Monday, December 26, 2011

A Rare Bird

CA initiates state protection for rare woodpecker:

I've been watching this woodpecker in our backyard for a few months now. He seems to be happy and oblivious to silly human endeavors. We've been having morning coffee together at first light for a while now. He has quiet a project going and I enjoy the company.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Redemption, Repentance and Salvation; But, first, a Status Update


1. I'm tailoring off of those wicked pills, now down to twice a day, verses four a day. Doc said I might see mood swings, but I don't seem to be. A little less sleepy too.

2. I can't seem to get the hang of smoking pot. It's stronger than I thought. I suspect a poor choice of the "tool," a pipe. I haven't given up, but I may go find one of those "starlight" shops for better ideas on paraphernalia, maybe a bong. The advancements in pot smoking has apparently taken new turns in recent years, where before it was more like a tobacco, it is now a cake of sorts that must be cut with a cutting tool to grind it down into a finer blend. Geo is advising me on finer smoking of pot. I'm trying to get it.

3. Dan and Kim are here for a visit after a long day on the tarmac. They were delayed in Salt Lake City on Delta. I told them to take Southwest. We had dinner at Bancheros, a six-course dinner, and they walked away pretty full.

4. I'm thinking that I like the changes at KGO Radio, Doug McCyntire, The Redeye Special, has taken over the night shift. At first, I thought he was another right-winger, another voice of Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly to the great beyond. Instead, he seems to have grabbed the limelight from Ray Talialfaro, an ultra-left liberal, who was getting monotonous. 

None of that dampens my spirits, it seems. Of course the great debate between Eastern Philosophy and Western Philosophy has always been the idea of Redemption, and whether it is relevant. Millions of Eastern Tibetan Monks would disagree with the idea of Redemption. They would strive for transcendental meditation that attained a level of peace and harmony in the cosmos, a new Being, a Buddha, but they wouldn't call it Redemption. It would simply be a level of self achievement, to be sure, but one of striving on their own, limited to their own achievement. It wouldn't be whole.

I know a woman who is a Pillar of her Community who can summon the peace and tranquility of the universe with a whisper. Her prayer reaches her entire Fortress, and frequently she stands with another of like power who keeps watch over a different Fortress, one of Justice. The one keeping watch over the love of community and the other over those special protected who trusts her. She will be successful. They will be protected in the fortress she's built, an astonishing Bulwark from boarder to boarder and coast to coast.

And so, it's sad to see the lost souls of Limbaugh stand in the Republican booth criticizing the community and with each slash of Limbaugh's tongue, a cut to the throat of Owensville's jugular, or at least an attempt to cut it's throat. I noticed, however, that an accusation didn't seem to work, that the taunting "She's a Republican," didn't really get the response desired. It came across like a graceless and unwanted bucket of cold water.

Redemption comes with the grace and power of repentance, of simply turning around to accept one's place in the Angels of community. How can Limbaugh touch a hair on these Beings' heads?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

More Random Thoughs

These past few days have got to be the most annoying of any I've had. They're tapering my medicine down to a stop. On 11/24 thru Dec 4, I was supposed three a day, down from four. Then 3 and 2.

Time is passing so slowly. I am dwelling on words.


Monday, November 21, 2011

November 21st, 2011 A Week of Change

I hope to see some changes this week. The plan has been tweaked. I will now receive the full brain radiation instead of the "Steriotactic" focused tumor killer rays, at least at first. Despite the rumor, or misunderstanding, the Steriotactic radiation is not off the table nor have I been "removed" as a candidate for it. I didn't know this was an election. Everything is still on the table. The last radiation treatment is scheduled for December 6th when I'll get a CT Scan and/or MRI to see the results. Then, it is on to chemo and the Mack Truck crash every two or three weeks.

The change, I'm told, is that my steroid medication will be reduced and I will slowly be weaned off of it. It is much too powerful to continue. So, I get the impression that it will be cut by 1/4th or 1/2 about mid-week and gradually reduced over the next few weeks. This will apparently cause mood swings along with short-term memory loss. Apparently, the short-term memory loss is somewhat permanent, which sort of defies the definition of short-term memory. By definition, it means temporary. But, my equilibrium should return to an even keel. So, I may be walking around in the backyard in a circle, yelling at someone for drinking my coffee that I have in my hand!

I will continue Lasik until the end of my supply, another two weeks or so, to get the water under control.

The short term memory problem suggests I need to make a few lists:
1. Medicine schedule, with some means to adjust it as time passes.
2. Log ins and user id's to various things. I'm sure none of these are in long-term memory.
3. WayMar plan:
    a. Move the home base to Indiana. (I don't recall that Indiana has a registration requirement at all).
    b. De-register it in California; Secretary of State.
    c. File last club tax return to Franchise Tax Board (next year).
    d. Have Dan pack up the file and take it home with him.
    e. Remove myself as an officer.
4. Don't leave the toaster plugged in.
5. Don't go upstairs to talk on the phone when there's a pot on the stove.

We've been eating our version of "quick" chili, five cans of Stags Steakhouse Chili, four cans of stewed tomatoes, one pound of the leanest browned ground beef, heated until hot. It looks like we're in for a treat perhaps tomorrow night; Manhattan Clam Chowder. Sounds good to me.

Today's buzz treatment lasted a few minutes longer, I think. I walked in at 10:10am, they strapped me down on my back with my head in a plastic holder and a tight fitting formed face mask that all snaps to an X-Ray table. It keeps my head perfectly still. They pull the machine over my head. A buzzing sound starts and blue lights appear behind my closed eyes. It lasts a minute or so, goes off, waits, and starts again for another minute or so. They unstrap me and I get up and leave. Zapped. There is no noticeable before or after effect.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

November 17th, 2011 Day After The Verdict

Yesterday's Oncology visit brought us the verdict and the plan. I have stage four lung cancer that has traveled to the brain, and to my adrenal glands. All other organs, bones, lymph nodes, etc., are free and clear and I am otherwise healthy.

I have four tumors on my brain, the largest is a quarter sized tumor in the Cerebellum area causing the equilibrium imbalance. Two other dime-sized tumors and one BB sized are in various other places. These are the focus of the first part of the attack. I expect to get a call today from Radiation Therapy for immediately starting daily radiation treatments to target and kill these tumors. The targeted treatment will be followed by full brain radiation treatment. Total treatment to last two to three weeks. It is expected to succeed. I can expect temporary memory loss. This treatment will also allow me to stop taking the super-steroid drug I'm on.

After that, I will receive chemo treatments for the two lung tumors and the two adrenal gland tumors. These treatments may not be so successful. Remission is not expected. I got the impression that some level of holding can be attained for a period of time, perhaps years. The chemo will be administered once every three weeks to allow some recovery time between treatments. After that, I'll be monitored.

Comic relief comes with another pill, Lasix, to get rid of all of this water, about ten gallons (15 extra pounds). "You'll go a lot," he said. Well, yes, a day later and I can already see that. The problem is that "a lot" is a lot of trips and I would have preferred fewer trips. So, we're going to have a logistics problem of getting from A to B, quickly, when going to these treatments. I'm very likely to get very ornery if there's "Wal-Mart" stop or a "Macey's" stop along the way. This may get interesting!

My spirits are high and I feel fine. Looking forward to the morning and diners with friends and good company and cheer whenever it comes.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

November 15th, 2011 Symptom Update

I can see that it's time for a symptom update, especially to get rid of those terms that are no longer true; "dizzy" and "seasick." Those two terms applied the last week of October when everything seemed to hit the fan, the inability to eat, upset stomach, and wobbly walk that finally led me to the doctor. So, please don't tell people I'm "dizzy" or having "dizzy spells."

What is happening is an "un-centered" feeling where I have to move my feet to center my stance or walk or I roll on my heel or ball of my feet to gain balance. I appears to be slightly progressing. I use my cane all through the house now. My feet are swollen (my softest socks hurt), too - water I suspect. I've cut salt intake to zilch, too. Going up the stairs is a problem and I now have to step one step at a time, with the cane, instead of a step-after-step climb because it is such an effort to do the latter. Damn, this came on fast! I'm going to bring up the swelling and climbing effort at the meeting tomorrow to see what they say. Perhaps a medicine adjustment is needed or something else is going on.

I'm still in good spirits, in spite of the attempted smothering. Maybe there's a pill for that too.

Looking forward to tomorrow and the next step. I'll be fine...


Friday, November 11, 2011

November 11th, 2011 Update

The Oncology appointment has been moved to Wednesday, November 16th at 10:20am. The pathology hasn't had time to cook...


November 11th, 2011

The PET is over and I'm set for a good diner tonight with friends and a quiet weekend. The PET went fine, except for a small inconvenience. I didn't get as comfortable as I would have wished. Once on that table, and they put a small pillow over my brow to hold my head still, they ask me to raise my arms and place them on the pillow edges, then they placed a strap across my arms to help hold them. Well, it didn't exactly hold them in place. I had to keep them from slipping off the edge of the pillow - for about an hour. I caught myself tensing up a number of times during the time, so I couldn't really relax. But, that one is over.

But, I did have that juicy hamburger afterwards, and half of Chris'. I then proceeded to eat the leftover Chicken Alfredo the rest of the day. Goodness! If I'm not careful, I'm going to get fat. A fat Dave. Imagine that?

Bird update:
The Hummingbirds were out yesterday, the one, a female I think, wanting a drink from the feeder and the male rushing in to keep her away. I noticed that the sparrows get out of the way when the Hummers play, scattering in all directions. I also noticed that when the Hummers shoot through the apple tree, leaves fly in all directions. I'm getting the impression that they are not all that careful flying at full speed.

The other day before it rained, I caught out of the corner of my eye a larger bird plunge into one of the bowl pines, then caught sight of him jumping from limb to limb. He was a Red-Tailed Hawk, a fairly large bird. The doves scattered when he lit. He left in a minute or so, empty handed. The next day about noon when it was raining, I saw him dive in again, but didn't see where he went, and the doves scattered as before. Not seeing him move, I turned my back to our backyard. Later, after the sun came out and dried things off a little, I noticed downy dove feathers being blown about on the patio and a small pile of dove feathers on the lawn. He had scored a hit, apparently, and killed a dove in our backyard. He must have carried the dove off to his nest. Or, maybe it was a she.

Next appointment: Monday, 8:50am, with Oncology. The diagnostic results... and a plan.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

November 10th, 2011 The PET Scan

Up at 3:47. It's a little more reasonable time. But, it meant that if I'm going to have one cup of coffee before my 10:45 PET Scan and do that six hour fasting period, I'd better get hot. I had one cup, without sugar, or anything with the suffix "trose" or "dose" in it, straight black, and the deed was done.

It's turning out that, in spite of a previous post that I said I was regimented to a particular blend of coffee, we may like this unauthorized blend (how fine it was ground) we bought. Well, "I" didn't buy it. I'm just using "we" to suggest that I'm probably part of the problem, here.

But, the question now is: Just what blend did we buy? Apparently, that's not known. It is definitely a finer grind, very close to the consistency of powder. That could mean some Espresso blend, a much higher notch on the grinder. So, if we're going to buy the same blend again, we now go into trial and error mode. Hell, that could take all year!

I see the Odorous Ants are back. A little line leads to our sink this morning. Now, I can use sugar on them in my special mix of Ant Killer: Two cups of hot water, ten teaspoons of pure sugar and one teaspoon of Borax. Dab a napkin in it, and sit it on the trail. They'll disappear soon and be gone for a good long time. I don't think their Queen likes the stuff her workers bring her. Makes her sick, or die.

I'm glad I talked to Dan about the PET. He gave me a few good ideas. First, I need a scan from the top of my head to my thighs or so, because I have brain masses they need to see. Good idea. Apparently a typical scan doesn't start at the top, but about the eyes.

Next is the no sugars. Those little devil masses love sugar, apparently, and they soak it up. So, if I starve them for six or more hours, that radioactive-sugar-solution they put in my veins gravitates to them and lights them up so the scanner can see them better. Makes sense to me.

The PET itself will last 45 minutes to one hour during which I need to lay still. I can manage that. I just have to make sure that I don't have a bony elbow laying on cold metal or something that annoys me. So, I'm going to get as comfortable as possible and fall asleep. After the PET, I'm going to eat a juicy hamburger.

Tomorrow night Mo and Geo are paying us a visit and we're going to have steamed Tiger Prawns, soup and salad, a butter-garlic-lemon dip and perhaps a baked potato. Simple meal with plenty of companionship. What more is there?

I have to say that I've received so much encouragement and uplifting comments, that I'm beginning to think that it is those things that cures the soul. If you want depression medication, let friends give you a big dose of that. It's what we humans love most. I've even carried the thought to the point where I'm positive that I personally know two powerful Angels on Earth and, what's more, I can pose an undeniable argument that proves it. Ha! We were using the wrong definition of them, looking in all of the wrong places and using the wrong detection tools. You can't find them by trying to look directly at them, because like any invisible celestial body, you won't see them with the naked eye. Instead, look for the effect of their power, like we look for the gravitational pull of an invisible planet on a star. They're there. Thanks a bunch, friends.

I'll let you think about that for a day or two...


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

November 8th, 2011 The Biopsy

Well! That went very well! I had no idea, really.

After I finished that last blog, I awoke Chris at 5am, made her coffee and took a short nap while she got ready and by 7am we were on our way. She in a hurry, me wanting to take our time. I'm a nervous wreck when anyone else drives.  We arrived in under thirty minutes. It usually takes me forty-five.

By 8:30am I was dozing off in the OR bed, waiting, while they began a drip of some kind in my veins. Putting those IV needles in my veins were the only pin-pricks I felt the whole time. At around 9:45, Dr. Jung briefed me on what was going to happen. They planned to go in with a needle through my back to get a bite of the top-most mass, high up in the right lung. The risk? Possible lung deflation, partially, about 40% chance, or total deflation, 5% to 10%. My cobwebs worried me at that point. I signed the form.

They wheeled me into the CAT Scan/Surgery room around 10am and rolled me onto my stomach on the CAT Scan table.
"Safety check," someone said, and they read off a list.
"Charles," someone said to me. "What's you're understanding of what we're going to do?"
"You're going to take a biopsy from one of the two masses in my right lung..."
"The largest," Dr. Jung said.
" that case," I continued, "you're going to take it from the top-most mass. I'm going to assist you by breathing and holding my breath so you can get a stable scan and hold the mass stable while you extract the biopsy. No general anesthetics are involved, just a sedative like solution to calm me. You're using a local anesthetic at the puncture site."
"Perfect," Dr. Jung said, "We're ready..."

I remember breathing, exhaling and holding for two test CAT runs and one real scan. He marked my back with a marker, just under my scapula. The last thing I saw was vitals: BP 112/73, pulse 54. I dozed off. I woke up about fifteen minutes later and it was over. I felt nothing.

Abdullah, from Fiji, wheeled me back to recovery and I dozed on and off until about 12pm. He then wheeled me for a lung X-ray to check for air leaks; there were none. I impatiently waited another hour and a half, to 1:30pm, for discharge. I finally signed all the warnings, dos and don'ts, and other regimen and rules I was supposed to follow and told them I was going to get a really nice big juicy hamburger in about fifteen minutes. They suggested soup. Awk!

We went to a Vietnamese restaurant across the street and I ate a large bowl of Won Ton soup with Egg Noddles with a touch of Vietnamese chili sauce to spice it up.

I don't usually drink coffee during the day, but we made a pot when we got home and I ate two pieces of M's best Baklava, dunked and ate three Biscotti (w/fruit and nuts) cookies and drank two cups of Chris' special unauthorized grind coffee. Best stuff I've had all day. Damn! I'm really not much for regimen and rules.

After it was all done, I'm still perplexed about all of the fasting fuss. I could have eaten a horse and not had one iota effect on the procedure.

Well, there was one little thing. Dr. Jung said that I seemed to have had an over abundance of gas in surgery. I'm glad there were no sparks in that room; it would have exploded.

Back on the pill. Pam is on her way. Maybe we'll reheat the pizza... I'm still hungry.


November 8th, 2011 Random Thoughts

Up way too early with nothing to do from 2:00 AM until biopsy time except think about important stuff.

I don't delegate important stuff. I wash my own clothes, fold my own jeans, grind my own coffee, pour my own milk, among a few...
1. I like my boot-cut jeans folded fore and aft, not flat with the folds to the side. If my jeans are flopping in the wind on the side when I walk, I'll put them back in the wash and start again clean or not.
2. If you come to my house for a cup of coffee, you'll drink my coffee "Drip Ground" fine. When I go to your house, I'll drink your coffee anyway you like it, and I will never complain.
3. I don't understand the question: "Now, what is the setting am I supposed to grind the coffee on?" Surely, we've established that by now!
4. I wash my own clothes. I see too many people jam the wash tub full with soap and clothes to use less water. Did you know that the most unique cleaning solution in the world is water? It will clean anything given the quantity and time to do it. So, I like more water in the tub than sticky soap and I set the dial to the full time allowed. It's all in the water.
5. Some people think that because I love milk that I love my glass filled to the brim. I don't! I love milk "ice cold," as cold as I can get it. So, if you fill a glass to the brim, the milk gets warmer faster than it will if I can drink it faster when there's less of it to drink. Whoala!
6. My brother likes ice cold milk too, but it is my impression that he allows others to wield too much power. I think he let's others control the temperature of his refrigerator and he compensates by using ice in his milk. I wouldn't have a frig that can't be controlled and I wouldn't allow anyone else to control it. It's 34-36 degrees, or it's out'a here... or maybe you are.

I'm a stickler for regimen and rules when it suits me, depending entirely on whose regimen it is. For example, if you tell me that I can't eat or drink anything but water after a given time, say for a medical procedure, blah, blah, blah, I'll likely use a clock that is slightly off... and squeeze in one cup of coffee early. Oh. Would you look at that clock? Now, I'll obediently drink water.

I'm sorry you caught me a little too ripe. It's all a matter of timing. You caught me at the end of my day before my next shower. Next time, perhaps we can meet a little earlier after my last one.

It wouldn't surprise me to learn that woman are the ultimate power in the universe. Old Socrates is credited with starting all of the hoopla with a claim to "Know Thyself." Ha! But, he was told to do that by the Oracle of Delphi. They were women. So, who in hell told them?!! Bwhahahaha!

Have to get ready to go... Talk later.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday, November 6, 2011 - God Talk

Awoke too early, 2:40am, after the clocks turned back. I was trying to gradually adjust my pill-time around that six hour fasting period I've got to go through for the Nov 10th PET Scan and the time change set it all back to the beginning. Darn. If my math is right, I'm back to taking it every six hours on a 10am/pm - 4am/pm schedule instead of the 11am/pm - 5am/pm schedule I was working toward. Did I mess that up? Is a simple math problem messing with my mind?

MRI went well, as expected, just noisy. I fell asleep in it anyway. I've slept in noisier places, like next to screaming turbine engines. No biggie. I just can't hear some frequencies anymore.

"The Times, They Are A Changing"... Bob Dylan. "I Ain't gonna' work on Maggie's Farm no mo..." Bob Dylan. Man, are you right! The talk is about Occupy. I agree with Pat Thurston, KGO Radio Host, this morning. It isn't just a movement. It's a REVOLUTION! Good! And, "The Right" is on the wrong side of it. Good! And those wavering on the fence, get on board; you're being left behind. This thing is steamrolling over The Right and you.

Oh, I'm hearing all the complaints and accusations; hurting innocent businesses, associated with all sorts, Communists, Nazis, KKK, you name it, "No Job low lifes!", "Dope smokers," "Hoodlums," and on and on. Perhaps some are, but that doesn't seem to be the focus, main purpose or intent. These people want justice, so whatever you say about it will not matter. I pray that Occupy will have its way.

Brent Walters, host of KGO's God Talk, was next. He is a Professor of Antiquities at San Jose University of California in the Greco-Roman-Judeo-Christian era. He's a joy. Today's three hours was on translations of the New Testament. It is so interesting and those who call in are too, some extremely well educated in the same time period and discipline from all over the world. A summary:

1. The "Written Word" is nearly useless in conveying understanding. You really need "Oral Teaching" to get the best understanding. So, toss the Bible on the shelf and go find a good oral teacher, preferably a person who spends a career studying antiquities, like Walters. You probably won't find too many preachers doing that.
2. The only useful purpose the King Jame's Bible serves is as a study of English Literature in the days of King James. It isn't good for anything else.

I had to laugh. Everyone knows about the "Left Behind" series of books, by Tim LaHaye, right? It turned into a giant, money making niche enterprise for the Christian Right. There are all kinds of stuff sold around the series. In the series, the "Taken" are those chosen and taken to Heaven, and the "Left Behind" are those who didn't cut the mustard and are left behind to suffer the trials and tribulations on a wicked Earth.

Bwahahahaha! Do you want to know what these terms, "Taken," and "Left Behind" meant on the steps of those Synagogues when those Rabbis discussed the coming of the Messiah in the time of Jesus? The term "Taken" meant taken to jail. The term "Left Behind" meant set free.

I have to confess to a great expectation of impish pleasure. I just can't wait to see the shocked look on the "taken's" faces when they are led off to jail! I know. I'm a rascal.

It will be okay...


Friday, November 4, 2011

November 4th, 2011

Re: The comment problem: I see that Google is working on the comment issue, focusing on the Microsoft IE browser. Google suggests that, in the meantime, I change some settings to make it easier. Well, I'll try, but to be honest, I've forgotten so many of my previous programming skills that cryptic web page instructions have become a mystery to me. I'll give it a shot as soon as I can.

Up at 3:57 again, time for The Pill. It's odd that I'm waking up on time without an alarm clock. Tried to go back to bed, but that's out. Got up and stayed up.

New appointments/To-Dos: (Had to retrogress to old technology; a common hand-written calendar. Can't keep track with on a computer! Although, I may use Windows Calendar just so I have a pop-up reminder four or five hours before the appointment. Got to have a damn button to click!)
- Tues. Nov 8, 8:00AM - Biopsy with Interventional Radiology (did I already mention this one?)
- Thur. Nov 10, 10:45 - Nuclear Med PET Scan, 2 hr procedure, fasting 6 hrs before - sked pill around the fasting period
- Fri. Nov 11, call to check that biopsy and PET results are in Oncology
- Mon, Nov 14, 8:50AM - Oncology, go over biopsy and PET (if possible). Plan the attack. May expect Thoracic Surgery. Shit! No telling what they'll see in there; probably a haunted house of stringy cobwebs of abuse.

The calendar is filling up. Steam is picking up...

Looked in the mirror this morning. So, it's YOU who are coming: Marsh Mellow Man. Not a caveman at all. At least I don't see any sign of overhanging, heavy brows yet! Look at you! Well, I can see wrinkles are disappearing and a slight puffiness. And, look at that! Laugh wrinkles! They're back! Well, we'll see how long this sticks, or whether it continues on into a moon face; another disguise. Chris said, "I want one of those pills!" Ha! She wants her wrinkles to disappear too. Well, let's think a while on that one! I love my Chris exactly like she is! No tinkering! Funny thing about women. I thought long ago that those young, beautiful women I knew in my youth would get old and unattractive. I'll be damned if they're not just as beautiful as they always were! Anyone know how that works, exactly?

Also checked my peripheral vision: is it still there? I don't want that creeping glaucoma-driven darkening circle to sneak around, slowly closing off my scope of sight. Got to read that book first! I'm increasing the frequency of eye exams to three months instead of six. Note to self: Gotta make one for January. And, what is with that zigzag line in my left eye vision from that cataract? That's an annoying little bastard that comes and goes!

I turned the heat on. The thermostat automatically set to 70, but I notched it down to 67. No need for 70 just yet. But, 62 is a bit chilly, so on it is! It rained last night, too. The first in a month, and likely the onset of winter rains from now until March or April or so. So, I'll turn the sprinklers off soon. Back to a reasonable water bill. Wonder if Monica is doing that too? I'll bet she is. Now there's a pair if there ever was one, M and G! Such good people that I've been so lucky to know.

They are honest to God intellectuals, both M and G. G seems to have the astonishing capability of remembering every damn thing he reads, and he reads everything as far as I can tell. In fact, his problem is that he can't read fast enough. I sympathize. And, M has a life-time of experience in analyzing human behavior, human motivation and the devious ways and paths in the mind yet with apt credit to good thinking. Man, can they do battle in a discussion! Most of the time way over my head! I've got to think about what they say and comeback later to finish a conversation, long after the relevance has already passed. It's almost meaningless by then! Way too late! But, it is invigorating. It tickles me when they go head to head with each other. I see a hint of stubborn chin from both when they do that. I'm not uncomfortable anymore, either, when they do their self battle. "There you go again, G," she'll say. "Changing the subject in the middle of our conversation! Awk! It never ends..." Ha-ha-ha. Hilarious! But, she's got a point, even though I sometimes agree with G - silently of course - protecting my own ass of course. I'll save my politicizing and philosophizing to farther below so M won't have to suffer through it. You're welcome, M! (Actually, as I return to finish this blog, I may have to save the pontificating for another blog. Don't have time to write it tonight to get this one out there.)

I see that Adam and Chris have found a way to dig the brownies out of that dish I forgot to butter before baking them. Ha! That was a chore, I'll bet. I baked two dishes, one with and one without pecans. I love the pecans, and they prefer them without. I notice, though, that most of the ones with pecans are gone! So much for that claim! Adam isn't working today. He doesn't work when it rains. He said he was thinking of going fishing, but he went back to bed. I'll swear, he can catch fish in a mud puddle. I started him on that route. So glad I did. I remember the day when all three boys, Damon, Adam and Marcus were at Kennedy Meadows and caught their first trout. Their eyes were as big as silver dollars! Grins from ear to ear, laughing with their mother and I. And, we cooked the trout right there at camp, a whole stringer full. Good eatin'!

Decided to stay home and cook a sliced Spam and Egg sandwich for Chris and I, with a little mayonnaise and Greek Feta cheese. An ice cold glass of milk topped it off!

Chris said she's "Freezing!" Now that's a kicker. She's usually complaining of being hot and I have to insist she go outside to cool off because I refuse to turn the heat down. If this keeps up, we may be able to spend winter in a normal temperature controlled environment!

It'll be fine...


Thursday, November 3, 2011

November 3rd, 2011 Small Update

Appointment set for lung biopsy, Tuesday, November 8, 8:00 AM, second floor surgery, Walnut Creek Kaiser. Don't eat or drink anything after midnight. Expect to spend six to eight hours. Need a ride.

Here we go...


P.S. Some people are telling me that comments are difficult to make on this blog. It seems to be a Google blogger problem. Just keep pushing that damn comment button until it accepts your comment. It'll come around, I think.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

November 2nd, 2011

Up and down all night long, nearly on the hour. 3:57am, time for the pill. Finally got up around 6:30 and made coffee. Adam is already leaving, too quick to take a cup with him.

Hummer is out and flying. Man, that little bird can fly! He zooms to the top of that pine tree in no time. He has a buddy he flies with sometimes, another male I think. They do aerial acrobatics that are hard to believe; shooting straight up, one chasing the other, then a power dive straight down and leveling out above the yard and over the fence they go, streaking away. I saw a Jay one day go from the apricot to that other tree 60 feet away, and those two Hummingbirds passed him like he was standing still. It startled the Jay. Reminded me of the Roadrunner-Wylie Coyote cartoons where the Roadrunner passes so fast that Wylie twirls in mid air and falls flat on his face. Ha!

What do you want, Jay? Why aren't you squawking for bread crumbs? You're looking at me, head cocked to the side. There's your buddy. Oh, he's brighter. He's the male and your the female. I'll check the bird baths for water today.

Chris is going to water the tomato plants today. I don't trust myself to climb the hill. It's all I need to have an instant of off-balance, catch myself only to make it worse and fall off that damn thing. Finally grew tomatoes and had more from six plants than I imagined. Still coming too. Makes me think of Pudge and Phyllis. Wonder how he's doing and how she's managing. Fine, I suspect. Strong people. So glad we made contact again.

Got another email from Mike. Man, those are a joy! Little tete-a-tete tests and jokes, bodacious sometimes, derisively political sometimes, but ever full of wit and impish intent. Ha! As always, Mike isn't fooling anyone, however much he tries! His heart is as big as ever! My challenge is to keep up, and I'm thankful for emails from other friends that I can share with him just to show him "I get some too!" His email today was typical. It showed a series of beautiful female golfers in various poses around the golf course. The heading was "I was just wondering..." Then the series of pictures. And before the last picture, "I know some of you are serious committed golfers, so I thought you could help with this one," an even more exaggerated busty and butty pose of a golfer with her club stretched behind her back. "Is that, or is it not, a graphite shaft?" Ha-ha-ha! Love you, Mike!

Now, Brenda has become a sophisticated and gracious lady, hasn't she? Still with that touch of country that'll get in your face if you task her. And, successful. I'm so proud of her. And, her husband Paul seems a good man. Wish I knew him better.

In fact, I can't think of a single classmate that I'd give up or want to do without. I'm honored to know them.

"Are your lab tests in?" Chris asks, impatient.
"What do they say?"
"I haven't looked." She looks at me, hand shading her eyes and a worried look.
"Why not? I'd rather not worry about it."
I laugh. "Well, if the results are in, it's a little late to worry! Hell, I wouldn't know a Hemoglobin from a Hob Goblin. What's the difference if I don't know what I'm looking at?"
But, we come inside and I log on to the Kaiser system and we read the results; that number is in range, this one is too, then that, and that... all are okay. Heart rate 66 and BP 112/64. Just about perfect!
"What was that?" she asks.
"That note?"
"What note?"
"The one I just saw before you clicked? What was it?"
"I don't know," she says. "Click back..." and I do. She reads the note to "... check with your doctor for better interpretation..."
Finally, we click all the way out of the browser back to Kaiser's email that tells me that the results are available. She reads it all, every line. I set up a notepad doc to give her the login and password so she can read it anytime she wants... so she won't worry.
"Did you call Kaiser for your appointment?" she asks.
"No. I will tomorrow if I don't hear today." She looks at me with that worried look again. Well, it's only been two days since the last scan. Sheesh. I'll give them another day. Chris will not give up, so I'll be happy rather than right. I'll give up.

Pam is coming over later and I'll fix us a hamburger. She's one who could break my heart if something were to happen to her. And, it wouldn't heal. I didn't give her enough toughness, I think. But, she's grown into a good woman. Love her so much.

I think my dilemma over what book to read next has been decided for me. Two weeks ago I was wondering whether to read "To Big to Fail" or "All Things Shining." I already know what the first is all about; the banks, the crash and I can see it playing out as the Occupiers march on the Port of Oakland at this very moment, and a general strike in Oakland, teachers on strike, businesses closing for the day and the banks backing down. "Bring down the banks!" they yell. Well, they won't be brought completely down, but a few notches would be just fine with me.  The marchers are fed up with how the country is being run. And, at least in Oakland, they're got a list of complaints. Let it spread!

So, All Things Shining it is and reading the western classics to find meaning in a secular age. Just what will it have to say? Should be interesting. It seems appropriate to my mood, more answers coming to hand magically.

As I leave my last book, Examined Lives, the notes refer to St. Augustine's quotes, probably not in proper order here: "a perversity of will...", "My God, I was caught up to you." "...a desire for that of which I had the aroma...", "...looked back on the religion implanted in us..." He read again Paul's letters. See Augustine, Confessions, VII and VIII, and Contra Academicos, 2,2,5. Cool.

It'll be okay.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

November 1st, 2011


Woke up a few minutes after 4 to take that darn pill. Went back to bed, but realized that I didn't hear a noise from Adam's room that told me he was awake. I think he said he had to be at work at 5. Got up, knocked on his door. 5:30, he said. Oh. Stayed up.

No word today on any more appointments. Expect to hear a date/time for the biopsy tomorrow, though.

Still thinking of you... Have to stop that so I can function. Still dark outside, but crystal clear, stars shining. Another beautiful day. The man says those are ending; cooling and rain are expected. Winter is coming. Of the years? Perhaps. There is a growing wind blowing outside.

Chip and Chipette, the two squirrels in those bowl pines are refreshing their nest. The vines growing up those trees are rustling and they're cutting off those wide leaves to line the nest. They drop some - in our yard. Let 'em lay. I think of Dan raking his yard - it's a workout! I helped once and was huffing and puffing by the time we were finished. Did he use a blower? or a mulcher? I don't remember now. He's a good man! The best! How did that happen under the circumstances? Dad had a lot to do with that. There must be a Cindy influence there too; the woman making the man. It's a curious thing.

Saw the Hummingbirds this morning, but not since. They haven't gone South yet, though. They will soon I expect. Ooops, nearly forgot that pill; 10:30 pm, thirty minutes late. I take it with milk. Love ice cold milk.

Chris went to see Dentist Stan today while I waited until she returned to go get my flu shot. Stan's message was about the power of prayer. Funny. I knew he would say that. I'm convinced that I always get an extra hour in the chair when I see him just so we can talk. It never fails that we'll spend an hour talking and he'll say, "Well, Dave, I've got to get to work!" Then, I'll sit back and he'll do his job. We talk about everything. Everyone else, his assistant, his hygienist wife, the receptionist, come and go or stand around waiting and making comments on how much time is wasted "when Dave comes in." Ha! Stan and I laugh. We don't let them interrupt or spoil our fun, though. "The power of prayer," he says. I expect our next visit-talk will be about the concept of the mysterious physical-linked-to-metaphysical universe to somehow explain why and how prayer works. It's an odd thing.

Yet, Stan, pray for which; to go, or to stay? I'm conflicted about that. Oddly, I am calm about it, wanting each equally. To see you again, and to stay with them. How long has it been? Eighteen years? I think that's right. I don't know if the calmness will last. Will fear come? I think, for now, I will leave the decision up to another. Fate will decide. If anyone wants me to stay, let them do the praying. Chris has a problem letting things go, yet she will be fine. But, it won't be easy for her. I've been thinking of buying a new car for her, maybe a Lexus. She wants another Acura, though. They're both nice. But, she also says our current Acura has another 1 or 2 hundred thousand miles on it. Ha! But the paint will be gone! She doesn't waste an ounce or throw away anything. I sometimes believe that if I don't sneak things out to the trash bins, we'd be deluged with plastic bags, empty water bottle for refills, etc. Well, it isn't that bad, but I like even less clutter when I can get away with it. lol. Maybe the stocks will go up and I can surprise her with a new, or at least newer, Acura.

Delayed my flu shot. The Pill is too strong, lowers the immune system and the shot will do no good. Sheesh. Another thing that pill does! That's all I need, walking around with a low immune system, in and out of hospitals, the nastiest places in the world of germs. What's next?!!

Took a nap this afternoon and woke up around 6:30pm with a real need to go. I hate that feeling. Went in the bathroom, then couldn't go and stood there for a good ten minutes with ever growing alarm. I remember a story about dad having that problem once. He drove all the way to the Vincennes hospital from nearly Cynthiana to the ER. Wasn't there someplace closer?!! I can't imagine the pain he was in.

I had to force my mind to return to and to remember an old trick I learned in the Navy, over forty years ago, when I had finally, after too many sleepless nights, told our shipboard Corpsman, Doc, that I needed something to help me sleep. I thought I'd get a pill; he gave me a book: "Self Hypnosis." "What?" I said. "Read it," he said. I did, and I practiced and practiced. And, after many more sleepless nights I was finally able to talk myself into relaxing, clearing my mind of useless thoughts, to meditate better. I became a good sleeper. I can relax muscles at will when I recall those techniques. I need to remember that. It may help in the coming months. It worked. I finally, slowly gained control and relief.

Whew! The wind is really blowing. Those wind chimes Chris had me put up are finally making the twinkling sound. Those are not those noisy, bar things. They are a corning like glass chimes. They sound better. These are Santa Ana winds, coming from the Northeast. Fire weather. Dry weather. And, the news says there are fires blowing. Look at the flames blow! A neighborhood is being destroyed. There is always something. It will be okay.


Monday, October 31, 2011

October 31 Schedule Update

Friday, October 28:
Saw Dr.
Started Dexamethasone, 4mg 4/day - mind screwer - giggling today, may scream at you tomorrow
Discontinued 81mg aspirins
Taking Timilol - glaucoma
Doxycycline 20mg 2/day for gums
Got CAT scan of brain and chest xray - masses are visible in both.

Saturday, Oct 29
Scheduled Radiology brain MRI - Walnut Creek

Monday, Oct 31
Received contact from project/plan nurse coordinator - Oncology Walnut Creek. She's got the ball.
Got CAT scan of lungs for scheduling biopsy with Intrusive Radiology - Walnut Creek (expect to hear soon)
Expect Oncology to call as soon as biopsy results are in, prob following week.

It's moving...


The Wound that Never Healed

Dear Beloved Sister,

You went too quickly and I'm thinking of you again in a state of sentimental nostalgia. I don't often do that; it is too painful. Yet, by some ironic mystery, the pain is delicious and I am, beyond reason, grateful for the pain. Your passing from this Earth broke my heart; a wound that has never healed. I can't deny that. That did not happen for all of the others I've loved who have passed beyond my sight. The wounds from their passing have healed. But, you? The thought of you makes my chin quiver, my eyes water and my nose run. I cannot control it. It is inevitable. Look at these three handkerchiefs that were dry only a few hours ago. They are already soaked.

So, what has me awake at 3 A.M. thinking of you? Not only as of this morning, but from yesterday afternoon, continuously? Is it this super-steroid drug I've begun taking? It's one of those high powered, mood and mental changing drugs, a physical changing drug that will make me into either a crow magnum man or a puffed up marshmallow; into yet another disguise that will forever hide what I used to look like. Is today's emotion of my own volition or brought on by this mind-bending drug? I don't know. I've experienced these emotions before in a state of need and without drug influence, but who knows what brings this one on?

I visited two old friends a few months ago and the first words they said to me was, "I'd recognize you anywhere." They lied! Because I look in the mirror and I don't see that young man I used to be. I see an old man, cheeks sagging, wrinkles fully developed, sad eyes and a long upper lip frown that seldom turns to a smile anymore. And when I do smile, I see long teeth and receding gums. Who have I become? Who are they seeing? And now another change is coming, only partly of my own making, or maybe wholly of my own making, and even they may not recognize me. That, too, is inevitable. And probably unimportant.

I love you. I haven't said that enough, especially when you were here to hear me say it. I swear I can still see you wherever I conjure you up. Is that really you? Or, is it a figment of my imagination, a vision that is not really there? But, you look so real, young and beautiful like my first memories of you. I remember the very first time I really noticed you, the day you melted my heart. Do you remember? It was a Saturday night when dad, as he usually did on Saturday nights, brought those hamburgers home from Whimpy's Cafe and we gathered around our kitchen table to eat them. My favorite style to this day. A hamburger with pickle, onion, ketchup, salt and pepper. Now days you may get tomato and lettuce and thousand island dressing, but it's not my favorite. Give me the good old Whimpy's hamburger.

But, on that night I sat at the table in a chair that you should have taken. And, I complained when dad asked me to move to let you sit there. "She's no different," I complained. "She can sit over there!" I believe you were holding Kim who was perhaps less than a year old. "Oh yeah?" dad asked. "Do you have these?" I was embarrassed as he pointed to your breasts. I hung my head, then looked up into your eyes. They twinkled and you smiled and my heart melted and I gave you my chair and stood beside you to eat my hamburger. "There is a chair there, David," dad said, but I didn't move, always stubborn. Then you whispered in my ear, "sit over there, Dave. I'm not far," and, satisfied, I sat "over there," beside Elvin as I recall. Elvin was a gruff man, a tough man, who squeezed my leg just behind my knee and laughed his peculiar, air-pushing laugh between his teeth. He squeezed a little to hard; meant to tickle but it hurt. It took a while for me to learn to love him too, but never as much as I loved you.

And, before I get too far, I feel I owe an apology to my other siblings, and I include your son and daughter in that group of siblings because they became my brother and sister even though by blood they are my nephew and niece, because you allowed my to live in your house when I had no place else to go. At least I felt that way. I owe them an apology. I loved you more. Oh, I love them and they too can break my heart, but not like you did when you left me. I can't deny that. Would you look at this? I've already soaked those handkerchiefs and I'm now using toilet paper. Will I ever be able to control my emotions when thinking of you? It's impossible! I'm an adult! An old man! What is it with this blubbering like a child? It's embarrassing. It happens too when they bring up your name in conversation. I cannot speak your name in the presence of others. It catches in my throat. Tears well up in my eyes. My chin quivers. I must get up and leave before I burst out crying like a child. I don't know if they notice.

You were my guiding star, my saint on Earth, my Angel, my wise councilor and adviser and my sometime scolder. I remember every word you spoke to me and every scene. How could I ever forget? Do you remember the last time you rebutted my complaint? You, dad and I were alone in your kitchen on the farm, and I complained, probably bitterly, that my Japanese wife had not accompanied our son to his first day of school. I had tears in my eyes. I expected your agreement and compassion, or at least what I thought to be those things. Instead, you ask a simple and softly spoken question: "What about you, Dave?" It stopped me cold in my tracks. It cut like a knife. I whimpered in response, "but, I'm always gone, at sea or on some Navy duty assignment." Your question changed my life, and likely my marriage. From that day onward, I reevaluated my own actions before I criticized my wife. I taught her how to drive, I sent her more money and I lived on a lot less, I tried to teach her not to trust American culture in regards to children as much as she trusted Japanese culture where children are a thousand times safer. She learned, she stayed home and raised our children while I cavorted around the world. She was unselfish while I was selfish. She stood by me in spite of myself. It didn't save that marriage, in the end, but I'm forever grateful you asked that question. I have a new wife now, and she too is a good woman. She too shows complete selflessness in regards to her children. I'll live with that. How fortunate I have been and am! What was that margin of random chance that might have caused me to be born to other parents, in another country, far less fortunate, and to never have known you? It would have been tragic, but I would have never known.

How do you come when I summon you? Where do you come from? Is it from some far region of the universe or heaven or whatever you call it where your curiosity has taken you? You needn't have come on my summons. I love you too much to limit your freedom in whatever state of being you are. What are you? I can clearly see you in that image of light above that tree, surrounded by a darker area. Are you real? I hear you say, "Yes." But, still... I'm unconvinced. Is that because I'm filled with human fallacies? You are strikingly young and beautiful, as you used to be. I'm glad that you're young. Is it true that we'll meet there where you're at? I hope so. If that's true, then I insist on meeting you first, before all others, even Him Himself. I want to give you an eternal hug and to hear what you've been doing. Tell me all, everything.

You're sorry? What did you do that you could possibly be sorry for? I can't think of a single thing. Oh, that. The request that you asked others to do after you left; to fill your place in my life. That was nothing. I knew that it couldn't be done, although they tried, I suppose, as best they could. It was a useless endeavor. They came across as presumptuous, arrogant Bible philosophers, pompously quoting from it rather than answering its questions. There are no answers in the Bible. Only questions. You taught me that long ago, but it has taken a lifetime for it to become abundantly clear and only then when I heard someone else say it out loud. The Bible is a search for Justice, and more importantly, a search for the God of final Justice. It is truth, yet not necessarily all Historical fact, however most like to claim it is. And then? A miraculous thing happened. Reading the Bible after that is like reading a whole different book. Because, you see? They never knew of those conversations, short and infrequent that they were, about spirituality and religion that you and I had. Beautiful conversations, deep and meaningful. They had no way to compete with those. Only your daughter has been able to compete, to a degree, with those. And the quest those conversations led me on was marvelous. You had your strong faith and I had my strong spirituality and it led me into as much as I could study of Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Greek philosophy and mythology, and others, and finally back to Christ and his teachings. So, you see? Your request of them was needless. I came back to where you wanted me to be all along. But, I have a whole new, or at least different, perspective. A truer one I believe, but not yet finished I think. It appears to be a never ending quest that will only end when I die. What will I learn after that? Glorious things, I think, in the depths of my soul.

Before I wrap this up, I need to explain what this is all about. I'm going through another change. I'm premature in being so sentimental, I suspect, because nothing firm is yet determined. I have one, maybe two, masses, likely tumors, in the lower back portion of my brain, the Cerebellum I believe. That area that controls balance and equilibrium. I'm dizzy, but only slightly. I walk with a slight stagger, like I'm slightly drunk. I have a walking cane, now, to steady myself. I've lost weight, recently about eight pounds in only a few weeks, and it all came to a head last week. I woke up last Monday with a complete loss of appetite, and couldn't put a single thing in my mouth without gagging. I felt like I was getting seasick, the most debilitating sickness I've ever experienced. I also have two spots in my right lung, also likely tumors, but nobody is ready to call them that just yet. So, to decrease possible brain swelling, my doctor prescribed 4 milligram Dexamethasone 4 times daily. It's a super, hyper steroid; a drug that has wild side affects. And, he referred me to Radiology and Oncology, both of which will schedule the start of further study of these things soon. Nothing is firm. All is up in the air. But, I'm under no illusion that this isn't bad. I haven't lived a risk-free life. It's time to get my affairs in order. There is an expiration date, as smart asses like to say, but nevertheless true.

I may need your help again. Perhaps you can be my advocate in a sort of final decree, a decision by someone or something? I don't want to live listless in a bed someplace with strangers taking care of me, blinded by drugs, force-fed through a tube, unable to know my own name or my loved one's names, unable to read or think and someone changing my diapers. That is a waste. I want what I have left of this Earth to be left as much in tact as possible to those that I love and not to be wasted on me. Is it possible to know that instant before I become completely incapable of thought or decision? Plea my case for me, please, yet I hope it doesn't come too soon.

I'm looking forward to seeing you again, later, I hope, rather than sooner, but nevertheless with great anticipation.

Your devoted and loving brother,

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Who, me? Dictator?

I never thought I'd see Paul Krugman write this! He talks about Iceland in his column, here The Path Not Taken - To tell the truth, I'm not sure anymore whether I'm changing my mind, or whether things are just becoming a lot more clear as time passes. The bank bailout, I thought and still think, was to save everyone's ass, er... I mean retirement funds and bank savings accounts; everyone being the normal, average Joe on Main Street. I never envisioned that it would save "the bankers." And, it did save those retirement and savings accounts, as I recall. My accounts, for example, or at least the portion of those accounts that was held in Money Market funds, got back 97 cents on the dollar and TD Ameritrade made up the 3 cents that I would have lost. Without the bailout, I, and millions of others, would have gotten back about 40 cents (maybe less - I don't recall the exact amount) on the dollar, a loss of 60% or more. So, I thought the bailout was a good thing. Plus, the government made money on the deal. For example, the government got about $38 billion back from the $30 billion bailout it gave to Citibank. We, the taxpayers, made $8 billion, or 27%, return on that investment. At least that's what I read. That's not too shabby. Ben Bernanke testified to Congress that the government got back over $120 billion from the approximate $400 billion used as bailout, 30% ROI. Great!

And about those savings accounts. Most people think that the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Company), a government sponsored enterprise (GSE), would have saved their savings accounts up to $200,000, and that was after Bush increased it to that amount. Ha! Laugh out loud, lol. The failure of a single bank (A SINGLE BANK!), Washington Mutual, threatened to bust the FDIC, which would have caused us taxpayers to pay the price to make good on Bush's promise, costing the U.S. another few trillion. To save the FDIC, the government forced JP Morgan-Chase to buy Washington Mutual, with a big government loan guarantee, costing us much less than FDIC's bankruptcy would have. That deal, too, was a good thing. In fact, it was the only thing to do.

What I didn't expect is that the banks walked off with record profits and the bankers paid themselves billions more as if nothing happened at all and then they hoarded their cash like a miser while the world crumbled around them. Iceland didn't take that path. Instead of saving the bankers, Iceland said, "Up yours! Get yourself out of your own mess." Iceland voters voted down bailing out the banks, took over the banks and made them smaller, used the banks cash and profits, and government stimulus plans to settle the housing mess and the employment mess, and went on living, albeit on less, but on the way back to a good standard of living. It was a rare exception. All other nations took up the austerity chant and are now in a worse mess.

Frankly, I've had enough! I'm ready to OCCUPY SOMETHING! Alas... There is so much to write about and so little time to do it. And, I likely don't have time to be The Dictator, but I'll accept the job, thank you very much, but most of you won't like it. The first thing I would do would be to suspend the Constitution, especially the part that provide the Congressional and Judiciary powers. There would be no due process, which goes against my own constant yelling for justice. But, I would be selective. For example, there would be a line of bankers, hedge fund managers, derivative traders and credit ranking company executives forming at court house entrances for their trials, including those that have already left their positions into retirement or other jobs. The evidence? If they held an executive position in the companies that took this country down; they are guilty! Off to jail for a good long time. What'd you say? Constitution? There is none! What? You want to settle? There is no settling! You want to appeal? There is no Judiciary to appeal to.

Of course the immediate result would be that the "Occupy Wall Street" people would go home, and be replaced by the those who support the bankers and those others I've put in jail. Tough titty.

And, for you that want a tax-code revision, there would be one. All people earning one million and up would see tax increases starting at about 50%, with 10% in increments up to 80% for those with higher incomes, with no second and third home deductions and certainly no yacht or personal jet deductions. You might have to sell those. What's that? Don't like the high taxes? Hell, there's a deduction I put in there. It says, "create a job in this country - get a tax cut." You have to prove it, though. It's as simple as that!

I would immediately freeze every healthcare providers' salaries and wages in the country. Sorry brother and sister, I know you'd get your dander up about that. But, the next thing I'd do is decrease a few salaries, starting with hospital administrators, then doctors, and working down until I got to around $100k, depending on the living standard of the area, then leave those and below alone. Whoops! May have to sell a second and third homes, guys and gals, if you didn't have to from the tax-code rewrite above. You may not be able to afford those anymore. And, maybe you'll have to sell a yacht or two and a personal jet. By the way, to all those who have to sell those extra luxury homes and stuff, good luck finding a market for them. Isn't that your philosophy, laissez-faire, let it ride, or in other words, let the market decide? Well, it's all your's now! You try it for a while.

But, the medical field can look to other changes that you may like. A medical and dental education will be free to anyone wanting it and can maintain the grades and who can endure it. All education loans will be paid. The cost of Medical equipment will adjusted to a reasonable cost and strategically placed in some communities for access to all. Pharmaceuticals will have to live on less; drug costs will be cut drastically and free to some. Research and development investment for new drugs will be paid mostly by taxpayers, so Pharmacy companies can no longer claim this high cost and, by the way, lie about it. General practitioners will likely not see a salary cut, especially small town or community practitioners. They may see an increase in both salary and tax write-offs. Claim forms will be standardized; one single claim format for all medical and dental procedures. Doctors, dentists, nurses and technicians may have to live on less, but it will still be a good living standard, above most of other citizens, likely in the top 20%. Your new challenge is, then, to learn within your new means. Oh, you can still hold your drug parties, if the cops don't catch you at it!

I would immediately implement the "Public Option," Medicare for all. Whoops! Did that make you insurance company executives shit your pants? Likely. What? You want to lay off all of those people and close your companies and take your millions in compensation? No, sorry, but you can't or you go to jail. You now have to figure out a whole new structure of plans to sell good, full coverage plans, competitive with the Public Option, by the way, for those who want your coverage. Remember, your plans must cover everything. Leave out one iota, and you go to jail. What? Constitution? What Constitution? By the way, your compensation is eliminated. You earn the same salary I get, $400 thousand. Better start saving for your retirement. That's all you, and every corporate executive in any industry, get from now on. Want a higher pay? Then march in the street for my pay raise.

Oh yeah, to all of you who want to toss out Welfare. Nooo, we're not going to do that. We're going to feed the hungry. Oh, I agree it's broken. But, it's broken because of all of the fixes you've thought up that have failed miserably. You, Republicans and all of you who complained about it, who thought up the Welfare-to-Work program, but failed to pay for the jobs skill training that would put Welfare recipients to work are invited to form a commission to find what works. What I mean by that is that you must figure out 1) what motivates or gets people back to work, and I don't particularly care what it is that does that, 2) how to implement it, 3) how much it costs, and 4) write out a check payable to each state, proportionally, to get it going. Oh, one last thing - you're going to hold the states responsible for implementation. Any state that doesn't; I'll put the governor of that state in jail, or you if you don't report the governor. What? Constitution? Bwhahahahaha! But, I'm not opposed to nearly anything. For example, if you want to sterilize all who seem to have too many Welfare babies or crack babies, well, we can do that. Hell, I'm easy. But, you make not like the results. It may be your daughter that I order sterilized.

And then there is that "Balanced Budget" you're bitching about. Okay, let's do that. Generals, Admirals and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, get ready for some cuts. Let's start with a $300 billion per year cut in defense equipment and weapons. Maybe you can find a jet fighter/bomber you don't really need, or maybe a few aircraft carriers that are a tad old. How about a thousand or so nuclear tipped missiles, with accompanying launch platforms that can be cut. I'm sure you'll come up with a suitable list. What? Afghanistan? I guess you didn't get the word. I handed Hamid Karzai the keys to Afghanistan this morning and I instructed the Central Command to start pulling our troops out of there immediately, every last single troop to be return to the United States in sixty days. Oh, I also gave Hamid an M-16, an armored vest and flak jacket and told him that he'd better get hot getting his army together to fight off the Taliban. What? Pakistan? Well, I told him he's got a problem, or a few of them that we were not going to pay for anymore. The main thing I told him is that if I got the slightest hint, proven hint, that he intends to launch or give away one of his nuclear weapons, I'm going to blow the shit out of him. I also told him that I'm going to have a few drones watching over him, sort of my eye in the sky thing. He shit his pants. Don't worry General, I've got it covered. By the way, figure out other bases we can close. We don't need most of them. We're still the most powerful in the world and we still have powerful friends. We have nothing to fear.

Well, then there is Wal-Mart, Home Depot and a bundle of other big-box stores (my "boys" will make up a list) who invaded small communities and small counties across the county. You have to close those stores. There's a catch, though. You've got six months to revitalize and restored the economies of those small towns and counties that you ravished and destroyed. In other words, you have to rebuild all of those small businesses that you ran out of business. I'll leave it up to you on exactly how to do that, but if I hear of one single community that isn't set right... well, you know what I'll do by now, don't you? Oh, and until those small business are in good, sound buildings and find their own supply channels, you'll have to provide them using your own trucking fleet, your own merchandise and at reasonable wholesale prices. I'll allow only a 2% markup over your wholesale cost for transportation costs. Live with it. By the way, you can stay put in those large population centers that can handle you, but that's it. Don't overstep your bounds. You may not be a monopoly in those areas or nation-wide, but you are monopolies in those smaller populations.

And to the regional and national banks, those that have bought up small community banks and that have become to big to fail; you have to break up. You have six months to restore the small community banks you bought and money from deposits to those small banks cannot be passed to a central bank outside of the community. Oh, and you must renegotiate all of the mortgages that are under water by reducing the loans to the value of the homes; the current market value, which, of course, means that you're going to lose a ton of money. Send me an appointment request for a personal appointment with me if you don't want to do this. Better get it in fast. My appointment calendar is booked through November 2015 as of ten minutes ago. I'm receiving over 5,000 appointment requests an hour, so you're already late. I've turned down 99.9% pleas so far. So, take your chances.

There's a few new laws on the books as of this morning:

1. Truth in Media and Broadcasting: This law is simple. If you make a claim, announcement, a news broadcast or write an article; you must be prepared to prove your claim in front of fifty of the world's most prominent scholars in the studies on ethics in media and broadcasting. Your proof must be an original written or taped interview or you must be prepared to present the source of your information to the judges. You must convince all fifty judges for a unanimous decision; any single judge who calls your media/broadcasting representation rubbish will send you to jail.

2. Truth in Religious Claim, Prophecy or Prediction: This law is simple, too. Anyone making a religious claim, prophecy or predicting a religious event must prove it. Bibles, written in translated versions in any language other than the original Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek, whichever the original scroll or document of antiquities is written in, is not suitable proof. You must support your claim with original proof from antiquities. Your panel of judges must be the most respected biblical scholars in the world; historians, archaeologists or anthropologists are suitable. You must find them, prove their credentials and pay for their term as your judge. All fifty must agree to your claim, or you go to jail. What? Freedom of religion? Hahahaha! There is no freedom for making outrageous religious claims, prophecy or predictions. Oh, and just because you can quote the Bible verbatim doesn't mean that you know the essence of the Bible. All that being able to quote from the Bible means is that 1) you can read it, and 2) you can memorize it.

3. Money In Politics Act: All Political Action Committees (PACs), and Super-PACs are hereby outlawed. All monies from corporate sponsors, lobbyists, or any cumulative donation from a single individual over $2,000 in a single election campaign is outlawed. This applies to all political campaigns for any office nation-wide, from the smallest local office to President. Any entity or individual who disobeys will be jailed without trial. Any political candidate for any local, state or national office accepting monies outside these boundaries will be jailed without trial. By the way, political statements and claims will be judged under the Truth in Media and Broadcasting Act. You must prove your claim or assertion. Get your shit together.

4. Security Exchange Commission (SEC) Regulation Act: The SEC is charged with regulating and enforcing laws regarding the financial markets. All instruments; stocks, bonds, commodities, indexes and any other financial instrument sold to any investor must be sold or bought in a transparent manner in a market exchange. Exchanges are hereby nationalized and are no longer public companies. Credit rating companies are hereby nationalized and are no longer public companies. The SEC is charged with overseeing, regulating and enforcing laws regarding these entities. Any financial instrument derived from an underlying security is illegal. Short selling is illegal. Flash trading is illegal. Any employee not complying will go to jail without trial or due process, including SEC employees.

4. Social Security Solvency Act: The Cap is hereby raised to $10 million. All citizens making up to $100k will pay a 6.5% payroll tax to Social Security, $100k to $1 million pays 7.5%, and over $1 million pays 8.5%. This will make Social Security solvent through at least 2200. The country can now relax until about 2180 to settle any insolvent condition that might appear. Further, a government run Social Security Investment Management Department, consisting of employees with the best credentials and investment management education, will be established to invest a percentage of the Social Security Trust Fund into financial market securities rated triple A, including corporate bonds, treasuries, dividend paying indexes, such as ETFs, REITs and stocks.

All college Chancellors, Presidents, Deans, Professors, and Administrators' salaries are hereby cut by three-quarters. If you lecture or make speeches for pay and receive over one million dollars a year, you teach or perform your college duties for no pay. Lectures and speeches must be confined to your area of expertise and provable under the Truth In Media and Broadcasting Act. Please submit an appointment to me for a personal appointment if you decline this offer. My calendar is full through November, whoops, December 2015. Get your request in fast. Otherwise, since you signed up for a college or university position to teach our future leaders in industry and public service, you are now hereby appointed public servants. You can resign when you find a suitable and qualified replacement.

Okay, boys, that's enough for the first week. I'm taking time off next week, so get another list ready for the following week. Don't let me down. If you don't understand where I'm going by now, resign. I'll easily find a replacement. It won't be hard. I have over a million applications for your jobs. Maybe you can start the list with the Patriot Act and Homeland Security. Maybe we can make it comply with the Constitution even though its suspended for the moment. We don't need to be thought-spies or privacy invaders without warrants. Figure it out.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Homeowner Associations and the Rumor Mill

Consider yourself lucky if you don't live in a homeowner association. It has to be one of the biggest scams in America. Rumor has always had it that living in one increases, or at least maintains, the value of your home. That's because your not likely to have someone move in next door that trashes their yard, creates an eyesore and causes a blight in the neighborhood. That's a crock. In a neighborhood of three-quarters of a million dollar homes, it's not likely that you'll have a bum move in next door. But, that's the rumor. So, in an association, there are "inspectors," appointed members of the neighborhood, who go around periodically and write letters of warning to you if they find a weed growing in your lawn, or your house needs painting, or your driveway has a stain on it, or your house number painted on your curb is fading. The Gestapo squad is what we generally call them, and we dutifully pick the weed or paint the house.

Speaking of painting the house; it has to be a color the association likes, otherwise you can't paint it. That's why every third home in our association are just a shade different in color, except for one that is. A few years ago we voted in a person as President of the association board who we thought would be a good president. Man, that was a mistaken assumption. As soon as she became president, she painted her own home a bright blue. It stands out like a sore thumb. We also voted in a few friends of hers, unbeknownst to us, and they cooked up a few surprises for us, at least according to the rumor mill. Well, at least one thing that happened is fact and not rumor; the quarterly dues rose about 30%, from around $140 to around $200 and there was no noticeable gain from the raise. I mean we, or at least I, didn't notice anything new in the neighborhood, such as a security guard, a gate or an improvement at the swimming pool. Nope. Just about everything remained the same, so where was all that added money going? The rumor mill eventually supplied an answer.

I heard that a woman living on the edge of a canyon, and we live on a hill surrounded by canyons, drained her private swimming pool over the bank behind her house and into the canyon. She used a garden hose, I'm told, as a siphon. Now a siphon doesn't create a lot of pressure as it pulls water from a source, but I guess this particular siphon took several days to drain the 20 or 30 thousand gallons from the pool and eventually eroded away a huge chunk of the canyon wall, enough to threaten the foundation of her house and the house next door. The house next door turned out the be owned by one of those friends of the president of the board and who we voted in as a board member.

Now anyone of reasonable mind would think that homeowner insurance would pay for such damage as was caused by the silly woman draining her pool, or perhaps the one owner could sue the other for damages, but that's not what happened. Instead, the board voted for, and approved, a $1.5 million contract that, by the way, all of us would pay for, to repair the damaged canyon wall, which of course caused the homeowner dues to skyrocket. Apparently the rumor mill wasn't all wrong, here. There was some truth to it. Everyone was p.o.'d.

We eventually voted out that board and replaced it with all new members. But alas, someone is dissatisfied with the new one. Apparently some guy on Bellingham Drive, the next street over from ours, wants a diving board and the board voted it down. They didn't want the liability problem the diving board caused, as well as the added insurance cost of the liability insurance. This new board has successfully reduced the homeowner dues to $120 per quarter, and I am real happy with that. The board just doesn't spend money to be spending money. It actually analyzes the necessity of new stuff before they buy into it. I like that. And so, the board voted down the diving board because of the added expense.

But, one woman complained that her three year old needed the diving board because her toddler hit its butt on the concrete when it jumped into the water from the pool side. Well! What the hell does she think its going to hit when it dives from the diving board? Its head, likely. And too, what mother would let a three year old dive from a diving board? At three years old, jumping from the pool side seems much more safe than jumping from a diving board. It seems to me that the association board is saving that mother more grief than she knows. But, we now have a bru-ha-ha, and presumably egregious wrongs committed by the board of directors. Whoa my god! The world is ending, or so you would think. The guy on Bellingham wants four members, all but the president, recalled for, he claims, self-serving, cover-up, compromised voting, vote manipulation, abuse of power, circumventing the by-laws, obstruction of communications and pretty much any other vague criminal act you can think of.

He ran around the neighborhood collecting signatures for a petition to have a recall vote. But of course he wasn't all that truthful and forthcoming when he ask for signatures, saying only enough to get a signature for a diving board. Low and behold the signatures were for a recall.

I suppose the truth of this matter lies closer to the idea that this current association board is doing a fairly good job. It has reduced our dues to something a little more reasonable, there are not so many Gestapo inspections as there used to be and it seems that we pay for things that are pretty much equally shared by the neighborhood. Well, I'm not fond of paying for that outside swim team club that uses our pool just because one or two of the club's members live here. According to the rumor mill, more than 80% of them don't live here. As far as I'm concerned, they should not be using our pool. But then, as far as I'm concerned, we don't need the extra expense of the pool anyway and we can fill it with dirt and I'll be fine with that. If I want to go swimming, I can find a place to do that and pay $20 admission once instead of $100 every quarter to keep our own pool open six or seven months a year.

But, I guess if you ask me, I would dissolve the association entirely. I don't see a logical reason for having it either. The fact that we live in a homeowner association had squat influence on our home values in the latest mortgage scam-fest. Our home values fell like a rock when the housing bubble burst, association or not. So, don't tell me that an association holds home values. That's a crock.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Dirty Tea Water for Owensville

A few years ago I wrote a Blog post about the dirty water that flows from the Wabash River tributaries in northern Indiana, just west of Fort Wayne, through Lafayette, Indiana, a city I have a personal interest in, to the southern Indiana delta where the Wabash, White River, Patoka River and Ohio River come together just south of Gibson County, a county that I also have a personal interest in. I used an EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) inspection report to trace dirty water from several polluters along the way to show that those few people I know are forced to pay for clean water whether they liked it or not. My post connected the dots from the dirty polluters to the water those people drank, dirty tea water. It showed that the war against the EPA that intends to destroy the EPA was nonsense.

But, since then, the war against the EPA has heated up even more, if that's possible. The Tea Party Republicans have since taken control of the House, and bills attempting to stop the EPA are nearly a weekly event. I track bills in Congress through GovTrack, OpenCongress and Popvox. OpenCongress and Popvox give me a way to send my vote and comments to my Representative and Senators, for whatever good it does. My vote is probably undetectable in Washington. And so, I notice again that a House bill is on the side of corporate polluters rather than the side of those people who must have clean water. This bill, H. R. 2250, EPA Regulatory Relief Act of 2011, is attempting to stop the EPA from regulating industrial, commercial and institutional boilers, process heaters and solid waste incinerators. The sponsor is Representative Morgan Griffith, a Tea Party Republican from the 9th district of Virginia. There are 126 co-sponsors on the bill, some of them Democrats. That's disappointing, but in a quid pro quo Congress, I shouldn't expect more; votes are traded for votes, or money. In this case, it was money. You can see who in Congress got the most money to vote for this bill here.

I think I can say with a high degree of certainty that the major money contributor for this bill is International Paper Corporation. It uses all of the equipment and processes that this bill would regulate, and it is on the list of bribing Congress. International Paper operates twenty-three locations in Virginia, ten in Indiana and over forty in my state, California, and the water it uses at all of these processing plants, whether it is processing wood pulp into paper, or recycling paper trash into new paper, comes from the rivers and tributaries that furnish drinking water. I also think I can say, with a high degree of certainty, that Rep. Griffith did not write this bill; International Paper wrote it, because this bill will cost it money to comply with the regulations. Well, of course it will. So what? If we want to drink and cook with clean water, somebody is going to pay to keep the water clean. The question is, who?

International Paper, IP, would like nothing better than to have taxpayers and water customers pay to keep the water clean. That kind of cost management is called "Externalizing Costs," costs that IP can pass on to taxpayers and customers. And, IP doesn't care which taxpayers pay for it; such as those who live close to the processing plants, or those who live way down river and who know nothing about the processing plant a hundred miles upstream. All those taxpayers downstream know is that their water is filthy and they have to clean it.

Another thing IP doesn't want to pay for is the additional workers it will have to hire to operate the cleaning process, such as a scrubber or filtering plant. Each additional worker it hires reduces profit, at least that what IP tries to sell us although all of the labor cost is a write-off. The truth is that labor costs reduce the amount of money that can be paid to company executives and share holders, and that's about it. The truth is that regulations do not kill jobs; in fact they create more jobs, 1) jobs to make the scrubbers and filtering equipment, and 2) jobs to operate those things. So, don't be sold on the myth that regulations kill jobs. It's a lie.

The water for Owensville, and the area miles around it, including Fort Branch, Poseyville, Mt. Vernon, Evansville, Princeton, and for everyone in Indiana for that matter, comes from artesian wells. These are wells that get water from pressurized ground water because the water table is high enough to push the water into a pumping system. The water table is supplied and pressurized by nearby rivers and tributaries through underground seeps and aquifers, usually through porous sand and gravel that filters out much of the debris in the water. Manufacturing paper uses very high concentrations of some of the most toxic chemicals we know of and, unfortunately, Mother Nature's natural filtering system, the sand and gravel, does not filter out enough of these chemicals. She would have a much better chance of success if most of those chemicals were filtered out by the processing plant itself and she needs help from regulators.

So, if you drink water, and I assume you do, then you need to fight this kind of topsy-turvey, fuzzy thinking legislation. This is a bill that a corporation bought. It isn't one that's for the good of the people.


Friday, September 16, 2011

9/11/01 - The Day America Gave Its Soul to The Fox

Sunday, September 11, 2011 - ten years later - was a day of reflection, if you believe everything you saw on television. The day was all about the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Flight 93. The day certainly gave me a lot to think about, from the moving ceremony at Ground Zero to the 60 Minute interview with FBI Agent Ali Soufan, who interrogated Al Qaeda operatives (Frontline did an excellent job documenting Soufan's activities), to the documentary "9/11" hosted by Robert Di Niro about Engine #7, Ladder 1, a New York Fire Department response team just down the street from the World Trade Center, to the interviews with the 9/11 victims to the huge growth of America's Top Secret Security apparatus since 9/11, a thousand fold increase that now spies on its own citizens. Not all 9/11 victims died in the World Trade Center. Some were victims of the instant mood of the day; the national cry for vengeance, the dose of uber-patriotism - "the day the gloves came off," Cofer Black said. Cofer Black was "The" guy who sold Congress and the Bush Administration the "New" CIA war plan back then. He was in the right place at the right time with a plan, right or wrong, and America followed him to war. Well... there were a lot of people in the Bush Administration who already had war on their minds, especially war with Iraq. It was just a minor detail that Al Qaeda was in Afghanistan and not in Iraq, a detail that could be revised, repackaged and sold to fit the Bush agenda - even if it was a lie - especially after 9/11 finally set America's state of mind. The Iraqi War was a "product" and Bush put it on display. It is ironic that the Christian Evangelicals, one of which President Bush claimed to be, were so ready to go to war. It is ironic that, from their own behavior and speech, the God they claimed to represent mercy and justice became a God of War and injustice. After 9/11, America didn't care who it attacked, as long as the target could be even remotely connected to the Muslim extremists. The Christian Charismatic churches cheered - the end of days were near, the final war had begun. The War on Terror began - against Muslims, no matter who said it wasn't.

Two of my brother's grandchildren were born only a few weeks around the 9/11 attack. He reflected on the ten year anniversary, "What kind of world had my new grandchildren been born into?" What kind of world indeed? I would say a world of war, and this time it's different. They are ten years old and they've already been indoctrinated, in spite of anything my brother did himself, into the new America, an America with the "gloves off." They've heard the uber-patriotic ads on television and at movies about the glory of joining the National Guard, Army, Marine Corps and, although less so, the Navy and Air Force. They've heard to heroic deeds of Navy Seal Team Six who, in the dark of night and in a hostile country, killed Osama bin Laden. These are the paths to heroic deeds. They've never heard anything else. They've heard "God Bless America" so many times that they believe it's true. They will hear, if they haven't already, that "collateral damage" that kills a hundred thousand innocent Muslims is okay, and even willed by God. They will learn that torture is called "enhanced interrogation" and is necessary to find the truth, even though it never has. They may even get a daily dose of how God is on the side of our warriors, because the words "warrior" and "God" are used together more today than in the lifetime of their grandparents since World War II, if they were used as frequently in that war. The video games they see advertised, even if they don't play them, are mostly war games. Even churches build war game-rooms to attract new young members. Selling the American warrior is a big business.

By the time those children are eighteen, only eight years away, they will have been fully indoctrinated in the ways of war. We, America, may still be at war at that time, because Afghanistan is not a war we can end, even though it is identical to Vietnam, a war we did finally end by of overwhelming opinion against it. Nor will those children know any other economic system than one which gives unreasonably low wages to labor and extraordinarily high incomes to those lucky few to become industry leaders; the "trickle down free market" system. It is God's economic system, it is the system of "freedom." We've been told that for forty years. They will accept the fact that if they don't make it out of the lowly labor force, well - that's tough. They will believe that it is God's will that they are poor while other's have been given the blessing of the gospel of prosperity. That is the new religion that they will believe has been gospel forever. It hasn't been.

The above paints a picture of indoctrination, and I guess one might think that it began relatively recently, but it began a long time ago. This latest cycle, if I could point to a specific time, began in the 50s and 60s, with the rise of the New Conservatives, the neo-conservatives. Originally, Irving Kristol, the "father of new conservatism," was a Marxist, specifically a Trotskyist, and a liberal intellectual, but that changed under President Lyndon Johnson. Kristol's neocons liked Johnson's war against communism, especially in Vietnam, but they did not like his "Great Society" of welfare, so Kristol led his growing following to the Republican Party to support Senator Bary Goldwater's Cold War against communism. As a student of philosophy, he brought with him a philosophical principles that make me cringe.

"You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time." Abraham Lincoln said that. He should have added, "but, you can fool enough of the people all of the time." All it takes is "enough" of the people to gain power. Kristol knew this as did many of his closest followers, who later became the leaders of neo-conservatism. They preferred the political realism of Machiavelli, who principally said that anything goes in grabbing power; the goal is more important than the means used to get there, and the goal, even back in Irving's day, was to once and for all grab the ultimate power in the United States and keep it. People like Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, Richard Pearle, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, all key players in Bush's Iraq invasion. Kristol particularly liked a Chicago University Professor/Philosopher, Leo Strauss. He integrated Strauss' philosophy into the New Conservative movement. Strauss believed, like Machiavelli, and taught that "fooling the people" was appropriate to gain power, and he especially believed that religion could be used as a tool to fool people into supporting a political agenda even when the agenda was against the best interest of the people. Religion, Strauss said, was a useful myth. Another neocon who joined Cheney and Rumsfeld in the Nixon White House was Roger Ailes, who is now the Chairman of Fox Television Stations Group and runs Fox News Corp. Ailes was the media consultant to Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, G. H. Bush and Rudy Giuliani. It was Ailes who saw the benefit of political party-media coalitions and propaganda in keeping a party in power and using the media, slyly designed advertising and outright propaganda to persuade a public to keep a political party in power.

And so the die is cast. My brother's grandchildren will hear it everyday, as many other children will and have, perhaps not directly from their grandparents, but in school, or maybe a teacher, or an aunt or uncle or their own parents. There is a teacher in South Gibson High School who regularly distributes anti-Obama, ultra Right Wing, Republican and racist emails to his list almost daily. That teacher will teach his hate and lies. They will not know that the government does good things because they hear that the government "is the problem." They will believe that all Muslims are evil. They hear angry slurs, curses, rumors and innuendo against President Obama, who really doesn't deserve the slurs and who, in fact, has followed more of a Republican agenda than he has a liberal left agenda. He is a good man. He is, in fact, a Christian man, but they will believe that he is a Muslim. They will not know that Bush's wars were illegal and unjust wars or that Bush is more likely a war criminal than not. Nobody told them that. How could they know? They live in a comfortable and secure home. They do not know how close they live to poverty caused by the deregulation, war and militaristic policies of the Right that slowly decayed the heart of a country since Ronald Reagan. They will never know that what they've seen and heard from the Right-Wing is more fascist than American democracy.

Congressman Ron Paul is more right than wrong when he said that the 9/11 attack is a result of three decades, and probably longer, of misdirected American foreign policies. We've been led down a road of force diplomacy rather than peace diplomacy. It is all documented on the website of the Project for New American Century, the website of the neo-conservatives, above. It is one of fear and of projecting America's military force to spread America's morality, system of government and its economic hegemony. But, Ron Paul was met with a yelling mob when he suggested that America may be partly at fault for the 9/11 attack as much as it was the hate of Muslim extremists. The yelling mob proves more that the indoctrination is successful than it proves any knowledge of truth by the citizenry.

So, ten years later, Americans have been indoctrinated very successfully. Most citizens hate Muslims - all of them. Most citizens glorify American warriors and reject any idea that their own children are being sacrificed or scared for life or destined to live a life with disabilities. We turn our back on anyone complaining, legitimately, of war-caused bodily or psychological wounds. Complainers are un-American. Suck it up and live with it, is the message. God is a war god and we lack faith if we question that idea. "Get a job!"  we scream at the unemployed, even though there are no jobs. Suddenly, the unemployed are freeloaders. Suddenly, the poor who have no place to turn are freeloaders if they take welfare. They should get a job or starve, we're told. Actually, none of these things happened "suddenly." It has been a gradual indoctrination, a brainwashing, in all aspects of American life, even religion. A preacher, Jerry Falwell, who was once thought to be a radical has become mainstream. He founded a university that teaches his particular religious beliefs and a number of Liberty University law students became district attorneys across the country. Publishing companies owned by Falwell, and other equally radical Christian organizations and preachers, now distribute their particularly radical beliefs to churches for Sunday School or the prepared text for the pastor's Sunday Sermon and even so-called "Christian" home-schooling. These companies even publish school books and many states now incorporate religious ideology in public school books.

America's indoctrination is nearly complete, if not fully complete. Now, all that's needed is maintenance, such as making sure new generations are brainwashed for the future, sort of like Hitler's youth programs that turned children against their own parents; country before family. It is all so easy. The truth is that 9/11 was the day that America turned it's back, a slow turn to be sure, on all of our compassionate and democratic beliefs. It was the day that we gave up freedom for security. It was the day that we became afraid. It was the day that we completed the Right Wing agenda and turned our back on God.