Friday, July 24, 2015

Why Now?

Donald Trump being Trump....

Hulk Hogan removed from the WWE...

Fox News vs Jon Stewart...

WHY DO I HAVE TO HAVE OTHER THINGS ON MY MIND NOW?!  This is not fair!   Those are like Kanrei's Treats and I can imagine the rants I would be on right now if not for this stupid annoying 7/30/13 crap on my mind!

Oh, the PET scan came back great and the operation is on for August 13th!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Insurance Companies Suck Eggs and Love the Aftertaste

Let's discuss insurance companies for a moment as they are a big topic today.   I will avoid politics and calling out of parties and politicians because that is divisive and we need unity on this.   It affects us all and we do not know the impact until it is too late.   Yes, this is that serious.

I am a cancer patient and one time survivor who is trying to go for two.   After major rectal and colon surgery in early 2014, a recent colonoscopy found a tad bit more cancer that will now require half my colon being removed.  Prior to this procedure, a full body PET Scan is needed to make sure there are no other terroristic cancer cells lying in wait for their coming out party.   MY surgeon said if there is cancer elsewhere in my body then the operation he has planned  becomes moot and a different course of action will be necessary.   The insurance company did not agree and blocked the scan; they decided on the morning of my scan to request more notes from my doctor to show medical necessity.   They did not inform either me or my doctor; only the lab knew and they were told two hours before the procedure was to begin.  Do you see a problem?

Here is my question: why can an insurance, why can some non-medically trained person working for an insurance company get between my doctor and me and actually have  stronger voice in my treatment than my doctor?  The techs at the lab looked over what was sent to them and said it was "self explanatory" why I was having the scan done.   My guess is that once again my age made them think they could delay it.

This is not the first time I believe my age has come into play with my treatment and I fear it will not be the last.   Getting cancer young is not something people want to consider is actually a possibility.    Either that, or they just don't believe someone under 50 is suffering since the industry standard for screening for this type of cancer doesn't start until that age.   I started showing symptoms around 38 I have come to realize; diagnosed at 41.   Sorry, but my life forgot to check with industry standards.

And let's be honest: it is quite stressing to not only have to fight cancer, but to also have to constantly prove I have it.   These non-doctors have no business basing life and death decisions on some cookie-cutter handbook filled with "if/then" formulas that determine care.   My doctor went to school!   I bet they took an online course and my life is in their hands?  I face better odds with cancer.   At least the cancer needs me alive to survive; this insurance company already has my money and probably already has me replaced.   My death would simply be a statistic, a line on a profit ledger, and nothing more.

Now for the good news.   The people at the scan lab called my doctor's office who in turn called the insurance company.   I'm not sure what was said exactly, but less than 20 minutes later it was reversed and my scan was back on with their reluctant blessings.   It was quick, painless, and I believe the results will be in my favor.  

I hope the results are in my favor.   Not because I fear cancer; been there done that.   No, I hope the results are in my favor because I am afraid of the insurance company and having to fight them again.    This is par for the course for cancer community from what I have been hearing.    We have enough stress with our bodies trying to kill us, we really don't need the health insurance industry betting against us too.

I can't wait to see what they have in store for my operation.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

OK, I am officially human: I'm shocked.

 I am worried about tomorrow's PET Scan (I think that is what it is called as I have only heard it said and I think that is what I heard) to do a survey of any and all cancer that might be hiding in my body, head to toe.   Well, not worried, but unable to think of much anything else right now.  

 The PET Scan is a 3 hour rest stop in a giant doughnut-shaped apparatus the size of a room that hums, knocks, and moans.   It is probably the most freaky sci-fi thing I have encountered in my cancer travels.   It is a frightening monstrosity that would not be at all out of place in Dr Frankenstein or Melange's lab.   Someone did some serious "can I make this more scary" thought when designing it.  All it needs are spikes...actually, it has a needle that pumps some dye or iodine or something into your body to make it all aglow under the PET Scan's gaze.

OK, I don't want to talk about it more.   I will post tomorrow how it went, but I am going to think about other things from now until then.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Quick Meaningless Empty Babble

A subject came up in a thread on a blog I play around on and it sparked me thinking.   The subject was "wisdom vs intelligence" and it sparked many quotes in my mind from the Tao of Pooh.

"A clever mind is not a heart. Knowledge doesn't really care, wisdom does."
― Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

"The masters of life know the way, for they listen to the voice within them, the voice of wisdom and simplicity, the voice that reasons beyond cleverness and knows beyond knowledge."
― Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

Told you I have gotten big on quotes since 7/30/13.

I have always believed Intelligence is what you know; the depth of the library in your  mind and your ability to recall the most minute details from that reference section.    I am a fairly intelligent person, but probably closer to par for the course.    I know quite a lot, but have difficulty recalling it without the proper spark to set off the explosion of memory.

I have always felt Wisdom is the ability to learn from experience and apply it to one's life.    While I do feel intelligent, 7/30/13 has made me far more wise than I ever was.    And my exploration into the meaning of things and my love of quotes I have noticed has made me more wise than intelligent.   I can't recall facts, but I can quotes and teachings and can and do apply them to my daily life.

Let me explain how I see things by example:

The intelligent person can look at a fire and explain to me the whys of the fire and the hows and find uses for it and will see it as a tool and nothing more, but the wise person remembers the damage it can cause, the pain, and knows to treat it with care.   The wise person will use it as well, but with the protections of past experience that the intelligent person will write off as error on their part.   The intelligent man is burdened with hubris where the wise man knows he knows nothing.

I'm done babbling for now.

Monday, July 20, 2015

A Slightly Obsessive Fan's Anal Retentive Review of Mad Max: Road Fury

My name is Kanrei and I have a problem: I can't leave baggage at home when I see a franchise film or TV show.   I am cursed with a clear memory of the canon of the story and I end up falling in love with the most minute  details as I piece together how they combine to form the characters I love.   That is a disclaimer before you read my review.   That said, here we go...

I finally got around to seeing the newest Mad Max movie; Road Fury starring Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy and written/directed by Mad Max creator George Miller.  I have to be honest: I was mostly unimpressed if I viewed it as an entry into the franchise, but enjoyed it as a stand alone movie.

Now that said, I do go into the series with a lot of baggage and that definitely had a major influence on my enjoyment of the movie.    To give you an idea: my Empire Strikes Back era Han Solo action figure had his left left wrapped in masking tape the moment Road Warrior ended and he was christened Mad Max from that point on.  Every time my Star Wars and GI Joe toys came out to play, it was always a post-apocalyptic setting they were playing in.   The Star Wars figures no longer fought the Empire and GI Joe didn't care about Cobra; it became every man for himself in a battle for survival.   The weaker figures banded together into gangs, but the heroes were always alone.  Even my Matchbox and Hot Wheels toys found renewed value to me as I re-created the final scenes of Road Warrior over and over again and made up my own versions.

Star Wars was huge for me, but Mad Max introduced a new style of story that I just feel in love with much like the Zombie fans of today.   I even dressed up as Max to get a chance to see Beyond Thunderdome a day early for free at Sunniland Theater.   I think I have a photo of it somewhere, but no scanner so no copies here.  Sorry.   Yes, it is safe to say Max and I go way back so it is also safe to say I was very excited to hear George Miller was returning to the world I so loved as a kid.

The baggage one would expect a long time fan to bring to this movie is that a new actor was, for the first time, playing the role of ex-cop desert wandering Max Rockatansky.    The antics of Mel Gibson (the original Max) over the last decade or so made it fairly easy for me to not mind that he was out of the story.  I would probably keep wondering if his "madness" was mostly intoxication and would be waiting for him to ask the bad guy if he was Jewish.   And we all know there would be an extensive torture scene because I think that is a rider in any and all Mel Gibson movies.   I'm getting off subject...

The new Mad Max didn't bother me because this is a new movie introducing a 30 year old character to a new audience.   Mel's Max would be more about a geriatric ex-bad ass and just the fact he was still alive would be impressive enough.   Old men driving could be interesting if you like chase scenes at 15 miles per hour, but I don't think it would be effective in a 2 hour large screen event.   How many bathroom breaks would they have to have?

I don't know Tom Hardy.  I think he played Bane in the last Batman movie, so I had a clean slate with him.   I was ready for a new Max and it was way easier to me to accept that I expected.   To be honest, just the thought of it being George Miller returning to this world made me giddy like a 12 year old again.   The man who made the greatest action movies of my childhood started making movies about talking pigs, so his return was beyond a dream in the shock factor.   Who ever comes back from kid movies?   How would he return from CGI wonderlands and did he even want to?   Can you go home again?   Actually, yes you can on most fronts, but not entirely as even Max is subject to Hollywood trends and other successful franchise influence.

I will try to avoid spoilers, but some are inevitable for me to really talk about the problems I had with the movie.  I promise I will be as vague as possible with plot details and will not discuss the third act at all.   Consider this a review of the first 2/3rds.

The first and biggest problem was that Max was mainly pointless to the movie and the role seemed to be "generic action hero" at times, but mostly just "audience surrogate" so we have a character to follow.   He was mostly in the way and the few times he actually served a purpose to the story, it was out of character for the Max character we have known since the 70's.   While he was the best behind the wheel of a car, his use of firearms has always traditionally been problematic.   I can only think of two times he successfully used a firearm in the first three movies.   It is actually a running joke that the shotgun he waved around in Road Warrior was actually empty and the few times he found a shell, it was a dud.   It was a joke they included once in this new movie, but for the most part this Max was just an amazing marksman with a pistol while driving.

Now I know kids today have grown up in a world where everyone with a gun is a bad ass straight out of a video game, but Max was always more of a "Die Hard" type hero.   He was not looking to save anyone, just survive.  Like John McCain, he would actually go out of his way to avoid a fight if at all possible.   Not so with this Max.  They try to have a scene where they want you to think he doesn't care for anyone, but you knew given the time it happens in the film that he was going to go against the character we knew and help out of the kindness of his heart and not for the reward of his actions.

The plot of the movie revolves around a harem being stolen from a warlord and the warlord's attempt to get it back, but is wasn't Max who stole them; it was a new character to the series and actually the main focus of the action for the most part.   When the action needed it, he would become the uber hero of action movie mythology, but for the most part it was Charlize Theron's movie.   They even altered Max's back story from a dead son to a dead daughter to try and make some sort of empathetic bond with the plight of the harem.  I wouldn't mind him helping them if he got fuel, weapons, or a car out of the deal, but helping them just to help them doesn't fit a character that was willing to let an entire colony fall in Road Warrior if they didn't give him all the fuel he could carry for his help.   Maybe George Miller did make children's movies for too long and forgot how to make a truly cold hero in the style of Eastwood's "Man with No Name."

The main problem I had with the film was that there was nothing to tell me this was Max.   It really could have been anybody in Max's place and the story would have been the same.   I'm not even totally sure this is Max's world either to be honest.  Robotic arms?  Villains in cartoon skull masks?  Blood transfusions on cars?   A rock band on a car?   Fuel is no longer an issue (the central theme of the Mad Max movies) as there seems to be tons of it, but water is in short supply and mutations and tumors are running amok.  

I know the opening credits said Tom Hardy as Max Rockatansky and I briefly saw the famous V-8 Interceptor and he did have a brace on his left knee, but that was about it.  The brace on his knee due to a shotgun blast removing his kneecap was an issue in the movies that followed the shot, but not in this one.   He could run and catch up with cars, leap from exploding vehicles, and every other action hero staple we expect from movies today.   This was more Mad Max as envisioned by Sylvester Stallone or Arnold Schwarzenegger than as seen by the George Miller of the past.

All that said, the people I saw it with who had no such baggage loved it.   It starts with action and never lets up.   Their only complaint was ironically one thing I loved: they don't give you any real back story or narrative to catch you up on the series.   You really have no idea where in the series this movie takes place and that is a great aspect for people just getting into it.

Mad Max is a great character and I am very happy to see his return.   I am so happy he is back that I am going to see the next one on opening day and try my best to leave all my baggage at home.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Vacation Hangover

Oh my vacation hangover.  I feel in a haze today where nothing feels quite right.  Seven days of constant family and beach and dining and fun becomes habit fairly easily as it is perfection and Heaven on Earth, so when it ends it is almost like the end of a world.   Any problems and stresses from the week fades fairly quickly into the past as only the good times, the smiles, the laughs, and the joy remains in my mind and the possible myth of the vacation replaces the minute realities.  

Were there stresses?  Most certainly there were.   One cannot spend a week with parents, siblings, in-laws, and children and remain free of hectic stresses and clashes of personalities.   It is inevitable and the reason why we don't live together year round, but for a week or two here and there, the personality differences take a back seat to a combined effort for a united great memory of something that we don't get to experience often enough: getting away with nothing but people you love, trust, and can be yourself around.

For me, the week was just what I needed, wanted, and dreamed of.  It was days of activity and nights of me alone on the beach or in a pool; both times staring at a sky of sparkling white dots forming images like some connect the dots designed by eons of planning.   City living really makes me forget how much I love seeing the stars.

So anyway, as I sit here back in my apartment I am left feeling out of place and wondering how to get back to last week.  It is weeks like last week that I beat 7/30/13 for and thanks to 7/30/13 I was able to participate in ways I never did before and my former hangups did not block my engaging in a great time.

Thank you family and thank you 7/30/13.