Logan 8.5/10

[Spoiler Alert]

Of all the comic based movies I’ve got to say the people who make X-Men are the most grounded and downright courageous of them all. To come out with this movie you have had to outright declare war on commercialism and *gasp* go for pure story, pure realism. Grit and truth.

The movie discusses the utter uselessness of the hero persona, and that war per se or the constant use of battle to resolve dispute is essentially futile, and that eventually the hero ends up anything but heroic. But rather as aged, desperate, weak, regretful, bitter people longing to correct wrongs of the past.

Not that any of that of course, is a surprise. Governments use propaganda to bombard people with the idea of heroes on top of white horses galloping off into the sunset after they complete great missions. But time and time again historians and often those heroes themselves belie the truth – that war and the warrior mystique is shrouded in glamour and fantasy to course fools into fighting wars.

And here we have Wolverine the ultimate X-Men, the greatest and most iconic hero of them all taking the series of movies to its logical, agonizing and tragic end. A task that is not only truthful but worthwhile and reasonable considering the aging of the actors and of course, the fact that another X-Men with characters swooshing around in tights just won’t make sense any more.

However as much as the premise itself is beyond worthy, the story telling is not.

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Thoughts On The Crown

What I learned from The Crown is that essentially, the monarchy, or at least the British one, are a sort of government sanctioned and promoted celebrity family. People seem to love them by default whether they deserve it or not, and so the state uses this as an opportunity to promote among other things, proper behavior, loyalty to country, patriotism and devotion to duty. Something to aspire to. Without which you supposedly would have, especially among the lesser educated, mayhem.

Because they are so popular, people are obsessed with everything they say and do. Movies, books, magazines – a whole industry of publications are dedicated to everything these people eat, wear, their stature, their earthly possessions, who they ‘fancy’, none of which may actually be true yet is absorbed, fabricated and supplemented by people like water in the desert. And because there is such obsession and (unnecessarily deserving) adulation, they use this to promote their standards. Like sobriety, conservatism, restraint, respect for law and government, and all those the government sees befit a British citizen. Continue reading

Sakaling Hindi Makarating – 5/10

So, the things I found wrong with it:

Alessandra de Rossi is good, but she seems too old for the youngish guy in the Marinduque scenes, and in addition to that, an absolute cold blooded B in the way she left him after he and his sister extended so much hospitality to her. Sure we’re supposed to feel empathy towards a woman desperate to resolve the mysterious postcards she’s been getting, but when there was apparently no scene of her giving the guy an explanation or even a goodbye I felt sorry for the him.

About those postcards, it took up to the start of the second act for me to realize those cards were mysterious at all. I thought they were still from her ex but it wasn’t made clear it wasn’t until way into the movie. Which is a pity because the plot was fairly rich. It wouldn’t have taken a sentence or two to establish this, perhaps by declaring this before she went on her trip.

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Passengers 7/10

I love sci – fi of almost any sort, and the premise behind this is exactly the type of sci – fi I grew up with. What if on a 90 year journey to a new world you are awoken sometime in the middle and now face the prospect of having to live the rest of your life in an empty albeit luxurious ship. Surrounded by comfort and extravagance you will no doubt still feel lonely, so how do you deal with that?

In a way its a little like Omega Man, the film I am Legend was based on, both relying on the ‘last man on earth’ plot where we investigate what a man left alone will do. The common denominator being the inevitable feelings of despair and loneliness, providing the catalyst to which all action he will do from thereon is justified against.

And that’s the problem with this movie, because the protagonists’ action was unacceptable. He awakens another passenger because he is supposedly infatuated with her based on videos about her – which make you roll your eyes because of course you’ll want to wake someone who looks like that regardless. The action of waking her up and being made to believe it’s because he likes her persona reminds me of the old joke about watching porn because of the story. It strains the suspension of disbelief necessary in all sci – fi.

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La La Land 10/10

It’s personally very gratifying to finally see an original musical in movie form again after quite an incredible amount of time in between. I can’t even remember the last one I’ve seen as a matter of fact, and it’s a testament to the balls of its producers – who to my mind are part of ‘the dreamers’ the movie sings about.

  • Why it shouldn’t have gotten approved – I would think that a romantic musical of any sort would be hard to get a go ahead from a studio for two reasons: 1.) You can gather from media and a general negative air around the world that audiences are literal – or the types who would not appreciate or understand the idea of spontaneous choreographed dancing to music coming from nowhere. And 2.), The only worthwhile romantic movie idea would have to be the Nicholas Sparks types, because people like the idea of a macho loner guy building a yacht or an antique house by hand and doing heroic selfless acts all while secretly yearning for a spunky female lead.

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Rogue One – 8.75 / 10

I am torn between giving in a ten, which I initially wanted to do directly after the movie, and a lower score. A ten because, as a Star Wars fan, this resolves twenty year old questions and even cheekily solves an old joke about how easy it is to destroy the Death Star.

The joy of rectifying issues and at the same time visiting familiar characters such as Gen. Tarkin and Mon Mothma are mined deep and hard here, likely resulting in explosions of geek happiness to millions of ‘Wars nerds. Even passive ones like myself are thoroughly entertained.

However as a standalone movie without the benefit of watching any of the others, I doubt if I would have enjoyed it as much. Continue reading

So We Finally Have A Date

For the surgery, and it’s October 20, at Paranaque Doctor’s Hospital, which despite horrific reviews on Google is my Doctor’s choice because they have more experienced nurses and a more modern x ray machine than at Unihealth where I was confined two weeks ago and which we prefer because it’s brand new and is only 3 kms. away from where we live. To clarify, my Doctor is also going to be my Orthopedic surgeon as well. When I asked him how many he’s done, he says he’s unsure because he’s done it so often already.

Some bad / good news though. Starting with the ‘bad’, I am having ‘Single level laminectomy discectomy with spinal fusion using pedicle screws l4 l5‘, and not microdiscectomy, which I mistakenly announced earlier. Basically it means screws will be put in place along two vertebrae in my spine, negating the need for my L4 – L5. These screws approximately look like this (not sure at all if its EXACTLY like that, but roughly I suppose)

4 pedicle screws

Here’s another image, again I’m not completely sure it’s accurate, but I’m basing it on what my doctor told me, got it from here.

back surgery

and here’s yet another.

back surgery

Costs are 3x to 4x more than the earlier surgery we had thought it would be, so it’s in the area of nearly p400k. A lot of it is possibly (not completely sure yet) being covered by my health card and Philhealth, but you can’t be too prepared, especially for incidentals as there is going to be a 5 – 7 day hospital stay to recuperate as well.

I can’t say enough for having a health card. Whatever initial worry you may have about costs will quickly go away when the time comes you need something done, from simple dental procedure to spinal surgery. People need to shop around for health cards if they haven’t already.

I’ve been googling pedicle screws for a while now and I am reminded of how my surgeon was careful to tell me how he needs to let us know when an agent of the surgical equipment is going to come once payment is due. Apparently there are many incidents of people claiming to represent these would come to the hospital room to claim payment. As payment is in cash there is a lot of fraud going on and everyone needs to be on their toes, from the doctors to the patients and possibly even hospital staff, who can help confirm if its them or not. Why does it need to be in cash though? If there’s a way around that (and there are many) I’m sure you can easily beat the fraudsters.

The equipment is apparently ultra expensive and comes in a toolbox, and it looks like this.

pedicle screws

That’s it for now. Between now and the 20th I just need to keep busy trying to make some money, read and learn new stuff.

So for the ‘good’ part, I’m super excited to get well as my surgeon is enthusiastic about me being active again once all the pain is gone.

One final and deeply important thing. I cannot say how much I am beyond grateful and indebted to my long suffering wife, who has not decided on separation despite my having pulled both of us into debt so I may go through this, this selfish and self serving thing. For all the world I cannot understand what possible gain she gets from having to stand by and support someone who needs so much attention and care. Needless to say I will never forget how much you are doing for me. I love you so much.

My MRI Report

So here’s the MRI report from Makati Med. Thankfully they were open on Sunday as we would never have had the time or even ability to go pick it up on a weekday. Just one of the many hurdles I want to write about that would point out perfectly avoidable issues if there was a non – paper electronic document system that could save and share these files over the ‘net. But anyway here it is:

General observations:

  1. Lordosis: Straightened.
  2. Alignment: Normal.

Vertebral observations

  1. Vertebral marrow: Normal.
  2. Posterior neural arch integrity: Intact.
  3. Cortical definition: Normal.
  4. Endplate definition: Modic II (fatty) changes are seen along the apposing surfaces of L5-S1.

Interspace observations

  1. Disc height/hydration: Decreased hydration signals are noted at L3-L4, L4-L5 and L5-S1 disc spaces.
  2. T12-L down to L2-L3: Normal discs.
  3. L3-L4: Mild disc bulge with central posterior annular tear.
  4. L4-L5: Disc bulge with superimposed right paracentral disc extrusion, effacing the right lateral recess and compressing the right descending L5 nerve roots. In combination with ligamentum flavum and bilateral facet joint hypertrophy, resulting to mild spinal canal, and mild bilateral neural foraminal stenosis. Small left paracentral annular tear is also seen.
  5. L5-S1: Mild disc bulge.

Spinal cord:

  • Conus medullaris: Ends normally at T12-L1.
  • Caudal roots: No abnormal signals.

Others:
There are several cortical and exophytic T2W hyperintensities in the visualized bilateral kidneys. The largest is in the right and measures 2.8 x 2.2 cm (APxW).
Non-specific, minimal bilateral perinephric fluid.

IMPRESSION:

  1. Straightened lumbar curvature.
  2. Lumbar spondylosis and degenerative disc disease.
  3. Mild disc bulge with central posterior annular tear at L3-L4.
  4. Disc bulge with superimposed right paracentral disc extrusion at L4-L5, effacing the right lateral recess and compressing the right descending L5 nerve roots. In combination with ligamentum flavum and bilateral facet joint hypertrophy, resulting to mild spinal canal, and mild bilateral neural foraminal stenosis. Small left paracentral annular tear also seen.
  5. Mild disc bulge at L5-S1.
  6. Probable bilateral renal cysts. Non-specific, minimal bilateral perinephric fluid.

So I managed to open the accompanying CD with the app that manages the images the MRI generated. My own Orthopedist was emailed a copy of this when I was confined in the hospital and showed me the properly annotated version of this report complete with colored areas where they found anomalies. The images below are ‘raw’ images meaning they don’t have any notes from any specialist whatsoever.

So here’s my spine (say Hi!!)

a

And here’s a zoomed in image of the L4 – L5 area where there’s a noticeable bulge.

herniated disc

Here’s another view:

herniated disc

The app comes with 4 sections, I only chose the first one on the upper left. I DON’T KNOW HOW TO INTERPRET ANY OF THEM. I AM NOT A DOCTOR SO IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING THE SAME THING AND HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ASK YOUR DOCTOR FIRST. 

herniated disc

There’s also a part that says ‘Probable bilateral renal cysts’, which my nephrologist had already pointed out previously. He told me these are perfectly normal for people my age and is nothing to worry about. In the light of the fact I may be facing possible kidney disease however, he would have wanted me to take a kidney biopsy. But the fact I had these cysts is keeping him from recommending it because a biopsy may hit a cyst and things could get unnecessarily worse from there. So he’s happy with using other tests instead.

But anyway, the issue here is my back. I am going to give my Orthopedist a copy of this because he’s asking for it, but to date he hasn’t given me a possible date for the surgery yet.

Update – My Ortho Cannot Commit A Date For The Surgery Within The Month

So I finally have the certifications from my nephrologist and cardiologist, the two certifications my Orthopedist requires before I proceed with the surgery. I texted his secretary to tell him about it, and she did, but it took a day and two other follow up texts for her to tell me some bad news, which is that her boss’ schedule is filled up and she can’t even promise a date within October.

This is a bummer because I had been looking forward to this so I can essentially get on with stuff I’ve wanted to do, such as a pending project.

The good news however is that the pain has subsided quite a bit and I am thankfully mobile enough to go ahead with the project anyway. As long as I take the pain meds it’s fairly manageable, and even short drives are okay. Driving longer than an hour would start hurting though, and in today’s traffic an hour to get anywhere is normal.

So that’s where I’m at for the moment. Just this minute the secretary texted again to ask me to send copies of the original MRI and certifications to their office, which although is only 15 minutes away without traffic, is in reality a 45 to 60 minute drive away, then having to look for parking, then hobble with my limp up the building just to give these pieces of paper to him.

I’ve been planning on a long – ish post about how IT can improve this situation, and I’m going to write it soon.

Finally, the cardiologist also recommended more medicine called Rosuvastatin Fenofibrate (10mg / 160mg), 1x a day for three months. It is supposed to help lower bad cholesterol and increase good.

A side effect however is dizziness, and this is extremely evident in the mornings. I usually wake up at 6:30, and now I have to drag myself out of bed at 8am. A fire could be raging beside the bed and it wouldn’t wake me up. I’m fortunate that we’ve invested in a new nice foam bed which has allowed me to sleep as long, because even if I stay in one position I don’t seem to feel any aches and pains like I usually do with our old mattress. Also, once the dizziness is gone I feel much better after having slept so well and so long, so all is not lost.

That’s it for now. Till the next.