Friday, November 29, 2002

The personals
Thursday Threesome:
Onesome. Game- What's your favorite game?
Hm. Gosh. I haven't played a game in so long I don't remember. I used to be really big into Risk.

Twosome. Set- Do you collect anything? Is there anything you've worked to get a full set of?
I used to collect comic books. I still buy them, but not with the fervor of a collector. When they were in the range of fifteen to fifty cents each, I could afford it: Now they're three to five dollars each. I just buy what I like to read.

I also have a small collection of toys, but again, I make no attempt of completeness, just what appeals to me. The most recent is a cute Cowgirl Jessie doll (you know, Toy Story 2) that a dear friend gave me as a get-well present. I've wanted a Jessie for a while (I have the McDonald's Happy Meal toy), but I could never find one that really looked like her. This one does. I don't remember ever telling my friend that I wanted one, but it would be like her to have figured it out. I look at it and I think of my friend and That Heartbreaking Song ("When She Loved Me") and I am moved in several directions at once.

Threesome. and Match- Have you ever broken something belonging to someone else and tried to replace it with a perfect match?
Nope. You must have me confused with an old sitcom. However, since my house fire back in '99, I have frequently attempted to find replacements for things I used to have...

The Friday Five is still on vacation.

Saturday, November 23, 2002

My friend Thomas
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ran a very nice obituary of Thomas Fuller on Saturday. I don't know how long it will stay up...

(The print version of the article actually sends you to two websites for further information on Thomas: The Pirate Hunter page and my ARTC page.)
The personals
Thursday Threesome:
Onesome. Through-What torments (or pleasures) do you have to go through to get to your Thanksgiving Day destination? ...or are you one of those who stays home? ...or perhaps someone who works on this holiday?
The torments have to do with being married and having both families live in easy driving distance. You'd think that would be a good thing, but it often forces us to either choose between them or visit both on the same day.

Twosome. Thick-Who are you looking forward to seeing this weekend? ...and is this a special gathering with friends and family from far away or more of a routine get together?
Boy, was this a badly-timed question. Going to a funeral on Sunday. One of my best friends.

Threesome. and Thin-Are you going to thin your wallet or purse down a bit on Friday? ...or is it time to do some decorating? ...or are you just glad it's over?
My wallet is too darned thin as it is. Don't expect to do it any more damage.

The Friday Five is still on vacation.

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

There but for the grace
I've been distracted.

Regular readers will know (and if you don't know, just scroll down) that I'm in the process of recovering from a heart attack and stroke. Previously, in the hospital and immediately after being released, I was optimistic that I would recover fully.

I have become somewhat less secure in this assumption lately, for no good reason. This, too, is probably apparent from my last medical update. I am not thinking as clearly, as sharply as I think I was, but this could simply be because I am not required to, not yet having returned to the daily grind (due mostly to my eyesight).

I do still realize how lucky I am, and it is premature to draw any conclusions regarding the completeness of my recovery, but I also realize that I am in no sense a medical miracle. Nobody owes me a full recovery. Brain damage is a tricky thing.

What happened once could happen again: What was blithe ignorance is now uncertainty. Having one heart attack or stroke increases the risk of another. I've had two each.

But nothing had shaken me so much as the events of last Friday morning.

A good friend of mine, Thomas Fuller (all of you who know me in the Real World know him), had a heart attack while driving his youngest son to school. He wasn't as fortunate as I was. He lost consciousness immediately. He has not awakened. He is not expected to awaken. His body is alive, but...

I can't say it. I won't. I find, old cynic that I am, that I still believe in miracles. It's horribly unfair that he should leave us just as he's beginning to achieve the creative success he's always deserved.

The last conversation we had was about my close call. His doctors had warned him that he must lose weight and change his habits. My experience, he said, would serve as an example. See what happens?

On Thursday they turn off the machines, and we will see what happens.

Friday, November 15, 2002

Cell phone as security blanket
From Dan Bricklin's Log:

That moment with the cell phone brought up another image I saw earlier in the day: A woman getting out of the driver's seat in her car and opening up the back door to take her small child out of a car seat while still clutching an object in her hand that she obviously felt was important -- her cell phone. I remember thinking: More and more I see people clutching their cell phones as a major source of comfort or something. It's like they are holding onto a railing when they walk down stairs: The cell phone gives them some sense of security. I feel that it represents a lifeline to the rest of our circle of important people, and we treat it as such. It's a space warp that connects us to others we need as we go through life.

I think you're reading too much into a casual gesture, Dan. In my experience, one of the weakest, feeblest gadgets we use daily is the belt clip that is supposed to keep a cell phone safe. If you want to keep it intact and, er, handy, better keep it in your hand.

On the other hand, some people do use their cell phones in a manner that I would consider excessive: Just because you can phone while driving, or making a purchase at the convenience store, doesn't mean it's a good idea.
Pelosi elected minority leader?
Is it April already? The Democrats really think they lost the elections because they weren't liberal enough?
The personals
Thursday Threesome:
Onesome. Shake- Is there anything that makes you shake in your shoes? Any phobias you'd like to share?
Well, I'm trying real hard not to let it spook me, but after my stroke, I'd have to say I really don't like having a week-long hole in my memory.

Twosome. Rattle- What's rattling around in your mental trunk that you need to take care of?
Not sure what you mean by that. But the aforementioned stroke has impaired my confidence in dealing with day-to-day events. Still working on that.

Threesome. and Roll- When you run up against an unexpected challenge, do you adapt and roll with it or scrap your original plan and go with Plan B?
It seems logical to choose as events warrant. Sometimes sticking with the plan is the right move: Sometimes it's time for a new plan. Each challenge defines its appropriate response.

The Friday Five is on vacation this week.
Apocalypse Yo?
Leann Rimes is topless on the cover of this month's Blender magazine...but Christina Aguilera is nude for the cover of Rolling Stone. Take that, Britney Spears and Charlotte Church!

It's probably not appropriate to point out that Mary-Kate and Ashley will turn eighteen on June 13, 2004...

Thursday, November 14, 2002

Yo mama whatsisname
James Lileks has it right. Osama bin Laden chooses this moment to release an audio tape (what, no video?) to prove he's still alive, and I'm finding it hard to care. Yes, he still needs to be caught and disposed of. I'm sure that will happen, eventually. But that which has been achieved will be sufficient for the moment: He has been rendered irrelevant.

I'd like to be able to congratulate NATO and the U.N. for their role in this symbolic victory, but, well, you know.
Health Update
(If you care.) My weight has stabilized at 43 pounds down from July 8 (the date of my first heart attack). I say this because it has not varied more than one pound one way or the other in the past month. Doubtless it is time for me to increase my exercise regimen to better tone the weight that remains.

Am I sensitive about my weight? I must be, I haven't told you what it was or is. *Grits teeth and braces himself.* It was 265. It is now 222. As I've said, not exactly svelte, but worlds improved from what it was.

I am feeling stronger and very much like myself, only better.

Residual vision impairmenet remains of undetermined extent. I can read most things well enough, but not for indefinite periods: Sometimes I simply must rest my eyes. I often blow cold reads during radio theater rehearsals: I usually have to use my finger to follow along in my script to keep my place, something I never used to have to do.

My quick-and-easy vision test is to extend my arms at approximately 45 degrees to either side of my head, focus squarely between them, and see how well my peripheral vision can see my hands. I can count the fingers on my left hand. I cannot see the fingers on my right. This is about as cheering as you might expect.

There remains the possibility that this is as good as it's going to get.

Friday, November 08, 2002

The personals
Thursday Threesome:
Onesome. Starbucks. Are you a coffee drinker? Yeah? What's your favorite brew? Not? Then what gets you going each day?
No, I'm not. Not even before the heart attacks and strokes. I'll have Luzianne decaf iced tea (sweetened nowadays with Splenda).

Twosome. Christmas. Are you ready? ...or is it still a little early?
I do confess I've given it some thought. I used to think this was too early, but one month of Christmas season is not enough time to get everything done. Besides, why shouldn't we make things last when they make us feel good?

Threesome. Blend. Is autumn blending into winter for you? ...or are you already there?
It's plenty cold enough to be winter for me. Post-stroke, my internal thermostat is busted. I never used to get cold.

The Friday Five:
1. Did you vote in your last elections?

2. Do you know who your elected representatives are?
Yes, unfortunately.

3. Have you ever contacted an elected representative? If so, what was it about?
Never successfully. Although they all have e-mail addresses, none of them read their e-mail. And I haven't felt strongly enough to write a snail-mail letter or make a phone call. Yet.

4. Have you ever participated in a demonstration?

5. Have you ever volunteered in an election? What was the result?
What else do you do at this hour of the night but take a silly web quiz?

Thursday, November 07, 2002

Moon landing hoax, says tin-foil hat crowd
I can't believe people are still on about this, but it's the Top News Story on AOL's welcome page today, so it must be important. *sigh* Thanks, Fox television.

AOL got the story from Reuters, covering NASA's release of a monograph refuting the claim. Here's the word direct from NASA.
Overstrained Metaphor Alert
No, not Eric Raymond, me. He said, "The Democratic Party fell off a cliff last night."

I say: They've been falling off that cliff for a long time. They overbalanced when they tied their fortunes to Bill Clinton. The Wellstone funeral was the moment when they lost final contact with the ground and went tumbling into mid-air -- that last eternal moment when they might have been able to catch themselves before going over.

Tuesday's election was the beginning of the big splat at the bottom of the cliff. The splatter and shock waves have only begun. And the party is only now coming to a realization that they have fallen: They still don't perceive how far and how hard. But they will.

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

I voted...
...and most of my candidates won, for the first time I can remember. Those of you who follow Georgia politics may draw some inferences from that -- or may not. But the big three races, considered iron-clad safe seats for the incumbents, were Governor, Senator, and Georgia's 18th state district (from which the current Speaker of the State House comes): nobody expected Governor Roy Barnes, Senator Max Cleland, or Representative Tom Murphy (Democrats all) to lose, let alone all three.

I think I understand why Governor Barnes lost: He pissed off the all-powerful teachers' unions by meddling in the structure and powers of the state superintendent. But I had no idea they were mad enough to vote Republican: They must really be upset. And then there's that dog's breakfast of a flag he saddled us with, which didn't make him any friends. But that doesn't explain Cleland or Murphy.

The AJC is trying to come up with reasons that don't spell "Because they were Democrats," and more power to them. But personally, I think the proverbial Last Straw was the Wellstone "funeral". That spectacle is going to have long-term repercussions. The Democrats now know that to be true: I wonder if they yet understand why.

I still resent the fact that, in the United States House of Representatives, I am unrepresented and disenfranchised. I live in Georgia's Fifth district, and incumbent Congressman John Lewis (D), as usual, ran unopposed.

In the nearby Democrat-safe Fourth (although, all things considered, one can take nothing for granted anymore), the last gasp of Cynthia McKinney died: Denise Majette (D) won handily. "[Democratic] Party officials thought they had offset any dampening of the turnout in south DeKalb county, where supporters of U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney, who was defeated in the August primary, had threatened to stay home -- or vote Republican." Vote Republican? I thought the McKinney crowd was convinced that it was Republicans, voting in the Democratic primary, who had cost them the election. Their way of getting even is to vote for the Republican candidate? Apparently McKinney did indeed have the loon vote all to herself.

Saturday, November 02, 2002

The personals
Thursday Threesome:
Onesome. Goblins. Do you do Halloween? ...or is it all too much?
Answered this in last week's Friday Five. No, I don't. We buy candy for the little panhandlers because we must, because not doing so is as socially acceptable as visiting grade schools with "There Is No Santa Claus" placards, because we have been well and truly intimidated by the street vandals for whom, one day a year, broken windows and wet toilet paper are appropriate restitution for not being given one more twenty-five-cent chunk of chocolate they could easily have bought themselves.

Do I sound bitter?

Twosome. Ghouls (and guys). What ghoulish dishes do you serve up at Halloween?
Why, who has time to cook? I'm fearfully huddling by the front door hoping our candy will be judged worthy by the little darlings.

Threesome. Bats. Where are you flying to this evening? Any plans?
As if I dared leave the house.

The Friday Five:
1. Were you raised in a particular religious faith?
Ah, fresh from the grumpy mood Hallowe'en always puts me in, you ask highly personal questions I'd rather dodge. Christian. Presbyterian, if you must know.

2. Do you still practice that faith? Why or why not?
I don't, because I don't wish to.

3. What do you think happens after death?
No data.

4. What is your favorite religious ritual (participating in or just observing)?
Null set.

5. Do you believe people are basically good?
Have you read the papers lately? Yeah, I think they're basically good -- but I also think they're basically self-centered and will redefine "good" as necessary to get their way.