Communion Of Dreams

Ghost stories.
October 31, 2007, 12:19 pm
Filed under: Humor, Psychic abilities

My wife passed on an item posted over on Forum Wales which I found of interest. Not saying that I “believe” or anything, but it is definitely something to take a look at. It’s a short clip, and you should turn your sound up a bit:

And in the true spirit of Halloween I give you this British Car Ad that was never run:

This is a car advertisement from Great Britain. When they finished filming the ad, the film editor noticed something moving along the side of the car, like a ghostly white mist. They found out that a person had been killed a year earlier in that exact same spot.

The ad was never put on TV because of the unexplained ghostly phenomenon. Watch the front end of the car as it clears the trees in the middle of the screen and you’ll see the white mist crossing in front of the car then following it along the road….Spooky!

Is it a ghost, or is it simply mist? You decide. If you listen to the ad, you’ll even hear the cameraman whispering in the background about it near the end of the commercial.

Car Ad

Jim Downey

(Cross posted to UTI.)

I can sympathize.

Umberto Eco, when asked why he wrote The Name of the Rose, famously replied: “I wanted to poison a monk.”

I can sympathize.

There are times when I’m a little grumpy, or have just had a little too much exposure to my fellow monkeys, when I’d like to kill a few people myself. In fact, catch me when I’m feeling more than a bit honest, and I’ll admit that part of the backstory of Communion of Dreams is because I think that the world really would be better off with about 2/3 of the population gone, as traumatic and painful as that might be. No, I am not advocating it – I can just see the benefit of some pandemic flu or plague, in terms of the carrying capacity of the planet.

And of course I see plenty of ways in which we’re well on the road to having this happen, as I write about here upon occasion. Take your pick: war, terrorism, global warming, disease, or even just eating ourselves to death. I just came from the store, where I needed to get some frozen raspberries for a habanero jelly recipe I want to make. There in my neighborhood supermarket were 120 feet of freezers carrying various ice creams and other dessert treats. One aisle over was 60 feet of frozen pizzas. I looked and looked for frozen fruits, and found one narrow little rack, about half the width of one 10′ wide freezer unit, containing a small selection of fruits. Think there’s something wrong there?


OK, I am a little grumpy. I’m in a cycle of migraines, it seems, having had two in the last week. Still living with the echoes of the one yesterday. But still, sometimes I feel very pessimistic about our future . . . and take a certain perverse pleasure in it.

Well, this is the 200th post. Woo-hoo. I’ll be a little more upbeat later.

Jim Downey

DM of the Rings
October 29, 2007, 10:31 am
Filed under: Comics, General Musings, MetaFilter, movies, OOTS, Peter Jackson, Shamus Young, Tolkien, Twenty Sided

I have what can charitably be called an offbeat sense of humor. Most of my family just think that it is strange. Even some of my friends shake their heads. My wife of twenty years occasionally just nods and says, “That’s nice, dear.”

So, in that spirit, consider yourself well warned. But I came across something via MeFi yesterday that had me in stitches: Shamus Young’sThe DM of the Rings.” As he says in the intro to this unusual comic strip:

Lord of the Rings is more or less the foundation of modern D&D. The latter rose from the former, although the two are now so estranged that to reunite them would be an act of savage madness. Imagine a gaggle of modern hack-n-slash roleplayers who had somehow never been exposed to the original Tolkien mythos, and then imagine taking those players and trying to introduce them to Tolkien via a D&D campaign.

And then he goes on to do just that – run through the entire Peter Jackson movie adaptations of the Lord of the Rings books as though it was some Dungeon Master’s D & D game. Brilliantly using screen captures to illustrate the strip (in 155 episodes), he shows how this would play out.

It’s friggin’ hilarious.

I was never much of a hardcore gamer, just did enough in college and a bit after to be familiar with it, understand the humor behind a strip like OOTS. But I’ve long been a huge fan of Tolkien (even though I am not that much into the fantasy genre generally – odd). To see what Young does in juxtaposing the two shows just how absurd each really is in its own right.

So, check it out. But whether you spend the next several hours going through the storyline, or just scratch your head and wonder about me, don’t say you weren’t given fair warning.

Jim Downey

Opinions, Part II – Revenge of the HTML
October 26, 2007, 8:38 pm
Filed under: Feedback

OK, thanks to the efforts of my good lady wife (and a small annual contribution from my bank account), we’ve been able to make some of the major changes I wanted as a follow-up to this post. There’s still a bit of a glitch with the templates on marking up the ‘name’ of the blog in the header to say “home” or some such, but with the new font and layout I think that it is more obvious.

Consider this the ‘gamma’ version – in other words, things may yet be tweaked a bit, but it’s getting closer to what I want. If you have additional thoughts on the look, let me know either in comments to this post or via email.


Jim Downey

I am not a saint.
October 26, 2007, 11:56 am
Filed under: Alzheimer's, Failure, Health, Hospice

I just lost my temper. I just had a full-fledged screaming fit, eyes bulging, veins throbbing, face beet red. At a 90 year old woman who knows no better, who is confused by the world around her due to Alzheimer’s, who is likely dying.

Why did I just do this reprehensible thing, and why on earth am I admitting to it in a public forum?

The first part of that question is the more difficult one to answer. I did it out of frustration, exhaustion, and fear. Frustration because she (my MIL) has been exhibiting compulsive behaviours all morning which drive me nuts (tearing things out of magazines, wanting to write on the back of photos in the little album she has, ‘cleaning’ up some lunch mess with a kleenex and in the process smearing stuff all over the table top and making more work for me.) This sort of thing rapidly gets under my skin – it’s like some small kid pestering you with a behaviour that they know will drive you nuts. Except, of course, that in this case she doesn’t really know what the hell she is doing.

Exhaustion is obvious. Though I have been getting a lot more sleep, this is the end of years of being a care-giver. I do not have ‘reserves’ to draw upon. I only have a worn and fragile veneer of sanity. I have had the discussions with her which tripped my outburst hundreds of times. Sometimes, like this one, I just snap.

Fear? Because she is dying. Because in some sense, while I know that we have done everything humanly possible to care for her, and extended her life by years . . . I will still feel a sense of failure as a care provider. I hate to fail at things. I fear that others will think less of me because of that failure.

So, why tell on myself, here, in this way? Because this is part of what it means to be a care provider. You lose your temper. You scream, you shout, you act in mean and petty ways. You will lose your temper, or your sanity, now and again. And if you are to be effective as a care giver, you then have to catch your breath, forgive yourself, and get on with the task at hand. None of us are saints. We’re all frail, fallible human beings. You have to accept that, if you have any hope of getting through this. Because you can’t just take the day off to go relax, or turn this project over to someone else. You have to deal with your own outburst, then get over it as best you can. You have to keep going, whether you want to or not, whether you feel fear, or exhaustion, or shame.

Jim Downey

(Cross posted to UTI.)

Take everything you think you know…
October 25, 2007, 10:35 am
Filed under: Alzheimer's, Health, Hospice, Sleep

…about care-giving and throw it out the window.

At least that is somewhat what it feels like as we’re entering what is likely the final weeks of my MIL’s life. The routines we’d established previously (Alzheimer’s patients typically like routines – it helps keep their world a little more ordered, a little more secure and predictable in amongst all the other changes they are experiencing) are starting to break down. My MIL is becoming somewhat less predictable, her sleep/awake cycles disrupted, et cetera. What were simple things she could do for herself now require greater supervision and instruction. She tires more easily, and the “sundowning” effect I’d mentioned previously tends to occur earlier in the day.

And there are the medical indicators, as well. Lisa, the hospice nurse, was here this morning for her weekly check-up. Following that, we chatted for a bit outside. As I wrote a week ago, she also sees the signs of end of life approaching. Drop in blood pressure. Decreased heart rate. Congestion in her lungs. It probably won’t be long, and Lisa wanted to make sure we have what is necessary to keep my MIL comfortable through it.

She also told us that we’re doing a marvelous job in providing care. Bittersweet, but as I said back when we started this round of hospice, good to hear.

Anyway, as we enter into these final weeks, the routines to which we’ve all become accustomed are starting to dissolve. To use a musical analogy, we’re shifting from playing well-known and rehearsed classical pieces to playing something which requires more improvisation – it’s not ‘free jazz‘ yet, but that’s where we’re likely headed. As the end grows closer, we’ll likely need to discard the sheet music altogether. This will be difficult, but will likely only last for a limited amount of time. I’m comfortable with predictable routine, and largely prefer to have some order to my life, but know full well that I am capable of dealing with uncertainty for at least a while.

At least that’s been my experience so far. I guess we’ll see how it goes this time.

Jim Downey

October 23, 2007, 8:50 pm
Filed under: Feedback

Ok, you’ve probably noticed the design changes here.  I was wanting to have the “Categories” and other nav stuff off to the side, and my good lady wife figured out a way to make it so.  If you have an opinion on the result, let us know – right now this is a ‘beta’ version, still somewhat subject to change.

Also, got another bit of feedback from “elicivilunrest” on the About page (which seems to be a popular place for a lot of folks).   See how easy it is to get a link back to your site?

Jim Downey