Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What Nurses Have Said in Pre- and Post-Roosevelt Eras


"You have to pick yourself up by your own bootstraps," and then they would add "Here's some boots. Now get out of here."

In my almost three decades of hospital work I have never heard this spoken by a nurse. It's too raw and essential. So please just consider it as maybe an extract of something that underlies what we find ourselves saying over the course of a typical 13-hour shift. Perhaps one of the many in-the-know technicians we interact with may have overheard something we let slip out.

Some good-natured snark let out at one of the doctors:

"You know what was in that Phoenix Magazine yearly write-up about the best physicians in the valley? Well, Dr. BigSmileySquareHead was listed as one of the best hospitalists."

And the nurse speaking would go on to say "I approached him here about this and asked him how that happened? Like, what universe were the results derived from? Seriously!"

But they would not prevail. Dr. BigSmileySquareHead always has the last word. He isn't just too clever by half. He's two powers many times over of that. (See what I mean?)

OMG I have such a migraine as I write this. The loud-wringing half-a-helmet kind. But I'm almost to the end of Maggie Cole's Goldberg's. Then maybe I can listen to something a little gentler. I generally really like her recordings but the harpsichord sound she derives, however beautifully rhythmically sculptured, on this one is less sweet than is my preference. Maybe it's just the instrument itself, a 1988 Andrew Garlick built in the manner of J.C. Goujon. Two of Goujon's instruments are at the Musee Instrumental Paris, including a double-manual harpsichord.

On the companion disc she puts on display a 1612 Jan Ruckers. I wish I could listen to it immediately but until this headache subsides I just don't have the ears for it.

Oh heck. The Ruckers (perhaps one like this) she plays is a little less jangly. Not treacly though.

Maybe it's the recording itself. It seems to lack some bottom end weight, maybe allowing for the sake of good clarity overall. Then again maybe it's just my head today.

Is there something going on with cigarettes, or rather the control of cigarette advertising? Like pictures on packs? Do you really think that it is worldly possible to contemplate anything that could make smoking seem even more disgusting than it already appears now?


I didn't think so.

Though as a hospital nurse I must declare that I often work with patients with lung disease. So smoke up, people. Baby needs a new pair of shoes.

I wish Bruce Springsteen, Robert Plant, and Bono, to say nothing of Mick Jagger, would all just give it up. Buy homes somewhere where the weather is nice. Urban, but a quiet corner. Maybe in the same Texas subdivision at the end of their own turnaround.

They'd see one another out there with a hose watering their front lawns.

"Hey mate," Bono would say to Bruce,"I'm dashing out in a bit to pick up something for the grill. Can I make it a run for you too?"

"What are you having?" Bruce would ask in reply.

"Danny's cousin's grandmother slaughtered a lamb. He's got it in his store."

"You've had it before?" asks Bruce.

"Yes. You remember, a few months back?" replies Bono.

"Right. That was great stuff. Put me in. I'll get you a few bottles of the stash."

Then they'd each finish watering down the daisies. Except maybe Mick. He'd be snoozing among the blossoms, face down in Keith Richards' vomit.

Am I at the crux of some complex but controlling Wall Street interest upon which swings the balance of profitability and loss? Probably not. I cannot fancy that being so. Yet there seems to be developing some political movement to muffle the voice of many workers. Teachers have been condemned. Firefighters, police, and social workers have also been excoriated. As if any of them as a group or individually had anything at all to do with the recent mortgage-meltdown fandango. In a way, nurses have always been party to this; maybe just because of sexism.

It was a different thing, nursing, back in New York. We were unionized, if only because the New York State Nurses Association itself gave us access to legal representation if we required. That tended to be just a formal process because generally the management genuinely cooperated with the Union.

They even presented this to us during one of the three-year contract renegotiations: Some of our nurses had worked there so long that their yearly pay increases had maxed out. The hospital was in a bit of a budget crunch as usual but they offered us this compromise: The top-tier nurses would begin to receive commensurate yearly pay and benefit increases, but for this year and this year only, by contract, the rest of us would limit our own yearly increases to just two percent.

At that time this may have been considered to be a concession made by the staff nurses. We could have said no.

Our Nursing Administrator told us that she herself was completely foregoing any yearly increase this time around. That was the deal right there. Good move.

I really liked her. I knew her from working at a different hospital. She was a department manager then and I was still working as a hospital nurse aide while finishing up nursing school. It was interesting that we both ended up at the same hospital again, though a different one and in a quite rural setting. There was an X-Ray nurse who also worked with us back then at the same previous hospital, and then an ICU nurse that I worked with there and again.

I honor those people in my own ongoing work.

Funny, the people who move from a college-town styled small city to remote villages north in the mountains. Some just liked outdoor sports. Hikers, rock-climbers, people who hunted and fished, nature photographers, and others whose personal businesses ran upon the influx of tourist money; tourists who came from other regions.

Steven Reich's Different Trains from 1988. I am rather of the highway generation and I have rarely been on trains. At least I do not have any fond or profound memories of being on them. Maybe very long ago.

Every once in a while, no matter the season, we spend a weekend or a long weekend at Juniper Well Ranch. The cabins are within earshot if not all within direct sight of a freight railroad. It's the best Doppler effect; with an almost rainbow-like tonal range, especially at night.

Yet for me (and I suspect many of my generation) trains aren't much more than images and sounds from old movies. Now they're not even that.

My god we got the coolest plants. Six-feet tall; palms. Just two, one on each side of the sliding-glass back door. I love it here. They've always helped us out. I like being around plants. It's as if they make the air appreciably better (which of course they do.)

"I'm not stupid," you'd hear someone say. But it doesn't pick up steam (old metaphor) with enough interest to be introduced into mainstream common workspeak. Maybe just an in-family thing. Or maybe it received an honorable mention on some old sit-com. Steam-stream. Shrimplate! Or stream of steam.



Nursing is often a way of seeing.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Recent Resentments

The young family person had an event last night. The pool was warm and some of them went in with all of their clothes on. That's the explanation. There was rending of hair and the washing of many garments. Then more recently the morning rush: one goes to sports lessons, two have to be taken home, and there was something else about the other one. The clothes were not yet dry.

So we, or rather my spouse, gave them a plastic bag and sent them home to dry their clothes there. Total hardass. Not playing. I chose not to intervene. I preferred instead to finish a cup of coffee while listening to a Valentini concerto for four violins. In a minor. One of my favorite Baroque keys. Played by La Serenissima. OMG!

I imagine the following:

This child goes home and presents their mother with a bag of wet laundry. "Why didn't they let you finish it at their house?" their mother would ask, and ask with my understanding. "I dunno," the kid would reply, adding "They had to take the twins home and they had to go to a lesson and they were late and their parents are a bunch of total hardasses. I guess."

Which reminds me to say that a modern atheist using that term "omg" is no more acknowleding a Higher Being than would a person from another era who might have exclaimed "by Jove" sometime or another. I have Bach, just about all of him, in mind while noting this.

It's hard enough coming out as an atheist here in "modern" America, what with the whole intelligent design thing among many other prominent and divisive issues. I cannot imagine what a free-thinker had to keep to just themselves in the culture Bach worked in. He had to hold down a long gig as a church cantor just to maintain a good livelihood, god help the poor bastard. No wonder he was described as devout Lutheran. Who wouldn't have been?

OMG! The Cantatas!

See what I mean? So much implied by just those three "words." And the exclamation point. That helps a little.

There are things that are just generally interesting, then there are things that attract the attention of fewer people, then of fewer people still. For example, you may know someone who says that they "like" music. Subsequently you learn that the last time they purchased any recorded music it was an "Ace of Base" CD and it was actually given to them on one of their birthdays.

Which just goes to show how both psychological and emotional distance, and the difference in distance from the present to that past time, can parallel one another, at least for some people.

So you might say that your own musical tastes are somewhat more refined, as if you breathed a different air.

That's what I mean when I say that generally there are two kinds of people: those for whom punk happened and those for whom it didn't. It's more than just to say that it was a specific generation that grew up in a specific period within an even further specific cultural setting; it's on the cusp of New York City and everything else, beginning with its immediate geographical surroundings. The state university at Binghamton being it for me personally. My very spouse graduated from another state university, the one in Albany.

Allow me to offer something like an example: Many years after "punk" rolled through and made all the previous things mere history, its generation strode out into the world to make liberating changes. There was a time when a small but prominent northeastern city provided easy access to heroine recovery treatment. Addicts from New York City moved to Vermont to use these services and the system strained as its resources became overwhelmed.

Then it became controversial. There were people who wanted the program completely abandoned immediately. There were those who advocated for more spending to help cover all the applicants. The advocates and the applicants were themselves not overlapping classes, but at that time the people trying to effectively address this problem from an ethical point of view were those for whom "punk happened," at least at that time. You could understand if there was any confusion. The era's clothing styles didn't help any. Everyone wore tight or loose jeans.

At one time I lived with an apartment-mate who dated the director of the local rape crisis center. As you know, I myself am a registered nurse, though one with perhaps a variety of interests. My spouse has a master's degree in social work. Now many of my coworkers are much younger. Half my age. Pre-family, meaning their own kids by however they assume parenthood of them, by marriage, adoption official and unofficial, or copulation.

Many of them carry within them a self-sense of that thing "punk happened" even though they were not of that time. In part I hope that it is the now-assumed feminism that lingered at the edges of wider acceptibility three or four decades ago. Now it's a tacit assumption, isn't it?

So what I intend to say to my spouse and family when they get home is this: there's the generally accepted culture-thing, and then there are subsets, and then there are further subsets, eventually settling just on us.

Furthermore I would add, now circling outward, that the manner by which we proceeded to get to this place was mere growth. Sometimes it takes years to accomplish that. Sometimes, days or hours. How long did it take for you to be born? Over a long time, or in a flash as the cavity opened? Were you round-headed?

Then the question of stitches. Then we divert our attention to Vivaldi.

Vivaldi had access to every sort of musician then widely and generally considered. The young women at the extraordinary Ospedale della Pietà could readily answer to any of his musical inspirations. It was as if he had a Baroque equivalent of a modern synthesizer. He had access to all the sounds of his imagination plus more than he could ever live to fully explore.

Just as the musicians of the Ospedale della Pieta provided a palette from which Vivaldi could draw shapes and colors, likewise his compositions provide moderns who like Baroque music a wide spectrum from which to draw upon musical interpretations. This is nowehere more apparent than in the musical history of my own generation, in which Baroque performance practice invited study leading to performances based upon appropriate historical writings. Yet you can still hear Vivaldi played by orchestras which would have seemed overly large in Brahms' days. This sort of thing really caught my attention during my early college/university years. Long live the difference.

You could go beyond "us" as you proceed along the trails from beyond the circle's edge, to the cusp, to the inner circles, gradually approaching that limit after which you can only take introspection. But that would still belong to "us," wouldn't it?

Is that why they call it spacetime?

Probably not.

I'm not even sure that you could form a scientific hypothesis regarding that, nor even around forming a real hypothesis.

Now we're off. It's beyond mutual understanding. It has sunk into a black hole.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Wait, What Kind of Period?

Steve Harvey can take his 90-day waiting period before fucking (he says women entering relationships should wait that long, and presumably just that long, before agreeing to sex,) and he can shove it up his soon-to-be war-torn asshole. He says it's like the probationary period when you first obtain a job. I don't know... He looks like a rapist to me. Or plainly like someone who has a compulsion to tell women (and men) how they should behave in their most personal interactions.

This is my counter-advice to Mr. Harvey: Go jerk off and cum on your mother's face.

So long as we're sharing advice.

Mr. Harvey was recently on the Piers Morgan interview television show, spouting silly nonsense about how men and women should relate. "Relashunships iz hard," as a certain ex-POTUS would have said. Another alpha-male. Apparently his sort of garbage is considered acceptable. Sadly it is not.

I shouldn't single out Mr. Harvey. There are thousands of sexist knuckleheads who do roughly the same thing he's doing. There are entire industries devoted to the promotion of this stuff. "Men Are (fill in the blank) and Women Aren't" half-baked inchoate ideas, allegedly obtained from observation, that serve only to maintain a thoroughly sexist paradigm, such as the one it seems apparent that Mr. Harvey himself grew up in and within which he remains immersed. Don't take my word for this. I can only stand to offer one link, like maybe this Modest Example and then I'll have to stop. Please.


Destruction and reconstruction. I don't much like construction itself. It's too creative. Be gone with it.

What? Who wants to be an artist?


Didn't think so.

At this stage of the game or whatever it is, I think that it would be tender and poignant to absolve oneself from all creative activities. To just steal. Not to make anything. Take something that's already there instead of trying to force something new into existence. Then bust it all up and if that's not enough fun, put it back together again in some good old-fashioned way. There you go.

It can't be that difficult. I know a restaurant that does this with fish tacos. And the dish is wonderful.

You could also do it just by taking some shit Steve Harvey said and then give it a royal rogering, for example.


I don't wear it around my neck.

When I am either asked or confronted about it, I have developed a short-cut reusable stock answer which I can employ to resemble responding, yes, actually genuinely responding or a passing semblance of so doing. Here it is:

"I generally stick to these things where I don't talk much about any of my relationships, whether they are real or not."

Does that wrongly impart?

I remain to be assured that I have shown just who can be the one who is more direct in these matters. Those are the ground rules, wouldn't we all agree? It seems clear to me.


Time is clear. Anyone can easily allow themselves the luxury of some insight into it. At least, I think, since some sort of language was made useful to us. The ability to cast our gaze about to different aspects, features, and discrete individual statements unfolding in time itself. That seems a neat trick.

There was probably a time when we as a species were generally unable to do this. It seems like a trait that could very well have been naturally selected.

There was probably also a time, albeit brief, when spacetime was not transparent and electromagnetic radiation was unable to pass through unobstructed. But that's another story.


Snipped from the superb butterfliesandwheels:

"I have a new project. My new project is to convince people on the left that they must work together with Tea Partiers.

This may seem like a difficult thing to do, but I like a challenge. There are many urgent problems in the world, such as countless people who still have the wrong kind of light bulbs, and the only way those problems can be solved is if I – yes I, I alone, I personally, I bravely yet gently yet determinedly yet lovingly – build a bridge between the left and the Tea Party. The division between the left and the Tea Party is divisive, and when there is divisiveness, problems don’t get solved, because people don’t work together, so it is urgent and vital and very important to heal this tragic divide by telling the left to forget about all the things they disagree with the Tea Party about. It would be pointless to tell the Tea Party to reciprocate, of course, and besides, the left is…well you know."

That's going to get much more than just a casual nod.


Violinist Robert McDuffie has been getting some serious attention for quite a while now:

And so has this fellow traveler, Ram Narayan, sarangi player.


When I sat at my laptop to write this I perhaps started on a rather hostile note. But I see now that I have arrived at another place. This is the sort of thing I am referring to when I talk about "form."


This is what I will say to my spouse when they come down from their slumber:

"You know, I sometimes talk about you; well, you and us really, with some of the people at work," I'll say, and "But there's really a lot more to us, then, isn't there?"

After I say that or something like it I have come to fully expect some sort "Of Look."

To which I might respond with "It's not like you're merely of a gender to me. No, not quite that at all. It's like you're a gender artist at what you do, and that's amazing."

It Leads To

“I have come to set the world on fire, and I wish it were already burning! I have a terrible baptism of suffering ahead of me, and I am under a heavy burden until it is accomplished. Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I have come to divide people against each other!"

Luke 12, 49-51.


"In videotaped confessions, the defendants said the motive behind the massacre was that the groom was Shiite and the bride was Sunni.


"...the insurgents threw 15 screaming children into the Tigris River after hanging concrete blocks around their necks. Blindfolded men were lined on the river bank with their hands tied behind their backs and were shot dead execution-style.

Then the insurgents raped the women, including the bride, who had her chest slashed and was left to bleed to death in front of her husband."

15 Get Death for Horrific Iraq Wedding-Party Massacre.


"The bombing started at 3am," she said yesterday from her bed in the emergency ward at Ramadi general hospital, 60 miles west of Baghdad. "We went out of the house and the American soldiers started to shoot us. They were shooting low on the ground and targeting us one by one," she said. She ran with her youngest child in her arms and her two young boys, Ali and Hamza, close behind. As she crossed the fields a shell exploded close to her, fracturing her legs and knocking her to the ground.

She lay there and a second round hit her on the right arm. By then her two boys lay dead. "I left them because they were dead," she said. One, she saw, had been decapitated by a shell.

2004 American raid on an Iraqi remote village wedding.


Barrett's encyclopedia sought to count each human being in each religion and religious subcategory in each country as of 1900, 1970, 1990, 1995 and 2000, with projections to 2025.

The 2001 edition, successor to his 1982 first edition, which took a decade to compile, identifies 10,000 distinct religions, of which 150 have 1 million or more followers. Within Christianity, he counts 33,820 denominations.

33,820 denominations.


More than 100,000 people are putting their lives on hold, waiting for organ transplants across the U.S.

17 hundred of them are living in Arizona.

That's one reason why Governor Jan Brewer has deemed April, "Donate to Life Month." There are more than one million donors signed up in Arizona already but still 19 patients die every day waiting for their transplant.

Thousands of Arizonans wait for organ donations.


Cystic Fibrosis is a nasty thing. It clogs up the lungs and pancreas with gooey viscous slime that eventually kills, usually before a person fully matures and despite even the best of care.

I am thinking specifically of one high-school-age person. They died a year ago today. Sometime before that they approached the Arizona state capitol accompanied by news cameras. They confronted our well-known state Senate leader Russell Pearce. Pearce, a Mormon like the young person under discussion, approved of legislative changes that would allow the youth to obtain a lung transplant with financial support from the state Medicaid program.

The young person then later received donated lungs. They remained quite sick however and they were hospitalized often. Somehow they managed to graduate from high-school. Their graduation took place in the hospital itself, though.

Shortly after this child (yes, they were a child, really,) died, Senator Pearce worked to rescind this sort of coverage for transplants. After all, the young person who shamed him into it was now gone.


International Master Anna Zatonskih, rating 2493. Ukrainian-American. Her parents first taught her to play chess at age five.

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Whiteness of Swans

One afternoon on my day off I was puttering in the kitchen while listening to Adele Anthony play the Violin Concerto by Philip Glass. Scrubbing a pot when my spouse came in. There was still a little spot on the bottom the the pot. Like a flea.

"See that?" I said to my lifelong love, whom we both call "The Most MagisTerial (capital "T" intended) and Adored (three syllables) Walsingham Thing-Thing."

Spouse wondered what.

"That spot," I said as Thing-Thing peered into the pan. It's a well-lit kitchen. Oddly, James Joyce used the word "illlit" in one of those books. The one I read.

"That's not good enough!" I said. "I grew up in a restaurant."

The music passes by in units that are repeated a few times before changing to another different motive, for lack of a better word, appears. It seems that history passes that way. Only the music compresses it into its own artificial sense of time. Instead of building up and growing towards an eventual route of sequential repetitive periods, Glass leaves out the "social" build-up and moves straight to the concluding economic swings of each society. Then moves on to something else just as repetitive. A musical Marxist. Or just a Buddhist. Same thing, practically.

Sibelius did the same thing at the end of his 5th Symphony, or at least the version of the three that I've ever listended to, having never heard the unused Adagio or the missing 1916 version. The "Thor's Hammer" thing. Thing. That I've heard.

We reciprocate and mutually conclude that life is probably quite different for the people who belong to untouched-by-the-outside-world remote villages.

According to Miriam Ross of Survival International, a group that works to protect the world's remaining indigenous peoples, "These tribes represent the incredible diversity of humankind. Unless we want to condemn yet more of the earth's peoples to extinction, we must respect their choice. Any contact they have with outsiders must happen in their own time and on their own terms."


"Aside from the fear of tampering with a primitive society, the risk of transmitting diseases is significant; these people have virtually no immunities and would likely be hit hard."

Who's happier?

Me, no doubt about it.


That's what I really meant. I'm not breaking any speed limits today.

The Young One came down and inquired after the special vanilla soda I was supposed to get them. They rummaged around in the back alleys of the fridge, found it, opened it and pronounced it "good." No, "pretty good." They set the half-full (heh) bottle on the table along with its tossed cap. I let it go for a bit before it kind of got to me. Then I called up to them.

They responded by coming down and grabbing the bottle and cap before I could get out "I know you're always in such a hurry to get on with things, but you could at least not just leave such stuff there." They smiled, took care of it, and disappeared. Just like that.

I may be a bit behind on my best shots today, but I can still play some sort of part.

This Young One has decided to do away with the wall-posters of past days. They want a new look to their space. A layered repaint. Maybe a rich dark ocean blue underbase. A floor-to-ceiling mirror. A secondary study area, or whatever.

"You want better posters, or art?" I asked.

"Art," they immediately responded.

I am somehow very okay with this.

There are a lot more people at work who talk quite a bit among themselves, probably way more than I do. But when I contribute, I'll have tried to put some energy into it.

One day I didn't wear my usual TAG-Heuer, but instead a nice old estate Fendi. Andrea called me on it. "You're not wearing your watch," she said.

"This is my watch," I replied, adding "I wouldn't wear anybody else's watch. Well, this was somebody else's watch, but I bought it. In a way, we share it."

"Is that so?" asked Andrea.

My spouse does not like it when I do not wear the TAG. They bought it for me. This requires me to behave in a certain way. It modifies my watch-wearing most highly assured American right to put different stuff on my wrist; wholly unnecessary now that everybody has hand-held computers which can also be used as texting devices, but still important to me. I don't know why. I've tried to figure that out.

Brazil has imposed an embargo on its exports of rosewood since 1969. This is of dire importance to me.

There are other rosewoods. They sound great. Many of them are also under legal protection, which in turn has increased their economic value. I'd hate to see such a very useful collection of species suffer a demise, due not to the art of instrument-making, but due to money and short-sightedness. Valuable resources should be developed. Not obliterated.

I have one. A small one. I saved up money over some time and paid cash for it. I'm not proud.

Time to feed the fish. Little wiggly Sirens, those.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Elvis is Dead and I'm Glad But Now I Wish Coldplay Would Die Too

The rental we stayed at is hidden in the trees in the center of the picture as viewed from a weathered outcropping of red Schnebly Hill Sandstone. This layer is eight to nine hundred feet thick in places. The little village of Oak Creek seen here occupies the low plain that opens out from the southern end of the canyon. As you head north through the village of Sedona itself and up along Oak Creek the canyon narrows appreciably and the variously-colored spires and cliffs close in on the road.

Bell Rock viewed from the kitchen. We could let the dogz run around loose beyond the low wall. Doing this fired up the wild hound-passions in their hearts.

This is how the mountains begin to fall; a crack initially appears and then the elements further their unrelenting work. In a bit of time these mountains will become as flat as the plain that spreads out in the first picture posted above. Behind and above in the right-upper corner of my phone-photo there's a horizontal strip of Fort Apache Limestone. This isn't always seen. There's more Schebly Hill red Sandstone and lighter Coconino Sandstone above that. This far south in the Oak Creek Canyon much of the uppermost layers of Toroweap Sandstone and Kaibab Limestone have been worn away.

The Little Brown One heads out to chase bunnies, harrass quail, and pee in odd places.

A resilient Century Plant in bloom.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Alaskan Oil As Viewed From Sedona

From a blurb by the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas:

The U.S. Geological Survey says a revised estimate for the amount of conventional, undiscovered oil in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska is a fraction of a previous estimate. The group estimates about 896 million barrels of such oil are in the reserve, about 90 percent less than a 2002 estimate of 10.6 billion barrels.

This does not compare favorably with our rate of oil consumption, which has been recently calculated as 19.6 million barrels per *day.*

Go ahead. Try telling that to your right-wing pals at work. You know, the "drill baby drill" types. Have them do the math.

In the meantime we are in a rented A-frame in the village of Oak Creek, sipping morning coffee, letting the dogs run around free just byond the low red-stone wall, watching the morning sun light up Bell Rock a short distance away. Sedona is one of the most beautiful places on this good Earth.

It's not just why we live here in Arizona; it's why we live.