10/20/18

Grand Deluges – A Pedantic Wet Dream

A Book by Joe Peters

Proudly and humbly announcing my new book, Grand Deluges – A Pedantic Wet Dream

From a 32 page essay I wrote years ago and kept going back to, I fell down the rabbit hole it became and after a couple of years of writing at night and painting houses during the day, Grand Deluges appeared. Feedback so far has been very good, from “unique writing style and pace” to “very relative to today considering it’s like an encyclopedia written as a story” to “refreshing, rational and at times even funny”, and a “very interesting non-linear read”.

A dense tale told in fragments, covering a plethora of topics branching out from the inception of the planet Earth, through its geological, environmental and atmospheric changes, to the beginning of life forms, and the development of the human species, in body and mind. With forks in the road, covering such things as science, myth, spirituality, hunters and gatherers, the birth of agriculture, religions, civilizations, empires and our social worlds, and societies. And signposts along the way touching on everything from climate disruption and the actions of nature, whether human or otherwise, the degradation of forests, land, the sea and air, to pluralistic ignorance, cognitive dissonance, facts, myths and theories, education, politics, capitalism, socialism, monetary systems, and to be or not to be human.

Hope you enjoy the read.

484 Pages / 23 Pages Bibliography, Research & References

Proof-Reader/ Co-Editor: Janet James

Cover Design: Peter Scott

Author/Publisher/Editing /Formatting: Joseph Peters

Printed by Bruce A. Cadorette / Advantage Graphix Inc

Vancouver BC, Canada, August, 2018.

 

For ordering information –Go here

08/16/18

The Life and Times of James Bond

Image result for images of james bond logo

One of the most iconic, cool, competent, cocky but confident, fashionable, and well mannered, truly psychopathic and ultimate protagonist characters has to be James Bond. Created by Ian Lancaster Fleming (1908-1964), English author, journalist, and naval intelligence officer, Bond appeared for the first time in the novel Casino Royale, published in 1953. Until his passing in 1964, Fleming would write another twelve novels and two short story collections about the spy James Bond, with his wartime service and his career as a journalist providing much of the background, detail, and depth of the James Bond novels.

The Bond character was further developed by the over two decades now perseverance of the Broccoli family of American film producer Albert R Broccoli, and dozens of writers and screen writers. The first Bond film Dr. No was released in 1962, when I was four years old and I’ve been hooked ever since. I have read all of Fleming’s books and some of the books that have been written since his passing, by new authors that are carrying on the Bond folklore. President John F. Kennedy was also a James Bond fan, and watched a preview screening of From Russia with Love at the White House on November 21st, 1963. He was killed the next day in Dallas.

The following is based on the combined facts of Bond, in literature and filmdom, with a “wee bit of artistic wherewithal”, said of course in a Scottish accent, with beer foam dripping from my moustache. Chronologically, I try to follow Ian Fleming’s books as they were written, but also for continuity, use some of the release dates of Bond films including those not associated with Fleming/Broccoli, and to a very small extent, the books written by various authors of the “young” Bond. I’m sure loyal James Bond aficionados, may take issue with the continuity of this story, but the recent Daniel Craig as Bond series of films throws a wrench into things by rebooting to the beginnings and Bond’s first missions. While Fleming’s introduction of Bond was Casino Royale, in film Bond was introduced in Dr No, Fleming’s sixth Bond novel. As far as M goes, M was Rear Admiral Bernard Lee for the first eleven missions. After his death, Robert Brown took over for four, and then M Judi Dench was brought on for Bond’s next four missions, and then was transported back in time for Bond’s last four films, which chronicle his first few years with MI6. There are also too many Alex Leiter’s, Moneypennys and Blofelds.

Then there is the dilemma that there has been numerous individuals who have played Bond, but then this issue can be dealt with sensibly, by suggesting that since Bond would be recognized fairly quickly, as he was well known to the underworld and most all intelligence and secret service organizations, so to further the secrecy and stealth needed to carry on such heroic and often insane actions as he does, and have to infiltrate their organizations, every so often Bond gets a face replacement. In this scenario Bond has had seven face transplants and still looks good. Rumour has it that in a few years from now, Bond will be undergoing not only another face transplant but a skin transplant as well, for a mission, which as of yet remains undisclosed. The story to follow is not sensible so there are no face alterations, rationally on the other hand, Bond probably looked like Daniel Craig at the start of his MI6 career but as he aged he started looking more like Sean Connery.

All of these things make it difficult and confusing to get some sort of continuity in Bond’s career timeline, but I have simply done the best I could and tried to stay with what makes sense, and lean towards Fleming’s novels as to storyline and details. And mean him no disrespect whatsoever of his original brilliance.

 

Beginnings

 

James Bond was born in Germany to a Scottish father, Andrew Bond of Glencoe, Scotland, and Swiss mother, Monique Delacroix, and spent much of his first ten years abroad, as his father was a Vickers armaments company representative. The Bond’s traditional family motto is Orbit Non Sufficit, the world is not enough.

Bond became multilingual in German and French at an early age. Sadly his parents were both killed in a mountain climbing accident that orphaned him at age 11. After their deaths, a friend of Andrew Bond, Hans Oberhauser, became Bond’s temporary guardian. Oberhauser had a son, Franz, and though older than Bond, he began to resent the way his father was treating Bond as if he were his only son, and felt he was being ignored. But soon Bond was placed with his full-time guardian, his aunt, Miss Charmian Bond, in the village of Pett Bottom, Kent, England, where he completed his early education. Supposedly on a holiday to Paris when he was sixteen years old, he loses his virginity. Throughout his childhood, he and Miss Charmian would spend time each year at Skyfall, the Bond family estate in the Scottish Highlands.

Bond briefly attended Eton College, but was expelled over an alleged incident with a maid, and eventually graduated from Fettes Collage in Scotland, the same college his father had attended.

At about the same time, on the continent, Franz Oberhauser had already killed his father over the animosity felt towards Bond when they were younger, had staged his own death and adopted the name Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Over the years he would control the underworld, with his tentacles reaching into state intelligence organizations, trade unions and criminal cartels. Eventually he would create Spectre (Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism Revenge and Extortion) , Smersh, and Quantum, and come up with all sorts of schemes to take over the world, and most importantly, to never give up on one day killing Bond.

After graduating from college, Bond enlisted in the British Navy as a commando, and participated in an unknown number of clandestine foreign military engagements, eventually becoming a Royal Naval Reserve Commander. In his early twenties (some have suggested when he was twenty years old), the 183 cm (6 ft) tall and supposedly still, 76 kg (170 lb) Bond, already an expert boxer, pistol shooter, scuba diver and knife thrower, applied and was accepted to join the British intelligence division of MI6 as an agent. His qualities of strength, action, confidence, and brutal violence if needed, were attractive to them. Much like his raw masculinity, being dangerous, confident, suggestive, calm, polite and smart was attractive to both women and men whom he would meet.

His first control officer in MI6 was Cmdr. Ian Fleming of Naval Intelligence, who would go on and become MI6’s chronicler and historian, and followed Bond’s career in particular, as they quickly bonded, as it were, and stayed lifelong friends. Fleming was supposedly very impressed when Bond showed up for work his first day in MI6, in an immaculate 1964 Aston Martin DB5. Bond still owns the Aston but it now spends its time in a storage locker. Over his career he has driven a plethora of vehicles, including the Aston Martin DB Mark III, a Lincoln Mark VII, various 1930’s Bentleys, a BMW 750iL, Yamaha XJ650 turbo motorcycle, dunebuggys, a double-decker bus, a Russian T-55M5 tank, hovercraft, numerous boats, and has flown gyroplanes, Cessna’s, and a Harrier T4 jet, to list but a few.

The head of the British Secret Intelligence Service at the time (M) was Royal Navy Rear Admiral Judi Dench, who had held the position for the previous ten plus years. As with all other heads of MI6, before her and since, they tend to be serious, efficient, no-nonsense authoritarians. M’s Chief of Staff and overseer of the 00 division was and still is, Bill Tanner, while MI6’s quartermaster (Q), Major Desmond Liewelyn, ran the research and Development Division. The Principal Secretary of the “Double O” division of MI6, and M’s personal secretary was Ms. Loelia Ponsonby. She would soon be replaced with MI6 agent, Mary Goodnight, who would occasionally, continue to assist Bond on assignments. Interestingly, noted neurologist Sir James Moloney, was frequently employed by M and MI6, but then as you will soon find out, one can see why.

Eventually Bond became one of perhaps nine agents to earn the designation double O, meaning they had a license to kill, or the “the authorisation to, at their own discretion, commit acts of assassination and other controversial activities in order to complete their missions, without having to first seek permission from headquarters”. The true number of how many agents are designated double 00 may never be known, but rumour has it there are three double 00 agents left, while some say Bond is the only 00 agent.

When he started, Bond was issued a .25 ACP Berretta 418 handgun, which was smaller than what he had been used to in the military, but found it a weapon that was easy to conceal, especially when using a shoulder holster, and considering Bond’s penchant for well cut tuxedos, and business suits, while wearing loafers.

Bond’s designation was awarded to him after his first assignment, which there are two different versions of. Perhaps, one was a false flag operation to hide something else that went down, with the other closer to the truth, who knows. One story goes that he got it after killing two enemy agents, a Japanese spy on the thirty-sixth floor of the RCA Building at Rockefeller Center (then housing the headquarters of British Security) in New York City, and a Norwegian double agent who had betrayed two British agents. The other story was on a mission that brought him to Prague, he assassinated Dryden, the traitorous MI6 section chief stationed there. He then traveled to Lahore, Pakistan, where he kills Fisher, Dryden’s contact with criminal organizations, after a violent and intense hand to hand fight to the death in a rundown apartment, ended when Bond strangles him. From there Bond tracks down a corrupt Greek official, Alex Dimitrios in the Bahamas, who in a matter of hours, loses his car to Bond in a poker game, Bond sleeps with his wife Solange, and then he gets killed by Bond in a crowded museum.

Regardless of what actually happened, after returning to London, Bond receives his 007 designation but gets read the riot act by M who sternly established her authority. Besides berating him for breaking international law, M also made it known she felt Bond was a “sexist misogynist dinosaur”. But then considering he is maybe twenty-two to twenty-three years old at the time, what can one expect his attitude to be, considering killing in cold blood doesn’t seem to be a problem for him, yet at the same time he’s funny, smart, confident, and with the amount of experience already under his belt at such a young age, would seem to confirm one of Cmdr. Fleming’s favorite sayings “I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them”.

Bond’s first mission “officially” was the Casino Royale operation. With British treasury agent Vesper Lynd, at his side, they were tasked with trying to bankrupt Le Chiffre, a terrorist financier and paymaster for the Russian counter-surveillance agency, Smersh, which also controlled some of Europe’s largest trade unions, and other divisions of Russia’s secret service.

Bond and Vesper attend a game of Texas hold-em poker at the Casino Royale in Montenegro. CIA agent Felix Leiter was also in attendance, and would become one of Bond’s very few friends throughout their careers. Also in attendance, including those actually at the table, were members of various countries’ intelligence and secret service organizations.

After losing the bulk of the money Vesper had brought with them and to stay in the game, Felix and the CIA bankrolled Bond the rest of the way. In the final hand it was all in, $115 million. Le Chiffre topped all the other hands still left at the table except Bond’s, who beats him with a straight flush.

After blowing such millions of dollars that was not his, Le Chiffre became a cornered animal, rare for a Bond villain. Kidnapping Bond and Vesper, Le Chiffre viciously tortures Bond, but a Smersh hit squad led by a Mr. White suddenly breaks in and assassinates Le Chiffre and his henchmen, and since the contract did not include Bond or Vesper, the assassins release them, though not before cutting a Cyrillic “LLI” into the back of Bond’s hand, signifying the Russian word shpion (spy), and Vesper making a private deal with Mr. White, the money Le Chiffre lost in exchange for Bond’s life.

Sharing a suite in a Venetian hotel while they recovered, Vesper would be the first woman Bond fell truly in love. Bond confesses his love to her as does she, and actually resigns from MI6 so that they can have a normal life together. But unbeknownst to Bond, in order to save his life Vesper had agreed to assist in the transfer of the money won at the Casino Royale, into Mr White’s and Smersh’s hands. After catching her in the act and feeling as though he had been played, his heart probably felt ripped out of his chest. They end up in a sinking building in Venice, with Vesper trapped. With all he had Bond valiantly attempted to save her but the building soon sinks underwater, and though Bond still did everything he could, Vesper refused his attempts and allowed herself to drown.

Later Bond discovered a text message left for him by Vesper, with Mr. White’s name and phone number. Bond tracked him down and kidnaps him, but instead of killing him he hands him in to the authorities. Every year since Vesper’s death, Bond still visits her grave in Cornwall England. It has been said that after losing Vesper, Bond would slowly begin to, instead of doing his job because of his principles; he began to use his job more often than not, in pursuing personal battles.

After surgery on the back of his hand to try to erase the inscription carved into it, and months of recovery time, the loss of Vesper lay heavy upon him. Bond eventually took on another minor mission which ended in Nassau, Bahamas. Taking a few days off, he was invited to a dinner party held by the Governor. After the guests all leave, the Governor and Bond retire to his den for a cigar. There Bond created what he would call the Vesper; three measures of Gordon’s Gin, one of Vodka, and half a measure of the wine-based aperitif Kina Lillet, shaken and not stirred, until its ice cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel, and served in a deep champagne goblet. This drink would be his usual, and often. And though Bond also enjoys expensive wine and champagne, especially if any caviar happens to be lying about, he also enjoys the occasional neat whiskey or scotch. It was estimated by fellow agents and the few friends he has, that his weekly alcohol consumption is about five times the recommended amount, yet incredibly his alcohol intake doesn’t seem to affect his performance. As for non-alcoholic drinks he stays away from tea, once blaming it for the downfall of the British Empire, and instead prefers coffee, dark and thick. Coincidently perhaps, from what we will learn of Bond, a Vesper martini has approximately 130 calories, which on average is what men burn during sex.

Bond also became a very heavy smoker, averaging about 60 custom-made cigarettes a day (3 packs). Over time he would cut that vice down to the occasional cigar, and since, has been able to quit cigarettes altogether.

As they sipped and smoked, Bond asked who the boring couple at the party were. The Governor began by telling the story about the relationship between fellow Brits, civil servant Phillip Masters and air hostess Rhoda Llewellyn. After a brief whirlwind romance they married and moved to Bermuda. Early into the marriage Rhoda began a long open affair with the son of a rich Bermudian family. Philip was devastated, his work began to slide, and eventually he suffered a nervous breakdown. Taking the time to recover he traveled a bit, then returned and divided his home into two sections, his and hers. In private they did not acknowledge each other, in public they simply pretended to be a couple. Eventually Phillip divorced her and moves back to the UK, leaving Rhoda with all their debt, and stranded in Bermuda. And though Phillip was successful in his plan of avenging Rhoda, emotionally he never recovered, while Rhoda remarried a rich Canadian. The “boring couple” were Rhoda and her Canadian husband.

The Governor explained the point of the story as being, when you don’t  have a quantum of solace in a relationship, defined as “a precise figure defining the comfort, humanity, and fellow feeling required between two people for love to survive”, it’s time to end it and give it up. As soon as lack of respect for each other rears its ugly head, it’s over, simply walk away. I’m sure, and it has been said, that Bond thought long and hard over that story. Perhaps flying back to London was enough time to think about his and Vesper’s relationship, where their quantum of solace ended with her dying, and he began to focus on seeking revenge for her death.

Returning to London, Bond finds out Mr. White had escaped and there had been an attempt on M’s life. Chomping at the bit he was given a mission that was possibly related to such events.

The assignment was to eliminate wealthy businessman Dominic Greene, who intended to stage a coup d’état in Bolivia to seize control of their water supply, and who was, whether by twist of fate or happenstance, a member of the Quantum criminal organisation. Bond was assisted by Bolivian agent Camille Montes, who was plotting revenge for the murder of her own family. Also helping was MI6 agent Strawberry Fields, who Bond seduced, but unfortunately she was subsequently killed working undercover. The mission would become known as one of Bond’s most violent, as he destroyed Greene’s plans and captured him, then left him in the middle of a desert with nothing but a can of oil. M later told Bond Greene was found with two bullets in his chest and his stomach held a can of oil. Bond simply shrugged and thought, Greene’s boss no doubt.

M asked where his loyalties lay and was he mentally able to continue doing his job, Bond replied he never left. Besides, Bond felt the mission wasn’t yet completed, and on his own time flew to Russia and tracked down Vesper’s former lover Yesef Kabira, who was now involved with Smersh and Quantum, and had been involved in the blackmailing of Vesper, thus, indirectly responsible for her death. But once again, instead of a double tap to the forehead Bond allowed him to live and be arrested.

Another mission around this time took Bond and fellow agent 006, Alec Trevelyan, to infiltrate a Russian chemical weapons facility. There they were attacked and captured. During the struggle 006 was shot and left for dead, while Bond made his escape. In actual fact Trevelyan had faked his own death and would spend the next nine years creating what became known as the Janus crime syndicate. Oblivious to such knowledge, until nine years later, when Bond meets the attractive psychopath and sadist Xenia Onatopp in Monte Carlo, and soon finds out she is a member of Janus. He also finds out she had recently killed a Canadian Admiral by crushing him between her thighs while having sex. Though knowing all this, Bond still seduces her and while undressing for bed, and removing his jacket, Onatopp notices his shoulder holster and tells him that “you won’t need a gun”, Bond replied, “well that depends on your definition of safe sex”. A downright scary individual, she visibly experienced an orgasm whenever she killed someone. But then, at the same time, this mission would be Bond’s most violent operation to-date, where he personally killed 47 individuals.

Bond also finds out that Janus’s leader is none other than the now scarred and disfigured Trevelyan, whose plan was to steal the command codes and hardware to control two electromagnetic pulse weapons (GoldenEyes) mounted on orbiting satellites. During the theft Onatopp excitedly killed every individual in the scientific faculty that built them, except for one lone survivor, Natalya Simonova, a skilled programmer who hid and lived. Simonova ends up with Bond and after becoming lovers, she helps him complete his mission. Onatopp on the other hand ends up fighting Bond, and died crushed against a tree by a crashed helicopter. In the end, Trevelyan asked Bond, “I might as well ask you if all those martinis ever silence the screams of all the men you’ve killed or if you find forgiveness in the arms of all those willing women for all the dead ones you failed to protect”. A mirror of each other, their fight to the death was extremely brutal, until Trevelyan was dropped seventy meters onto a satellite dish.

A few months after the mission where he had taken the air out of the tires of Dominic Greene’s and Quantum’s grandiose plans, Bond found himself in New York City, investigating the deaths of three MI6 agents over a 24 hour period. With friend CIA agent Felix Leiter at his side, they investigated a couple of Harlem nightclubs, but were kidnapped by a Mr. Big (short for Bonaparte Ignace Gallia), a ruthless gangster and drug dealer, who owned a chain of New York, “Filet of Soul” dinner clubs. After some torture, carried out by Mr. Big’s henchman Tee Hee Johnson, who had a pincer for a hand, Bond told their mundane made-up cover story. To determine if Bond was telling the truth Mr. Big brought in the beautiful, Simone “Solitaire” Latrelle, so named because she excluded men from her life. She was a tarot card reader and possessed the power of obeah, a voodoo cult of the West Indies. She was said to be able to see the future and events in the present. She lied to Mr. Big saying Bond was telling the truth, so he and Leiter were released, though not before Tee Hee breaks one of Bond’s fingers.

Leaving Mr. Big, Solitaire was seduced by Bond, and gladly helps him complete the mission, though by doing so she would forever lose her powers. With Solitaire’s assistance, Bond tracked Mr. Big down to the small Caribbean island of San Monique, where he ruled over his people using voodoo and the occult. To his people he was known as Dr. Kananga. His big plan was to distribute, free of charge, two tons of heroin, through his chain of “Filet of Soul” restaurants, thereby increasing demand by creating more addicts. Bond killed Mr, Big, by blowing him up with compressed air, and his remaining henchmen, Mo Thing, Sam Miami, The Flannel, and Blabbermouth Foley, then burned the island’s poppy crop to the ground.

In between missions, and considering his exploits in far off exotic locations, and trysts with beautiful women, when Bond  was back in London, he was actually very routine driven. Bond lived in a flat off King’s Road in Chelsea, and was looked after by an elderly Scottish housekeeper named May Maxwell.

Some people who knew him at the time, thought there was a slowly, seeping “sourness” to him. When in town Bond showed up at his office at MI6 headquarters, at about ten and be gone at about six, Monday to Friday. Most of his evenings were spent at the pub playing cards with a few close friends, with his card game of chance being baccarat and not poker.

To Bond, his increasing alcohol consumption meant “relaxation, ritual and reliability”. Rumour had it that he had had rotating affairs with three similarly disposed married women, each one used strictly as cold passionate release. Then, and for quite awhile, his off and on regular love interest when home was Sylvia Trench, who he had met playing baccarat at a club. She would endear herself to Bond from the time they first met, when she shook his hand and confidently said, “Trench. Sylvia Trench”. Bond would reply in kind, and keep the greeting as his own, which at times would seem odd. Considering that over time, every time he’d be trying to fly under the radar, to be secret, as it were, he would blow his cover by declaring his name out loud upon introduction each time he meets a bad guy, “Bond… James Bond”.

On an even more personal note, when at home, Bond’s favorite foods were grilled sole and baked oeufsen cocotte (eggs and crème fraiche), eggs Benedict, and cold roast beef with potato salad. When on a mission, however, Bond ate far more extravagantly, as it was then on MI6’s credit card.

Bond rarely listened to music, and if he did, only when he was home. Though his housekeeper once admitted his musical tastes run the gamut, from orchestral compositions by John Barry, David Arnold, George Martin and Thomas Newman to the singers Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones, Nancy Sinatra, Dusty Springfield, Louis Armstrong, and Lulu. He seemed to prefer female singers such as Carly Simon, Rita Coolidge, Sheryl Crow, Gladys Knight, Alicia Keys, Sheena Easton, K.D. Lang and Adele, but also enjoyed listening to the Pretenders, Duran Duran, Chris Cornell of Soundgarden and Audioslave, Jack White, Sam Smith, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, and Moby.

Bond’s next assignment began when a hard drive containing the details of undercover agents was stolen by a mercenary, by the name of Patrice. Bond and experienced fellow MI6 agent Eve Moneypenny, track Patrice down to Turkey, where he and Bond get into a fight atop a moving train, with Moneypenny set up as a sniper, but from afar. She was ordered over her headset by M, to take out Patrice. But Moneypenny missed and hit Bond instead, who fell off the train and dropped over 91 meters (300 ft) into a raging river, while Patrice got away. Bond was presumed dead after search attempts found nothing.

Three months later, M’s outspoken nemesis in meetings, Gareth Mallory, the chairman of the British parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee, was pressuring her to retire. Amidst this, MI6’s computer servers were hacked, with M receiving a taunting message, just before MI6 headquarters in downtown London exploded.

With everyone thinking he was dead, Bond had used the presumption to stay off the grid, but when he learned of the attack on MI6 he returned. And though Bond failed a series of physical and psychological examinations by Dr. Moloney, M approved his return to the field. His job, identify Patrice’s employer, recover the stolen hard drive, and kill Patrice. Ordered to MI6 Q’s office, Bond’s Berretta was replaced with a 7.65 mm Walther PPK (the same handgun Hitler used to kill himself). Eventually Bond would be issued what he uses today, the 9 mm Walther P99.

Bond found Patrice in Shanghai and they fought once again, but this time Patrice falls about the same height that Bond fell from the train, unfortunately Patrice does his header off a tall building. Bond ended up in Macau, where he met the lovely Sévérine, an accomplice of Patrice. A former sex slave who worked for a Raoul Silva, she collaborated with Bond to show him where Silva’s base of operations was and to kill him.

While travelling to a small island off the coast on Sévérine’s yacht and becoming lovers, she and Bond were captured and taken to see the man himself, Raoul Silva. Who turns out to be, Tiago Rodriguez, a disgruntled ex-employee, former MI6 agent, now working as a cyber-terrorist, and the one behind the hacking and attack on MI6 headquarters. He also carries a deep resentment of M, because years ago, she had turned him over to the Chinese in order to save six other agents. Silva shot Sévérine in the head while she was tied to a statue, while the bound Bond could only watch. But Bond eventually takes Silva down and he was brought back to London.

At MI6’s new underground headquarters, Q attempted to decrypt Silva’s laptop, but unknowingly gave the laptop access to the MI6 servers, which allowed Silva to escape. During a government inquiry into MI6’s, and M’s in particular, handling of the stolen hard drive, Silva attempted to assassinate M, but Bond arrived in the nick of time, though not before Mallory would be the one to take a bullet, saving M’s life. Bond quickly hustled M into a waiting car and they made their escape. Bond and M travelled to the Bond family estate Skyfall, in the Scottish Highlands, and met up with the estate’s gamekeeper, Kincade. They quickly prepared booby traps around the property and house, expecting Silva to show up, because Q and Bill Tanner had led an electronic trail for him to follow, like breadcrumbs.

A group of Silva’s men slither in but Bond, M and Kincade killed most of them, though M took a bullet but concealed it from Bond. Soon enough Silva showed up himself by helicopter, with more men and heavy weapons. Bond sent M and Kincade off through a tunnel to a chapel on the grounds and fought a delaying action. Soon he had to also escape down the tunnel, but Silva showed up at the chapel first, and held a gun to M’s temple as he pressed his up against hers, pleading with M to kill them both. Finally Bond appears and throws a knife into Silva’s back killing him. Cradling M in his arms she would succumb to her wound and breathe her last breath.

Following M’s funeral, Eve Moneypenny would retire from field work to become secretary for the newly appointed M, Gareth Mallory. And Bond would once again try to hide extreme loss through booze, women, gambling and increasingly, mixing Benzedrine, an amphetamine, into a glass of champagne every now and then.

A few days after M’s funeral Bond would receive a posthumous message from her detailing a terrorist bombing plot going to be pulled off by terrorist leader Marco Sciarra in Mexico City. After foiling the attempted bombing, Bond confronted Sciarra, and before he kicked him out of a helicopter for him to fall to his death, Bond took Sciarra’s ring, which was emblazoned with a stylised octopus. He would soon find out that it is the emblem for a group called Spectre.

When he returned to London, Bond was suspended from field duty by the new M, but Bond disobeyed M’s orders and traveled to Rome to attend Sciarra’s funeral. There he seduced Sciarra’s widow, Lucia, who tells him Marco belonged to an organisation of businessmen with criminal and terrorist connections. Bond used Sciarra’s ring to infiltrate a meeting to select Sciarra’s replacement, where he identified the leader as Franz Oberhauser. The meeting also included talk about putting a hit on someone, who Bond surmised to be Mr. White, and whom Bond knew very well. Bond’s cover was blown at the meeting and he ran for it, followed by the assassin Mr Hinx, who he loses. Bond contacted Ms. Moneypenny to find out who Oberhauser really was, considering he was presumed dead years earlier. Moneypenny in return found out that the previously known Mr. White was a former member of Oberhauser’s organization’s subsidy Quantum, but who was now in hiding.

Bond tracked White down in Austria, where he was dying of thallium poisoning. He tells Bond all about Oberhauser’s organization, called Spectre, short for Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism Revenge and Extortion. It was run as a commercial enterprise, with the executive made up of three from six of the world’s most notorious organizations, including the neo-Nazis, jihadists, drug lords, arms dealers, terrorist organizations and mad megalomaniacs. Not aligned to any nation or political ideology it was all about money and power no matter what it took. White asks Bond to find and protect his daughter, Dr. Madeline Swann, a psychiatrist working at a private medical clinic and who could help him find Oberhauser. After Bond promised to do so, White committed suicide. Bond finds Swann and they become lovers.

Soon Bond and Swann are captured by Oberhauser himself, and taken to his base of operations in the Sahara desert, where he admits he now goes by the name Ernst Stavro Blofeld, and as he tortured Bond he tells him of their connection so long ago and the deep resentment he still felt. Bond also finds out that many of his past villains, including Le Chiffre, Dominic Greene, Raoul Silva, and Mr. White, were actually all agents of Spectre, running its various umbrella organizations.  Bond and Swann eventually escaped and blew up Blofeld’s base, leaving him to his death.

Back in London, a couple of weeks later, Bond and Swann are kidnapped separately. Bond is taken to the ruins of the old MI6 building, scheduled for demolition after Silva’s bombing. A disfigured Blofeld showed up in a helicopter and told Bond that he must escape before explosives are detonated or die trying to save Swann, who is also somewhere in the building. Bond breaks loose and after finding Swann, they escaped by boat as the building collapsed around them. Bond then shoots down Blofeld’s helicopter, which crashed onto Westminster Bridge. Bond pulled the injured and disfigured Blofeld from the wreckage and allowed him to be arrested. Of course, the bald Blofeld would eventually escape, and continue acting on his lunatic fantasies of taking over the world. Most often while stroking a Chinchilla Silver Persian cat purring on his lap.

Over the next few months MI6 itself seemed splintered, as to loyalties and resentment, and along with a disturbing rise in failed missions and agents deaths, the powers that be finally decided that M Mallory was to be replaced by British Navy Rear Admiral Bernard Lee.

Having individual introductory meetings with his agents, M Lee tells Bond his latest physical assessment was poor because of his excessive drinking and smoking, and sent him off to re-hab at the Shrublands Health Clinic near a UN airbase. There Bond noticed a tattoo on a fellow patient indicating he was a member of a Chinese criminal organization, and had something suspicious going on with another patient whose head was covered in bandages. Bond was caught searching his room and after a brief struggle the man with the tattoo tried to kill Bond using a spinal traction machine. Bond was saved by his physiotherapist, Patricia Fearing, whom he then blackmailed into having sex in exchange for not telling her employer about the incident. The man with his head wrapped in bandages was Spectre pilot Angelo Palazzi, whose face was being surgically altered to match French Air Force pilot François Derval, who was also staying at Shrublands.

By the time Bond returned to London he finds out that an RAF Avro Vulcan strategic jet bomber loaded with two atomic bombs was stolen from the base that was nearby the clinic he had just returned from, and that the French pilot who usually flew her was found dead.

At a meeting at MI6, all agents were informed that Spectre was demanding $400 million in diamonds from NATO in exchange for the bombs, or else Spectre would destroy a major city in either the US or the UK. The plan was overseen by Blofeld, but carried out by his number two, the eye patch-wearing, wealthy playboy, and head of Spectre’s Extortion Division, Emilio Largo.

The Americans and British launched “Operation Thunderball” to take Spectre down and return the two atomic bombs intact. Acting on a tip, M sent Bond to the Bahamas, who hooked up once again with CIA’s Felix Leiter. In Nassau, Bond met Dominique “Domino” Derval, Emilio Largo’s mistress, and soon after seducing her, Bond informed her that Largo killed her brother (the pilot killed at the clinic) and recruits her to spy on Largo. But while doing so Largo captured her in the act and tortured her by burning her with a cigar for heat and then using ice cubes for cold. Domino eventually escaped and told Bond the two bombs are onboard Largo’s yacht, the Disco Volante, so Bond contacted MI6 and soon an American nuclear submarine showed up to assist. The crews of both vessels engaged in an undersea battle, while Bond, who was weakened after disabling the bombs, fights Largo who quickly gets the upper hand and just before finishing off Bond, Domino showed up and shot Largo in the back with a spear-gun.

Bond and Domino escaped, along with Largo’s nuclear scientist Dr. Ladislav Kutze, who in the end had turned on Largo and assisted Bond to save the day. While travelling in a boat in their escape he innocently admitted he can’t swim, Bond pushed him overboard. He and Domino end up convalescing in the same hospital.

Altogether there were seven operations against Spectre. For Bond, perhaps the toughest of these was when he was once again, on her majesty’s secret service, and trying to thwart another Spectre plan run by Blofeld, who this time was brainwashing patients to distribute bacteriological warfare agents throughout the world. While Bond was trying to track down the lunatic, he ran across the Contessa Teresa di Vicenzo, who preferred to be called Tracy, on a beach and saves her from committing suicide by drowning. It is said it was love at first sight. No doubt the experience affected Bond considering the suicide by drowning of Vesper earlier in his career. With the assistance of Tracy and her father, Marc-Ange Draco, the head of the European crime syndicate “Unione Corse”, they are able to attack Blofeld’s Swiss Alp’s lair, and foil his plan though once again Blofeld escapes.

After the mission and smitten by the resourceful, headstrong yet vulnerable woman, Bond proposes marriage and she accepts. They were married in Portugal, and driving away to I’m sure a very wonderful, exotic honeymoon somewhere, when Bond pulled over and got out to retrieve some flowers from the car, just as another car driven by Blofeld pulls up and Blofeld’s partner Irma Bunt, opens up on them with a machine gun. Bond survives, but Tracy is killed in the attack. Blofeld would escape and Irma Bunt would disappear, and be the only villain to have beaten Bond, leaving him broken and human. It would also be the only time Bond ever married. Word has it that when the first policeman showed up a tearful Bond was cradling Tracy’s body on the side of the road, and told the officer, “It’s all right. It’s quite all right, really. She’s having a rest. We’ll be going on soon. There’s no hurry you see, we have all the time in the world.”

Eight months after the murder of Tracy Bond, Bond was drinking and gambling heavily, and beginning to make mistakes, even confined to his desk  in MI6’s diplomatic branch, where he had been temporarily been transferred to. M saw a depressed man in mourning and as a last resort sends Bond to Japan on a semi-diplomatic mission. There Bond was to simply trade some information from radio transmissions captured from Russia, with the head of Japan’s secret intelligence service, Tiger Tanaka, who would provide information in return. The deal fell through when Tanaka revealed that they had already penetrated the British information source and gotten the information themselves. But Bond and Tanaka immediately connect, and Bond decided to stay another couple of days as Tanaka introduced Bond to the Japanese lifestyle, which began to make an impression on Bond, in a good way some have said.

After many conversations over sushi and plenty of sake, one day Tanaka tells Bond that an NASA spacecraft was hijacked from orbit by an unidentified spaceship and that it might have landed on the small isolated Japanese island of Ama. Tanaka asks Bond to help investigate and with permission from M, they come up with a plan to infiltrate the island, which had nothing more than a couple of small fishing villages, and an extinct volcano that dominated the island. After a few flybys of the island it was determined that the spaceship had to have landed inside the volcano. On one of the reconnaissance missions Bond was captured by a Mr. Osato, a Japanese industrialist rumoured to be working with Spectre. And that, lo and behold, the true mastermind behind this operation was Ernst Blofeld, who had been hired by the People’s Republic of China to start a Soviet-American war.

Bond woke up, tied up, in an opulent cabin aboard a yacht. Spectre operative number eleven, Helga Brandt, entered and interrogated Bond but he somehow managed to seduce her enough for her to kiss him, and who then ended up freeing him in order to have sex. After spending the night together, Brandt would change her mind and try to kill Bond but he escapes. Brandt meanwhile, would be dropped into a pool of piranhas by Blofeld for her failure.

Back in Tokyo, Bond began training with Tanaka’s ninja troops, and made to look Japanese in order to disguise himself as a fisherman alongside a wife, who would act like newlyweds and spend their honeymoon on the island in order to infiltrate it. The woman chosen, Aki, one of Tanaka’s assistants, would play the role of the wife, and of course became romantically involved with Bond. Unfortunately she was poisoned by a Spectre assassin, who’s target was actually Bond. Quickly moving on, Tanaka selected Kissy Suzuki, an intern in the service, who entered into a fake marriage with Bond, who began to look more Japanese each day. Tanaka renames Bond “Taro Todoroki” for the mission.

After arriving on the island, Bond and Suzuki established that the mouth of the volcano was indeed a disguised hatch to the secret rocket base. Tanaka and his ninjas attack, and in the ensuing battle Bond faced off with Blofeld in the control room. Some say Blofeld activated the base’s self-destruct system, and escaped. More credible sources say Bond finally killed him, strangling him in a vicious rage. Whichever the case may be, Bond, Suzuki, Tanaka, and his surviving ninja troops escaped, though in the confusion when in fact the entire complex did explode, Bond and Suzuki became separated from the main group.

While escaping, Bond had suffered a head injury, leaving him an amnesiac. He and Suzuki made their way to another small fishing village, with Bond believing he was a simple fisherman. Kissy conceals his true identity to keep him forever to herself. And once again, the rest of the world believed him to be dead, with his obituary appearing in the newspapers. Many who knew him were body-slammed by the news.

Soon Suzuki becomes pregnant, but doesn’t tell Bond, hoping when she does tell him he will marry her for real. Though now a peaceful, loving and simple fisherman, Bond would have flashbacks of things he could not understand and confused over the fact he had no memory. But for all intents and purposes he was a happy man. He had a renewed sense of humour and a purpose in life and becoming healthier each day.  Even dabbling in Haiku (Japanese poetry), and supposedly written by or in the style of Japanese poet Matsuo Bashō, “You only live twice. Once when you are born, and once when you look death in the face.”  (You Only Live Twice, Chapter 11)

Reading a newspaper one day there was a reference to Vladivostok, Russia, which touched a nerve, making him wonder if the far-off city was a key to his missing memory. Bond told Suzuki he must travel to Russia to find out. It was a sad parting of ways but Bond was adamant, and left a crying Suzuki, who had decided to keep her secret to herself, and become the only woman to bear his child. Suzuki and the baby’s current whereabouts are still unknown.

Finally making his way to Russia, Bond was kidnapped by their secret service, tortured, then brainwashed into assassinating MI6’s head M.

A year later a man claiming to be the presumed dead Bond appears at MI6 headquarters, in London, and demands to meet the head of the Secret Service. Bond’s identity was confirmed, but during his debriefing interview with M, Bond tries to kill him with a cyanide pistol, but the attempt failed. MI6 doctors, medical specialists and psychologists swarm Bond over the next few months, and find out he had suffered the loss of his only wife and biggest true love, a head injury which caused amnesia, lived as a Japanese fisherman for several months, and had been tortured and brainwashed in Russia, but they could cure him they frowned, and so they say they did.

De-programmed, Bond is given another chance to prove his worth as a member of the 00 section, and once again to be the best tool in their toolbox. He is soon is sent to Jamaica, with the seemingly impossible mission of killing the world’s most professional and feared assassin, Francisco (Paco) “Pistols” Scaramanga, a Cuban assassin who was believed to have also killed several British secret agents. He was known as “The Man with the Golden Gun”, because his weapon of choice was a gold-plated Colt .45 revolver, which fired silver-jacketed solid-gold bullets.

Tracking Scaramanga down to an island off China’s east coast, and Bond being Bond, he seduced Scaramanga’s mistress Andrea Anders. Afterwards, and in front of Scaramanga, whom he had just met, she entered the room they were in and Bond looks at her and said, “Miss Anders, I didn’t recognize you with your clothes on”.

MI6 agent, former personal secretary and friend Mary Goodnight, also appeared and assisted Bond in his endeavors, while still having the time to strike up a romance together. Bond and Goodnight foiled Scaramanga’s terroristic plans, with Bond facing off against him, and though Bond takes a shot in the arm, Bond killed him with two shots to the chest. And instead of killing Scaramanga’s sidekick, the short person Nick Nack, Bond cages him. It would be Bond’s only mission in which he only kills once. But after this mission it is said that Bond became ever more cold and emotionless.

His most recent missions, at least what has been leaked, include one run by M Brown, which brought Bond and CIA friend Felix Leiter, to Key West to initially take out drug lord Franz Sanchez. They quickly captured him, and soon after, Bond is best man at Leiter’s wedding. But a crooked DEA agent allowed Sanchez to escape, who quickly sent his crew to ambush Leiter and his newlywed. Felix is lowered into a tank occupied by a Tiger shark, while his wife is raped and killed. Bond showed up later to Leiter’s home and finds his friend maimed and wife killed. First going after the DEA agent, Bond found him and killed him by dropping him into the same shark tank Felix had been dropped into, but this time not letting him out. Before following the trail to Sanchez though, M showed up and reassigns Bond to a mission in Turkey, but Bond refused. M suspends him and revokes his 00 status. No matter, once again Bond goes rogue.

Assisting him in taking out Sanchez was ex-CIA agent and pilot Pam Bouvier, who he met of course, in a Bimini bar. They fly to the Republic of Isthmus, where Bond put out the word to Sanchez that he was an assassin for hire. But just before Bond gets close and assassinates Sanchez, two British Hong Kong Narcotics Bureau agents, along with MI6 agent Fallon, sent by M to arrest Bond, capture him. Thinking the agents are assassins, the paranoid Sanchez kills them all, saving Bond so he could hire him.

After Bond met Sanchez’s girlfriend Lupe Lamora, who was visibly attracted to him, Bond finds out the trick in Sanchez’s successful drug business was that his scientists had figured out how to dissolve cocaine in gas, and sell it to Asian dealers disguised as fuel. Bond and Bouvier systematically took down Sanchez’s empire. Bond kills Sanchez’s three main henchmen, by using a pressure chamber, wood shredder and harpoon. Finally facing off with Sanchez, Bond was caught in a bad spot and about to be attacked with the a machete wielding, covered in fuel madman, but at the last second Bond pulled out the lighter Leiter had given him for being best-man and lit Sanchez up.

Partying afterwards at Sanchez’s estate, with Lupe now the host, Bond gets a call from Alex telling him M was trying to get a hold of him and asking for Bond to return. Hanging up Bond politely rejected Lupe’s advances and romances Bouvier instead.

A few months later it was off to Hamburg, Germany, where Bond was ordered to investigate Elliot Carver, a psychopathic media mogul who planned to provoke global war to boost sales and ratings of his news divisions. There Bond bumps into Paris Carver, a former girlfriend of his who was now Carver’s trophy wife. He seduced her by relighting old flames, to get information on Carver. Then afterwards and with the assistance of Colonel Wai Lin, a Chinese spy, who Bond also seduced, together they destroy Carver’s plans and kill him, and most of his henchmen, unfortunately, not before one of them killed Paris.

The next mission to arise out of the dirt was germinated when a dear friend of M, Sir Robert King, a British oil tycoon, was assassinated by Victor “Renard” Zokas, a former KGB agent turned high-tech terrorist. Bond chased down the assassin, hired by Renard to do the actual deed, but she died during the chase. Getting first aid on a few minor injuries absorbed during the chase, Bond seduced Dr. Molly Warmflash, an MI6 agent and doctor assigned to examine him. Bond’s assignment then became to protect King’s daughter Elektra, who had previously been held for ransom by Renard. But soon Bond doubted where Elektra’s loyalties exactly lie.

Bond unraveled Renard’s scheme to increase petroleum prices by triggering a nuclear meltdown of a submarine in the waters of Istanbul, Turkey. Assisting Bond was Dr. Christmas Jones, an American nuclear physicist. Elektra eventually revealed that indeed, she and Renard were co- conspirators, and that she had had her father killed as revenge for using her as bait for Renard.

Elektra ends up abducting M, whom she resented for advising her father not to pay the ransom money, and imprisoned her in the one thousand year old, Maidens Tower, which lies on a small islet located at the southern entrance of the Bosporus strait, off of Turkey. Bond and Christmas were then captured by Elektra’s henchmen, and while Christmas was taken aboard a submarine, Bond was taken to the tower where Elektra tortured him with a garrote. But allies of Bond seize the tower and free Bond and M. Bond and Electra would face off and after getting the upper hand on her and pointing a gun at her head, Electra smiled at Bond and told him that “he would be unable to kill her because he’d miss her too much”. Bond smiled back “I never miss”, and promptly shot her in the face.

Bond gets aboard the submarine, frees Christmas, gets into a fight with Renard, who was killed by being impaled by a plutonium rod shot out of a sub’s reactor core at high speed, and finally, he and Christmas set the sub to safely implode underwater. They both escaped from the submarine via the torpedo launcher. Supposedly after the mission, Bond and Christmas would spend a couple weeks holed up in Bond’s London flat “recovering”.

Bond’s most recent assignment, and perhaps his last, was no doubt one of his most brutal. After infiltrating a North Korean military base, which was suspected of being the base of operations for a Colonel Tan-Sun Moon, who was trading weapons for conflict diamonds. Someone rats Bond out, and Moon attempted to kill him, but after a chase ended with Moon’s apparent death, Bond is captured by his father General Moon. Bond is kept in captivity for fourteen months, interspersed with seemingly endless torture sessions. It has been rumoured that Bond went mad.

Eventually Bond is traded in a prisoner exchange, sedated and taken to Hong Kong, where M suspends his 00 status under suspicion of having leaked information under duress. Bond believes he was set up by someone in the British government, and as Bond does, he decided to avenge the betrayal. And but yet again escapes MI6 and goes rogue.

He soon learns of agents connected to the supposedly dead Colonel Moon operating in Cuba. There Bond met American NSA agent Giacinta “Jinx” Johnson, with whom he immediately seduced. Afterwards they made their way to a gene therapy clinic, where patients can have their appearances altered through DNA restructuring. Bond confronted a Korean agent, who escaped, but which led Bond and Jinx to a cache of diamonds bearing the crest of the company owned by British billionaire businessman Gustav Graves. They learn that Graves only appeared a year prior, seemingly out of thin air, after apparently discovering a vein of diamonds in Iceland, which led to his current wealth, celebrity, and philanthropy from its assets.

Back in London Bond meets Graves, along with his assistant Miranda Frost, who was also an undercover MI6 agent. After a fencing duel between Graves and Bond that nearly got out of hand, Graves invited Bond to Iceland for a scientific demonstration. Bond gets a phone call from M who told him that MI6 had doubts about Graves, restored his 00 status and offered all the assistance he needed.

At his ice palace in Iceland, Graves unveiled a new orbital mirror satellite, “Icarus”, which is able to focus solar energy on a small area and provide year-round sunshine for crop development, but in actual fact his plan was to use it to cut a path through the Korean Demilitarized Zone with concentrated sunlight, allowing North Korean troops to invade South Korea and reunite the peninsula by force.

Jinx infiltrated Graves’ command centre, but was captured. Bond rescued her and later discovered that Colonel Moon was still alive, because he’s Gustav Grimes, via gene therapy to change his appearance. Bond confronted Graves, but Frost arrived to reveal herself as the traitor who betrayed Bond in North Korea. Bond escaped only to return in an Aston Martin V12 Vanquish to rescue Jinx, who had been captured once again within the palace. After she almost drowned, Bond saves her by using CPR, then simple kissing techniques, while Graves and Frost escaped to their C-130 cargo plane and headed back to North Korea, with the Icarus weapon on board. But totally unaware that Bond and Jinx had stowed away on board as well.

After Graves tells his father General Moon, who was also onboard, of his diabolical plan, his dad was horrified by the plan because it would cause a nuclear war with the United States. Graves shoots his father dead. Bond and Graves then engage in a fist fight, while Frost attacked Jinx. Getting beaten badly by Bond, Graves attempts to escape by parachute, but Bond opened the parachute, and caused Graves to be pulled out of the plane and into one of its engines, killing him and disabling the Icarus beam. It is said Bond yelled out after him, “time to face destiny”. Jinx meanwhile had killed Frost, and they escaped from the disintegrating plane in a helicopter from the cargo hold, carrying away Graves’ stash of diamonds in the process. And once again Bond ends up with a beautiful woman for a week or so long sexual affair, this time in a South Korean Buddhist temple located on the slopes of a forested tranquil valley.

Love interest, sidekick or foe, and whether or not he is on a mission or relaxing, or dealing with the demons inside his head, Bond has no qualms about sleeping with beautiful women. Most are “ubiquitous symbols of glamour and sophistication”, and seem to always have splendid figures and tend to dress in a “slightly masculine, assertive fashion, wear little jewellery and they generally use little or no makeup and no nail polish”. Whatever the variation in dress they are always very beautiful. Many of the women Bond beds have some sort of independent job or even career, with some involved in intelligence or law enforcement. Even those who were criminals tended to be similarly independent-minded in how they approached their work.

Other than the ones already noted, his little black book also includes, Tiffany Case, who is a good example of the type of women Bond was attracted to. Bond first met Tiffany on one of many earlier operations against Blofeld’s Spectre organization, this one, infiltrating a diamond smuggling ring connected to Blofeld’s plan of destroying targets in China, the United States and the Soviet Union with a laser satellite he had created, and then propose an international auction for global nuclear supremacy. Tiffany was one of the members of the smuggling gang, and had developed an antipathy towards men after being gang-raped as a teenager. Many women Bond has been with have had similar experiences, as many of them had risen up from being either sex slaves or sexually assaulted and gravitate to becoming a mistress or aide to the man running the organization, simple self preservation. Like many women Bond came to admire, Tiffany was tough, but lonely and insecure, and like many others, felt more confident in themselves when with Bond. Who himself hoped he could at least align them with a more honest lifestyle. Bond fell in love with Tiffany, the first time he had done so since Vesper and Tracey, even though he did fit in a quick affair with a similar beautiful woman with a similar background, by the name of Plenty O’Toole, who unfortunately would be killed soon after.

After the mission was completed and another Blofeld plan had been thwarted, Tiffany moved in with Bond back home, but eventually she left him to marry an American business man, and is now supposedly a very loving and happy wife and mother to three children. Alike was Honeychile Rider, a shell diver who was making a living by selling Jamaican seashells to dealers in Miami, when she met up with Bond. After being sexually abused for much of her young life, then assisting Bond on a mission and becoming his lover, she would move to Philadelphia, where she married a doctor by the name of Wilder and had two children with him.

Others in his book include, Fatima Blush, Holly Goodhead, Chow Mee, Gala Brand, Countess Lisl von Schlaf, Melina Havelock, Lavender Peacock, Penelope Smallbone, Jill and Tilly Masterton, Fiona Volpe and wealthy business woman and smuggler, Octopussy. He has slept with women on trains, planes, in a forest, a stable, a motorized iceberg, in hospitals, a submarine, and a dinghy, and even on the space shuttle, along of course in multiple suites of fine exotic hotels and inns. Rumour has it that when Bond and a woman are kissing, making love, or implying he will do so, they nearly all purr “Oh James”.

Bond has had an estimated 78 sexual encounters over his career so far, but actually has had sex with only 55 of them. Unfortunately 75% of the women he sleeps with attempt to kill him, and that one of every three women he beds dies. Of his main love interests, whom some within MI6 have called “Bond Girls” only two have died. Both, being the ones Bond loved the most, the previously mentioned Vesper Lynd and Tracy Bond.

As to his day job, to-date Bond has over 378 kills and the cause for nearly 1,000 collateral damage deaths. On the flip side it was estimated that he has been shot at over 5,000 times. Since his medical records have never been released, he has taken who knows how many bullet and knife injuries along the way, as well as all the mental and physical damage from being tortured on a fairly regular basis.  Supposedly Bond has a habit of laughing hysterically when being tortured, and there is no doubt being held by the North Koreans for so long had to have affected him, but supposedly he has always been that way. When being tortured by Le Chiffre on his first mission, by being tied to an open bottomed chair naked, and having his testicles hit with a carpet beater, it is said Bond laughed in Chiffre’s face, spitting at him “that the whole world will now know that you died scratching my balls.” By happenstance Le Chiffre is killed soon after. It is also said by those who know him or have faced off against him that Bond also has a dry wit about him, especially after many of his kills, and as we have touched on throughout, seemed to be a master of the one-liner.

Today he has a scar down his right cheek and left shoulder, with visible plastic surgery on the back of his right hand. It has been estimated that he has had at least sixteen, maybe more, severe concussions over his career. As to PTSD, one would think his case would be severe, but then I don’t know, can psychopaths be afflicted with such a disorder.

One would also have to consider some of his foes that he has fought, other than those already mentioned. One of the most formidable would have to be the mercenary henchman, Jaws. Standing 217 cm (7.1 ft) tall with steel capped teeth, he was big and very strong. The first time they fought, Bond found himself in an unbreakable death grip and about to be bitten, and only got out of it by pushing a nearby broken electric lamp up against Jaws teeth, stunning him. Jaws also had an uncanny ability to survive any misfortune seemingly unscathed, in this one mission alone he survives an Egyptian structure’s collapse on top of him, being hit by a van, being thrown from a rapidly moving train, sitting in the passenger seat of a car which veers off a cliff, a battle underwater with a shark, and the destruction of his employer, scientist and anarchist Karl Stomberg’s base of operations.

On another mission Bond and Jaws faced off once more, and after falling over one thousand meters (several thousand feet) after accidentally disabling his own parachute (he falls through a circus tent and lands in the trapeze net), a later crash through a building inside a runaway cable car, and finally going over the over 300 m (1000 ft) Iguazu Falls, in Brazil, Jaws turns on his latest employer and helps Bond complete the mission. Perhaps because of a growing respect for each other or because Jaws realized he was working for a madman named Hugo Drax, who’s plan was to stuff every space shuttle available with hand-picked, genetically perfect young men and women of varying races, then poison all of humanity, but leaving the other animals alone, then repopulating the planet. In the end Bond cornered Drax in the International space station’s airlock, shoots him with a cyanide-tipped dart, then ejected him into space. Speaking of the space shuttle, Bond has had many operations and associations with the US manned space program, including the projects Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and the Space Shuttle program.

Other foes include the Korean manservant of greedy megalomaniac Auric Goldfinger (who wanted to control the world’s gold supply), the bald and deadly Oddjob, who wore a steel razor sharp brim on his bowler. There were the mobsters Sol “Horror” Horowitz and “Sluggsy” Morant, who Bond killed with shots to their foreheads. On another mission, two of Bond’s antagonists were a pair of gay hit men, Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd, and a pair of female body guards, Bambi and Thumper. The girls fought Bond wearing bikinis until they all ended up in a pool and Bond held their heads underwater until the second before they drowned and released them. The girls were arrested, while Wint and Kidd were blown up later.

Bond’s toughest foe pound for pound, was undoubtedly Donald “Red” Grant, a viscous Spectre assassin possessing Bond’s ugliest traits and relenting toughness. A ruthless hand to hand fight came to an end with Bond garroting him to death.

The villains and the henchmen that Bond has faced run the gamut, with most of them seemingly very over-ambitious. Nearly all were snobby, intellectual, and geniuses and scientists with elaborate island fortresses and lairs, all trying to take over and control the world in some sort of way. Many also have some sort of strange physical disfigurement, and were all pure megalomaniacs, perfectly blending ego and viciousness. Interestingly the only American villain Bond has faced was Brad Whitaker, a loud, obnoxious and brash American arms dealer, working out of Afghanistan. Go figure. Bond killed him by activating a bomb disguised as a key chain, which dropped a large statue of 18th century British general, Duke of Wellington onto his head crushing him. With Bond remarking that the poor chap, “had met his Waterloo”.

There also has been a litany of female antagonists who could also hold their own against Bond. Spectre assassin Fiona Volpe wounded him severely in a fight and actually cornered him, but just as she went in for the kill she herself is killed. One of the toughest female foes, and the boss of one of Bond’s toughest male foes, the already mentioned Red Grant, was Rosa Klebb, number three at Spectre.

After killing Red Grant, Bond tracked Klebb to a hotel in Paris, where she was to rendezvous with Grant at the conclusion of his mission, and where Bond finds out that she and Red have been trying to kill him in revenge for him killing Dr Julius No, during his previous mission. Dr No was also a tough opponent, being nearly 2 m (6’6”) tall, steel pincers for hands and having Dextrocardia, where the apex of his heart was located on the right side of his body, and not on the normally left. To end their final fight Bond tossed No into a vat of nuclear reactor cooling water, where he boiled to death.

Back in the hotel room, Klebb battled Bond solo, and after failing to kill him with a gun hidden in a telephone, she successfully poisons him by means of a fugu venom-laced blade hidden in the toe of her shoe. Bond slowly collapses to the ground and begins to die, but Rene Mathis, an agent of the French secret service DGSE (General Directorate for External Security) breaks in and captures Klebb. Mathis was a long time friend of Bond, and had both worked together on numerous few missions, including a few with Bond and Mathis’s other long time friend Alex Leiter. Here, Mathis perhaps saves Bond’s life, as he relentlessly performed CPR on his friend until the paramedics arrived. It took Bond months to recover.

Another time, while taking out Max Zorin, a psychopathic industrialist, and the product of a Nazi genetic experiment who attempted to destroy Silicon Valley and take over the microchip market, Bond came up against Zorin’s lover and chief henchwoman, the extremely powerful May Day. Her bodyguard detail included the assassins Jenny Flex, Pan Ho, Alison Doody and Papillon Soo Soo. As the mission neared its end, May Day is abandoned by her lover Zorin and would turn on him, and help Bond complete the mission. As we have seen, Bond has the uncanny ability to seduce many former female foes in turning and helping him instead. During the “Goldfinger” operation, Bond’s foe was Pussy Galore, who was the leader of Pussy Galore’s Flying Circus, a group of women aviators working for Auric Goldfinger, and who happened to be lesbian. By the end of the mission, they end up in bed, where Bond asks, “They told me you only liked women,” Pussy purred in her reply, “I never met a man before.”

So far details of 25 missions have been leaked or hacked then leaked, with who knows how many we will never know about or if the information was even correct. No doubt many of them as Bond the catalyst to all sorts of goings on. Strangely, though Bond’s missions have taken him to over 60 countries, as well as outer space, and he has saved the world numerous times, there would be only two films ever made about his exploits.

The Casino Royale operation would be the basis for one of only two films ever made about Bond, and Hollywood being Hollywood, would make the story a “spy-comedy spoof”. The other film made was a version of MI6’s Thunderball mission, called “Never Say Never Again” which was released in 1983, and starred Sean Connery (in his mid-fifties) as Bond, who comes out of retirement for one more mission, Barbara Carrera as Fatima Blush, Kim Basinger as Domino Petachi, Klaus Maria Brandauer as Maximillian (instead of Emilio) Largo, and Max von Sydow as Ernst Stavro Blofeld. The movie was mostly filmed in the French Riviera and the Bahamas.

The farcical “Casino Royale” film on the other hand, was an ensemble affair done entirely tongue in cheek. Released in 1967, its cast included David Niven as Sir James Bond, Ursula Andress as retired British secret agent Vesper Lynd, who was forced back into service in exchange for writing off her tax arrears, Peter Sellers as baccarat master, Evelyn Tremble, who would be recruited by Vesper to challenge Le Chiffre at Casino Royale. After the game Le Chiffre hallucinogenic ally tortures Tremble, but Vesper rescues him only to kill him. Barbara Bouchet plays Bond’s new secretary Miss Moneypenny, the daughter of the original Miss Moneypenny. Joanna Pettet played Mata Bond, Bond’s daughter by the famed spy Mata Hari, and Jacqueline Bisset played Miss Goodthighs. The extremely Scottish, Duncan Macrae, played the French agent, Rene Mathis, forcing the confused Evelyn Tremble to state his concern that despite being a French agent Rene spoke with a Scottish accent, Rene replied, “Aye, it worries me too”.

Other cast members included William Holden as CIA executive and agent, Ransome, Daliah Lavi, as British secret agent The Detainer, John Huston as M, who dies from an explosion caused by his own bombardment of Bond’s estate when the cross-spy-agency team visits in the beginning of the film, Terrence Cooper as Coop, a British agent and karate expert who begins training to resist seductive women, and Orson Welles as Le Chiffre, Smersh’s financial agent, who is desperate to win at baccarat to repay the money he has embezzled from the organization.

Its premise was that the criminal organization Smersh was going around assassinating intelligence officers all over the globe, primarily because of their inability to resist sex. It got so extreme that M would lead a contingent of heads of secret service agencies, including French Intelligence, the CIA, and the Russian KGB, to try to talk Bond, retired from the secret service 20 years previously, to help them out. When they all meet on Bond’s estate, a bomb goes off and M dies in the explosion. Ironically he was the culprit behind the attack. Bond comes out of retirement to head MI6. The film’s tagline: “Casino Royale is too much… for one James Bond!” refers to Bond’s ruse to mislead Smersh by having six other agents pretending to be James Bond.

A high-stakes baccarat game was arranged at the Casino Royale, in Royale-les-Eaux in Northern France, and was located atop a giant underground headquarters run by the evil Dr. Noah, who secretly was Sir James’ nephew Jimmy Bond, and played by Woody Allen. Noah was once an MI6 agent but had defected to Smersh to spite his uncle and destroy him by discrediting his “celibate image”.  His plan was to use biological warfare to make all women beautiful, and kill all men over 137 cm (4 ft 6 inch) tall, leaving Noah as the “big man” who gets all the girls. Jimmy captured The Detainer, and pleads with her to please be his partner. She agrees then cons him into swallowing an “atomic time pill” he had developed, making him a walking nuclear devise.

After also being kidnapped by Noah, Bond, Moneypenny, Mata and Coop escape and fight their way back up to the casino. The casino is then overrun by secret agents from many organizations, including British, American, Russian and French support troops. It was chaos in the casino and surrounding grounds. Elsewhere Noah is counting down his nuclear explosion, by his hiccups. When he reaches his last hiccup the pill explodes and vaporizes Casino Royale, killing everyone. Bond and all of his agents then appear as angels flying up into heaven, while Noah is shown falling backwards into hell.

Its main theme song, the instrumental “Casino Royale”, written by Burt Bacharach, was performed by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana brass, while the hit song to come from the film was Dusty Springfield singing “The Look of Love”. The soundtrack album became famous among audio purists for the excellence of its recording. It then became a standard “audiophile test” record for decades to come, especially the vocal performance by Dusty Springfield.

Rumour has it that Bond is now retired, after purchasing a 61,000 sq m (15 acre) patch of land on Oracabessa bay, on the northern coastline of Jamaica, earlier in his career. The former site of a donkey race track, Bond would eventually build a three bedroom home, every window louvered, on a cliff overlooking a private beach on the property which he called Goldeneye. It is said his companion is Dominique “Domino” Derval, the woman he first met years ago during the Thunderball mission. Maybe he’s writing his memoirs, or staring off into space sipping on a Vesper, or painting pictures, but no doubt heavily medicated and hurting aplenty getting out of bed each morning, considering the damage his body has taken. And though the life and times of James Bond seems fictional, regardless, there is no doubt a team of clinical psychologists would have a field day with Bond… James Bond.

 

 

 

 

 

Sources

Ian Fleming, “James Bond” Novels – Casino Royale, Live And Let Die, Moonraker, Diamonds Are Forever, From Russia With Love, Dr No, Goldfinger, For Your Eyes Only, Thunderball, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, You Only Live Twice. Pan Books Ltd: Toronto, 1964. And from the memories of watching, numerous times, every Bond film ever released.

http://www.ianfleming.com/james-bond/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outline_of_James_Bond

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Bond_(literary_character)

http://www.uselessdaily.com/movies/james-bond-43-interesting-facts-about-the-movie-series/#ixzz5NwGeFFVp

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19bA1jN2sKk

https://ca.ign.com/articles/2012/10/24/25-things-you-probably-didnt-know-about-james-bond

 

06/22/18

How Combinations of Letters Work Sometimes

When words become sing-song,

Osama bin Laden, Barack Hussein Obama, Joe Biden, Saddam Hussein.

National Hockey League players, Zac Rinaldo, Rocco Grimaldi, Jarred Tinordi, all signing one-year deals with the Nashville Predators on the same day in July 2018.

Leading scorers of the Los Angeles Kings early in the 2018/19 season, Alex Iafallo and Tyler Toffoli.

Just saying.

03/30/17

Imogene

Imogene

By Janet James

    No, I’m not amused and I want to go for a smoke. I’ve been sitting here for two hours listening to nattering and bitching about how Johnny was caught by the schoolmaster for kissing Becky What’s-Her-Name and the trouble Mrs. Standish has with her cook. I wish they’d choke on their tea.

    When George and I moved here from the city, he assured me that I’d never be bored and that social functions would fill my calendar. Well, the daytime social functions turned out to be tedious exercises in perseverance while watching equally as tedious women get bloated on tea or tipsy on sherry. Whilst the evening parties are sustained by demure smiles and delicate conversations, like how many debutantes are coming out this year. Not a wicked book or a naked painting to be seen. The boredom is endless.

    Oh god – it’s nearly three o’clock. The rally must have begun already, but hopefully with the strength and conviction of the women attending, it would go on for some time. Maybe I could catch at least the end.

    If George discovered my involvement with the suffragettes or even that I smoke, he’d lock me away or pack me off to the country with some imaginary illness. But then husbands can be like that, so arrogant about tedious virtues. And with the company of these priggish biddies, I feel even more compelled to support what I’ve always believed. The rights of women – they’ve been ignored long enough, but I would find no advocates in this room.

    Oh, Mrs. Riddley, a woman of whopping proportions, is offering yet another round of sweet cakes, and after listening to her go on about the gown she’s having made for her daughter’s coming-out ball, I can’t help but wonder how many bolts of cloth were used, one dozen or two?

    I don’t suppose another feigned headache could get me away from this monotony. I’ve used that excuse for the last three parties. But oh god – can I stand any more of this drivel?

    Servants, planning parties, dressing up, pouring tea – that’s the best these women can do for excitement. What this bunch needs is a good scandal. Not just some maid, who’s become a fallen woman, and oh, how I hate that expression – but something totally unsavoury, rancid even. For that matter, I could light up a cigarette right here and then excuse myself with a sweet smile and say I’m off to the suffragettes’ rally. That would get some attention. Oh, but dare I? What’s to be gained and what’s to be lost? Self-satisfaction – yes, I would most certainly get that and my open support for the suffragettes would lend them strength. But, unfortunately the losses would be mostly George’s. His peers would not treat this lightly and aside from that, he may be totally extricated from his club.

    Ah, perhaps that’s too harsh. Two social disgraces in one day for George would be a bit much. However… “Ahem, excuse me ladies, I’m sorry to have to leave this little gathering, but I must be on my way. I am off to attend the suffragettes’ rally, ta ta.” I’ll light up another time.

 

 

07/28/16

My Colonoscopy, the Magic School Bus, Voyager I, and Some Unfortunate Truths – A Dense Essay

Chapter One

Born in the fifties and three years short of sixty, I seem to have been blessed with the genes and metabolism which seem oblivious to the abuse I have given them. Generally a healthy later middle aged male, I am fortunate to have been born, and still living, where I do here in British Columbia. But life is still life and when one is an anatomically and behaviourally modern Homo sapien, living in a body composed of mostly water and oxygen, things are bound to happen.

Beneath the hair of an average adult human, no matter the race, color, faith, or where they live, sixty per cent of their body’s weight and volume is water. Incredulously, it stands, can fall, and get back up. The body also contains about five and a half litres (just over one gallon) of blood, and about ten litres (two and a half gallons) of interstitial fluid, which washes and surrounds our trillions of cells. Other elements of the body include oxygen (sixty-five per cent), carbon (eighteen per cent) and other trace elements such as hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, potassium, sulphur, sodium chlorine, and magnesium, to name but a few.

human bodyMaterials include protein, connective tissue, fats, carbohydrates and bone, with operating systems that include mechanical, physical, and bio-electrical and biochemical functions, which make up such a life form, and the machine it is.

Naturally odd and kind of eerie, the vast majority of our cells in our bodies are not even human, but instead microorganisms and bacteria in a symbiotic relationship with our functions and make up. The largest proportions of these cells, about one hundred trillion of them, a number about ten times greater than the total number of other human cells in the entire body, live in the digestive tract. Such microorganism cells digest our food, gleaning the energy and fatty acids needed for us to exist, and keep all the body’s systems running properly. They also metabolize acids and synthesize vitamins, working closely with the liver, digestive tract, and even muscle tissue, with their combined efforts resembling an alien organ seemingly existing within us. Much like our skin is also considered an organ. But many believe, and rightly so, that for all intents and purposes in most living things, the digestive tract is running the show.

 

Chapter Two

One hundred years ago an average human never made it to sixty years of age. Today many do, though often are hurting units when they get there. That is the downside of living longer, especially in developed corporations, sorry I mean developed countries. As humans age their lives become filled with chronic pain, depression, cancer, ever continuing prescription needs, strokes, kidneys and knees shutting down, and increasing rates of those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia, among so many other ailments.

But when young we all thought and felt we were invincible, and became distracted by it. It distracts us even more today because we think it keeps us from going mad, and yet our survival depends on being aware, of ourselves yes, but also and more importantly, of our surroundings, including all the other thousands of living things sharing the planet with us, and most critically, the natural workings of the world. Having lost such awareness, it’s not surprising that the leading cause of death for people from the ages, one to thirty-four years old, is accidents.

Personally I have learned to embrace moderation of all things. And, am grateful and humbled that, as of yet, I do not live with pain on a daily basis. But besides the absorption of toxins, hormones and viruses  that exists in frighteningly increasing numbers, I have not always been nice and respectful to my body regarding what goes into it, whether food, drink and smoke, or given enough concern for the health of some of its operating systems.

I smoke cigarettes, which often makes me worry that since I have been a full time smoker for over forty years I would not be surprised for that shoe to drop, and the thing I thought was bound to happen does. Yet I continue to play ignorant and not even attempt to alter the outcome, which may yet still arrive, by hiding behind the excuse that I am basically a drug addict and allowing the addiction to control, in many ways, my life. As it is, the nicotine and the few thousand other chemicals in each cigarette I smoke have given me chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which shows up in my lungs as emphysema. Meaning the small air sacs of my lungs have been weakened and have ruptured, creating one larger air sac instead of the higher efficiency small ones. My lungs’ cavities are also filling up with black carbon deposits. So it takes longer for me to breathe out than in.

I am sure that the few thousand hours of bottom time spent as a commercial diver and seafood harvester, which took part of my right lung, caused calcified barnacles to form on my rotator cuff in my left shoulder, and living through multiple near death experiences, does not aid the cause.

M’lady has told me my breath rattles in my lungs as I sleep and I dry cough regularly throughout the day, though it’s a subdued and quick one. But as each year passes, the cough worsens and further embarrasses me with sometimes overwhelming grief for not doing anything about it. The worst is in the morning, when I cough for a few minutes until I give a couple of good nose blows in tissue, after which I feel relatively cleared up. It is curious that after we blow our noses, somewhat instinctively, we all take a second to examine what was expelled, like a forensic specialist or tea leaf reader. So far the coughs are rarely productive of any mucous, or blood or black tar, which is good I figure.

Of those who do smoke, about two out of ten will get COPD. For those who are life-long smokers, over half will develop COPD. Worldwide, it affects over 329 million people, nearly five per cent of the planet’s population. Along with chronic bronchitis, asthma and other respiratory diseases, it is currently one of the leading causes of death in the world, with over three million people dying from it each year.

In Canada, it is estimated that seventeen per cent of Canadians thirty-five to seventy-nine (over two million people) have some sort of airflow obstruction condition, with eight per cent, or 1.3 million people having severe degrees of it. Nearly twelve thousand Canadians die each year from COPD, somewhat close to the number of deaths attributed to all cerebrovascular diseases, mainly stroke.

Chapter Three

Though very aware of the importance of eating well, and the vital importance of stretching the body’s sinew and muscles each day, I rarely do. When I am with m’lady, I eat much healthier, as she is a seafood and salad gal and not as lazy as I am in the kitchen when eating alone. When alone, I eat as everyone else does, according to one’s pay grade. But the fact of the matter is that most days I plumb forget to eat, then, just before going to bed devour a large plate of something along the lines of a half dozen perogies covered in butter and a couple of scoops of cottage cheese, a couple of boiled Chinese sausages, a few olives, two slices of toast, one with just butter and peanut butter, which along with ketchup should be deemed a basic food group, and the other slice of toast lathered in peanut butter and honey, or perhaps cinnamon spread. For dessert, it is often a half litre of chocolate milk, a multi-vitamin, Vitamin D and a cod-liver oil, a small bag of either Hawkins Cheezies or salted corn chips and a chocolate chip muffin. A quick bite for me is usually sliced banana, yogurt, milk, ice-cream or raisin bran, in any combination thereof.

Though never putting much stress on my cardio, and not having much lung wind, I keep active and at least look fit, as in, I do not appear to have a basketball duct taped to my belly, and can still see my penis. Up to last year, I spent eight seasons on the ice a few times a week coaching midget hockey, which I miss very much. But other than sitting and writing, and because it’s my lot in life to have to work for a living, my employment usually entails physicality through good old plain hard work, using brush, ladder, hammer, paint, saw, wood and my hands, on buildings or the boat I live on. About the only actual exercise being the occasional karate kata, regular walkabouts, dog-like stretches, a physically active work life, and love making.

As for my bowels, just like my heart that somehow continues to beat regularly, I usually have to empty it at about six minutes and thirty-three seconds after arising from the bed in the morning. Which is also a good thing, one would think. Considering that the usual cause of death for a middle aged man in the industrial world, is colon cancer. But we will get to that lower down, as it were.

I am very fortunate here on Vancouver Island to actually have a regular doctor. He, of course, works out of a clinic with others, as lone general practitioners of medicine have become a rare species, whether in the city or in the country, and are booked solid.

A general practitioner (GP), works outrageous hours, and needs more than one assistant to deal with the tidal surge of paperwork created by having to submit endless reams of forms, charts and invoices, many of which go to the government, where payment could arrive anytime over the next couple of months. And they need large office spaces in which to store it all, because their basements are probably already full. And a great many new doctors want to specialize, further diminishing the number of GP’s.

Being a medical specialist, means one works in a silo and rarely communicates with doctors not in their field of study or department. So I can see why clinics are the way to go. For the doctors, sharing costs, space, and staff, and perhaps even sharing camaraderie with their team, instead of just themselves. And to think, advice could be two doors down the hall and to the left.

I was fortunate enough to have coached two of my doctor’s sons through their midget hockey years, and was grateful to work with him when he was the team’s manager. His sons are exceptional young men, as is he and the rest of their family. Thankfully he was able to take me into his stable. As such, his office calls me about once every year to set up an appointment for an annual physical.

Some people who own cars get them tuned up regularly. Some people just wait until something breaks or wears out and then gets it replaced. An annual physical on the other hand is a bit different and much more important. Instead of perhaps missing the chance to discover something early on before it breaks down, thus preventing further collapse, or even death, it may be wise to occasionally look under the hood. I have no qualms about letting a medical professional poke and prod the machine called my body and determine whether it shall continue to live or perhaps needs adjustment, therapy or replacement to sustain its life.

Chapter 4

Having an annual exam, is where they check our dipsticks and kick our tires, and go over all operating systems. This scares many people, often because of the absurd concept, that if something is deathly wrong, do they really need to know, or in the case of having a colonoscopy, the fear of someone sticking a finger up their butt. But when something is wrong with our bodies we know it. All living things do. Our dog eats grass when her stomach is upset and drags her bum along the lawn when it has been especially messy back there or she just needs a good scratch, and we do not have to tell her to do it. For over sixty years my Mom, has been drinking Coke whenever she feels under the weather, and to ward off all sorts of evils and ague. Whenever I feel something is brewing in me I take five cod liver oil pills with about the same number of garlic pills before going to bed, and in most cases feel much better in the morning. But anything to do with our rectum is uncomfortable for everyone involved, regardless of whether the doctor and patient are emotionless, or professionally smiling through it all.

While on the same topic, here’s a tip I learned long ago. When getting a physical and you are lying on your side and the doctor is getting the glove lubed up, of course it is going to be uncomfortable, but do not, I repeat, do not lean your head over and continue the discussion you had been having with your doctor, as he will politely ask you to please look the other way. But really people, we will allow doctors to slice open our chests and replace our hearts and other organs but heaven forbid if they should want to stick a well lubricated finger a few inches up our asses, one of the most frequent places for cancer to rear its ugly head in the human body.

One in fourteen Canadians will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in their lifetime, and it is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in adults. Thirty per cent of all deaths in Canada, about seventy-two thousand people, die of malignant neoplasm or cancer, while twenty one per cent of all deaths are due to diseases of the heart.

Going global, of all the human deaths in the world in one year (about sixty million), 270 individuals out of every thousand people, will die because their hearts either gave out, or was diseased. It is by far the leading cause of death in the world. Stroke is the number two cause of death, followed closely by deaths from infectious and parasitic diseases and other cardiovascular diseases.

Much farther down the list and still globally, for every one thousand people, fourteen will take their own lives each year, comparatively, about three people per thousand deaths are attributed to war, yet this is where all the money is being generated and spent. Much like the trillion-dollar war on terrorism, where every year before and after 9/11, anywhere from eight to twenty American citizens died worldwide due to terrorism, less than the number of people killed each year from a bolt of lightning.  And that one is forty thousand times likely to die from heart disease or cancer than by terrorist actions. The leading cause of death for American civilians abroad, at least the few who actually have been off the continental United States, is actually car crashes. While in Canada, the number of deaths attributed to terrorism is minimal, and in fact, in the last thirty years, there have been four deaths.

Overall, in most developed countries, the largest increase in deaths over the past few years has been from Alzheimer’s, accidents and unintentional injuries, not from being victims of the blowback from the activities of the industrial military complex.

In related news, the Earth’s human population as of October 2015 is about 7.3 billion individuals. This is twice the number of people who lived on the planet in 1970. There are about 131 million births every year, meaning one million births every three days or 250 births every sixty seconds. For every one thousand people, nineteen are newborns.

At the other end, with an average life expectancy of sixty-seven years, for every thousand people on the planet there are about eight deaths (about fifty-five million) each year. It works out that two people die every second, while at the same time four babies are born.

Chapter 5

With a screech, thud, and oh my, we are back at the garage getting an annual physical exam. Starting on the outside of the body, the doctor begins to make his or her way through physically examining the human body by inspecting, feeling, tapping, and listening.

The body’s all important blood pressure (BP) is taken, because it indicates whether the blood has enough power behind it or is under too much pressure, as it flows around the body doing its sublime job of pushing blood around. It is measured as the pressure at which the heart contracts, called the systole, which is when it pumps blood out to the rest of body, over the pressure called the diastole, when the heart re-fills with more blood. The medical gadgets used to do this are a stethoscope, and a sphygmomanometer (nearly broke out in a sweat typing that). Less than one twenty over eighty (120/80), is normal, while something like one ninety over one hundred (190/ 100), it’s Houston we have a problem.

Later, at a lab, blood will be taken for a blood count, which determines the kinds and numbers of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets (thrombocytes) it contains. The red cells are the worker ants of the blood. They carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body, and once relieved of the oxygen, return carrying carbon dioxide (CO2) which is expelled as we exhale. Bigger than the reds but fewer in numbers, the whites protect the body from infection and act like a pack of wolves when doing so. The platelets meanwhile are the runts of the blood cells, and hang out in gangs called Clotters. Whenever bleeding occurs they gather together in a mob and swell themselves up like Pillsbury dough boys to form a sticky plug to stop the leak. They are relentless, and will continue to staunch any flow until it is stopped or the body simply runs out of blood and its organs shut down. At which time it becomes “aah, Houston….aah…we have another problem.”

Heart rate is checked, sixty to just less than one hundred beats a minute is considered normal, sixty being the optimum. Of course people, who exercise daily, by whatever means, usually have a much lower heart rate at rest. Joggers in particular, tell you that running is adding years onto their lives. Unfortunately, those years will have already been taken, by the years spent running.

Next up is a cold stethoscope held to your chest. Invented over 200 years ago, back when leeches were most often used for getting rid of any bad blood, the stethoscope was another way of seeing into the body, especially the chest. All one had to do was put their ear up against the chest, while today we do with technological imagery.

The typical respiratory rate for a healthy adult at rest is twelve to twenty breaths per minute. Anything above twenty is typically signs of a heart or lung problem. At birth and up to about six weeks we take thirty to sixty breaths every minute. If we make eighty years of age our respiratory rate could be as low as ten every minute. The doctor is also listening for any snaps, crackles and pops, wheezes, ticking or decreased breath sounds.

Temperature is then taken and should be as close to 37C (98.6F) as possible. Women going through menopause are occasionally exempt from this rule.

All joints are checked for movement, with the doctor standing back or to one side to protect themselves, as the knees, elbows, wrists and ankles are tapped with a small rubber mallet and checked for reflex. Our reflexes are crucial in determining the integrity of the central nervous system, the brain and spinal cord, which together coordinate the movement and activity of all parts of the body. Just as importantly, reflexes also determine the integrity of the peripheral nervous system, which is the communication link between the brain and the limbs and organs.

The abdomen is tapped to judge liver size and if there is any presence of abdominal fluid. Throat and tonsils are checked by going aaaah, just like when the doctor is holding one’s testicles checking for lumps. Similarly, women get their breasts checked for lumps and are also given a Pap test, to check for abnormal cellular changes to some of their pink parts.

The thyroid is especially checked, in both sexes. It is a butterfly shaped gland in the throat, just below the Adam’s apple, and is one of the body’s governors, controlling how quickly the body uses energy, makes proteins, and produces hormones, which regulate other hormones throughout the body. Lymph nodes are important filters of the immune system and though located throughout the body, the ones under the armpits and in the groin are checked delicately.

Ears, nose and sinuses are checked by shining a little flash light into those orifices. Though dental is not included in BC’s Medical Services Plan (MSP) at this point and time, the gums and teeth are checked by simply smiling. Speaking of which, it is unfortunate that dental coverage is but a dream for anyone having only MSP. For due to my lack of attention earlier on, my teeth need constant attention and one by one are falling out, often painlessly as my gums continue to recede. Long in the tooth, as it were. Whenever the next tooth needs to be added to my upper or lower plate, it is only done whenever I can afford it, or have enough of a balance on my credit card to cover it, unlike my smoking habit, which somehow continues whether I am able to afford it or not.

Chapter Six

Once again we are back to the part of the body, where for some reason many people, especially men, do not bother to get a physical because of, the dreaded prostate exam. I know many men who have some sort of mental hang up about what a human is biologically, or they think they are far too macho for such a thing, and that no one is going to shove anything up their butts, including themselves. Yet all one is doing is lying on, usually the left side, with the doctor slowly inserting a very well lubricated gloved finger a few inches up the rectum and feeling around for a couple of seconds, checking the prostrate for size and any suspicious lumps. Although one’s eyes may bug out, it does not hurt nor is it a big deal.

The prostate is a gland of the males’ reproductive system. Over thirty per cent of its volume is semen, and it possesses muscles that expel the semen mixture, during ejaculation. The word comes from the Greek, prostates, meaning “one who stands before” and “the guardian”. Women also have a prostate, called the Skene’s gland or para urethral gland. It operates the same as a male’s prostate, minus the sperm of course, however it can also expel fluid during an orgasm. Anatomically, a women’s uterus is in the same position within her body as that of a prostate gland in his body.

With the physical exam complete, I’m sent for chest x-rays, which as usual confirms my lungs, should be classed as the vilest of porn. Then at yet another clinic, blood and urine samples are taken. The previously mentioned blood count is done, while the urine sample is used mainly to check on the kidneys since they deal with the waste products of metabolism and are the filters and expellers of waste material, minerals, fluids and other substances from the blood. They also contribute to the regulation of electrolytes, blood pressure and maintenance of an acid-alkaline balance in the blood.

Electrolytes are the substance that produces an “electrically” conducting solution, mainly sodium, when absorbed with water, and involves itself with fluid balance and blood pressure control. It also controls the electrical components of the body, such as muscle tissue and neurons.

The kidneys themselves are vital enough that there are two of them, with the ability of each to maybe carry on even if the other is lost. Each kidney has more than enough functioning renal tissue to do the job.

The exam’s final task is completed at one’s leisure at home – providing a sample of your pooh. A stool sample kit, called a fecal immuno-chemical test (FIT), is prescribed and bought at a pharmacy. Taking it home I read the directions three or four times and when the next bowel movement was imminent, I laid the piece of supplied paper over the surface of water in the toilet bowl.  I was going to paint target rings on the paper, but all that was handy was m’lady’s tube of lipstick, and I wouldn’t dare. Hovering over the seat I squeezed out just a little bit then puckered back up. Standing, I took the wooden popsicle stick provided with the kit and daubed a small sample, which I then put into the provided tube, stick and all, sealed well, and voila, a sample any forensics investigator would be proud of. Returning to the seat and finishing the task at hand, I was ready to deliver the sacred Fit tube to the lab.

Chapter Seven

A month or so goes by and I get a call from my doctor’s office that the results are in. A date is set. Upon that day and working within the ten-minute window given for appointments, my doctor comes in, and after the “how are you doings” and genuine “would love to talk but”, he sits down beside me with his laptop and we review all the tests given. Besides both being disgusted by my lung pictures, and me being deeply embarrassed, we move forward. I am told my heart is steady-eddy, there are no deranged things, icky or untoward chemicals, needles or condoms flowing through my blood, and that I have beautiful cholesterol. But there were traces of blood found in my stool sample. If average traces are eighty whatever, my trace amount was about a thirty, which is far from a death sentence I am told, but… we talk about it for a bit more then as nonchalantly as possible, he leans over and asks as Tom Waits sings “Happy Anniversary”, how about a colonoscopy. And I thought, why not.

On average fifteen per cent of people who get their stool examined are found to have traces of blood in them. This does not mean one has cancer, though four per cent of people tested with a colonoscopy will have. The pooh-test is strictly a diagnostic test looking for potential signs of cancer, but all it really shows is that one is bleeding from somewhere inside.

The majority of times the blood traces come from polyps, benign growths that hang off the wall of the rectum or colon, and which rarely show any symptoms. Polyps that do become cancerous usually take years to develop, which is why it is important for those of us over fifty to get checked.

Bleeding from the behind could also mean all sorts of other things, like haemorrhoids, which are sometimes painless or internal, ulcers, anal cracks or cuts, irritable bowel syndrome, a colony of polyps, simple inflammation or having the evil diverticular disease.

Diverticulitis affects more than ten per cent of the populations of Canada, Western Europe, Britain and Australia over the age of forty. Coincidently, these places all represent the world’s largest meat consumers. By sixty years of age, half will have some sort of diverticular disease of the colon. Seen as balloon-like extensions bulging out from the wall of the colon, they are sometimes filled with fluid. This happens, because of weakness of the muscle layers and are in serious jeopardy of becoming infected since they exist within the sewer pipe of a “civilized” human’s body. In severe cases abscesses develop which can perforate and begin bleeding into the abdomen, or exploding like a pimple. Other than the occasional cramping, bloating, expelling pooh gas, and irregular schedule of when you need to empty your bowels, most people are totally unaware of the fact that the make-up of their intestines has changed into structures that are not normally present or natural. It gets serious when blood is showing up much too often and in higher volumes in any stool.

Interestingly enough, in the rest of the world, mainly Africa and Asia, diverticular disease is not at all common. The reasons why are many, from the possibility that Africans, especially, eat a diet that contains more fibre than the Western populations, to the possibility that most people in Africa, India and Asia still use the natural squatting position to empty their bowels, as humans have done all through our evolution. The benefits include the stretching of limbs and muscles used in the act of squatting in the first place, which many “civilized” people, especially in Canada and the States would have a hard time doing, because of their obesity rates. The position allows the bowel not to be as compressed as it is when sitting on a toilet, thus, even with the larger loads, there is far less straining. In the West there is a long list of people dying, often with their hearts giving out, trying to expel their stool. In many countries, especially amongst Muslim and Hindu peoples, another benefit is that they clean themselves with water, instead of smearing the remains off with multiple sheets of eight-ply toilet tissue, which both happen to be far easier to do squatting then sitting on a toilet. The trick with using water to clean one’s nether regions is to always use your left hand; right hand is reserved for eating and hand shaking. As for lefties, it is unfortunate.

Chapter Eight

After my doctor and I agreed on a colonoscopy and that I would be contacted soon to set it up, I began to think about the Magic School Bus, which was popular when my son was five years old, and the episode where after being shrunk down to a tiny speck, they enter the body down the throat to explore the human digestive system.

yellow school busThe Magic School Bus was one of the best animated educational programs ever. Running from 1994 to 1997, it was about a class of kids led by the incredibly informative Ms. Valerie Frizzle, voiced by Lily Tomlin, who in 1995 won an Emmy for the role for outstanding performance in an animated program. Ms Frizzle and her class would take adventurous day trips in their yellow school bus exploring the whys and how’s of nearly every science known to man.

For example, of the fifty-two episodes created, “Inside Ralphie”, was about germs. Ralphie, one of the students, was sick with a fever and sore throat, so for that day’s outing Ms Frizzle shrunk their magic school bus down to a pin point and they entered their ailing classmate through a cut on his arm. They travelled to his throat to see what was making him sick, but white blood cells, the body’s attack hounds and defenders, saw the magic school bus as a threat and began to attack, and attempted to devour it. Ms Frizzle got them out real quick-like, in saliva the next time Ralphie coughed.

Same sort of thing happened in the 1966 sci-fi classic film, Fantastic Voyage, where instead of a yellow school bus filled with kids, a spacecraft-type ship filled with scientists made the inner journey. The premise was that when an important scientist developed a blood clot on the brain after being shot in an assassination attempt, a small group of medical specialists and scientists boarded the submarine Proteus, which was armed with a laser. They were then miniaturized, inserted into a needle and injected into the patient to remove the clot. They had one hour to complete their mission before they and the ship begin to grow back to its normal size and explode out of the injured scientist’s body.

Besides being constantly attacked by the same hyena-like white blood cells that attacked the school bus, they had to detour through the heart. A cardiac arrest was induced in the patient, to avoid turbulence as they passed through the atria and ventricles. Running low on oxygen, they flew into the lungs to replenish their supply, after which they arrived in the middle ear, where everyone inside the ship and those surrounding the patient outside had to keep very quiet and still, once again to prevent any turbulence. As they got to the clot in the brain, a traitor on board created chaos and the ship crashed. The survivors swam out via a tear drop, and surfaced in the lake of the corner of the eye and escaped by being sucked up in a syringe.

But the Magic School Bus episode that I thinking about was the digestion episode titled, “For Lunch”, which seemed appropriate, considering my digestive tract, at least the bottom half, was soon going to be explored too. In reality, the undertaking of exploring the entire human gastrointestinal tract (GI tract), would be a daunting task, a truly epic endeavour. If it were a movie, the scope of it would put to shame “The Bridge over the River Kwai”, “Lawrence of Arabia” and any one of the episodes of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

Chapter Nine

From mouth to anus the GI tract is, on average, nine metres (thirty feet) long, about the average height of a three-storey building. Besides the previously mentioned trillions of cells found in it, there are also about one hundred million neurons which the brain uses for its control and regulation.     digestive system

The entire gastric phase that food goes through takes from twenty-four to seventy-two hours, depending on what was eaten, how much and numerous other variables. But I find it odd that a McDonald’s Big-Mac seems to be given carte blanche to make it through me in under an hour, and a Magic School Bus episode was less than thirty minutes long.

In “For Lunch”, Arnold, another one of the students, gets sick after eating something, so Ms Frizzle comes up with yet another brilliant idea, and herding her kids onto the magic bus, they once again get shrunk down to nearly nothing and head on down Arnold’s esophagus. Though the episode could not detail all they would see and experience during such an epic journey, even though animated, I will ad-lib the narration and try to fill in the gaps.

After putting almost anything solid, other than a yellow school bus filled with kids and a teacher, in your mouth, the process of mastication (chewing) begins. While the tongue and cheeks position and move the food, chewing creates saliva (digestive enzyme) which immediately begins breaking down any starch and absorbing nutrients and energy from what you eat. How and for how long you chew can have a huge impact on your health. The best ways to retain the most energy from what you eat is to take smaller bites, chew until food is liquefied and lost all texture, then swallow completely before taking another bite. The importance of mastication cannot be stressed enough. Because, by the time the chewing is over, whatever is left splashes down into the hydrochloric acid and pepsin digestive juices of the stomach, where it quickly becomes either, if chewed properly, liquefied baby food and easily digestible, or a big fat bolus, a furry ball containing chunks of undigested food.

The stomach, which is a distensible organ and can normally expand to hold about one litre (about two pounds) of food, is where the mechanical and chemical digestion processes continue. It mixes the food down to molecules using peristalsis, which are waves of muscular contractions moving along the stomach wall like an arena crowd doing the “wave” at a hockey game, which furthers protein digestion. It takes a lot of energy to do this, and is why we often would love to take a nap while we digest a big meal. Most of the absorption of nutrients that is taking place goes to the circulatory and lymphatic capillaries through the actions of cellular biology, including osmosis, active transport and diffusion. But if there are chunks in the food it forces the digestion process to expend even more energy trying to break them down. Chunks that are unable to be digested in the stomach scrape their way through the gut, until they get to the intestine, where bacteria will cause it to putrefy and potentially cause a plethora of problems, including gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, cramping and other digestive tribulations.

So chew well and savour each bite. With the brain taking about twenty minutes to signal the stomach that it is full, studies show by chewing slowly, one ends up consuming about ten percent fewer calories and burning less energy to achieve it.

Chapter Ten

After whatever is chewed and swallowed, it mixes in the stomach for typically one to two hours, what is left then enters the duodenum, the top part of the small intestine, where a finer break down process takes place using digestive enzymes from the pancreas and bile juice from the liver. Then it is onto the small intestine where ninety-five per cent of the absorption of nutrients into the blood stream takes place. This process gets a boost when the gallbladder, the storage tank for the excess bile produced by the liver, releases bile into the small intestine sort of like an automated car wash. This process breaks down even further what had originally been chewed and swallowed.

Another organ, the pancreas, besides being an endocrine gland, secreting insulin which allows glucose to move from the blood into the muscles and other tissues for use as energy, is also an exocrine gland, releasing glucagon when the blood sugar is too low. This allows the liver to break down the stored sugar into glucose, to re-balance the sugar levels. Another very important function of the pancreas, and which is pertinent to this story, is that also secretes digestive enzymes.

At this point in the Magic School bus’ journey, wise one, Ms. Frizzle, glances at her watch and announces that it’s time to return and her class and their yellow school bus head back out, hopefully heading for the nearest car-wash. Waving goodbye, we will continue the journey alone.

Where the small intestine joins the colon, the large intestine, whatever has made it through and still undigested will eventually make its way down the slalom course of the, on average, one and a half metre (nearly five foot) long colon. This process will take about three to four hours. Along the way any remaining water and minerals are re-absorbed into the blood vessels of the colon. The bacteria, which reside in the colon, produce such things as biotin and vitamin K, which are also re-absorbed into the blood. But at this point the bacteria are mostly just dashing madly about like chickens with their heads cut off, frolicking in what to them, is both a Garden of Eden, and a smorgasbord of delicious debauchery. More the chaos, the more the colon’s acidity rises.

Eventually the waste and indigestible make it to the rectum, the final portion of the colon. About twelve centimetres (four point seven inches) long, it is the only straight section in the GI tract, and the storage silo for stools about to be launched.

It shouldn’t be a big surprise that after all the hoop jumping of the GI tract that so many of the human body’s problems arise in the colon. Considering all the unimaginable volumes of chemicals, hormones, pharmaceuticals and toxins a human takes in daily, from the food we eat, what we drink and air that we breathe, it’s no wonder our personal sewer pipes have become ever the more toxic and just plain nasty.

Staying between the legs, human anatomy is very functional, and so it should be after a couple of million years of evolution. But for those who believe it was achieved through intelligent design, perhaps Neil de Grasse Tyson, American astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, and science communicator, can better explain. “I think of, like, the human body, and I look at what’s going on between our legs. There’s like a sewage system and entertainment complex intermingling. No engineer of any intelligence would have designed it that way.”

Chapter Eleven

Back to the physical exam, and after the x-rays and body fluid samples, it was a couple of months before the party planner, a bubbly Colon Screening Program Patient Coordinator, contacted me with a date for an information/awareness meeting the following month. There were about seven people in my group, where a couple of very positive and perky nurses showed and told us what foods and drinks to avoid pre-op, what to buy to get the colon flushed, and not with embarrassment, the importance of a clean, thus happy colon. We all sat apart, equally uncomfortable. Of course one individual had a list of inane questions to ask, mostly about what could he eat and not eat, and then had to ask them again, all the while remaining just as confused.

We were shown slides on a big screen showing that a clean and happy colon looks like the inside of a light pink, ribbed water hose when inflated, but which usually lies flat. A weak attempt at cleaning a colon showed pools of yellow and brown gunk lodged along its ribs and caked along its sides. We were shown no slides of a colon when in use, as I’m sure we could all visualize the occasional brown train kneading its way down – sometimes firm, sometimes just a flash flood.

I thought we would get together when it was over and gather in a chanting group hug in the middle of the room, wishing each other the best, a “Remember the Titans” moment, but alas, everyone left rather quickly.

Another month went by, and as the date of the colonoscopy neared, the medical terms and conditions about being examined or operated on internally kick in. For a colonoscopy, one is to cease and desist in taking iron pills or supplements that contain iron, and immediately stop eating foods that contain seeds including whole flax, sesame seeds, berries and popcorn, because they stick in the folds of one’s colon, hindering further inspection and generally mucking up the whole exercise.

Three days before, you have to confirm your ride to and from hospital, review your diet for the next two days, and purchase one container of GoLytely (gotta love the irony) or Pico-Salax, both laxative solutions, and four Dulcolax tablets, which is a stimulant laxative. The solutions are intended to create a watery stool, basically they cause diarrhea by increasing the water in the intestinal tract to stimulate bowl movements, while the Dulcolax excites the bowel’s motion to help the flow along. To get the ball or should I say bolus, rolling, you take two of the Dulcolax, two nights before the procedure, the other two the next night on the eve of the planned assault.

The day before, stop eating any solid food, milk, milk products, non-dairy creamers, protein beverages or alcoholic beverages. Ensure-type nutrition drinks and the like are allowed, as they are non-dairy products and happen to taste pretty good in coffee. Only fluids you can see through are allowed, but stay especially away from fluids that are red or purple in colour because they stain the digestive tract. Clear fluids include water, of course, popsicles, though not red or purple, Jell-O, with no added toppings of fruit, clear broth with no vegetables, noodles or meat, clear tea and thank god, black coffee with sugar. Fruit juices without pulp, like apple juice and lemonade are allowed, but no milk, cream or soy. Pop of any kind and Gatorade, Power Aid, and all the other “ades” are taboo. Finally, add four litres of water to the GoLytely container and store in fridge.

Chapter Twelve

About three in the afternoon on the eve of colonoscopy day, it came time for the cleansing. During the upcoming bowel cleanse a typical adult will lose about three to four liters (a gallon) of fluid. So the day before and up to three hours before the exam, they suggest drinking about the same amount of the clear fluids listed above. Being on such a diet, some people get light headed and I’m sure more cranky, craving a Snickers bar, so instead a Gravol is allowed.

I stood before the kitchen sink, took a deep breath and began drinking the voluminous laxative solution. Eight ounces every fifteen minutes until the four litre container is half empty. At ten PM that night, I drank the remaining two litres, at the same rate. They suggest it is best to drink it back quickly and not sip it like a Martini. I happen to agree. It is undoubtedly the worst part of the whole process.

After you have begun drinking the GoLytely or Pico-Salax mixture, Ms. Frizzle or any other wise person, would stay within twenty feet of a toilet. It definitely begins to flush out the digestive tract, and quite quickly I might add. But on average it starts working within one to three hours, though it’s also known to take up to six to eight hours. After the first few “sit-downs” you have serious diarrhea, basically pissing like a horse out of one’s arse. With each flash flood down the colon scouring any debris and waste along its way. Each time the fluid became clearer, though I was quite taken aback and rather concerned when after about the fourth or fifth sit-down a waft of fish permeated the room.

But that’s the thing, as mentioned, the colon may look like the inside of a ribbed garden hose when inflated with air, but naturally it lies flat, and has been eerily known to hide objects there for years. Like the joke I heard on a TV program, where a singer had just ended their audition song and the oldest judge asked her how old she was. She answered fourteen years. The youngest judge looked over at the eldest and crudely half-joked about the likelihood that, “There are probably pieces of steak older than that in your colon”.

But speaking from experience, I swallowed four quarters when I was about ten years old after being sent to the store for bread. Was X-rayed and told all should be good, but that I would have to check my stools and confirm that all four quarters exited my body. Using a pair of chopsticks as tools, each stool was checked thoroughly. I believe it took about a week for all four quarters to make their way to the end and out of me. And to this day I am still reminded, when I am in contact with one of my sisters, that she did the chop stick check for a promised cut of the take, and that I reneged on the deal. She is still waiting for her cut, with interest of course.

Your bowels are considered clear when you are only passing liquid, though the liquid may be clear with yellow or coloured flecks of stool. If you are unable to fully clean your bowels out, you must contact hospital immediately, instead of wasting everyone’s time showing up with a dirty, unhappy colon.

Over the entire cleansing process I managed to read a few chapters of a book and completed two Sunday crossword puzzles. As to the toilet, I felt it handled itself very well with its porcelain intact. The next time I cleaned it I lifted the seat which was obviously the blast containment ring, and now understand why the underside of a toilet seat is concave. It allows it to withstand intense forces better and deflects blasts back down into the bowl. I love well thought out and innovative designs.

Chapter Thirteen

The next morning in the dark of the early a.m., I walked the three blocks to the hospital sans nail polish, jewellery, body piercings, make-up, perfume, aftershave or other scented products. I did have wads of toilet paper stuffed into both jacket pockets, espying the bushes and hedges lining the walk just in case.

Once received into the hospital you go to the proper ward and are given a bed which gets curtained off so that you may slip into something a little more comfortable, typically a thin sheet opened at the back, which in this case seems so apropos. For many medical procedures, especially a colonoscopy, people are given the most commonly used drugs of choice, a benzodiazepine, usually midazolam, and an opioid analgesic such as fentanyl, for preoperative sedation.

After asking around before hand, I had been told that other than slight pressure from time to time, the actual procedure did not physically hurt, but if drugged, you are impaired for up to twenty-four hours. The fentanyl alone is eighty to one hundred times more potent than morphine and forty to fifty times more potent than one hundred per cent heroin. Thus, no important decision making or signing of documents, no driving a car, nor travelling alone by either bus or taxi, no riding a bicycle, swimming or climbing ladders, going to work or doing business, nor drinking alcohol, smoking pot, taking sleeping pills or anti-anxiety medicines, or even being responsible for another person for a day after the procedure. So I passed on being given the midazolam cocktail.

Midazolam is a short-acting central nervous system depressant of the benzodiazepine family, and is marketed under the names Dormicum, Hypnovel, and Versed. Benzodiazepines enhance the effect of what is called the neurotransmitter gamma (amino butyric acid) in receptors in the brain, resulting in sedative, hypnotic, anti-anxiety, anticonvulsant and muscle relaxant properties, thus in this day and age it is widely used in millions upon millions of people’s lives, whether they are being operated on or not.

The main reason midazolam works so well is because, besides its other attributes, it produces amnesia. Indeed it calms you from most anxiety, but in actual fact it breaks down the brain’s ability to make memory. If what you suffer from gives you pain, when you take midazolam you still hurt, but you forget about it almost immediately. As such, midazolam and other benzodiazepines are some of the most prescribed medicines in the world for all sorts of things. It goes without saying, benzodiazepines of any type are also considered to be major drugs of abuse.

In combination with an antipsychotic drug, midazolam is also able to calm aggressive or out of control behaviour of those who suffer from schizophrenia, and is often used as a stop gap measure for treatment of psychiatric emergencies, such as acute psychosis, at least until the effects of lithium and other antipsychotics take effect. Midazolam is also routinely used at low doses on those in their final hours or days lying on their death beds or waiting to go to the other side, as it helps with calming any agitation, restlessness, anxiety, and accompanying twitches, jerks and seizures.

In combination with other drugs, such as vecuronium bromide, potassium chloride and hydromorphone, midazolam is also used in certain US states in executions by lethal injection. The midazolam renders the condemned unconscious, the other drugs are then injected stopping the prisoner’s breathing and heart.  It replaces pentobarbital, which was once used instead, but which was disallowed for use by the drug’s manufacturer.

Other popular benzodiazepines, which have replaced the seriously harmful and once well-used, barbiturates, include Alprazolam. Available under different generic names it is best known as Xanax, and much like other benzodiazepines is short-acting with a median half-life of only one to twelve hours. Similar to midazolam, Xanax also goes straight to the brain, and having the same, as already noted, anxiolytic, sedative, hypnotic, skeletal muscle relaxant, anticonvulsant and amnesic properties. A psychoactive drug, Xanax is commonly used for the medical treatment of panic, anxiety, and social disorders, as well as for most forms of depression. Xanax is one of the top ten selling drugs in the world today.

Chapter Fourteen

Meanwhile back at the hospital, a nurse has wheeled me into an examination room. She prepped me by saying the procedure will take from thirty minutes to an hour and introduced me to the gastroenterologist, his assistant, and the star of the show, the endoscope, who I instantly dubbed Snoopy. I was told to lie on my left side, where a large television screen sat before me, ready to record Snoopy’s walk-about up my anus and through my rectum and large bowel. It was going to be an eye opener.

Snoopy is a long soft flexible tube armed only with a camera and a light, but can perform all sorts of feats. Sort of like a Swiss army knife. As it entered my anus it began to pump air in ahead of itself. The pressure of the air to keep the colon expanded like the ribbed water hose it was described as and the initial entry of the doc’s finger inserting Snoopy were the most uncomfortable parts, but did not really hurt. The cramping that occurred at various times simply felt like the passing of a really bad case of gas.

Because the colon is usually lying flat, the air Snoopy pumps in expands the walls of the colon allowing it to see the now well-lit surfaces.  Any fluids, now lying in pools of yellow brown water, are sucked up and out so that no surface area goes unchecked. The live footage on the big screen became fascinating, especially in Snoopy’s dogged determination to check every surface of my bowel. Could not see his tail wagging, but I bet you it was.

You are asked to change your position a little whenever Snoopy has to make his way around a dogleg of sorts. After the rectum, the course starts with a turn through the sigmoid colon, another turn up through the descending colon, and then across the belly to the entrance of the coiled up small intestine, where a stop sign awaits. Snoopy cleans and inspects on the journey in and inspects again on the way out.

Snoopy is even able to have instruments passed on down within itself. If there is bleeding in the colon, a laser, heater probe or needle to inject certain medicines to stop any bleeding, can be quickly sent along. In case of severe bleeding, Snoopy can tie off a rupture using a loop of blue string. If this does happen one is warned not to worry about the length of blue string that will appear in your stool in about seven days. He can also use a steel clip to stem bleeding, which takes about seven to twenty-four days to make its way out and is also harmless. They suggest if you are having an MRI scan or going through airport security, be sure to tell staff that you have a clip attached to your colon.

Snoopy can also perform a biopsy by taking small tissue samples and removing any abnormal growths, such as the previously mentioned polyps, which can be brought back out and sent to a lab for testing.

Snoopy found a small one in me and went right up to it. It looked like a skin sac hanging from a short umbilical line on the wall of my colon. Snoopy seemed to sniff it then deftly slid a wire loop around the base and tightened it up, pinching it off, then instantly cauterized the base to prevent bleeding. Though I watched it on TV I felt no pain.

Though incredibly good at what they do, during a colonoscopy there is a one in two hundred and fifty chance that there could be a complication, such as reaction to the medication or soreness of anus. And there is a one in one thousand chance of bleeding or puncturing of the bowel, and a slight risk, because of medication given, that your stomach contents will aspirate into one’s lungs if you throw up. But the most important risk is the possibility of Snoopy missing a polyp or small tumor. This is why it is imperative that you have a happy and clean colon. If not, you will have to come back and do it all over again. Supposedly they guarantee that Snoopy will be removed from your ass once the exam is over and samples have been taken. And that he will leave the place as if he wasn’t even there.

Chapter Fifteen

Waving Snoopy good bye, I was wheeled back to the general patient dorm and curtained off. A bit of confusion occurred with the nurses when the first one said they will be allowing me time to relax and come down from the medication. “I did not take any medication”, I reply. She frowned, and then told me she would call the person picking me up from the hospital because I would be still drugged up. She left, but a few moments later returned to confirm I had not taken any medication, but really just wanting to ask, why not? I then explained that I was farting and felt a bit bloated but other than that I was fine and not pregnant or retaining water. She chuckles “that’s good”, and explains it’s probably all right for me to get dressed and wait for my pickup. She leaves.

Another nurse quickly appears and asks if I would like juice or water as I wait for the drugs to dissipate. I said I was not on any drugs. Considering I had not eaten for over twenty-four hours, my bowel had just been cleaned, probed, detailed, and a polyp hanging off its wall had been snipped off, I asked if they had the food of champions and another important food group – chocolate milk. She frowned and smiled at the same time, said no and left me alone to dress.

Thereafter, if you do not get chills, fever, severe belly pain, gas pains that do not go away by farting; shortness of breath; rectal bleeding of more than a half a cup of blood, or black tarry “baby pooh”, you are good to go, and will hear back after Snoopy’s job performance report, and whether his inspecting and tissue retrieval work were up to par and a success.

One is able to eat and drink thirty to sixty minutes after the procedure, so after eventually being released, it was off to a little restaurant where m’lady watched me eat. After being dropped off at my place I just took it easy, though later that afternoon did spend some time stomping foot wide mushrooms, which had blossomed up through the building’s parking lot’s sixty-five year old asphalt layer. As they grew upwards, reaching for the sun, they did not see that they had peeled back three inches of asphalt like petals sprouting from a bud. I was in awe, and sad that they had to go.

That night I dined alone on half of a classic Italian sub from Subway, piles of cottage cheese and potato salad sprinkled with shredded Kale and garlic stuffed olives, a couple of honey garlic pepperoni sticks, two chocolate fudge cookies and a nuked cinnamon roll topped with cream cheese. Later I read in bed munching on a bowl of pecans. Then slept like a baby.

Here in Victoria, the wait for results can take anywhere from three weeks to a couple of months. Mine arrived by phone, by the same bubbly Colon Screening Program Patient Coordinator, who had contacted me in the beginning. Results were negative, meaning good, but it was suggested that I have another one in three to five years. I smiled right back at her over the phone, thanked her very much and sincerely agreed I would.

Chapter Sixteen

So there you go the tail exploits of a physical exam and a colonoscopy. Seriously, if you are an adult over fifty, especially a male, and you have not had a check-up or a colonoscopy recently or ever, and if you are able to afford one or have coverage, do yourself a favour and get one.

Besides watching what one puts into their digestive tracts, take care of your teeth too, they are important in being able to properly chew whatever it is you swallow. Stay away from cigarettes, and exercise the best you can, because heaven knows there is not much in the way of hunting and gathering going on these days to keep us fit.

And although I often don’t practise what I preach, but will never stop trying, once again, please be aware of what you are putting into your body, whether the air you breathe or food and drink you ingest. Try to make it food which is the least compromised by human added hormones, pesticides, herbicides and chemicals. Eat food that still has the earth’s life energy within it. It’s the perfect fuel for the human body’s digestive system. It is easily distributed throughout the body, and leaves all systems running smoothly, with the power behind them making it easier for them to expel any waste, do any repair work, or fight off any germs, and as a reward, you’ll hopefully possess one of the happiest colons around.

One of the best indicators of what is going on in the body and its overall health, besides keeping an eye on what we cough, spit and blow into a tissue is, yep, you guessed it, observe, assess, and report if needed, our bowel movements. Keep an eye on your stool. It can detect all sorts of things, from bacterial infections to cancers, immune dysfunctions, stress levels, hydration and nutrition.

Pooh itself is about 75% water, 25% fibre, dead and living bacteria, other cells and mucus. The perfect stool is a sausage or a snake that squeezes out quite easily like it has a life of its own, and knows where it’s going. Medium brown in colour and possibly up to 45 cm (18 in) long, with a 5 cm (2 in) diameter. To improve on an ideal stool, drink lots of water and chew fibre, especially hemp, flax, psyllium and chia. Of course there should be a slight odor to it, but it shouldn’t reek and peel paint. Remedy is to take a pro-biotic and eat more greens, nuts, and fruit.

Be aware of the colour of your stool. Light to dark brown, even some shades of green are ok. Pretty obvious what the problem is if your stool is red, while a black stool also could mean bleeding or too much meat consumption. Yellow stools typically mean gallbladder issues or parasitic problems, while white or grey, could show liver disease, pancreatic disorder or heavy antacid use.

If stool is under high pressure and dense, it’s often hard to pass, even painful, so take deep breaths to avoid any injuries to anus, and just take it slow. Allow the muscles to expand and do their job.

If the stool is a bunch of little lumps or balls, like deer or rabbit turds, it’s commonly a sign of dehydration and/or lack of fibre. Greasy and hard to flush often means heavy consumption of drugs, inflammation in digestive tract or food intolerance. And a high sugar intake, heavy spices, food sensitivities, especially hot sauces, makes a stool sticky and wetter.

Beyond the stool, we enter the realm of explosions. Smaller explosions out of the anus is often mild food poisoning, too much sugar or food intolerance. Basically, stuff the body is trying to expel as fast as it can. Do take note, when explosion is larger, and diarrhea like, and lies like an oil slick upon the surface of the toilet water. This could either be severe food poisoning, bacterial imbalances, food intolerance or inflammatory bowel disease. Get checked out, seriously.

If there are white spots in your stool and you have one of the itchiest asses around, it is probably a parasitic infection. Get treatment as well, and wash hands more than often. And if you ever wonder why we even eat corn, since it just shows up seemingly intact in our stools, it is because of the most easily ignored, yet most important and best thing we can do to for our digestive tract, is to slow down when eating. Take three deep breaths before you eat and chew each bite and chew it well.

Chapter Seventeen

Thinking back on the whole experience, I will end this essay with what I feel was the ah-ha moment for me.

When Snoopy was almost completely pulled out, but before popping out of my anus, he stopped and slowly arched his back, bending around to take a visual of my anus looking back from whence he came. It reminded me of the Voyager space probes.

Launched in 1977, the 722 kilogram (nearly sixteen hundred pound) robotic spacecraft, the Voyager I, has been using instruments on board, including infrared spectrometer, magnetometer, cosmic ray, radio-astronomy, plasma-wave and photo polariser systems, to study atmospheric properties and the composition of space as it bee-lines away from Earth.

It has been travelling at 67,000 kilometres per hour (40,000 mph) for nearly thirty-eight years and as of September 2015 is currently a staggering, and hard to fathom, nineteen billion km (nearly thirteen billion miles) away. She is followed by her sister, Voyager II, which was launched three weeks before her, but lolly-gagging along about three billion kilometres behind.

It took Voyager I two years to pass Jupiter, three years to pass Saturn, nine years for Uranus, not my anus, and twelve years to pass Neptune. It has also passed over forty-eight moons. To send a signal travelling at the speed of light (approx. 300,000 kilometres a second), to the Voyager I today would take over sixteen hours.

Since 2004 it has been leaving the sun’s solar system and entering interstellar space, the space between the stars, where the outward motion of the solar wind of our star, the sun, ceases. Though most of the Voyager I’s instruments have been shut down, she is estimated to be able to carry on until about 2025. But even if she were able, the next nearest star is about forty thousand years away.

In 1990, when the Voyager I was only about six billion kilometres (four billion miles) away, and after nine years of having its camera turned off, astronomer and author Carl Sagan, Candy Hanson of NASA, Carolyn Porco of the University of Arizona and the rest of the Voyagers team of scientists and engineers turned Voyager I’s fifteen hundred millimetre (fifty-nine inch) high-resolution narrow angle camera back on. Rotating the camera around to face from whence it came, sixty frames were taken and are the last photos from the Voyager I. Sending the frames back to earth took nearly six hours. One of the frames shows a nearly black backdrop with a smattering of light rays from the sun amidst thousands of pricks of light. In the lower left hand corner amongst the six hundred and forty thousand pixels that make up the image is one of those mere points of light. It measures less than a pixel, zero point twelve of a pixel in fact. A tiny dot against the vastness of space, but blown-up and peering really close or using a magnifying glass, one can see that it is pale blue in colour, and happens to be where all of Earth’s history has happened. And if the whole world consumed as much resources as the United States does, we would need four of them.

Within the vastness of space, one little planet out of many. Moving and spinning around at the perfect distance from the sun for the last four and a half billion years. But this little planet is abnormally heating up, much more quickly than in the past. Reason is because of the way only one, of the millions of other living species that inhabit the planet, has lived over the last microsecond of the planet’s history, over the past few hundred years.

But the nearly seven and a half billion people that inhabit the planet today are not entirely to blame for the ever dwindling and extinction of its resources, and changing climate. In fact where population is growing the fastest today, is in Sub-Saharan Africa. Where all the areas, and countries, that lie south of the Sahara desert, include some of the poorest parts of the world, and lowest carbon dioxide emissions producers in the world. The consumption habits of only about 10% of the world’s population of Earth are to blame, and are responsible for the vast majority of both, carbon dioxide emissions, which of course will change things, and wealth.

Whilst believing in unlimited growth in all human endeavours we also believe this is possible upon this one finite planet. But then as American author, philosopher, and libertarian socialist, Noam Chomsky, has stated,

“The general population doesn’t know what’s happening and it doesn’t even know that it doesn’t know.”

This is undoubtedly one of the reasons why, besides the cancers erupting with abandon within us, immune systems dying, toxic digestive tracts, and hearts giving out, the soon-to-be number one health problem for humanity is expected to be, if not already, our state of mind.

The planet on the other hand, is losing its forests, its fresh water, while its seas, rivers, skies, lakes, cities become acidified, and ever quickly changing climates become extreme events. Its resources being consumed by greed, and to feed an ever growing population, both of which are already far larger than what this one small planet can supply. A planet which Carl Sagan describes in his 1994 book, “Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space”.

“That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.” 

pale blue dot

Imagine that, as happen stance would have it, a small blue dot called earth, also in dire need of its own colonoscopy, and a date with Snoopy.

 

 

10/9/15

Sticky Notes and Random Quotes I

pliny the elder

  “Man is the only animal that knows nothing and can learn nothing without being taught. He can neither speak, nor walk, nor eat, nor do anything without the prompting of nature, but only weep.”

-First century Roman, Pliny the Elder (23 – 79), lawyer, author, naturalist, natural philosopher, army and naval commander, and personal friend of the emperor Vespasian, comparing humanity to the wonders of the animal kingdom. He died at the beachside resort of Stabiae, on the south-west coast of Italy, sixteen kilometers (nine point nine miles) away from Mount Vesuvius when it blew its stack in the year 79, and which also took out the nearly twelve thousand residents of nearby Pompeii, almost instantaneously.

 

“Fascism is capitalism in decay.”lenin

-Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (1870-1924), also known as Lenin. Russian communist revolutionary, politician, and political theorist, he was head of the government from when the Russian Empire was dissolved and replaced with the Soviet Union, a one-party socialist state. He remains an ideological figurehead behind the political theories of Marxism and Leninism.

 

 

 

“Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.”

mussolini-Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini (1883-1945) also known as ll Duce, was an Italian politician, journalist and leader of the National Fascist Party, which ruled Italy from 1922 to 1945. He was the founder of fascism, a form of radical authoritarian nationalism, and venomously anti-liberal, anti-communist and anti-conservative.

 

 

05/6/15

Leaving – a poem by Owen Kavanagh

Leaving

I’m a romantic to the depth of my soul
profound is my loss for unattained goal
dreams of sharing life with a mate
all I can manage is living with fate

I’m fatalistic – life’s passing me by
caught in a muddle of stuff that I try
like so many others… alone at my core
not even seeing the world at my door

Reincarnation may be the best hope
back to the future just hoping to cope
I’m not actually planning to die on this day
but when my time comes I’ll be thankful to say

“I’m leaving now, for places unknown
I trust you’ll continue to do well on your own
I’ll call when I get there … wherever it be
I’ll send you a postcard when I’m actually free”

You don’t seem excited but didn’t before
you’re not a believer in fortunes of war
somedays may be lonely may even regret
all the years that we lingered after we met

Life has many facets you proudly proclaim
then back to ignoring the love that you shame
you don’t know you’re hurting or being unkind
it’s narrow horizons that make you half blind

When love is so foreign it must seem too strange
when joy’s unfamiliar it’s not in your range
perhaps the kindest thing to be done
is to leave
and good wishes for your life thats to come

twochairs garden

09/28/14

Nuke Me Nuke You

NukeBlast

If you are thanking you’re lucky stars for being born in a commonwealth country such as Canada, Australia or New Zealand because, according to the release of The Economist – Intelligence Unit’s, “the best cities to live in the world” report, nine of the top eleven are in these countries, be glad and grateful. Based on stability, healthcare, culture, environment, and including such things as education, what type of crime is prevalent, levels of censorship and availability of good quality housing and goods, the top ten cities to live in the world are Melbourne (Aus), Vienna, Austria, Vancouver (Can), Toronto (Can), Calgary (Can), Adelaide (Aus), Sydney (Aus), Helsinki, Finland, Perth (Aus), and Auckland, New Zealand.  Such places are also some of the most expensive places to live in the world.

If you would like to gloat for awhile, please, I didn’t. Because in reality, no matter where one lives, many find life is a struggle most days, especially trying to keep ones sanity intact. But if you are jumping around and fist-pumping, the following article should perhaps not be read at such a time.

It is a piece that formed in my head August 6th, the day of remembrance of Hiroshima, and I started thinking about some research into radiation sickness I had been doing, my knowledge and research over the decades of the accuracies of World War II, and not the Hollywood version, and how in a heartbeat, everything could change, because a few countries have nuclear power in both warheads and reactors, with most of the reactors run past their forty year life-spans. So if you do not need distraction from your distractions, or your bubble popped, the following might be a downer. But then as stated, it could all shatter in seconds anyways.

Such a looming threat though should only make us more concerned into making each day count, for ourselves and those around us and within our communities, and to be aware of such threats, and most importantly, allowing ourselves to talk about such things. If you are going to venture forth and read further, next time you have to vote, think about to whom you will be bestowing upon such a right and who you are hiring, and that your concerns will be acknowledged.  It’s supposed to be our voice, not theirs. And if being the eternal optimists, to remember it is not too late to stop nuclear madness.


 

In the final months of World War II the States were in the process of becoming the new and dominant world empire, since the British Empire had torn her guts out over the course of two world wars and had roared its last hurrah. As for those still alive who actually think Germany would have stormed North America, and we’d all be speaking German are delusional. They could not even take Britain. As for the Japanese, they had no interest in North America, there plan was to delay the Americans, while they took control of the natural resources in Southwest Asia. They felt they had only about a year to sixteen months to take what they could, before the industrial might of the States would produce enough to stop them. They were correct. On a side note, if the American carrier fleet was not at sea the day Pearl Harbour was attacked; the Japanese might have had a few more months’ leeway, at the most.

All over the world, many countries were shaken to their cores, on their knees retching after the previous years of war. Some countries lost a generation of their population, especially when the majority of deaths in World War II, by far, were civilians. All together, including deaths from war-related disease, famine, and in captivity, 85 million people died in World War II, nearly four per cent of the world population at the time.

Military deaths totaled 22 to 25 million, the remainder, 55 million, were civilians. It was what war would become in the 20th century. Drop bombs on cities. Where destroying another’s industry, was deemed far more important than nearly exterminating entire populations. And as the war went on, the bombs became only bigger, and more and more civilians felt their wrath.

In Nov 44’ the Americans were close enough in their island hopping to begin fire-bombing Japanese cities. The majority of Japanese homes and businesses were made of wood and paper. It was a turkey shoot.

By March 45’ a typical bombing raid over Japan had escalated to operations such as Operation Meeting House, carried out that month, where 279 B-29’s, flying at an average altitude of about 2100m (7000ft) above Tokyo, would drop 1665 tons (3.3 million lbs) of incendiary bombs, mostly 230kg (500lb) cluster bombs, which would explode at about 659m (2250ft) releasing 38 napalm carrying incendiary bomblets.  The effect was total destruction.  Forty square kilometers (15.8 sq mi) of the center of Tokyo disappeared in firestorm tornados.  Twenty-five per cent of the city ceased to exist. Over 280,000 buildings and homes were destroyed.

At the time, Tokyo was the most densely populated area in the world, with about 103,000 people every 2.59 sq km (one sq mi). And while there is an array of estimated deaths, with such a density, logic would dictate that it was probably much worse than the estimated 90,000 to 150,000 deaths, and over 200,000 injured.  It would become the single most destructive bombing raid on a civilian population in history, more than even Hiroshima and Nagasaki, four months later.

By June 45’ sixty-seven cities had been firebombed in such a way, with over half a million civilian dead, untold numbers injured and burned, and over five million people homeless.  In contrast, and if you do not include the 9,500 members of the US Merchant Marine who died, the States lost only 2,500 civilians over the course of the entire war, while the Soviets lost over 19 million.

After breaking the Japanese military code in 43’ the Americans had been listening in on Japanese communications, and after June 45’ were receiving a lot of traffic concerning the Japanese perhaps surrendering.  Though officially the Japanese, like Winston Churchill, continued to give word that they shall never surrender, behind the scenes steps were being made towards peace.

The Japanese Islands were surrounded, with nothing going in and nothing coming out. Forty per cent of the urban areas of their largest six cities ceased to exist, with the guts of what remained of their industry totally devastated. And having lost nearly five per cent of their population, over twenty-five per cent of both their army and navy, millions injured, and cities no longer existing, there was no doubt the Japanese were losing the ability to continue or even defend their homeland.

Their last ditch effort kamikaze and banzai attacks, expending men, aircraft, and ships were their last gasps. It’s getting desperate when after losing one of the heaviest and most powerful armed battleships ever made, the Musashi, in Oct 44’ during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, sunk after absorbing seventeen bombs and being torpedoed nineteen times, the other, her sister-ship the Yamato, would steam out with a full complement of crew (3,332 men), and a full payload of ammunition on a one way trip to Okinawa in April 45’. The Americans were on her like a pack of wolves, and after eleven torpedoes and six bombs had crashed into her, she keeled over, her magazines exploded and scattered what was left of her into dust and pieces.  Of the crew there were only two hundred and eighty two survivors.

The Japanese and the Americans, also knew that Russia was on its way, with the Trans-Siberian railway running full out since the defeat of Germany in May 45’, as Russian troops and material were being priority posted to their east coast in preparation for the assault on Japan. The Japanese also knew that if the Russians were to assault them, Stalin would not worry about how many of his soldiers died to take Japan.  And no matter how well they defended their island, the Japanese people knew they would no doubt be nearly exterminated. As it turned out, over the coming months the Americans would give a shot at doing the exact same thing.

The Russians had already beaten the other Allies to Berlin, now their intentions were on beating them to Tokyo as well. This was something the American leadership could not accept. So in typical American logic, to speed up any peace negotiations, they decided to obliterate even more Japanese cities and force them to surrender to America alone. Further deciding to drop nuclear bombs instead of conventional bombs, and call them funny names like Little Boy and Fat Man.

But proving karma can very often be a bitch, after delivering parts and enriched uranium for the Little Boy atomic bomb (destined for Hiroshima) to Tinian, in the North Mariana Islands, the heavy cruiser, USS Indianapolis would continue onto Guam, leaving there on July 28th 45’ and steaming for the Philippines.

At ten minutes past midnight on the 30th, the Japanese submarine I-58 would put two torpedoes into the Indianapolis, and a mere twelve minutes later three hundred sailors would go down with her, while the remaining nine hundred went into the water. Four days would go by until by chance, a PV-1 Ventura, patrol bomber on routine patrol would spot men adrift. Doing a flyby, all they could do was to drop a life-raft and a radio transmitter and get the word out. Later that day a PBY Catalina arrived on scene, and against orders landed on the open sea, picking up fifty-six survivors. Thereafter, the destroyer Cecil J. Doyle would show up and begin coordinating the rescue. Within twenty-four hours, six more destroyers would show up to assist.

While nearly nine hundred went into the water ten days previous, by Aug 8th, when the search was called off, only three hundred and seventeen would come out. The sinking of the Indianapolis is the greatest single loss of life at sea in the history of the US Navy.

Meanwhile, on August 6th Little Boy had been put together, armed and loaded into a Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber, named the Enola Gay. Named by its pilot, Paul Tibbetts, Jr, Enola Gay was his mother’s name, who he honored for her support and strength when earlier he had given up a medical career to become a military pilot. So instead of healing and caring for people, he could instead drop bombs on them.

Before this mission the Enola Gay had practised by participating in the fire bombings of Kobe and Nagoya, two of Japan’s most populated cities. To simulate dropping an atomic bomb, they dropped five-ton pumpkin bombs. Similar in size and shape, as well as ballistic and handling characteristics, they proved to be nearly as destructive, carrying 6,300 lbs of explosives each.

On August 6th, Tibbetts and a crew of eleven would take off from Tinian, and soon rendezvous with two other B-29s, The Great Artiste, carrying instrumentation, and the Necessary Evil, to take photos, because they still did not have any idea how it’d go and how destructive it would be, nor did anyone know anything about how radiation affected humans. They were like babes in the woods thinking they were explorers.

Hiroshima was selected because of the three possible choices, the weather was sunny and clear, which was excellent for the Americans because they wanted to take pictures and see what these atomic bomb things could do. Little Boy was dropped from 9,470m (31,000ft) and detonated at about 600m (1968ft) above Hiroshima, which at the time had a population of about 350,000. Though considered very inefficient, with only perhaps 1.7 per cent of its fissile material (140 lbs of uranium) fissioning, it still created a blast equivalent to sixteen kilotons of TNT (14.5 million kg / 32 million lbs).

One square mile of Hiroshima’s center disappeared, with resulting fires destroying an estimated 12 sq km (4.4 sq mi) of the city. 80,000 people would die, with more than 70,000 people injured and mostly burnt. Nearly 70 per cent of Hiroshima’s buildings ceased to exist.

The Enola Gay was 18.5km (11.5mi) away by the time they felt the shock waves from the blast. Looking back, pilot Tibbetts would describe what he saw as simply “that awful cloud.” It was undoubtedly the moment when some say that the possibility of the apocalypse was passed from the so called gods’ hands, and into our hand.

08/20/14

Teabags by Mrs. Henderson

 

 

Tilling the Soil

 

Whilst making my tea yesterday afternoon I was compelled to ponder. What effect did tea bags have on the staple  industry when our modern world discarded their trusty kettles and Brown Betty combinations steeped just right to perfection, to on the fly zap it in the microwave. Hence having glue fasten our strings on. How relieved must the string suppler have been. How rejoiced the glue factory must have been …. Did they see this shift in demand coming ?

 

 

 

 

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    08/13/14

    Robin the Mensch

    RobinWilliams

    Robin Williams 1951 – 2014

    “You’re only given one little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”

    At first I thought it was just me and my often silly human mind. But I felt the earth move yesterday. Not in the physical realm but in the global consciousness we all share. After bumping into people all day who are close to me, I found I was not alone. Prolonged hugs seemed to be the norm, instead of just saying see you later.