Archive for the ‘Language and medicine’ Category

Wading with Vladimir and Estragon

February 19, 2019

That, at least, is where it started, with this bit of playfulness on Facebook:

(#1)

One among a great many available versions of Wading for Godot (like this one, hardly any have an identifiable origin, but just get passed around on the web, along with jokes, funny pictures, and the like: the folk culture of the net). I’m particularly taken with #1, as a well-made image and as a close reworking of lines from Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot:

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Being cardioverted

January 24, 2019

I was cardioverted on Wednesday the 28th of November. It was supposed to take an hour to an hour and a half, but took more like 4 hours, though the actual cardioversion bit was only a few minutes. For a while I no longer experienced persistent atrial flutter or any atrial fibrillation (though I know this only by looking — frequently — at a pulse oximeter, not from monitoring my perceptions of my body, which has never once spoken to me about irregularities in my heartbeat).

From the Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary:

verb cardiovert: to subject to cardioversion // cardioverted the patient to sinus rhythm

noun cardioversion: application of an electric shock in order to restore normal heartbeat

(A kind of cousin to the defibrillation you have become accustomed to seeing on tv medical dramas.)

Advance warning: if at any point in this posting, you feel the urge to suggest a line of medical diagnosis or to offer me advice about what I should be doing, stifle that urge. If you give in to it (despite your ignorance of a grotesquely complex medical history, some of it stretching back over 50 years), you will be introducing entirely unwelcome complications into a life that has been largely devoted to medical matters for many months now, matters that are driving me frequently to despair. You will be saying, forget about coping with things, listen to my ideas and respond to me; you will become another part of the problem.

I am not asking for help. I am not asking for advice. I am offering some explanation for my frequent inattention to this blog. And I’m telling you my story, for whatever use you can make of it for yourself. I’m also complaining, in the belief that complaining for its own sake, especially to people who are in no way responsible for caring for you, can be therapeutic. A sympathetic murmur is the most such complaints should elicit.

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Bobby Pyron

December 1, 2018

(There will be frank discussions of men’s bodies and accounts in street language of mansex, so probably not suitable for kids or the sexually modest.)

Among the many reflections, exhortations, reminiscences, elegies, and tributes for World AIDS Day, today, one from Mike Thomas about three people who died of complications of AIDS who had been important in his life: among them a mutual friend, Howard Faye, who I wrote about in a 12/30/16 posting “Howard at 57”; and Bobby Pyron, someone I didn’t know personally but appreciated as the porn star Lee Ryder.

I’ve written twice about Ryder on AZBlogX — details below — and knew only a little about Pyron (his passion in life was flower arranging, and he was said to be self-composed, unassuming, and a really nice guy), but Mike pointed me to an obit for him (preserved on the AIDS Memorial Facebook page) that filled in many details.

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What do you have?

November 25, 2018

The One Big Happy from October 12th, a dialogue between Joe and James in which we experience a tiny bit of the fabulous flexibility of the English verb have:

(#1)

James seems not to have registered the noun hobby (‘an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure’ (NOAD)) and so takes hobbies in have hobbies to be the name of a disease, infection, or medical condition, like (the) mumps. For him, chickenpox and the mumps, but not hobbies is just an ordinary coordination, but for the rest of us, it’s prime-grade zeugma, like (I had) asthma and artistic inclinations — with the extra wrinkle that though both chickenpox and mumps end in a plural-resembling /s/ (and so superficially resemble the PL hobbies), both are grammatically SG:

chickenpox / (the) mumps once was / *were a common childhood disease, but vaccines have nearly eliminated it / *them [SG for subject-verb agreement and also for anaphor selection]

Two notes: on the morphosyntax of disease names; and on the extraordinary versatility of have (which just invites zeugmas and zeugmoids).

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Randy Blue purifies the air

November 18, 2018

(Warning: eventually this posting devolves to references to, though not illustrations of, gay porn; a video of a guy dancing in nothing but his Calvins; and the decidedly raunchy, though not actually X-rated, lyrics of Beyoncé’s song “Blow”. So: rated “unhealthy for sensitive groups”, in particular, kids and the sexually modest.)

Day 11 in the smoke — not nearly as bad here on the SF peninsula as in SF itself (or, of course, closer to the Camp Fire around Paradise) — and today the local AQI (the American Lung Association’s Air Quality Index) has dipped to 129, merely “unhealthy for sensitive groups”, but I’m in several of the compromised groups, and life has been hellish for a long time. [A few hours later: up to 158, “Unhealthy”, period.]

(#1)

Aid arrived Thursday night, in the form of a Blue Pure 121 air purifier, which now stands majestically in the middle of the main area of my Ramona St. house, humming softly as it offers me clean air to breathe. Puckishly, I have named the machine Randy Blue (after a big gay porn company, itself puckishly named), so this posting will segue from pure air to raunch.

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Halloween detritus

November 6, 2018

A bit late for the train, a recent snack treat from mccormick.com  — McCormick & Co., the spice, seasonings, and condiments firm — that appeared on a Pinterest board for Halloween:

(#1)

Combining two pop-cultural items: zombies and nasal mucus, especially in the form of green boogers. Plus popcorn, of course.

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Famous wolf on the Yellow Brick Road

October 31, 2018

In today’s comics feed, the One Big Happy from 10/4, in which Ruthie mondegreens:

(#1)

Yes: the song “We’re Off to See the Wizard”, from the 1939 movie of The Wizard of Oz, with we’re off (mis)heard as Rolf.

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Sleep on, harvest moon

September 24, 2018

Sunday night, on the way to the PAMF (Palo Alto Medical Foundation) Sleep Disorders Clinic in Sunnyvale CA (for a night sleeping in a forest of electrodes and other monitoring devices), an absolutely gigantic moon, slightly short of full, hanging low in the sky. Sunday (the 23rd) was the Autumn Equinox and tonight (the 24th) the moon is full, so we are now experiencing a harvest moon — which means today is the Mid-Autumn Festival in China and other East Asian countries (and elsewhere), so it’s the prime day for mooncakes / moon-cakes / moon cakes, paper lanterns, and family reunions. It’s also the beginning of the holiday of Sukkot in the Jewish calendar (this year, sunset on the 23rd through sunset on the 30th), so it’s a harvest festival there too, also a solemn religious holiday and a family festival.

Meanwhile, my days have been physically / medically dreadful and emotionally disastrous, so I haven’t been able to assemble all the text for a proper posting. But here’s a photo gallery for a posting to come.

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Rainforest houseplants

September 11, 2018

A birthday present to me from Riitta Välimaa-Blum, this gorgeous display of plants:

(#1)

Not just plants, but particularly luxuriant houseplants — mostly gorgeous enormous Dieffenbachia plants. Apparently in a rainforest setting, either in the wild or in a conservatory (or as Riitta would say, un jardin des plantes). Riitta tells me it’s in a real rainforest, on the island of Réunion, in the Indian Ocean. Remarkably, Réunion is a department (state in US terms) of France, which just happens to be about 5700 mi (9200 km) from the department of France where she lives (in Nice, in the department of Alpes Maritimes). (Compare the US state of Hawaii, about 2500 mi (4000 km) from California, where I live.)

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Melodramamine

August 28, 2018

Today’s Bizarro/Wayno collab:


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 3 in this strip — see this Page.)

Not one, but two portmanteaus: for the ailment,  overemotion sickness = overemotional + motion sickness; and for the treatment, Melodramamine = melodrama + Dramamine. Plus the (melo)dramatic gesture.

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