Monday, February 27, 2017

The eyes have it.

That is not a typo. I don't mean ayes, that the ayes have it as opposed to the nays. I meant just what I said, that the eyes have it as opposed to, say, the feet.

Houston, we have a problem.

Recently I learned that I have Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMF). If you don't know where the macula is, here's a helpful chart:

When my ophthalmologist told me that I have macular degeneration, I thought immediately about a friend of mine who was told the same thing about 25 years ago who has become legally blind. I immediately thought this will be happening to me also, but the good doctor told me it probably will not. For one thing, mine was found fairly early. For another, the medical community has learned a few things in the past 25 years.

Most of the information in the remainder of this post is from a handout provided by the American Academy of Ophthalmologists.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a problem with your retina. It happens when the part of the retina called the macula is damaged. With AMD you lose your central vision. You cannot see fine details, whether you are looking at something close or far, but your peripheral vision will still be normal. This is akin to looking at a clock with hands and being able to see the clock's numbers but not the hands.

I would say that the illustration above is very accurate. In very dim light I experience something quite similar, except that in my own case the smudge is only about the size of a quarter instead of the size of a silver dollar.

AMD is very common. It is a leading cause of vision loss in people 50 years or older. Unfortunately there is no cure for AMD. But it can be treated, if that is the right word, slowed down significantly, or even arrested at its current level in some cases.

I have learned that there are two types of AMD, "dry" and "wet." Lucky me, I have both types (one type in my left eye and the other type in my right eye).

Sometimes drusen (tiny white or yellow particles that form under the retina) develop. They seldom cause vision loss, but many (or very large) drusen can be a sign of AMD.

Dry AMD is quite common. About 90% of people who have AMD have the dry form. Dry AMD occurs when parts of the macula get thinner with age and drusen grow. You slowly lose central vision. There is no way to treat dry AMD yet. However, a major study that lasted several years (called AREDS and AREDS2) revealed that people with serious vision loss may be able to slow their dry AMD by taking these vitamins and minerals on a daily basis:

Vitamin C (500 mg)
Vitamin E (400 IU)
Lutein (10 mg)
Zeaxanthin (2 mg)
Zinc (80 mg)
Copper (2 mg) I have begun doing that. They can be purchased over the counter without a prescription. The important thing is that the brand you buy says "AREDS2" on the package. I'm taking PreserVision by Bausch & Lomb.

Wet AMD is less common but much more serious. Wet AMD occurs when new, abnormal blood vessels grow under the retina. These vessels may leak blood or other fluids, causing scarring of the macula. A person loses vision faster with wet AMD than with dry AMD. To help treat wet AMD, medications called anti-VEGF (Vascular endothelial growth factor) drugs can help reduce the number of abnormal blood vessels in the retina and also slows any leaking from blood vessels. This medication is given through injections (shots) in your eye. As I was saying, lucky me.

I am grateful that treatment exists and that complete blindness will probably not occur. Still, who wants to get shots in the eye?

Nobody, that's who, unless you discover that you need them to retain what vision you have.

So I received my first shot a couple of weeks ago and will be getting one per month for a while. The doctor said that if there is noticeable improvement he may lengthen the interval between the shots.

Laser surgery may also be used to treat some types of wet AMD. The doctor and I may be talking more about this down the road.

You now know as much about Age-Related Macular Degeneration as I do.

Lucky you.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

I love 2 BB side your side B side the C, B side the C side, by the B U T full C, plus bluebirds

Here's a little something to tickle your fancy:

By the C, by the C,
By the B U T full C,
U N I, U N I,
O how hap P we'll B.
I love 2 BB side your side
B side the C,
B side the C side,
By the B U T full C!

That song, or something very similar, was written way back in 1914 by songwriters Harold Atteridge and Harry Carroll for the musical "For Me and My Gal."

Here is a glimpse of what it actually was like to be beside the seaside in 1914 and a few other years as well (3:11)

Okay, so it's not The Alphabet Song but it's the best I could come up with on a chilly day in February.

Speaking of a chilly day in February, Eastern bluebirds have been in our yard for the past couple of days, so Mrs. RWP and I went to Home Depot today and bought two new feeders along with a bag of peanut butter suet and a bag of mealworms to fill them up with. (If you want to try to rearrange the preceding sentence so that it doesn't end with two prepositions, be my guest.) Just so you know, mealworms are not really worms but dried beetle larvae, much in the same way that Yorkshire Pudding is not really a Yorkshire pudding. Please don't misunderstand me. I am not saying that Yorkshire Pudding is dried beetle larvae; I'm saying that mealworms are dried beetle larvae. The jury is still out on Yorkshire Pudding.

I did not take that photo. A man named Ken Thomas did in 2007 in Johnston County, North Carolina. He released it into the public domain, though, so anyone can use it without fear of recrimination from any Internet Nazis or deportation across our southern border by the Department of Homeland Security.

I did take these photographs of our two new bird feeders, however.

It was a chilly day. The wind was blowing and I was in shirtsleeves, so I didn't take pains to take time to produce good photographs. As a result, hardly anything in either photo appears to be vertical. In actuality, both of the shepherd's crooks are vertical but the two bird feeders were not. They were swaying in the breeze. Sorry, people, Ansel Adams I am not.

Let's end this somewhat disjointed (but fascinating) post by listening to Julie Andrews and watching Jane Darwell in her last role (3:49) together.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Andrew Lloyd Webber gets writer's block

Don't cry for me, __________.

San Diego.
Cairo, Egypt.
Kansas City.
Costa Rica.
San Francisco.
Salt Lake City.
Glasgow, Scotland.
Brick, New Jersey.
North Dakota.
Rapa Nui.
Stockholm, Sweden
Perth, Australia.
Macon, Georgia.
London, England.
Ellis Island.
Fort Worth, Texas
Bangkok, Thailand.

I think I'll stop for today. Nothing seems to be working.

Hey, Evita, want to go out for pizza?

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The expectation versus the reality

I had high hopes that my grandson's years at university would be something like this:

The University of Illinois Men's Glee Club sings "Gaudeamus Igitur" (1:36)

But so far they are turning out to be more like this:

That's him, er, he with the DU on his palms.

Oh, well -- you're only young once.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

No mayonnaise in Ireland*

*attributed to an author named Will Stanton in a 1971 article in Reader's Digest.

I hope this post won't be too esoteric for you, dear reader, but if it is, it simply can't be helped.

If the title alone seems pretty esoteric, let me explain. It is one of the most famous lines the English poet John Donne ever wrote, expressed in our old friend Anguish Languish.

I'll prove it to you. In 1623, in an essay we know as Meditation XVII, Donne wrote:

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were. Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

You see what Will Stanton did there. No mayonnaise in Ireland. This is where you laugh politely or groan and roll your eyes, whichever you feel is more appropriate.

Which brings us to Yorkshire Pudding's riddle.

In his spare time my cyberfriend Yorkshire Pudding likes to take long walks in his native Yorkshire and then blog about them afterward. He recently posted the following:

"On the edge of Low Bradfield I came across [a] disused building. I thought it was an old barn but then I spotted an early nineteenth century plaque above one of the doors. It reads like this "1826/ Rebuilt at the Curate's sole cost./Nemo soli sibi natus". Translated, the Latin phrase means "Nobody is born alone". Why would such a plaque appear on a barn? I have been unable to solve this riddle."

I shall now attempt to solve Yorkshire Pudding's riddle, "Why would such a plaque appear on a barn?"

The phrase "Nobody is born alone" had a familiar ring. It reminded me of a somewhat similar statement in the fourteenth chapter of the book of Romans in the New Testament:

7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.

Here it is in the Vulgate, the fourth-century Latin version of the Bible:

7 Nemo enim nostrum sibi vivit, et nemo sibi moritur.

In context, the passage turns out to be all about the Lord (surprise, surprise!) as the next verse says, "Whoever lives lives unto the Lord, and whoever dies dies unto the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord's." Since many who read this blog are atheist, however, we will not go down this road any further.

I do definitely think, however, that the sentiment on the barn plaque has its roots in the passage from Romans.

In my research I discovered that the same quotation, Nemo soli sibi natus (Nobody is born alone), was also placed over the church door in Ecclesfield in 1695. The following is from page 202 of The History of the Parish of Ecclesfield: In the County of York:

"[Vicar Edward Mansel] also rebuilt the parsonage-house in 1695, over the door of which he placed this inscription, which, or a copy of it, is still just within the entrance of the present Vicarage:

Edward Mansel. Vicar 1695.
Nemo Soli Sibi Natus.
Vivat Rex.
Floreat Ecclesia.

He also gave 50£ towards building a parsonage at Bradfield, and left a still more substantial bequest of about fifteen acres of land to his successors,...."

Of course the vicar in 1695 in Ecclesfield and the curate in 1826 who had the plaque affixed to the barn in Bradfield cannot possibly be the same person, but the quotation from The History Of Ecclesfield does reveal a connection between Ecclesfield and Bradfield, especially where curates (or vicars) are concerned.

The Bradfield structure with the 1826 plaque was very likely once a barn. Interestingly enough, I also found the following on p. 247 of Topographical and Statistical Description of the County of Devon, a book by G.A. Cooke, Esq., in 1825:

"A tablet in the [Brixton] churchyard wall records the planting of an ancient grove of lofty elms, in 1677, by Edmund Fortesque, Esq., of Spriddlestone, who ordained that they should be sold, when mature, and the products applied to the relief of the parochial poor. The motto on this stone, "Nemo sibi soli natus;" "No man is born alone for himself," is most appropriate to every planter; and should be remembered by all, as an antidote to selfishness, and an incentive to benevolence." (emphasis mine)

The plaques in Bradfield and Ecclesfield and Brixton are meant to remind us all that we should not keep our blessings (our produce, our grain, our lumber) to ourselves but share them with others for the benefit of the whole community. Perhaps we are meant for neither dependence nor independence but for a mutually recognized inter-dependence.

John Donne was right. No man is an island. Or as you can still find in certain parts of England, Nemo sibi soli natum.

P.S. -- It is also true literally and cannot be denied that no one is born alone. A mother is always somewhere in the vicinity.

<b> Mundane is also a word</b>

My blogger friend Rachel Phillips is currently in the midst of a series of posts (three so far) about a trip she took with her friends Liz...