Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Purge, by Sofi Oksanen: A Book Review

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This book isn't about anorexia or bulimia or the occasional colon cleanse.  Purge is a book of two voices that takes us  through the tumultuous times of WWII, the communist occupation of eastern Europe and into the uncertainty of Soviet life in the 1990's. It does not take place in Russia but in the little known country of Estonia.   Estonia  is a country in the Baltic Region of Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland, to the west by the Baltic Sea, to the south by Latvia (343 km), and to the east by the Russian Federation.  But this story could have been placed in any country that had been occupied by the Germans and then the Soviets.  I'm going to do an aside here.  My husband and I visited Moscow a year ago and wanted to go to the National Museum of Military History.  We wanted to hear the Russian's "take" on things.  Our guide, Olga, informed us that when the Russians finally drove the Germans back across the Germans' eastern front that they, the Soviets, liberated the countries that the Germans had occupied.  Ok then. We rolled our eyes.   Just ask those "liberated" people how they liked it and  you will see just how much  in Purge.  The two voices are that of Aliide, born in the 1920's, in Estonia in a small village.  The second voice is that of Zara, born in Vladivostok, Russia, sometime in the late 1970's.  The two voices meet in 1992 when Zara escapes from her brutal pimp, Pasha,  who had lured her from Russia with promises of making great money but instead  forces her into being a sex slave in Germany.  Read more...

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Twisted Head Part Five

Well, I finally got my second set of botox shots based on the results of an intramuscular electromyography. Say what? It's called an EMG. You lay (lie, whatever) down and the doctor inserts a small needle, like an accupuncture needle, into various muscle groups. Yes, you read right. More needles in the neck. As the needle is inserted into the muscle, the doctor either puts his hand on your face and asks you to press against it or he moves the needle around. Are you still with me or are you running for the hills? The needle has a fine wire attached to it that sends a signal to a machine that reacts like an EKG machine. If, when you press against the doctor's hand etc, the machine makes a "noise", meaning shows an erratic line, then that muscle is contracting and that is where he needs to inject the botox. The doctor then moves to the next muscle group and sees if he gets the same reaction. If there is no "noise", then no botox for that muscle today. He located two muscle groups that made "noise" so that's where I got my two vials of botox. I have a really smooth neck...Anyway, it takes up to two-three weeks for any results to show. If it doesn't work this time, then I'm off to a specialist at Emory Hospital. Keep your fingers crossed for me, OK?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Twisted Head Part Four:The Saga Continues

Well, here it is almost three months since the botox injections and, drum roll please...nothing. It did NOTHING! Many of you asked about how in the world did I go half way around the world with my head twisted to the side. It's called good valium and business elite on Delta. When I'm reclining, I don't have any issues, except with the difficulty of reading. That's where the Kindle has been so much help. It's so light I can position it many ways. Once I got to Singapore I decided to have a massage. Not an Al Gore massage, just a plain old massage. After the massage the therapist said, you are so tight. I will adjust you. And before I could open my mouth, she had adjusted both sides of my neck. My chiropractor asked if she was certified to do that. Yeah right. But it sure felt good. It wasn't easy slogging my way through the jungle and climbing a mountain but I'm not a whiner, so I'm not going to complain. What I am going to complain about is what in the hell is going to happen to our health care systm when Obama/Pelosi/Reid care comes into fruition. I get back and I'm still on the valium type pills. I've been trying to work out and do some Dahn yoga to stretch the neck muscles. So, I have an appointment with the neurologist last week on a Weds. A week before that, I CALL the office to make sure the botox has been ordered. I know you're asking why do the injections again if they didn't work the first time. From my research I've done, sometimes it just takes more than once to kick in. I get a call on that Monday saying yes the botox had been ordered. I go to the appt and the doctor says that obviously the first set of injections didn't work and that he is going to use an advance technigue where he will put small needles into the different neck muscles, apply pressure to the muscle and if it contracts, that's where he'll put the injections. But he couldn't do it at that location because he didn't have the necessary equipment. Why didn't he do that the first time? 75-80% of all spasmodic torticollis sufferers respond to what he did do. Oh, no. Not me. I have to be different. So, he makes an appt for me the next day at the other office. I get home and get a call from the woman who had told me the botox had been ordered, this is the second time this woman has done this to me. I know you're saying GO TO ANOTHER DOCTOR! Well, I found a "movement disorder" specialist in Atlanta but I couldn't get an appt with him until August! So, I got a call from this woman, apologizing, and saying the botox had been ordered. I called the mail order company and indeed it will be in their office tomorrow and my appt is the next day. But it will still take 3-4 weeks for it to work...if it does. If not, then I'll keep that other appt for August and change doctors. OK I will whine...My golf game sucks. But as I told the doctor, you can see everyday our soldiers coming back from Iraq or Afghanistan with lost limbs and crippling disabilities. So my whine will be minimal...

Monday, July 5, 2010

A Review on the writer Carl Hiaasen

I’ve always had an offbeat sense of humor. I loved Monty Python and their Flying Circus, The Holy Grail, Life of Brian and of course, Spamalot (French Soldier: I don't want to talk to you no more, you empty headed animal food trough wiper. I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.) I loved it. I’m also a fan of Dave Barry and Christopher Moore (Chris Moore is definitely not for everyone. He is VERY politically incorrect). So, in keeping with my sense of humor, a long time ago I picked up a book by Carl Hiaasen. It was Tourist Season, his first book. Here is a synopsis of the book off of Hiaasen’s web page: “The only trace of the first victim was his Shriner's fez washed up on the Miami Beach. The second victim, the head of the city's chamber of commerce, was found dead with a toy rubber alligator lodged in his throat. And that was just the beginning... Now Brian Keyes, reporter turned private eye, must move from muckraking to rooting out murder, in a caper that will mix football players, politicians, and police with a group of fanatics and a very hungry crocodile.” Now, who could not read something with that type of description? Tourist Season (Carl Hiaasen)

Hiaasen has, for most of his career, been an editorial writer for the Miami Herald. So, his focus, both in his editorial writing and in his novels, is South Florida. Now, if you’ve ever spent any time in south Florida, you know it is populated with all types of miscreants, crooked politicians, crooked real-estate agents and just the plain weird. Welcome to the wild, weird and whacked out world of Carl Hiaasen. Read more...

What's Become of "Buy American?"

It's getting harder and harder to "buy American" these days. Just look at these icons of american culture and see where they are now or were always made. I found this courtesy of

Toll House: Nestle, a Swiss company, is the owner of the Toll House brand of chocolate morsels, baking supplies and cookie dough. But, at least the cookies are an American invention. Ruth Wakefield owned the Toll House Inn outside Whitman, Mass., and baked colonial-inspired desserts. Her big hit was a butter cookie that she flavored with bits of a Nestle chocolate bar. In the mid-1900s, she and Nestle struck a bargain. They could use the Toll House name and in return she got a lifetime supply of chocolate. In 1939, Nestle started selling chocolate "chips."  Read more...