Sunday, August 28, 2011


No posts for a few days boys and girls.


Close of day two. I've had one batch of cytotoxins, with two more to go. The really nasty one, Taxol or Paclitaxel, is for tomorrow morning, but there has been a complication and things have not gone as easily as hoped.

On the first cycle, it was determined that I have "difficult" veins. They poked around in the back of my hand and arm five times to try to get an IV in there but failed (with lots of lovely bruises to show for it) so it was decided that I would have a PICC line. At first, I think they expected not to do a third cycle of chemo, so it was assumed that the PICC would only have to be in place for a month, which is the normal limit. But it has been there now for over two months, and this extension has probably added to the problem.

The first day is always a whole load of saline solution mixed with anti-histamines, vitamins, minerals and various drugs to protect my insides while the vicious cytotoxins go in later and start destroying every fast-growing cell in my body. If I just had the chemo drugs alone, I would be having liver and kidney failure and might have a violent reaction to the drugs, which can result in seizures or coma. So they are very careful, filling you up with anti-emetics and other protective things.

But the inflammation, with some pain, started about half way through the prophylactic stage. I had an ultrasound to rule out veinous thrombosis, but by the time I'd finished it the first cytotoxin, Cisplatin, was causing a lot of pain and some of it refusing to go in but dripping out, soaking the bandage and running down my arm...and these are some pretty expensive drugs!

They're worried about having the same problem with the Taxol, which is extremely toxic, so much that you are not supposed to get any of it on your skin. So they're getting a PICC specialist to see me tomorrow. It seems that my veins are just tired of having all that tubing stuck up them and then having all these toxic chemicals poured in on top. Understandable, I think. I feel the same way.

So there we are. That was the first two days. If all goes well, I'll be here for another day and a half, more if there are more problems. Keep your fingers crossed (if you're a pagan. If you're a Christian, I suppose you could pray.)

Feeling OK in general though, in my head at least, but somewhat delicate. I explained that I didn't want any dinner by roughly saying, "eating is vomiting," "mangiare e vomitare," which is terrible Italian but seemed to get the message across. They have me on a drug that is meant to protect my brain from the chemo so it's kind of important. It was being given in the form of a big tablet that dissolved in water which you drink, (a big fave of Italians with all sorts of drugs) but after two today, I had to tell them that if I had one more, it was going to bounce out of my stomach like it was hitting a trampoline. We've switched to shots instead and I've discovered that pain is greatly to be preferred to nausea. Pain is small, localised and short-lived. Nausea takes over your whole world.

Played cards all afternoon, re-learning after about 30 years how to play Gin Rummy. Got pants whipped by a slip of a girl.

More later.


Well, they came in this morning and said the PICC just isn't working any more and gave me a new IV in my left arm, which is now more or less immobilised. Can't bend the elbow more than an inch or two (so am typing with one hand). That will keep things going for the morning, but before they start the next batch of cytotoxins, I have to have a new PICC line installed surgically, a rather unpleasant but short procedure that will make the rest of thing go much more smoothly.


Home. All tubes removed.

V. v. sick, but home.

Home is best.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

No one is paying any attention to anything I'm saying

I thought I made it clear.

I don't want to go to the hospital.

I don't want to go to the hospital.

I. Don't. Want. To. Go. To. The. HOSPITAL!


Why isn't anyone listening?


Aaaaaand right on fridge died last night.


Artist against The Real

You know how I'm always saying that you can tell modern art (sic) is crap because everyone hates it?

Well, one can take that too far the other way.

It is never to be forgotten that this ... err... person... is the most popular artist in the world.

Particularly with Evangelical Christians.

Simcha Fisher gives a hint to why the latter might be. Prots have no concept of sacramentality and, having abandoned the reasoning behind their beliefs, are left, for the most part, with nothing but the ersatz spirituality of their deeply felt feelings:

Kinkade isn’t content
with shying away from ugliness: He sees nothing beautiful in the world the way it is. He thinks it needs polishing. He loves the world in the same way that a pageant mom thinks her child is just adorable—or will be, after she loses ten pounds, dyes and curls her hair, gets implants, and makes herself almost unrecognizable with a thick layer of make-up. Normal people recoil from such extreme artifice—not because they hate beauty, but because they love it.

Kinkade-style light doesn’t show an affection for natural beauty—it shows his disdain for it. His light doesn’t reveal, it distorts. His paintings aren’t merely trivial, they’re a statement of contempt for the world.

His vision of the world isn’t just tacky, it’s anti-Incarnational.

I thought, simply, that if one is interested in presenting an idealised view of the real world, one must at least make one's starting point the actual real world.

Which is why I love the idealised realism of, say, a Maxfield Parrish or a William Bouguereau, and despise the gloppy sentimentalism of Thomas Kinkade.



Dreamed I was holed up in a big house in North Carolina with a bunch of friends.

In waking life, they're keeping us updated on FB. So far so good. House still attached to the ground, roof still on top and even electricity still running.

Andrew in New York reports that he made it safely down to the pub.

So far, no reports of anyone standing on top of their houses yelling for help, beating each other up in the local stadium, looting flat screen tvs or shooting at rescue workers.

Latest news from Jacksonville NC. Gusts down to 70 mph and dropping. All friends + dogs accounted for.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Weather's changing

It's supposed to drop down about ten degrees tomorrow...

which means its only going to be 90 F.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Bloody hell

Four more days.

No wonder I can't sleep.


Tuns on Jack

Paul Tuns was the guy who first told me what a blog was and suggested I start one.

He's been watching the Canadian political scene all his life.

Read him.

Here he is on St. Jack:
I was at Our Toronto Free Press in the late 1990s and I interviewed him about some youth who were squatting on private property and whose actions he was defending. I asked him about the condoms that were strewn on the floor of their trailers and tents and which some of the youth were sleeping on. He said it was very important for young people to have access to condoms, just as important as food. I sarcastically asked if the poor, dirty, malnourished teens who were illegally on other people's property could eat condoms or clean up with condoms and he huffed that "condoms are a human right." Such were Layton's priorities just 13 or 14 years ago. It takes a certain worldview to believe that condoms are as important to street youth as food and that they are, in fact, a human right.


A Mole

You be the judge: Kate and Leopold, was it written by someone who is working on the inside to undermine the feminist stranglehold on the entertainment industry?

Just re-watched it tonight and it's suspiciously anti-agenda.

Only drawback? Good grief! What is with Meg Ryan's haystack-meets-machete hair?


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

'Nother contest

Don't usually link to Huffpo, but this is too good to miss: a brief history of Canada's language law.

And the contest is for our American and European readers (so Canuckstanis, shush.)
In the early days of this country most people spoke French; then after the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759, most people in Canada spoke English.

And that's the way things stayed until the late 1960s when former Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau enacted the "Official Languages Act."

This was an historic law which gave Canadians the legal right to get all huffy and indignant and threaten lawsuits, whenever a federal civil servant in places like Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan or Kippers Flippers, Newfoundland didn't start a conversation with the word: "Bonjour."

Which town name is made up and which one is real?

Canada: used to be good, now just funny.


New Rule

Gah!! A thousand hits a day?!

What the heck?

I've been toodling along for years with my nice friendly little 350-odd daily tea party, just me and a few friends goofing off and futzing about. But then I tweaked the Vatican's tail a little and now all these people are crowding in, dropping crumbs on the carpet, using cups that don't match the saucers and dipping their wet spoons into the sugar basin.

Where have you all come from? Who invited you? Don't y'all have jobs or something?

I realise that I've had a Kathy link and that always means that I have to start saying things like women shouldn't be allowed to vote or wear trousers to make all her little minions go away. But really it's been growing like crazy since May. And I can't spend all my time insulting people.

So, new rule: If you'd never read me before, say, March this year,

go away. You're not allowed to read this blog.

I hate new people.


Let's play a game!

Caption contest.

What is this a statue of and where is it?

Mine: New statue commissioned for Los Angeles Cathedral gardens.


Further to our discussion below...

this picture more or less illustrates what most people in North America think living in Europe is like.

And the breathing under water thing.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Welcome Kathy's minions

Gazillions of minions.


Wait, I take it back. See new rule above.


Aestiva Latinitas Romae

A friend of mine here in Rome decided there wasn't enough Latin being spoken in this town.

Well, who can argue with that? So he founded a new school.

The mornings are spent at the St. John's University campus reading poetry and prose and commenting on the texts in Latin; the afternoons are spent doing the same thing at various sites of literary or archaeological significance. If you vacationed in Italy this June, you might have seen us standing around the Ara Pacis on a scorcher, offering competing Latin orations on the pax Augustana.


We descended into the Sybil's cave at Cumae to reel off the pertinent hundred lines of Virgil. We drew stares in the Forum as we declaimed latine (adv.: "in Latin") on the various points of interest. (One elderly Italian gentleman, several sheets to the wind, stuck with us for some time, offering applause and exclamations of "bravi" whenever he thought appropriate.) We stooped into the Catacombs of Priscilla or the bowels of the Basilica San Clemente, where a troupe of friendly Bulgarians listened to our Latinisms on the subject of Saint Cyril.

Sign up.


"Last one out turn off the lights."

I read a piece today in the NYT about the death of active religious orders in the US.

Some of it is pretty poignant
with this standing out:
Sister Mary Jean’s order has dwindled to about 100 from a peak of more than 500. Most moved out of their convent last year and into a retirement and nursing home. There has not been an initiate for 25 years, and several years ago the sisters reluctantly stopped looking.

“It was painful,” Sister Mary Jean said in an interview in her modest apartment, “but I think it was also courageous to say we’re just not going to recruit any more. Let’s just live out the rest of our lives to the fullest that we possibly can and thank God for what we’ve been able to do. And when the time comes, as they say, the last person turn the lights out.”

But the thought occured, why haven't they had a vocation in 25 years? What could it be? Sunspots?

Well, here they are, in all their reformed glory. And we've got to love their courageous stand "that bottled water, however convenient to tote around, is environmentally, economically and politically wrong".

We commit ourselves to:

* promote the sacredness of life through all its stages and expressions
* support legislation to curtail the availability of weapons
* oppose military aggression and the continued build-up of nuclear weapons and promote economic conversion
* support legislation and other advocacy efforts which provide protection, safety, financial assistance to survivors of domestic violence and child abuse
* speak out against the use and glorification of violence in our media and culture
* work for just and human solutions in criminal justice and oppose the death penalty
* reverse the waste and destruction of our natural environment

Any more questions?

Well, yes, actually. I have a couple.

The NYT solemnly rings the bell for religious orders administering Catholic health care in the US, asking "Why did they disappear?"

But I have a slightly different question: "Why were they in administration in the first place? Is that what they were founded for?"

I have spent a few years studying the history and development of the active religious life in the US and Canada (almost wrote a book) and came to a few unorthodox conclusions.

When they came to the US in the 1870s, these ladies, pictured at the top, took care of the sick in their own homes, "sheltered single mothers-to-be, protected young working women and embraced the care of orphans".

Then comes the slide. "As years passed, the sisters increased their knowledge and skills, developed technology and established institutions."

This was the same story with nearly all the active religious I looked at. They started with a few saintly pioneers who braved nearly everything the 19th century had to throw at them, from cholera to Wild Indians to Know-nothing anti-Catholic bigotry to lawless gunmen. They always started small and ended up after 70 or 80 years with huge establishments with hundreds of lay employees in gigantic hospitals around the country. It was argued in one book I read that the entire establishment of institutionalised health care in the US was the result of the work of Catholic sisters.

And that was when it all fell apart for them. The sisters, even when they were still in the habits, had turned to the work of maintaining this institutionalised health system, leading them inexorably into administrative work that became the sole focus of the communities' efforts.

But I ask, aren't nuns supposed to be religious specialists? Isn't it their focus in life to be religious? We all know the story of how the communities started focusing too much on the works and not enough on their own religious lives. The un-reformed constitutions of more than one of these groups stated that the first purpose of the community was the sanctification of its members in prayer, penance and the practice of the sacramental life. Only secondarily was it to perform (mainly corporal) works of mercy. We all know by now that the downfall of these orders was to abandon this primary purpose, to invert and eventually completely pervert the reason for their existence.

And of course, in these times, as the "progressive" sisters will always tell you, no woman in our modern enlightened world needs to join a religious community in order to get an education or enter a profession. So the question that should have been asked, "What do we have to offer as religious experts within the modern, secularised health care institutions?" was replaced with "How can we become 'relevant' in this world in which religion is getting squeezed out of health care?"

But what if instead of abandoning religion, the sisters had instead said, "It's OK that we can't keep up with the secularisation of the institutions because that really wasn't our main purpose anyway. Why don't we go back to the founding charism of our commmunity and start offering our religious, our spiritual expertise to the sick and needy?"

When I was in the hospital for the first chemo, I was expertly cared for physically by a team of highly trained professionals and I felt quite safe and looked-after. But everyone who was doing the medical work was far too busy to sit with me, to stop and pray a Rosary with me for 20 minutes. That work was left largely to my little band of friends (and a fine job they did). I asked for a visit from the chaplaincy and in due course, was visited by three Franciscan priests (in habits) who blessed me, heard my confession and brought me Holy Communion.

People in hospital are often frightened and depressed, or confused or simply bored and lonely. Wouldn't it have been lovely if there were someone there whose job it was to offer spiritual solace? To just sit and chat, pray the Rosary, listen to fears and lift depression. Sisters in habit who would come to see you each day, when friends couldn't be there, to wheel you into the chapel for a visit or a Rosary.

Wouldn't it have been lovely if these sisters above, instead of focusing on gathering professional credentials, on going to conferences, on establishing themselves as big-time professional players (with seven digit salaries) in the American Health Care Industry, had focused instead on their religious contribution.

What would the world have looked like then, I wonder.


Monday, August 22, 2011


Not a lot of people out there (other than the Trads) are willing to breathe the word "Americanism".


I wonder if we took a poll how many Catholics out there would ever have heard the term.

Though in my own experience, the British Catholics are much worse about the things Michael is mentioning.


I might have put it differently

John Allen is writing interesting stuff about the Zapatero government in Spain.

He says, "In Catholic conversation on the Old Continent, Zapatero has become an almost mythic figure, the avatar par excellence of secularism on steroids."

I think I might have said that he is the embodiment of secularism on hallucinogenic mushrooms.


He said she said

As I said elsewhere this morning, there is one problem with consciously dedicating yourself to the pursuit of The Real. Eventually you get to the point where you look around the modern world and realise it has gone totally bonko-screaming-nuts.

As Kathy pointed out, newspapers used to have to at least pretend to be about reality. Now they go along with this bizarre mass delusion that your "gender" (the correct word is "sex", though the strangely puritanical world of pansexualism doesn't like to use that word) can be changed by cutting off your bits and dosing yourself up with drugs. Now, they have to call a man who's had his bits cut off "her" and "she". Why? Did anyone tell them to? I wonder who that might have been. And why the newspapers didn't just laugh and give them the number of a reputable shrink.

What the hell happened in 1973 to make the entire medical establishment go insane?

Even this guy, who was there at the time, doesn't seem to know.

When the practice of sex-change surgery first emerged back in the early 1970s, I would often remind its advocating psychiatrists that with other patients, alcoholics in particular, they would quote the Serenity Prayer, “God, give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Where did they get the idea that our sexual identity (“gender” was the term they preferred) as men or women was in the category of things that could be changed?


The post-surgical subjects struck me as caricatures of women. They wore high heels, copious makeup, and flamboyant clothing; they spoke about how they found themselves able to give vent to their natural inclinations for peace, domesticity, and gentleness—but their large hands, prominent Adam’s apples, and thick facial features were incongruous (and would become more so as they aged). Women psychiatrists whom I sent to talk with them would intuitively see through the disguise and the exaggerated postures. “Gals know gals,” one said to me, “and that’s a guy.”

Did absolutely no one pay attention in grade ten biology class? Did everyone else miss the bit where we were told that your sex is determined at the moment when the two sets of genes from mummy and daddy meshed together? Oh yes, of course. If we acknowledged that, we would have to admit that you are who you are from that moment too, which would force millions more public funding to be spent by the abortion industry convincing the world that it's OK to murder inconvenient people.

There is not one part of this story that does not make me cringe in horror and sadness:

- the man who divorced and became mentally ill, who was encouraged to embrace his delusions by the trendy medical establishment to the point of allowing them to cut his parts off and poison him with hormones. Who then changed his mind and found himself mutilated and deformed and unable to have children;

- the girl who hated herself so much she could not eat and almost died;

- the fact that no one in their lives has cautioned them about their decision because now the only thing anyone is allowed to say to anyone else, no matter what bat-sh__ crazy thing they want to do, is "I'll support you whatever decision you make".

I don't know, maybe it's not totally hopeless...

He is currently seeking funding for a documentary titled The Sex Change Delusion[Good luck with that...].

"Based on my own experiences, I believe sex-change operations should not be allowed, and certainly not on the NHS.

"People who think they are a woman trapped in a male body are, in my opinion, completely deluded. I certainly was. I needed counselling, not a sex-change operation.

"In many ways I see myself a victim of the medical profession. Even with the glamour of Samantha Kane and the £100,000 I spent on myself, I had people shouting abuse at me and builders throwing stones at me from rooftops," he says.

"I became a woman. [No, you didn't. That's why construction workers threw things at you in the streets.] It didn’t work for me. [It doesn't work for anyone.] I changed my mind. It’s only a fool that doesn’t change their mind when they know they are wrong. It took tremendous courage to say: “No, sorry, I will change back.”

If only he could, the poor fellow. But judging from the little delicate tap-dance the two of them performed around the details of their "sex life," it seems that the newly reconstructed bits don't do what they're supposed to do. (I note that the Catholic Church would not be able to recognise this man's marriage, since permanent impotence makes it impossible for a man to contract a valid marriage.)

Boy catastrophically screwed up person meets girl other catastrophically screwed up person. I do actually hope they'll be OK, but really, what are the odds?

It's pretty easy for us shake our heads when looking at cases of this cultural insanity that are so outrageous that they attract the attention of the Daily Mail. But we all grew up in the midst of this sexually revolutionised world. Nearly all the kids I went to school with had divorced parents by the time I was twelve. Everyone has been spoonfed these ideas since the early 1970s. We're all brainwashed with it.

How can any of us expect to make happy marriages? How can we have a society that will work when nearly everyone is the walking wounded?


Sunday, August 21, 2011


John Sonnen already has a new camera.

So, double sucks to be you, Anonymous-Jerkface.



Saturday, August 20, 2011

This makes me mad

You get a bit of this if you live in Europe. A lot of people in N. America still think Europe is some amazing magic place like Narnia where the animals can talk and you can breathe under water and all you do all day is eat ice cream and drink champagne and swan around on yachts with beautiful women.

Yeah, it's a bit like that if you're here on holiday.

If you live here, it's a place where you work, commute, go grocery shopping and take out the trash exactly like everywhere else in the world... oh, except the people are all weird, you often can't get the things you're used to or go to the movies, the rules are totally different and everyone speaks another language. You can't, in other words, live a normal life... which can be a little hard to take if you have to do it for five or six years. There's a reason ex-pats have much higher rates of stress-related illness than the general population.

But I guess people don't think much about this. They're too busy being envious in the commbox.

John Sonnen, of the ridiculously popular and famous Orbis Catholicus Secundus photo blog, that gets about 3000 hits a day, has had his camera stolen while in Madrid. If you had paid me a million bucks I wouldn't have gone to World Youth Day, (well, I might have said I would, taken your money and then gone off somewhere very very quiet and solitary to spend it), but John has gone to Madrid to shepherd around a bunch of screaming teenagers... for free.

In return for this, some bastard waiter has stolen his camera, the fabulous camera that was donated to him by a kind friend in the States so he could keep blogging. He has put up a post asking if there is anyone out there who might be willing to buy him a new one.

Naturally, someone without enough imagination to live an interesting life of his own has decided to be a jerk about it in the commbox...

Anonymous said...

You are a grown, married man and you always requesting money when life throws you a curve ball. Why don't you save your own money and buy your own camera when you have enough to do so? What makes you feel entitled to ask people to send you hard earned money in this economy to assist you whenever some problem comes up or you need extra money? It's not dignified. Most people don't get to travel to Spain, Russia, Poland, England, France in a life time, yet poor man that you are has been to these places numerous times. Seems like you are doing pretty good to me.

I am so mad at this idiot that I am posting my response just in case John, who is much nicer than I, decides not to post it.

Oh, and hey Jerkface "Anonymous"!

John works his ass off all year as a tour guide in Rome, which is incredibly hard work, as well as keeping up his studies. He does this blog as a happy hobby and as a serious apostolate that is appreciated by as many as 3000 people a day. It's positive. It's uplifting. It's Catholic-friendly and a needed response to people like me who are always talking about how awful the world is.

John only had that camera because a kind reader, fan and friend who could afford it, bought it for him so he could carry on with this work that is such a help to others. He can't possibly afford to replace it.

Also, as a person who has never been to Europe, you obviously don't know that it costs next to nothing to fly/train and or/boat around Europe. The ferry fare to Tunis for example, (when it was a place anyone wanted to go) is about 25 Euros. It's incredibly expensive to fly across the Atlantic, but once you're here, it can be as little as 10 Euros to go to places like Dublin, Paris, London, etc. Everyone, and I mean EVERYone in Europe flies all over the place all the freaking time. You know why? Because it's ridiculously tiny. I could walk to Austria from here in a few days. If you can stay with friends or friends of friends, you can travel around Europe all you like for no more than it would cost to commute from the burbs to your crappy down-town North American city job for a week.

The other way he, and any one of the rest of us who wants to, gets to go places is because other people are kind and good, friendly and helpful and want to see other people having a nice time.

Envy is an ugly sin, mate. It's the only one that Thomas Aquinas said creates misery for those who indulge in it and gives absolutely nothing in return.

I'm sorry if your crap life sucks and you hate North America and have never been anywhere. But you know what? It's not that hard really, you just have to buy a ticket and go.

Oh, and on top of that, it helps a lot if you are a decent soul who's nice enough and friendly enough for other people to want to be nice to back.

So, sucks to be you, I guess.

(And hey, way to be a manly man there, lobbing insults and vitriol behind anonymity.)


Friday, August 19, 2011

Aw man...

How come I never find anything this good?

I need to go for more walks.