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Avia S-199 in Israeli Air Force Service

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Genius steals

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Food heroin

Some arch-villain in my family brought this home.

penotti

There are a few different brands of speculoos spread on the market. Go ahead. Try some.

If Costco set up a tasting booth for this, they would sell this by the barrel. The first hit is free.

“Speculoos” is Belgian. I’ve know the Dutch equivalent, speculaas, because my Dutch grandfather used to buy the cookies for us and my dad used to snarf them.

Seriously, this spread is dangerous. It will strip you of any shreds of civilization and make you claw the jar with your fingers. Child 1 couldn’t find bread so used old hot-dog buns on which to spread this. I scrape icing off cupcakes and replace it with this spread.

I’ve been slowly and steadily losing weight for a year and a half. I have a few setbacks: when my mother comes to town, when I visit friends in Oregon and have little to do but eat, and when this infernal, tasty cookie spread entered my home.

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Winter photos

Since my finger has sort of healed (it’s still a bit sensitive), I have lived an uneventful life, and that includes a week in Oregon.

Here are the salient points of my life in photos since December 1.

This is my finger after the stitches were removed.

This is my finger after the stitches were removed.


The removal of the stitches was the most painful part of the whole ordeal. I assume the physician did not use dissolving stitches because he wanted the cut sealed for ten days.

Two days later, I learned not to take photos against a green background.

Two days later, I learned not to take photos against a green background.

The saddest pillow in the land.

The saddest pillow in the land.

The saddest Rummikub opening in the land. Fourteen rounds in and I still couldn't open.

The saddest Rummikub opening in the land. Fourteen rounds in and I still couldn’t open.

This morning, Laurence was too lazy to keep her tongue in her mouth.

This morning, Laurence was too lazy to keep her tongue in her mouth.

That was a lot of blood!

If you’re squeamish, do not scroll down or read further.

The Bantam A team I’m helping out this season had a full-ice practice last night but only one goalie, so I threw on my pads and took a net.

Aside from the incredibly tiring effort that it takes to face shot after shot after shot (repeat 150 times), it went well. I was too tired to drag my gigantic goalie bag into the house when I got home so I left it for this morning.

This morning, around 9;45, as I was hauling my bag over the raised threshold of our front door, the plastic handle of the bag snapped. One sharp edge sliced a joint of my poor left forefinger. I dripped a considerable amount of blood into the sink while Elvi bandaged my finger with gauze and tape. That seemed to stop the bleeding, so we went to to brunch with my mom, who’s visiting this week.

We got home before noon and I decided to check out the wound. Upon removing the tape and gauze, my finger started pouring blood again. I got Elvi to patch it back up and off to the emergency room I went.

In triage, the nurse wanted to look at the cut. I told her to bring over a garbage can because I was going to bleed all over her office otherwise. Good thing she listened to me.

A doctor finally saw me around 4:45. He took the triage nurse’s bandage off and, yes, blood started pouring out of my finger again. There was no way he could see inside the wound to check for damage or sew it up without stopping the flow of blood. The first thing he tried was to put my hand in a rubber glove and roll back the glove finger of my wounded finger so that the tight roll would form a sort of tourniquet. As you can see below, that didn’t work.

blood

What did work, finally, was using a strip of the rubber band normally used on the bicep for IVs. I would have a pic of that, but my phone ran out of battery. In all, I lost about half a cup of blood. That pool of blood in my palm inside the glove clotted into a cool jelly-like mass.

I have no tendon or nerve damage, but I do have four new stitches. I did almost throw up, but only after the doctor had finished all the sewing. There’s been surprisingly little pain after the original slice.

Bonus pic:
stitches

101 things about 101 Squadron

1. A few weeks ago, I spoke with my co-author Alex Yofe. He’s working on books on the P-51 Mustang and Mosquito in the Israeli Air Force and hope to have them out by the end of the year.

After that, we are going to – drumroll, please – work on a second edition of the S-199 book. He has some new material that we will incorporate.

10. I hope to convince him to put out our book, and possibly some of his other work, in an e-book format. He said we should look at that after the second edition comes out in paper. I’m skeptical. He’s sensitive to people stealing his artwork.

AlbertWolfe11. I think I have tracked down one of the “lost” pilots of 101 Squadron. No one has been able to pinpoint who Al Wolfe was. He didn’t stay long with 101 Squadron, and maybe he didn’t spend much time in Israel. His name appears on one or two of the squadron’s mission debriefs. That’s all anybody has ever figured out.

But, to quote from the Facebook page of the 359th Fighter Group: “Capt. Albert E. Wolfe of Nanticoke, Penn., flew with the 370th Fighter Squadron, 359th Fighter Group, from August 1944 through May 1, 1945, when he ended his tour of duty.”

That’s him to the left. He flew P-51D CS-H 44-14979.

100. After years of rumours, Spielberg has finally produced a film on 101 Squadron – but it’s Nancy Spielberg. Her documentary, “Above and Beyond“, is making its premier this week or two ago and is making the rounds of film festivals this summer. Click the link for a trailer.

Nice job, Nancy. I wish you would have taken me up on my offer to help. Alex is also a bit perplexed about not being contacted.

101. There are no flying S-199s and even if one could fly I doubt anyone would try. Spielberg rented a Hispano Buchon from the Imperial War Museum at Duxford and filmed there, as you can see from these production stills. As the page states, “After scouring the globe for a flying Avia, we came up empty handed. An almost identical cousin is the Bouchon which, as you can see below, we painted with period IAF markings.”

If they painted the freaking thing, WHY DIDN’T THEY DO IT ACCURATELY? It’s not hard to find out what the Avia S-199’s looked like. The one at the Israeli Air Force Museum is painted more or less properly – and the documentary uses it as background. You can see it in the trailer.

I just don’t understand. If you’re going to be allowed to paint somebody else’s airplane, why not do it the way you want?

Even better, why use a real airplane at all? From further down on the page comes this gem: “Thanks to an incredibly generous in-kind donation of services from George Lucas’ special effects company, Industrial Light and Magic, we will be combining our live footage with computer generated imagery of flying planes.”

Why not do it all in CG and use a mock-up on the ground? This photo drives me nuts:
Buchonx4-CGI

That’s four Buchons with Israeli markings. It could have been four Avias…. Nancy, Nancy, Nancy, renting that Buchon was a waste of money.

I am also a moron

Last Friday, my physiotherapist told me I could get up to half-speed 50-metre sprints as I work my hamstring back into shape.

I figured that I could run to first at half speed while hitting in softball. I was good for two at-bats.

On the third, I hit a grounder to second with a runner on first. My instincts kicked in to avoid a double play. I was safe at first, but about ten feet from the bag, I felt the telltale pop.

I had some velcro straps in my bag so I wrapped my thigh with those. The drive home was uncomfortable as my bad leg had to work the clutch.

I could’t find my compression bandage anywhere at home and the velcro was starting to cut off my circulation so I went to bed unwrapped. It just wasn’t anywhere I would have put it for future use.

This morning, I remembered that I had stored it in my trunk in case I would re-injure my leg during ball. Elvi says I am too smart for my own good.

Back to square one with the leg….

Tears

I had an inexplicably weird evening/night Saturday.

Elvi, Child 1, and I went to see “The Lego Movie” out our local second-run dollar theatre (really $2.50).

It was amazing. Really. I think it’s one of the best movies I’ve seen in the last, oh, 10 years or so. It is a deep story, profound yet funny around the edges. It could just be me.

The movie touched me. I’m not exactly sure why. I was in the dark next to my daughter with tears runinng down my face.

So I’m tearing up in the theatre and I’m not sure why this movie is having such an effect on me.

I’m not really a crier. It’s unusual.

We’re in the minivan on the way home and I’m really sad.

And I think of something to make me happy and I think of people I enjoy talking to (Yes, they exist.)

And I think of the dumb luck that throws people together. Dumb, stupid luck.

And then my terrible brain starts to think that the same agent of stupid, dumb luck could cleave friendships just as easily and it depresses me. I go from sad to depressed.

That’s what my brain does to me sometimes. It can be a lot more pessimistic than I am.

We get home and the plan is to make pizza for supper. Elvi asks me to make my pizza sauce.

I get out the tomato sauce, garlic, pepper, and basil (my secret ingredient) and look for the oregano. I find the container. There’s only half a teaspoon left and I need two tablespoons.

At this point, this is feeling like a disaster all out of proportion to what it is, but Elvi tells me that there’s fresh oregano in the garden.

She can tell something isn’t right with me. She gets a handful of fresh oregano and chops it up. I throw it in the sauce, mix it up, and I can’t take anymore.

I go upstairs. I cry for half an hour. It just comes out. I think the last time I cried like this was when Elvi’s father John died 12 years ago.

John died suddenly, of an embolism in his garden. He and Child 3 (two years old at the time) had grown such a special bond in thos etwo years. John and Marjory provided grandparently day care for Children 2 and 3. John was really the only grandfatherly influence Child 3 knew since my father lived in the Bahamas and we saw him only twice a year or so.

My dad had an undetectable stroke in 2009 or 2010. We knew something was wrong when he was in town for Child 2’s bat-mitzvah but his was a slow decline. I saw it, though, and I made the effort to say a special goodbye to him when he left Montreal for the Bahamas. I had a hunch.

Sure enough, he was in the hospital by the end of the July, and his life tapered off until it finally ended with him dying in a vegetative state here in Montreal 17 months later.

But the thing is, I had already said goodbye when he was well. I had the closure. I always felt like it was a merciful end when he finally succumbed. I was the only one in the room when he died at 4 a.m.

So I had the closure and no real grief. He hadn’t been concious for days. He hadn’t been a human being for a year.

I don’t want to ruin the movie for anyone who hasn’t seen it but there’s a father-son theme to it that I think has hit me like a ton of bricks.

I’m finally crying for my dad.

I think. I could just be a maudlin idiot.

I didn’t figure out why until today.

All kinds of recoveries

My hamstring is improving. Elvi and a friend wanted to go dancing Saturday night so I went with them, expecting to sway at best. Once “Bizarre Love Triangle” came on, though, all bets were off.

Gosh, I enjoy New Order. Sorry for the 6:50 break. I had to listen to this:

YouTube Preview Image

Anyway, my leg held up fine under the compression bandage I put on. I wasn’t even sore Sunday.

There hasn’t been any pain at all in my hamstrings and I stopped taking the Naproxen. I have a more or less constant cramp somewhere in my left buttock. Nevertheless, I feel like I could run – but I won’t try that. I will tell my physiotherapist when I see her Thursday that I can definitely expand the rehab exercises.

Sorry to bury the lead, but I’m improving mentally, too. Having exhausted nearly all possibilities for why I’ve been so tired for the last few years, I decided to see id it could be the citalopram I was taking.

I’d read about withdrawal symptoms and I was intrigued by one often described as a buzzing in the head that tends to occur on quitting the drug cold turkey.

So I quit cold turkey.

I didn’t have a constant buzzing but I can confirm that that is a good description. For about two weeks, it felt like every once in a while someone would turn up the volume on a static generator inside my head. It wasn’t painful or even irritating. It was just… there. But I wasn’t so tired anymore!

When I told my GP about my experiment, he just shook his head slowly. He’s great. We decided to try Wellbutrin, which he said is a stimulant.

So far, the Wellbutrin is working somewhat. It’s taken the edge off but I’m not as content as I was on the citalopram. I am, however, accomplishing quite a bit more. It’s a trade-off.

Hamstrung

I spend most Thursday nights from May to October playing flag football. Even though I’m old and slower than I used to be, I still have my moments of brilliance.

I was in the midst of one such moment a few nights ago. At the line of scrimmage, I reached back and caught a pass that was off-target behind me. The defender covering me came at me slightly to the outside, so I spun inside and blew by him.

Of course, the middle of the field was crowded and I knew I’d lose a flag there – but not before I turned a loss into a gain of seven to ten yards.

Just as I was flagged, my body started hopping on my right leg. Two hops in, I knew why. I suddenly felt pain in my left thigh. It wasn’t excruciating but I could tell something was wrong and that I was through for the night.

I’d felt the slightest twinge in my left hamstring the week before but it went away. I’d thought it was standard soreness. It returned early in Thursday’s game and I sat out a bit to let it calm before going back in. I should have listened to the warning signs because I tore my hamstring, probably not completely. My though was swollen by the time I drove home, wincing every time I had to press the clutch.

I’m assuming I suffered a hamstring tear with layman’s knowledge. My family doctor was away until Tuesday so I went to a walk-in clinic Friday morning where I was seen by possibly the worst physician I’ve ever met.

She asked me where it hurt and I showed her. She then said there’s nothing to do about muscle injuries, wrote a prescription for the anti-inflammatory Naproxen, and sent me away.

I was stunned. She didn’t even do a physical exam. I was too stunned to ask her to have a closer look or to write me a prescription for physiotherapy, which can help the muscle to heal properly with minimal scar tissue.

I’m sort of following the RICE paradigm of rest, ice, compression, and elevation. I don’t do the ice. I”m not good at resting, either. I hobbled with a cane to Elvi’s Choeur Maha concert last night.

Today there’s no pain unless I try to use the leg for more than walking – but I can walk. I can even go down stairs, albeit like a three-year-old who uses both feet on every step. I can even bend my leg, as long as I don’t try to push off with it. It’s mostly weakness now.

I guess I may have to go see my doctor on Tuesday to get a prescription for physiotherapy if our private insurance covers it if prescribed. That we’ll find out Monday.

Stupid body.

Bonus economy tip:

It’s cheaper to find a used printer on Kijiji or Craigslist than it is to replace the printhead in your old one, even considering the lost cost of the ink you already have going to waste.

Nice headlights

I noted, when I bought my Mazda 3 in early 2011, that the dealership installed xenon headlights for me for an extra $220.

I’ve had trouble with the headlights nearly ever since. They would flicker off and on randomly. I brought it back to the dealer, Mazda de Laval, three months after I received the car and well within the headlights’ one-year warranty but the service department couldn’t find anything wrong.

I took the car out to Laval twice to get this looked at. I also took the car to Mazda Gabriel, which is much closer to my house, and they couldn’t find anything wrong either.

Last summer, the left headlight bulb burned out, which is odd for two-year-old bulb that is supposed to last 2,000 or so hours. The car only had 30,000 kilometres on it. After replacing the bulb myself, the left headlight stopped having problems. Around that time, the right headlight stopped flickering, but would either come on or not come on when I started the car at night.

This past March, the right side stopped its binary behaviour and decided to remain off always. Aha, I thought, this will make the problem easier to diagnose.

The first thing I tried was to switch the bulbs from left to right and vice versa to make sure both bulbs worked. They did.

So I wrote to Mazda de Laval:

Obviously, there is a problem with the wiring or the electrical system, and it has been there since the car’s first year due to either faulty parts or faulty installation. Because the problem was reported within the warranty period but not found or fixed despite my complaint, I feel that your service department should finally find and fix this issue at no charge to us. It should be easier to find now that the headlight is not working at all.

The dealership refused, but did offer me 15% off parts and labour, plus use of a courtesy car.

That was still a better deal than I could get anywhere else, so I drove to Laval and left with a Mazda 2.

Nothing will make you appreciate a decent car more than the hamsters that power the Mazda 2.

I had signed off on a minimum $55 charge for labour for a diagnosis. That’s a half-hour of work, but I would get 15% off.

It took the mechanics 1.5 hours to find the problem, they told me on the phone a day later. I guess I wasn’t a priority, but I didn’t mind because I had the Mazda 2 to putt-putt where I needed to go. The problem was that the ballast was faulty.

The ballast is an electrical regulator that makes sure the xenon lights receive the appropriate electrical stimuli (no, I did not major in electrical engineering). Replacing the ballast is beyond my modest capabilities.

It pissed me off that this same service department installed a faulty ballast in my car in the first place. It pissed me off even more when the mechanic told me it would cost $220 to fix (after my 15% off). That was what I paid for the lights in the first place. At least that included installation, but it did not include the $150 or so I would have to pay for the diagnostic work.

After I expressed my somewhat obscene opinion to the mechanic, he sympathetically asked a manager if they could waive the cost of the diagnostic. What do you know? They did.

So I paid $220 to fix the faulty parts that the dealership installed in the first place and couldn’t diagnose until my warranty had run out. It’s not all bad. I do appreciate the 15% off, the courtesy car, and the waiving of the cost of diagnosis, but still….

Bonus loss:

I’ve lost 12 pounds in the last year by keeping a food and exercise diary app and sticking to its advice. I’m a svelte 165. I could still lose another 20 pounds but to do that I have to stop eating Frosted Flakes while I write a blog post.

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