Posts Tagged With: Immunotherapy

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 23 Capt. Coast 0009. (May 9, 2020)


“By the logic of the free-market theorists, shouldn’t religious exemptions from U.S. taxes—state subsidy by other means—breed complacency and laziness among the leaders of every American church?”
Andersen, Kurt. Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History (p. 292). Random House Publishing Group.




Happy Birthday, George.











I returned from my one-day trip to UCSF in the Big Endive by the Bay for my immunotherapy infusion. As soon I entered the house from the garage and placed my hat in the closet, the front door opened and Naida entered with the dog in tow. They obviously were returning from a walk. She was holding in one hand something that looked like weeds —sprays of tiny white flowers radiating from a pale green stalk. “Welcome back,” she exclaimed. “Guess what I have?”

“It looks like hemlock.”

“No,” she laughed. “They are elderberry flowers. I picked them from the bushes by the river. The early California pioneers used to dip them in pancake batter and fry them. It is supposed to be very good.” And so, she flounced off into the kitchen and whipped up two elderberry pancakes. They were very tasty.

Two of three days after I wrote the entry above and not related to it, I felt sick. I checked for coronavirus symptoms — no fever, cough, or difficulty breathing but slight chills, headache, upset stomach, and fairly intense fatigue. I spent most of the day in bed. It could be simply a more severe than usual reaction to my immunotherapy infusion due to the doubling of the dosage at my last appointment. Or, it could be just another episode of my hypochondria. Time will tell.

I got up in the late afternoon still feeling terrible — sat in my recliner, ate a lunch of bread pudding with raisins (I’m not kidding), and instead of returning to bed, I watched “Singing in the Rain” for the umpteenth time. Still great.

I was still feeling bad, so I prepared to go back up to bed. The next movie on TCM, however, was Francis the Talking Mule starring Donald O’Connor. So, I decided to stay up and see it. Wouldn’t you?

After the movie, I was feeling a bit better but I felt as though I had a fever. I asked Naida to find the thermometer from where she left it so that I could take my temperature. She found it. Unfortunately, we had no alcohol with which to clean it so she took the bottle of Limoncello I had just purchased and plunged the thermometer into it. I had not known how pleasant taking one’s temperature could be (Of course, it was under my tongue.) Finding myself happier after sucking on a Limoncello flavored thermometer, I stayed up and watched “Fallen Angel” a noir film from 1945 directed by Otto Preminger and starring Dana Andrews, Linda Darnell, and Alice Faye. Good movie.

The next morning, I woke up feeling much better (the Limoncello?) I decided to visit HRM, But before I go, a few words about hypochondria.





I often make fun of my relatively slight case of hypochondria, but for many, it may be a rather serious mental health disorder. Being a hypochondriac and experiencing health anxiety can be debilitating. It can severely affect the lives of the people who suffer from it. “A person with health anxiety often may have gone through a serious illness and fear that their bad experience may be repeated. They may be going through major life stress or have had a serious illness during childhood.” (As a child, I had repeated hospitalizations for pneumonia — virtually every winter from when I was about 7 until I was 14).

To those suffering severe episodes of this disorder, I apologize for making light of it. Nevertheless, according to the literature hypochondriac symptoms may include:

· Regularly checking oneself for any sign of illness.

(I do this, especially at night when I am trying to get to sleep.)

· Fearing that anything from a runny nose to a gurgle in their gut is the sign of a serious illness.

(Me too — a gurgling gut also keeps me awake. Doesn’t it do that to you too?)

· Making frequent visits to their doctor.

(I do. I love going to the doctor. Lots of shiny things to look at and also they, the doctors and nurses, really do try to make you believe they care.)

· Conversely, avoiding the doctor due to fear that the doctor will find they have a dreaded disease or serious illness.

(Not me. As I said, I love doctor visits.)

· Talking excessively about my health.

(Just read my previous T&T posts — I manage to mention the state of my health in just about every post.)

· Spending a lot of time online, researching their symptoms.

(I do this. Where else would I find the statements in italics I have included here?)

· May focus on just one thing: a certain disease (example: cancer) or a certain body part (example: the lungs if they cough). Or, they may fear any disease or might become focused on a trending disease (example: during flu season, they may be convinced that a sniffle means they’re coming down with the flu).

(My focus over the years may change, but I generally concentrate on one imagined disease at a time — I am not an Omni-hypochondriac).

· Are unconvinced that their negative medical tests are correct, then worry that they have something undiagnosed and that no one will be able to find it and cure them.

(All the time. Just today I read in the report of my most recent CT scan:

Redemonstration of tubular low density 10 mm structure in the right lower lobe tracks along the bronchovascular bundle unchanged over multiple prior studies. Previously seen groundglass nodule in the left lower lobe measuring 5 mm now appears to be entirely solid rather than groundglass (series 2, image 196).


If groundglass in your lung doesn’t concern you, nothing will. What frightens me most, however, is that I cannot understand what they are talking about. I mean, solid rather than goundglass should be a good thing, no?)

· Avoiding people or places they fear may cause them to get sick.

(I do. I even cross the street when walking past a hospital.)

On the other hand, the opposite of hypochondria is anosognosia a symptom of severe mental illness experienced by some that impairs a person’s ability to understand and perceive his or her illness. Now that is serious. Don’t be an anosogniac.







Anyway, I drove off into the Golden Hills in the Mitsubishi to visit HRM. He and Jake washed the car and then, as teenage boys do, put their heads under the hood and practiced car-talk for a while.


HRM and I also stopped by the little lake where I used to watch HRM fishing when he was younger. We reminisced about this and other things as we strolled around the ponds. I one point he said, “You know something? I never caught anything.”

We also watched some geese and ducks shepherd their goslings and ducklings on the grass by the water.
IMG_8243    IMG_8244


Back at HRM’s house, while the teens were occupied with the Mitsubishi, I took the time to examine the new landscaping they were all busily installing this last week or two.

IMG_8237.   IMG_8235





Another view of the Enchanted Forest.

After my return to the house in the Enchanted Forest, Naida spent much of the evening entertaining me with stories about the two goats she owned when she and Bill lived on the ranch by the Cosumnes River. Her original intention was to have the goats eat the unwanted invasive vegetation in the horse pastures. In fact, they named them Black and Decker because they were supposed to remove the weeds. Although it did not work out quite as she planned, and, if her stories are to be believed, they were more trouble than helpful, she nevertheless loved the goats until they passed away leaving her sad but with a lot of funny stories. One of them has her chasing the escaped Decker across the golf course fairways that bordered the ranch and urging the surprised golfers to join her in the pursuit.

IMG_8265 - Version 2

Naida with Black — Decker hides in the shadows.


A day or so later, Naida and I decided to take the dog and spend the afternoon on the banks of the American River. The river is separated from the Enchanted Forest where we live by a fifty-foot high levee. In the bottomland between the levee and the river, bike and hiking trails snake through cottonwood, black oak, and elderberry woodlands. Arriving at the edge of the river, we put down a yoga mat to sit on, watched some people fishing from boats, and eventually fell asleep.

This week seems longer than most. In addition to my frequent naps, and watching the political punditry and old movies on TV, I spend the afternoons dozing in my chair in the garden, like an old man waiting for sundown. Perhaps tomorrow I will do something odd and unusual, perhaps even a new adventure, but right now I wonder why I would want to. At my age, naps and afternoons dozing in the sun seems to be as good as it gets.

I almost forgot, we still have our evening walks through the Enchanted Forest. They are nice too.


Naida and Boo-boo the Barking Dog on one of the paths near our home in the Enchanted Forest.


Today the sameness of the day was broken with a FaceTime call with Peter and Barrie. There was a lot of talk about dogs, music, food (marzipan), and toilet paper.

One day. I dove back into the Golden Hills to do a little shopping. I also picked up some medicines and visited HRM. The crew at Dick’s house remains in their landscaping frenzy. SWAC has Dick, Adrian, Bob the Handyman and HRM working every day for the past week or so buying plants and trees (hundreds) at the nursery, hauling them home, planting them, installing the drip irrigation, transporting rocks and masonry and building the paths, terraces, and rock gardens. It all seems a bit mad.
Hayden by one of the several new rock gardens.

I do not recall much of the past few days because I have felt, ill, listless, and irritable in the 90-degree heat and have taken to spending much of my time in bed — what else is new.







I began writing, “This and that…” 10 years ago when I moved from the US to Thailand. It was not called “This and that from re Thai r ment” then. That happened almost a year later when my good friend Irwin Schatzman suggested I name it that. Irwin also suggested “3Th,” but I no longer remember what that means. About eight years ago, my beloved “cuzin” died, a victim of cancer.

I moved into a house in Chiang Mai I built but no longer owned in order to take care of Hayden who was four at the time.

My original purpose in writing what became T&T was to make it more efficient to keep in touch with my friends and relatives back in the US by writing a single email rather than separate ones to each. I also wanted to begin keeping a journal about my exile. I had tried to keep a diary many times in my past but would soon lose my resolve and abandon it. For a while, I kept the journal separate from my letter but I thought by combining my journal with that letter I would feel obligated to keep on writing it and it also would be more efficient and less work for me.

Here is my first post from Chiang Mai and the associated journal:

My first full day in Chiang Mai. The house that I had built, for those of you who have seen it, is in pretty good shape. The landscaping has grown in well.

This morning I walked Hayden to school. As befits the dawdling scholar, he took absolutely the longest way possible, stopping to examine every hole in the ground, viewing from both sides each muddy mosquito-infested canal that passed under the road and insisting on discussing the wonders of each thing he investigated.


PS: Below are photographs of the grounds of the house and of Hayden and I clowning around. I apologize for the mawkishness of this e-mail. I am composing it at the local coffee shop that I realize may, in part, circumscribe my life here.

My home in Chiang Mai Thailand.
Haden and I horsing around.

FROM MY JOURNAL: January 19, 2010

Walked Hayden to school this morning. He said he knew the way since I did not. It was a boy’s map, full of turns to visit points of interest (friends houses and residences of selected and named canines). We also explored any interesting holes in the ground and had several discussions about my walking stick among other similarly engaging and important topics. We stopped at all of the muddy weed-choked and mosquito-infested canals that crossed beneath the road on which we walked, first to one side and then the other searching for ways to get down to the water (me of course counseling against it).

A car stopped driven by a woman who I believe lives in the house across the road from ours. She offered us a ride and over Hayden’s objection, I accepted.

At Haden’s school, “Sunshine Kindergarten” we were met at the gate by an attractive young Thai woman. And of course, even in my dotage, I preened.

The school contains the main building and several small attractive adobe like outbuildings.


The entrance to “Sunshine Kindergarten.”

After seeing him off, I searched for the cafe in order to have a latte. At first, I went in the wrong direction but retraced my steps and found it. I ordered a cafe latte and an orange juice and played with my computer answering some emails and trying to set up my calendar.

I left the cafe. As I walked towards home I passed a group of buildings that I recalled were either a school or the subdivision office but were now mostly derelict. One building in good repair contained a restaurant. I went in and ordered pad thai and an iced tea. Mediocre. The other customers were Europeans of whom there is a lot living in the subdivision. I left and slowly walked home.









A. On Top: A Few Brief and at Times Amusing Essays for Understanding Some Basic Science with Which to While-Away Your Time During Self-Confinement (continued) Part IV.



Part IV




There is another puzzle associated with entropy in our universe.

Astronomical observations do not fit well with the Second Law. On cosmological scales, our universe seems to have become more complex with the passage of time, not less complex. The matter in the universe started out in the Big Bang with a very smooth distribution and has become more and more clumpy – more and more complex – with the passage of time. The entropy of the universe seems to have decreased considerably, not increased. Matter is now segregated on a huge range of scales: into rocks, asteroids, planets, stars, galaxies, galactic clusters, galactic superclusters, and so on. Using the same metaphor as in thermodynamics, the distribution of matter in the universe seems to be maturing increasingly ordered. This is puzzling since the Second Law tells us that a thermodynamic system should become increasingly disordered.

The cause of this clumping seems to be well established: it is gravity. A second time-reversibility paradox now rears its head. Einstein’s field equations for gravitational systems are time-reversible. This means that if any solution of Einstein’s field equations is time-reversed, it becomes an equally valid solution. Our own universe, run backward in this manner, becomes a gravitational system that gets less and less clumpy as time passes – so getting less clumpy is just as valid, physically, as getting more clumpy. Our universe, though, does only one of these things: more clumpy.

Paul Davies’s view here is that ‘as with all arrows of time, there is a puzzle about where the asymmetry comes in … The asymmetry must, therefore, be traced to initial conditions’. What he means here is that even with time-reversible laws, you can get different behavior by starting the system in a different way. If you start with an egg and stir it with a fork, then it scrambles. If you start with the scrambled egg and very very carefully give each tiny particle of egg exactly the right push along precisely the opposite trajectory, then it will unscramble. The difference lies entirely in the initial state, not in the laws. Notice that ‘stir with a fork’ is a very general kind of initial condition: lots of different ways to stir will scramble the egg. In contrast, the initial condition for unscrambling an egg is extremely delicate and special.

In a way, this is an attractive option. Our clumping universe is like an unscrambling egg: its increasing complexity is a consequence of very special initial conditions. Most ‘ordinary’ initial conditions would lead to a universe that isn’t clumped – just as any reasonable kind of stirring leads to a scrambled egg. And observations strongly suggest that the universe’s initial conditions at the time of the Big Bang were extremely smooth, whereas any ‘ordinary’ state of a gravitational system presumably should be clumped. So, in agreement with the suggestion just outlined, it seems that the initial conditions of the universe must have been very special – an attractive proposition for those who believe that our universe is highly unusual, and ditto for our place within it.

From the Second Law to God in one easy step. Roger Penrose has even quantified how special this initial state is, by comparing the thermodynamic entropy of the initial state with that of a hypothetical but plausible final state in which the universe has become a system of Black Holes. This final state shows an extreme degree of clumpiness – though not the ultimate degree, which would be a single giant Black Hole.

The result is that the entropy of the initial state is about 10-30 times that of the hypothetical final state, making it extremely special. So special, in fact, that Penrose was led to introduce a new time-asymmetric law that forces the early universe to be exceptionally smooth.

Oh, how our stories mislead us … There is another, much more reasonable, explanation. The key point is simple: gravitation is very different from thermodynamics. In a gas of buzzing molecules, the uniform state – equal density everywhere – is stable. Confine all the gas into one small part of a room, let it go, and within a split second, it’s back to a uniform state. Gravity is exactly the opposite: uniform systems of gravitating bodies are unstable. Differences smaller than any specific level of coarse-graining not only can ‘bubble up’ into macroscopic differences as time passes, but do.

Here lies the big difference between gravity and thermodynamics. The thermodynamic model that best fits our universe is one in which differences dissipate by disappearing below the level of coarse-graining as time marches forwards. The gravitic model that best fits our universe is one in which differences amplify by bubbling up from below the level of coarse-graining as time marches forwards. The relation of these two scientific domains to coarse-graining is exactly opposite when the same arrow of time is used for both.

We can now give a completely different, and far more reasonable, explanation for the ‘entropy gap’ between the early and late universes, as observed by Penrose and credited by him to astonishingly unlikely initial conditions.

It is actually an artifact of coarse-graining.

Gravitational clumping bubbles up from a level of coarse-graining to which thermodynamic entropy is, by definition, insensitive. Therefore virtually any initial distribution of matter in the universe would lead to clumping. There’s no need for something extraordinarily special.

The physical differences between gravitating systems and thermodynamic ones are straightforward: gravity is a long-range attractive force, whereas elastic collisions are short-range and repulsive. With such different force laws, it is hardly surprising that the behavior should be so different. As an extreme case, imagine systems where ‘gravity’ is so short range that it has no effect unless particles collide, but then they stick together forever. Increasing clumpiness is obvious for such a force law.
The real universe is both gravitational and thermodynamic. In some contexts, the thermodynamic model is more appropriate and thermodynamics provides a good model. In other contexts, a gravitational model is more appropriate. There are yet other contexts: molecular chemistry involves different types of forces again. It is a mistake to shoehorn all natural phenomena into the thermodynamic approximation or the gravitic approximation. It is especially dubious to expect both thermodynamic and gravitic approximations to work in the same context when the way they respond to coarse-graining is diametrically opposite.

See? It’s simple. Not magical at all …

Perhaps it’s a good idea to sum up our thinking here.

The ‘laws’ of thermodynamics, especially the celebrated Second Law, are statistically valid models of nature in a particular set of contexts. They are not universally valid truths about the universe, as the clumping of gravity demonstrates. It even seems plausible that a suitable measure of gravitational complexity, like thermodynamic entropy but different, might one day be defined – call it ‘gravtropy’, say. Then we might be able to deduce, mathematically, a ‘second law of gravitics’, stating that the gravtropy of a gravitic system increases with time. For example, gravtropy might perhaps be the fractal dimension (‘degree of intricacy’) of the system.

Even though coarse-graining works in opposite ways for these two types of systems, both ‘second laws’ – thermodynamic and gravitic – would correspond rather well to our own universe. The reason is that both laws are formulated to correspond to what we actually observe in our own universe. Nevertheless, despite this apparent concurrence, the two laws would apply to drastically different physical systems: one to gases, the other to systems of particles moving under gravity.



B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

Liberals have principles, Conservatives ideology.



C. Today’s Poem:



Untitled — Anonymous Australian Aboriginal Poem.
The white man dropped from the sun bright sky,

For he envied the blackfellow’s land,

With greed and revenge in his restless eye,

And disease and death in his hand.

And he grasped the forest, and he seized the strand,

And claimed the blue mountains high;

And he scours the bush with a ruthless band,

’Till its denizens trembling fly —

And his pigs and his cattle pollute the land

’Till it stinks, and the blackfellows die.

Anonymous (source language unnamed), “Untitled,” Bendigo Advertiser (Victoria), September 26, 1855, page 4.



D. Pookie’s Musings:


I discovered the following quote on Wikipedia while looking for something else. It is one of life’s great conundrums that whenever you look for something, you inevitably discover something else more attractive but far less useful than that for which you were originally looking. Anyway, I have posted what I found here in the hope that Peter, who studied and received advanced degrees in philosophy from one of the world’s great Universities and sometimes reads my postings, could unravel the meaning and significance of it as well as the conundrum I mention above.

In the philosophy of science, the distinction of knowledge versus reality is termed epistemic versus ontic. A general law is a regularity of outcomes (epistemic), whereas a causal mechanism may regulate the outcomes (ontic). A phenomenon can receive interpretation either ontic or epistemic. For instance, indeterminism may be attributed to limitations of human observation and perception (epistemic), or may be explained as a real existing maybe encoded in the universe (ontic).

After reading the above, I concluded it has one of two meanings. The first has something to do with universal fecundity. After all, of what use is one’s epistemic without an ontic? On the other hand, perhaps it all has to do with the effect of self-quarantine on my mind. Could it all be attributed to its limitations on my observation and perception — a hallucination perhaps? Or, could it be explained as something real, existing, and perhaps encoded in the universe? Is whether anyone cares an epistemic surmise or an ontic reality?







The Mayfly and the Great Trout.

“[A]n old mayfly is telling some youngsters about this god, as they hover just above the surface of a stream:

‘… you were telling us about the Great Trout.’ ‘Ah. Yes. Right. The Trout. Well, you see, if you’ve been a good mayfly, zigzagging up and down properly—’ ‘—taking heed of your elders and betters—’

‘— yes, and taking heed of your elders and betters, then eventually the Great Trout—’ Clop. Clop. ‘Yes?’ said one of the younger mayflies. There was no reply.

‘The Great Trout what?’ said another mayfly, nervously. They looked down at a series of expanding concentric rings on the water. ‘The holy sign!’ said a mayfly. ‘I remember being told about that! A Great Circle in the water! Thus shall be the sign of the Great Trout!’
Pratchett, Terry. The Globe: The Science of Discworld II: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.






The view from my window at night

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This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 25 Papa Joe 0008 (September 8, 2019)

“The measure of a civilization is in the courage, not of its soldiers, but of its bystanders.”
McDevitt, Jack. A Talent For War (An Alex Benedict Novel Book 1) (p. 204). Penguin Publishing Group.












We drove to the Bay Area and spent the night at Peter and Barrie’s. Hiromi and my granddaughter just returned from their summer in Japan, joined us for dinner. We told stories. I told about the time my son Jason and I hitchhiked across the United States. He was about six-years-old at the time. It took us about six weeks primarily because we stayed for three of those weeks with friends who lived in the Bitterroot Vally in Montana.
Peter, Amanda and I.


The next morning, I went for my immunotherapy treatment. The doctor told me that I had a significant number of blood clots in my left leg and lungs. He hoped the anticoagulant he had prescribed for me would begin to clear them up. We will know better after my next visit when I will have some additional tests done. Later, one of my blood tests came back showing severely low thyroid levels which may be the cause of my constant fatigue. The doctor said I need to get more exercise.
Following my visit, we returned to Noe Valley and sat at the Geezer Bench in front of Bernie’s Cafe. We were joined by my grandson Anthony and his girlfriend. Anthony has always been a kind and considerate young man who had a very unhappy childhood and adolescence that sowed the seeds of anger and frustration inside of him. I try my best always to be supportive of him in the hope that his innate gentleness will eventually calm his internal demons.
Naida and Anthony with me on the Geezer’s Bench.



The drive back was a horror, taking over four hours to cover the eighty or so miles. That evening, Naida suggested we get starkers and retire early. It was delightful. We lay on the bed in the dim light and talked for hours — about the light, our love, the day, the night, tomorrow and beyond, yesterday and the dim reaches of memory, our plans and our hopes for the brief time we have ahead of us. I slept well.

A few days pass like a spring breeze through the tattered remains of my memory. Let us work our way backward. It is Sunday, we just returned from a magnificent concert at the Nepenthe clubhouse. A Japanese jazz harpist (Motoshi Kosako) had given a performance far beyond that of the third rate bands that usually perform at the Sunday Jazz By the Pool nights in the Enchanted Forest. He was accompanied by an equally accomplished guitarist who played an instrument that seemed to be able to mimic any instrument in a symphony orchestra. True the Harpist, was no Miles Davis but was clearly a master Jazz musician. Jazz played on the harp was interesting, if to me a bit unsettling. There was none of that sense of sliding into the notes like one gets with traditional jazz instruments, like the sax, cornet or guitar. The sound of the harp is bright, not rounded. It would be like a jazz piano riff played on a harpsichord, everything musical would still there but it would sound, to me, a bit too vibrant and missing the auditory shadows I have come to expect in good jazz.



That morning I drove the Scooter Gang (Hayden, Jake, Kaleb, and Tyson) into the Gold Country for a hamburger taste comparison between the hamburgers served at Giant Burgers to Go in Pine Grove and those cooked on the wood-fired oven at the Country Store in Volcano. H and I had always believed that the burgers cooked up at the Country Store were the best, but they were strangely dry that day so Giant Burgers to Go won the taste test that day.

As for teenage chatter during the trip, alas, there was little of note. I hoped that they would show and interest in some of the sights along the way and suggest we stop and explore them (e.g., Indian Grinding Rock, Some old mines and Volcano itself) but they were too far into their existential adolescent blasé to consider anything but the torrent of recognition about their own emerging individuality to consider anything else intriguing.

On Saturday we attended the Saturday Morning Coffee at the Nepenthe clubhouse. It was also Dustan Hoffman day on TVM. After the coffee we returned home and watched “The Graduate,” Midnight Cowboy,” “Tootsie,” “Marathon Man,” and “Straight Time.” Hoffman was trained in “The Method” at the Actor’s Studio. That means, he may look more or less the same in each performance but he is a different person every time. Non-Method actors, look the same, are the same person, but behave differently as the script requires. It is difficult to claim one knows what Hoffman or DiNero are like in their private lives, but you are usually reasonably certain you know Gable or Olivier remain the same person away from the screen. There was a time, I was walking by a hotel located at the beach in Santa Monica. I saw Al Pacino, wearing an overcoat hanging down to his ankles hiding in the bushes and peering into the breakfast room of the hotel. I guess one might have expected something like that from Pacino. On the other hand, perhaps he was just getting into his character for some performance.

Last night, I couldn’t sleep, so I first went through the 49rs potential lineup as I sometimes do hoping the exercise would bore me enough to put me to sleep. That failed, so I went to my backup, counting my breaths backward from 99. When I got to about 10, I realized I was thirsty, so I got out of bed to get a drink of water. As I got up and started walking I began to feel dizzy so I grabbed the footboard as I usually do to keep me from falling until the dizzy spell passed. The next thing I recalled I was still lying in bed counting backward with Naida in my arms. Slowly, I began to realize that it was not a pillow behind my head but the rug instead. Also, Naida was not sleeping in my arms but holding me and calling my name. It dawned on me that I had fainted. The last time I had fainted like this was when I had a pulmonary embolism a few years back. Oh, I forgot, the dog lay on the rug near me, a concerned look in his eyes as he contemplated the possible loss of a secure source of food.

With Naida’s help, I got back to bed drank some water and laid back down. I still could not go back to sleep, but now I instead of NFL rosters or counting breaths, I worried about whether if I fall asleep I would ever wake up. I slept fitfully and awoke exhausted and muzzy and with a nagging sense of dread but pleased to have survived the night.

Now the title of this section of T&T includes the words “Pookie’s Adventures.” Most people, I suspect, view adventures as things like climbing a mountain, exploring a dank jungle, or being chased down a dark alley by white nationalists or Mafia hitmen. I, however, consider last night’s events an adventure. Think about it. It took place in the dark of night. There was clearly a danger. I was mystified about what was happening. There was a dollop of pathos and a pinch of bathos (not to mention a full dose of melodrama). Imminent death was a distinct possibility. A beautiful woman lay in my arms. The problem was successfully overcome and a residual shadow as to what it all means for the future remained. That’s what adventure is all about.

I asked Naida to review my unfinished mystery novel, “Here Comes Dragon,” that I had published here in T&T some years back. I wanted her opinion as to whether I should finish it and publish it as an ebook. After reading two or three chapters, she stopped. I asked her if she thought I should try to finish it. She responded that perhaps I should devote my time and effort to T&T. So noted.

On Friday, we walked over the bridge to Sacramento State and joined the Renaissance Society. An organization that allows us Vecchia Gente to attend lectures and classes. I was interested most in history, Celtic, Mesopotamian or Judean. Naida seemed more intrigued by courses music and writing.


The view of the American River from the Guy West Bridge.


On Saturday I drove into the Golden Hills to pick up HRM and three other members of the Scooter Gang in order to drive them to Berkeley for lunch at a Mexican restaurant he likes followed by a visit to the Bone Room. When I arrived at his teenager cave, he said that since it was Labor Day weekend the traffic would be too heavy. So, instead, we went to a fried chicken place they like in Folsom.

After that, we walked to the Natomas Reservoir nearby. HRM wanted to show me the 65ft high cliff from which he and some of his friends would dive into the water. On the way, we met Dick and his house guest Cristina’s daughter Julia from Italy who had been riding their bicycles around the lake. The boys (Jake and HRM) decided to show us their dive but luckily the park rangers came by boat and warned them off.

IMG_6780 10_2IMG_6782_2IMG_6777 7_4


During the drive, they told me about a conflict that has arisen during the first week of High School between a group I call “the Jocks” and another group, “The Slackers,” to which the members of the Scooter Gang belong. It seems the Jocks have been whispering to some of the girls in the class urging to stay away from the Slackers because they lack ambition and will never amount to anything in life. This has riled up the Slackers ( including the Scooter Gang) quite a bit.

In an effort to not so much calm the waters but salve the bruised egos of the Slackers, I explained that the difference between them is that the Jocks need someone to tell them how to exercise or what to learn, but the Slackers (at least the Scooter Gang contingent) prefer to explore things on their own. For example, they certainly get significant exercise at the Skatepark, mountain biking, and skiing, while the Jocks prefer to get theirs under the direction of the coaches on the sports teams. Similarly, the Scooter Gang prefers exploring and learning things in addition to school (which they find confining). Also, they are always dreaming about doing exciting, if less conventional things in addition to their plans for college and a career. They responded something like, “Yeah, we’re explorers. They are only interested in a conventional life.” I guess that is good.

On Wednesday, Naida and I visited another independent living facility. What happened in the past four days? I don’t recall much except I am sure it was nothing bad. A few calls from Frank in Florida and from David in South Dakota broke up days of watching old movies and cable news or playing with my computer — I did go swimming once. Anyway, the visit — it always makes me feel uncomfortable when I enter one of these facilities. I think I am visiting my temporary coffin, reserved for that period between decrepitude and death. Sort of like I picture purgatory to be. A cold misty place where one waits uncomfortably to finally graduate into the eternal boredom of Heaven.

Thursday was an interesting day. In the morning, Naida told me several spooky stories about events in her life that she plans to include in the second volume of her memoir. The first included a story about her grandmother’s house, strange music, and dancing candlesticks. Another story concerned her meeting a native American man who had read River of Red Gold, her novel of life along the Cosumnes River during the Gold Rush. He said he was enthralled by the way she treated Native Americans in her book. He claimed it changed his life. They visited the abandoned native American village on the banks of the Cosumnes and the tree of the spirit women described in her book. His spirit animal was a bear. The painting that graces the cover of Eye of the Bay reflects that spirit. It also reflects the orSwimmingange light that shone in his eyes. Strangely the painter was not informed of any of this but just decided on her own to paint the bear, the fire motif and the orange rendition of the San Jose Mission in his eye.
IMG_6812 - Version 2

Later I drove into the Golden Hills for lunch with SWAC after which I picked up HRM at the ESD Skatepark and drove him home. Confidentiality prevents me from writing here all that I learned.

That night Terry arrived in Sacramento on his way back to Dunsmuir. We had dinner at Zinfandel a restaurant nearby that Naida and I enjoy. After dinner, we invited him to stay the night in one of the now-empty bedrooms. The next morning we all had breakfast together and talked about many things — Politics mostly. In addition to current national politics, we also talked about our lives in politics and the sexual peccadilloes of those in politicians we all knew. Terry and I discussed the Catholic schools we attended and the malevolent morality of the diocesan hierocracy we all knew. Naida told about the Mormons in Idaho and Utah and their frightening hierarchy beginning with Bingham Young. Later, Terry and I reminisced about our time at Georgetown. I told about my friendship with the Buchanan family — of Pat Buchanan, speechwriter for Nixon, Presidential candidate and full-time racist and fascist. He was considered the smart one of the family. He was also violent and crazy. I was convinced he would eventually die in the electric chair. Psycho Buchanan was Pat’s brother, and a Jesuit seminarian at the time I knew him. He was called Psycho for a good reason. He was a close friend of mine. Then there was Buchs Buchanan who was usually referred to as the dumb Buchanan. A finally there was Bay Buchanan the sister who was thirteen when I first met her. That day I, as I was walking down the hallway of the Buchanan house and heard her speak, I was convinced she was the demon child. Whenever I see the possessed child in the movie The Exorcist, I can only see Bay in my mind as I first met her that day.

Terry and I then left. He to continue on to Dunsmuir and me off to EDH again to pick up HTM. Hayden and I set off for lunch. After lunch, I drove him back to his home to pick up his scooter. His mom came by and said she would tell him this week. I then dropped him off at the Skatepark and returned to the Enchanted Forest.

Saturday, we attended the Saturday Morning Coffee. Winnie was there. Her immunotherapy has stopped working. She was desperately frightened. I felt bad for her and a little scared for myself. The primary issue for discussion at the coffee was the recent break-in by two thieves of a home in the area and the beating of the homeowner. While such an event perhaps concerns old folks more than others, I was surprised at the high-level unemotional discussion that followed.

I think this is enough for this post. Next week following my trip to SF for my immunotherapy treatment, Naida and I leave for a two week trip to Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. We will be visiting some of the locations of many of the events in Naida’s newly published memoir as well as relatives and old friends. It is, in part, a sort of a good-by trip for Naida as she may never see most of these people again. We also plan to visit Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.

Take care of yourselves and remember to keep on truckin.






In the prior T&T post, I began a rumination about biological life, not in the hope of adding to the sum total of the earth’s knowledge or even to be correct. I have neither the knowledge nor the ambition to do either. I only want to see if I can come up with something with the information I have assembled that convinces me or if not convinced then leaves me bored enough to do something else. I have done this before in T&T with my posts on the spread of humanity out of Africa, as well as the First-Centuries and the rise of the Abrahamic religions we know today.

I ended the previous post with the following:

“When coupled with the fact that many believe the biosphere extends as a band from somewhere below the surface of the lithosphere (ground) up until it dissipates somewhere near the stratosphere, it helps me to explore a possible concept on which I believed I could replace my uninformed uncertainty with dogmatic bias.”

And continue here:

“Whitehead and Russell taught us that words have no meaning unless backed by mathematics. In other words, it is all blah, blah, blah unless it has numbers. Goedel then taught us that mathematics is based on unprovable assumptions. In other words, blah is still blah even with numbers.”
Excerpt From: J. E, Petrillo.Trenz Pruca’s Musings.” Apple Books.

In the early part of the 20th Century, it became generally accepted by scientists that words, the fundamental element of the system of aural and visual symbols that make up what we call language, was not adequate to describe some of the fundamental elements of physical reality. They chose the symbolic (or semantic if you will) system of numbers with which to describe the very small and very large aspects of reality. Later, they realized, numbers have their own problems as a system of description.

When we dropped from the trees and appeared to separate ourselves from other mammals, one of the indicators of that separation was our realization that we could manipulate and communicate our visual and auditory impressions. Other (perhaps most) organisms, including plants, seem to be able to communicate to some extent. What differentiates genus homo from the others is not just this ability but also the scope of the physical changes it induced in human physiology to take maximum advantage of that ability. It’s downside as Whitehead and Russell point out is its imprecision and subjective nature make it less than desirable for some of the needs of science. So what does this mean for understanding life?

Well, for one thing, in our efforts to understand life and communicate it we may be hindered by those symbolic concepts we have traditionally used. Even Schrodinger, after accurately predicting the basic building block of life, had to resort to invoking eastern religions to describe the more macro elements of the biosphere. Again, so what?
Well, perhaps the categories imposed upon us by our system of symbols to describe reality are misleading us.

Let’s take the biosphere. When say, dinosaurs evolved and dominated during the Triassic I believe some of them crawled along the land others swam in the sea and others developed the ability to fly. Later mammals when they achieved a similar form of existence within the biosphere, some swim in the water others travel along the land and others take to the skies. There seems to be a common evolution of large groups of related species when their phylum, domain, or family gain worldwide distribution. Teilhard De Chardin described this phenomenon as a precursor to the evolution or addition of a “more advanced” life form that in turn would circle the globe. Humans also have, in relatively large numbers, traveled on and under the oceans and waters of the earth and extracted resources for their benefit. Similarly, they have managed to fly through the air. Does this mean humanity has broken into separate species? If not then could the previous masters of the world be considered the equivalent of a single species? If not, then does this factor in the evolution of the biosphere mean anything?

The biosphere (life on this earth) is hugely complex. The universe is hugely complex also. Yet, Einstein through a clever thought experiment followed by its expression in mathematical symbols simplified much of it and made a lot of it predictable. Could something similar be done with the biosphere?
(to be continued perhaps)

From the standpoint of physics, there is one essential difference between living things and inanimate clumps of carbon atoms: The former tend to be much better at capturing energy from their environment and dissipating that energy as heat. Jeremy England, a 31-year-old assistant professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has derived a mathematical formula that he believes explains this capacity. The formula, based on established physics, indicates that when a group of atoms is driven by an external source of energy (like the sun or chemical fuel) and surrounded by a heat bath (like the ocean or atmosphere), it will often gradually restructure itself in order to dissipate increasingly more energy. This could mean that under certain conditions, matter inexorably acquires the key physical attribute associated with life.”

Natalie Wolchover. A New Physics Theory of Life, January 22, 2014







January 16, 1963,


Ugh, I seemed to have taken the pipe on the Domestic Relations exam. I made two mistakes — first, I did not properly read the questions and second I may have omitted many of the issues raised by the facts. I need to develop a better method for taking these exams.

Jack Lee called to moan about the test. It was funny listening to his concerns especially when they made mine appear trivial.

Tony Russo was on the verge of tears about the exam. He, of course, is taking it harder than anyone else because it is his second time around. He told me his girlfriend Denise cheered him up. It must be nice to have someone to cheer you up.

It will be interesting to see who received the highest grades.

I hope to do better on tomorrow’s test. I think I am less prepared for it, but somehow I feel more confident.

Kevin appears to be pulling a fast one on the travel business. I will stop him.

Last night I dreamed about a Shangri-la of my own. It is a beautiful place, warm — kind to all and generous, tolerant but restrictive. Perhaps all that goodness fascinated me. This feeling has lasted two days now. I wish it could last forever. At least it provides some hope and happiness.


(Kevin was a college classmate and my contact with the travel agency yay made the arrangements for the trip other than the securing of the planes and the selling of the travel packages. As I said, I kept the profit on the planes and the agency on the accommodations. I suspected Kevin wanted to take the operation for himself.

All my life I have taken refuge in fantasy. I guess most people do. I do not recall my Shangri-la fantasy, but I assume, as usual, I was the central character, brilliant, courageous, handsome and well balanced.)



January 18, 1963.


A little fact is worth a limbo of dreams.

I woke up today with a ferocious headache. It was followed by the usual depression for the rest of the day. I fought it by trying to sleep in off. When that did not work, I fantasized about becoming a wealthy hero.

Ah, I need to prepare for my personal property exam.


(Besides taking refuge in fantasy whenever I ran into problems, I also convinced myself I was an incurable depressive. Both delusions have lasted my entire life.)



January 19, 1963.


I read an article by H. L. Mencken today. His cynicism must be irresistible to those who doubt as much as I do. Perhaps ontologically he is right, all is doubt, all is changing and beyond our grasp. Then again maybe he is wrong. Psychologically, he may have scored a bullseye, however, by pointing out that belief in oneself allows us to unify the exterior world and enables us to act, produce and contribute to it.

The problem, I think, is how do we express ourselves? Not, I am sure by the drivel I have written here — I do not even know if I have been lying to myself. Maybe this page should begin:

Those who believe they know something completely are usually wrong.


(Twenty-three-year-olds who believe they know something. anything, are always wrong)



January 20, 1963.


What have I done today that makes me proud? Absolutely nothing. At least I can do no worse tomorrow.

Last night as I struggled to sleep, I tried to remember something I had done of which I was Proud. I came up empty there too.
Pat gave me some information that may be useful for the Puerto Rico trip. I need to get my brother Jimmy a free trip.


(“At least I can do no worse.” One thing I found out in the almost sixty years of my life since then is that I certainly can.)



January 21, 1963.


The study group today went better than usual. Ora seemed to grasp this subject better than he usually does. Personal property will most likely be our most difficult exam.

I need to get a date for Mike’s party on Saturday. But who?

Why the hell can I seem only to write trivialities? Am I so shallow? Probably.

Today was cold.

My brother Jim seems distraught. I think it is that college freshman sickness where the student takes himself and everything happening to him to seriously. Although it probably will pass, it could be dangerous. He needs watching.


(My brother started art school. He always dressed in a jacket and tie. The other students made fun of him. Eventually, he conceded but always remained the best-dressed artist around.

As to my shallowness, there is no probability about it.)



January 23, 1963.


After much procrastination, I called Bobbie. I thought I handled it well. Perhaps I will be able to find a way around my prejudice. That would be something to be proud of.

I got a date with Stephanie for February 1. I called her at work. She seems more pleasant than before.

I have my personal property exam tomorrow. I believe my problem stems from my failure to read the questions properly. I hope to do better tomorrow.

I no longer suffer shattered confidence when those I know appear to know more than I do about something or have accomplished more. Now I make a note of what knowledge I lack or set a new goal to surpass them.

About Bobbie, I discovered two sheets of paper dated January 7, 1963, hidden between the pages later in my diary, I include them here now:

“I received my reply from Lawyer’s Library Club. I cannot make up my mind which books to buy because I have no idea of their quality.

Yesterday Al said it would be better that I do not date Bobbie because it would be detrimental to my career because she is Jewish and Married. This upset me. I am tempted to change my decision and begin dating her again.

It revolts me when convention becomes as unfair as this. I want to reach out and smash this like someone bashing the head of a rattlesnake preparing to strike.

The reports of the Boston Strangler slayings to me are both horrible and fascinating.


The second sheet of paper had no date. I do not know whether it was written at the same time and the first sheet. I include it here assuming both notes were written at the same time.


At the party last night Bobbie disclosed that had been married. Why I mused, do people seem to choose to make dramatic announcements at dramatic events or times.

I felt closer to her than ever before. Later appeared to turn colder to me. I cannot explain why I felt so close to her. Perhaps I never will. Nevertheless, I believe our relationship is over.

Bobbie has made my thoughts dwell less on the past and concentrate on this one that is not really important.

I admit her legs were warm, inviting, as my hand moved along them while we sat in the darkness. The memories of pleasure past and dreams of future pleasure unite to heighten the pleasures of the moment. I will miss that more than anything, I think.

Al Spengler drove me home. I owe him.

(At that time in the early sixties New York we lived in separate communities, more of less — The Italian and Irish Catholic communities, The Jewish community, the black community, the Puerto Rican community, and so on with a white Protestant living in remote ghettos everywhere and running all those things remote from the neighborhoods. It was expected one would not marry outside one’s ethnic community and religion. It was also expected that one would seek work in those communities or with organizations run by the white Protestants. It was both difficult and uncommon to step away from our communities then. College was one way. We the young also had spending money or youthful ancestors never had. This all culminated in the false dawn of the late ’60s when we were persuaded we could leave that all behind, with a little music and little dope and a good dose of recreational sex.

At least my 1963 self, as much as I find him a jerk, seems to have come to a dull awareness of some of the chains that bind him. I can attest that even now 60 years later some of them still do.

Bobbie seemed important to me in 1963. Alas, here in 2019 I do not remember her at all.)








Abraham Lincoln: Besides being a distinguished attorney, President of the United States and a well-known depressive he was also an accomplished poet. Here is one of his short poems:

Abraham Lincoln,
His hand and pen:
He will be good but
God knows When.









A. A Barely Begun Story on Top:


While rummaging through some forgotten scraps in the bowels of my computer, I came across the following effort to write a story. It contains barely two paragraphs, but I was attracted to its title and by the pseudonym, I chose for the author:
Malcolm “Luke” DeLucca

He leaned against the wall in the tiny alley throwing up everything he had in his stomach. He felt like he was dying. No, more like he wanted to die. It could not have been the few beers he had downed at Hillary’s 4, the bar on Soi Nana next to the entrance to Nana Plaza, one of Bangkok’s flesh emporiums. It was probably something he ate at one of the sidewalk food stands that line the street nearby.

After the retching stopped he slowly sunk down on his haunches being careful to avoid any part of his body touching the muck he disgorged a few inches away. He could barely move. His head hung between his knees and he but stared intently at a spot on the ground directly in front of his eyes. He still wanted to die. The sickness made it…”

At that point, I stopped for some reason. I recall that I intended that time to have the drunken farang meet a beautiful transexual in that dank alley. She claims she is God and had chosen the life of a transexual prostitute in Bangkok because she was bored with heaven and felt she would meet a better class of people here in the sordid alleyways of “the village of wild plums” then she did in the land beyond the pearly gates. I never got around to finishing it though. I guess it is the thought that counts.

As for the pen-name I had chosen, I have no idea where that came from. I knew a kid named Louie De Lucca when I was a kid back in Tuckahoe. Why I would want to memorialize him as the author of a story like this, I haven’t the foggiest — I actually liked the kid.


B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:


Shouldn’t we consider it a greater insult to the American flag or anthem to display the Confederate Battle Flag or the Swastika, both of which represent not only gross inhumanity but also those who sought to replace our flag, anthem and way of life and replace them with their flags, anthems and reprehensible ideals, then it is to take a knee to protest injustice, which by the way is a constitutionally protected act?


C. Today’s Poem:

What Was Your Name in the States?
by Anonymous

Oh, what was your name in the States?
Was it Thompson or Johnson or Bates?
Did you murder your wife
And fly for your life?
Say, what was your name in the States?

This poem and song was common during the Gold Rush. It describes the nature of many of the first pioneers to emigrate into California and savagely fall upon the unsuspecting indigenous people and pristine resources of the area. These murderers, the thieves, the psychopaths, the loners unable to prosper in the more civilized parts of the world arrived first, often under assumed names, and created the ethical basis upon the society they built that is, in part, every bit as despicable as that society that developed under slavery. In California, they obliterated the indigenous people rather than building an economy around enslaving them. The rape of the State’s natural resources with psychopathic abandon continued, however, well into the later part of the 20th Century and became the foundation of its economy until replaced, in part, by defense industries and the digital revolution.






“We’ll keep a crystal vase near our pink and blue pillows, and after we wish and then after we kiss, we’ll lower our faces to the very brim, the very delicate edge of the crystal vase, and then we’ll let the syrup flow from our eyes into the gentle crystal vase. And every Christmas and every Easter and every other holiday known to man, we’ll feed the syrup to our seventeen children, and they will remain children forever. Their imaginations will be in full bloom forever…and they will never die. Everything will be forever…”
-Leonard Melfi from TIMES SQUARE.


Melfi, the well known off-Broadway playwright, an old friend who I last saw in the mid-sixties when we got very drunk in a friends apartment in Greenwich Village and believed in our boozy stupor that we had solved a notorious mass murder of the time only to discover a few years later we were utterly wrong. He died alone in 2002 at Mount Sinai Hospital of congestive heart failure due in part to his alcoholism. His body was misplaced and discovered four months later in a potter’s grave in Queens. His brother had him exhumed, flown to his home town of Binghamton NY, and following a funeral service and Catholic mass buried in his family plot. He would have appreciated the melodrama. Alas, nothing is forever.






My Grandson Anthony Laying Flowers at the Grave of My Parents.

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This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 25 Papa Joe 0007 (November 11, 2018)


“Man is fed with fables through life, and leaves it in the belief he knows something of what has been passing when in truth he has known nothing but what has passed under his own eye. “
—Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Thomas Cooper.








It is autumn in the Enchanted Forest — Time to change from Hawaiian shirts to flannel; for hearing the fallen leaves crackle beneath my feet as we walk by; for golden sunlight in the afternoons and early sunsets; for the yellow pollen from the Deodar Cypress trees coating the cars and the sidewalks; and a time for sleeping late in the morning and for reflection.

On Tuesday, I went for my appointment at the office of the surgeon selected to operate on my neck. A very young doctor followed by a female medical student entered the examination room where I had been placed. He appeared to be of South Asian heritage. He examined me briefly and answered my questions. He was thin with limpid sympathetic eyes. He then left with the student trailing in his wake.

After a while, the surgeon himself entered with the young doctor and medical student in tow. He was a small man in a grey-brown suit and sporting a bright blue bow tie. For some reason, his appearance made me recall that I had read somewhere that surgeons have the highest percentage of psychopaths of any profession. He felt around my neck, had the young doctor stick a camera down my nose and into my neck and watched whatever it was he saw on the monitor. He then announced that the proposed operation was dangerous and I would probably die. He followed that good news up with the observation that there had been almost two months since the PET scan and his examination showed that during that time the tumor had grown substantially and now pressed too close to my cartroid artery to be safely removed by surgery. He then railed about the unwillingness of my health-care group to allow his health-care group to use their follow up organizations thereby limiting his activities only to the surgery. He ordered his assistant to schedule another CT scan. If it confirms his diagnosis, I may be in deep trouble.

My oncologist told me a few days before that if surgery is unavailable then we may try immunotherapy. At best, immunotherapy, he said, slows the growth and spread of cancer cells. If it does not work, then it is goodbye time for Joey.

I had woken up that morning in reasonably good spirits. By 3PM I may have become a dead man walking. Life is funny sometimes.

For the next day or two, I was very depressed. That little voice in my head, the one that talks all the time and tells you how good you are or how bad you are as though your goodness or badness is the most significant goodness or badness of anyone in the world, was worried.

“What does it mean to me for you to die?” it said in that same youthful voice it always had? “I mean, it’s not like sleep,” it added. “When you sleep you anticipate you will wake up in the morning. Isn’t that consciousness? You anticipate something is going to happen next even if you cannot know what.”

I was getting annoyed, even depressed with its musings. “That’s it,” it continued. “You close your eyes like you’re are going to sleep and you never wake .”

“That’s very profound, you idiot,” I said annoyed.

“No, you Don’t understand,” it went on. “Without anticipation, there is no life, no consciousness.”

“And this insight is supposed to help me how?” I enquired. It was silent. Perhaps for the first time in my life, I could not hear It. I was afraid, very afraid.

By Thursday I felt a little better — a good dose of valium and a nights sleep allowed me to begin to get things in order. First, I thought, “Write a will” — a wasted gesture. I always wanted to die with nothing. I am pretty close to that — both dying and money. I probably need someone to take my collection of Hawaiian shirts, however. I would rather not send them to Goodwill. Pookies last will and testament: “I leave to______ my Hawaiian shirts. End.”

So here I am typing at my computer, watching MSNBC and CNN and reading Tana French’s latest novel. It is a mystery novel, but so far I am not sure about the mystery. I have read about 1/3 of the book and all that’s happened so far is that the narrator gets beat up and spends a long long time in the hospital worrying about everything except who beat him up and why.

The weekend trundled by. I arranged for the CT scan on Monday that will indicate whether an operation is feasible. On Tuesday, I will watch the election returns. If the Democrats do not retake at least one house of Congress with a substantial majority, then — then what? I am too close to the end for it to make much of a difference to my welfare, but I may be sad for everyone else.

Perhaps, this is where it all may begin to end — in some ways, life has always been, little more than a scramble for scarce resources (money and sex — ok, not so scarce) ending in death.

A computer simulation by Jeremy England and colleagues at MIT showed that a system of particles confined inside a viscous fluid in which the particles are driven by an oscillating force, over time, triggers the formation of more bonds among the particles. In other words, shine enough light and apply enough heat long enough you eventually get life. In general, the function of life is to more efficiently convert matter (resources) to energy (movement). Humans have gotten very good at converting resources to energy and leaving waste and destruction behind — perhaps too good. Maybe the answer to Marconi’s query, “Where are they?” regarding alien civilizations of 40 billion planets in the Milky Way capable of sustaining life, is simply that advanced life-forms a become so efficient in converting resources to waste they destroy the planet before ever making an effective foray into space searching for others.

On Saturday, we had a barbecue and fresh oysters at Naida’s daughter’s home nearby. Sarah’s husband is a nurse. One of his colleagues, another male nurse, was there also. I asked them why they became nurses. Besides liking to help people, they agreed that employment opportunities were a major draw. One said, “I could be fired at my current job and before arriving home I would have a new one.”

Between medical appointments and various episodes of depression, I have not seen HRM all week. That makes me sad. On the other hand, autumn is a pleasant time to walk the dog and stand on the levee watching the river flow by.

The second third of the Tana French book focused on Hugo, the narrator’s beloved uncle, who is dying from inoperable cancer. Hugo surprisingly confesses to the murder and promptly dies the next morning while in police custody. In fact, the murder had been committed by others.

On Sunday Terry, the Cannabis King of the Siskiyou’s dropped by. It was good to see him. He had been looking into some alternative therapies for me. It is good to have friends. I have had some very good friends along the way. When I was very young, in grammar school, I had no friends so I used to pretend that I was sick so I could stay home in bed and read the encyclopedia. That is where I get my fondness for melodrama —pretending I a sick almost to death. Once I recall, I successfully persuaded my parents I was as sick as I had ever been in my life, so they let me stay home. After they both left for work and I was alone, I began to persuade myself that I was, in fact, very sick. I was sure I was going to need help or I was a goner. I slipped out of bed and crawled because I was too weak walk through the apartment to the door where, if I were able to open it, I could call for help and one of my neighbors would undoubtedly save me. I reached for the doorknob but I was too weak to grasp it and I fell motionless to the floor.

After an appropriate amount of time. I got up off the floor and walked back to the bedroom, climbed back into bed and resumed my reading.
On Monday I had my CT scan. More needles stuck into my body and radioactive substances injected into my bloodstream. After that, I drove up to the Golden Hills, ate lunch and walked a bit around the CCD park.

I finished the Tana French book today. Despite everything I found out previously and the resolution, more or less, of the murder that occupied most of the book, it ends with a twist as surprising as any I have read in detective fiction.

Today I have my appointment with the surgeon to review the results of the CT scan and determine if I am dead or not.

Well, the surgeon informed me today that if they operate there is a 90% chance I would die on the operating table. I do not know if that was an evaluation of his abilities or the complexity of my tumor’s location. He followed up that news with the opinion that, absent successful alternative therapies, my remaining lifespan would be somewhere between three and six months. Unfortunately, the only alternative therapy available to me appears to be immunotherapy which the surgeon explained to me would have about a 20% chance of success.

If the situation is as dire as he indicates, I intend to fully indulge myself of whatever unorthodox alternative treatment approach that I may enjoy — mushrooms, cannabis, of course, acupuncture, mood-altering drugs and the like. One of the good things about knowing your days are limited but you are otherwise in good health is that you have few restrictions on pandering to yourself.

In the evening, my sister joined us for dinner. She is down from Mendocino to attend an economic development conference. After dinner we watched the returns come in. I had hoped for better.

That night, I was afraid I would not be able to sleep. I tried all of my little tricks to help me fall asleep including counting my breaths backward from 99 and contemplating the SF 49’s starting lineup but to no avail. So I turned to Naida and said, “I can’t sleep so I am going downstairs so that my twisting and turning will not keep you awake.” She responded, “What are you talking about? It is 5:30 in the morning. You’ve been sleeping peacefully all night.”

The next day, my radiology physician confirmed the surgeon’s diagnosis and opined that under these circumstances immunotherapy was the best alternative — “Sometimes it works,” he added. I said, “It is odd feeling as well as I do but knowing I’m as good as dead.” “Yes,” he responded. “It is like that for cancer patients.” That got me wondering how many people I pass each day with similar problems to mine, that go about their days without complaint. Almost every day I meet someone who asks me how I am doing. As is my want, I tell them. They often tell me that they had gone through similar treatments two or three times already. It always makes me feel worse when I am unable to wallow in the uniqueness of my imagined misery.

I left his office with him promising to think about the possibility of additional radiation therapy should the immunotherapy treatment falter and traveled into the Golden Hills to pick up the Scooter Gang. I dropped them off at Dick’s house. They promised not to get in trouble (follow my rules, don’t hurt yourselves, don’t spill anything on the floor and don’t break anything) while in the house but begged to be able to get into a little trouble when they traveled to Town Center later. While I was leaving, Hayden walked up to the window of the car and said, “Remember Pookie you have got to believe.”

I guess there are no more adventures for Pookie — unless dying itself is an adventure — Pookies last adventure. Dylan Thomas wrote, “Do not go quietly into that dark night.” Well, I am pretty sure I will not go quietly. But instead of “railing against the darkening of the light,” it will be more like bitching and complaining (see my screed on bitching: My mother always said I screamed constantly from shortly after birth until I began to talk and then I complained of everything until I became a teenager and then thankfully I only sulked.

My sister came by again yesterday evening. We laughed a lot. Planned for Thanksgiving and reminisced.

The leaf-fall of autumn has increased since the air has cooled and the Fall breezes grown stronger. They are falling too fast for the ground-keepers with their leaf-blowers to keep up so the Enchanted Forest’s paths and lawns are covered with yellow and brown leaves that in the sunlight look like spilled paint. While walking the dog I like stomping through the leaves, kicking them into the air and watching them fall back again like a 79-year-old child.

Today, we visited my chemotherapist expecting to set the schedule for my immunotherapy. We were surprised. Apparently, he spoke last night with the various doctors involved in my case. He said the radiologist changed his mind and now thought radiation might be possible. Also, my regular oncologist told him he was setting up an appointment for a second opinion at UCSF. He then laid out my treatment schedule. First, I get the second opinion. If that supports the first surgeon’s judgment, then we will begin a new round of radiation therapy, followed by Chemo and if necessary immunotherapy. Although this might appear to be more positive than the other recent medical opinions I have received, it actually seems to me to be simply a change in a treatment plan and not in prognosis. I think they are just trying to make me feel better. Despite their attempts to humor me I intend to continue bitching and wailing, “The end is nigh. Woe is me.” I do so like melodrama.

Yesterday evening, I picked up HRM from his mountain bike team practice. On the way home, after asking me how I felt, he mentioned that at the church youth meeting he attends every Wednesday all the eighth-grade boys, many of whom I know, prayed for Pookie. I may not be someone particularly optimistic about the power of prayer, but I cried nevertheless at the thought of the Scooter Gang praying for me.

On Friday, before returning to Mendocino, my sister came by to take us to a Japanese grocery store to hunt for mushrooms for my new diet. Later we had lunch at the Freeport Inn in the Delta. Following my sister’s departure back to Mendocino, Naida sautéed some of the mushrooms for dinner. They were delicious.

Saturday, we attended the weekly coffee at the Nepenthe clubhouse. It is the season when everyone there was involved in the various charity drives and party planning undertaken by the community. On the way back home while I was busy kicking the leaves about, Naida noticed a sign for a meeting at the small clubhouse of something called “Conscious Community.” We decided to find out what it was all about. We discovered they considered themselves a consciousness-raising group like those of the late ’60s except without the dope.

During the walk, we noticed a mysterious cement ball had appeared in the street in front of our house. It remains there today. Nothing like it exists anywhere else in the neighborhood. What can it be? A portent of something? Alien scat? A hairball from a giant cat?


Pookie with the mysterious orb.








–$710,000,000,000,000 to $1,500,000,000,000,000 – The estimates of the total notional value of all global derivatives contracts generally fall within this range. At the high end of the range, the ratio of derivatives exposure to global GDP is about 21 to 1.






A. Adventures with Hayden on Top:

One day, I set off with Hayden to drive to Mendocino in order to spend a few days with my sister. During the drive from Sacramento to San Francisco to pick up my grand-daughter Amanda and her mom Hiromi, they were joining us for the weekend, I tuned into the local university classical music station to listen to a 1977 NY Metropolitan Opera performance of that old Verdi warhorse, La Forza del Destino, sung by the aging Leontyne Price and the young Placido Domingo.

A few days before, I was listening to the same station while driving Hayden to school in the morning. As we approached the school, he insisted I turn off the music, which I did assuming he found my choice of music distasteful. Because of this, during the station’s introduction before the opera presentation, I asked him if he wanted me to change the station or turn off the radio since he did not enjoy the same type of music as I.

“Oh, no,” he said. “It’s not that at all. I was afraid that some of the bullies at school would hear the music when I opened the car door and make fun of me for listening to old people’s music.” Then for the next hour, he entertained me by singing along with the performers every part of the opera, especially mimicking Ms. Price’s lirico spinto soprano – sometimes note for note including vibrato.
March 29, 2013


B. Tuckahoe Joe’s Blog of the Week:

In searching through the Blogosphere, I discovered a blog entitled “Logarithmic History: the history of the universe — from the Big Bang to the end of the year — day by day ( The author attempts to compress the entire history of the universe using a logarithmic scale (you can read the “about” section of the blog to find out what he’s about)

The first entry I came upon, I assume corresponding to November 4, the day on which I discovered it, contained an excerpt from Essays of Montaigne on Cannibals that I found fascinating. Here it is in its entirety.

Three of these men [Tupi Indians from Brazil], ignorant of the price they will pay someday … ignorant of the fact that of this intercourse will come their ruin … poor wretches …were at Rouen, at the time the late King Charles IX was there [in 1562]. The king talked to them for a long time; they were shown our ways, our splendor, the aspect of a fine city. After that, someone asked their opinion and wanted to know what they had found most amazing. They mentioned three things, of which I have forgotten the third, and I am very sorry for it; but I still remember two of them. They said that in the first place they thought it very strange that so many grown men, bearded, strong, and armed, who were around the king (it is likely that they were talking about the Swiss of his guard) should submit to obey a child, and that one of them was not chosen to command instead. Second (they have a way in their language of speaking of men as halves of one another), they had noticed that there were among us men full and gorged with all sorts of good things, and that their other halves were beggars at their doors, emaciated with hunger and poverty; and they thought it strange that these needy halves could endure such an injustice, and did not take the others by the throat, or set fire to their houses.

I had a very long talk with one of them. … When I asked him what profit he gained from his superior position among his people (for he was a captain, and our sailors called him king), he told me that it was to march foremost in war. … Did all his authority expire with the war? He said that this much remained, that when he visited the villages dependent on him, they made paths for him through the underbrush by which he might pass quite comfortably.

All this is not too bad — but what’s the use? They don’t wear breeches.

C. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

Your successes may be enjoyable but your failures are usually far more interesting.

D. Today’s Poem:
Luigi Pirandello (1867-1936)

Luigi Pirandello was born in 1867 in Girgenti (now Agrigento) on the southern shore of Sicily. He attended the University of Rome in 1887 and later transferred to Bonn University. His doctoral thesis was a study of the Sicilian language. He was influenced by Luigi Capuana (1839-1915). Antonietta, his wife by an arranged marriage suffered a mental breakdown that is said to have led to Pirandello’s sense of disillusionment. He was a prolific writer, producing widely acclaimed novels, short stories, and plays. His masterpiece, Six Characters in search of an Author was written in 1921. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1934. He published five books of poetry.

Sempre Bestia

Senza far nulla, un leone è leone:
e un pover’uom dev’affrontar la morte
per avere l’onor del paragone
con quella bestia, senza stento, forte.

D’alti pensieri l’anima infelice
nutrite, si che s’alzi a eccelse mète.
Un gran premio v’aspetta. Vi si dice
che veramente un’aquila voi siete.

Sciogliete in soavissima armonia
il vostro chiuso intenso ardente duolo,
fatene una sublime poesia,
e vi diran che siete un rosignuolo.

Ma dunque per non essere una bestia
che dovrebbe far l’uomo? non far niente?
non pigliarsi ne affanno ne molestia?
E ciuco allora gli dirà la gente.
Always An Animal

Without doing anything a lion is a lion:
but hapless man must brave death
to have the honor of being compared
with that animal, strong, without limit.

Nourished by the soaring thoughts of an
afflicted soul, if one reaches an apex.
A grand prize awaits. Then it is said
you truly fly like an eagle.

Write a sublime poem,
that sings in silken rhyme
of your innermost intense feelings,
and they’ll say you sing like a nightingale.

What must a man do to not be likened to
an animal? can he simply do nothing?
without feeling anxious or troubled?
People would then take him for a jackass.

– –translated by Arthur V. Dieli








“That’s right! Zombie bankers!” A flaming skull floated along beside the ghastly businessmen, howling like a hellish carnival barker. “Which is more terrifying: their eternal hunger for the flesh of the living? Or their reckless fiscal irresponsibility? No, seriously. Your input is valuable!”
Pike, J. Zachary. Son of a Liche (The Dark Profit Saga Book 2) (p. 528). Gnomish Press LLC.

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