Status

JUST ANOTHER UPDATE

I’m getting back into life. Progress feels rather glacial from my perspective but it’s undeniably progress.

foyer and lightI can write, as long as I keep stuff short. I still can’t focus long enough to read much but I’m getting there. Close, very close. Finding a comfortable position in bed remains a major challenge because I can’t yet lie on my side without feeling like my chest is being crushed. I’ve been assured it will come, but not yet. Soon-ish.

I tire quickly but each day is a little better than the one before. I have bursts of energy early in the day then I wear down. By 3 or 4 in the afternoon, I’m beat and I hurt. Still, last week I was exhausted by noon. Change comes and I guess one needs to take the long view.

I did I lot of stuff yesterday. We went to the grocery store and the pharmacy. I did the stairs — both flights — three times. I hiked up and down the driveway — our own bunny slope. It was a lot for me. And I was released from physical therapy ’cause I’m doing so fantastically. I have photographic plans for today.

Except I don’t feel well. Or not well enough, whatever that means.

I guess how one feels is a matter of “compared to what.” Compared to two weeks ago, I’m feeling great. Compared to last year, I’m a puddle of misery, a complete disaster.

It just depends on how you look at it … and whose body in which you are living.

 

UPDATE! ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER DELAY

There are two classic ways to jinx yourself:

  1. Announce what you will never, ever do.
  2. Ask “What else could possibly go wrong?”

Of all the things I said I would never do, I never moved back home. Given the nature of my relationship with my father, this should be no surprise. My mother died more than 30 years ago and she was home. I think I would have slept in a doorway before staying with my father.

As for all the other things I was sure I would never do? I paid the high prices I said I’d never pay. I’ve had the surgeries I said I’d refuse. I’ve put up with behavior from loved ones I said I’d never tolerate, but they’ve put up with a large amount of crap from me. Fair is fair.

WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG

These days, I modify all those “never” statements with “I hope I never have to …” because whenever I use the “never” word, I wind up feeling like a complete fool when I do exactly the thing I said I’d never do.

Words taste fine on the way out, but somehow, eating them is not so yummy. Moreover, saying “never” is daring Fate to nail your butt.

It’s the same as saying “What else could go wrong?” The very instant those words pass your lips, you can be sure you are going to get an answer to that question. And you are not going to like it.

So now, let’s move on to the news of the day. This is getting a bit repetitive and mildly embarrassing.

My surgery has been postponed again. Why? Because Beth Israel has a brilliant cardiac unit. And I guess March is heart failure month. They are backed up with emergencies. They have patients coming in on Medivac flights from California and other points south and west. Big emergencies that require multiple surgeons and take all day. And all the operating rooms are booked.

Expect-Delays-sign

I have been promised that I am “on” for Wednesday March 19th for the catheterization and Thursday March 20th for surgery. My surgeon personally promised I wouldn’t get bumped again. Except I know that if there are more emergencies they will take the emergencies and bump me again. And if I were one of those emergencies, I would want them to bump someone else and save my life. That’s what these guys do and that’s what they should do. It’s the price one pays for going to the premier cardiac hospital in the country. They take the cases no one else can handle.

So I’m back on hold. It’s a total pain in the butt and I can’t complain. But I want to complain. So okay. I’m complaining. I can’t make plans. I can’t go anywhere or do anything. All I can do is wait.

Funny about that because the one thing I have never been good at is waiting. I am impatient, permanently in a hurry. Perhaps this too is Karmic payback. I am learning that sometimes, I have to wait, whether I like it or not.

I’ll tell you one of the more interesting changes resulting from all this delay? Instead of dreading the surgery, I’m eager to get it done. Just so it’ll be over and I can start the business of recovery. I never would have expected this … but never say never, right?

RELATED POST (And where I got the idea how to write this post):

Never Say Never | Rosie Smartie Pants

DON’T DRINK THE KOOL AID – THE MASSACRE AT JONESTOWN

If you are my age or anywhere near it, you remember the Jonestown Massacre. Even if you are a lot younger than I am, if in 1978 you were old enough to watch TV news, you could hardly forget it. Now that fundamentalism is enjoying a rebirth and well-known political and religious leaders (who ought to know better) are urging others to murder or mayhem, it’s probably a good time to remind everyone where this kind of thing can lead.

There is nothing remotely amusing about this story. It was horrible when it happened and time hasn’t made it less so.

The Road to Jonestown

The phrase “drink the Kool-Aid” has become common parlance in American business and politics. Roughly translated, it means “to blindly follow.” It usually carries a negative connotation. The “Kool Aid” references go all the back to the 1950s when it was the typical drink for children on suburban summer afternoons. But the origin of the saying is something else, darker, and different. It has become the kind of bland rhetoric about which we don’t give a thought, but its roots lie in horror.

Before we talk about Kool-Aid, let’s take a brief trip down memory lane to that particularly horrible episode of American history.

Jim Jones, cult leader and mass murderer, was a complex madman. A communist, occasional Methodist minister, he founded his own pseudo-church in the late 1950s. He called it the “Peoples Temple Full Gospel Church,” known in short as the “Peoples Temple.”

The lack of a possessive apostrophe was intentional. The name was supposed to be a reference to “the people of the world.” While Jones called it a church, it was closer to a warped version of a Marxist commune. Initially, it was combined with a hodgepodge of Christian references that he used in his diatribes … supposedly sermons.

Regardless, it was never any kind of church. The Peoples Temple was a straight-up cult. It made serious demands in the way of personal committment and financial support from its members and a level of obedience that is the defining quality of a cult.

Jones was the cult’s leader — and a homicidal maniac — but he had positive attributes. Jones and his wife Marceline were strongly in favor of racial integration. They adopted a bunch of kids from varying racial backgrounds. They were the first white family in Indiana to adopt an African-American boy. Other adopted children included 3 Korean Americans, a Native American, and a handful of white kids. They also had one child of their own.

Jones called his adopted kids the “Rainbow Family,” and he made a name for himself desegregating various institutions in Indiana. Before you get all dewy-eyed about this, note this ultimately climaxed in the murder of these children by their adoptive parents.

The Peoples Temple continued to expand through the 1960s. Jones gradually abandoned his Marxism. His preaching began to increasingly focus on impending nuclear apocalypse. He even specified a date — July 15, 1967 — and suggested after the apocalypse, a socialist paradise would exist on Earth. Where would the new Eden be?

Jones decided on the town of Redwood Valley, California and before the expected Big Bang, he moved the Temple and its peoples there.

When the end-of-the-world deadline came and went without nuclear holocaust, Jones abandoned even the pretenses of Christianity. The cloak came off and he revealed himself as an atheist using religion to give legitimacy to his views. Jones announced that “Those who remained drugged with the opiate of religion must be brought to enlightenment — socialism.” Prophetic words in view of the fact that Jones himself was a drug addict who preferred literal to metaphorical opiates.

As media attention increased, Jones started to worry the Peoples Temple’s tax-exempt religious status was in danger of revocation. He was paranoid about the U.S. intelligence community — probably with justification.

jonestown massacre anniversary

Jim Jones, cult leader

In 1977, Jones moved the Temple and its people again. This was a major relocation, leaving the United States completely and settling on a site that Jones had been working on since 1974. Located in Guyana, a poor South American nation, he modestly named it “Jonestown.”

It was a bleak, inhospitable place on 4000 acres of poor soil with limited access to fresh water. It was much to small encampment, dramatically overcrowded Temple members were forced to work long hours merely to survive.

Jones figured his people could farm the land in this new utopia. He had put together several million dollars before getting to Jonestown, but his wealth was not shared amongst his followers. He barely used any of the money for himself and lived in a small, bare-bones shared house.

All Hell Breaks Loose

U.S. Congressman Leo Ryan visited Jonestown in November of 1978. Rumors of peculiar goings-on were leaking out of Jonestown. Ryan decided to investigate the allegations of human rights abuses in Jonestown.

Ryan didn’t go alone. He took a contingent of media representatives including NBC News correspondent Don Harris and other reporters, plus relatives of Jonestown resident. During his visit to Jonestown, Congressman Ryan talked to more than a dozen Temple members, all of whom said they wanted to leave. Several of them passed a note saying: “Please help us get out of Jonestown” to news anchor Harris.

If the number of defectors seems low considering the more than 900 residents of Jonestown, keep in mind the congressional party had not been able to talk to most of the “fellowship.” The number of those who might have wanted to leave could have been much more. We’ll never know.

Ryan began processing the paperwork to repatriate Temple members who wanted to go back to the States. In the middle of this, Ryan was attacked by Don Sly, a knife-wielding Temple member. This would-be assassin was stopped before injuring Ryan.

Eventually the entire Ryan party plus the group of Jonestown defectors drove to a nearby airstrip and boarded planes, intending to leave. Jim Jones had other plans. He sent armed Temple members — his “Red Brigade” after the Congressional party  These creepy “soldiers of the Temple” opened fire on them, killing Ryan, one Temple defector,  three members of the media, and wounding eleven others. The survivors fled into the jungle.

jonestown massacre anniversary

When the murderers returned to Jonestown and reported their actions, Jones promptly started what he called a “White Night” meeting. He invited all Temple members. This wasn’t the first White Night. Jones had hosted previous White Night meetings in which he suggested U.S. intelligence agencies would soon attack Jonestown.

He had even staged fake attacks to add a realism, though it’s hard to believe that anyone was fooled by the play-acting. Faced with this hypothetical invasion scenario, Jones offered Temple members a set of choices. They could stay and fight imaginary invaders. They could take off for the USSR. Another tempting alternative would be to run off into the jungles of Guyana. Or they could commit mass suicide as an act of political protest.

On previous occasions Temple members had opted for suicide. Not satisfied, Jones had tested their committment and gave them cups of liquid that they were told contained poison. They were asked to drink it. Which they did. After a while, Jones told them the liquid wasn’t poisonous — but one day it would be.

Indeed Jim Jones had been stockpiling cyanide and other drugs for years. On this final White Night, Jones was no longer testing his followers. It was time to kill them all.

Don’t Drink the Poisonous Fruit-Flavored Beverage

After the airstrip murders outside Jonestown, Jim Jones ordered Temple members to create a fruity mix containing a cocktail of chemicals that included cyanide, diazepam (Valium), promethazine (Phenergan — a sedative), chloral hydrate (a sedative/hypnotic sometimes called “knockout drops”), and Flavor Aid — a grape-flavored beverage similar to Kool-Aid.

Jones urged his followers to commit suicide to make a political point. What that point was supposed to be is still a matter of considerable conjecture.  After some discussion, Temple member Christine Miller suggested flying Temple members to the USSR.

Jones was never interested in escape. There was only one answer that he would accept. Death and lots of it. He repeatedly pointed out to his followers that Congressman Ryan was dead (and whose fault was that?)  which would surely bring down the weight of American retribution in short order. An audiotape of this meeting exists. It is just as creepy as you’d expect.

Then it was time for the detailed instructions which — still baffling to me at least — the followers did as they were told. I will never understand why. Probably that’s a positive sign indicating I’m not insane.

Jones insisted mothers must squirt poison into the mouths of their children using syringes. As their children died, the mothers were dosed as well, though they were allowed to drink from cups. Temple members wandered out onto the ground, where eventually just over 900 lay dead, including more than 300 children. Only a handful of survivors escaped Jonestown — primarily residents who happened to be away on errands or playing basketball when the mass suicide/massacre took place.

Jones, his wife, and various other members of the Temple left wills stating that their assets should go to the Communist Party of the USSR.

Jones did not drink poison. He died from a gunshot to the head, though it’s not clear if it was self-inflicted. Jones likely died last or nearly so and may have preferred the gun to cyanide, having just seen the horrendous effects of death by cyanide.

What’s With the Kool-Aid?

In the wake of the tragedy at Jonestown, the phrase “drink the Kool-Aid” became a popular term for blind obedience, as the Temple members had apparently accepted their cups of poison without objection. According to various accounts, the primary beverage used at Jonestown was actually Flavor Aid (sometimes “Flav-R-Aid”) — although there is evidence both Kool-Aid and Flavor Aid were used.

Kool-Aid was better known than Flavor Aid. Kool-Aid was introduced in 1927 in powdered form. When Americans thought about a powdered fruity drink mix (other than “Tang”), “Kool-Aid” came immediately to mind.

So, although Kool-Aid and Flavor Aid were both present at Jonestown, the phrase “(don’t) drink the Kool-Aid” has become entrenched in popular lingo.

Personally, I never touch the stuff.

Status

LOOKING FOR A SILVER LINING

I woke up this morning to the sound of the phone ringing. It was the hospital. Just as well since I had to call them anyway.

“How are you?” asked the Lisa, the nurse for the unit.

“Swimming in a world of mucous,” I said. “But I don’t think it’s pneumonia. It doesn’t feel like pneumonia.”

“Are you coughing?”75-Sky-NK-84

“Not much, but I’m sneezing a lot.” I’m an epic sneezer. I put my heart and soul into my sneezes. They echo through the house. I’ve been known to sneeze 8 or 9 times in a row and throw my back out at the same time.

“That’s not good. After surgery, sneezing or coughing can be really painful.”

I could only imagine. The image it conjured was all too graphic. Ouch!

I called my friend to tell her surgery was postponed.

“Garry says he won’t drive me there. He says he has a bad feeling about this.”

“Me too,” she said. Me three, I thought.

Next call, the doctor. Chest x-rays all around. I don’t have pneumonia, but Garry does. I’m about 4 or 5 days behind him in this particular viral infection, but hopefully I won’t go the same route. I don’t believe in prophylactic antibiotics and neither does my doctor, but Garry is now on what have to be the most expensive antibiotics on the market. Usually, antibiotics are free or really cheap, but these were worth two weeks of groceries. Impressive. I hope they are as effective as they are costly.

Presumably Garry is now on the way to getting better. He’s not there yet, still pretty miserable.

Meanwhile, my surgery is postponed until I can breathe, no coughing or sneezing. The new date will depend on how long this cold takes to go away. If I’m lucky, a week. Unlucky, longer. At this point, I want to get this show on the road, get to the other side and start the healing process.

A thought for us all. With all the research and advances in medicine, there is still virtually nothing to be done about The Common Cold. I doubt they are any closer to a cure (or prevention) now than ever.

So where’s the silver lining?

I won’t be in the hospital for my birthday. Good. I’ve spent two birthdays in the hospital. Maybe this time, I will celebrate with Garry in our favorite Japanese restaurant. Overeating on sushi and other good stuff.

Even if we wind up eating breakfast sandwiches in front of the TV, it beats out hospital food with a side order of morphine drip.

Net neutrality gets a kick in the teeth | ZDNet

See on Scoop.itForty Two: Life and Other Important Things

A US court has ruled against the FCC’s Open Internet regulations, putting the future of net neutrality completely up in the air.

Marilyn Armstrong‘s insight:

This will affect all of us … not in a good way. Read it and worry.

See on www.zdnet.com

WHO IS FOLLOWING ME NOW?

Daily Prompt: Singular Sensation

If you could have a guarantee that one, specific person was reading your blog, who would you want that person to be? Why? What do you want to say to them?

The news has been slow around here. Just regular stuff. Accidents, government stupidity and incompetence, scandals of the famous and wannabes. Changes in weather. Boston has a new mayor, too. So after all this ordinary stuff, I was thrilled to find this headline. From Dublin across the seas, this pops up on my browser:

Italian lodger tells police he is ‘guilty’ of cannibal murder

Saverio Bellante is remanded in custody after gruesome killing in Dublin

I bet our newscasters would be really happy to have a shot at something this juicy. Yum. Since the demise of Jeffrey Dahmer, there hasn’t been an incredibly disgusting, gory serial murderer to liven up the news cycle.

That got me wondering about today’s prompt which asks us who we would want — of all the possible readers and followers — to be reading our blog. This isn’t bragging, but I know a few of my favorite authors drop round here now and again, usually when I review one of their books or feature an interview with one of them. I know because they send me little thank you notes, probably advisable for any author that gets a really good review from any reviewer. We are prima donnas no less than they and we feed our hungry egos with the cast off kudos of the great and nearly great.

But how cool to be followed by a cannibal? It would be a coup. Definitely would come with bragging rights!

While Garry was a working reporter, we occasionally got phone calls late at night from convicted serial killers, sometimes critiquing his performance du jour. Turns out, they watched him on the telly. Who’d have guessed that serial killers have phone privileges? Icing on the cake? Perpetrators of gruesome murders currently on trial would wave and wink at him in the courtroom. I’m sure all the other reporters were jealous. Aside from being intensely creepy, it always made me wonder if their fondness for my husband and his work would count for or against us if they were to get loose and drop by for a visit. They obviously knew how and where to track him down. Find Garry? Find me too.

On second thought, I wouldn’t be surprised to discover I’m a major hit in the prison system. It would explain the thousand or so followers who remain nameless and never leave comments or even a “like.”

Personally, I’d prefer to be followed (breathlessly, eagerly) by a power player in the literary world. An agent!

Other stuff you might enjoy:

LEGAL MARIJUANA IN MASSACHUSETTS?

In response to today’s Daily Prompt, ripped from the headlines, one of today’s stories in the Boston Globe reads as follows:

Marijuana advocates eye legalization in Mass.

An effort has been launched to both get a question calling for the drug’s legalization on the 2016 ballot and to raise enough money for victory.

I kind of wondered what happened. I mean we passed a referendum making medical marijuana legal more than a year ago. We passed it, we talked about it and as happens to much legislation and good intentions in this commonwealth, it was never heard from again. I think we could legalize it and have an equally impressive result, that is to say, nothing. Nada. The good news would be that there would be no more busting people for smoking a joint at a concert … or would it? I suppose it would depend on how the law was worded. But I somehow doubt it would make it more available to most people. Or cheaper. Or better quality.

Why not? Because this is Massachusetts. Not only (to quote Tip O’Neill) is all politics local, but all politics is more than slightly corrupted by a long history of entrenched political chicanery. Boston has the original party machine. Okay, maybe we share the honor with New York, assuming you consider it an honor.

marijuana in my dreams

So they can eye legalization, but that won’t do me or my baby boomer buddies much good. Even if they pass it, they will find a way to keep it from being easy to buy or even moderately available. By the time they finish with the legal mumbo jumbo, it will be easier to go find the original illegal sources and buy some there. Because otherwise, it will be just like trying to get MassHealth. You’ll fill out a thousand page form, send it in, and they will lose it. You will fill in another form, send it and they will tell you it’s too late to meet the deadline (because they lost the first one). Eventually, they will — with snail-like slowness — start to process the application. If you don’t die first, a year or two later, you’ll get some fantastic medical benefits, or in this case, weed. Except the price will be so high you’ll realize the illegal stuff was a bargain in comparison. The taxes alone will exceed the original non-legal price by hundreds of percent.

Dream on, you aging hippies. It aint’ gonna happen here in our lifetime.

Related posts:

DAILY PROMPT: TOO CLOSE TO CALL

The collapsed Cypress Street Viaduct at the No...

October 17, 1989 — Moments before game three of the 1989 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics, fans were thrown from their seats at Candlestick Park as the Loma Prieta earthquake brought the Bay Area to its knees.

Players rushed to their families, cradling their children on the field. Outside, the Bay Bridge collapsed and the Marina burst into flames. The quake shook for 15 seconds and reached 6.9 on the Richter Scale – the largest San Francisco had seen since the devastating earthquake of 1906. When the night was through, 63 people were dead, 3,757 were injured and thousands were left homeless. – Huffington Post, October 17, 2012

English: Aerial view of roadbed collapse near ...

Aerial view of roadbed collapse near the interface of the cantilever and truss sections of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. (AKA “The Bay Bridge”)

I was at Garry’s place. Boston. I’d just gotten back from the coast. Oakland, where I was working a free-lance job with the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD), the water and sewer company which serves Berkeley and Oakland. I’d come home early because I had caught the flu and wanted nothing more than hot soup, sympathy, a bed and a pillow.

Garry added to that watching the World Series. Baseball fanatic that he is, he never misses it, even when our team is not involved. He loves not just our team, but the game.

I was already in bed, propped up on pillows. The game started, then there was some kind of ruckus and then a picture of a bridge, one section collapsed.

I knew that bridge. I’d been driving across it, back and forth, then getting onto the 880 to Oakland from Berkeley.

“Hey,” I called, “Garry! The Bay Bridge is down!” He came in.

“You sure?” he asked.

“I’ve been taking that bridge every day for the past few weeks. I’d know it anywhere. What’s going on out there? Earthquake?”

This was CNN’s big moment, the event that put it on the media map because they were the first on the scene, the first with pictures. More information started to come in. The Bay Bridge had partially fallen. Worse, the upper level of route 880 had collapsed, trapping commuters in their cars underneath.

If I hadn’t gotten sick, if I hadn’t come back to Boston early, I would have been one of those commuters … or on the bridge.

That was a close one. Too close.

LIVING HISTORY – THE ASSASSINATION OF A PRESIDENT

Today is the day. Fifty years. I remember. Do you?

It’s weird watching 50th anniversary documentaries commemorating events we remember. It’s the Kennedy assassination this month. Just about every station, network and cable, are doing specials on John F. Kennedy. For us, it’s a trip down memory lane. Or nightmare alley.

I was 13 when Kennedy was elected. I watched the inauguration on television, the first of many inaugurations I would watch. It was the greatest inaugural speech. I was naïve enough to believe he wrote it himself. And I was impressed by his hair, the best hair of any President before or since. Especially after 8 years of President Dwight D. Eisenhower who was very bald.

John-F.-Kennedy

In 1963 I turned 16 and started college. Kennedy was shot in November and the world changed. I’m sure every person old enough to know what was going on remembers where they were the day they heard the news. The assassination of John F. Kennedy was a landmark event, a turning point in history, a turning point in our personal histories.

I was in the cafeteria at school. I had a cup of tea in my hand and was about to sit. The public address system in the cafeteria went on. There was a lot of noise, but gradually it grew quiet. A news report. It took a few minutes to recognize what they were saying, to form a context. Someone had shot the President.

A few minutes later, everyone fell silent. Hundreds of undergraduates, sitting, standing. No one moving, no one talking. I stood at the table. Frozen. I never sat. I stood in the same spot for over an hour. Clutching that cup of tea, cooling in my hand. Until the voice on the loudspeaker said “President Kennedy is dead. The President is dead.”

Gradually, everyone drifted away. Subdued or silent. I found my boyfriend and we wandered around for a few hours. We didn’t do anything. Just roamed the campus, dazed. This kind of thing wasn’t supposed to happen, not in the United States. Eventually, when it was dark, I went home. My mother wanted to know where I’d been and I said “Just wandering around.” She didn’t believe me. She should have.

LBJ Sworn In As PresidentKennedy was “our” president. He looked good. Young, attractive, different. I hadn’t been old enough to vote for him, but I was old enough to know what was happening. I watched the debates. My friends and I discussed it. It was exciting. My mother kept referring to him as “such a young man.” At thirteen, a 43-year old guy didn’t seem so young. Those were the days, eh?

For the better part of the next week, all the channels on television — there were only seven — 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 13 — had wall-to-wall coverage of the funeral. Endless replays of the assassination. The subsequent shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald. The beginning of the conspiracy theories that still swirl around this piece of history, though at this point I don’t care whodunnit 50 years ago. There are a many unsolved crimes in history. Just add this to the long list.

I went to hang out with a friend. We took long walks to get away from the endless, morbid reiteration of the life and death of John F. Kennedy.

Gradually, life returned to normal, whatever that is. Lyndon Baines Johnson was in office. It was all about civil rights and Vietnam. I finished college, got married, wound up in the hospital and had my first near-death experience. There would be a lot more assassinations in the near future. Martin Luther King Jr., Bobby Kennedy, Malcolm X. I never got used to them, but I stopped being shocked. Which is shocking.

The 1960s were not about sex, drugs and rock n’ roll. This was the decade of war, the draft, anti-war protests and civil rights. When flunking out of college meant you were going to Vietnam and maybe you wouldn’t come back. Strange how quickly we forget, replacing history with mythology.

November 22, 1963 was the end of political innocence for everyone, Democrats, Republicans, everyone. An abrupt turning part. The beginning of the road we find ourselves on today.

A president — our president — had been assassinated. Kennedy wasn’t the only U.S. President to be assassinated, but he was the first in modern times. The first TV president. A young, handsome guy. Especially important to my generation, a symbol that the torch really had passed to a new generation. We took that call to arms seriously.

It’s hard for me to look at politics today, see how petty we’ve become. Kennedy’s assassination was an end and a beginning. He was the last President to get a pass on his personal life. The first president to use electronic media to win an election. It was the beginning of a political divide that keeps getting deeper with each passing year.

Politics isn’t about real issues anymore. It’s insinuation, innuendo and rumor. How narrow-minded and hateful we’ve become. It will pass I suppose. All things do. But when? For more than half a century, we’ve been marching down this ugly road to which I see no end.

WE DON’T NEED NO STINKIN’ CASINO

Santarpio's Pizza in East Boston

Santarpio’s Pizza in East Boston (Photo: Wikipedia)

Living out here, 70 miles away from bustling Boston, the endless war over building (or not) a casino on Suffolk Downs raceway seems unlikely to have much effect on us semi-rural types. There are already two major casinos not far from here, just cross the border in Connecticut, Really just around the corner if you feel that itch to lose your hard-earned money. Plenty of flashing machines and gaming tables. More than enough organized busing to get you there and back home again.

Here’s the story. Not the entire story, but an overview, sort of. The citizens of East Boston rejected the whole thing and the pols are scurrying to try to pull their irons out of the fire. From the Boston Herald:

Pols call new Suffolk casino bid a longshot

Suffolk Downs’ eleventh- hour effort to shift its proposed casino site from East Boston to Revere is looking more like a Hail Mary bid, with House Speaker Robert DeLeo expressing doubts and Boston Mayor-elect Martin J. Walsh touting Milford yesterday, while Revere’s own mayor said he’s in the dark.

“Right now, quite honestly, I’m waiting to hear from Suffolk Downs,” Revere Mayor Daniel Rizzo told the Herald yesterday — in sharp contrast to the race track’s claim that it is working closely with the city.

Suffolk Downs CEO Chip Tuttle said in a statement late yesterday he is “working in real time with Revere and with potential suitable gaming partners on an alternative proposal that would meet all the necessary requirements.”

Rizzo, who tweeted Wednesday that he strongly backs a Revere casino, said yesterday, “I’m taking all of my cues from them going forward, because it’s them that has to make the case to the Gaming Commission. Our voters made the case by voting yes in an overwhelming fashion. It’s up to them now.”

DeLeo echoed a chorus of pessimism over the Revere plan yesterday, calling it “a noble effort,” but adding, “I’m not sure at this time if that’s feasible.” Meanwhile, in an interview with WCVB-TV, Walsh said that since East Boston voted down the proposed casino there, he would prefer the eastern region’s casino license go to Foxwoods in Milford, saying a casino in Revere or Everett would have impacts on Boston “with little return.”

- See more at: The Boston Herald 

English: Logan Airport in East Boston.

English: Logan Airport in East Boston. (Photo: Wikipedia)

East Boston is a most put-upon neighborhood. They’ve got Logan Airport. It’s a place where you talk in bursts between long silences to let the planes pass. If you live towards the end of a busy runway, you become intimate with the underbody of the latest, greatest passenger transport. The infrastructure out there is old. It’s a poor neighborhood, probably because there aren’t many people all that eager to live with the noise. If you want your world rocked, probably this isn’t what you meant.

The roads need widening, the bridges need upgrading. The streets lack parking and the whole area lacks any sense of thrivingness (is that a word?). I can’t remember a time when it was any other way. A blue-collar area, hard-working people many of whom are clinging to the fringes of the middle class by fingernails. What would a casino do for them? Bring in busloads of happy holiday spenders, organized crime (like we don’t have enough of our own, home-grown criminals and need to get some from other places?). They tried to sell the locals on how much business a casino would bring in and how many jobs it would create.

Eastie people weren’t buying the pitch. Casinos have been around for a while. Everyone knows the only improvements the neighborhood will see from its presence are better roads leading to the casino … which will be more than made up for by the increased traffic. And those bums at the casino? They’re not going into downtown Eastie to pick up a pack of smokes or a quart of milk. They’re going to stay at the casino. They’ll never see where the townies live and wouldn’t care if there was no town at all. Not their problem.

English: Suffolk Downs MBTA station, East Boston

English: Suffolk Downs MBTA station, East Boston (Photo: Wikipedia)

Jobs? How many? Really? Connecticut isn’t booming with jobs or fat payments from their two huge casinos. Short of doing a Nevada and become all casino all the time, the residents who came out in droves to say “Hell no!” to the referendum see little advantage — and plenty of disadvantage — to the idea. Shot it down. Whack, rejected.

Now they’re saying how short-sighted people are, how hard it is to do business in Massachusetts. But you know? I’m pretty sure that the hard-headed Yankees over there in Eastie are just a little smarter than other dupes and shills the casino advocates have dealt with before. A little better informed. A lot harder to fool.

What does it mean to me? We get to stay off the radar. So far, praise the lord, no local fathead has decided building a huge casino would cure what ails us. Glad to have East Boston fight the battle on our behalf, even if they don’t know they are fighting for us and wouldn’t much care anyhow.

This doesn’t mean the casino guys are going to give up. No sirree. They’ll keep trying to find some community desperate enough, ignorant enough or poor enough to figure they have nothing to lose.

Thing is? There’s always something to lose. You won’t know what it was til it’s gone.

WINNERS OF THE 2013 WORLD SERIES, RED SOX DO IT AT FENWAY IN 6!!!

WorldChampionRedSox2013

It’s only been 95 years … just a blip on the monitor of history. But it’s been a long wait for Red Sox fans, to see them win a World Series in Fenway Park. Tonight the magic worked. The third series in a decade and the first clinch of the Series at home. WE DID IT!

ON THE WAY TO OUR DREAMS

He wanted to be a movie star, on the silver screen. I wanted to be an author. Somehow on our way to our dreams, we found our way to the college radio station. A puny thing, just 10 watts when Garry and I met in the tiny studios under the Little Theater. I was 17, Garry 22. He was a little older than most of the undergrads because at 17, he’d enlisted in the Marines and by the time he got out, a few years had passed.

Garry Clean Harbors-SMALLWe found the radio station by accident, but it fit. Garry stayed and became its Program Director. I hung around and began dating the Station Manager, who coincidentally was Garry’s best friend. Which is where our personal history gets a bit tangled and hard to explain, so I won’t. I was the Chief Announcer. Even though I knew I wanted to be in print, not electronic media, the radio station was a great place to try out new skills. There were scripts to be written, newsletters to create. And I had my own radio show and a whole bunch of great friends, most of whom are still great friends.

We were all oddballs. Creative and talented. Almost all of us went on to careers in media and the arts. We turned out a couple of authors, audio engineers, talk show hosts, DJs, TV and radio producers, news directors, commercial writers, college professors and Garry, a reporter whose career spanned 45 years, 31 at Channel 7 in Boston.

Surprisingly little footage of Garry’s on the air career  survived and until someone found this clip, we had nothing from his years at ABC Network. An old friend of Garry’s sent us this footage from 1969, the last year Garry was at ABC before he jumped to television. It’s a promotional piece for ABC News and features faces and voices from the past … and one young up and coming fellow, Garry Armstrong.

Let us return to those days of yesteryear, when television cameras used film and there was a war raging in Vietnam. 1969, the year my son was born, the year of Woodstock, the end of an era, the beginning of everything else.

Look at the equipment circa 1969. Antiquated by today’s technical standards, but the standards by which the news itself was gathered and reported were incomparably higher than what passes for news reportage today.

If Other People Took On A “Government Shut-Down” Approach… THE BYRONIC MAN

See on Scoop.itIn and About the News

“You have cancer, which is horrible. The treatment is chemotherapy which should help but I think there should be something better, so I’ve decided to let you die. I will be charging you for the treatment, though.”

“I realize we lost the big game, but we really wanted to win, so we’ve locked the gates of the stadium, and no one is allowed to go home until you change the scoreboard and give us the game ball.”

“I can see you spent a lot of time setting the menu and preparing Thanksgiving dinner, but I think the way turkeys are raised is inhumane, so I’ve set fire to the house.”

“Well, the brake pads are thin, your radiator hose is cracked, and this timing belt has had it.  I can fix it all, and would be happy to, but I also noticed that the door latch is sticking, and I just hate doors, so I’ve put your car in the back lot until the door falls off.”

“I am aware that I voted for you, but that was on the assumption that you had the ethics and intellectual ability to put the good of the people you serve ahead of childish games, feeble-minded combatism, and partisan posturing, so I will be voting for someone else in the next election.”

Oh, wait. That last one makes sense, doesn’t it.

Marilyn Armstrong‘s insight:

Well put, my friend. Horrible but funny.

See on thebyronicman.com

JUST DIE ALREADY

That’s the message. The ACA doesn’t affect me directly since I’m already on Medicare — except that the out-of-pocket costs of Medicare have been going up each year. Higher deductibles and premiums, less coverage for the money and the doughnut hole in prescription coverage just keeps going and going and going. They are nibbling away at the coverage. Slowly and surely.

Coffin

Ever since I turned 65, it’s been a rapid downhill slide into worsening medical care. As long as was on MassHealth, the Massachusetts version of “Obama Care,” I was fine. I got medication for cheap or free and if I was sick, they took care of me. Thank God I had cancer while I was still covered under MassHealth!

The day I turned 65, they tossed me off of MassHealth. I had thought I was protected because of my disabled status. I received Disability payments rather than Social Security. Being officially disabled automatically entitled me to Mass Health. But, they had a simple solution to the conundrum.. They reclassified me and took me off disability, switching me to standard Social Security. It’s the same money, but without any protection. Wow! I was no longer disabled — a miracle indeed.

Did I get really get richer or healthier? Nope. The Great Minds who designed the system decree when you hit 65, you are healed of your disabilities and can can live on 1/3 the amount of money you needed just days before. Poverty is redefined to levels so low you couldn’t afford maintenance on a refrigerator crate.

Apparently The-Powers-That-Be believe the benevolent folks who hold our mortgage and other debts will knock 2/3 off our payments because they understand we are older and poorer.

In your dreams.

poor-old-man2

I knew it was going to happen but I’d been trying not to think about it. I knew because it happened to my husband when he turned 65. Bang, no more MassHealth. You’re on your own, buster. Garry has fewer major health issues than I do, a situation that is not guaranteed to last forever but so far, so good.

Me, on the other hand … well. I’m just about to hit the second anniversary of the two tumors which cost me both breasts  – the definition of a bi-lateral mastectomy. I had cancer twice — simultaneously. Those two-for-one sales are a killer.

Essentially, I’m getting no care at all, not even checkups. My insurer has too few oncologists. I hope for the best and don’t think on it much. Usually. Except at night, when I’m trying to fall asleep. Then, I wonder what’s really going on in my body. It is not the sort of thinking conducive to peaceful sleep.

I have evolved into a cardiac disaster area. I need a new mitral valve and other things. Turns out that my Medicare Advantage Plan (an oxymoron if ever I heard one) charges $50 per day co-pay for cardiac rehab. Since there is no way we can come up with that money, I can’t afford cardiac rehab. With all the deductibles, I’m not even sure I can afford the surgery itself … and I’m not sure they’ll perform it if I can’t do the rehab. I’m trying real hard to find something funny here and not doing such a great job.

HealthCareCosts

I’ve been considering using Magical Thinking as a medical alternative. Magical Thinking is holistic medicine for the hopelessly deluded. Rather than medication and surgery, I pretend I’m fine and kaboom — I’m fine. Problem eliminated. Magical thinking is cheap, efficient and much less stressful than actually dealing with the problem.

Okay, back to earth. I’m getting a message from the ether and the message, ladies and gentleman is (wait for it) … “Just die already.”

If I could afford $220 per month more, I could get a policy without deductibles. Ironically, that’s exactly what it costs me monthly to keep the house heated. On the budget plan. Could I skip heating and trade up for better medical insurance? But this is New England. It gets cold.

Or, for an additional $200 per month (which we don’t have) — plus the cost of Medicare — I could get a Medigap policy that would cover everything Medicare doesn’t cover. I’d need a prescription plan separately and no plan covers that big doughnut hole in the middle of prescription coverage. Kind of a moot point since I don’t have the money. Hell, we have more month than money now. More? From where? Our generous government entitlements?

If I don’t take care of the bad valves, I will die. If I delay too long, the chances of the surgery working well become increasingly poor. I can’t afford the surgery, not really … and the alternative is?

The message comes through loud and clear. I’ve outlived my usefulness. Just die already.

With the shut down of the government by those opposed to the ACA (let’s call them “Republicans” and be done with the niceties), with the GOP apparently believing “Just die already” is a reasonable message to send to me and lots of other people, I have to wonder how I wound up here. We worked hard our whole lives. We deserve better than this. I try not to be whiney about it, but it hurts to find oneself discarded, marginalized, back against the wall with the wolves closing in.

How did the United States become this ugly, mean-spirited country that would rather close down than offer medical care to its poor, its children, its senior citizens? How did we come to this? Who are we, anyhow?

I know. I get it. Just die already.

The Constitution of the United States

See on Scoop.itIn and About the News

constitution_1_of_4_630

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Marilyn Armstrong‘s insight:

For those who have never read the Constitution — and for we who may need a refresher (it being a long time since school days), here is a link to a transcript of the Constitution by which ALL Americans are sworn to abide.

Regardless of party. Regardless of whether or not we like the President. We are a nation of laws, not extortion.

We are all supposed to care about this country. We can disagree, but holding the government for ransom and putting it in harm’s way — for ANY reason — is wrong. Unethical, immoral and unpatriotic. Maybe worse. We have laws for a reason.

Democracy is a slow, frustrating form of government. Totalitarianism is far more efficient. Is that what we want?

Rent “Seven Days in May” or find it on Netflix. Either version. Consider its message. Consider what message we are sending to the world right now. Shame on us.

See on www.archives.gov

THE WHOLE GUN THING – I DON’T GET IT

I don’t get it. I’ve been listening to arguments against gun control since I was a child. When I was six, I didn’t understand why anyone would not want guns regulated. I do not understand it today when I am 66.

Our family has a Red Ryder Daisy BB rifle with which we shoot paper targets. My son inherited his father’s target 22. It’s a pretty thing. Holds a single shell and is intended for competition target shooting. My son keeps it clean, oiled, and unloaded. I assume it works, though no one has used it in a long time.

Red Ryder BB gun

I like target shooting and I’m a good shot. I’ve never killed anything, not counting bugs … and you won’t get any apologies from me on that score. If insects stay outside, that’s okay with me. In my domain? Bugs get as dead as I can squash them.

But the whole gun thing. The fascination with guns, the passion for them. The belief that we need to have them because if not, “they” will take away our freedom? Who are “they” and what exactly do they want? I don’t know about you, but I don’t have anything much that anyone would want. Frankly, if you want it that badly, geez, just take it. I’m not going to die for anything I own. They’re just things.

WHAT FREEDOMS DO YOU WANT?

At the risk of asking a stupid question, what freedom are “they” coming to take away? My right to have a blog? Is this blog so important that someone is going to bring the swat-mobile to stop me from posting? How about my right to take photographs? Does anyone care that much? The right to pay my bills? You can have that freedom. Please, take it. No guns required. My right to own a car? That’s pretty well-regulated already. Watch TV? Charter Communications owns me. Feel free to take Charter Communications, however. Just leave me WiFi.

How about phone calls? I’m in thrall to the cable company and AT&T already. Could the government be worse? I tend to doubt it. My calls — and yours — are already monitored by the NSA. Seriously, exactly what freedoms are “they” going to take and why would “they” bother?

Virtually every aspect of life is regulated. You can’t cut hair or sell insurance without a license. You can’t own or drive a car without a license, registration and insurance. Most places, you need to get a license to build an extension on your house, change the wiring, remodel your kitchen or put up a new roof. You need a license for your dogs and cats.

We aren’t connected to town water or sewage, so we pay whatever it costs to keep our well healthy and our septic functional. If they ever put in city water and sewer, I’m sure we’ll be required to hook up and pay some ridiculous amount of money to do it.  With all the perils, I prefer my own water. As of this writing, the air is free. If someone figures out how to regulate it, I’m sure they will. And sin. That’s free, but there’s always (heh) syntax.

traffic-jam

So what is such a big deal about requiring gun licensing and registration? We control and limit citizens’ access to pretty much everything. Why are guns sacred? Don’t talk to me about the Constitution. We have reinterpreted the constitution to align with the realities of modern life over and over again. There is no reason guns can’t be treated the same way as anything else.

The arguments against sensible gun control are stupid. If we control who can drive a car and how that car can be driven and there are a staggering number of traffic regulations enforced with considerable vigor, why can’t we exert at least as much control over weapons? You can’t drive drunk, how come you can walk around drunk with a gun? To whom does this make sense? Not me. I’m flummoxed by the illogic.

I would never want to limit my right — or yours —  to own a car, unless there’s good reason. Such as eyesight so poor you are not able to safely operate a vehicle. Or your having been arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or being unable to pay for at least minimal insurance and registration. Or you can’t pass the driver’s test. It would be irresponsible to give licenses to blind, drunk, or incapable drivers, wouldn’t it? How could equivalent oversight not be appropriate for guns? Seriously?

Butch Cassidy’s gun sold for $175,000.

MY “SO SIMPLE IT’S ALMOST STUPID” GUN CONTROL PLAN

To own a gun, you have to pass a test to make sure you know how to shoot and care for a weapon. You become obligated to keep it out of the wrong hands. You need to be able to see well enough to properly aim a gun and be able to hit a target. You need pass a background check so we know you aren’t a felon or a dangerous wacko.

You have to register your guns. All of them. You must know where they are and you may not lend them to anyone. If a gun is lost or stolen, you must report it. You need gun liability insurance on every weapon you own that contains a firing pin. If a weapon registered to you gets used in an illegal act, causes harm to others — with or without your consent — you are responsible for damages. If you don’t go to jail, you can still wind up in court.

OldJail-300-72

The nation, as well as individual states and counties can tax your weapons and refuse to license weapons deemed inappropriate for private owners. If you want a weapon that is considered unsuitable, you will have to get a different license, not to mention provide an explanation.

Simple, isn’t it? We license cars because cars are potentially dangerous; you can kill someone with a car. All this regulation doesn’t mean we don’t own cars. Obviously we own a lot of cars. We simply try to control who is allowed to drive and keep track of who owns what. It doesn’t mean we can keep every drunk off the road, prevent all accidents or stop joy-riding kids, but we do the best we can.

I have yet to hear a coherent argument against this plan — probably because there isn’t any. Guns should be regulated like every other dangerous thing.