“It has been said that necessity is the mother of invention. In the same vein, desperation is the father of compromise, panic is the sister of slapdash improvisation, and despair is the second cousin of quiet apathy.”
Pike, J. Zachary. Son of a Liche (The Dark Profit Saga Book 2) (p. 7). Gnomish Press LLC.
Happy National Welcome New Immigrant’s Day (Previously known as Thanksgiving).
Happy Birthday to my son Jason on December 8.
Happy Birthday to Annmarie (December 3)
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:
After three days, while on our late afternoon walk, we discovered the mysterious orb still there. Now, however, with a sign affixed to its surface announcing “Fountain. Free. Take it away.” Mystery solved, perhaps.
It is now three and one-half months since the growth on my neck first appeared and I went to my oncologist for the first time for a diagnosis. Since then, I have had a PET scan, two CT scans, four sonograms, three visits for biopsies, a stress test, two blood tests and at least 8 meetings with five separate doctors and I still have no treatment plan. Today, I am awaiting insurance company approval for a second opinion on the feasibility of surgery. During all that time, the swelling tumor on my neck has grown from an insignificant bulge to a goiter like bump and my diagnosis has gone from, “It is nothing to worry about” to “You’re probably going to die.” I am no longer amused.
Groucho Marx had a cousin from Argentina named Gaucho.
Days pass, I read a lot, watch the news on television, see the Niners lose again, spend too much time on Facebook — It is now Wednesday, I finally have an appointment scheduled in San Francisco at UCSF for my second opinion. Sometimes bitching and shouting works.
Thursday was a good day although the air quality made it better to stay indoors. San Francisco was reported to have the worst air quality in the world today because the smoke from the many fires in northern California hung over the city like a dirty shower curtain. Sacramento was not too far behind. Nevertheless, I felt good today. Whether it was from the valium I had taken last night to help me sleep or something else I do not know. In the afternoon, I felt good enough to brave the hazardous air and drive into the Golden Hills to pick up Hayden and Jake. The Skate Park was closed because of the hazardous air-quality, so we went to the house where we discussed the possibility of the three of us driving to a Mountain Bike track somewhere in the mountains this weekend. After doing some research about the various trails, I left them to ruminate on the alternatives and returned to the Enchanted Forest.
Back at the house, I busied myself posting various articles on Facebook from two of my blogs, “Trenz Pruca’s Journal,” and “Papa Joe’s Tales, Fables, and Parables.” I was doing this because I wanted to increase the number of views this year to more than any of the Blogs’ prior years. At first, I was afraid to mention here in T&T how I spend several hours a day (at least four) because it might reveal me to be an insecure recluse desperately seeking recognition for what I feared were my inept and odd scratchings. Eventually, I convinced myself that it was no more than an obsession to “beat my record.” So instead of revealing my pitiful insecurities, I exposed one of my more idiotic neuroses which I somehow believed was less embarrassing. Anyway, for “Papa Joe’s” I passed my best year in early November. For “Trenz Pruca”s Journal,” it will be close to the end of the year before I know if I will succeed or not.
In any bureaucracy, all the work is done low on the food chain. Everyone else just holds meetings.
Last night, I dreamed a movie, actually two, one complete and one half-way through. This is not unusual. I have dreamt movies before. Usually, in my dreams, I enter one of the movie theaters I remember that existed on Fordham Rd. in the Bronx way back when I was going to college at the end of the 1950s. They were grand old Egyptian-Baroque buildings. In my dreams (and probably in real life) the theaters had deteriorated to become purveyors of soft porn and old movies. Strangely, in my dream, I had to go downstairs to get to the theater. The movie was an old one I had never seen before — a melodrama about two families going through various domestic crises. I woke up briefly half-way through the second feature but fell back to sleep almost immediately. The movie was still running but had now become a porn flick and I was an actor in it. This was notable, not because of the nature of my involvement and the vigor of my participation, but because I have not experienced such dreams for years now.
I awoke that morning with Naida caressing my arm as it lay across her body. It made me both happy and sad. Happy because it is so nice to wake up in the morning with someone who loves you and sad because I fear those mornings are going to end far too soon.
Those who observe well, dream well.
Friday was a non-event and then came the weekend.
At five o’clock in the morning, Naida woke up and said that she had to go downstairs to write something in her memoir — something about her approach to math as a child, a complex method that included fingers, beacons and musical rhythms ( the left hand did the rhythm and the right counted the repetitions). I went back to sleep and fell into a marvelous dream. I was somewhere in the Mediterranean, in a colorful small town by the sea. I was younger, a drifter and con man. My friend Blackie had engineered a scam that had gone bad. I was accused even though I had no part in it. A younger Isabella Rossellini, who was a princess of some sort, rescued me somehow. We laughed a lot and got naked. Then Naida woke me up to go to the Saturday coffee at the Nepenthe Club House.
The weekly Saturday coffee was usually attended by the older members of the community. Women outnumbered men more than two to one. Although each person sported a name tag, I never could recall names even after staring at the tags so, as usual, I gave them nicknames — the football coach, the two spies (one a man who was a senior executive in the State Department, the other a woman with coiffed white hair whose job prior to retirement was shrouded in mystery), the leader, the cute lady, the model (an eighty-year-old ex-model), the model’s husband the architect ( a 90+ year old architect of some renown) and others. There was also a mother-daughter duo that one could not discern who was the mother and who the daughter. They whispered and laughed together in the corner. Also, there is always a woman there, usually without a name tag, that attended to the refreshments. I do not know if she is a resident or an employee of the HOA.
The Leader, a large woman, selflessly devotes herself to the task. She feels quite distressed and obviously hurt if anyone challenges or disagrees with her, so we don’t. She opened a small roll-on piece of luggage that accompanies her everywhere, pulled out some papers and a small bell that she rings to call us to order. Then, she announces the events scheduled, calls for volunteers for the myriad of charitable activities planned to be undertaken and so on. After that, we clean up the clubhouse and leave.
Naida and I then went shopping and had lunch at Ettore’s where I choked on a piece of turkey breast and threw-up all over my plate.
The mysterious orb remains, in the gutter by the house. No one has claimed it yet.
B. A SHORT TRIP INTO THE SIERRAS:
On Sunday, we decided to escape the fire-caused air pollution and drove into the Sierra foothills. We drove to Jackson. There is a bookstore that sells Naida’s books. The bookstore has a Sherlock Holmes museum on its second floor with a room made to look like the great detective’s Baker Street residence. While Naida went into the store to discuss book things, I took the dog for a walk around the time. The little fellow got into a snarling match with a large pit bull. I admired his courage, not his common sense.
After that, we went for lunch a Teresa’s one of the better restaurants in the town. It always saddens me that so many Italian restaurants here and even in Italy have passed from the families whose food came from the techniques and recipes that their mothers develop to please the taste of their families who ate the food every day, to others whose recipes and techniques are often designed to lower costs and aspire only to being merely acceptable. If you are ever in Jackson you should stop for a meal at Teresa’s.
While there, I learned the story of how Naida got her name. It was not an uplifting story. It was as remarkable and as disturbing as the rest of her life.
We drove back by way of Ione. While passing through the town Naida told me about a friend of hers, an Indian woman, who was Dave Brubeck’s piano teacher when he was growing up there.
C. OFF TO THE CITY — THE BIG ENDIVE:
On Monday, we set off for San Francisco. Before leaving we drove to the kennel to board Boo-boo for the night. It took a little time because the person typing the required forms was blind. He had to lay one eye on the computer screen in order to read the form. Then, after saying a teary farewell to the dog, we left.
By the time we had reached Vacaville, the smog from the Forrest fires was so thick our lungs began to ache. We had coffee and a brioche there and then drove on into The City. Noe Valley where Peter and Barrie live was only slightly less occluded with the smog. They gave us some masks and we walked down to 24th street for lunch. After lunch, Peter and I went to Bernie’s for coffee. The air was too unbreathable to sit at the “Geezer’s Bench” so we sat at a table by the window drinking coffee and complaining about the pains and burdens of growing old.
The next morning, we went to UCSF for my appointment. On the way, as we passed the Ferry Building, Naida told me that at one time she worked with the State Department of Corrections on a massive study on the effectiveness of various parole alternatives on the recidivism rates of violent criminals. The results showed that nothing works.
I met with a Dr. Ryan for a second opinion on the possibility of surgery on my neck. The surgeon’s office was located on the fourth floor of a hospital in Mission Bay. Many years ago I had some involvement in the approvals for the development of Mission Bay. Precisely what, I do not remember. It now has become a hub or medical treatment technology. The cancer department impressed me. It is set up so that most of the diagnostic and treatment needs of the patient can occur in one place without the usual delays.
The surgeon was a youngish man in his mid-forties, dressed in a dark blue suit (He did not have a bow tie). Following the usual prodding, he confirmed the opinion of the previous surgeon that an attempt to operate would probably be fatal. The tumor had entwined itself around the muscle like a lover and pressing up against the artery. If he operated he would have to cut a flap of chest muscles to fold over the wound. He did indicate that all the tests done so far do not show that cancer had spread any farther and those other treatments may work. I then told him I was also looking into various trials including with one of his office colleagues that Terry recommended. He then arranged for an appointment with the doctor in a trial that focuses directly on my problem.
Although this was a somewhat more positive result and made me feel much better, I realized that I am effectively dead in the very near future should these treatments not work.
We drove home that afternoon, picked up the dog, watched some movies and prepared for Thanksgiving.
And on Wednesday the rains came.
Have a Happy National Welcome New Immigrant’s Day.
IS TREASON A REPUBLICAN CAMPAIGN STRATEGY?
We now know that, in order to win the Presidency in 1968, Richard Nixon, with the assistance of Anna Chenault, committed treason in colluding with the then President of South Viet-Nam to sabotage the Vietnam Peace Talks on the eve of the election. Among other things, that treachery cost the lives of 20,000 American servicemen due to the prolongation of the war.
A scant 12 years later, Republicans working for the election of Ronald Reagan to the Presidency similarly resorted to treason in sabotaging the American Government’s attempts to free the hostages trapped in the American Embassy. Later in disregarded our treaties and laws they sold arms to our enemies and gave aid to those attempting to overthrow a legitimately elected democratic government.
In 2016 the same Republican playbook was used by Donald Trump or his associates in the Republican Party to collude with the Russian State, the enemy of this nation and one of our major competitors, in order to assist in securing his election to the Presidency of the United States.
There appears to be a pattern of behavior by the leaders of the Republican Party to hide, behind the pretense of patriotism, treasonous behaviors in the pursuit of power. In all three cases, after the treason was exposed, members of the Republican Party, many of whom were not involved in the original activities, worked diligently to cover it up and protect the members of their party that was implicated.
While it may be said that there are no patriots in the pursuit of power, unfortunately, that form of lust for power seems currently limited only to some members of a single political party.
What is perhaps even more tragic are those Americans who claim to love the flag, anthem and pledge of allegiance to this country and who post innumerable pleas on social media to support and remember our men and women in uniform far too often blindly support those same political leaders who have degraded our patriotic symbols and abetted the injury and death of good Americans protecting our nation.
Shame on them all.
There are about thirty-trillion cells in a human body working more or less together to sustain life. Roughly the same amount of bacteria and fungus are along for the ride. A single human body contains about 5000 times more cells than there are humans on earth. At every moment in one’s life, some cells in one’s body are dying and others are being created. At some points in your life, all your cells are different from they had been at some other time, yet you still remain you. If all your cells die you die. If all your cells are separated and somehow kept alive you would not be. Biologists call organisms like humans superorganisms, swarms or ensemble organisms. Individually we are not you or me but we are each Borg.
A. Adventures with Hayden on Top:
A few years ago, while I was sitting at the table one evening doing little more than staring at the wall, I noticed Hayden writing away in a notebook. This was a very unusual thing for him to do. He typically spends the evenings watching television, building Lego Cities, running around the house screaming for no discernible reason and, just before bedtime, completing his homework. I asked him what he was doing. He said it was a secret and continued to diligently attend to whatever he was working on. When he finished he came over and showed me the notebook.
A few nights previously, I had promised him that we would write a short comic book together entitled “Hayden Without a Hat.” Each evening thereafter he asked me if I was ready to write the story with him and each night I gave some excuse or other.
The notebook contained the following (everything is as he wrote it including the punctuation, except for the quotation marks which I added). I promised him I would “publish” it. So here it is:
“Story for little boys, girls!
Hayden Without a Hat
Once upon a time, there was a little boy named Hayden Without a Hat.
“Oh, no!” says Grandpa Pooky. “Oh no!!!” Grandpa Pooky says “You need a hat.”
“A hat…” says Hayden, “a hat.” “Let me think. Hmmm, ok” Hayden says. “I do need a hat!!!!
“Hey, we can go to the hat store.”
So Hayden picked out his favorite hat. It was just like Grandpa Pooky’s hat.
Remember kids always have a hat!!! And mom’s and dad’s.”
I told him that I also sent a copy to his mom because it would make her so proud of him. He said I should not have because she would make him do it again and again until he got bored.
B. Tuckahoe Joe’s Blog of the Week:
It is my habit, whenever my mind ratchets into an obsession, to search the internet for information that either confirms my craze of the moment or questions it. Once I find something that either confirms or denies it, I usually stop my research. Of course, like many, my recent mania is focused on he who is not my president. As a result of my tripping through the tulips of the internet in search of information confirming my biases, I came across, FactCheck.org® A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center (https://www.factcheck.org/) that appeared remarkably unbiased in analyzing those so-called facts upon which we seem to so vehemently disagree in public discourse. It is a site I would recommend anyone consult before responding to some blog post of a Facebook item with which they disagree or agree. The authors seem remarkably and pleasantly blind to the emotions behind the so-called facts upon which they opine. For example, the following is a summary of Trump’s “Numbers” during his first year in office published in January 2018:
Here we offer key measures of what has happened since Trump was sworn in on Jan. 20, 2017, according to the most up-to-date and reliable statistical sources available. Some highlights:
Employment growth slowed by 12 percent. Nevertheless, the unemployment rate kept dropping, reaching a 17-year low. The number of job vacancies rose, also to a nearly 17-year record.
Economic growth picked up to a 3.2 percent annual rate in the July-September quarter from 1.5 percent for all of 2016.
The number of people caught trying to cross the border with Mexico fell by nearly half.
The number of refugee admissions fell by 70 percent.
Restrictions in the federal regulatory rulebook continued to grow, but at less than half the pace during the two previous administrations.
The number of coal mining jobs, which Trump promised to bring back, went up by only 500. Manufacturing jobs grew just a bit faster than total employment.
Real weekly wages rose 1.1 percent. Corporate profits and stock prices hit new records.
The number of people without health insurance went up — by 200,000 according to a government survey, and by 3.2 million according to a more recent Gallup poll.
The U.S. trade deficit that Trump promised to bring down grew instead, getting 11.5 percent larger.
The number of people on food stamps, which Trump wants to cut, grew by nearly 3 million.
The federal debt rose nearly 3 percent; projected annual deficits worsened.
Trump won confirmation for a dozen federal appeals court judges — quadruple the number Obama put on the bench during his first year.
The U.S. image abroad took a hit. The number of foreigners telling pollsters they have a favorable view of the USA fell nearly everywhere. The only big gain was in Russia.
This was updated in October as follows:
In the time Donald Trump has been in the White House:
The jobless rate dropped to the lowest in nearly half a century, and the number of unfilled job openings hit a record high.
Economic growth spurted to a 4.2 percent annual rate in the most recent quarter.
Median household income rose to the highest level ever recorded in 2017. Poverty declined.
The growth of federal regulations slowed, and has lately reversed.
Crime rates declined. The number of homicides went down 0.7 percent last year after rising for the previous two years.
Carbon emissions rose. Coal mining jobs went up a bit.
Corporate profits, stock prices and home values set record highs.
The trade deficit grew larger.
The federal debt increased by nearly $1.4 trillion, more than 9 percent. Yearly deficits increased.
The U.S. image abroad plunged.
As one can see, there is something on each side of the Great National Divide that someone can chew on. However, note that in their analysis of their summary they point out:
Employment – The average monthly gain under Trump is 190,000 jobs, which is 12 percent below the average monthly gain of 217,000 during Obama’s second term.
Trump will have to pick up the pace if he is to fulfill his campaign boast that he will be “the greatest jobs president that God ever created.”
Household Income —However, a senior Census official cautioned that the latest “records” in 2016 and 2017 are due in part to a change in the survey questions in 2014. Starting then, the annual survey has picked up some sources of income that were previously missed. Taking this into account, Jonathan L. Rothbaum, chief of the Income Statistics Branch, said the 2017 median income would be in a “statistical tie” with incomes measured in 2007 and 1999.
Crime — In Trump’s first year, the murder rate dropped down a notch to 5.3 per 100,000 population — still higher than in each of the first seven years under Obama.
And so on. So a caution to those who use this site to read the entire article before jumping to conclusions. After you do that, please jump to whatever conclusions you like.
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
If you know whatever you do well enough to be terrorized by one’s own ignorance, you probably are competent at what you do. If, on the other hand, you feel supremely confident you know whatever you need to know to do whatever you do, then you can rest assured that you are most likely unqualified.
C. Today’s Poem:
Crossing The Border
And middle age ends
The day your descendants
Outnumber your friends.
by Ogden Nash
D. Giants of History: Peter.
I received the following comments on my previous post from my ever interesting and a humorous friend Peter.
In response to my comment, “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.” Peter wrote:
I recall returning to Calcutta at the end of a 15 hour jeep ride during which I was continuously trying to avoid stopping the jeep to get out and barf because of whatever was ailing me, managed to reach Howrah across the river from Calcutta in the middle of the usual total traffic jam of conveyances and all manner of living creatures and feeling really sick and miserable (holding it in still), but reminding myself that I Would manage to reach the hotel, and that at least I had an air ticket out of there. Of course, “Terminal” leaves one with nothing ahead unless you happen to believe in whatever variety of hereafter you may subscribe to and which can (if you’re lucky) override the stuff to bitch about in the “right now”. Then, there’s always Lucretius.
In response to “bitching” he wrote:
An apt parallel, perhaps, is the true story of the famous scientist, J. B. S. Haldane, who we met in Bhubaneswar shortly after our arrival in late 1964 two weeks before he died. Haldane was from the well-known Haldane family in England; Viscount Haldane was a distant past relative. Years after he emigrated to India accepting an invitation to settle in Orissa (now Odisha) from its then Chief Minister, Biju Patnaik (noteworthy himself as the aviator who flew Sukarno out of Indonesia to safety during that country’s revolution that led to Sukarno’s eventual leadership of that country), as Haldane had decided he loathed the English and hated the Americans, so India was a welcome destination, Haldane became seriously ill.
In response to, “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.”
Absolutely. Re: one day at a time, etc. My uncle Herbie continued his lifelong habits of cigars and liquor until his end, despite my aunt’s entreaties to cease. He’s the one who played the piccolo; I periodically ponder whether indeed I should have done that, thus avoiding schlepping the band equipment around that I do; too late now, but also I wouldn’t have done that – wasn’t what I was listening to on the radio in NYC on WCKY (I think), top of the radio dial, broadcasting live from Small’s Paradise in Harlem [no relation to what just burned down, of course].
“He was a six-foot-three ex-boxer. He would never know what it was like to feel yourself small, weak and powerless. He would never understand what rape did to your feelings about your own body: to find yourself reduced to a thing, an object, a piece of fuckable meat.”
Galbraith, Robert. Career of Evil (Cormoran Strike Book 3) (p. 432). Little, Brown and Company.
Waiting to pee-pee.