Sunday, April 24, 2011

Part 2 30 years ago today

This is the second part of a longer story part one is here
We took pictures outside the chapel and there were lots of hugs and kisses. We were planning a reception back in town the following weekend so we all went our separate routes home not too long after the ceremony ended. The long wait with the unruly children had worn out, “them that brung em” so there was some justice that day.

Cary, Mary and I planned to drive back in the morning so we went back to the casino for dinner and drinks. The luck had shifted and now Cary couldn’t lose while I was struggling to stay even. The law of averages gets us all in the end. We ended our gambling up enough to pay for most of the trip so that was cool. Everyone jazzed we went ahead and drove back to Mary’s place in the foothills that night sparring her another frosty nights sleep.
On Sunday we picked up Cary’s kids from the babysitter and they were immediately pissed because the other kids were there. We went home and got ready for life in the married lane and work on Monday. With the both of us being sick we were not able to take any leave for a Honeymoon. We both had to be back at work at the hospital.

Cary’s folks were back on the east coast at the time in the process of selling their place to move back to California. A complicated situation I will spare you the details of. We were renting a house from her brother and they were going to be moving in with us. We went to work and thought that life was good, and it was for 5 whole days.

The morning of the first of May my new bride woke up with a splitting head ache. This was about 3 in the Am after an hour of not being able to relieve it I loaded her into the car and took he to the ER at David Grant. Little did I know at the time that this was merely the beginning of a 20 year odyssey of doctors and government bureaucracies and uncertainty on a level I can hardly believe I survived. Her blood pressure was 210/140 and the Doc thought that she was having a stroke. He ordered her intubated and when they did a crappy job of it causing her to vomit the dude thought his genius was positively prescient. They stabilized he BP with Drugs and sent her off for an emergency CT scan. This gave me a chance to run back to the house and get a hold of Frank to take care of the kids and to get into uniform to report for work.

They admitted her to intensive care and by that afternoon she was doing much better. The thinking was still stroke but the Scan had not shown a bleed. The first of many anomalous test results in a diagnostic mystery worthy of a House episode. 4 years later they would use one of the first MRI scanners on the west coast to confirm the diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. Along the way they would misdiagnose and miss treat quite a few ailments. The most embarrassing was a false positive Syphilis. This caused quite a bit of strife as I had been TDY for training in Texas for 3 months just prior to the test and until I tested negative my name was mud. I always held a bit of a grudge over the fact that she didn’t trust me when I didn’t jump to conclusions about her but she had been through quite a bit with dudes in the past and I like to think I made up for that for her eventually. For the record I was always faithful to my vows.
That trip to Texas was the last time we were apart for any length of time until the fiasco of the house building. I lived in a tent on the property for two months in the Washington rain while we farmed out the kids to friends and Cary stayed with her mom. I was doing a lot of labor on the building but it was in truth only supposed to be two weeks. You know how it is with contractors. At that point she was still self sufficient in the activities of daily living. That changed about a year later and then she required my care 24/7 for the last 5 years of our life together.

Our life would come to be defined by uncertainty in those years. Relapsing remitting MS is a disease that ravages the body a little bit at a time. It is an exhausting disease as your muscles work poorly with one another due to bad communication between nerve cells. This was compounded by the bureaucrats that deal with the disability insurance portion of our society as they are not very good at uncertain things. The doubt gets internalized in strange ways and now it is easy to diagnose and they even have a mildly successful treatment that was not the case until it was too late to do us any good. I always found it ironic that we were both in search of some stability and security in our decision to go into the military as a career and that is how we met.

One of the reasons I take up this tale is related to the latest round of attacks on the sick and the weakest among us as the target for all of the pain. I think for some people our constant struggle with the government to retain our health insurance and to receive even the basic insurance benefits that we had earned. We are in the process of destroying the social safety net established in the latter half of the 20th century. A safety net that is woefully inadequate and capricious. Because one doctor refused to admit he was wrong even in the face of overwhelming evidence we lost about 40 thousand dollars in benefits and lost thousands more in opportunity costs. I present this as a cautionary tale as anecdotes are just that but that is how we govern in our nation. The most compelling tale wins.

In some respects Cary was lucky with the diagnosis. Our clinic doctor figured out it was MS after only about a year of weird symptoms he called it. Unfortunately there was no definitive test. There are some people that have a protein in their spinal fluid but only a moderate percentage. Now they use magnetic resonance imaging MRI to find the plaques but that was just becoming an option and the doctor that was trying to rip Cary out of her benefit was not interested in spending the big bucks on someone he had already diagnosed as a malingerer. We forced the medical board to order the test, an advantage of reading the regulations and knowing how to use a letter to a Senator. The test showed plaques all through her brain but the scumbag doctor did not alter his summary to reflect that he was wrong. That dogged us for years and every time a reevaluation of her disability came up they used that to cut off her benefits and force us to appeal. Every other year losing a significant portion of your income for a year or 18 months can screw with your life in profound ways. Not including the time I was unable to make money taking care of her. It works to make sure you can never accumulate any wealth. Bear in mind that they were doing this to a veteran with a service connected in the line of duty disability. This looks like a good place to close an already too long piece. Thanks for reading those that stuck it out.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

30 years ago today

Thirty years ago today I was embarking on a new adventure that would change my life dramatically. The scar on my abdomen was just about healed but I was still pretty punk from three months of being hospitalized and not eating. The previous Halloween had seen me vomiting and convulsing every time I tried to eat something. Long about the first of the year I met Cary, a new tech on the ward and we started hanging out. When they finally cut me open and took out a few things I was pretty wasted from lying around and being shot up with all sorts of odd pain drugs. I had a tube up my nose and ate through a central line for months and aside from being freaked out from not knowing what was wrong I was horribly out of shape.
I stayed at her place instead of going to my folks place when they put me on convalescent leave after the surgery and she never let me leave. Now we were heading to South Lake Tahoe to get married. Little did I know that rather than coming out of the dark times I was heading into crazier days.
We loaded up the car with our clothes some beers and my pickle jar of “Cedar Ravine Green” and headed up highway 50 to south lake. Cary and her best friend Mary and I heading for a night of gaming and partying before the big day. Sort of a dual bachelor/bachelorette party before the big day. Yes we were young and reckless and I was sipping a beer while driving when the Highway patrol drove by the other way and freaked us out for a few miles. Like everything else that day my luck was good and the flashing lights and sirens that rent the air minutes later flew right on by to track down some other miscreants.
We stayed at a place on the California side that I had stumbled upon earlier that had two bedrooms. Not a suite but separate sleeping areas. We checked in and headed for the casinos of Nevada without really checking anything out. It never occurred to us that there would be any problems. Were we young and nieve? I guess I was but as I said luck was with us and any obstacles were still in the future. For now it was all free drinks and black jacks and a nice run at the tables. It would seem that I couldn’t lose and my winnings more than covered the ladies losses. I hate to stoop to clichés but right up until the wedding I was on a roll and afterwards couldn’t hit a lick and Cary couldn’t lose after we said our “I Do’s.”
Our night at the tables concluded we went back to our stateline honeymoon hideout for a last night of debauchery before becoming a respectable married couple. In the morning Mary emerged from the 2nd bedroom teeth chattering and lips blue as the only heater in the place was in the main room and the second bedroom was freezing. “With the noises coming from you two there was no way I was opening the door” , she said with a laugh when we asked why she didn’t come out and turn up the heat.
The big day had arrived and our simple ceremony plan was about to become a comedy of errors in a big hurry. We began by meeting my family for a nice brunch at the top of Harrah’s south lake Forrest Buffet. This was the third wedding for Cary and she was not interested in making a production out of it. She had done the big wedding and having it fail took some of the thrill out of ceremonies for her. I am just not into the rituals of property and religion that most people tend to prize, not that that makes me different from lots of men. The wedding is for the bride in our culture.
I mentioned that I had been quite ill and was on the mend but Cary had also picked up a little health issue, a time bomb was ticking that we both ignored at our peril. When as part of her training she went through a rapid decompression exercise for the Air Force and developed what was thought to be an inner ear infection. The weekend of the wedding was the first time in a long time that one of us if not both was not bent over a trash can or toilet.
We had a nice brunch even though our wishes were ignored. Both my sister and one of my aunts brought their young children. We had wanted the guest list small and no kids but my mother through a monkey wrench into that and my other aunt wanted some payback from when I was a child at her wedding. I had learned long ago that arguing with my mother was pointless. She was a selfish drama queen without equal so there was no point in hurting everyone else’s feelings. We ate and headed for the chapel.
That was when the wheels started to come off our story book love at first kiss story. It was funny the next day but at the time it was crazy. Even now I think back and smile about stopping in the turn out at the edge of town Me, my folks, my bride to be and her maid of honor smoking a huge joint of home grown sensimilla on the way to the Chapel in the Pines and a ceremony presided over by the Reverend Love.
Stoned to the bone we discovered that there was a wait at the chapel. No biggie I thought 90 minutes was not too long to wait but there was a catch. That was the only open time slot for that whole weekend and we needed a license. This was the big shock, it doesn’t work like the sitcoms where any old drunk can show up and get married. To get that license one has to go to the count seat.
We did a wild ride Mary, Cary and I over mount Rose at 100 mph to the courthouse and back making it with about 10 minutes to spare. As a cliché plot device in countless mediocre films arriving at the last minute may work but in real life it can make you crazy. Paper in hand we then went into the tackiest office of red velvet cupids and hearts to select our wedding package. Pictures, audio tapes and souvenir leatherette bibles were all on offer for a fee over and above the basic charges for the room and the Pastor. The people in line ahead of us had taken things a lot more serious then we as they had groomsmen in pastel blue tuxes and bridesmaids in the most appalling lime green dresses all holding huge bouquets of flowers. Our pictures had everyone in the wedding party, all 4 of us in dark glasses to cover our bloodshot eyes.
Some one. most likely my niece Amanda asked why her knees were shaking and then we were outside and Linda got her revenge as little Kenny pelted us with rice. All the time I was thinking how wonderfully tacky the whole event had turned out to be. This was not anything like my picture of a wedding and was not what we planned but after the terror of the flight over the mountain and the now crash from having no more adrenaline I was in a uniquely bliss filled space.
Here ends part one. If you like a happy tale this would be the place to stop as I think I have captured a little bit of the joy of the day. In part 2 reality creeps in and spoils the fairytale.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Quantum Interlude

Here is little excerpt from The Quantum Portrait of Dorian Grey for your Earth Day enjoyment.

The universe goes on just not your universe

“There is no reason to think that our technological society is going to last. We assume that it will but what is that assumption based on? This belief is the very basis of your job. Vigilance will ensure our survival. We all have bias and we all have built in flaws in our logic that we have to recognize. Your’s are preventing you from really hearing what I am saying to you. You are listening and making listening noises but you have dismissed me as crazy and are now busy thinking about disengagement.” He smiled at the man having arrived inquisitor transformed to confessor.
“I’ll give you an example. I was doing some surfing and came across something that confirmed my own bias towards experts and forced me to confront it. I encounter this type of thing all too often unfortunately. A noted popular culture elite was on about the end of evolution in humans. The man is a clever writer and seems to know a lot about physics but as a biologist he makes a good plumber.”
The agent got a puzzled look on his face at the long outdated colloquialism. “OK you have my attention. What the fuck are you talking about?”
Keith picked up the tale without missing a beat. This had been building in him for months and now it all had to come out. “I know a little about a lot of things and a lot about a few and every time some one I think knows about things ventures into the area that I know a lot about they have shown remarkable ignorance of a subject that they are speaking about. In this case a fundamental misunderstanding of evolution. He was extrapolating our technological culture to the world of nature and trying to claim that selection pressures had been erased by technology. That idea alone is sort of dubious but it ignores the evidence based nature of science. Snips occur at a regular rate and these snips are the random changes in the DNA that allows for the modification in descent with modification. His statement is easy to check, is the rate of change in DNA changing in any way and is it slowing down? I can find no data to show any rate changes so he is talking out of his ass and yet has no clue that he is and so those of us with a bias toward authority tend to believe what it is they are saying. I am rambling but this is my point there is no reason to think that in a thousand years we will not be back to a culture of hunter gathering and all our tech crumbled if there are Hominids at all.
I think about my luck every day to some extent. To have lived in a time when I can read and study the great knowledge of the world from an obscure room in an obscure corner of the universe. One looks at the pattern and think it has a purpose and a direction. When the climate destabilizes to a level that much of the world becomes inhabitable what keeps society from being destroyed. I don’t want to predict a dystopian future but there is certainly no reason for it not to happen.
The reason some of those biases have hung around is that they are sometimes beneficial. When the Doctor first told me about the cameras and the whole finite number of, “Many Worlds” things my bias allowed me to listen to him and buy in. For you the crazy dude in the sewer bias is doing just the opposite.
Nick had seated himself across from the bearded man and for the first time since the dude had spoken the words, “Extra Dimensional Apocalypse” he began to pay attention to the man. Even if he was nutty as an almond joy bar he was telling the story well and this was a hell of a tale.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Make Them Pay

Spent Tax Day 2011 with a few hundred kindred spirits in front of the now defunct branch of Bank of America asking the question why are the corporations getting a pass? They make obscene profits investing money they borrow from the federal reserve at virtually zero interest and pay little or no taxes. When the wingers propose a flat tax if they imposed it on everyone equally with no deductions I would go for it. That is not their intent of course. They want to exempt capital gains and businesses from taxation all together. I was expecting to see a few of the Tea bag folks that were screaming about deficits and taxes last year but that group seems to have disappeared from the landscape. Any way I did see some new faces and the folks from got both radio and TV to show up. The Weather was nice for a change, sunshine an no wind. Every one was in a good mood and as one person said "It was a great day for a protest."

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Blood and Orchids Eureka style.

Went out riding along the waterfront on a wan Saturday to see what spring hath wroth. Gherry trees and war machines and orchids all in a row.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Emotions 11

When much of your life is dark it is easy to go to the dark side emotionally. More like when you try to look at true emotions you tend to go bleak. I cannot claim any great art in my works. I have a good eye for photos but not the dedication to selling shit. I enjoyed the glass making but the hauling around and selling killed my back while we were doing it. That was not particularly fulfilling artistically anyway, grinding out trinkets for the crap collectors is in the end soul killing. The consumer society we have created is going to fail. Not in my lifetime but I am not going to be around that much longer, 20 years if I am extremely lucky.
The two Americas is a reality that most folks don’t want to deal with. I have already failed financially so it doesn’t matter to me in the end. I am of a status that they cannot cut off completely as a veteran in the system. As long as I can stay out of prison the plutocrats are stuck with me. I am angry but not, “mad bomber” crazy so odds favor freedom for the long haul.
It is that anger at the system that I am no longer going to indulge. I need to try and put some serious effort in to finishing one of my literary projects. I do not feel very well at the moment, lots of pain in the joints and short of breath do to being way too heavy. For the first time though I am free of other peoples problems. This is I feel a last shot. I have staved off homelessness for the short run and can ride and write for a while with a bit of security. So I am giving the political ranting up and making another run at disciplined work.
This brings me back to the dark side of my emotions. The Socrates code is of a lighter mood and even though it is further along I feel that working on the Quantum Portrait project will bear more fruit. I find that the only way to get better is to write more and so if I beat the funk I may switch back. On the days that I can’t find the hole I have a travel project that I wish to work on. A photo diary of the Redwood National Parks trip. This is a test project of sorts. Can I generate a travel project that I can sell? Can I find an outlet to sell it through. The blog deal has eluded me. I had google ads but never made any money from it. When I was starting to generate hits they yanked my account and I never got a good explanation as to why but that is the new media. Slave labor under the guise of open source. The only people I know making money are selling naked pictures and they are for the most part scraping by on pretty thin margins.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Clown or criminal that is the question?

My level of dissatisfaction with the executive branch of the current government is no secret. Once the O man signed on to the Bush war crimes I could never in good conscience vote for him again. That leaves me with a minor problem. I will vote for the inevitable obscure democrat that may make it to the primary ballot or try to pump up the Greens in June. The problem lies in the general as the alternative party has the batshit crazy competing with the pure evil.
The campaign fund raising season has already arrived and the Far right are speaking to the hicks in Iowa. I actually know some folks that live in that state and they are nice enough. I just want to live in an actual free society one day governed by the rule of law and elected democratically. I know that is a delusion but we are closer than 60 years ago so continuing to work in that direction is not completely insane. George was right about the scraps that we get to fight over are just that, but they are also the difference between crappy jobs and serfdom.
The god squad is dangerous to the health of society. Obama doubling the money for the faith clowns is another in a long list of poor policy decisions. That is nothing compared to the kind of crazy that eye of Newt is selling. As an adulterous piece of trash his only hope to get around the rubes is to go all super christy I have sinned but I believe in the forgiveness of Jebus. He may be a true believer, they shit all over everyone they can and then pray when they get caught. As they follow the one true god they are chosen and since the novel they follow is so archaic and poorly written they can twist pretty much any kind of bullshit they choose to out of it. Either way he is now pushing some new version of manifest destiny and the founding fathers were all about the god nonsense. That and only the religious and only a those that follow “true religion”, can be real Americans. It works on the lizard brains of the masses they say.
The next group of dingbats vying for the Rethug mantle are the get rich running folks. Sarah Palin, Mike Huckleberry and Mitt Romney. All are running for the next reality show and to get rich. Michele Bachman is another member of this crowd but her actual position as an elected official limits her earning power if not her psychotic ravings.
The BP disaster seems to have cooled out Jindal from the bayou. There are some other governors in the running Pawlenty or Kasich and Barbour but they have no charisma and thus no shot.
In conclusion we can be ruled by the know nothings or sell out scum. Not a very appealing choice.

In the case of Ellsberg and Asange I see the need for exposing secrets of governments. It is never in the interest of the democratic electorate for the government to lie to the populace. They serve the public good by exposing those deceits. I do not see how the publishing of private medical records serves any public good. If you are doing this as an attempt to be a cool anarchist type you suck even more. Fuck with the corporations all you want but don’t pick on the vulnerable in society to demonstrate your awesome cleverness.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Blame it on the Bossa nova

There is a disturbing meme running through the lamestream media that an idiot fundie preacher in Florida is the sole reason that rioters in Afghanistan went crazy and slaughtered some UN aid workers. News of a Quran burning led them to murderous rampage. Of course it is working wonders with the sheep that inhabit the bloggosphere. Ignore the photos of American soldiers posing with their murder victims. Ignore the soldiers defiling the bodies of pregnant women shot down by soldiers in an attempt to dig out the bullets and blame the Taliban. Ignore the chopper pilots shooting down children gathering firewood and the bombing of weddings. Ignore the spy caught shooting down people in broad daylight and exert a claim of diplomatic immunity. Keep a corrupt government in place to steal the humanitarian aid.
No need to look at the utter failure that is the US military it is the fault of a lone idiot in Florida that Afghanistan is a disaster. The sell job has been much too easy as those on the left hate the fundies and will seize on any opportunity to ridicule them. The wing nuts think all Muslims are savages that will riot at the drop of a burqa and this feeds that meme perfectly. The Bush revisionists and the military industrial complex try to claim that if we get out the “Women” will suffer at the hands of the Islamist Fundies.
If we want to live in a world that has reactionaries flooding the streets in murderous rampages keep bombing their wives and children and blame it on a book burning 2000 miles away.