Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day

Cow and Boy by Mark Leiknes

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Tendonitis Update -- It's fixed!

Surgery went well and I’m so relieved it’s over. The pain isn’t bad but I can’t use my left arm. I have bandages from my knuckles to my shoulder; can remove them Sun. but can’t use my arm until my follow-up visit June 3.

Typing with one hand is really annoying so I won’t be doing much e-mail or blogging. Thank you all for your kind messages, thoughts, and prayers!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Saffron Update

Our sweet little Saffron is still hanging in there! Isn't she adorable sleeping in her bed (above)?

A few weeks ago the vet tech thought Saffron was having trouble breathing. An x-ray showed that her liver is much larger and is pushing on her lungs, tummy, and intestines (which is probably why she has diarrhea). The vet said she might make it to July 4th, but he'd be astonished if she made it to Labor Day. We've known for a long time that her days are numbered, so we're just glad she's comfortable, eating a lot, and has no trouble breathing. If any of those things change, we'll have to make The Decision, but we're still hoping she stays comfortable for as long as possible and slips away peacefully in her sleep.

Saffron has never been a lap cat; she's just happy to be near me, especially if she can see me, but every now and then she wants to snuggle (below). I'm thrilled with every happy minute, every sweet kiss that wakes me in the morning, and every cuddle. Maybe our Miracle Kitty will surprise everyone again...

Tendonitis Update

As my faithful readers (all two of you) may recall, I haven't blogged much since February because I was busy doing physical therapy for tendonitis (tennis elbow type) while working full-time. The therapy was in Lansing (an hour away) because that was the only place where I could get low-level pulsed-laser therapy in addition to the usual stuff. That 6-hours-a-week really ate into my usual work time, so I was behind all semester. I can't tell you how relieved I was when the semester was finally over!

At first the therapy helped a lot. The pain decreased tremendously and instead of looking damaged/atrophied, my elbow looked almost normal. It even quit hurting when the weather changed. After four weeks, it improved so much that I began to hope PT would heal my tendon once and for all, especially when my sports doc ordered four more weeks of therapy in hope of doing just that.

During week 5 or 6, I had a flare-up. I was lifting something (I don't remember what) out of the grocery cart when pain suddenly shot up my arm. I do remember that the item wasn't heavy and that I was very surprised by the pain. Unfortunately, it didn't improve even with more physical therapy.

I saw the sports doc again when I finished therapy and he decided it was time to talk about surgery. After a couple discouraging doc visits, including a second opinion from a hand/arm specialist with no bedside manor, I was referred to Dr. Rook in Rochester. I really like him and his bedside manor! Fri., May 22 he'll be doing surgery to repair my tendon.

The surgery is outpatient so I'll be back home the same day. Dr. Rook says the tendon pain will go away as soon as he fixes the tendon (removes damaged area and sews everything back together). Recovery will take 6-12 weeks, during which I can't lift even a gallon of milk until Dr. Rook says I'm ready.

Right now my arm still looks really swollen and it's pretty sore. (I can't take my pain med the week before surgery since it may cause bleeding.) I'm am relieved and excited to know that soon it will be fixed and the chance of recurrence is very low. After four years of chronic pain, I'm ready to say good-bye to tendonitis!

I'm not sure how much I'll be able to type, so after the surgery it might be a while before I'm blogging again.

Captain Kirk, American Icon?

I saw the new Star Trek opening weekend. No spoilers here! While it wasn't "your father's Star Trek," and not quite mine either, I really enjoyed it. I found the alternate timeline a clever way of rebooting the franchise without ignoring canon or alienating long-time fans. I'm thrilled to see so many people enjoying the characters I already love and hope it leads new fans to discover the original series and the best of its movies (2, 4, and 6, of course).

One thing I missed in the new movie: lots of long, loving shots of the Enterprise. You can tell the writers aren't Trekkies/Trekkers/Geeks because they didn't make Enterprise a character -- like the original series and previous films. I missed her.

I really enjoyed this article in Sunday's paper: "Capt. Kirk, American Icon?" by Ted Anthony, Associated Press.

I've also copied and pasted the article here.

Capt. Kirk, American icon? New Frontier renewed

By TED ANTHONY, Associated Press Writer Ted Anthony, Associated Press Writer – Wed May 13, 10:18 am ET

NEW YORK – There's a moment in one particularly silly episode of the original "Star Trek" that is, despite its camp, quite stirring. Captain James T. Kirk, on a distant planet that somehow developed into a twisted parallel America, rises to recite the preamble of the U.S. Constitution in a way that only William Shatner could.

It is pure schmaltz, patriotic manipulation puffed up by the swelling chords of "The Star-Spangled Banner." But it cuts straight to the heart of Captain Kirk, one of popular fiction's most enduring characters of the past half-century.

You can put him in a multiculti setting, dispatch him to the farthest reaches of the galaxy, entangle him with aliens and have him deliver speeches about the virtues of a United Federation of Planets. But there's no getting around it: Jim Kirk is unabashedly, enthusiastically American. "I'm from Iowa," he once said. "I only work in outer space."

Since his birth 43 years ago on mid-1960s network TV, the commander of the USS Enterprise has been a distillation of American ideals — one who finds himself suddenly reinvigorated for the 21st century now that the Kirk torch has been passed to a new generation.

"We stand today on the edge of a New Frontier — the frontier of the 1960s, a frontier of unknown opportunities and perils, a frontier of unfulfilled hopes and threats," John F. Kennedy said in 1960. "Beyond that frontier are the uncharted areas of science and space, unsolved problems of peace and war, unconquered pockets of ignorance and prejudice, unanswered questions of poverty and surplus."

That stalwart but softer version of Manifest Destiny — a sense that American exceptionalism could be exported to the stars, despite the Cold War — was, in effect, the manifesto that created Captain Kirk and the "Star Trek" universe around him.

Kirk was supposed to be the leader of what "Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry dubbed a "Wagon Train to the Stars" — a convoy of travelers who bond while facing threats and exploring uncharted terrain. But from that framework, one of the most enduring characters of modern American fiction emerged.

Much is made of the duality of Mr. Spock, Kirk's half-Vulcan, half-human first officer who struggles to figure out where he fits in. Pundits have even compared Barack Obama to Spock, saying the combination of coolheadedness and humanity fits the times.

Kirk, though, embodies a different, distinctly American duality: the tension between exuberance and impetuousness on one hand and seriousness and intellect on the other. All at once, Kirk manages to be both Democrat and Republican, hawk and dove, humble and arrogant, futurist and traditionalist — and, in the most American duality of all, childlike and completely adult.

He's JFK — a deep thinker and voracious seeker of knowledge who disdains intellectualism when it is untethered from common sense. He's Andrew Jackson — populist and anti-elitist, as at home in jeans and an untucked shirt as he is in his full dress uniform. He's Vince Lombardi, rejecting the no-win scenario and pushing on to victory.

He's Humphrey Bogart, the darkly driven loner intimate with fisticuffs. He's Edison, always thinking outside the box. He's Elvis — robust wooer of women, intergalactic California blondes in particular. And, as we learn in an episode that re-enacts the shootout at the O.K. Corral, he's Gary Cooper — not only a gangster of love but a space cowboy descended from frontiersmen.

"He's the George Bush that George Bush pretended to be — the compassionate conservative, the `uniter not the divider,'" says Richard Slotkin, author of "Gunfighter Nation" and a historian of the frontier.

"His style of action is George Bush's style of action — `I go with my gut and I have an indomitable will to win,'" Slotkin says. "It's essentially a right-wing style, but it's controlled in Kirk's case" — by an ingrained sense of progressivism, among other traits.

But while Shatner's Kirk was a reflection of mid-20th-century America as defined by Kennedy — eyes optimistically toward the future but girded for any fast-approaching upheaval — Chris Pine's take on the character is just as distinctly a product of the 21st century.

The Kirk of J.J. Abrams' retooled "Trek" was raised by a widowed mother and questionable stepfather after losing his father in battle. Pine's Kirk is Shatner's on Red Bull and vodka — rebellious and sarcastic, vaguely felonious, tragically hip, soaked in irony and maybe a bit ADD. He leaps, then — maybe — looks.

And yet the new Kirk, however brat-packy, remains the vessel of American exceptionalism — the regular kid from the Midwest who manages to be, in the eyes of his mentor, Capt. Christopher Pike, "meant for something better, something special."

The Kirk character is "the embodiment of the everyday guy becoming a hero," says James Cawley, who plays the captain in an elaborate fan-made production that picks up where 1960s "Trek" left off. "He's definitely a leader, someone we look up to, but if you could get inside his head, he wouldn't see himself that way."

With a few key exceptions (Atticus Finch, Vito Corleone, some comic-book superheroes), Americans have spent much of the past 50 years bringing our fictional protagonists down to eye level. Where once we had Captain Ahab and Paul Bunyan and John Henry, now we have Rabbit Angstrom and Jack Bauer and Tony Soprano, characters consumed by their faults or quirks or doubts.

That makes for great tragedy and great realism but, perhaps, not great myth. And "Star Trek," as a history of the future we desire, is unrepentantly mythic.

Through the "Star Trek" movies of the 1980s, the sense of nostalgia that had settled over the nation found its expression in Captain Kirk. He was looking back more, examining regrets, wondering about roads not taken. The Rabbit-style introspection fit him well, but somehow it reflected a gradual abandonment of the New Frontier's optimistic tomorrow.

That's why Kirk 2.0, rebooted to the beginning of his interstellar career, feels so fresh, so necessary for the times.

The world is more confusing, more ambiguous than ever. Change is everywhere. The contours of American life keep getting blurrier. "The new frontier," British Prime Minister Gordon Brown told Congress in March, "is that there is no frontier."

A scary prospect for Frontier Nation. But if you accept that the Kirk character embodies American ideals projected into the future, here's a guy who — after 9/11, after waterboarding, after Katrina and economic meltdown — restores the balance of American duality.

Strong but caring. Deeply American but casually, completely multicultural as a simple matter of fact. Understanding of history but with eyes squarely focused on the things to come. And possessed with a just-do-it sense that while safety is important, risk, as Shatner's Kirk once said, is our business. America, after all, needs leaping and looking both.

Captain Kirk has endured for a reason: He shows us what we want to be. And whatever the answer, having a slice of American popular culture that is unashamed to help us figure it out is a refreshing thing indeed. A generation after the Enterprise first flew, we have met the future once again, and once again it looks like James T. Kirk.


EDITOR'S NOTE — Ted Anthony covers American culture for The Associated Press.

Shame on the Flint Journal for omitting the Capt. Kirk/Pres. Bush comparison! (Can you say "censorship"?)

I am impressed that Anthony included James Cawley, from Star Trek: New Voyages.

Here's to the new Trek and new voyages.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Star Trek Humor

The new Star Trek film was a hit its opening weekend. Here are some funnies from SNL and the Tonight Show:

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Free at Last!

After a very long semester (more on that later), I have turned in my grades and am ready to enjoy having the summer off.

Yesterday I celebrated my 46th birthday with my husband his parents by having dinner at Taboon's (a middle eastern restaurant). We got the mixed grill for four and had more food than we could possible eat; I swear it included everything on the menu!

Afterwards we browsed Border's Books where I had a butterbeer (warm frothy milk with vanilla, hazel nut, and caramel -- topped with whipped cream and more caramel). It was very sweet but very yummy! (For the unfamiliar, it's based on a drink in the Harry Potter books.)

The best present of all is that my sweet little Saffron is still here to celebrate our birthdays! Friday she officially turned 13 (but is probably much older) and Sophie turned 12 (which we are sure of).