Sunday, October 16, 2011

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz: The GOP Is 'Hoping For Failure' For The Economy

Rep. Schultz was not so much making an accusation as she was stating the blatantly obvious. The reality is, the GOP is not just passively hoping for a worsening economic climate for 2012, they are actively working to make it a reality. By blocking any government action that could possibly benefit the greater economic good of the country they profess to love so much, they are betting on an electorate that is so demoralize­d they will either stay home in November 2012 (as was the case in 2010) or view the GOP as the lesser of evils. It's a cynical strategy, of course, but when you have an insatiable hunger for power and nothing else to offer, it is the only way left to go.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Romney Beating Obama In A Fight For Wall St. Cash

The only reason "Wall Street" backed Obama in 2008 was to make sure they had plenty of paid access to the administra­tion. It was clear early on that the eventual GOP nominee would be the second place finisher in November. The money to Romney now is pretty much the same thing. The only candidate in the GOP field with a possibly of winning in November 2012 is Romney. The others, with the exception of Huntsman, are ideologues who have no hope of winning support beyond the hardcore party faithful. "Wall Street" will back whoever it thinks can win so they can continue buy enough access to maintain their strangleho­ld on progress.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Saturday, October 15, 2011

My Pagoclone Replacement

I was one of the participants in the final testing of pagoclone (which was in trials to determine its efficacy in the treatment of persistent development stuttering in adults) prior to its withdrawal after the trials were ended in November 2010. I was chosen for the trial because, even at the age of 54, my stuttering was severe enough to interfere with my enjoyment of life.

I was taking several different herbal supplements prior to the trial, but suspended their usage for the duration of the trial, so as not to taint the study results. None of the supplements I had been taking had ever had any effect on my stuttering. I had a SpeechEasy device which I had used for about 5 years. I stopped using it during the trial as well.

For me, the pagoclone was very effective in dramatically lessening the frequency and severity of my stuttering. In fact, the pagoclone worked better for me than the SpeechEasy had. I had some minor difficulty with the SpeechEasy, not so much with my fluency as with the sensation of hearing delayed and frequency altered sounds in my left ear while my right ear was hearing things in real time. The pagoclone, for me, was wonderful. I was told when I was selected for the study that I would continue to get the drug once the trial had ended up until the time the drug either went to market or was withdrawn. When I was informed four weeks ahead of the end of the trial that the drug was going to be withdrawn, I was distraught. It had worked so well for me. There had been noticeable improvements in my fluency and I had gotten a tremendous amount of encouragement from co-workers and peers who were excited by the noticeable improvement.

Facing the end of the pagoclone supply in a matter of weeks, I went on a desperate search for something that would deliver a comparable result. It was a depressing search. There has never been a drug to effectively treat persistent stuttering, so there was no good place to start. I remembered, though, how the researchers had been alerted to the possible efficacy of pagoclone for stuttering by an anecdotal report from one of the physicians in a previous study of pagoclone as an anxiolytic agent. The results of the study were not as promising as had been hoped in the anti-anxiety study and Indevus was on the verge of dropping the drug when the potential new use was suggested.

I started looking at herbal supplements that may have mild anxiolytic properties with being overly sedative. I was also looking for something that would have the least amount of known negative side effects. I had experimented with Kava in the past, but had not noticed any significant improvement. I was also aware of some potentially dangerous side effects with Kava. I found several mentions of different psychotropic drugs as possible alternatives, but the potential side effects were, for me, a non-starter.

After several weeks of searching, I finally settled on a regimen that I would begin the day the trial ended. I chose Valerian, a herb that has been used for some time as a sleep aid with good results and minimal side effects, though there is no data on the long term regular usage. The Valerian formulation readily available to me was a 450mg whole root capsule with the direction to take 3 capsules 30 minutes before bedtime. I decided I would take 2 capsules on the same twice a day schedule I had taken the pagoclone. I also resumed taking St. John's Wort twice a day, which I had discontinued during the study.

The results for me have been at least as good as, and quite possibly better than, the pagoclone. For me, that is saying a lot. I am now almost 11 months into the regimen, and it has worked very well. Other than some minor tiredness, I have not noticed any negative side effects. I cannot say for certain whether it is the Valerian alone or the Valerian in combination with the St. John's Wort that is responsible for what actually seems to be an improvement over the pagoclone results.

Of course, the standard disclaimers apply to this post. Nothing herein is meant to diagnose, or recommend treatment for, any condition. You should consult with your physician before starting any supplement regimen. The results mentioned above are purely anecdotal and are not meant to suggest any researched conclusions.

One final note: I am also taking Saw Palmetto Plus from the Vitamin Shoppe. It is at least theoretically possible that one or more ingredients in this supplement may be interacting with the Valerian and/or St. John's Wort.

Another possibly significant variable: I drink a 10-cup pot of black coffee every day. I have done so for almost 30 years. I use about 2 11.5oz bricks of medium roast Colombian coffee every week.

Friday, October 14, 2011

25 Random Things About Me

1. I have a tendency to reveal too much information, which can be a little embarassing and offputting. If I were you, I'd stop reading now before things get weird.
2. What!?! Are you still reading this? RE-read number 1 above and heed the warning.
3. OK. It's your own damn fault. Don't say you weren't warned. If you end up trying to claw your eyes out and wishing you could UN-read something, you have no one to blame but yourself.
4. I have a mild case of Asperger's syndrome. That's my description. My friends (both of them) would swear there is nothing mild about my Asperger's.
5. I don't do very well in social situations. I am really awkward as hell. (see #4)
6. When I was in the first grade, I was being bullied on the school bus by an older boy who threatened to beat me up if I didn't tell him his name. After several minutes of increasing stress and terror, I finally blurted out "Little BoPeep!" ...Fifty years later, his nickname is still BoPeep.
7. I was recently part of a drug trial, testing a drug to treat persistent developmental stuttering in adults. The drug trial ended in November 2010. After the trial was over, I found an alternative herbal regimen that may actually work at least as well and possibly better than the trial drug (which was discontinued).
8. I went to high school with Harry Carson (NFL Hall of Fame, former linebacker for the NY Giants. It was Harry (#53) that Joe Theisman was trying to elude when Lawrence Taylor ended his career). Harry kept me from getting beat up once (though I really didn't deserve it) by announcing: "You leave him alone. That's my friend." I am forever endebted to Harry.
9. I met William Christopher (Father Mulcahy from the TV series M*A*S*H) and Temple Grandin (who was the subject of an HBO bio-pic) at an Autism Society of America conference in Albequerque (July 1992).
10. I have a fairly significant auditory memory deficit which nearly dereailed my persuit of a BA degree. I was able to complete the foreign language requirement (I took French, I could read and understand it, but not speak, write or understand the spoken language) by reading a book (printed in France) with questions at the end of each chapter and writing my responses to the questions in English. I passed it with an A.
11. Playing church league basketball in high school, in one game I was tied for the leading scorer on my team and led the team in assists. We lost 119-4. Honestly. We had 5 players and no coach when the game began and we faced a team that had 15 players and 2 coaches. I was one of (maybe) two players on our team who were not stoned. (I don't think my brother was stoned that night.)
12. I didn't date (not actually my choice) during high school. Had my first "real" date (and first "real" kiss!) near the end of my freshman year of college.
13. I used to really enjoy walking in the woods at night without a flashlight or weapon. Especially during a new moon.
14. I taught myself to play guitar as a teenager. (Actually started teaching myself... I've almost got it figured out now. I'm a thumb-picker. Most of what I play nowadays are hymns from the old Broadman Hymnal and a few traditional tunes. The thumb-picking is why the thumbnail and index fingernail on my right hand are longer than the others.)
15. As a freshman in college, I wrote a play for my church youth group with about eight songs included.
16. I wrote songs for about 10 years. The song writing tapered off after I married my muse. That didn't turn out to be nearly as great as I thought it would be.
17. I drove a van for a cigarette vending route for about a year. I was a non-smoker, but became very knowledgeable about cigarettes. Especially the closed date freshness codes.
18. I have shovelled sheep shit. Seriously. The real poop, not some metaphorical crap.
19. I was 22 when I had my first beer. And my first Bourbon, and my first Scotch. (Cue George Thorogood and the Destroyers "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" now.)
20. President Nixon announced to the nation the end of the military draft for Vietnam the night before my 18th birthday. I registered for the draft, took my draft card home, and burned it.
21. I once sold shoes at Thom McAn. (Well, not too many.)
22. I graduated from a Baptist university and a Baptist seminary and was ordained as a Baptist minister. I never served as a Baptist pastor, however, I did serve for a time as a United Methodist pastor. (I was raised in a very religious, very conservative, Southern Baptist family.)
23. I wore a black armband to seminary for a week after the presidential election of 1980. That did not make me popular with the overwhelming majority of my peers. (I dared to blaspheme Reagan their savior).
24. Prior to 1996, I had been continuously employed for over 30 years and never worked more than 36 months in one place. I have been with my present employer for almost 15 years.
25. I met my wife on America Online shortly after the ending separation of my first (muse) marriage. We met IRL about 3 weeks later. It was magic then, and it still is now.
26. I worked one spring (1986) grading writing samples from standardized tests. I worked scoring 3rd grade papers from Texas and 5th grade papers from South Carolina. I also worked on a short project, scoring punctuation on samples from Baltimore City Schools. It may have been the most eclectic and most fun group of people I have ever worked with. Everyone (except for me) either had an MA or MFA in English or writing or an MAT or MEd with certification to teach English. I have an MDiv (with languages), but talked them into letting me take the qualifying exam (that everyone had to pass anyway) and agreeing that if I passed the exam, I should be sufficiently qualified to do the job. I passed the exam and ended up being a "third reader" (each paper was read and scored twice and the scores had to agree... if not, it was read a third time by someone whose scoring accuracy was in the top 10%).
27. I have reduced my coffee consumption to only one pot a day now. There was a time (see above) when I drank about two and a half pots of coffee a day. (I like my coffee strong, hot and black.)
28. I got my driver's license on my sixth attempt to pass the road test. I now teach Defensve Driving.
Yes, I know there 28 things on the list. You will notice, however, the first 3 are not really "about me," so there are only 25 random things about me.