“A princess is the larval reproductive host in the life cycle of a parasitic hereditary dictatorship.”
Stross, Charles. Dark State: A Novel of the Merchant Princes Multiverse (Empire Games) (p. 195). Tom Doherty Associates.
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES: A BRIEF TRIP TO SAN FRANCISCO.
It has been well over a week since I posted my previous T&T and I am just now getting around to write up this post. I have forgotten much of what occurred during that time. The perils of old age include memory loss. After all, memory is what makes you who you are. Its loss diminishes you. On the other hand, the loss of certain memories can make you happier — Another quandary. Anyway, I usually try to write something in the journal section of T&T every day or two in order to try to avoid the problem.
What happened? We traveled to SF where we stayed at Peter and Barrie’s home while I received my second infusion. It is wonderful to have friends like Peter and Barrie who take you into their home when you need it. We had two most pleasant evenings. The dogs, Ramsey and Boo-boo, put on amusing wrestling matches for most of the evening. Anthony, my grandson, dropped by bringing me a Christmas present of his latest, now legal product. He looks much better now that he is a player in an up and coming industry.
At the hospital, they told me that I had had an allergic reaction to my last infusion, so they changed the medicine and relieved me of having to carry around a pump for five days.
On Friday, just before we left Peter’s house, my granddaughter Amanda and her mom Hiromi visited us, bringing Christmas presents. It pleased me greatly to see them especially Amanda my lovely sweet granddaughter who for many reasons, some of my own makings, I do not see enough of.
B. BACK IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST: SEVERAL MYSTERIES BLOOM.
Today is Saturday in the Enchanted Forest, rain has driven us indoors to sit in Naida’s studio and play on our computers and watch old movies.
During the weekend while the weather was dark and drear, a mystery bloomed. At the hospital last week as I finished up my infusion and still sleepy from the Benadryl, the nurse came up to me and attached to my upper arm a little machine with blinking lights.
“What’s this?” I inquired.
“In a few seconds, you will feel a pinch as a needle enters your arm,” she said. And I did.
“Keep this on until you feel another pinch in a day or so,” she added. And so, I left.
By the weekend, I still had not felt a pinch but the machine kept blinking away. I decided to contact the hospital through their internet communications system. The following exchange took place:
Me: “On Thursday they attached something to my arm to insert medicine. I do not remember how long it was to remain nor whether there were any techniques to be used to remove it. Please advise.”
Response: “Hello, You have to return in 5 days after the pump was placed to have it removed. The nurses should have scheduled you for a return appointment in the infusion center. Do you have a pump that attached to your belt?”
Me again: “It is not a pump. The pump has been discontinued. It is something that injects the medicine in my arm and the nurse said I should remove it in a day or two. Unfortunately, I do not recall the specifics.”
Response: “Are you referring to a PICC line — a semi-permanent IV that goes in the bicep? If that’s what you’re referring to do not remove it on your own. That must be removed only be a nurse or doctor as it can introduce air into your bloodstream if done incorrectly. You can take a photo of what you’re referring to and upload the photo on MyChart?”
So, I sent him a photograph of the machine, suitably dark and blurry for mysteries such as this.
Suddenly my overactive sense of fantasy and melodrama overwhelmed me. So what’s going on here? Was the nurse up to something nefarious? Am I now a Russian bot? Will I become a member of he who is Not My President’s cabinet? Does the infernal machine have mind control power?
(Eight-year-old-boy noises here) FADE!
Recently, I have grown wary of my dreams. After reading what I just wrote above, maybe I should be more wary of my waking life.
A fierce storm blew in over the weekend. The lights failed in our house. So, Naida and I drove through the storm to her daughter Sarah’s house where her husband warmed us up with the best carrot soup I have ever tasted. Later we wound our way back home through fallen trees (one very large tree had completely blocked the road forcing us to backtrack and find an alternative route) and intersections with malfunctioning stop lights.
On Sunday, the mystery began to resolve itself. The nurse wrote:
I spoke with the infusion center pharmacist and he said you can remove the device and dispose of it. It just has strong adhesive tape on it. The needle that was on the skin-facing side retracts after the injection the day after chemo. If it’s flashing a red light that means the injection was not administered.
Alas, mystery solved. I have to return to my memories of those nights long ago listening to “The Shadow,” “The Fat Man,” “The Green Hornet,” and others on the radio in order to get my melodrama fix.
On Tuesday Nikki arrived and visited us in the Enchanted Forest. He found his way here by noticing the Mysterious Orb which has emerged from its hiding place behind the bushes and now stands fully exposed at the end of the driveway to our garage.
As much as I’d like to manufacture some sort of mystery regarding the behavior of that odd orb, obviously some sort of supernatural explanation is ridiculous despite my adolescent tendency to amuse myself with them. It cannot be denied that someone or several someones have been moving it about this past month — back and forth in front of the houses, in various places along the common alleyway, into the bushes by Howe Avenue and now fully exposed at the end of the alley at exactly the right moment to lead Nikki to our house. Why are they doing this? Coincidence, mystery, take your best guess.
C. IT IS THURSDAY SO I MUST BE IN THE EMERGENCY ROOM AGAIN.
About a week after my first chemo infusion I found myself in the local emergency room suffering an allergic reaction to the treatment
At about 2:30 AM on Thursday morning, a week after my second infusion my temperature hit 102. Naida insisted I go to the emergency room at the local hospital. There I explained that I had recent chemotherapy treatment and my oncologist recommended I go to ER if my temperature exceeds 100 degrees. They admitted me and prescribed a number of antibacterials. As the antibacterials were being administered to me by the nurse, I suddenly turned towards her and screamed, “My mouth is on fire” then “My body is burning.” The last thing I heard before everything went black was the nurse shouting into the communication device they have pinned to their neck like the police, “Code Blue.”
The next thing I recall was a room full of people and the hospital doctor, a young Asian man, his voice tight with stress barking out orders and directions. The blackness beginning at the edges closed in again.
I then remember, the room now mostly empty, two orderlies lifting me onto a gurney and moving me through the hospital corridors. I remember the view of the ceilings passes by like that in innumerable movies. They deposited me in intensive care and hooked me up to a number of drip bags. The nurse assured me that they identified the antibacterial that caused the reaction and eliminated it. But that was not the most interesting thing that happened that morning.
A few hours later, needing to urinate, I was assisted to the bathroom. What came out was blood, a huge stream of deep dark red blood. Well, to say this startled me would be an understatement and prompted another flurry of medical consultations and the burdening me with rather uncomfortable devices. This is proving to be a very interesting experience.
Thank God for immigrants and so-called minorities. Without them, we would have no health system
Following a night in ICU, I was deemed improved enough to be moved to the Oncology unit. There I began to feel better, much better. In fact, as good as I have felt in months. The unit doctor on duty told me that he would discharge me the next day. Great news but I had one more trial to face.
D. POOKIE AND THE URINE NAZIS:
On the last day of my hospital stay the nurse told me that before I would be discharged I needed to prove I could vacate my bladder or I would be forced to have a catheter inserted. I refuse to wear a catheter, so I assiduously set to work to prove I was not a urine retainer. Each time after I finished, the urine nazis would sonogram me. Each time it showed little or no reduction, so I redoubled my efforts. It was some of hardest effort I have put into anything for years. Finally, after many hours, I showed enough progress that I was released. I fled into the night and back into the Enchanted Forest.
E. BACK IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:
It has been two or three days since I returned to my sylvan retreat. Naida has a bad cold which my doctor advises I should treat as if Typhoid Mary returned from the grave and is now camped out in my living room. We have taken to walking around the house with masks, turning our heads whenever we speak to each other and trying various procedures guaranteed to work as well as they did on some now extinct stone age tribe.
Now some may think I find this all difficult and dreadful. Difficult certainly, dreadful perhaps, but life is an adventure. On an adventure sometimes you find yourself on a mountain overlooking a beautiful fjord somewhere and at other times you are slogging through some dreary malaria-infected swamp. It doesn’t matter if you chose the path or not, the adventure is yours.
I was wondering about the tremendous Imbalance in the Senate between Senators and the populations they represent. While I fully sympathize with the Founding Fathers wishes to protect smaller states from rapacious behavior by the larger and defense of the State from irrational behavior of the vox-populi, I believe a modest change will preserve the founders intent while reducing many of its current irrational and undemocratic aspects.
This would entail amending the appropriate sections of the constitution to provide for a Senate composed of Senators equal to two times the number of states, Each State would receive one Senator as of right. The remainder will be decided among the states according to population with the House of Representatives setting appropriate equal multistate districts based on census data for a Senator that may represent several states.
This approach would leave California with about four Senators and Texas with about three, both substantially less than they would have based on population alone, This would leave as many as 50 million citizens in low population states under-represented. This would be handled by the creation of about eight super districts, The decision of the House of Representatives would be reviewable by the Supreme Court to determine if the House applied the Constitutional Standards for drawing up the districts.
As for the US territories and the District of Columbia, they include almost five million unrepresented US citizens (primarily in the district of Columbia and Puerto Rico). These would be included by the House in the super district nearest to them.
Or, as an alternative, changing the role and authority of the Senate. They would still retain their role of “advise and consent” on executive and judicial appointments, treaties and the like. They would retain their current oversight role of the executive. They would review and approve the budget adopted by the House but have no role in its drafting. Perhaps the review of specific tax increases or reductions approved by the House. But, they would have no role in the drafting, review, and approval of general legislation. That would be exclusively a function of the House.
For many reasons, this could never happen and may not even be advisable but at a certain age speculation on what will not be is an amusing way to spend your time.
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
In the late 1940s, my father owned a bar in the Fleetwood section of Mount Vernon. The City of Mount Vernon along with Yonkers formed the northern boundary of New York’s Borough of the Bronx. During that period in my life both my parents would disappear for a while. I never knew where my father went. My mother was hospitalized for a year or so at a time in various mental and medical hospitals having unspeakable procedures administered to her as was usual at the time.
Anyway, during the period my father owned the bar, I would spend many of my days there sitting on the floor, my chin propped up on my fists listing to the music and staring at the changing colors of the lights emanating from the Wurlitzer.
Now for those who do not know what a Wurlitzer is, it was one of the last great analog machines for producing music before the advent of the digital age. Through the clear plastic window at the top, I could see the bright chrome handle move up and down the stack of records, stop with a jerk and pluck a record out of the stack, swing the report over to the turntable and drop it. Then the music would play — silky jazz, bright pop tunes, magnificently melodious show tunes. Surrounding the window, a roll of back-lit variegated colored plastic would bath me sitting there before it with its ever-changing colors.
One day, in the bar, while I sat there before the Wurlitzer dreamily wandering through the bliss of the colors and the music (Lady Day’s cover of Night and Day?) I, for some reason, I overheard my father and the other men at the bar talking. One of them, probably my father, said, “You know those guys on Tin Pan Alley*, who write those songs all wear bow ties and horn-rim glasses.”
This startled me. “What do bow ties and horn-rim glasses have to do with writing music,” I thought? “Was it some sort of uniform that one must wear to get into the alley?” “Odd, why would they say that?”
I would continue to ponder that question as I sat there in that dream-like state, bathed in the slowly shifting colors listening to Sarah Vaughn, Mildred Bailey, Jack Teagarden or some other the wonderful sounds of that golden age of music wondering about bow ties and horn-rim glasses.
Of my childhood, this was one of the only two experiences which I remember fondly.
Later, there was a time that I wore bow ties and still later horn rim glasses. Never wrote a note of music though.
A Wurlitzer Juke Box
* Tin Pan Alley — the name given to the collection of New York City music publishers and songwriters who dominated the popular music of the United States in the late 19th century and early 20th century. The name originally referred to a specific place: West 28th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues in the Flower District of Manhattan.
The start of Tin Pan Alley is usually dated to about 1885 when a number of music publishers set up shop in the same district of Manhattan. The end of Tin Pan Alley is less clear cut. Some date it to have continued into the 1950s when earlier styles of American popular music were upstaged by the rise of rock & roll, which was centered on the Brill Building.
The Beasts’ Confess
BY JONATHAN SWIFT
To the Priest, on Observing how most Men mistake their own Talents
When beasts could speak (the learned say,
They still can do so ev’ry day),
It seems, they had religion then,
As much as now we find in men.
It happen’d, when a plague broke out
(Which therefore made them more devout),
The king of brutes (to make it plain,
Of quadrupeds I only mean)
By proclamation gave command,
That ev’ry subject in the land
Should to the priest confess their sins;
And thus the pious wolf begins:
“Good father, I must own with shame,
That often I have been to blame:
I must confess, on Friday last,
Wretch that I was! I broke my fast:
But I defy the basest tongue
To prove I did my neighbour wrong;
Or ever went to seek my food
By rapine, theft, or thirst of blood.”
The ass, approaching next, confess’d
That in his heart he lov’d a jest:
A wag he was, he needs must own,
And could not let a dunce alone:
Sometimes his friend he would not spare,
And might perhaps be too severe:
But yet, the worst that could be said,
He was a wit both born and bred;
And, if it be a sin or shame,
Nature alone must bear the blame:
One fault he hath, is sorry for’t,
His ears are half a foot too short;
Which could he to the standard bring,
He’d show his face before the King:
Then for his voice, there’s none disputes
That he’s the nightingale of brutes.
Alas, the poem is a bit too long to be included here in its entirety. So if you want to read more please go to https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/45265/the-beasts-confession
“America is the place where you cannot kill your Government by killing the men who conduct it. The only way you can kill government in America is by making the men and women of America forget how to govern.”
—Woodrow Wilson, 1919