Thursday, March 29, 2018

Lake Monona Ice Views - Part 3

I took photos back in December from Olbrich Park looking out over Lake Monona as the ice sheet was forming, and again in January as the ice was fully formed and there were even people out ice fishing, now here we are again as the ice melts this spring.  Kind of full circle, I'm sure there will be pictures of the lake over the summer in normal posts so there won't be a part 4.

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Just to keep from cluttering up the homepage with another long post, more pictures after the break!

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Latest LIVE Listening Pleasure 29 - The Harp Twins*

20180324_182914Saturday night my wife Kate and I ventured south of Madison to the city of Stoughton and their Opera House to see The Harp Twins.  Before we get to the main attraction, this is the first time we've been to this venue, and it is different than others I've visited.  It opened in 1901, fell into disrepair in the 50's, and sporadic renovations began in the 80's until a few years ago being declared fit for another century.  From what I understand, it is run by volunteers and has many donors and members.  I found it to be a beautiful place, and I liked the smaller size.  The venue allows no video and no flash photography.  There is no food or drink allowed, which is just as well as the only bathrooms are in the basement, 77 narrow stairs away, I counted on the way back up, then several more stairs down to our seats.  Overall, another beautiful local venue to see a show, though the shows here usually tend toward the older crowd - and remember to take your best, softest seat cushion or pillow you have, for the wooden seats are from 1900, hand-carved and harder than concrete.


20180324_195741First off, The Harp Twins, Camille and Kennerly, mentioned during the show that they're from Chicago.  All this time I thought they were from Norway, but they do reference being Norwegian quite often and they certainly look the part.  We got there rather early after going out to dinner in Stoughton before going to the venue.  We had a nice couple right behind us, also early, that seemed as if they had been there before.  They were from the Chicago area as well and had come up for the show, though they love Wisconsin and come here often for many reasons, they said.  We got a preview of the dresses to be worn when one of the twins came out beforehand to tune the harps.  They started almost on time, probably waiting for the latecomers, starting with a Fleetwood Mac song that escapes me now, and played a string (no pun intended) of rock and metal cover songs that they arranged for the harp and one original song, and played them all very well.  The covers is how I found out about them, from the rock and metal websites posting a story when they release a new Youtube video.  Camille and Kennerly's channel is here.

20180324_194124In between songs they would come up to the microphone and their banter and interaction was entertaining.  While I can tell they have certain stories and jokes to say they seemed to only loosely follow them and lived in the moment.  I found them charming and funny, and very talented harpists (though I can list the harpists I know on two fingers).  The first half or more before the intermission was on the big, traditional harps, with a few with an electric and a traditional harp.  They even arranged Metallica's song 'One' for both of them to play on the same harp (get it?  One?).  When it came time to change around the stage they sent the 'crew' out to do it - themselves wearing baseball hats.  After the intermission, the second half was with the electric harps, the big traditional harps serving as a good backdrop.

20180324_202233Remember that couple that sat behind us?  We spoke at the intermission about the no video rule and how I noticed plenty of cameras and no one taking video, just pictures, and how I'd really like to get a song.  He then showed me that he got the entire song 'Stairway To Heaven' on video.  He said after the song ended an usher tapped him on the shoulder and scolded him, so he said he was sorry.  That emboldened me.  I didn't want to break their rules but I really did want video of just one song, at least.  I went for it in the second half and luckily got the song 'Nemo,' originally by Nightwish, on video along with plenty of banter beforehand.  Enough banter that I thought I would get that tap before they even started the song.  I kept the camera low, thankfully a young girl was in the seat in front of me, and to the side, trying to block it with my head from the usher's view.  Thankfully, I got the whole song and that tap on my shoulder never came.  I was a good boy the rest of the show.

There's not many live videos like this on Youtube that I can find of The Harp Twins, so they may be diligent about having them taken down, I'm not sure, but for that reason this video is not named as normal at this time.  It would be nice to get a lot of views (my Marilyn Manson videos are over a thousand views, combined!) but I'd rather have my video available here on my website for my readers and me.  The song starts at 2:10, and again at 2:43, you'll see.  Please forgive the rough start and the poor camera focus.

The Harp Twins, Camille and Kennerly - Nemo
* Update 5/12/2018: Video deleted at the Harp Twins' request.

Because of the no video rule I was taking a lot of pictures.  Also, because my camera on my phone is not the best at focusing I take a lot because I never know which ones will turn out.  After the LLP list below I put all the best pictures after the break.  I also recently added the full LLP list in the right column.  Now, click Read more below!

Previous LLP Posts...
LLP 1 - Pain
LLP 2 - Nightwish
LLP 3 - Die Antwoord
LLP 4 - Pain part 2
LLP 5 - Andrew Bird LIVE
LLP 6 - Nightwish part 2
LLP 7 - Paramore
LLP 8 - Newsted
LLP 10 - Nightwish Imaginaerum Movie
LLP 11 - Kiss
LLP 12 - Rick Springfield
LLP 13 - Hyrax
LLP 14 - In This Moment
LLP 15 - Faster Pussycat LIVE
LLP 16 - Sebastian Bach
LLP 17 - Cradle Of Thorns
LLP 18 - Amaranthe
LLP 19 - Lindemann
LLP 20 - Halestorm
LLP 21 - Garbage LIVE
LLP 22 - Arcade
LLP 23 - Nightwish LIVE
LLP 24 - Ace Frehley
LLP 25 - Darkc3ll
LLP 26 - Dementia
LLP 27 - Rammstein
LLP 28 - Marilyn Manson LIVE
LLP 29 - The Harp Twins LIVE

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Back Again, And Again

I've had back issues for a long time.  This recent episode has been pretty much for all of this year.  I finally had to go to the doctor about a month ago, after nothing I tried was helping.  I spent over a hundred dollars on five different back pillows/rolls, and even gave away my very nice La-Z-Boy recliner to a friend and spent several hundred more dollars on an upright accent chair - that still needs a lumbar roll on it for me.  I've done my back exercises almost every day and have taken anti-inflammatory meds and muscle relaxers.  Still, it got worse, so I needed help.

20180320MRI1About a week after I saw my doctor I had a real bad weekend.  Monday was just as bad so I stayed home from work and contacted my doctor's office.  My doctor was out that week, so one of the other doctors saw me and prescribed another anti-inflammatory and a drug for the nerve pain.  She also completed the paperwork for me to be off work until I saw the neurosurgeon.  While off work I continued with exercises, and started riding our recumbent exercise bike downstairs for 30 minute sessions every day.  Over the next two weeks the pain backed off a bit, I still felt it, but it was duller than it had been.  I was happy with the progress, but still very concerned about my well-being.

I saw the neurosurgeon about my back this last week, 3 weeks after the referral.  Our visit was very brief and he was interrupted 3 times by call or text as he was also on call with the hospital.  One of the things he did manage to clarify is that it essentially is a disc pressing on my nerve, the same disc I had operated on in 2000.  It was obvious that he knew the course of action he wanted to take, a 'Left S1 Selective Nerve Root Injection.'  A steroid shot to the back.  Now it can be up to two weeks for my insurance to preauthorize the procedure before I can even schedule it, and I was told they are several weeks out scheduling.  Wonderful.  Now, my question is, since he had to review the information to approve the referral, and he had been given no new information, then why couldn't we have gotten this going earlier?  The pace of the process is painfully slow, literally.

20180320MRI2As soon as I left I contacted my doctor again.  At this pace I needed to get back to work, and I needed more help to be able to do that.  He essentially doubled my prescription for the nerve pain meds, and that has helped more than I expected.  I still feel when the pain shoots down my leg, but it is effectively dulled, mostly.  The side effect is tiredness/fatigue, and I feel it but it's not a bad thing, really.  It takes me down a notch, where I'm just generally more relaxed.  I need something like this for all the time, I think.

So, that's where it stands.  Far from over, but I am getting by much better.  I'll have to wait and see how the shot works and go from there.

Pictures of my 2011 MRI after the break, for comparison.  I don't have any pictures of my 2000 MRI.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

6 Doors 1 Wall - 2 Cats!

The original video was posted here a few years ago, and is also currently the front page video on my Scoakat YouTube Channel.  This was a spur of the moment video from this last week when the cats, Hamish(-pie) and Basil(-boo), were amicable to being momentarily trapped and as usually cute.  The white things on the door handles are stops we put on the tops of the doors usually, because they certainly know how to shut doors but actually working the handle to get out is yet to be mastered.  Hamish knows how this stuff works, scarily enough, he's just not big enough to do it, thankfully.

And this was the minimally bad thumbnail option I was given, folks, sorry.  Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Simultaneous Sun And Snow

This is something you don't see every day - or at least not at the same time on that day.  It didn't photograph well, so you have to look close at the dark areas or in front of the garage.


While most of the snow has melted, we are about average for this time of year with temps above freezing during the day and below at night.  Kate noticed some of the early plants starting to come up the other day, barely showing so far.  I just happen to look up and see this today, thought I'd share.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

It's Back Again

Pain.  I've known lots of physical pain in this life.  From breaking both forearm bones in my left arm as a kid to broken toes, wisdom teeth infections, a shattered femur, neck fusion due to a disc, rotator cuff issues and two prior lower back disc surgeries.  I'm sure I'm missing something and I am skipping lesser things but that should be most of the bigger stuff.

While I've been dealing with more back issues lately, my impression was that the L5/S1 disc was bulging and putting pressure on my nerve, but it seems I was incorrect.  I had an MRI on Thursday for the fifth or sixth time in my life, I seem to have lost count.  I fully expected another disc issue but the findings were no significant difference since my last (2011) MRI, yet the L5 nerve root shows a 'significant impingement,' I'm told, which is right in line with the pain I'm having.  My next move is to await a phone call to make an appointment with a neurosurgeon.

While the pain is not quite what it was the last two times I had back surgery, it is the same pain just not quite as severe - yet.  I'd been trying to move this process along as the last two times I could only stand for short times and in excruciating pain by the time I got to the surgery and I was hoping it wouldn't get that far this time.  The MRI results, though, leave me less certain of what's to come.  It's not that I want surgery, I just want to feel normal, but knowing it's not a disc has me worried as to what exactly the problem is.  I don't know how soon I'll see the neurosurgeon but I look forward to seeing the images and hearing what they have to say.

The pain sucks, and they're not handing out the good painkillers like they used to.  I've taken lots of opioids when needed, and very long ago I told my doctor that if I need a painkiller I'll take nothing less than, say, vicodin or oxycodone and such, as anything less never did anything to help me.  Popping them left and right at times and while I've never felt the slightest twinge of addiction you do need to keep up on your stool softeners while taking them!  And with nerve pain even opioids are relatively ineffective so I have been taking nothing.  My doctor did give me a round of prednisone that I finished today but that has done nothing for me.  I'm in a holding pattern of dealing with the pain as best I can until I can't anymore.  Welcome back, old friend.