31 May 2017

A Small Loss to the World [2003]


[Journal passage, 30/31 May 2003]
1:27 n PDT—I slept fitfully and in installments, getting up periodically to check on things when the dog barked or other alarums presented themselves. (Maybe I was up in the six to eight zone in the evening; I seem to recall Buffy coming on—probably the episodes where Faith returns and changes places with Buffy.) I think I finally got up after midnight, though I’m not really certain, and I ate something or other—a frozen Mexican dinner I’m pretty sure. And I screwed around with my computer downstairs—the parody anthology project mostly. I turned on the TV around 2:30 m and found that some of my guide was back, but mostly it read “No Listing”. When I checked it out later in the morning though it seemed to be up and running, and I edited it again to eliminate all the hundreds of channels I don’t get. I worked a bit on ideas for a Poe parody (a poem) and hit on one I sort of liked, though nothing to write home about yet. I saw on the morning news that they’d finally got [Christian terrorist] Eric Rudolph, the moron who allegedly left bombs lying around in Georgia and Alabama and Mississippi, killing and maiming various bystanders. If he is the guy I hope he fries; if not, well, he’d be a small loss to the world in any case, but I’d hate to think of somebody being punished for a crime committed by somebody else. I talked with my mother and then my brother on the phone—he is supposedly going to bring my lawnmower back some time today, which will probably mean another screwed-up night, sleepwise. Ah well.

30 May 2017

Exhaustion


I
 don’t know why; I’ve been out of the hospital a week now, but I feel exhausted. It’s not like I’ve been doing anything. But even the effort of cramming the weblog with blasts from the past feels like it’s too much for me right now. I meant to return to the fake “if this be treason” exchange of Patrick Henry’s on this the anniversary of its not being said, but I’m really not up to it. More later, as I used to sign off, assuming that there ever is any more.

29 May 2017

Hobbling Down Memory Lane [2011]


[originally posted Memorial Day, 2011]
O
ne artifact I own is an old walking-stick. When my knee abruptly gave out a year or so back and I was hobbling about my nephew found it somewhere and brought it to me to help me get around. I don’t ordinarily use it; there’s a crack running through it, and I can’t trust it to bear my weight, but it worked for that moment. It belonged to my great-grandfather G. F. Weaver who, in the 1930s, left it behind when he went for his final walk on the land where he’d found gold, just after signing over all his rights in it to his partners. His body was found a couple of days later at the bottom of a ravine where he’d apparently fallen, and his walking-stick was among the meager effects sent to his family.
He was an interesting guy, to judge from the contradictory accounts that have come down about him, a preacher, an inventor, a visionary, a horse-doctor, a man who abandoned his family (first absconding with the money from the sale of their crops) to seek a golden fortune out west, a man who traded the rights to an invention for land in Kentucky that didn’t exist, and according to his own story witnessed the assassination of the governor-elect there when trying to seek redress for his wrongs. To this day he has his partisans and detractors in the family. Me, I’m agnostic. Whatever he was, he was.
He was the youngest (and favorite) son of a farmer, James I. Weaver, a man whose entire life is encompassed in the fading script of the family Bible that sits in front of me as I write these words. Born in Kentucky in 1818, the son of a preacher, he married the daughter of a preacher in 1844 and died in Texas in 1888. If he had a life outside of farming, I’ve failed to find it. Tradition has it that he and his wife Rhoda wanted their son to be a preacher like their fathers, and G. F. was, at least briefly. He performed at least one marriage in Texas, before giving it up. Did I mention that G. F. was also a barber and a Bible-salesman?
Anyway, James’ father David (1791-1854) was a preacher, one of the mainstays of a Baptist church in the wilderness of Kentucky. “His labors extended over Laurel, Knox, Whitley and Clay counties,” Elder J. W. Moran wrote of him, “and few men have sacrificed more for the cause of Christ than he. He so ordered his life that the most hardened in wickedness could bring no charge against him. His voice was clear and musical, and his manner was very pleasing. He was greatly beloved by the people to whom he preached.” Blind in his latter years, he had to be carried to church to preach.
His father Samuel (1755-1842) was (thank God) not a preacher, Baptist or otherwise, though he was the progenitor of a large tribe of Weavers. He was a giant of a man—over seven feet tall according to family tradition—and lived at various times in his long life (he was almost 87 when he died) in Virginia, the Carolinas, and Kentucky. His name turns up in numerous land, tax, and census records, though as there were other Samuel Weavers abroad in the land it is difficult to be sure which belong to him, and which to others. As far as those records show his life was uneventful, spent in farming and raising a numerous brood of children with his wife—supposedly a descendent of Gutenberg, of printing-press fame.
In the 1830s he applied for a pension from the government on the basis of his participation in the Revolutionary War, and to that end narrated his experiences. About eighty at the time, his memory was none too good, and the accounts (there are two) filled with phrases like “he does not now recollect” and “neither does he remember”. Still, the story he tells runs something like this:
Somewhere around March in the year 1780, while living in Surry county, North Carolina, he was drafted to serve in the Continental Army. His company commander was Captain Jacob Camplin, who took the outfit south to Charleston, then under siege by the British. Before they got there “a call was made for men to stay and guard baggage wagons and he was one of these, he supposed about thirty, but for what cause the baggage was kept there at the time he can not say, but supposes it was in Consequence of the Siege…” For this reason he missed the siege of Charleston, which fell on 12 May of that year. Captain Camplin returned from the siege with a knee injury, according to Samuel Weaver, and he was delegated to look after him on his way back home, “which he did, tho under much difficulty and trouble, the wound being very severe.”
No sooner than he got home he was discharged, his three months being up, and he returned to his family home, where he walked into a domestic drama. It seems his father had just been drafted, and his mother was in considerable “distress of mind” at the idea of parting with him. So Samuel “resolved to go himself … if the officers would receive him, he told this to his father and Mother … but his father was preparing for the trip and said nothing in reply.” Carrying out this plan Samuel talked to the officer in charge, who “seemed to be much gratified” at the switch, and immediately discharged his father. Samuel soon found himself on his way back to Virginia where they joined troops also on their way south.
Samuel doesn’t say what troops they were, but the time and place suggests they could have been Maryland troops under De Kalb headed south to try to break the British stranglehold there. These troops were combined with others and the whole put under the command of Horatio Gates, who then led them to mass slaughter in a vain attempt to take Camden, South Carolina, on 16 August. Once again, however, Samuel Weaver missed the battle; he (along with others) joined Francis Marion. Presumably this was when the Swamp Fox and a few picked men were detached to cut off the expected retreat of the British after they were defeated at Camden.
In reality the British were not defeated, and Marion ended up lurking in the swamp, carrying out occasional raids against the Tories. Samuel Weaver vaguely remembered taking part in several night actions, and one day skirmish, but the one thing that stuck out in his mind about this chapter in his life was this:
During the time he was with Genl. Marion, a British Officer as he was told came into Camp, but for what he does not know, he was roasting & bakeing Sweet Potatoes on the Coles—Genl. Marion Steped up with the British Officer and remarked he believed he would take Breakfast, he felt proud at the request, puled out his potatoes, wiped the ashes off with a dirty handkerchief, placed them on a pine log (which was all the provision they had) and Genl. Marion and the British Officer partook of them. He has been told by some that this has been recorded in the life of the Genl. as a dinner, but this was a breakfast.
So, apparently, Samuel Weaver was the very soldier who took part in this famous episode, first revealed to the public by Mason Weems, of George Washington and the cherry tree fame. It’s a sobering thought.
After about a month with Marion Samuel Weaver ended up on hospital duty, was discharged, and returned home. This wasn’t the last of his adventures in the war—the next year he again volunteered and headed off to do battle at Guilford. Again he missed the battle; the volunteers stayed to help bury the dead and then went back home. And even then, according to his narrative, he enrolled as a minute man, and continued to be called up as needed for brief skirmishes.
Now, it’s Memorial Day, and I don’t want to cast aspersions on the memory of the old guy, but there are problems with this narrative. (I’m sure you already guessed that, if you’ve spent any time here.) First, Jacob Camplin, the captain whose knee was injured during the siege of Charleston? Okay, there really was a Jacob Camplin, seemingly, and he really did injure his knee—but not at the siege of Charleston. He injured it a year earlier, at the Battle of Stono Ferry, 20 June 1779. Near Charleston, true, but not at that time and place. Further, an account by a fellow named John Melugin (and this is not my research) seems quite similar to Samuel’s—Melugin left Surry County (like Samuel Weaver) under Captain Jacob Camplin headed for Charleston. During the events there he was assigned to drive a wagon and as a result missed the battle at Stono Ferry where Captain Camplin was injured. He then (like Samuel Weaver) went home.
Okay, so what? So the old guy was a year off, got the Siege of Charleston mixed up with the Battle of Stono Ferry—what of it? Well, the thing is, it’s not that simple. You see, Jacob Camplin didn’t come back from that battle to be helped home by Samuel Weaver or any other soldier—he was taken prisoner by the British, and not released for over a year. So that whole part of his story, the “difficulty and trouble” of getting the captain home with his severe injury, kind of drops out. And further, if the Stono Ferry redating be accepted, then there’s no way he could have been one of Marion’s guerillas, as Marion didn’t take up his career as the Swamp Fox until the next year. Samuel Weaver’s narrative is quite tight here—he gets home after nursemaiding Captain Camplin to find that his father has been drafted, and he sets out immediately to replace him, at this time joining up with Francis Marion. Poke at it anywhere and the story kind of unravels and falls apart.
One more thing—that sweet potato story. It was pretty well known in the 1830s, when Samuel Weaver was applying for his pension. Now I hadn’t originally planned on going into this, but as J. L. Bell is doing a nice job deconstructing this legend at Boston 1775, I’ve got to at least point people in his direction. There is considerable doubt as to whether this event even occurred, let alone that Samuel Weaver took the part he assigns to himself in it. [J. L. Bell by the way finds Samuel Weaver’s story plausible.] I can’t help but wonder whether, perhaps, his own memories of events being shaky, he didn’t appropriate bits and pieces of stories around him to fill out an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative.
That he took some part in the Revolution doesn’t seem to be in question—too many people were willing to swear to it on his behalf. It doesn’t look like sheer fantasy, in the manner of William Drannan. But the specifics he recalls, when they can be checked on, are iffy. If he went out with Captain Camplin on the occasion when the captain’s knee was injured, it must have been in 1779, and the battle must have been Stono Ferry. If he escorted a wounded officer back from either Stono Ferry or the Siege of Charleston it can’t have been Captain Camplin, who was a prisoner of war at the time. If he was in the swamps with Francis Marion it is unlikely that he took part in a dinner (or breakfast as he insists) that nobody recalled until Mason Weems used it to pad out a heavily-fictionalized biography. It’s frustrating, but there it is. Like the crack running through my great-grandfather's walking-stick, there are cracks running through his great-grandfather's war stories. The old man’s memory can’t be trusted.
I doubt very much that he’s romancing; the stories are too mundane. (Again, take a look at William Drannan to see what happens when fantasy replaces memory.) But events have somehow become jumbled and are mixed with things that never were.
I’m reminded of another time, when a much more recent ancestor of mine—my father, actually—lay dying in a Portland hospital. A veteran of World War II, he kept returning to scenes long past, his once-sharp mind dulled with drugs and delusions. Convinced for some reason he was in a war zone, he would ask about the enemy—how close they were, and whether we were going to be evacuated. “How long was your father in Vietnam?” one of the attendants asked. It was a tough question. I didn’t know where the Vietnam thing was coming from. He’d been on a hospital ship in the Pacific, he’d been in occupied Japan, but Vietnam? He was in Portland that whole time, to my personal knowledge, working as an engineer at a radio station. I smiled weakly, and somebody said—I don’t remember who—“He must be having somebody else’s flashbacks.”
Maybe Samuel Weaver was having somebody else’s flashbacks.

28 May 2017

Ponyville Dream [2012]


[Dream, 28/29 May 2012]
T
ummler [my roommate] told me about dreaming of Applejack and Twilight Sparkle in Ponyville; Applejack says their ancestors wouldn’t have approved of folk that weren’t ponies dressing up like them, but Twilight Sparkle wants to see for sure.  Rather than going to her library, Twilight goes straight to the source; in the next scene the two of them are in a Ponyville cemetery conjuring up the spirits of the ancestors to find out where they stood on the issue.

27 May 2017

Wooden Balls [1967]


[passage from my journal, 27 May 1967]
Leonardo 11, 403
T
oday I got up, had breakfast, and read in They All Discovered America*. I cleaned upstairs and read Lord of the Flies by Golding. I went downstairs and had supper (potatoes and roast beef). After supper my brothers and I played keep-away. This game was ill-omened from the start. First I protested against the use of wooden balls but everyone else said that it would be all right. When I was in the center I, attempting to recover the ball, slid on Bryan’s feet. The game continued until cleverly we contrived for the wooden ball to hit my head. We went in to nurse our injuries and have story. We finished Wuthering Heights. We then went to KXL-FM and around the city. We came home, I had a cheese sandwich and I went to bed. Signs of Spring: The rhododendrons and roses bloomed.

26 May 2017

Crazy People Got No Reason to Live [2008]

[Originally posted 26 May 2008]
A
t least, that’s the opinion apparently entertained by one Kristin Butler, a proud graduate of Duke University. Duke of course is known mainly for its outstanding work in the field of parapsychology, the science of matter over mind. According to Kristin Butler a “mentally unstable” person—or “loony” as she apparently prefers—has no business receiving a diploma, whether she has completed the requirements or not. This is an interesting attitude, and I would really like to know exactly why having bipolar disorder—that’s the lunacy in question—disbars a student from receiving a degree. I got a degree, in spite of having undergone treatment for depression, and in spite of suffering from unreasonable fears and compulsions. And frankly, I take that kind of crack personally. I have a cousin with bipolar disorder, and while she’s never received a degree from a prestigious university like Duke, she is in fact one of the most outstanding researchers I’ve ever met. I personally have respect for people who make it in spite of drawbacks and disadvantages over which they do not have control, and I am very much unimpressed when some scatter-brained young know-it-all sounds off with a moronic screed like Summa cum loony. Grow up, Kristin Butler.

25 May 2017

Throwing Rocks at the Elephant's Tail


God said to throw rocks at the elephant’s tail;
He didn’t say monkey or rabbit or quail,
And so we throw rocks at the elephant’s tail
Because God told us to.—old song
I
 am having a lousy time of it at the moment, worrying about many things that I have no control over, such as whether my roommate will get to the doctor in time to have his feet removed or whatever horrible thing they’re going to do to him, or whether our tinhorn master-puppet will succeed in cutting off the food program that keeps me alive, or whether my heart is going to abruptly give out regardless of the work done to keep it going.
The outside news is not reassuring either. A candidate for the American House of Representatives, one of the two highest legislative bodies in the land, body-slammed a reporter for asking questions he apparently didn’t like. He belongs in jail, not in Congress, but I don’t suppose that’s going to make any difference now that the criminal class has officially taken over the country. (The guy in charge of “investigating” the case is one of his supporters, by the way. Should we say conflict of interest? Or is that off the table in our new streamlined political environment?)
At any rate, at times like this we can at least fall back on the old reliable nostrums that made the United States so strong in the past—an outsized military budget that accomplishes little, racist hypocrisy, that old-time ignorance, and empty bluster.

24 May 2017

Still Alive


I
 am now back from the hospital, considerably the worse for wear, but alive. Which I wouldn’t have been if I hadn’t gone and had them install small devices inside me to hold my arteries open so that my heart could continue working. I want to extend my most profound thanks to the doctors, nurses, food suppliers, cleaners, technicians, administrators, and other unseen staff of Emanuel Legacy that made this possible. Thanks to their efforts there is a reasonable chance that I will continue to write and function as I have for at least a few more years. How I’m going to make the necessary lifestyle changes I don’t know, but at least I have the chance to do it.

23 May 2017

Grand Tour


A
t some point in late May—not necessarily 23 May 1963—we sixth-graders took a tour of Lewis Junior High School. Let’s just say that at the end of the tour I was not looking forward to going.
Actually, although I don’t have the exact date of either event, both my mother and I got (separate) advance notices of the horrors of Lewis Junior High. Mine was a tour of the school undertaken by all sixth graders; Ruth’s was a “meeting for prospective parents of students at Lewis Junior High.” (“I am not a prospective parent, but I went anyway, because my son is in the sixth grade, and because he brought me an invitation; I thought they probably meant parents of prospective students. Now, of course, I realize that they did not know what they meant and that none of them would have been capable of making the distinction, so it doesn’t matter.”) My memories are faded and colored by actual experience in this institution; Ruth’s were fresh, but don’t always match what I remember as significant. Between them, however, I can sort of triangulate my impressions, both first and second hand.
The place seemed bewilderingly large at first, especially compared to John Rogers, but really came down to only three buildings—the original school building, with a design similar to our own school, the massive main building with the office, library, and cafeteria, which had two wings, shop on the one side and home economics on the other, and the small but modern-looking science building. I noted that there were two gyms, a crappy old building for the girls and a shiny new one for the boys. The band and choir rooms (in the home economics wing) were terraced, so to speak, for the convenience of the singers or player, depending.
What they couldn’t wait to show off, as I remember it, was the equipment. And my mother observed that “What they were chiefly peddling … and what they seemed to feel made all else right, was gadgets.” Her immediate notes match my half-century old recollections.
To start with they had a decent science wing, equipped with microscopes, test tubes, Bunsen burners, a van de Graf generator, a Tesla coil, an orrery, and I don’t  know what all. I will note that in practice these things were for the teachers’ use in demonstrations, and not for the students, but still—a big improvement over John Rogers, which had absolutely nothing in the way of lab equipment.
The audio-visual lab was actually fairly impressive, though I don’t think they did anything more than point it out to us on my visit. In my view it was definitely under-utilized; its main use was in language classes where tapes of (say) Spanish phrases would be played for students to repeat into a microphone, while the teacher randomly listened in on various students, possibly occasionally interjecting a correction or suggestion. Ruth says that her guide during her visit said that only he and another teacher used it as the rest of them were scared of it. That matches my later experience—only the German and Spanish teachers put it to any use.
The industrial arts wing was (as far as I can recall) very well equipped with tools, but I never took shop as such, so my experience was limited. The tools we students were allowed to touch, however, were pieces of absolute crap, unfit for any serious work, dull and broken. But the machines were lovely to look at—planes and lathes and saws and drills and I don’t know what all—and maybe advanced students got to use them or something.
From here it’s downhill. There was a fairly decent P.A. system as part of the stage that sat between the gym and the cafeteria. They used it for assemblies and to play horrible music at us during lunch. Ruth wrote about them promoting the “divider wall[s] that can be folded up to make two classroom size rooms into one lecture-auditorium sized room” in the science wing but in my experience they were seldom if ever used. Ruth also wrote about the overhead projectors that many of the teachers used instead of a blackboard. It does seem like maybe they showed them off, but without Ruth’s contemporary note I wouldn’t remember them as anything special.
One thing that was emphasized repeatedly is that we would not be seeing the same people in our classes that we’d been seeing in grade school; because of the size of the institution it was very unlikely that we would be in the same class with any of our old friends. (It was still all right for us to associate with them outside of school they assured us graciously and condescendingly.) No, we would find our new friends at Lewis among the classmates the authorities had assigned to us, and everything would be just peachy. (My mother doesn’t really say anything about this, though I suppose it could have been covered in the part she alludes to about “peer-group identification”.) And there would be many activities for us to perform, hoops to jump through as it were, that would let us get to know each other much much better.
There were, we were told, many activities we could take part in. There were inter-scholastic sports like football, baseball, basketball or track, as well as intramural sports like volleyball and softball. There were organizations like the Girls’ League, the Boys’ League, the Activity Council and so on, that performed various unnamed but important functions, and by taking part in them we could earn points towards a Citizenship Letter (parallel to the Letter given for taking part in the various sports). On a scale of one to ten my interest in this concept was less than zero, so I never really did get the hang of it, but it seemed to be important to the people showing us around.
Each grade had its own conslur, an official who would be there to help and guide us throughout our time at Lewis. That is, the seventh grade conslur this year would be the eighth grade conslur next year, and so on. According to the handbook he “is prepared to support teachers in their primary role of aiding individuals to learn efficiently and effectively. He is also prepared to help the students themselves discover and develop their learning potential and capacity for self-direction through the various levels of the educational program.” From the pronunciation—which was universal at Lewis—I thought it had to have something to do with the old Roman consuls, but no—the word was spelt counselor. To jump ahead a bit I will note that conslurs did not, regardless of the spelling, actually offer counsel or the like; you got sent to one when you got in trouble of some kind, and detention, suspension, or expulsion was in the offing. I think I once had a conversation with mine, possibly over the intramural thing. At least various authorities were constantly pressuring me to drop piano lessons in favor of intramurals, since I shouldn’t let “outside activities” interfere with school—but I’m not sure if my conslur was one of them. And to skip a bit further ahead, the position was abolished at the end of my seventh grade year, due to budget cutbacks.
One thing that was emphasized repeatedly to us was that we would have a great deal more freedom in junior high than we did in elementary school, and we would have to learn to use it wisely. As it turned out, this was true only in the Orwellian sense, but I had no idea what to expect on that front.
There are two things I remember my mother saying about her visit, both of which are confirmed in the letter she wrote just after. One was that somebody had said that he had “lots and lots of busy-work for those quick kids.” From the letter I gather that he meant that he had puzzles and games for kids to do that finished up quickly, maybe as a sort of incentive or something. I pictured it as still more assignments of the same goddamn crap if you finished up quickly—a sort of disincentive. The other was the story of the would-be Latin students who ended up taking shop and home economics because there weren’t enough people to fill a class. That exactly matches my experience, except that there was no “counseling” involved; you signed up for Latin and ended up in shop. And yes—I did want to take Latin, very much.
As a final stage in our orientation we were assembled in the cafeteria and given ice cream. I can’t stand the stuff, so I refused it, but they served it anyway. I thought glumly about this dystopian future, and consoled myself with the thought that if I did end up going to this hellhole at least Bruce and Wyn and Steve would be along for the ride. I watched the ice cream melt in front of me and listened to idiots babble about my future.

22 May 2017

Street Scene [1979]


[passage from a letter, 22 May 1979]
I
 am extremely burnt out today. Across the street the bar is emptying; downstairs the dogs are barking at the activity, as usual. There’s one major difference about living in a city—many nights at Fourthplainland I would hear the dog telegraph in action; it doesn’t happen here—the dogs all seem to go off at once. The window in front of me faces north, looking directly down Interstate. I can see four sets of traffic lights and at least half a dozen neon signs. Orange and blue appear to be the prevailing colors in the neon signs; they blink on and off, each with a separate beat. The traffic lights cycle from green to yellow to red and back to green. There is an incredible amount of activity down there, all of it inhuman, mechanical. An occasional car comes over the hill, or out from a side street, like a ball in a pinball machine. I have to admit, the whole thing is flashy, but it seems singularly pointless. Who, or what, is keeping score?

21 May 2017

Today’s Adventure in the Real World


A
nd I’m still here at the hospital. Tomorrow I’m (probably) going to have an angiogram to determine if I have heart damage and to what extent, or something like that. I can’t eat anything tonight, and I will have to lie quietly tomorrow while recovering from it. So that part I’m not looking forward to.
On the other hand today was relatively quiet, the main excitement being getting my roommate off to work successfully at long distance via Facebook messages, and making sure that somebody could walk my dog Harry while my roommates are at work. I am really tired and out of it. I have high hopes, however, that all will be accomplished in the long run, if not in the short. Selah.

Dying Happily Ever After [2015]


[Originally posted 21 May 2015]
W
ords continue to fail me, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t write them, I suppose. It’s not as if anybody actually reads what I write. If I’m merely yelling into the desert winds, well, it doesn’t affect anybody but me.
At some point I have to come to terms with ruin. Actions have consequences. Misplaced trust leads to—what? Apathy? I know there’s a train of thought in there somewhere, if I could only entice it to come forth.
The followers of al-Baghdadi, neither Islamic nor a state by any reasonable definition, ride roughshod over their little piece of the world stage, and occupy an inordinate (and unwarranted) space in my mental terrain, along with such unlikely forms of life as mad tea partiers, libertarians, criminals and thugs of all descriptions. Hoodlums ye shall always have with you, as Jesus might have said, but ye shall not always have me. There’s the limit to it all, that ineffable wall there’s no reaching however many successive approximations are undertaken.
One of these days, should I live so long, I’ll have something to say again. In the meantime I’ll recycle old hits and spin gold cobwebs out of nothing.

20 May 2017

Still in the Hospital

5:00 a.m. or so--I'm in the cardiac unit now, being monitored 24/7 and wishing like hell I was home. They have managed to get my blood pressure down well within normal range--they actually overshot and had to bring it up a bit--and my overnight levels are looking good. As far as I know I still have an angiogram scheduled for Monday, but we'll see what else the fates have. I still can't access email or facebook or the like, and I still don't have my laptop, but things are looking pretty good as far as I can tell. I'll try to keep everyone informed through my blog, since I can get onto that, and we'll see how things develop from there.

Everybody has been really helpful here, and the food is actually pretty good. I had a breakfast scramble, a turkey sandwich for lunch, and (I think) turkey and mashed potatoes for dinner. There are sides of pico de gallo, grapes, a banana, dinner roll, even a salad, and blueberry muffins or chocolate chip cookies for desert.  (There are other options, but these are some I've had.

5:27 a.m. PDT--Somebody just came through to draw blood for some test or other; I think that's the only thing on my schedule for the moment, though breakfast should happen in a couple of hours. And somebody will check my blood pressure again, no doubt. No medications at the moment, since my blood pressure is in a reasonable range.

7:03 a.m. PDT--We've just had the shift change, and Lisa (I think her name was) will be replaced by Kim, who was running things yesterday. One encouraging sign from my point of view; Lisa asked me about my access to medications and whether my home situation would work out, giving me some hope that they are thinking about discharging me at some point. (I am still scheduled for that angiogram on Monday, however.) Breakfast should come soon, I think.

8:15 a.m. PDT--I've had breakfast (another scramble) and my morning medicines (aspirin and something given as a shot in the stomach) and it looks like that's it until eleven or so when there will be another drawing of blood. If things continue to look good that should be the last blood I have to have drawn.

10:07 a.m. PDT--Somebody came by to ask what I want for lunch, and I ordered another sandwich for noon. With luck I will have the blood-drawing over with before then. It's kind of dull here without people constantly coming by to give me tests. I guess I'll just have to see what happens.

11:58 p.m. PDT--It's still fairly quiet here; somebody did come by to draw blood (presumably for the last time barring adverse developments) and I've had my blood pressure checked. I have been informed that there will be a further test of some kind, but it hasn't happened yet. For the moment the main thing on  the horizon is lunch.

12:50 p.m. PDT--And lunch has come and gone. I don't know what happens next. I had a chicken sandwich and I still feel sort of hungry, but that seems to be how it goes here. My brother is supposed to come by with my laptop and charge cord for my phone, so maybe I'll be in a better position to get things done than I am now. I'm not counting on it, however.

19 May 2017

Update

I am in the hospital right now and unable to update my blog here as I would like. At the moment I believe that this is nothing too serious, but that may be my hopes and wishes rather than any reflection of reality. Even as I write this somebody came by to do an EKG, so things are happening. And I guess my doctor will be by relatively soon.

If I can I guess I'll update this as things progress.

8:47 am or so--Well, I've had another consultation with the doctor and things are still kind of up in the air.  I may need to stay here for a bit, apparently. We could be talking medication, minor procedure, and/or surgery. So I guess I'll just have to wait and see how the tests look.

And I've just been informed that they're moving me to a different room, so even this tenuous link with the outside world may be lost.

11:05 am PDT--I've been moved to a room in the cardiac zone of the hospital, and at this point I'm scheduled to be here at least until monday. I guess I'm going to try at least to get my laptop here so I can work on stuff, but how things will play out I don't know right now.

12:10 pm PDT--Well, nothing is happening while they try to get my blood pressure down. I think I've got something arranged to get my laptop here, and maybe to get my dog looked after. i feel like crap.

5:55 pm PDT--I've had two EKGs now and an ultrasound, and my doctor says the results of the EKGs are looking good. They've been trying to get my blood pressure down all day, and finally have it in the normal range. (They got it a little too low at one point, but have now brought it back up.) I gather that the results of the ultrasound are not in yet. I'm scheduled for an angiogram on monday. And that's where things are right now.

18 May 2017

Please Stand By


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oday is the anniversary of the Mt. St. Helens eruption, and I intended to write something about that, what with me and Mt. St. Helens having a sort of personal relation and all, but I’m feeling like crap, and I think I’m going to head off to the Emergency Room instead. I hope I’ll be back in some capacity soon.

17 May 2017

New Frontiers in Bureaucracy [2008]

[Originally posted 17 May 2008]
H
urricane evacuations will be delayed in the future for Federal authorities to make sure that all evacuees have their papers in order, border agents announced in McAllen, Texas. Immigration officials will be stationed at evacuation hubs in the Rio Grande Valley to prevent people without appropriate documentation from boarding buses.
A spokeswoman for the governor pointed out, “If there is any significant delay in having people move from harm’s way, then that could run the risk of endangering lives.” The governor wants the border patrol to put public safety first during an emergency.
A representative for the border patrol shrugged off such concerns. “Our local policy is checkpoints will not close, we will check for immigration status,” he said. “We have to do our jobs.” [Source]

16 May 2017

Two Trees


T
hinking about Eden again—the story of humankind’s beginnings as conceived by a bunch of babbling barbarians thousands of years ago (as the Reverend Mee puts it). You probably recall the main thrust of it—Yahweh plants a garden, creates the first man to take care of it, and forbids him to eat from a tree in the center. Yahweh makes him a wife, however, and a snake tempts her into eating the fruit; she gives some to her husband, Yahweh finds out, and all three—the man, his wife, and the snake, are punished and kicked out of the garden.
It sounds rather like one of those stories from North American or African tribesmen in the anthropology books, but is often treated with absurd solemnity even in today’s culture. There are a number of oddities, inconsistencies, and loose ends in the story. Consider:
·         The first man is forbidden to eat from the Tree of Knowledge (2:27)—but he is not expelled from the Garden for this—rather he is expelled from the Garden to keep him from eating from the Tree of Life (3:22-24).
·         The first couple make clothing for themselves out of fig leaves (3:7) but in the next verse hide from Yahweh because, as the man explains, “I was naked, so I hid myself” (3:10). What happened to their fig-leaf clothing?
·         The woman is twice given a name, first by the man after her creation (2:23) and later by the man just before the expulsion from the Garden (3:20). In the first she was named woman because she was made out of man, and in the second she was named Eve because she was the mother of all living.
·         Also, right by the second account of naming the woman we find an alternate account of the first clothing—where the first couple had made clothes from fig leaves for themselves (3:7) that mysteriously disappeared earlier, now Yahweh makes them clothes out of skin (3:20).
·         The talking snake is an oddity in the narrative; even in the J narrative animals don’t generally talk.
·         All three main characters in the narrative are punished in ways that explain the world (just-so stories)—but two of them are distinctly odd. The man, who was created as an agriculturalist (2:15), is punished by being turned into an agriculturalist, and the snake is punished by being turned into a snake.
·         The First Couple are twice expelled from the Garden.
Two stories seem to be intermingled here; one involves the Tree of Knowledge, and the other the Tree of Life. Based solely on the functional criteria we have the following: (1) a story in which a god commands the first couple not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, they disobey, and (because of that?) are expelled from the Garden; and (2) a story in which the first couple somehow acquire godlike knowledge and to keep them from achieving immortality by eating from the Tree of Life they are expelled from the Garden.
It has long been noticed that the two trees do not play well together; the story is poorly integrated, and all like that there. Notably, nowhere does Yahweh say anything about eating or not eating from the Tree of Life—but then the first couple are expelled from the Garden solely to keep that result from happening.
The Tree of Knowledge story is relatively easy to construct. Yahweh creates the First Man and places him in the Garden to live. He orders him not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. He creates the First Woman as a companion for him. She eats from the Tree of Knowledge and gets the First Man to eat from it as well. They then realize that they are naked and make clothing for themselves. This catches Yahweh’s attention and he expels them from the Garden as a punishment. Men are condemned to agriculture, and women to subjection to men and pain in childbirth.
The Tree of Life story seems to be more fragmentary, but it must have gone something like this: Yahweh creates the First Man as a gardener (it is not a punishment in this version). Somebody enlightens him and he realizes that he is naked, so he hides when hearing Yahweh wandering about in the Garden. Yahweh is alarmed when he realizes that the First Man has become like a god, and he takes counsel with the other gods. They decide to expel the First Man from the Garden so that he does not eat from the Tree of Life and complete the transition to godhead by becoming immortal. Yahweh then helps the First Man out by providing him with clothing made from animal skins and a companion named Eve.
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