Thursday 22 November 2007

Physio and turkey

So, after a weeks break today was Physio. My phsyio is delighted with my progress... standing up from sitting without falling over, piece of cake. Walking down the corridor, no problem (although I did hit the door frame on my way back in, which spoiled the effect). Daily exercises, can do - without holding onto the sink! This led to the necessity to 'score' my progress. Neuro types are big on this scoring stuff (I discovered on a letter from my neurologist that the physio isn't just a common or garden physio but a neurophysiotherapist!).

So, the scoring. First of all I am required to stand still and close my eyes. A few weeks ago that alone would have been impossible. Then I am required to move my arms and head around... not too much of a difficulty... raise your arm, look over your left shoulder etc. etc. Then comes to the stand on one leg. Try this with your eyes shut... even if you have perfect balance I'll wager you find it quite hard. Which leg, I ask, does it matter... no, says the physio, either will do. I choose to stand n my right leg as I find that much easier. Almost instantly I topple over. Not to worry, says the phsyio, we'd have kept going until you fell over. Ah, says I, so it was a destruction test... I never could win.

Next he tries to push me over. That isn't very friendly, I observe. So he starts gently trying to push me over... backwards, forwards, sideways... trying harder to push me - so that I really have to concentrate. You are gritting your teeth, he observes. I manage not to get pushed much for quite a while. When we are done I observe, that was like hard work.

We agree to meet again in two weeks, and the physio tells me that if I continue to do so well he will be signing me off. Hurrah!

I toddle off to meet Rich in Woolwich after this. This should be quite straight forward, but something appears to be up with the ferry. For those who don't know - the Woolwich Free Ferry is one of the quaintest things in South East London. Running between Woolwich and North Woolwich there are two boats which carry cars and passengers over the river. I think that the problem this afternoon might have been that only one of the boats was working. What happens then is that the overflow car park fills up and the lorrys start queueing on the road, and round the roundabout and gridlock and chaos ensue. The bus driver lent out of his cab and addressed the bus, telling us that we might be stuck for a while and that he would let anyone who wanted to get off out here.

A small amount of shopping ensued, and then home for a well deserved rest. Storing up for Thanksgiving. Even though we aren't American we celebrate Thanskgiving... we watch the football games and have our lovely turkey dinner... including sweet potatoes topped with marshmallow. Sweet potatoes and marshmallow were introduced me back last century (ha ha!) when I visited New York and spent the weekend with my godparents and had a Thanksgiving meal with them. Not that the football has been up to much this year so far. Mis-match number one with Green Bay and Detroit (which we knew as we only saw Detroit playing the Giants last weekend). Mis-match number 2 Jets playing Dallas. We know this because the Jets have only won two games all season, and we saw Dallas playing the Redskins the other day. Mind you over ten minutes have passed and the Cowboys are only up by 7.

Talking of football I suppose we should give a mention to the Euro 2008 qualifiers last night. We didn't watch the game (on account of me not caring that much and the other half of this house being Scottish)... but we did see about 20 minutes or so. What rubbish. All I can say is if that is the best England have to offer no wonder most of the players in the Premiership are foreign! I was quite pleased to see the exit of all the home nations from the competition - I don't rate international football of any type.

So, I'm settling down to watch the rest of the Thanksgiving offerings - and then it is all downhill until Christmas.

Wednesday 21 November 2007

London sights...

This morning, as I was coming up the escalator in Green Park Station I heard the strains of a bagpipe... I was convinced that there would be a chap with a kilt standing in the 'buskers area' on the middle concourse. Sadly the chap was wearing jeans and a pair of shades... but that didn't detract from his absolutely superb piping. The partners in my office (Scottish both) apparently gave him money they were so impressed!

Right now at the Dome (sorry, the O2) there is a pyramid in the plaza. I assume that it is advertising the Tutenkahmun exhibition. I don't think it is much of an advert though. It is probably about 3 or 4m across and in height... white with primary coloured pictures drawn on it... they look a bit like the logos you get for the Eurovision or something.

Monday 19 November 2007

Weather and some sports

Yesterday I was talking to my Gran on the phone... "It's really cold," she told me "and it has been raining all day - really it is rather like November". There was a pause "Probably because it is November" she added. I couldn't help but agree! Last week I ventured into the garden to add the two footballs to the pond to help with the ice situation, Rich and I spent an afternoon a couple of weeks back clearing leaves from just about everywhere around the house. Winter really is here.

Another 'quiet' weekend in our house. I've been glued to my new computer games... first there was the complete Lego Starwars (all six episodes) for the DS - it isn't quite like playing on the PS2 - easier for one thing - but the levels have been redesigned to be playable within the constraints of the DS graphics. It really is much easier, but this is made up for by added 'side games' and as mentioned slightly re-programmed levels. My other acquisition was SimCities Societies. I am a huge Sims/SimCity fan, and was only bemoaning the lack of recent additions to the SimCity genre the other week. Lo, in the Lite the other evening there was a review of this new game. I decided to take the plunge and buy it. Plunge that is because the last time I bought a PC game it was a total trauma! We had gotten out of the habit of purchasing PC games as our old PC ('Harry') had become extremely idiosyncratic and quite often refused to do just about anything, especially graphics heavy/processor heavy operations (such as games). The new PC and my new laptop however have no such issues. BUT the last game I bought for some reason just wouldn't work on my laptop. All the specs matched, I don't have the graphics cards that 'might cause problems' it just didn't run. Bah! I was extremely worried that this might be the case again. The game installed just fine... and started up OK... and I played for about an hour, then it started crashing. Microsoft found a 'solution' which turned out to be a broken link. I think I could find out a download myself if Intel's website wasn't so confusing and I knew a bit more about what was inside my laptop. I guess I'll set Rich on it sometime! Eventually I managed to get the patch from EA's website to run (usual download difficulties and this is not a Win32 file nonsense using IE - why do I bother). Managed nearly two hours gameplay this afternoon without a problem. Hurrah!

Watched an excellent game of NFL yesterday... the mighty (!) Giants beating the Detroit Lions... in fact rather surprisingly all my favourite teams won yesterday even the much maligned Jets (and it isn't just me that maligns them). The best bits of the weekend's games were: in the Cleveland @ Baltimore game... right at the death... Cleveland are down by 3 points. They kick a field goal, which is ruled not good... players start leaving the field and Sky's pundits give the score saying that it hasn't actually come up as final yet. Then something strange happens. change the score to 30-30. Nobody is sure what has happened. What happened, it turns out, was this... the ball is kicked for a field goals, hits the upright, crosses the goal, hits the stanchion and bounces back out again... the decision is reversed and the field goal is ruled good. Cleveland then go on to win with another field goal in overtime. Too bad for Baltimore!

The as yet winless Dolphins briefly led the Eagles by 7-0. The Eagles went on to win by 10 points. I thought it was rather mean when the commentary team said the Eagles had 'come from behind' - whilst technically true it implies that Miami had more than a brief flurry of scoring with a touchdown at the start of the game! So... Miami are now 0-10 and looking extremely likely to go without a win all season. Ah, too bad. Shame we never got to see the replay of Miami missing a 1 yard field goal!!

There was, of course, regular football this weekend too. Not being a huge fan of international football it didn't register on my radar... in fact I just had to go to the BBC to find out how England did and whether or not they are qualifying (answer, not yet decided). I did, of course, know how Scotland did. I don't think that anyone within a half block radius of our house could have failed to know... sadly they lost to a last minute goal by Italy. Rich, obviously, was gutted... I'm quite sad as a lot of my colleagues are Scottish (working for a Scottish company and all) and also, I do love a bit of Schadenfraude and to see a fancied team not make the finals. Ah well, maybe another year.

Sunday 11 November 2007

Scratching the suface of the WGA strike...

So the WGA (Writers Guild of America) has gone on strike. So what, a lot of you ask? I don't live in America... it doesn't affect me. Oh, but it does.

Everything that is produced in America is written by members of the WGA. That is TV and movies. Big movie projects are being pushed into accelerated production or shelved altogether until the strike is resolved. Far more disrupting for most of us though is the TV. Think about it... how many of your favourite TV shows come from the US? If you're anything like this household the ratio is about 95%. Lost... Prison Break... 24... Atlantis... the list goes on and on. Very few shows have finished shooting their current seasons... a fair few are not even half way through. Most shows only have a few un-shot episodes before they are out of scripts. What happens then? Some shows go on hiatus... some shows have alarming 'contingency' plans to bring their seasons to a premature close. For us here in the UK... even worse. Who knows if the January starts of shows such as Lost and 24 will still happen if a full season isn't available. Maybe the TV companies will just wait until the strike is over to begin airing. Whatever happens transmission in the UK will be affected as due to the wonders of modern technology we are only ever a few episodes behind the US in terms of viewing (except when some Channels which shall remain nameless decide to 'sit' on the shows for a more auspicious (or something) starting time). Rumour has it that the shows had been looking abroad for substitutes to fill in during the strike, the obvious choice being the UK (seeing as how we speak the same language and all). The WGGB (Writers Guild of Great Britain) has however called on it's members to support their American colleagues... so not much hope down this avenue.

Last time the WGA went on strike (in 1988) it lasted for 22 weeks... so I guess we all need to be prepared for re-runs and reality TV, and over here in the UK some quality British TV (?!).

So, as usual, when anyone anywhere goes on strike... the question that not a lot of people know the answer to is "why are they on strike?". Well... firstly because their contract expired, the difficulty arose in negotiating a new one. The contention lies, apparently, with 'residuals'. As far as I can understand this is to do with monies paid for airing of the shows on mediums other than TV. DVDs for examples, internet broadcasts (including when TV companies use clips streamed on their websites) and so on and so forth. The problem appears to be that if the WGA are given more money for residuals then this has to be extended to the Screen Actors Guild and the Directors Guild. Doesn't seem very likely, does it?

Anyone who knows me knows that I don't agree with striking. I do not see what it achieves. If there was any public sympathy for whatever cause the strikers are striking over it is pretty quickly eroded once the effects are felt by the general public. Take the recent postal strikes in this country. Public sympathy reached absolute rock bottom by the time the strikers eventually went back to work. A key here may be that a lot of us work in jobs where there are no unions and no calls to go on strike... we simply cannot emphasise with the culture.

If you are concerned about the fate of your favourite shows (yes, it is amazing how much TV we watch and how it dominates our lives!) Digital Spy have an excellent page where you can get all the latest news.

Saturday 10 November 2007

There's a mouse, where?

I suppose that it must be the time of year, as the weather gets colder wildlife adjusts to a new lifestyle. Squirrels get ready for winter by burying their nuts (mostly in the middle of our lawn it would appear, although on one occasion Rich found one attempting to dig a hole in our kitchen floor!); wasps go into hibernation (to my alarm all over the parasol I discovered when I came to take it down, fortunately so sleepy that they just fell to the ground when poked and didn't attack me); frogs seem to take journeys (when Rich was mowing the lawn last week we had to take about a half dozen away from the peril of the mower blades and back to the safety of the frog pond); ladybugs (as discussed previously) go and live in our bedroom. So, apparently, do mice.

I was sitting on the edge of the bed on Wednesday afternoon when I heard a scratching sound. Odd nosies are not uncommon in our house, and especially not in our bedroom. Sometimes things get into the sealed chimney and make noises, the aerial on the roof is loose and when it gets caught by a breeze the noise travels down the chimney... we are partially under the roof here with no loft and sometimes squirrels (or whatever) run across the roof... so odd noises are not so odd... when they are coming from above. The scratching seemed to be at my feet. Maybe it was me sitting on the bed. I sat still. There it was again. I did what any self respecting corward would do... I called Rich. He dismissed it as me creaking the bed. No, I insisted it was scratching. Obligingly there it was again... and then out ran a mouse! ARGH! I hate mice. Even when we were at school and kept all manner of pets including rats, hamsters (of various breeds and sizes), gerbils, guinea pigs, rabbits and mice it was only the mice I couldn't bear. They are so small and they will scuttle. And the tails. Ugh. This explained in part the visit of the cat to the bedroom the night before... clearly she had a scent of the mouse. We went and fetched her, and she stayed for about two minutes before leaving. Rubbish mouse catcher.

The story doesn't end here though. Apparently last night she was 'playing' with mice downstairs, one in the hall and one in the living room. I live in hope that one of them was the one that had been in our bedroom! Probably not though.

This is not the first time that our house has had mice. We had one that inhabited our kitchen for a while. Traps were set (to no avail) and the cat proved largely ineffective. Eventually one day she did catch the mouse, and triumphantly took of to show my nearly-mother-in-law her prize... whereupon she dropped the mouse in my nearly-mother-in-law's kitchen! I told you my cat is a rubbish mouse catcher!

Flu jabs and other things

MS is one of the list of illnesses which demands that you go and get an annual flu jab. Annual because the flu changes every year. I had one last year with no ill effect, so off I went again on Wednesday for this year's dose. The nurse decided that as I was there anyway we might as well kill two birds with one stone and do a pneumonia jab at the same time... one in each arm. The flu jab didn't hurt at all, I think that the pneumo jab might have had a bigger needle as that one did sting a bit. Didn't give it anymore thought and went home again.

Thursday saw another dose of physio. My Physio is very pleased with my progress... he's given me some new exercises and we experimented with one of those big rubber exercise balls... I got one several years ago, just need to find the pump for it now. We agreed that I could try going back to work next week. Just a couple of days with reduced hours, which is exactly what my Nurse said. I had to assure them both that I would follow their advice, as the last thing that I wanted was to undo all the good work and end up back in bed again!!!

After Physio I met a friend for lunch... we had a very nice afternoon, after which I had to go to Asda and pick up all the things that they had missed from our order or given unreasonable substitutes for. Seriously - if you ask for screw cap lightbulbs why would you be happy to receive lightbulbs with a bayonet fitting? It was drizzling a bit when I got there, but by the time I was going home it was chucking it down. Question - with a stick in one hand a shopping in the other how do you hold an umbrella?

I don't know what brought it on, a combination of the after effects of the flu jab (I don't care what the doctors say... there are after effects) and getting caught in the downpour but on Thursday night I was not well. I felt like the first time I took Avonex and had the side effects... all flu-ish. Shivers and aches, temperature the whole enchilada. Passed a most unpleasant night, and felt only marginally better in the morning. Continued to improve through the day... although still quite feverish. The oddest thing was, and most people who have MS will tell you this, symptoms get worse with heat - exercise, hot baths, hot weather... fever; and suddenly I could almost feel my nerves being fried... symptoms that had almost gone away were suddenly back - I had no feeling in either foot or my right hand! Thankfully as soon as the temperature started to go down the feeling came back. Weird, huh?

So, back to going back to work. I'm obviously quite excited. My brain has been slowly stultifying this last month or so... and I'm sure my readers are eager to have something other than my four walls to read about!!!