks, and to Texas to meet mine. The reception at both places was positive and, shortly thereafter, we decided to get married. It was a home wedding, with the Rev. Rudy Nemser, long time friend of the groom, presiding. Aware of my history, Rudy guaranteed a lasting marriage because, "You finally got someone to do the ceremony correctly!"
When I first arrived on the scene, Caroline and Malinda were in high school. They were, and still are, beautiful and smart. They have families of their own, now. We'll learn more about these exemplary people in this space in the very near future.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Is this an original thought or did I steal it?

During a recent trip to see my doctor, I mused about pain. It occurred to me that if asked about my level of pain, I might well respond, "If pain were good, I'd have an embarrassment of riches". OK, it's not hilarious but then that's not my point.
I believe I came up with that thought on my own. But I could have read it in a book or heard it on TV. So how does one know? This enigma presents itself quite often when I'm writing and raises several questions.
If an amusing or witty thought occurs to me, and I am unsure about its originality, am I obliged to enclose it in quotes, italicize it, or in some other way signify this uncertainty? Exactly what constitutes an original or unique thought?
In a recent post about Parkinson's often devastating impact on motion and movement, I referred to my fine motor skills as my "not-so-fine-motor "skills. I think this qualifies as both amusing and original, although most of the phrase is in common usage.
Other thoughts about Parkinson's and its effects: I used to be "all thumbs"; those were the good old days. Memory was always my strong suit; now it's a wild card.
In any event, those are thoughts which I believed to be original, at the time I wrote them (but I wouldn't have bet my life on it). If you have an opinion on this topic, or an example, please leave a comment.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Please get your car out of our dining room!

Some years ago, when returning home, I saw a group of police cars and emergency vehicles at the edge of my development. I was turned away and told to find another route. As I neared our townhouse from the opposite direction, an officer approached and asked for my street address. When I responded, he said, "I'm afraid I have some bad news for you, sir."
Yes, someone had crashed into the rear of our home. I remember being relieved that I wasn't home when it happened. I went inside to survey the damage. The driver, thankfully, was not critically injured and was on his way to the hospital. Most of the car, however, was in our dining room; the front bumper perched on my desk, and the rear one hovering over our patio.
The car had been on an unlikely journey. When the driver passed out, his car swerved across a grassy island and two lanes going in the opposite direction. It then started up a hill, knocked down a couple of small trees in the process. The car then started downhill, between two large trees, and ployed into our townhouse. During this little jaunt, the driver's foot remained, as they say, with "the metal to the pedal". After crashing through the back wall, the car pushed the dining room table against the opposite wall, took out most of the wall between the kitchen and the living room, bounced the piano a few feet from its original position, and came to a halt with its bumper resting on my desk.
Coincidentally, one of our neighbors heard the commotion, rushed over, sized up the situation, crawled into dining room, opened the car door and turned off the ignition. If there was a hero in this little scenario, it was surely this gentleman. An eye witness reported he scarcely believed his eyes as the car crossed two lanes of traffic, become airborne and narrowly missed him on the sidewalk. Still another neighbor heard the crash, thought it was a bomb, and rushed her kids to the basement.
Eventually, our little drama attracted the attention of the media. As I stood at the center of this turmoil, besieged by emergency responders, lawyers, contractors and other interested parties, a lady TV reporter approached me. She asked for an interview. I replied that since this was obviously an "open house", fire away! Nancy arrived just in time to share the limelight. Our interview was shown on local TV later that evening. For a newspaper account of the accident, click here.

But here's the rest of the story. Several days later, we learned that the driver was Bob, a person Nancy and I had known before our marriage. In a further twist, my second wife Vicki and I had lived on the same block as Bob's family, a couple of decades earlier. It was like a re-union!
Looking back, it wasn't so bad. We actually had some good fortune as a result of the crash, e.g., a new hardwood floor, and a sliding glass door (where the car had left a large hole ). A few short years later, Nancy was lamenting the condition of our kitchen. I suggested that we find someone to drive into the side of our townhouse, and hope for the best.

Monday, November 13, 2006

PD: Give us this day our daily pills

The Person with Parkinson's (PWP), once diagnosed, faces a future of constant, albeit gradual change. What began as a slowing of gait or a slight tremor in one hand, may eventually evolve into loss of mobility or Dyskinesia (e.g., Michael J. Fox). Luckily, these changes occur gradually, and medications can be effective in lessening their severity.
A newly diagnosed PWP may begin treatment by taking a single pill once a day and, over the years, end up popping several pills every 3 or 4 hours. As the disease progresses, and the number and potency of medications increases, it is often difficult to determine if a particular symptom is from the disease or from drug side effects. Suffice to say, answers don't come easy in the fight against Parkinson's, but new drugs and therapies are being developed and tested as we speak (read).
In the spring of 2002, my PD doctor started me out with 1/2 pill of regular Sinemet twice daily. Now, in the fall of 2006, I take two regular Sinemet pills five time per day, one CR (controlled release) Sinemet each evening, and one Comtan five times a day. These are just for Parkinson's Disease. And, of course, there are other medications for several other problems. Suffice to say, managing this regimen can be difficult for anyone; for a PWP, it can seem simply overwhelming.
A brief discussion of the drugs used to treat PD is scheduled to appear soon (that means when I have time to write it).

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Rumsfeld loses support, leaves cabinet

Donald Rumsfeld, in a wide ranging interview, said he realized his time in office was coming to an end when he began losing the support of prominent American Icons. A prime example is the case of Brendan Siltman, a well respected moderate in the Arts world, who was willing to give Rumsfeld the benefit of the doubt until quite recently. Mr. Siltman, shown here to the right of the Defense Secretary, looks as if he was already having serious doubts about his support of Rumsfeld.

Note: The above is pure fabrication. A couple of years ago, Brendan (my grandson) visited the Pentagon as part of school field trip to Washington, D.C. By pure happenstance, Runsfeld posed with the students, and the rest is history. Quite an elaborate coincidence, wouldn't you say?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A brief history - Vicki and the kids

Some of the more perceptive among you may be saying: First David talks about his wife Nancy and then Claude's mother Claudette, and now someone named Vicki. What's going on here? It's simple, I was working undercover for the FBI and had three different identities. Actually, I've been married three times; Vicki became my second wife in the 1970's. When we met, she already had four adorable kids, ages 4 through 7, if memory serves (It's the ages I'm unsure of, not the number of kids).
Although the marriage ended, I think we agree that the kids benefited from our earnest and heartfelt efforts in their behalf for almost a decade. I have tried to remain a part of their lives and their children's lives. When asked how many grandchildren I have, I usually include the kid's kids in the total. All things considered, I think I earned at least a share of them. I'm sure Claude and his family feels the same way about Vicki.
Describing Claude's family was child's play compared to John, Laura, Melisa and Carey's. Indeed, I'll need another blog entry to describe the whole bunch. For now, I only note that the grandchildren are not only attractive, they seem well grounded and smart. I break into a smile when I think of them. I wish I had the energy for treks to see them more often. And my fondest hope is to get everyone together to produce "Pop Pop's family picture".

Coming attraction : A brief history - Nancy and her progeny

"the bogeyman"

I have tried to make these little chats about Parkinson's light reading. No need to worry loved ones; certainly don't want to betray any self-pity, and if I can't keep my spirits up, who will? But, occasionally, like tonight, when afflicted with some new and novel torture, I give in, ever so slightly, to despair. At these times I tend to view my illness in very personal terms. It's as if there's another person inside me - some evil, malicious monster intent on making my life miserable. I have named him, "The Petulant Stranger Within".
At times like this, I drag myself out of bed, make my way downstairs to my office, and fire up my blog. The hope is that the writing will cause me to become mentally exhausted, drag myself upstairs and fall asleep.
Hopefully, tomorrow will dawn and I will feel better. It's happened so often before; the prospect lightens my mood. And then it hits me. I probably won't even put this in my blog; I wouldn't want to tarnish my reputation as a happy-go-lucky guy.

Note: Normally, when I write something like this, under duress (so to speak), it doesn't end up in my blog. Last night, I accidentally clicked the "Publish" button instead of the "Save as Draft" button. I intended to either re-write it or more likely, delete it this morning. But wait! Am I fearful of revealing something about myself that I wouldn't want others to see? Weakness? Vulnerability? Or am I afraid I'll make someone else depressed? So I asked myself, "Who am I trying to protect?" No one who reads this little snippet will have their lives shattered upon hearing of my pain. Why not just tell it like it is. Life is not all peaches and cream.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Letters to the Editor: are they examples of Free Speech?

I started writing letters to the editor in Montgomery, Alabama during the late 1950's. One needn't have been a genius to understand that a degree of subtlety was required when writing anything which could have possibly been construed as an attack on segregation.
For the most part, my letters met this test, and escaped the attention of those in the city prone to violence. But one particular letter evidently went too far, and I started receiving late night phone calls. The messages ranged from heavy breathing to demands that I get out of town. My employer at the time, Western Electric, was encouraged to fire me. They refused.
In addition to being frightened, I was infuriated. Here was proof that, in a supposedly free country, I was unable to speak my mind without being threatened. I continued to write letters, albeit with what should have been an unnecessary amount of discretion .
After I left Montgomery, some months later, I received a letter which remains one of my prized possessions. It was from Ray Jenkins, managing editor of the Alabama Journal. He commented on a letter I had written and which appeared in the Journal. The subject of the letter was a weekly columnist who was, I felt, intellectually bankrupt.

My letter: Gandhi and Hitler
I wish to comment on the "As I see it" column in last Sunday's Journal. I was surprised, for example, to discover that Mahatma Gandhi was Hitler's right-hand man. It's really amazing how one can re-learn history with the help of an expert like Mr. Mahoney. He points out seemingly insignificant facts which, though a little circumstantial , culminate in a smashing indictment. For example, given the fact that Gandhi and Hitler were both vegetarians, the conclusion that they were fellow conspirators is inescapable.
Little gems of irrefutable logic such as this make my Sunday mornings complete.

Mr Jenkins letter:
Dear Mr. Siltman,
I keep handy in my desk an old yellow clipping headlined, "Ghandi and Hitler." Every time I get despondent, all I have to do is read it and get a lift.
Seriously, if a reader ever knocked me out as effectively as you did my colleague, I'd never write another column.
Ray Jenkins
Managing Editor
Alabama Journal

Thursday, November 02, 2006

A brief history: Claude and his family

The marriage of Claudette and David yielded one son, Claude. Not surprisingly, he was born on Christmas Day (I had been outside the night before, looking for a bright star). Well, that particular scenario didn't work out, but we think he's wonderful, anyway. Claude met and married Monica, a Philadelphia beauty. They produced a boy, Brendan, and a girl, Mary. They are perfect. See if you can tell who is who in the picture on your left. A prize goes to the person who has the highest number of correct guesses.
Lest anyone think I am frivolous in my assessment of Claude and his family - well, "I calls 'em like I sees 'em!" I love them all and I don't care who knows it. Claude pretty much runs the City of Philadelphia, and Monica owns and operates the private school that Brendan and Mary attend. I could go on and on about this wonderful family but I don't want to embarrass them.
Some people claim I go overboard in my admiration of, and fondness for, these marvelous individuals. I have only one thing to say to these negative know nothings, "you're just jealous!"

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Some second thoughts about "the care and feeding of blogs"

Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time (my October 23rd post). A few helpful hints for those just creating their own blog, I reasoned. The fact that I was only days, perhaps hours, ahead of my prospective audience should have given me pause. It was especially painful to re-read this stuff after learning a bit more about Blogger. Much of my advice appears to been preempted by features already available in Blogger.

The above paragraph is an example of what's called "self deprecating humor". In reality, it's a last gasp attempt to salvage any credibility I have left. My bad!

But, wait! Before throwing myself on my sword, perhaps we can allow for the notion that a few of my ideas might have had merit. I still believe, for example, that a lot of well written posts are preferable to a few slightly better ones. There's a finite amount of time available for most folks to play with this toy. And I still love the quote in the last paragraph. So, there!

Parkinson's Disease: Take it away, please!

Five years ago, I knew almost nothing about Parkinson's. Since my son Claude was diabetic, I began to look for similarities. Both conditions are chronic. Diabetes results from a lack of insulin, and Parkinson's from a diminishing supply of dopamine. Diabetics must carefully balance the amount of food consumed, the amount of insulin taken, and the expected activity between medication intervals. A PWP (person with Parkinson's) must attempt to ascertain the amount and types of medication required to provide symptomatic relief without incurring devastating side effects. What a daunting prospect for the rest of one's life! But fear not! Help is on the way.

The symptoms most commonly associated with PD are tremors (often in the hands) and a slow, stiff walk. Other telltale signs include balance problems, masking (face appears immobile), and cognitive loss (what were we talking about?). The one that bothers me the most is an almost complete lack of balance. I have to be constantly aware of the implications of this problem , especially when standing or walking. I feel I will fall if I let down my guard, even for an instant.

These days, when one thinks of PD, Michael J. Fox comes to mind. His condition is much worse than mine. But with all his money, he can't simply buy relief. Brave man, fighting the good fight. I'm reminded of the saying, "If you don't fight PD, it will run right over you."

Note: Let's get real, here. I'm not an expert, in PD, or anything else. So, although I probably know more about PD than the average person, and I try very hard not to spread bad information, I'm not infallible. If you see something in this post, or any other in my blog, use the comments section to set me straight. Thanks in advance.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Letters to the Editor for fun and profit

During most of my adult life, I wrote letters to the editor of various publications, ranging from the local Village News to the Washington Post and New York Times. The last time I counted, there were at least a thousand; over four hundred were published.
I'm not sure why I stopped but I suspect this blog will bear the brunt of my renewed urge to put pen to paper(finger to keyboard?) . I keep the published letters in a file; many are so old they are difficult to read, others hopelessly outdated, and a few still not ready for prime time. I will include some of the better ones in this blog. Due to my appalling lack of expertise in things like scanners, the first letters will be short since I'll be typing them. As time goes by, I hope to scan letters (and other items of interest), insert them into posts, and publish them as part of my blog. I will also include remarks putting them into context - historically as well as societally.

This letter was written 40 years ago. It appeared in the Washington Post on Christmas Day.

Christmas Spirit
A recent news article revealed that a Washington couple had begun a fight to reverse their 1957 conviction of Virginia's anti-miscegenation laws. They were sentenced to a year in jail but the sentence was suspended on condition that they leave the state.
Lest the unsophisticated among us suspect that this amounted to banishment, Virginia's Attorney General Robert Button recently pointed out that they were free to visit or live in the state, so long as they do it separately.
Mr. Button is obviously overwhelmed by the Christmas spirit.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

She's the one!

I originally decided not to use real names in this blog. But I found this to be burdensome and probably unnecessary. So, henceforth, I will move toward full disclosure by using first names. This decision was made as I began to post a photo of my wife, Nancy. There, I've said it! Her name is Nancy and I love her! Emboldened by this show of courage I will now introduce myself. "Hi, I'm David and I belong to Nancy."
Well, enough of this serious stuff. Yes, this is Nancy, my bride of some 20+years. We met in Church, of course. I was visiting this little fellowship in Gaithersburg, Md. and decided to sign the guest book. As luck would have it, there was Nancy. So I asked her to marry me and we lived happily ever after.
OK, I oversimplified a bit. But, as I said before, this blog is written in an episodic manner (which I take to mean I can skip around chronologically, starting and stopping as I damn well please). I will try to regain a more sedate tone in my next post. Remember, I said "try".

My life with Parkinson's Disease (PD)

For me, a large portion of each day involves dealing with PD, my constant companion. It's not the kind of illness you can ignore for any appreciable length of time. So spending even a few minutes a day writing about it does seem a bit like overkill. On the other hand, if I'm going to write about my life, it doesn't make much sense to ignore PD.
One of the frustrating things about dealing with Parkinson's is the appalling lack of clear and definite answers to the questions it raises. One hears a lot of "It depends" and "Everyone's different."
Typical questions: How long have I had PD?
Most people have it for months or even years before they are diagnosed. Others have it, are unaware and may never know. Many people are misdiagnosed. How will this affect my longevity? Not much, probably. You will live about as long as if you didn't have PD, but the quality of that life will be diminished, at least to some degree. When will I experience side effects from medications, what kind can I expect? It depends and everyone's different. Some people have great difficulty tolerating certain drugs while others have little or no problems. Some drugs work well for some people and not at all for others. More about this later.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

A brief history, very abridged.

Assuming that anyone is actually reading these posts, I suppose I should give you a brief synopses of my life thus far. I was born in a small town in East Texas. My brother and I were raised by our folks according to their understanding of Southern Baptist tenets. Although my brother might disagree, I feel this had both good and bad effects on our lives. Economically, we were perhaps lower middle class, but we both ended up with college degrees (OK, he got a Master's). He stayed in Texas and I roamed. He got married and I got married, and married, and married. We're both retired now. He's still in Texas and I live in the Washington Metropolitan Area. We have lots of grandchildren. OK, so there are a few gaps in this little life history, but I intend to fill them all.

Indeed, by its nature, this kind of storytelling tends to be episodic. I will post entries as they occur to me. If they turn out to be chronological, so be it. This is true regardless of subject i.e., life experiences, thoughts, relationships, Parkinson's, whatever.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The care and feeding of blogs

I've begun collecting items of interest which I will call, “The Care and Feeding of Blogs”. I hope these items will be of use to new bloggers. I noticed, for example, that my blog had three posts, created on the same date, three days ago. So here is what I learned: One should not attempt to create perfect posts. I kept refining my ideas (I thought), but instead started a cycle of change, publish, change, publish, etc. to the point of frustration. What I really did was use my time inefficiently. In other words, it is preferable to have many well written posts than just a few marginally better ones.
Remember, although there is a finite amount of time available for this effort, there are times when extra effort is warranted. A case in point is the Title and Description section, which should enable the reader to decide if he is likely to enjoy the blog. If this section is well crafted and inclusive, it will be a reminder to the frequent reader as well as an introduction to the newcomer.
Unfortunately, it must also be brief. This reminds me of the famous writer (this means I don’t remember his name) who wrote to a friend, “I’m sorry my note is so long. I didn’t have time to write a short one.” Very pithy!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Let's sprinkle some photos into the mix.

This is a reasonable facsimile of the author. It will be replaced by a more recent one soon. Those in the know (Pro-Footballwise) may have spotted the Washington Redskins logo on my windbreaker. Obviously, I have learned to live with disappointment. The beard has been my constant companion for some 40-50 years - neither my wife nor children have seen me beardless; accounts vary as to what I’m trying to hide. Photography, by the way, is one of my favorite hobbies. I have a couple thousand images from digital cameras and hope to add to that number by scanning images recovered on film. I hope to integrate Blogger with Picasa, where I edit, organize and save my images.

My Battle with the Blogger

A sharp teenager could probably put together a decent blog in 30 minutes using the program Blogger; add another couple hours for entering material to make it look presentable. It took me 2 days. Of course, I was handicapped by having actually built one earlier. I made the mistake of thinking I didn't have to keep notes since I had no problems before. Well, as the saying goes, "that was then and this is now." In addition to experiencing some short term memory loss due to Parkinson's, I've also lost a little of what the neurologists call "fine motor skills". I refer to them as my"Not so fine motor skills". This is the dexterity which allows people to do things like write, type and pick up sticks.

In any event, I kept making silly mistakes. Suffice to say, I went from my first attempt at a blog, called "Shuffling down the road less traveled" through "Slow steps down the road less traveled", "Life in the slow lane", Life in the very slow lane", and finally ended up with "Living in the slow lane. So at this point, I'm afraid to change anything lest I screw it up. Paranoia is a powerful and mysterious force.

In the beginning ...

I'm very excited (one might even say manic) about this new project. A flood of ideas pop up in my mind and cry out for organization. But that sounds a lot like work, so let's start with a personal note. I'm married to a very nice woman and have lots of great kids and grandkids. But discussing my marital history without some sort of flow chart would be folly. Let's save that discussion for another day.

A word about Parkinson's Disease. It's called "a slowly progressive neurodegenerative disorder" (plus a lot of other unpleasant things by people who have it). By the way, progressive means it's not going to get better. Here's what happens: When too many of a certain type of nerve cells die or are disabled, the production of a substance called dopamine is diminished. This, in turn, hampers the smooth functioning of the body's muscles and movement, e.g.,tremors and slow, stiff motions. More about PD, later. We've barely scratched the surface.