Sunday, August 31, 2008

The End Again

Who could foresee that disasterous weather would strike the Gulf coast?

Because I believe in the future, I am politically progressive. Conservatism doesn't work if you refuse to accept that apocalypse is next week. Of course, conservatism and end-times dominionism are pretty much interchangeable terms these days.

There's no need to work and plan ahead if you buy the story that rapture will make all this, the world around, moot. If there's truly no reason to consider the earthly long term, then there's really no need for government, is there?

During the Reagan years, dear James Watt wanted to allow drilling for oil off the beaches of California. If that beautiful stretch of sand and sea were destroyed by slicks; well, so what? It was all going to go up in a big godly puff soon anyways. Or a flood.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Friday News Dump

Wasn't there a political party convention or something this week?

Place Mats

Monday, August 25, 2008

Any Idiot Can Make a Decision

Over at the Atrios Cafe, somebody wondered aloud "so who's going to pick McCain's running mate for him?" and there was this:

the north vietnamese will pick mccain's running mate because he is after all still a fucking POW!!


911 911 911
Syd B | Homepage | 08.25.08 - 11:54 am | #

And this nugget of wisdom:

Domino's is to pizza what Fox News it to journalism.
Caepan | 08.25.08 - 12:26 pm | #

Furthering the discussion of possible Chinese origins of pizza:

Marco Polo brought it back to Italy, along with angel hair pasta, after his visit to China.
Lime Rickey

That HAD to take longer than 30 minutes. He better have gotten it for free.
Roadmaster, Guild of Atrios! | 08.25.08 - 12:40 pm | #

I suspicion is that the same people who pick out McCain's meals for him will also pick the Republican vice-presidential candidate. Food. VP. Whatever.

Which reminds me: Cheney, when tapped by Bush to look into choosing someone to fill the VP slot back in 2000, boldly picked himself, demonstrating my title claim.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sunday Poetry: Schumann and Weick, Brahms Never Married

Robert Schumann

Hardly a day passes by I don't think of him
in the asylum: younger

than I am now, trudging the long road down
through madness toward death.

Everywhere in this world his music
explodes out of itself, as he

could not. And now I understand
something so frightening, and wonderful-

how the mind clings to the road it knows, rushing
through crossroads, sticking

like lint to the familiar. So!
Hardly a day passes I don't

think of him: nineteen, say, and it is
spring in Germany

and he has just met a girl named Clara.
He turns the corner,

He scrapes the dirt from his soles,
he runs up the dark staircase, humming.

Mary Oliver
(From the collection Dream Work published in 1986.)


Friday, August 22, 2008

AC Filters

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Change of Shift Report

Mary: "So why's he here, then?"

Kay: "Shortness of breath."

Mary: "Well yeah, he did try to hang himself. Shortness of breath is kind of the goal there, isn't it?"

Kay: "And he said he had chest pain."

Gary: "From doing crack and crystal."

Kay: "That'll do it."

Gary: "And he's only got one kidney."

Kay: "Old gunshot thing."

Mary: "Oh. What's he in jail for?"

Kay: "Attempted murder."

Gary: "It's do bad he didn't do a better job of hanging himself. He could have saved the taxpayers some money on his hospital bill."

Kay: "But then his family would have sued Sheriff Joe for another forty million bucks."

Gary: "Yeah, probably."

Sunday, August 17, 2008

His Horse


This one's still coltish:

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I Thought It Was a Good Day as I Left At the End of the Shift, Then I Recalled This and I Thought "Well, That Totally Sucks"

"Don't try to find you no home in Washington, DC
`Cause it's a bourgeois town
Uhm, the bourgeois town..."

"The realisation that I had an incurable disease, that was likely to kill me in a few years, was a bit of a shock. How could something like that happen to me? Why should I be cut off like this? However, while I had been in hospital, I had seen a boy I vaguely knew die of leukaemia, in the bed opposite me. It had not been a pretty sight. Clearly there were people who were worse off than me. At least my condition didn't make me feel sick. Whenever I feel inclined to be sorry for myself I remember that boy."

“In my music, I’m trying to play the truth of what I am. The reason it’s difficult is because I’m changing all the time.”

"Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.

"Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn't consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day? Sure, I'm lucky. Who wouldn't consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseball's greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy? Sure, I'm lucky.

"When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift - that's something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies - that's something. When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter - that's something. When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body - it's a blessing. When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed - that's the finest I know.

"So I close in saying that I may have had a tough break, but I have an awful lot to live for."

"Symptoms, then are in reality nothing but the cry from suffering organs."

I had a little trouble with the neuro resident who ordered the electromyography test. The family members said that the patient hadn't been walking at all at home; not for months, and he was sort of a big guy. Close to three hundred pounds. He tended to pitch forward when we tried to get him up, and I wondered if it was unsafe to put him in a chair and haul him out of the hospital. I don't think the resident realized how difficult this might be.

The neurologist said we didn't have an electromyelogram machine on the premises, just in his office. The nurses over at the neuro ICU said that they did them at bedside. The resident didn't much care, and he said "just get him up in a chair, wheel him over to the office (outside the hospital but close by,) put him on the table and do it." Well alrighty then.

Different people, different answers, no easy solutions.

We did it the hard way. I'm just lucky he didn't tip out of the flimsy wheelchair and plant his face on the pavement on the way over. It took three big guys to jack him up onto the exam table for the EMG.

I walked back to the unit and did a half hour's work before the neurologist called and said they were done. When I got there he was explaining to the patient and family members that it was amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. They weren't surprised.

I noticed that the EMG device itself was smaller than an EKG machine and could have been rolled over to the hospital very easily. It was a little thing on wheels.

Whatever. (Sigh...)

The patient and family chatted away as we crossed the parking lot on our way back to the hospital. He hadn't seen much direct sunlight lately and he said he liked the brightness and heat. But when we got to his room he started crying. Loudly.

I put my hand on his shoulder and said "I wish I could do more," and he thanked me; for what, I don't know.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Hearings

This is a true story, as related to me, with very minor elaborations and details slightly changed to protect privacy.

The light turned green and Betty let off the brake, engaged the clutch on her late-model Corolla, and gave it a little gas, edging out into the intersection. The radio was sounding out the slow movement from the Brahms first piano concerto. The weather was sunny and hot. Betty was going to the store because they were out of half-and-half and the dogs needed a bag of kibble.

A sporty white sedan ran their redlight and crashed into Betty's driver's side door. Her Corolla spun around and was clobbered into an oncoming car, which again spun her vehicle, this time up over the curb onto a patch of grass in front of a corner gas'n'go.

Betty began to hear voices. Before she could see through the gray blur which clouded her eyes, she heard other car doors slamming and the voices of people calling "Are you all right?"

She also heard children, as if their questions were emanating from the back seat of a van. She could not discern all of what they said. She heard "Mommy, is..." and then the clear voice of a woman complaining "God dammit. Fuck an arab. We're already late."

The buzz of a cellphone dialtone and then the sound of an emergency operator, taking the call of a man who was imploring the operator to send an ambulance NOW. The woman asked him for location and Betty heard him tell her "7th and Indian" and then she heard another voice, then voices, coming from the background.

Someone cursed and said "Now we're stuck. We can't back up" and then a woman interrupted and said "Just pull in here." Others joined the mix, overlapping. "Fuck, I hope nobody's hurt," said one, and "motherfuck ran the fuckin' light." A fast-food cashier asked "is everything alright" as a customer answered "I think there's been an accident out there."

Then sirens. Actual sirens. And the calm, gentle sound of a woman: "May those spirits that work such things please help the people involved in this accident. Amen." She repeated that phrase, or perhaps it echoed as if in a second space. Upon repetiton Betty knew that if she ever heard that voice again she would recognize it.

The emergency crews closed off the scene. Betty was pulled from the wreck, and as she lay on a gurney, police directed cars around the accident and through the intersection slowly. Someone had wiped her face and she could see the goings-on around her. The crew was securing her to be lifted into the ambulance. Betty heard the last echo of the prayerful voice and out of the corner of her vision she glanced at the license plate, down low at her own level, of a passing car, but she could not see its occupants.

Betty spent difficult months in the hospital and rehabilitaion center. She tried to hear the voices again but could not summon them. Eventually she recovered fully and went home.

They bought a new car, and her frequent trips through that intersection brought forth memories and the visceral shock of remembrance, but quiet.

One day during morning coffee she was talking to her husband Vaughn about it and they did a computer search for the license plate. Betty thought she'd seen the car with that tag in the store parking lot the previous day, but she wasn't sure. It was gone when she came out with the groceries.

Vaughn came up with a name and address for the tag. It wasn't far from their own neighborhood. Betty drove there, parked, entered through the gate, and pushed the buzzer.

From behind the condominium door an immediately familiar voice asked "Who is it?"

Sunday, August 10, 2008

His Explanation

This happened decades ago in or around Clifton Park in northern, that is to say "upstate," New York. I used to read the Albany Times Union regularly. It was a big story then, but it occurred so long ago that routine internet searches don't pop up anything on it.

I think her name was Dawn Cruikshank. She had a step-father, or perhaps it was her own father; whatever, who sexually abused her. Maybe there was a younger sister involved too. So this guy pulls his car into the garage of the house one day, and she's waiting for him with a shotgun or something and she blows his head off.

She got twenty years and I've occasionally wondered "where/how is she now?"

Another big story involved the infamous Schenectady police. Some officers picked up a woman for drunk-and-disorderly. One of the salient details was that her blouse or jacket was torn open in the scuffle and the police did not give her any assistance in covering herself up.

While she was waiting in a jail cell, one of the policemen forced her to perform oral sex on him.

She did not swallow the semen. She saved it and spit it out into a folded paper drinking cup. It was that evidence that led to the prosecution and imprisonment of that officer for sexual assault.

Again, I sometimes wonder where she is now; same for that officer. Over thirty years have now gone by.

Another story: About two weeks after a nasty snowstorm, passing drivers notice a car that had driven off the Northway. Melting snow allowed it to be exposed. The bodies of an elderly man and woman, husband and wife, were found in it.

Back to now or thereabouts:

Lin Hao, nine years old, leading the Chinese Olympic team into the stadium during opening ceremonies, accompanied by the somewhat taller Yao Ming. Hao was in school when the recent Sichuan earthquake destroyed everything around him.

After crawling out of the wreckage he went back in and retrieved one of his schoolmates. After that, he went in and got out another. When asked why he performed these acts of heroism, he said that it was part of his responsibility. He was the hall monitor, he explained.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Pot Holder

Friday, August 01, 2008