Friday, May 26, 2006

Tristan und Isolde

My goodness, how the months go by. The days are long and stressful, but the seasons fly away like sparrows chased by the housecats.

In an instant gone.

So again it happens that school is out for summer, and you, a parent, a grandparent, a friend picking up the child of a friend, whatever... there they are, chatting away in a frenzy of young concerns about summer plans, or no plans at all, same thing, really, in the rear of your vehicle, and maybe you have a little bit of a headache. It's probably the sun. You take a long cool draw on your frosty Starbucks but nothing gets better.

You hate "talking to the box" but the young ones insist and at the drive-thru they order, via your adult voice and filter of knowing better, enough fully hydrogenated fatty acids to sink a Wagner opera, already saturated with full-blown high voices and drama like the ER on a holiday weekend night, like the controlled chaos of the telemetry unit.

Dramatic sopranos scream as you order them fries.

Kids. Sheesh.

You skirt the highway and go back through the neighborhoods, admiring the fruit trees and old architecture of the homes there. Citrus oils perfume the air.

While you drive a hand slips around your throat from behind, a large menacing hand, not the grip of one of the little children in the seats behind you. Then a blade is neatly drawn across the front of your neck, throat slit, circulation to the brain severed, and all goes dim as at the end of a long but satisfying narrative.

Mad Girl's Love Song

By Sylvia Plath
"I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;
I lift my lids and all is born again.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,
And arbitrary blackness gallops in:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed
And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

God topples from the sky, hell's fires fade:
Exit seraphim and Satan's men:
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I fancied you'd return the way you said,
But I grow old and I forget your name.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)

I should have loved a thunderbird instead;
At least when spring comes they roar back again.
I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.
(I think I made you up inside my head.)"

Strangely this poem does not appear in Ted Hughes' collection of Sylvia Plath's "complete" poems, but to many people it is quite familiar as it shows up in the end-notes to "The Bell Jar" in American editions.

What have we to fear the most? Is it love? Not death?

I fear neither.

I think about both daily.

It's the structure, man, a villanelle, the way it all hangs together. It's like, dude, totally old, like before a freakin sonnet or something. Hey, here's a note... Dude, *duck!*

Note to self: Duck!


The first time I ever saw a Honda Civic was probably back in the mid-nineteen-seventies, after the Yom Kippur war and the Saudi highjacking of the world oil markets. My friends and I expressed puzzled ridicule of the tiny little car, so different from the behemoth Chrysler station wagons that crowded the driveways in our "development."

Ironically, as young teens we were still heavily dependent on our Raleigh and Schwinn ten-speeds, but we saw the lines at the gas stations and the odd/even license-plate number assignment of gas-purchasing privileges.

Our lives were rocked by inflation. Many of us continued to bicycle long after we attained driving age as car affordability was out of reach for many of us in working-class families, some with parents that lost jobs during this time.

The Prudhoe and North Sea oil fields relieved this situation for awhile, but then along came the toppling of the despicable old Shah of Iran and another oil "shock" diverted our economy into the stagflation that was pretty much responsible, along with the hostage crisis, for ending Carter's attempts to bring America around to energy sanity.

What followed was decades of energy insanity, as manifested in distant "asteroid-belt" (as James Kunstler call these) suburban housing developments and the pre-eminent resurgence of the gas-guzzler, the triumphant SUV.

Now we will see a new economic phenomenom which I have modestly dubbed "shrimpflation." Like "stagflation," this is a combination of a stagnating economy suffering also from inflation. But shrimpflation will be much worse, and have effects that may be permanent.

The shrimpflation theory is based on the rather simple fact that all consumers, such as American citizens, compete for limited resources, specifically the world's declining reserves of oil. Our government itself also competes for oil, and we have recently gone to war over this issue, despite protestations that the invasion of Iraq was somehow not a "war for oil."

It is.

Our government and its military are highly dependent on oil. Think of all the oil we have burned up just getting to the "it's not a war for oil" and then waging it.

As we citizen consumers compete with our own government at the gas pumps for the privilege of buying gas, the price of it goes up. But our government has the ability to tax us, so they can take our money and use it for itself, to buy more oil, thus again driving up its price. With tax money taken from us. And slowing all other economic sectors of consumer spending and investment. Hence "shrimpflation."

Who benefits? People who control the flow of oil. Like the companies associated with the jerks we stupidly allowed to gain the White House.

This can only exacerbate the degree of shrimpflation, as greed, politics, oil depletion, and war have all merged into one leviathan phenomenon.

So what we have is a cabal of psychopathological maniacs who use war and other projects financed by your tax dollars to drive up the price of oil, enriching themselves in the process, and hurrying the depletion of oil at the same time, ultimately slowing economic "growth," which will actually reverse into worldwide economic depression the likes of which the industrial age has never seen.

Oh, did I really call them psychopathological maniacs? Tsk. I meant to call them stupid and greedy psychopathological maniacs.

Sometimes, in between all the advertisements for the various military services, MTV and VH-1 actually play music videos.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Read Ducks

Sprawl is unsustainable. There's nothing there, except "mcmansions" and cars and useless yards that produce nothing yet consume resources anyways, and television, with its Faux Lies and Beavis 'n Butthead values and mentality.

You know. The values upon which modern civilization are founded. Stupidity and selfishness. Bush Republicanism. Bullshit.

We need single-payer healthcare coverage. Anything else is a waste of money that basically pays middle-men, and I do mean *men*, to with-hold treatments to the sickest among us in order to maintain a transfer of wealth from the weakest of our citizens to the richest and most secure of our fellow Americans. Reverse communism. Socialism for the rich.

Methamphetamine kills the body's ability to feel pleasure, it's highly addictive, and it's a personality killer. Cheaper than cocaine, which has similar effects, it's the perfect drug for destroying Middle America. "Red" states will continue to lead in crystal production and abuse. It's stupid. Hence the Republican support for its use.

Republican lawmakers have been known to oppose simple measures to assure that meth-lab operators have their precursor-chemical purchases recorded. God bless my own representatives.

Awareness of peak oil issues. Cheap fossil fuel use is soon to be a thing of the past. Modern humans, especially SUV-driving oblivious soccer-moms from Florida, are completely unaware of the FACT that oil is a finite resource and we have already extracted the best and most-easily obtained deposits available.

Everything that depends upon cheap fossil fuel resources for survival will soon be put at risk. Many conventions, such as cheap personal transportation and cheap food production on mega-farms and cheap plastic crap like disposable intravenous medication tubing, syringes, sterile packaging and other hospital items that people like me personally dispose of by the metric ton annually, will be gone.

I'm twisting my little brain into a Gordian knot trying to think of an adequate and cheap substitute for petroleum-byproduct plastic IV tubing.

About four percent of the humans that walk among us have no sense of empathy. Some people have such a lack that they end up as violent criminals, but some have other mental resources and they are able to put on a face of sanity.

We have elected way too many of these monsters. America and its corporations, themselves insane, have leaders that have no ability to feel compassion and a profound inability to conceive of the future. Some have even fashioned an apocalypse-worshipping christian cult religion out of this bare psychopathology.

It would be nice if we could put an end to that.

Good slow food, good music, good guitars, good bloggers, good books, good nookie, good shade, good dogs and cats and koi fish, good gardening, and a good home.

These seem to have become my main and secondary themes.

What else should I blog about?

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Hare Today, Rabbit Tomorrow

For the sake of preserving anonymity, let's change things just a little and say that she had a chronic ankle problem surgically repaired a week or so ago. They also had some gastric reflux problems accompanied by recent weight loss, also treated by her local doctors well outside the immediate environs of the Desert Metropolis of Tile-Roofed Sprawl.

A few days after the surgery she went bat-crap, a-few-miles-down-the-road-past-Jack-Nicholson's-House, I-am-the-walrus crazy. Iggy-diggy-blooey-gooey nutso. So they loaded her onto a plane and sent her to...


Yeah, not personally, but as luck would have it, I became her nurse.

Four-point leather restraints. A few minutes after I got report I went in to see why the patient was screaming that they had to get to their truck so she could go to her sister's house in California to put out the fire in the shop, which was started by Rosecrucians or something. Maybe it was the Illuminati. They're big right now.

The ankle in the restraint seemed wrong to me, so I let that one off. She was disoriented in a way that is comparable to White House counselors; that is to say, she knew her name but nothing else she said had any accuracy as pertains to reality. Still, I do not think she was a Republican.

Over the passing of the day, her sitter (who was well-versed in psychiatric issues as he usually worked on a psych unit,) her fiance, and myself had pretty good luck getting her to come around.

Her labwork had improved, her lithium toxicity was resolving, her kidney function was clearing up with IV fluids and bicarb, and by mid-afternoon she was sitting up in a chair chatting with us.

Then all hell broke loose. She was confused, disoriented, and extremely combative, swearing at us and swinging for the Big Green Wall.

We called Security, who were familiar with her and called her by her first name, from the previous night's experience. We jostled her back to bed and secured three limbs in leathers, and for the next three hours me and the sitter were at the bedside holding her down so she wouldn't yank her recently repaired ankle out again.

We gave IV Ativan and enough Geodon to put a horse in orbit, and an hour after my shift was *supposed* to end, she had tired herself out and was dozing off, instead of constantly fighting to get out of bed to go to San Diego to get her keys and go to her sister's house to get her jeans.

The next day she was completely back to normal. Relaxed, smiling, well-oriented and without any complaints. A true joy to be with.

It was over. The storm had come and gone, leaving behind only the aroma of fresh rain, clean air, and rejuvinated blossoms.

Someday this will happen to America.

We will wake up and Bush will be gone, our mortgages to China will be paid down, alternative energy sources will be relieving our dependence on the largesse of Middle Eastern despots, and Mariah Carey will be too old to make more recordings.

Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, we are free at last..

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


When you start out in the morning, it becomes much easier later in the day.

Usually I just buy whatever large chunk of meat is going for the least amount per pound. Beef or pork, boney or boneless, doesn't matter. Three or so pounds is enough for a good batch of about ten burritos or chimichangas.

Sear all sides in a dutch-oven-style pot with a lid. After it's seared I like to add a couple diced jalapenos and some broth or a small can, maybe four ounces, of cheap spicy Mexican tomato-chili sauce.

Put the lid on and stick it in a low-heat, maybe 275-300-degree oven for a good long while. Until it easily pulls apart with a fork. Three to six hours. While it cooks it releases juices and I thicken these by adding a chopped or finely-torn flour tortilla. Same size as the big ones I use for making the burritos.

When it's cooked I shred it up and add Mexican oregano, cumin, maybe some onion and garlic if not added during the slow-cooking, cilantro, a touch more of black pepper and good salt, and re-add the pot stuff, which is the tortilla all soaked up with the drippings.

Usually I let this all cool off a bit, then I warm up the tortillas a few at a time in the microwave oven for maybe twenty seconds, then I wrap them up. These last a couple days in the fridge; long enough for those days when I'm working back-to-back 12-hour shifts and I have no time for cooking or anything else around the house.

Mexican oregano is funkier than the Italian variety. But the ground cumin is the key. Not too much. But it's the essential flavor, the one that makes this Mexican and not just a great big meat egg roll.

If you deep-fry these you get chimichangas, naturally. The same filling in a little corn tortilla makes a kind of taco, but it's better if you make a rolled taco and then deep-fry that, making a crunchy flauta side-dish item. I like these with a salad that features greens, fresh little tomatos and sliced avocado.

Cumin is the key. A tortilla is just a crepe or an eggroll without a decent amount of cumin. And hot chilies, of course.

I have rather mistakenly referred to this stuff as "Mexican," when a better word for it would simply be "American," since this style of cooking preceded both the establishmant of the Spanish "Mexican" state and any-and-all "American" cooking styles, which generally were imported from Europe.

Barbecue is probably also a native cooking style.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Hip-Hop Marx

Of course, the rich of this country nominally pay most of the income tax collected by Halliburton, Blackwater, Enron, and other arms of the Republican-led federal government. The rich make inordinately much more income than do those people in lower tax and income brackets. Unlucky duckies!

Paris Hilton probably has more money than that contained in the ten-year budgets of many hospitals in many communities. This is shameful and ludicrous to anyone with a proper sense of balance, but not to modern White House conservatives.

So hospitals get cuts in the amount of money given to them by the government. And Paris Hilton gets tax cuts that save her a few hundred thousand dollars a year. It's the same thing in BushSpeak. Both your local community hospital, where you go when you break your leg trying to make the pie higher, and Paris Hilton, a very high pie indeed, both get cuts.

It's the same thing, see? That's how fair Bush is to all of America. That's how his policies help America.

Sometimes sarcasm can cloud an argument. Basically what I want to say here is this: Bush is perpetrating class warfare against everyone but his rich and mostly corrupt pals that occupy the ether of the highest income categories in the entire world.

Before the last drop of blood is squeezed from the small pale hard stone that is your paycheck, we must fight back. This will involve real, honest class warfare of the Robin Hood variety, not the reverse, taking from the poor and giving to the very very rich, as currently imprinted in Bush tax policy.

If this country is to survive, as it has through centuries of war and internal strife, the rich will have to suffer their own version of Kent State.

No, I do not advocate violence, but the metaphor is apt. There must someday soon be a watershed moment when the tide of tax relief flows against the very rich and back into realm of community services, or we will have no place to live anymore.

See New Orleans.

Bush has done nothing to improve things for the United States of America, because he has been too busy advancing the interests of his class.

Yes, I did study that guy back in college. America is a Marxist state, and now we have our very own Stalin. The Constitution no longer applies, as Bush makes "signing statements" designed to allow him to circumvent and disobey any and all laws.

Only the laws of class warfare apply now.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

As in Dead

Let us start with this little bit, from a local rag that offered plenty of words of support for the incompetent psychopath in two "elections":

"Enter President Bush's 2007 budget, which inexplicably proposes $36 billion in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid over the next five years, including more than $8 billion in reimbursements to hospitals. And this comes on the heels of the deficit reduction act, signed by the president in early February, which will already cut more than $13 billion from Medicare and Medicaid."

The article is basically about Bush's plan to help local communities hit by an outbreak of avian flu. It's a simple plan, really, elegant in its brevity and, indeed, wit.

"Sorry, there's nothing I can do for you."

I know what I will be doing if avian flu makes the jump and spreads to my little berg. I'll be sick myself, most likely, and as a health-care worker in a hospital already short of nurses, I'll be showing up to work anyway so I can spread the noxious germs around to patients who are already weak and vulnerable.

Patient "D" was in a skilled nursing facility getting months' worth of intravenous antibiotics, through a PICC line, to treat resistant strains of bugs that had grown fond of them. "D" had a long history of alcohol and drug abuse, hepatitis, HIV-AIDS, seizure disorder, and was oriented only to self. At one point they'd eloped from the skilled nursing facility and they were found out on the streets having a seizure. Then they came to us.

The PICC line was infected so they had to remove that for a while at least. Getting a peripheral line in wasn't so easy. They had the specialty nurse come up with their little IV ECHO machine to scope out a vein in the patients' shoulder, a delicate little 22-guage.

The patient would try to wander about aimlessly, or they would be in their room removing their clothing, telemetry wires, and urinating on the floor. Someone had given them a phone book, and the patient tore out pages, spread these on the floor, urinated on them, and then wadded these up into a wet ball and placed it by the door. It somehow belonged there.

On my day off, "D" was sent to get another PICC, and while in that department they got up off the stretcher and fell causing a laceration on their head.

A patient has to be restraint-free for twenty-four hours before most skilled nursing facilities will accept them, so we basically couldn't tie them down, or we'd never get them out of here.

The next day the patient was in my dutiful hands. I checked on them four or five times an hour but still couldn't keep up. Mid-afternoon I saw that they had pulled out their PICC line but there wasn't much blood on the floor so it couldn't have been out for long.

We got an order to place another PICC, and in the meantime I got a peripheral line into their wrist.

Before doing that I asked the charge nurse to help me by praying to The Great Buddha of Difficult IV Sticks, and I asked if she, presumably Catholic because of her country of origin, knew if there were any Catholic saints earmarked for prayer concerning IV insertions, and she laughed and told me she didn't really know, but to go with the Buddha.

So I did. It worked. Believe me. First time lucky.

The guy from the special department where they did the patient's PICC yesterday called. When I asked him how things were going, he said, and I quote, "I feel like I've been shot at and missed and shit at and hit," with a laugh.

"But seriously," he asked, "What are we doing? Putting another one in, just for them to pull out again?"

I let a semi-dramatic moment go by and then replied, "Well, yes. Duh." He said it wasn't the first time and wouldn't be the last.

Then I promised that we'd try to chemically restrain the patient, but I had been giving them a couple milligrams of Ativan every two hours or so all day long, which probably saved them from seizing on me but it didn't always ease up their general restlessness and bleary-eyed curiousity.

So Bush is proposing a budget that includes cuts to hospitals.

Guess what will soon start happening to people like "D"?

They will be triaged out.

They will be left on the streets or sent home to anyone and anything that will take them in. Or not.

It won't matter. And it probably won't really matter to a lot of our fellow red-state Americans. If they are forced to choose between serving uninsured "D" with their HIV, seizures, impaired mentation, alcoholism, and crystal addiction as opposed to say Their Own Sweet Dying Mother, then "D" gets the boot.

City services will come to include bring out your dead wagons.