Monday, December 22, 2014

Letter Carriers Are Interchangeable, But I Like To Think I Put The Fun In Fungible

I'm retiring in a little over a week (a little over because I just got mandated to work New Year's Eve which is my scheduled day off next week). That means I'm leaving "I can't do these chores because I worked all day" years old for "I didn't retire to do chores all day."

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Can You Tell Which One Is Not Like The Others?

My last day fast approaches. I was thinking last day of work, but I suppose the sentence is terrifyingly true as written. I am still working, and here are some more entries in the occasional series, A Day in the Life.
Click to Enlarge
When I took the first of these pictures, it did seem as if it could be my last day since the moose stopped eating, and then started walking directly at me. "Ah, the hunter has become the hunted," I thought coolly as I scurried away.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Leader of the Pack (Because I'm Late For Work And I Don't Have Time To Think Of A Better Title) Next Month: Better Titles

Leah read the draft of our Christmas letter last night. She said it was depressing. I said, "Duh, I'm going to finish it with Merry Christmas!"
The letter is mostly for people that don't follow this blog since everything in it has already been online. The depressing part of the letter is that unlike this blog, which is opt-in, the letter is opt-out and even that isn't true, since there is no mechanism to opt out of it.
If you want to see what you're possibly missing, click on the link here.
If you do, you should know that I am aware that "hopefully" has a controversy attached to it when it is used as a disjunct as I do in the letter However, no other word seems to work better, and hey, I'm a rebel. A rebel with a cause; hopefully.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

We're Off To See The Vizier, The Wonderful Vizier Of Oz

I'm not sure if I'm talking about hypocrisy here, and of course only the overconfident would say anything is ironic. But, isn't it at least odd that  some people that think it's fine to show graphic pictures of aborted babies at state fairs or PTA meetings  because stopping the horror is more important than cosseting the squeamish, but some of these same people are upset that the Senate's Torture Report was released, as if admitting torture is worse than torturing.
One argument against releasing the report is that if people knew what we'd done, it might incite violence against Americans. But you know who already knows about the torture? The terrorists that were tortured.  Also, the innocent people that were tortured and then released might have mentioned it to their friends and families as an explanation for why they were off to join the jihad.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Bard Of Dagobah

According to the eloquence book, odd word order is another bit of craft. So, brilliant Yoda is.
In trying my hand at it, I realized that tat for tit maybe a great way to pay for body art, but it's no way to run a government. Sparingly, think I, we should use this, because after a while, don't you just want to say, "Jeez, Yoda, you're 800 years old and one with the Force, when will you learn to form a simple sentence?"
Man proposes, God disposes, but it was Leah and I who went to the dump on Saturday afternoon. I had a long weekend and big plans for reorganizing the chaos in our office and bedrooms, or at least swapping the chaos from one room to another. But, a few weeks ago, I'd noticed a bag of bird seed in the garage had been gnawed through, which, along with seeing a mouse, made me think we had a mouse in the garage. I cleaned up the bird seed, and figured the mouse would find another place to live.
The mouse, as if. On Saturday, as I got ready to roll up my sleeves and start in on reversing entropy in the house, Leah screamed so loud in the garage, that I could hear it in the kitchen since she had called my iPhone first. There was a veritable mouse civilization living in our garage. A well fed, bourgouise, prosperous, tending towards obese, mouse city of city mice. Even the garage, which is detached, was like, "Dude, you've got to do something."
The mice were eating so much more than bird seed. They had chewed open a bag of organic mulchy stuff, and some caffeinated  sport beans left over from bike rides, and who knows what else. They'd spread it carefully all over every concealed corner. but they were not very careful about keeping their food corner separate from their restroom corner if you catch my drift.  Anyway, long story slightly shorter; we cleaned the garage, using copious amounts of Lysol and set some traps. Now we wait.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Hungry Are Not The Enemy, Hunger Is

or so the activists say on TV. But for me now, hunger isn't the enemy, it's barely even a memory. One of my readers told me not to say that the turkey was stuffed, and now I am. But, ha, ha, we had corned beef. We did that once many years ago. My sister came up from Seattle, and when she went back to work, she told them about the corned beef. Her co-worker said, "You Jews can't do anything right."
I have been off my diet for a few days. Saturday was my anniversary, well, Karen's too, and we went to a movie. Oddly, on a day that celebrates two becoming one, I got my own popcorn, because, as I explained to Karen, I don't like to share.
Today is Thanksgiving, and of course, we all have a lot to be grateful for. Fox News must be pleased that the day after a Republican report completely disproved all of the deranged accusations they'd been making about Benghazi, thirty thousand of Lois Lerner's emails were discovered. "Will there be any smoking guns?", the interviewer asked about the unread emails. "I'm sure there will be," the guest  who hadn't read them, said. Of course, when it comes to smoking guns, Fox has been positively ecstatic about Ferguson.
In other, better, news, The Earth Girls were featured in the Alaska Dispatch Holiday Gift Guide:

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

If Only The House Republicans Had Some Way They Could Reform Our Immigration System

In church last week, the pastor read the story of the battle of Jericho. I know you shouldn't pick and choose among truths, but, probably because of my own personal history and pathology, I don't like stories about walls tumbling down.
At work, the word has gotten out that I'm planning to retire, possibly because every morning I tell them, "Ha, ha, just five more weeks till I leave you losers behind forever." I've never been more popular, although it's the kind of popularity that a dead raccoon by the side of the road has among crow connoisseurs. Like they say in church, "Where the body is, there the vultures will gather."
All the carriers are coming by to look at my route with a view to bidding on it. The underlying, unflattering subtext is, "If that old man can handle it, how hard can it be?" 
Political watch: It's been 517 days since the Senate passed bipartisan immigration reform and John Boehner said that the House would take up a bill of its own. They haven't, but now they're so insulted by the President's actions that they can't be expected to pass a bill about anything, not even a bill to implement their own ideas to reform immigration. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Scary Messages Are Coming From Inside The House

I heard an interview with an Idaho Republican Congressman today. Representative Labrador is willing to leave the country without an Attorney General, stop hearings on judicial appointments, even threaten another government shut down in response to the President's action on immigration. Apparently, the one thing House Republicans aren't willing to do, and haven't been willing to do for the last year and a half is take up the bipartisan immigration bill passed by the Senate in 2013.
I can't even...
but only because that's an example of aposiopesis from Chapter Seven in the eloquence book.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

I Sing The Body Electric

I went back to the doctor a few days ago to find out what the MRI I'd had revealed.  The doctor asked, "If the pain starts in your neck, why didn't you have a cervical MRI?"  So, on Tuesday I went and had another MRI. It went okay, as far as I know; I fell asleep. Earlier that  day, though, I had an EMG. That's a procedure that involves a needle and electricity and is slightly painful. That part wasn't so bad, but it also involved a cattle prod-like device that caused a sort of twitching. It really felt like hiccups, but grand mal hiccups. Monday I go back to the doctor to find out what that was all about.
As you know, I try to give my customers a boutique experience. I try to anticipate their needs even before they do. So yesterday, I gave one of my customers her mail, and then before she even thought to ask, I also gave her my take on the elections. I told her that going forward, she should read my blog to know how to vote. She was gracious, but she said that she didn't read blogs. Apparently when it comes to gazing at navels, she'd rather gaze at her own. Well, okay Kristin, read it or be in it. She's a professor, a job I could never do. I mean I could talk, I just don't listen to myself that closely, I've usually already heard what I'm saying.  If a student came up after a lecture and said they didn't understand what I was saying about gremlins, I'd be I'm not sure either, was I talking about the car, or the imaginary creature?

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Bullys For Billionaires

I got an e-mail from the President today. He said I shouldn't be cynical because of the election results; that cynicism is easy, but doesn't lead anywhere. It is easy, though, especially when you hear John Boehner talking in that voice that sounds like an orange hot air balloon looks.
A hot air balloon that is gloating, "I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” Of course, that works sometimes. The Wizard had a pretty good run after his balloon took him to Oz, but ultimately, someone always pulls the curtain back, revealing, in this case, a big man with small ideas. 
Of course, there is a case to be made for optimism, too. Only Nixon could go to China. Maybe McConnell can go to the White House and find a way to work together with the President. Probably not, though. He's spent the last six years blocking any progress in the Senate, and even though it's contributed mightily to gridlock and made America despise the very government they elected,  it's made him Majority Leader. Plus, I could be all optimistic, but according to Clive Thompson writing in Wired, cynicism online makes people look smart. I don't want to brag, but knowing that Don Young is our congressman, makes me feel simultaneously depressed and like a genius

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

I'm Not Saying The Republicans Are Like Slaveowners. I'm Saying The Electorate Is Like Antebellum "Poor Whites"

White and off white, rich and poor, ignorant and educated, that patchwork that is America (or the third of it that voted) came together like the generation that made the world safe for democracy and made democracy safe for billionaires. The last time there were this many Republicans in the House of Representatives was during the Great Depression. Coincidence? I doubt it.
There is nothing new. Mark Twain* said (and it really was Mark Twain, not just me saying Mark Twain because he probably said it since he said so many things) that people tend to vote against their own best interests. In Alaska, as around the country, several ballot measures, including an increase to the minimum wage, passed, but candidates that opposed the measures were elected.
When I was young, one of my friends used to drive by a house where a German Shepard would rush out and chase his car. One day, the dog made a super-canine effort and managed to bite the tire of the car as it went by. The wheel kept rolling, of course, and the dog's teeth were pulled out. Now that they've caught the government, let's see what happens.

*<...the "poor whites" of our South who were always despised, and frequently insulted, by the slave lords around them, and who owed their base condition simply to the presence of slavery in their midst, were yet pusillanimously ready to side with the slave lords in all political moves for the upholding and perpetuating of slavery, and did also finally shoulder their muskets and pour out their lives in an effort to prevent the destruction of that very institution which degraded them.~A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court 

Monday, November 03, 2014

Speaking Of Getting Old

To update a recent post, the MRI was for a pain in my neck, shoulder, back and arm. By the time of the MRI, the pain, which really has been intermittent for years, was gone again, but this time it left a numbness and tingling in my wrist and fingers. Wednesday I go to the doctor to find out what it all means.
The only thing that was even slightly abnormal on the MRI was a bulging disk, so I assume that's the problem with the numbness and tingling. I don't really want them operating on my neck, but maybe traction, or PT, or ignoring it will work. 
My leg only hurts now when I walk, and not always then, either. So, basically, I'm getting old. Which as they say, beats the alternative. Until, I guess, it doesn't.
Oh, and speaking of alternatives, even though I think we can all agree after this brutal election campaign that we don't want anybody to win, we definitely want some of these people to lose. So, if you haven't already, get out and vote. It might even make a difference.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Campaigning is Not Governing. It's The Antithesis. So, At Least There's That

I may be dating myself (and it's none of your business who I date) but I seem to remember a time when people ran for elected office, and then the campaign ended; the winners governed and the losers got jobs.

Now, it's endless elections, endless wars, endless buffets and nothing new under the sun. Solomon said there is "a time to be silent and a time to speak," but no one ever seems to just shut up and do something. We used to have movers and shakers, now we have mavens and doyens, pundits and panjandrums, but nothing ever gets done. 
Also, hey you kids get off my lawn.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

But That's Not The Way It Feels

The MRI I had last week has revealed that I'm a big baby. The report was replete with terms like, "normal," "slight" and "Stop wasting our time."
Ha ha, of course it didn't say that last bit, they got paid for their time.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

It's Alive

After a long gestation period, Earth Girls Love_____ has a website. It can be found at
Once there it is possible to purchase Earth Girls Love_____ merchandise. So far, it's just their highly regarded organic lip balm, but very soon other items will be available, so check back often.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Coming Full Circle In A Tube, Which Is A Full Circle

Since that time I was born, I've always thought of myself as claustrophobic. Last week I had an MRI. I was nervous, anticipating being entombed in a metal tube. But I loved it, entombed? More like enwombed. 
I don't know what the MRI revealed even though I looked at the images on my computer. I mean it's obvious I have bones and even a brain, but I don't know why they seem to hate each other. I may have to show them to a doctor despite my sense that that never helps. 
I've been staying home from work this week because I've been running a fever. I'm starting to feel better. But, one way or another, I might end up seeking medical advice. If I do, I hope I can find someone better than the Cuomo/Christie Duck Dynasty Doctor. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Maybe They Should Put A Bag Over Their Heads

The Republicans are more hypocritical than a Pharisee sharing a pulled pork sandwich with a harlot and a moneylender, a harlot, a moneylender and a pig. They are hyperventilating about the two cases of Ebola that have developed in this country and railing about the administration's handling of the epidemic of two cases, complaing because the Ebola Coordinator is a coordinator and not a doctor
In the meantime, they have blocked the appointment of a new surgeon general because he had the audacity to say that the plague of gun deaths (thirty-two per day) is a health issue. As if people dying by the thousands every year, isn't a health issue.

By the way, eloquence is harder than it looks, antithesis will arrive when I think of a suitably epigrammatic one.

Friday, October 17, 2014

We Should Doff Our Don

When our Congressman was young, he might have been effective, but now Young is just a bully and a buffoon, and according to an editorial, possibly insane. 
So, I think that nails polyptoton, next up, antithesis. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

You're A Poet And You Don't Know It something that no one ever said to Shakespeare, because he was a poet, and he did know it.

I preordered a book, The Elements of Eloquence, to try and make this blog more interesting and my arguments more compelling. Now it's arrived.  The author, Mark Forsyth, says that even a genius such as Shakespeare used these techniques to improve his writing. Actually, Mr. Forsyth says that Shakespeare was not a genius, but a craftsman who learned the figures of rhetoric and deployed them skillfully. 
My plan was, and still is, to sneak the different elements into the blog and let the praise pile up. Chapter One introduces the simplest one: alliteration. And it turns out, I have, in a prior post, used that one, to wit, Don Young is a bully and buffoon. 
I'm hoping that now that you've heard me tell it twice, and in an alliterative approach, Alaskans, that 
we can end this poor player's strutting and fretting; that he could be heard no more. I don't know if all lives are tales told by an idiot full of sound and fury, signifying nothing, but that definitely sounds like a Don Young news conference.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Oh, What A Noble Mind Is Here O'erthrown!—

Last night I was winterizing my new bike with my usual aplomb, putting on a fender and studded tires. I was satisfied with the work by the end, although not every bike mechanic needs a hammer for the installation, probably because they're not as creative as I am, or possibly they have better impulse control.
Anyway, when I came out this morning to go to work, one of the tires was flat, and I woke Leah up and told her she either needed to drive me to work, or find a way to her job without using my car because I didn't have time to walk. It wasn't till much later in the day that somebody asked me why I didn't just ride my other bike. "Alzheimer's, I guess." I was planning on playfully riffing on that with the Hamlet quote above, but I couldn't remember it! Ah, Google, the demented's little helper.

Space, The Final Frontier, Or A Cold Infinite Emptiness?

When I used to feel maudlin, this was pre-Zoloft, of course, (I'm a Post Maudlinist now ) I would see the moon (this was the original moon before the current sequel craze, i.e. Super Moon, Blood Moon, etc.) and imagine that the people I missed were looking at it at the same time.  I doubt they ever were, but check out this completely unrelated item, Emo Phillips is going to be in Boston on November 14th, and exactly one week later he'll be in Cedar Rapids.

And speaking of being maudlin, or happy or whatever feelings humans have, I always thought one of the flaws in the Vulcan psyche is (or was, or will be) that if a being has no emotions, why would they do anything, "What's my motivation?" Now, I've been (or was) vindicated. Listening to a book by an autistic author, I heard her cite research that shows that people whose brains have been damaged in a way that removes their emotions are incapable of making decisions and are essentially paralyzed. When I heard that, I felt.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

I Thought This Would Fit In The Last Post, But It Didn't.

Adam Smith wrote in the Wealth of Nations (fine, I never read Adam Smith, but neither did you, so how are you going to argue with me) that in a free market as we pursue our own best interests, there is an invisible hand that makes the economy better for everyone.
Unfortunately, we now live in an oligarchy and their lobbyist lackeys. The invisible hand is now just an invisible finger to poke us poors in the eye.

Can't We All Just Get Along? No, Stop Asking.

According to NPR, because Alaska is a cheap media market, with a vulnerable incumbent Democratic senator, we have been inundated with Koch brother (and other's) money to sway the election. TV programming, the mail, our front porches and telephones have all become unusable extensions of the campaign with  the result that Alaskans are enraged. At everyone.
It's not just the negativity that grates, it's the cognitive effort to have to keep listening to the Republican ads, and then mentally debunking them.
For example, the ads try to tie Begich to Obama's "failed" policies without naming them. Are they the ones that brought unemployement below six percent? Are they the ones that (using the Republican blueprint, credit where credit is due) got health insurance to millions of uninsured people? The record stock market? Killing bin Laden?
They certainly don't want to talk about their own record. While they bemoan the national debt, they shut down the government rather than even discuss raising the taxes on billionaires that pay at lower rates than the middle class. They don't want to discuss the policy that led to the invasion of Iraq, at a cost of over a trillion dollars, a war that was so mishandled that it created ISIS. Although they do seem eager to get back into that war.  Do they want to talk about their voter suppression or their views on legitimate rape?
I only mention this as confirmation of the NPR report, we are enraged. Unfortunately, as a red state, most of us are enraged at the wrong people.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Probably Not A Serious Policy Proposal

We're bombing ISIS because they've killed two Americans in a grisly fashion. This will be the third, no, fourth time we've gone to war with enemies of Iran. Our relationship with the Iranians is starting to seem like one of those cheesy comedies where two lovers pretend to hate each other in public. And by attacking ISIS, instead of letting regional powers deal with them, we are giving them legitimacy among people who inexplicably resent our attacking Middle Eastern targets, aiding their recruiting. 
In the meantime, 32 Americans are killed by guns everyday without ever leaving the country. If we want to save American lives, maybe we should declare war on the NRA. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Two Legs Bad. One Leg, Even Worse

When Karen is in a lot of pain, she sometimes tells us that she wishes we were too, so we'd know what she's going through. We tell her that's not very nice, that we're not wishing the pain on her, that we're doing the best we can for her, that caregiving for an angry person isn't exactly the life we would have chosen, and that our wish for her is that she could be pain-free. Well, dreams do come true, at last. I woke up this morning with a debilitating pain in my leg. I can barely walk. I actually noticed it last night when Karen woke me up to change the input on the TV so she could stop watching a DVD and go back to regular programming (we have a new DVR and remote [which has nothing to do with her not being able to change inputs, I'm just bragging a little]). I assumed it would be better in the morning, because isn't everything? So far, it's not, but I've taken some aspirin. If I was making this up, my new replacement bike would arrive today to mock me, but no, it's still mocking me somewhere between Federal Way and Anchorage.
Recently, I heard an interview with William Deresiewicz, railing against the Ivy League. His thesis is, “The system manufactures students who are smart and talented and driven, yes, but also anxious, timid, and lost, with little intellectual curiosity and a stunted sense of purpose: trapped in a bubble of privilege, heading meekly in the same direction, great at what they’re doing but with no idea why they’re doing it.” He calls them, and his book, Excellent Sheep. Which, is fine I guess, but a little irritating.  My dad said you don't have to go to college to learn how to spend money. May I add that you don't have to go to an expensive college to learn how to feel bad about your life? It's not just the young entitled that don't know the purpose of their lives. It just gives you the luxury to indulge  your angst. To paraphrase Garrison Keillor, sure you're depressed, but what does that have to with the fact that the cows still need to be milked?

In any event, it's the furious sheep that are so annoying. Just like you wouldn't let a fox guard a henhouse, why would you let Fox guard a sheepfold? The oxymoronic thought leaders on the right didn't want socialized medicine and released their sheeps of war to attack it, arguing for mandates and subsidies for insurance companies. When they got what they wanted, they turned their ovine marauders loose on it chanting,  "Obamacare bad, the exact same thing by a different name, good. And, also Benghazi."

Saturday, September 20, 2014

I'm Working On A Post In My Head That's Really Good (In My Head). This Isn't It.

So, which is more pathetic, those sad sacks that are live tweeting their lives instead of live living them, or the people that follow them? I'm asking for a friend.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Buyer's Remorse. For FREE.

I met the car of my dreams yesterday. It was a Subaru Forester with low miles, but a high enough seat that old people could get in and out of comfortably. Karen liked it too. She enthused, "Fine, get it if that's what you want." She said it in that way that let me know that she'd be fully onboard until the first problem when it would become, "That car you insisted on getting."
And still I was going to get it until I couldn't sleep this morning (I was expecting to be called into work) and my mind wouldn't let go of the fact that we had a car that sort of works,  that doesn't cost anything, compared to a well-priced dream car that costs something. But this older car does need maintenance and probably costs more to operate than the newer car that has four wheel drive, so it's much safer for winter driving, but are we even going to be here in the winters anymore since I really am still thinking of retiring, but we can't be gone all winter or we'll lose the PFD and the slickest part of the winter is when it's warmest, i.e. early and late when we'd be here, but does 4WD even help on ice, or just on snow?
And also, Don Young is a bully and a buffoon.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Book Report

I've probably run out of new things to say, but then again, that happened awhile ago. In spite of that, I do walk around talking a lot. Sometimes, I even think I'm pretty amusing, "Oh, I love the way you fixed your mailbox. It gives a word lover the chance to remember that it's 'jury-rigged' and 'jerry-built'."
Even though, I've run out of new things to say, "of making many books there is no end," and I've read a few lately. I think I told you about the last two I finished. Well, the last two literary books, I finished; I'm not bragging about the ones by Dean Koontz and Alexander McCall Smith. I started recommending Cloud Atlas seven years ago as, "really great," because I know how to write a concise book review. The author, David Mitchell, has a new book out, The Bone Clocks. It spans the period 1984 to 2043. I preordered it and am up to 2004.  In an interview, he said that all of his books will eventually be revealed to be parts of an uber-novel. 
A lot of the critics have panned the last third of this new book, or uber-chapter, for an incomprehensible  sci-fi plot. I'm sort of looking  forward to that. What I haven't enjoyed so far is a pages long rehash of why invading Iraq was such a bad idea. I mean, it was, but Frontline has already covered that sufficiently. It's true, but it seems unnecessarily topical for a book that aspires to be literature. It's as if in the middle of The Razor's Edge, just before Elliot (spoiler alert) dies, there is an account of the Bretton Woods Conference, and how it will lead to a dollar glut.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Like A Clock-Work Scone

Normally at this time of year, I whine about how much I ate at the state fair, and bemoan how much weight I gained. I could do that this year, too, but maybe I can just show how I approached the fair like a well oiled (or, greased, really) machine:
There is a kind of race called a regularity rally. The goal isn't to necessarily be the fastest through the course, but to come closest to the judge's pre-race estimate for course time. As I walked across the fairgrounds, I put the last bite of funnel cake into my mouth just in time to say, "Two scoops of Gold Nugget ice cream on a waffle cone, please."

Monday, September 01, 2014

More Political Opinions That You Can Skip If You Don't Like Uninformed Commentary. But If That's Who You ARE, Why Are You HERE?

One of my customers told me recently that another customer had told her about my blog. She went on to say that she didn't really read blogs. I told her that was too bad;  I tried to be a one-stop shop for puerile views and comments.
Like these:
Back in April of 1964, I read an article by Dwight D Eisenhower in the Saturday Evening Post called Why I Am A Republican. I probably didn't read it closely then because I was only nine, and because I was still pretty jumpy after March of that year. To be honest, I didn't reread it all that closely just now either. The salient points seem to be that Democrats were big government socialists, and Republicans were yeoman freeholders standing against the encroaching forces of Communism and (possibly worse, because harder to discern) liberalism.
So, I never directed the Colossus that saved the free world, nor became president of the US and then Columbia, but I was a Republican for a long time, and now I'm not. When Ike was president, the Republican party stood for something, or at least they seemed to. Now they only seem to stand for protecting the interests of the very richest people and businesses at the expense of the rest of us, and against anything proposed by the current president. Some, think that this obstructionism fulfills the dream of the founding fathers that the Senate would be a place of deliberation that would slow the headlong rushing of the House. But the founders believed in deliberation leading to compromise to achieve goals not just obstruction and paralysis. Even Ike, while wanting people to stand on their own two feet, gave them roads to drive on with the biggest government construction projects since the pyramids. There is a balance between free people joining together in a community and the Republican's Lord of the Flies approach to individualism.
Republican Dan Sullivan is running for the Senate on a platform that includes repealing Obamacare. It's hard to see what he'd replace it with since Obamacare is the Republican's own plan. I guess the good thing that might come out of all this is that if Republicans only believe in opposing the president, we might finally get the single-payer plan that every other country with good outcomes and low cost healthcare has.
In any event, given that Sullivan might be the member that would tip the Senate, and thus Congress, back to the Republicans, even if I liked him better than I do, I couldn't vote for him. Although

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

"I Can't Think About That Right Now. If I Do, I'll Go Crazy. I'll Think About That Tomorrow."

Today I heard the Moody Blues invitation to ride their seesaw. I heard it in the same place I heard it originally, the room that was my bedroom in 1968 and is now our office. And aren't seesaws a metaphor for life? You go up and down, and you end up right where you started.
Yesterday Karen and I went to a financial advisor. He told us that I could retire right now, and we could have a pretty rocking life style.
Then at 3:30 this morning, the police rang our doorbell. Once again, someone was going through cars on our street. Since our glove box was open, the officer wanted to know if anything had been stolen. "I don't know what it would be, it's all been stolen already, " I said.
  After I got back in bed, I couldn't fall back to sleep because I was thinking about something I hadn't really considered that the advisor had said. We would be fine until I turned 85 and we ran out of money. It had sounded pretty good, and I wasn't planning on living to 85 anyway. But what if do?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Wired Magazine Says Complaining Is Not An Art

So apparently, my idea of dropping pastels and bon mots and working only in complaints is, according to Wired, just annoying. Which is in itself annoying, so here we are, full circle. Full, vicious circle.
In 1849, Thoreau wrote that  “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” Because I basically dropped out of high school to become a dishwasher, (fact check: I had to work several months before being promoted to dishwasher)  I've never read Thoreau except in quote form, so I don't know what song he's referring to. I get the desperation, though. This morning, I wanted to attach some papers to some other papers. I found boxes and boxes (and even more unboxed) staples and a staple remover. But even though we have several, no stapler. 
The only reason I'm even here blogging and trying to staple is because I've had to look away from the book I'm reading, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena. So much has happened that it's  impossible to believe in a happy ending. But because I'm so invested in the dwindling cast of characters, I know I'll go back and finish it soon. 
I did finish Elizabeth is Missing recently. Terrifying and heart breaking by turns, but also funny and engrossing. People faced with caring for parents suffering from dementia (and here I'm talking to you, Sarah) should probably read it.
Oh, and finally, if you live in Alaska, don't forget to vote on Tuesday or sooner. Unless you're planning on voting No. You can forget.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

And An Exaltation Of Larks

This is probably going to be mostly about Alaskan politics unless I can find the words to describe the last few days. I probably won't though, since yesterday was mostly given over to trying to remember the first name of the guy that owns the neighborhood gas station (Fred), and what I used to think about the Simpsons (transgressive). Today's challenge was to recall the name, Sammy Davis, Jr. I got a customer to help me with that by saying, "You know, the guy that sang 'Candyman'." And now I can't forget that execrable song.  Well, okay, that was the last few days.

I  heard a report today that music with a heavy bass line makes people feel more powerful and more in charge of their lives. Based on our inability to stand up to oil companies, it would appear that Alaskans only listen to flutes, lutes and dog whistles. The messages being put out are infuriating in their inaccuracies and incessance. Spellcheck thinks that "incessance" isn't a word, but using oily logic, if I keep saying incessance long enough it will gradually become a word we all believe in without even thinking about incessance. 

One candidate, Joe Miller (just one race away from being, perennial candidate, Joe Miller) is adept at dog whistle issues. We can't  know what he thinks about SB 21. He says he's voting no, but he also said, "I lied about accessing all of the computers. I then admitted about accessing the computers, but lied about what I was doing." 
But then ethics has never been a strong point of Alaskan politics. Here's a case in point (and click).

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

“The Race Is Not Always To The Swift Nor The Battle To The Strong, But That's The Way To Bet.”~Damon Runyon

Notwithstanding Damon Runyon's tip, and even though oil companies have outspent the Yes people 100 to 1, I thought that Alaskans would see through their oily evangelism. Recent polls suggest that's not the case. I'm not smart enough to understand the ramifications of the law and the repeal, so I have to decide who to trust to help make the decision. That is, should I trust Bill Walker who I know from personal experience to be a man of integrity,  and Vic Fisher who helped write our state's constitution, or the oil companies that have lied to us and corrupted our state government (and governments around the world)?
I've made my choice, before you make yours, you should click on this:

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Crime Doesn't Pay? Doesn't Pay Who?

I was talking to Rich about the bikes I looked at over the weekend. The one I liked the most, was steel. "Steel now," he said. "Later, stolen."
On Monday, I was cruising Craigslist and there was my "Awsome Bike" [sic] (very sic) for sale. I called the police officer handling my case. He called the number in the ad and talked to them, and then called me back. He said that he could go by there, but they might not let him in. If I wanted my bike back, the best thing to do would be for me to set up a meeting and invite the police to join us.
So, that's what I did. First, they said to meet them at their house, but must have realized that it was really more of a lair, so they moved it to a parking lot. Ambre and I drove over there and talked to the police, and then they hid, and we waited. When the criminals rolled up, I got out and examined the bike, spinning the pedals, checking the brakes. While I did that, the police sprung their trap. One of the men was arrested on an outstanding warrant. I don't know what the charges were, but it may be relevant that a syringe fell out of his pocket, as they will. The other two men, and the little girl with them were allowed to leave. The men claimed that they had taken the bike as payment for yard work they had done. They couldn't remember for who, or where, but I suppose one yard looks much the same as another after awhile. The policeman said that I was their client, so I if I wanted them arrested, he'd do it, but he was pretty sure the prosecutor would decline the case given the (barely) plausible explanation. I said what I'd really like was my other bike back, so he put it to them that if they returned the other bike within 24 hours, there'd be no questions asked. Which three days later sort of begs the question (ha ha, no it doesn't, it invites the question) where's my other bike?
Oh, and another question might be, why, if crime doesn't pay, did I arrive to get my bike back in my only car, a thirteen year old Dodge, and they came in a new Cadillac Escalade?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Autres Temps, Autres Mœurs? Nope, Same Old Mœurs.

1886: “I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

2008: Bush proud to sign bill that passed unanimously giving substantial new protections to unaccompanied minors arriving at the border.

2014: “Send them home with birth control” (actual sign carried by woman protesting the arrival of children at the border.

I just know that there are still people who resent FDR allowing Jews who had escaped from Nazi Germany to be refused entry to Miami in 1939 and returned to Europe where many of them eventually died in the camps.  Where is their horror at the prospect of returning children en masse to the murder capitol of the world without the hearings provided for by a unanimous(!) Congress just six years ago?

Martin Luther King said, with no math to back it up,  “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” A more accurate statement  might bethe line of the moral universe is long, and it tends to revert to the mean, the very mean.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Entered As Second Class Matter

S J Perelman wrote a short piece called Second Class Matter. I never thought it was all that great, so the title, at least was kind of funny. 
Here's a little update of my own, and since it's not very good, but, second class matter is a postal term, and I work at the post office the title is doubly funny. Get it?
I've been working some overtime this summer on other routes. Yesterday, I delivered mail in a trailer court. Trailer court spaces aren't always numbered rationally, but I never thought I'd be looking for pi. 
I told my erstwhile friend that, and he reminded me m-m-m pie. 
I went and test rode some bikes today. I told the salespeople that I wanted a good commuter bike that could accommodate snow tires, be a fleet of tire road bike and sturdy enough for my imaginary ride across America. And affordable. 
Then I came home and sulked.  Nobody likes to be laughed at. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Uncomfortable Unfortunate Things I Might Have Said Recently

I just told somebody, at the PO "Oh, I'm walking out to the garage as if my bike wasn't stolen."  I told him the story, how there were a lot of people we used to call bums that walk down our alley and how now we call them homeless, but maybe they're homeless because they're bums,and how they used the garage door opener in the dead car in the driveway to gain access to the garage and my bikes. He said, "That's funny." I said, "Really? I must have told it wrong."
I have a black man on my route that lives with his identical twin. I told him, "I know this might sound racist, but I can't tell you guys apart."

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Universe Says, "Follow Your Dreams, Because They Left Without You."

I listened to WBUR's On Point today. The host interviewed a man that rode across the country on his bicycle at age fifty seven. While I daydreamed about that tonight at dinner, someone went into my locked garage and stole my bikes. 
They left two snowblowers and a lawn mower. So, chore machines. 
I was daydreaming about bicycling across the country and now I can't even bicycle across the street. 

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

That's Why They Call It Dopamine

I listened to a Scientific American podcast today. They interviewed the author of Ha,  a book about the science of humor. The author doesn't claim to be funny himself, just, as he said, you wouldn't expect a scientist studying schizophrenia to be delusional. And then he turned out to be delusional since he claimed Rowan Atkinson was funny. Apparently, the so-called science of humor is just a joke. 

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

It Was Like Being In A BATHysphere Because: Isolated Showers

We're back from Iowa, safe and sound. And you were so scared.
On the plane last night, I made some notes on my phone for this post. The phone was in Airplane Mode, which apparently means that it automatically deletes notes made on Airplanes. So, I'm just making this up as I go along, instead of making it up somewhere else.
The wedding came off without a hitch. That is, the hitching went off without a problem. There was lightning, thunder and a torrential downpour, but we were snug inside eating (I guess my bias for action at buffets is showing) visiting and watching the happy young couple say their vows.
On our last night in Iowa, there was a severe thunderstorm, and a tornado on the ground while we were out to eat. I asked if we should be worried, but the Iowans were all, "Pfff, that's like two, maybe three counties away." During the storm, the lights went out in the restaurant, which was a good time to sample everybody else's meals. Delicious.

On the airplane, I thought about a comedian we heard saying that flying was a war against gravity, and that Einstein visualized gravity as a rubber sheet, and how a rubber sheet would be perfect for wrapping up the baby that wouldn't stop crying in the row behind us.

I worked for awhile on this post yesterday, the first, and now, this morning, the second. I know I was busy all day yesterday with post-trip chores, so I was surprised when I got up that it looks like a family of goats had spread luggage and dirty dishes around our house. I'm surprised I didn't notice that happening while I was typing yesterday. Now, I'm off to work. I needed a little something extra to get me going this morning, and luckily I found a pair of forties (waistband).

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Scenes From The Rural Life

Here we are, and have been, in Iowa. As you can see it's beautiful and bucolic.

I've been eating like a pig, in the sense that neither of us will be able to fit into a size medium any time soon.  
The wedding is this afternoon. The venue has been changed to an indoor location because, why? Worries about the weather. And not my worries, either. The bride's. If anybody cared about my worries, we'd be like prairie dogs just coming up from underground long enough to look around and maybe bark in terror a little. 
Yesterday, some of us went to a tractor museum. It was a little bit of a misnomer because there was only one tractor, but it was a very seminal tractor, the progenitor of the entire John Deere family. 
Then we went to view a robotic milking parlor. The cows walk into a stall whenever they want and get milked without any human involvement. It's much more efficient and once the robots learn to drink milk, they won't need people at all. It's more efficient overall, but watching the robot fumbling to attach the cups to the udders was like watching a thirteen year old boy trying to get to second base. 
After that, we all gathered for a rehearsal dinner. I didn't really know very many people, but when I mentioned that I almost never shopped at Walmart, I sensed people thinking, "That tells us everything we need to know about you."
After eating, we went grocery shopping for Fritos and marshmallows, then stopped for ice cream and called it a night. Comes next, the wedding. And then, the reception, mostly catered by the bride, a culinary school graduate. I'm so excited to have her in the family. Plus, she seems really nice. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Leaving On A Jet Plane

So we're in Bloomington, MN. Tomorrow; Iowa. 
What a difference a day makes. Or almost a day. And seventeen degrees of latitude. When we were flying out of Anchorage at one am, it looked like this:
Now, at only ten pm, in Minnesota, it looks like this:


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Missing: Control. Last Seen Throwing A Salad Over Its Shoulder As It Left

So, Karen's bad mood kept ricocheting and caroming around the house until finally I lost my temper. When my temper went missing, it took all my self-control with it and I began to binge eat; the first time off my diet in six months.  It wasn't very satisfying, even in the moment, because all there was to eat was the same healthy food I usually eat; I just ate more of it. My dealer, Ambre brought home some barbecued brisket with curly fries, and I ate all of it, but I was already nauseated from too much oatmeal and kale.
I went to bed mad (mostly at myself by then) and woke up ill, a lot. Now, off to work, ill, but soon, Iowa here we come. Excited to see us?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Karen Is Going To Iowa, Against Medical Advice; Isn't That How Everyone Does It?

 Karen came home from the hospital today. The infectious disease doctor didn't want her traveling because he was afraid that she'd be "running around" and restart the infection. I hope he's wrong because, of course, I don't want the infection restarted, and because running around sounds like the kind of thing that would take place outside.
The hospitalist (and what a scam that specialty is) told her nurse to call the surgeon's office and make sure that he wasn't coming one last time to check the incision. After waiting three hours, Karen asked the nurse what the hold-up was.  The problem turned out to be, "I don't call doctor's offices." Karen threw a temper tantrum, so they sent her home. That was good, but unfortunately, she was able to play it off the wall, and throw it a few more times here at the house.
Iowa, here we come!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Karen Called Me In Tears

From the hospital where she remains st this hour. 
This morning her infectious medicine doctor told her she'd require another surgery to remove her intrathecal pump, but we're not convinced and we're awaiting more doctors to talk to. I took off from work to be here if/when they come. All very frustrating for her, especially since we're supposed to be going to Iowa  on Thursday night. 
We're not convinced because the CT scan she had was inconclusive; it showed results that might be signs of infection, or are also completely consistent with having had surgery, which, of course, she had. 
While I was composing this post, the doctor in charge of her pump stopped by to say that in the absence of any clinical signs (fever or elevated white blood cell count) of a more general infection, he had no interest in taking the pump out. There is still no discharge plan, but tantalizingly, the last doctor said that the next doctor that is still expected to come by might send her home tonight. As for travel, he said we'd have to wait till it gets closer, as if it could. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Resistance Is Futile. So Is Making To-Do Lists.

Today Karen's physical therapist told her that her incision didn't look as good as it had and we should go to the hospital.   I had already noticed some drainage and made an appointment with her surgeon. The therapist said we could we wait until then, but in the event, it hardly mattered. 
The doctor said it looked like a minor infection, but rather than let it have a chance to become major, she's being readmitted. So, we were just like proctologists, we spent five hours in the bowels of the hospital before being sent upstairs. And here we remain. Well, Karen does; I'm heading home right now. 

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Long Meandering Texts Concisely Molded Into A Blog Post

The first night home Karen's  hip hurt so much that she was in tears and quite rage-y. The next morning, I called her pain management clinic and they scheduled an appointment on Friday  for her to receive an injection of something, they hadn't decided what.  When we got there, Karen's hip hadn't hurt since she woke up on Thursday morning. The doctor said, "I can't make it better than that." So that does seem better. Now it's a matter of learning to walk and building up strength. I haven't offered her any life coaching lately, so we're cool. 
There is a state agency that thinks we might qualify for some caretaker respite grants, but I've realized that I've got leave, it's protected by FMLA and I should stop trying so hard to get back to work. Leah also has some FMLA protected leave available, and between us we should be able to keep Karen safe until (if Karen is strong enough)  we go to the wedding in Iowa. Nothing can keep her safe there, as the wedding is being held on the lawn of a roofless church in  tony Tornado Alley.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Karen Came Home, With A Vengeance

Karen did leave the hospital yesterday. By the time she stopped at a podiatrist on the way home, she was tired and her hip was bothering her a lot. This hip pain is brand new since the surgery. Her own assessment of her attitude was, "bitchy." I had to concur and helpfully advised that taking care of her was not only a full time job, it was one I would never have applied for. I added that it might be easier for actual caregivers, because their shifts were only twelve hours three times a week, not for life. So, that sort of established the mood.
I had planned to go to work today since a church lady had volunteered to stay with Karen during the times that Leah's and my shifts overlapped, but  it looked as if Karen would need more help than it was reasonable to expect from a volunteer and I needed to try to  get Karen into her pain doctor today to see what they could do about the hip. I did get her an appointment for tomorrow morning (so no work then, and Saturday's not looking too good either). A Blue Cross case manager called to see what we might need. Not that they would pay for it, or knew anyone that would, they were just reminding us that we were helpless and hopeless. But, Karen did do her exercises today, and she was able to get into bed by herself afterwards.  Later today, an outpatient physical therapist will be stopping by (a covered expense!) and tomorrow, maybe they'll figure out what's wrong with, and fix, her hip. So baby step by step, we are making our way.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

But I Did Not Give A Girlish Giggle

 Karen's discharge planner called me yesterday and explained that not only was the doctor pressing to send her home, insurance companies only pay to rehabilitate patients to their baseline state. That means that Karen only needs to be back to walking with a walker and then falling down, before the insurance company is satisfied with her inpatient progress. I was there last evening when the doctor came to check on her incision, and I not only bowed to the inevitable, I gave it a little curtsy. There didn't seem to be much sense in being churlish to the man that's going to monitor the still-healing opening from Karen's spine to the sometimes malevolent outside world.*
Anyway, I'm going to go to the post office in a few minutes and get my route ready. But somebody else is going to run it while I go learn how to be an aid again. Tomorrow I'm off anyway, and then begins the carousel ride around the clock making sure Karen isn't left alone on the floor.
One bit of good news, just like Sheldon Cooper, Karen's "been tested;" her cognitive skills are such that they don't think she will burn the house down if she is left alone.

* From the Merck Manual Home Edition:
For adults who have bacterial osteomyelitis of the vertebrae, the usual treatment is antibiotics for 6 to 8 weeks. Sometimes bed rest is needed, and the person may need to wear a brace. Surgery may be needed to drain abscesses or to stabilize affected vertebrae (to prevent the vertebrae from collapsing and thereby damaging nearby nerves, the spinal cord, or blood vessels).

Monday, June 02, 2014

What A Difference A Day Makes

Yesterday was gloomy and filled with gray thoughts. Today, though, dawned (if you can call it that) wet, dim, and filled with thoughts of rage. Or as much rage as a passive-aggressive person can summon. I am very angry, and intend to write a very sternly worded blog post.
Karen has been accepted into the rehab unit at the hospital. For the last few days she has done three hours of therapy per day under the care of trained therapists, and been attended by skilled nursing care around the clock, as well as sleeping in a hospital bed that can be adjusted so many ways that it could get its own act as a contortionist.
Now, her surgeon wants to send her home because in "his experience" patients do better at home. So, we're to trade, all the hospital staff and facilities for an ad hoc collection of church ladies,  my vacation time and a rented bed. Karen wants to come home because she misses her dog, even though she and Ellie FaceTimed just last night.
The decision will be made today. I may or may not be there, because doctor time is so much more valuable than my time that they can't tell me when the meeting will be, so if I'm to attend it will be by dropping what I'm doing (working) and going to the hospital with no notice. Because I'm a grownup, I probably won't do that, so you can expect the next post to be about finding Karen here when I get home.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Yesterday Was A Perfect Day

For staring pensively out the window. The wind blew through the dim morning light, the rain angled to the ground and fresh snow crept down the hillside. I stared for awhile, thinking about mortality and that in three weeks the days start getting shorter and we begin the slide back into next winter's icy metaphors. But then it was time to put on my big girl's rain pants and go to work.  
Karen had the day off from PT and OT, all the T's really. She had some visitors which was very nice. Then quite a bit of hip pain later that wasn't so nice. Now we're spending the first of June staring pensively out the hospital window. 

Tomorrow we go back to the workaday routine.  

Thursday, May 29, 2014

There Will Be...

I came in today and Karen was getting BLOOD. Apparently, she was a little anemic. I don't know, they didn't try spinach or Geritol.  They just said she needed blood. Like the way, pilots say it's fine when the oxygen masks fall. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


Karen is on the rehab floor. She has, at least for now, the largest, nicest room. A suite, really. There are closets, drawers and a refrigerator. And space. Her last room was essentially a sliding puzzle that seemed to have no solution. And besides the luxury, she gets three hours of physical and occupational therapy. 
Here at home, we've been eating well without shopping because Sarah has been sending us food from all over the internet. At least that's how it appears to us, it's probably been on farms and stuff before we see it. A lot of it is organic including two different, delicious sauerkrauts. They have live cultures so there has been an explosion of healthy bacteria in my gut. Or at least something seems to be exploding. 
Visiting hours for Karen are four to eight pm on the fifth floor at Alaska Regional. Visits here at home are by appointment only. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Karen Jumped Through All The Hoops

Ok, that's crazy talk; Karen walked slowly and carefully through all the hoops to qualify for inpatient physical therapy, so if the doctor on that unit signs off, she will be moved tomorrow morning to begin her stint in what sounds like PT boot camp.

Monday, May 26, 2014


Karen made a second trip around the floor with only one rest last night. 
The Today Show has gradually turned into a variety show. 
Walking normally on the Ortho unit makes me feel like a show-off. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

It's Like A High-Wire Act

Karen walked the same distance today as yesterday and may even do another lap this afternoon. She didn't  have to stop and weep from pain and exhaustion this time, so it went quicker. 
Apparently, you need to be in bad shape to get into the rehab unit, but not too bad. She's walking a fine line. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Misplaced Priorities

Karen walked around the nurses station in the hospital today. That's about eight times farther than she did yesterday, which might undercut her chances of getting moved to the rehab unit  for the therapy I think she needs, so she might be sent home instead. Apparently, Karen was more interested in pleasing the physical therapist than her own husband.

Friday, May 23, 2014

This Is An Update On Karen In The Sense That I Read The Article While I Was At The Hospital

So,  J. K. Rowling and I are essentially in the same business. She aggregates letters into words, and gets paid for it, and I aggregate letters into mailboxes. So, I think I have to defend her when she's being done wrong. Solidarity, sister.
According to the New York Times, Amazon is using hard-ball tactics to muscle more money out of publishers. They have even gone so far as "...refusing orders late Thursday for coming Hachette books, including J. K. Rowling’s new novel, published under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith."
I don't want to be the, "When they came for the billionaires I didn't say anything because I wasn't a billionaire," guy.
I'm planning on boycotting Amazon until they stop being jerks. It should be easy to take this stand right this minute because I am stuffed full of food that came via Amazon as a gift from Sarah. Like the lady on Taxi said as she snuffed out a cigarette, "I thought quitting would be harder."

More Breaking News

The physical therapist has come and gone. Karen got farther than she did last night, but still only about 15 yards before she had to turn around. 
Based on that and her other observations, she thinks Karen would benefit from inpatient PT for a week or ten days. 

Reporting From The 6th Floor

Karen's surgeon stopped by this morning. He thinks she'll be here until Saturday or Sunday. The physical therapist is here right now, right now! Is this a blog or a live broadcast?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Come For The Update; Stay For The Alaskan Politics

Karen did take a few steps this afternoon, but far fewer than she hoped to. The good news is that a pain in her feet that made it agony to have feet, seems to have cleared up.
While I was at the hospital, I picked up a copy of The Anchorage Press, and read this article that refutes the oil company claims (repeated endlessly on TV) that SB 21 increased oil production and tax revenues to the state. So convincingly refutes, in fact, that you'd almost think Big Oil was deliberately trying to mislead Alaskan voters. That's sad for them, it must have been so much cheaper when they could get by just bribing the Legislature.
Anyway, I'm going to head back over there, so, bye for now.

Baby Steps

Karen has sat in a chair for several hours today. In an hour they're going to try to have her walk. 

Even Better Post-Op News

I had planned to go to work today, but Karen's  early morning headache and meds mix-up convinced me to stay at the hospital. Karen is asleep now and the nurse just asked if I was her son. 

In The Crease

Karen had her surgery yesterday. It took about twice as long as expected, but the surgeon said it went well. He said that he had never seen nerve roots being crushed so much in a person that wasn't paralyzed. 
A little glitch today, Karen's home medicine list got folded and most of them  were never entered in the computer, or Karen. Right now she's feeling very shaky and has a terrible headache. Don't know if that's a consequence or just post-surgical recovery. 
Here's a view out Karen's window. The haze is smoke from a forest fire about 50 miles from here. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


A spot has opened up. Karen is having her surgery tomorrow morning.

Policy Manual

The soonest Karen can have her surgery is probably just after the first of June. The doctor is fully booked except for this Thursday, but on Friday he's leaving town and the doctor covering for him just made the front page, in a bad way. The doctor doesn't want to do surgery and then leave abruptly. So, now, we know his policy vis-a-vis walking out in pre-op, it's fine, and in post-op, it's bad. We still don't know his policy about leaving in the middle of an operation.
If one of his patients cancels, (or dies) they may fit Karen in tomorrow. I told them we only need eight hours notice for her to fast, and we can be there. We're so flexible because while the doctor is out of town, I'm using my vacation time to take care of Karen.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Isn't There A Movie Out About A Monster Crashing Around?

The other day as I was lumbering around my yard I pulled over the hose reel, which broke off a piece, and as water fountained upwards, I stepped backwards onto the sprinkler, breaking that, too. The hose reel has been a bit of a disappointment really. It's heavy, awkward, and now a little bit broken, too. I'm thinking I'd like to try one of those as-seen-on-tv hoses that retract automatically and weigh next to nothing. I only mention this because even though I truly don't need anything ( I need less, if anything) for Father's Day, sometimes people will insist. This year there's really a perfect present. It's inexpensive, takes up no space and would mean a lot to me. It's an e-book of short stories set in Magadan, Anchorage and other places in Russia and the US. Since I already bought that for myself, a hose would be nice.
There's a scene in the book wherein a Russian moves in 1992 to run a Russian airline's Anchorage office. That was the year that I haunted the international terminal trying to get Russians to carry packages to Magadan for me. I felt myself a ghostly presence off to the side as I read the story. In real life, I was in a story about that. When I told Karen that the writer had made me look like a pathetic dweeb, she immediately sprang to defend me, "Well, it's all true."
As you might know, I've been off work this week taking care of Karen. I stayed on my diet, but apparently nursing, at the least the way I do it, doesn't involve much exercise. I gained three pounds. This is sort of disturbing since we're going to Iowa where the food tastes so much better than it does here. I had pushed a little below the bottom of my weight range, but now I'm afraid that I'll be pushing over the top of my pants.
During the debacle Friday, as I was driving to collect Karen off the operating table, I called to reschedule her surgery. They told me they couldn't reschedule it until they actually had the disk. I said, that I'd left it at the hospital, so presumably the doctor had it, but they said they had to be sure, and sure enough, they were right. According to Google's figures,  the doctor could not wait for me to cover 700 yards in eight minutes before he had the surgery canceled and was out the door. Tomorrow, we begin again.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Even Though I Share In The Blame, This Is Exactly Why I Hate Doctors

So, in my last post, Karen was being prepped for surgery. We had left for the hospital at 2pm, and on the way out the door, literally as we were walking down the steps to the car, the surgeon's office called to say that we had the only copy of the MRI, and could we bring it along. We frantically ran back in the house and got the MRI, the wrong MRI it would turn out. After all the prep work had been done, the surgeon appeared, took the CD and returned to say it was the wrong one. I told him that we just lived across the street from the hospital and I would run get the right one. He said, "Okay," and I did. As I raced back to the hospital, they called to say the surgery was cancelled. I told them I was almost there, and they said that they'd go ahead, then.
I gave the disk to the person at the surgical reception and went home to wait for Karen's operation to be finished. Except they called to ask why I hadn't come to get her since the surgery was canceled. I told them I didn't know the surgery had been canceled. I came back to the hospital and found out that before he'd even told me that I'd brought the wrong disk, the surgeon had told them to tear down the operating room.
So, okay, I brought the wrong disk. But they might have told me that they needed it before I was scheduled to arrive at the hospital, maybe even days or weeks in advance, they might have ordered it from Providence,  and failing that, they might have spared me the frenzied rocketing back and forth if they'd already canceled the surgery.
 I've taken off four of the ten days of sick leave that I can use in a year to take care of Karen. I had planned on going back to work tomorrow while Karen was in the hospital, and then having her come home next week better able to be alone.  Now I don't know if I should go back to work, or stay home and hope that this all works out early next week, or just seethe until I make myself sick. That last might be the best plan because I have more than a year of sick leave accrued that I can use on myself.

Grimm Prognosis

Karen is being prepped for surgery. She just asked me to tape the season finale of Grimm. I'm the luckiest man in the world

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Dodging Bullet, Naming Names And Then The Cutest Dog Ever

Karen had a block today to make her surgery tomorrow less painful. While I was in the waiting room, another patient told the receptionist her entire seventeen year medical history. The receptionist bore up pretty well, probably because this is her last week before moving to North Carolina.
The patient, let's call her X because I have no idea what her name is, said that after Dr. Peterson had operated on her, she went back to him complaining that she was in a lot pain. He took an X-Ray and told her she was fine. She went to Dr. Eule. He noticed that the two bolts that had been installed in her back had both broken.
That Dr. Peterson that ignored and minimized X's complaint, was the same doctor that we wanted to consult for a second opinion, but were unable to because the referral never came through. We DODGED A BULLET!
Except bullets never come in groups of one, do they? Dodging them is like dodging hailstones. If one doesn't get you, the next one, or the one after that, will. We dodged a bullet, there's another one out there somewhere.
By the way, X and I both agreed, Dr Levine was the worst.
And anyone who met her would think Ellie is the best:

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

And again (And again) And again (And again) And again!

Do you remember that song by Demi Lovato referenced above? Me neither. Karen is scheduled to have her spinal surgery on Friday afternoon. Doctor Johnson, her pain management doctor,  was surprised because Friday afternoon is like the worst time to have a surgery because any complications will probably be dealt with by interns and wait staff.
He himself will be in North Carolina by then, but the doctor that did Karen's first surgery will be on call for pain management. As Dr. Johnson left the room today, he looked over his shoulder at Karen and said, "Good luck!" Karen was terrified that he thought that was necessary.  "Oh yeah," he said, "with neurosurgery, there's always an element of luck involved." So yeah, we're pretty sure things are going to go well. We're practically Daft Punks!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Out For A Walk(er)

I'm making a car reservation for our trip to Iowa. We're staying on Karen's brother's dairy farm. Do you think it would be insensitive to arrive in a car with a leather interior?
Our former governor, Sarah Palin, called in to a local radio show and called out our current governor for being a tool of the oil companies he used to work for. She reminded listeners that she was elected to end crony capitalism up here and that Sean Parnell has become Alaska's Crony in Chief. For all the awful things she's said and done since she was nominated for vice-president, she occasionally reminds us why she seemed like a breath of fresh air when she campaigned for governor on a platform of rooting out corruption. On the radio, she sort of semi-endorsed Bill Walker for governor. Our children and the Walker's children went to the same school at the same time.  During a crisis in the administration of the school,  the Walkers were clear thinking, clear speaking parents that helped to successfully resolve the situation. That's how I remember them, and with hypnosis and memory enhancement supplements, they might remember me.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Humble Bragging Rights

I responded to New York Times Best Selling Author, Jennifer Graham's request for blood donations with such a tasteless and self-aggrandizing tweet, that even I, known to my erstwhile (practically the only kind I still have) friends as, "jerk," was embarrassed and deleted it almost immediately. But not before NYTBS author Jennifer Graham saw it and sent me a signed copy of her NYTBS book, The Thousand Dollar Tan Line.
You should definitely get your own copy. And give some blood, even if Jennifer's father doesn't get that pint, someone that really needs it will.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Still Not Much New

Karen saw a neurosurgeon recently after an MRI revealed she had spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the space the spinal cord runs through. He said that stenosis is generally classified as moderate to severe, but hers is "double severe," and he didn't understand how she was even able to walk (to be fair, she's not really walking that well) but that she wouldn't be able to walk much longer without surgery.  Karen had some concerns about complications, as you might expect if you read this blog in August through December 2008, August of 2010, or, oh, forget it, if you're interested, here's an assortment of Karen's complications and other stuff that might cause concern. He brushed her off. She asked about going to the Mayo Clinic since we're going to a wedding near there next month. He said he was trained at Harvard which was as good as Mayo, and that's when Karen stopped listening and we left.  Nothing is as good as the Mayo Clinic. Except this weekend was horrible, so on Monday, twisting my cap in my hands, I called them to schedule the surgery. They said they'd get right on it, and they apparently dropped everything to concentrate on ignoring us since they've never called back.
By the way, the wedding is outdoors in Iowa, which to me is the scariest part of Iowa. Karen's brother told me once that if they stayed inside every time there was a tornado watch, they'd never go outside. I was like, "Fine, then why are we out here?" but apparently I'd misunderstood him. Karen's family has a windowless room in the basement with a freezer full  of ice cream which sounds like a great vacation hideaway, but I guess there wasn't enough room for all the wedding guests in there.
Leah reminded me that I was trying to drive traffic to this blog by posting cute dog pictures and pandering to vegans, and then she sent me this picture she took of our dog, so there's this:
Ellie got up on the table and knocked over a jar of cashews,
so she is apparently vegan-curious.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Texas, Number One With A Bullet

Despite Texans' reputation for pugnacious pride in their state, they are ranked fifth in a USA Today poll that asked the question, "Is your state one of the best to live in?" They are behind Alaska (which is one of the best states in spite of the fact that our state government is a subsidiary of Conoco-Phillips) Montana, Utah and Wyoming.
Our impression of Texan boosterism and their almost astrological faith in the Lone Star can be restored when we realize that they are ranked first when answering the question, "Is your state the best state to live in?"

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Google Takes Its Football And Goes Home. I Become An Emo Teen.

So, Google now does allow commenting on this blog from platforms other than Google+. But any comments made through Google+ in the past have been deleted. You may understand searching the internet,  Google, but you don't know very much about searching my feelings. Now that you can, tell me how this makes you feel.
Also does the fact that Google provides this platform for free make you like them more or less?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Google Is A Jealous Supreme Being

So, I've been nagging and trolling for comments on this blog, but I almost never get any. Part of the problem might have been a misunderstanding of what Google meant by "Enable Google+ commenting." In Google-speak, that means, "Dis-able commenting by any other means including skywriting or whispering it directly in my ear."
So, now I've disabled Google+ commenting, but I'm not sure if that means I've allowed other commenting.
I'll keep my eyes open over the next few days and see if anything appears here on the blog or in the sky, or wherever.

I Admit, The Crack About Fox News Viewers Was Too Harsh

After oil was discovered on the North Slope of the Brooks Range in Alaska, there were two competing views of what to do. Environmentalists wanted to ignore it, and developers angered by the Outside protests had bumper stickers printed that read, "Let The Bastards Freeze In The Dark."
An environmentalist (and here Google let me down, so I don't know which environmentalist, but it might have been a former Secretary of the Interior) began calling developers the "Rape, ruin and run boys."
But that was all a long time ago. As this news release points out, Sean Parnell has become the rape, ruin and run for office, governor of our state.

As long as I'm on a political rant, what is it with the Republicans and the Affordable Care Act? They, or their Koch surrogates, say Obamacare as if it's a given that it's a disaster when it's their own (disowned for going out with a black man) plan. Incidentally, that is an actual example of begging the  question, if questions were still allowed to be begged. They've been doing it so long now, that Fox News viewers have an almost Pavlov's dog response to it (that is, they drool). But Pavlov's dogs, or Pavlov for that matter, weren't allowed to vote here.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Asking For A Friend

So, this has nothing to do with me, or with me making a mistake at work, but when does mild cognitive impairment become moderate cognitive impairment?
In a work related observation, I observed this a couple of days ago:
They may well look ruminative, since in fact they were ruminating.

Friday, April 11, 2014

I Didn't Expect The Koch Brothers To Show Up In A Post About Gender Reassignment, But I Probably Should Have. Tee Hee, Koch Brothers

Like a broken record (one of Sheryl Crow's) I used to always say, "Happiness isn't getting what you want, it's wanting what you get. Apparently, for this week at least, I can only be happy if I want to walk on barely melting ice in bitter cold.
Still, at least I don't have to contend with gender dysphoria. I heard recently that some insurance companies explicitly deny coverage for gender reassignment surgery. I think that's unnecessarily harsh. I mean, say no if you have to, but do you really think it's right to show people pictures of the genitals they can't have?
Speaking of health insurance and people who are euphemistically known as Kochs, the disingenuous and unscrupulous Koch brothers are funding more ads targeting our Senator, Mark Begich and his support for the Affordable Care Act by implying that it enriches insurance companies.  If he had supported a single payer plan that would have generated outraged complaints from them as a socialist extirpation of insurance companies.  What can you do to make the Koch's happy? Why would you want to?

Monday, April 07, 2014

I Assume Marilyn Vos Savant Is In Ravenclaw

Now that I have come out against using the phrase, "begging the question," ever again, so has Marilyn Vos Savant, the smartest woman in the world. She says if you mean, "raises the question," you should just say that. So far the only comment on her dictum* is from rakheemukherji who says that for irony, begging the question "sounds more effective than 'raises the question'." Ironically, I think that means that he still doesn't understand the phrase, and the most important aspect of its usage, which is, don't. 
So, I've only really got one thing left on my bucket list; dying peacefully in my sleep. Today, I went to my cardiologist, who told me that with the advances they've made, I might live another thirty years. Which not only means a long delayed gratification, but plays havoc with my retirement plan of not living past my money. Although, even at its most detailed, the plan could always have been summarized as, " Gee, I hope I don't outlive my money." My generation had a plan, it just didn't work out for some of us.

*I'm pretty sure that when I use dictum (the singular of dicta) it means, "Look at me, aren't I clever?" With an implied addendum**, "Don't answer that."

**See note above

Sunday, March 30, 2014

I'm Not Saying I'm Smart, But I Did Sort Of Guess This

I took the test at Pottermore last night. I thought I was too timid for Gryffindor, too lazy for Hufflepuff, and not ambitious enough for Slytherin. So, I thought I would be sorted into Ravenclaw, and I was right, like a Ravenclaw would be.
Although why a sixty year old is taking quizzes on Pottermore and not AARP is a question that even I can't answer.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

When Will They Ever Learn?

I've been hearing a lot of unfounded speculation about causes of MH 370's disappearance that don't involve aliens or Bond villains.

And So It Begins "For Now"

There has been a programming error at the PO in our scanner software. Some items requiring a signature have been deliverable without obtaining a signature to scan. A refresh was pushed out last week, but for now our supervisor tells us, "Just do whatever the scanner tells you to."

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Who Can You Believe?

Nothing new here; Karen saw a doctor last week that wanted to cut her feet off, but today we saw a podiatrist and she didn't want to cut them off. Of course, a podiatrist couldn't bill after that, so maybe she's biased.


I gave blood this morning, and the phlebotomist was a talker. He told me stories about his life, my life, other people's lives, even though I wasn't really all that interested, or confident that he knew what he was talking about. It made me feel so sorry for my customers.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Do Immigrants Take American Jobs?

Probably not.
And I'm not just saying that because my father was an undocumented alien. He would have been a Dream Act beneficiary if they'd had such a thing back when he was a kid (or now, for that matter) but instead he got drafted to fight in World War II. Since he wasn't naturalized until 27 years after I was born (in a territory, not a state) I'm not quite sure of my own immigrant status, but if I get deported to Canada, I guess it won't be the worst thing.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Somebody Had To Go First

Oh sure, the day after I stood up to the Kochs, the New York Times does. If you're interested in what they had to say, click here.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Good Authors Too, Who Once Knew Better Words, Now Only Use Four Letter Words. Writing Prose, Anything Goes.

So Cole Porter said, and so I meant to say as the title of my last post where it would have made some sense. So imagine it's there, and here the title is, Changing The Channel.
The Koch brothers are funding a TV and telephone ad campaign up here. It's surprising because we think of ourselves as an out of the way place where you really can see Russia, although not from Sarah Palin's house (which to be fairer to her than she is to anybody else, she never said). You would think that billionaires wishing to return the country to sound moral and economic principles would be able to marshall the facts and then hire creative talent to cogently explain their ideas and convince the polity of their correctness. Instead, they repeat half-truths, lies and distortions, and, being billionaires, they repeat them a lot. It's almost as if they think a new truth can be created if they just repeat it often enough.
I'm still plowing through The Bully Pulpit (or, if I haven't mentioned it, I'm plowing through The Bully Pulpit). It's interesting, and not hard to read, or at least not hard to comprehend, but sort of depressing that a century ago, the Republican party took on rapacious companies that were exploiting monopolies to the detriment of farmers, small businesses, workers, and even the government. Laws were passed, attitudes changed, the citizenry were aroused, then grateful, and then maybe complacent. After a century, it's probably time to revisit the idea of corporate responsibility to the society that underpins them.  Instead of trying to channel Ronald Reagan, maybe the Republicans should reach even farther back and try and to assume the mantle of Teddy Roosevelt.
Now, here's a story that takes place in La Crosse, WI. La Crosse is notable for at least two things; I've been there, and, probably completely coincidentally,  ninety six percent of the residents have an advance directive explaining how they'd like to be cared for at the end of their lives. That's more than three times the rate in the rest of the nation. This came about because an ethicist at a local hospital hated the excruciating conversations families had to have at what was already a difficult time. He trained nurses and others to ask people what they wanted, and eventually the idea spread through the community. The story is available here, and is worth listening to if you'd like to hear it explained more fully. Most of the people don't want to live on and on and on kept not quite dead by machines. This turned out to be a money saver for Medicare which pays for most of those machines. It's a money loser for the hospitals since the almost dead are a huge profit center for them, but the hospitals think it's worth it to fund the program since it makes their patients lives so much better. Since it is so much better for families to make these decisions in advance, and to have the patients affected by the decisions make the decisions, the people writing the Affordable Care Act tried to include funding for similar programs nationally. These are what Sarah Palin called Death Panels. I was excited to tell Karen about this because she grew up near La Crosse and even recognized the name of the medical facility there. When we got to the part about the Death Panels, she agreed it was unfortunate that that's how they were portrayed, but she said, that's what the media told us. But really, it wasn't the media, it was Fox News; the same organization that had Karen crying last fall because Leah was going to have to pay $500 or even $1000 a month for health insurance. You won't even have to go to to find out that Leah has health insurance now and pays far, far less than Fox would have had her believe.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Nothing About Vegans In This Post

So, about six weeks ago, I was saying that I was surrendering in the grammar/word usage wars. I specifically mentioned that if most people think "begs the question," means "invites the question," then it does.* Today, Grammar Girl took up "begs the question" in her podcast. She searched google and found thousands of incorrect usages, but no correct ones. It's over; ** it means invites the question. But, we don't have to just grudgingly accept the decline of our language into grunts and gestures. Well, we do, but instead of thinking of it as decline, we can feel privileged to get to watch the language change right before our eyes.
Another source of confusion has been around which of our dogs is the cutest. I don't want to decide for you, but look at this face:

*In addition, according to a reader, I used nine commas in one sentence. I never went back to count, but I suppose she's right. I'm fond of commas, and I scatter them like birdseed.
**I also have an unhealthy attachment to semicolons.

Monday, March 03, 2014

I woke up yesterday morning at my usual time. When I realized I was off, I was so thrilled about being able to sleep in that I almost couldn't fall back to sleep, but then I did!
I think this graphic from QuizUp illustrates how that fits into the overall arc of my life:
that is, some small achievements and no friends. And doesn't this give the lie to the whole "Work hard and you'll be rewarded," credo. You can't imagine how many hours I had to put in to get to "General of Knowledge" in QuizUp and I really don't have anything to show for it. Well, except for this graphic that I'm humble bragging about.

In other news, John McCain is saying that the Russians invading the Crimea shows that the world doesn't respect us anymore. But how many countries do we have to bomb to get their respect? We just left Iraq, we're still in Afghanistan after more than twelve years, we're sending drones into Pakistan and it's only been three years since we were bombing Libya. And do any of those countries seem better off for our intervention? Furthermore, does that ever work? John McCain himself had already been shot down while bombing North Vietnam and was a prisoner of war when the Russians invaded Czechoslovakia. They invaded Hungary barely two years after the end of the Korean war. The Korean war itself started less than five years after we had dropped two atomic bombs on Japan. I think if people were going to respect us for being willing to be bad asses, World War II should have done the trick.
Finally, our usual shout out to dog and vegan lovers.