Friday, November 10, 2017

Finger Frostbite Amputation Photographs

That's morbid.  Five minutes unprotected in a down slope wind did this damage. Surgery complements of the University of Utah intensive care burn unit and two fine women surgeons, Amalia Cochran and Kate Smiley.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: Random Thoughts

Living a life of chronic pain is something I never imagined.  One becomes hyper aware of environmental inputs to the point of morbid intensity.  The stress is unendurable.  The realization that this condition will never improve inspires fatalistic thoughts and deranged conjectures.  For example, when I die will I awake in some religious purgatory with this infernal misery as punishment.  I was indoctrinated as a child and have lasting scars.

I understand the reasoning of our wounded warriors who return from a valorous fight maimed for life and who have been changed forever.  I empathize with these brave patriots who after experiencing unimaginable trauma, can no longer maintain their former personalities. Brave soldiers who have become so physically and mentally dysfunctional they no longer fit properly in the context of our society, or in the context of their own families. This may explain the huge number of homeless veterans who sleep on American streets daily, forsaken and cast aside by the most giving of all nations. This abandonment of our veterans is a national disgrace.

I knew homeless veterans personally, not as a detached social worker, but as a homeless bum.  Our group did not drink alcohol or use drugs.  We did not fly signs, pester people for handouts, receive food stamps, or receive cash assistance.  Some of my old friends were pensioners who actually contributed years of work to society.  Yet these gentlemen preferred to dine at soup kitchens and live under tarps under trees through every type of imaginable weather, exposed, harassed, fearful, hungry, dirty, and insane.  Why am I telling you this?  Stereotypes as conceived from afar by ivory tower talking heads don't apply to everyone who lives on the street.  They are not all lazy people either, some take day jobs desperately wanting to escape their plight. The rent a bum industry makes a fortune off of down and out hard luck people.  Some even gain long term employment through temporary services, but most aimlessly drift from job to job, from town to town, accomplishing nothing.

When I was in the University of Utah burn unit  (costing the taxpayers God knows how many thousands of dollars) I asked to be released before the doctor even considered it.  I had no where to go except for the shelter medical bed.  When I was being discharged from the hospital I had a chance encounter with a homeless liaison social worker. She shamelessly shouted at me in the hallway from afar, that I could not continue to mooch off the hospital forever.  I was never so offended in my life.  Did she think that I was using the hospital as a sort of vacation retreat and that the hospital staff had to force me from my bed?  If that cunt had expended five minutes of her time familiarizing herself with "my case" she would have never been so rude and insulting.  Social workers have no business among poor people.  Her behavior typifies the prevailing response you can expect from these social justice warriors who claim to have a monopoly on compassion for the sick and injured in this world. Snide condescending jeers and sneers.   Mangled veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder probably run the same gauntlet when dealing with professional psychiatrists who consult their diagnostic manuals, and like pontificating gods, espouse factitious disorder or malingering. Meanwhile people are left to dangle in the wind to deal with a constellation of mental horrors alone and unaided.  Have no doubt, people derive a great deal of sadistic satisfaction from the misery of other people.  But when the laughter subsides the fatigue takes over.  People get bored and frustrated being around people who cannot control their moods and who involuntarily may even express occasional discomfort.

There is a distinction, however.  I am entirely responsible for my folly.  I had a choice to behave like a fool.  I was not serving my country like a loyal patriot.  I was not ordered into battle.  I deserve my misery.  I understand that some injuries change people forever.  I understand why so many people consider suicide.  The country can do better to help people who are not at fault and who served with distinction.

I used to spend days in the library researching depression.  I thought I had rewired my neurons, a firm believer in plasticity.  That was a voluntary effort, but this chronic pain is beyond conscious control due to the sheer number of damaged pain receptors  Extinction is impossible.  It is inhumane to force people to suffer, but millions do every day without any possible respite. We as a nation can do better to help those who cannot help themselves.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Eugene Onegin: Alexander Pushkin

Eugene Onegin is an epic poem written by Russian poet Alexander Pushkin.  The poem published in 1833 profoundly depicts Russian culture of that period.  The poem is a story of a young girl, Tatyana, who is passionately in love with young rake Eugene, a man who has inherited a neighboring estate from his uncle, a man whom Eugene despised. Eugene is a man notable for treading upon theatre patrons feet with crass indifference. Eugene has a remarkable tendency to offend people with a cavalier swagger.  Eugene is a misenthrop, a precursor to the superfluous man, a wealthy land owner without any purpose in life, who is imprisoned by social convention, and who is unable to make any meaningful contribution to society. This lack of social graces will prompt Eugene to make callous decisions that will chart the decision making process of Tatyana after she has matured into a sophisticated societal married woman and is forced to make a choice. Tatyana is trapped in a world of social tedium, but when forced to choose she refuses to abandon her husband for Eugene who is now passionately in love with her.

Tatyana is a young woman trapped on a landed estate in rural Russia before the emancipation of the serfs.  Russia during this time was a highly stratified society with classes of people ranging from landed serfs to aristocratic gentlemen.  Social mobility between classes was impossible.  However, it was not uncommon for serf girls to become impregnated by land owners.  Pushkin fathered a child with a servant girl on his family estate while in exile. Pushkin abandoned this girl, and when she died, he expressed in a poem no regret or interest in her or his child. On rare occasions a land owner would marry a serf girl. But in most villiages the land owner's illegitimate children would live with the mother in poverty and would run about among the peasant children.  However, for women, standards were byzantine and exacting.  The slightest indescretion could ruin a reputation of a young woman forever.  A young woman writing a young man an innocent love letter was expressly forbidden.  Public shaming of women accused of infidelity was not uncommon. Smearing pitch on a gate post of a home of an accused woman would invite public community ridicule and shame her forever.  Even if the accusation had no basis in fact.

Tatyana faced a second problem.  Young Russian women above twenty five years old were considered by frantic parents as destined spinsters.  Plus the availability of desirable suitors was limited by geography and class.

After Eugene departed without a word after he killed Lensky in a duel, Tatyana stubbornly refused numerous proposals for her hand.  But for poor Tatyana times were changing. Although Tatyana and Olga made numerous forays to Lensky's lonely grave to mourn Olga's engaged shortly after the duel, over time memory fades and people are replaced.  Tatyana's bosom companion Olga forgot poetic Lensky, she met and married a military man who was on assignment to a distant front. After Olga left with her paramour, Tatyana faced terrible loneliness. Determined to do something, Tatyana's desperate mother decided to take Tatyana to St. Petersburg to the match makers and marriage market. Tatyana was placed in a sleigh, driven to St. Petersburg, shopped among balls, and eventually she married a "fat general." The idyllic lifestyle Tatyana had envisioned as a simple country housewife with Eugene had vanished forever.

Lensky was an idealist and a romantic with poetic aspirations.  Lensky was enamored with Olga, a silly, flighty girl. In contrast to Eugene, Lensky loved social gatherings and life. Lensky persuaded Eugene to attend a name day party for Tatyana, under the false pretense that there would be few guests.  However, when they arrived every land owner in the district was at the party.  Even though Eugene was extremely irritated by Lensky's ruse, he did manage to spark love in the heart of Tatyana.

Occasionally Eugene would accompany Lensky when he visited Olga.  Tatyana longed for these visits to see her imagined lover.  Tatyana was a wholesome Russian girl, superstious, she would not have refrained from casting salt over her shoulder to wort off the evil eye. She loved the outdoors and the rustic life.  Tatyana was also an impulsive, impatient, head strong girl. When Eugene did not respond to her advances, she made a rash decision to send him a letter declaring her intention to serve as his faithful devoted wife, and she arranged a clandestine meeting with him in her family garden to discuss her proposition. These rash acts, the letter and meeting, were very dangerous for her reputation if she were to be discovered.

Before the meeting, Tatyana spent time in flights of fantasy, she would visit her favorite grove of trees and pick her favorite flowers.  On the night of the engagement, when Eugene arrived with Lensky, Tatyana raced from her bedroom down the stairs to the garden to speak to her lover before anyone could intervene.  Eugene assured Tatyana that he would agree to marry her if that was her wish.  When Eugene and Lensky left her home, Tatyana spied upon Eugene from her bedroom window.  She passionately drew the initials E.O. in the frost on her windowpane.  Tatyana was certain of her success.

Alas.  Eugene would terminate her dreams with his reckless behavior.  Invited to a ball the impetuous Eugene taunted Lensky by forcing Olga to dance with him all evening. Lensky was so incensed that he challenged Eugene to a duel.  This unfortunate event would not only kill Lensky, but it would doom the love of Eugene and Tatyana.  Some may argue that Eugene was a heartless beast who went to the duel with a callous indifference as to the consequences of his actions.  I disagree.  I think Eugene did not care to fight and he would have found a plausible excuse to avoid the whole issue if it were not for the prompting of his second, a retried military officer. Eugene overslept, missing the scheduled rendezvous, and he would have probably dimissed the whole duel with ennui had not his second arrived reminding him that he was late for the engagement.  When Eugene killed Lensky he was horrified at this senseless act.  The specter of Lensky would haunt Eugene forever.

Eugene disappeared.  He did not wish adieu to Tatyana, he simply ordered his carriage and horses one morning and vanished to parts unknown.  Tatyana was abandoned without a thought.  Alone and sorrowful Tatyana would take long walks until one day she arrived at Eugene's abandoned estate.  There she conversed with the old caretaker who out of sympathy allowed Tatyana to access Eugene's study and to peruse his books.  This was the pivotal moment for Tatyana.   Through her diligent research, she deduced from underlined passages and marginal notes Eugene's traits.  Also, the passage of time heals all wounds in love.  Separated from Eugene her ardor cooled.  Her feelings for Eugene had changed.  She was no longer in love with his character.

Eugene traveled from one station to the next over countless versts for two years aimlessly wandering all over Russia.   But one fine day he appeared at a social ball in St. Petersburg. Victims of Eugene's old pranks were not happy to see him.  But who did Eugene see dressed like a queen in her resplendent glory?  A woman he had completely forgotten, Tatyana! Worse she was married to a fat general!  When Eugene approached Tatyana she greeted him with icy reserve.  But at that instant Eugene fell madly in love with Tatyana.

The roles had been reversed.  Tatyana was now indifferent to Eugene.  When Eugene and Tatyana met by chance at receptions, Tatyana always met him with the same icy reserve. Eugene was so disconcerted that he went into seclusion, a veritable recluse, he retired to his study reading books round the clock as a diversion.  Did Eugene think Tatyana would thaw if he improved himself after a wasted youth of slothful dissipation?  Nevertheless, these attempts at reform did not improve his relationship with Tatyana.  She was as cold and reserved as ever.

This poem ends in sorrow.  Eugene was unable to endure another moment without Tatyana. Eugene threw down his book, ordered his coach and horses, and sped to her home. Stealthily passing her housekeeping staff, Eugene clamored up the stairs, and burst into her room. Tatyana was sitting on a chair sewing some lace. Eugene fell upon his knees and declared that if Tatyana would forgo the fat general and renounce her unhappy artifical repugnant social life, he would take her to his country estate, provide for her welfare, and remain loyal to her forever.  But Tatyana would not budge.  She woefully explained that even though she still loved him, and even though she did honestly prefer the homespun lifestyle she outlined in her letter, nevertheless, she would continue to live her current loveless life no matter how stifling.

Tatyana was convinced if she separated from her husband Eugene would regard her as a conquest, a trophy, to be bragged about in jest to all his deplorable friends and rivals all over St. Petersburg.  She simply did not trust him.  She thought his protestations of love poor acting and an insincere attempt to manipulate her under false pretenses.  Tatyana hated her husband and lifestyle but she would remain faithful all the same.  The fat general enters the room ending the conversation.  Eugene and Tatyana are destined to live miserable lives forever apart.

Tatyana was wrong in her reasoning.  I believe Eugene had abandoned his nefarious life and he had grown weary of his nomadic wanderings.  He didn't return to St. Petersburg by accident. I also believe that the death of Lensky weighed like an albatross around his neck.  His chance encounter with Tatyana gave him a new sense of purpose in life. Eugene regretted his stupidly squandered years of dissipated youth.  But the reconciliation was not to be.

Pushkin had intended a sequel for Eugene.  But Pushkin was killed in a duel by Georges d' Anthes a very young man in a dispute over his wife.  The sequel was never written.

Eugene Onegin written by the immortal Russian bard Alexander Pushkin.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Tom Danielson Tests Positive Again

Tom Danielson has tested positive on the "B" sample for a "anabolic agent" according to USADA.  There is some speculation that the "anabolic agent" is DHEA, a testosterone precursor that can also be used as a masking agent.

Oddly enough, Mr. Danielson originated this speculation by making an announcement prior to the 2015 Tour of Utah that he had received a letter from USADA stating that he had tested positive for synthetic testosterone. This is most unusual. Generally, the regulatory agencies are on the phone to L'Equipe long before the ink is dry on the Lab Document Package with breaking news. Amazingly, neither USADA or the UCI leaked the story.

Perhaps the regulatory agencies have finally learned not to initiate a witch hunt before the athlete has a chance to collect his wits and prepare an adequate defense.

Mr. Danielson does not appear on the "provisionally suspended" list. Perhaps the secretary is on a coffee break?

Jonathan Vaughters is backpedaling as fast as he can from the situation by informing the fanatics of some astounding news.  Cannondale Garmin informed Mr. Danielson that his contract would not be extended before Mr. Danielson tested positive for an anabolic agent.  What Mr. Vaughters omitted was why the contract was not extended.  One could speculate that Mr. Vaughters is suggesting that Mr. Danielson hired Levi Leipheimer as personal coach, trainer, consultant, and bulked up with drugs in order to win the Tour of Utah in order to prove to other teams that he was still a valuable asset. (A person should avoid contact with such people to avoid impropriety, especially as Levi Leipheimer is an expert on how to dope and avoid detection.) Others might suggest that the contract was terminated because Mr. Danielson is 37 and about to join the masters.  But others might suggest that Cannondale Garmin knew that Mr. Danielson was using drugs, or that Cannondale Garmin was complicit in this behavior.  Why would Mr. Vaughters wonder why neither USADA or the UCI has told him what Mr. Danielson tested positive for?  True.  Mr. Danielson was still employed by Cannondale Garmin when he tested positive, which is suggestive. But since Mr. Danielson has been terminated by Cannondale Garmin, is it any business of Jonathan Vaughters?  Perhaps, Mr. Vaughters could hold another press conference and be more forthcoming about the circumstances of why Mr. Danielson's contract was not extended.

The next step for Tom Danielson is the USADA Anti-Doping Review Board.  There he will have an opportunity to argue that he was accidently poisoned by a tainted supplement or that he was a victim of sabotage.  At considerable expense.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Tom Danielson Tests Positive for Synthetic Testosterone

In cycling nothing is sacrosanct. Tom Danielson, two time winner of the Tour of Utah, has tested positive for synthetic testosterone in an out of competition test. Synthetic testosterone is determined by carbon isotope ratio testing. USADA has informed Mr. Danielson that his A sample has tested above threshold for synthetic testosterone. However, the confirmation B sample is still under examination.

It would be premature to jump to conclusions at this point. When the test is confirmed then it may be proper to cast aspersions upon Mr. Danielson. But at this point it would be more proper to attempt to remain objective and consider his case. Mr. Danielson is mystified by the result, he wants to explore all possibilities. Some would consider this as the standard approach, denial with expostulations on love of the sport. Indeed, others would point out that Mr. Danielson has tested positive for doping before, and that he provided evidence against Lance Armstrong with a deal for a reduced sentence. So, does this provisional second doping offense require a two or four year ban? Does the USADA golden boy turned pariah get another sweetheart deal?

Of course, Tom Danielson rides for Slipstream Sports and Jonathan Vaughters, the "no tolerance to doping" team. Right. For two straight years Garmin dominated the Tour of Utah, "riding clean," much like Team Sky dominates the Tour de France "riding clean." The cleanest teams have the best results. Jonathan Vaughters is pounding his chest bragging that Slipstream has never had a positive doping test, until now. Of course, nobody is accusing Slipstream or Sky of running an organized team doping program. But, knowing USADA, some backroom deals could be arranged, information for a reduced sentence.

Slipstream fired Tom Danielson point blank, as always. These clean teams can't wait to distance themselves from their accused riders. 

Jonathan Vaughters says if Slipstream is involved, he, Jonathan Vaughters, should be banished from cycling forever. Recall that Mr. Vaughters is another doper who volunteered to make depositions against Lance Armstrong, and instead of being banished from cycling he was rewarded with running a cycling team. So there should be no problem with Mr. Vaughters providing USADA and the public with all pertinent rider medical information that may be requested to prove that Slipstream had no role in Mr. Danielson's provisional positive doping test. Travis Tygart should demand transparency. Of course, USADA could insist that the entire Slipstream staff be required to testify in order to build non-analytical-positive cases, as was done with Lance Armstrong.

You are laughing, ladies and gentlemen? Truly teams should be severely interrogated when their riders test positive for dope. How many times have team doctors been implicated, but who are never punished? How many times do the regulatory agencies turn a blind eye to team responsibility. Unpunished, the doping programs continue unabated. Riders are collateral damage, thrown out like rubbish to fend for themselves, the system is structured. Teams that have riders who test positive for dope should automatically be sanctioned then investigated under the philosophy that the team is guilty of a doping infraction until proven innocent. This philosophy applies to the riders, does it not?

I wish Tom Danielson well. I am accusing him of nothing. The evolution of his case will be a fascinating study.