Friday, December 27, 2002

The personals
Thursday Threesome:
Onesome: Merry: Merry times? Hey, did you have a Merry Christmas? How did things turn out for you and yours after all the work and time you put in preparing for the big day?

Everything worked pretty well, with the big exception that my father is in the hospital (the same one I was in) with undetermined heart trouble.

Twosome: Christmas: Christmas presents? Did you get what you wanted from Santa? ...or are you headed back to the stores with the rejects on 'Reverse Shopping Day'?

I'm content.

Threesome: Everyone! Is everyone back to the normal routine today, like work and homemaking and such. ...or are you still entertaining? ...or maybe just taking a well deserved break from it all?

Back to normal. I envy those who can take a week or two break for Christmas. I've never been in a position to do that.

The Friday Five is back.
1. What was your biggest accomplishment this year?

I lived through it.

2. What was your biggest disappointment?

A very good friend did not.

3. Will you be making any New Year's resolutions?

No. I never do.

4. Where will you be at midnight? Do you wish you could be somewhere else?

A friend usually hosts a New Year's Eve party to which I usually go. I am considering foregoing it this year and spending the evening at home with my wife. (UPDATE: I stayed home. Both of us were ill.)

5. Aside from (possibly) staying up late, do you have any other New Year's traditions?


Thursday, December 26, 2002

Bored on the holidays? Among the attractions at is this examination of intriguing yet unsettling pin-ups by Art Frahm. Certainly, if there were an artist who specializes in cheesecake poses of women whose underwear has unexpectedly fallen to their ankles, there should by gum be a tribute / gallery site. If "tribute" is the right word.

This borderline-tasteless yet non-explicit collection seems typical of post-war Girl Art. The point is to show off a girl's legs by any means necessary. Hey, I can appreciate that as much as the next red-blooded American male.

But, as Lileks points out, panties simply do not do that. The odd combination of hands full, skirts up and pants down is so unlikely that my suspension of disbelief cannot grasp it, unless there was a mysterious elastic failure in 1948 coupled with an epidemic of women wearing oversized underwear.

Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Domestic bliss
That's pretty much what we've been having today, although parts of it didn't seem very blissful at the time.

As my lovely wife pointed out, there is a lot of pleasure to be had in hitting the stores and selecting just the right gift for those you love. There would have been even more pleasure in it, I think, had we completed the task a week or so sooner. On Christmas Eve, in my opinion, gift shopping should be through, and grocery shopping should be your main focus, as if you expected to be socked into your own home with an indeterminate quantity of relations who need to be fed. Which is, in fact, the case with us.

But, in truth, the biggest part of the shopping burden is complete (largely because, due to my medical problems, there isn't a lot of money to spare for it: shop intelligently, not extravagantly). It is the luck of the draw that a gift requiring personalization wasn't ready until Christmas Eve afternoon.

When I looked at those around me in the mall, I did not see growing desperation. I did not see cranky children. I did not see hollow eyes and aching feet. I saw smiles, I saw purpose... I saw Christmas. I saw a little Cindy Lou Who in the food court, spinning in place because she could, mother seated nearby allowing her child to burn off her energy in her own way. I saw passersby almost unconsciously veer to one side or the other to make room for her. So far as I could tell, I was the only person who actually stopped to watch -- but nobody was upset, disgruntled or inconvenienced. It's what very little kids do. I had an irrational, unconfirmable feeling that James Lileks' daughter, the Gnat, was also spinning, in the other direction, maintaining the fragile balance of the planet.

I saw a mall full of people who, by and large, wanted to be there. (Well, except, possibly, for the guy who was taking too long to engrave that bracelet we'd come for. I'm not sure about him. But the employee of another store in that same chain, who had come by to pick up a gift herself and took a moment to advise us as to the suitability of font, she wanted to be there. She made up for him.)

For what we are about to receive, let us be truly thankful. Even if it's the simple gift of one more day.

Monday, December 23, 2002

But wait, there's more
In the process of teaching myself CityDesk, I've expanded the home purple page: I've added a handful of essays written for Myriad, plus I've rebuilt my Julia Sawalha and Remember WENN pages that got deleted earlier this year when AOL thought I'd died.
Christmas memories
Brad Strickland has posted some photos of ARTC's Stone Mountain Christmas show here, at the Pirate Hunter site. The young lady second from the right in the first photo, and at far right in the second, is my lovely daughter Sarah. That's me in the fourth photo.

Thursday, December 19, 2002

The personals
Thursday Threesome:
Google's: Did the net help you find gifts this Christmas? ...not just buying things over the net, but actually finding gifts for people.
Sure it did. Amazon's wish list is a spectacularly good idea.

Christmas: Got your two front teeth? What is your "wish gift" this Christmas? No, not the one you're hoping to get, but the one you'd love to wish for!
There's really not much I want. I'm beginning to get intrigued by these PDA gadgets, but I still haven't convinced myself I need one. I'd like to have a good digital camera, but I'm not really photographer enough to take advantage of it.

(LATER: Oh, I'm not thinking big enough? Sure, I'd love to have one of those big-screen plasma TVs... Heck, I'd like a house in the country. After 25 years of being ten feet from my neighbors on either side, I could do with some elbow room.)

Cache: Hiding the gifts again? Where are your favorite spots? Shh... Don't tell us the one they haven't found yet! Maybe you'd be better off telling us of "great hiding places from the past"...
I "hide" things in plain sight. One of my son's presents has been sitting on the bookshelf in my office, in the open, for six months and nobody has noticed it. (It's wrapped and under the tree now.) I don't know if this family is extremely respectful or just utterly incurious.

Note to the people on the Back Porch who create the Thursday Threesome: Your site redesign is really spiffy-looking, but I can no longer cut and paste the text of your questions, forcing me (in this electronic age) to retype them. How quaint.

The Friday Five is still on vacation.

Monday, December 16, 2002

Public disclosure
I can still remember how chilling it was to go to a web site and be presented with a map to my own house. I mean, I'm not quite so feeble that I need one... but I hadn't given 'em my address.

I've gradually gotten used to being able to type street addresses and get driving directions, and I know that home ownership is public information -- but the ease of connecting the dots should be paralleled by increased penalties for the misuse of such information, and so far it hasn't been.

Which is why I'm so pleased to see this article, in which Paul Boutin, writing for Wired magazine, traces the consequences of Matt Smith's decision to reveal John Poindexter's (head of the Total Information Awareness project) home address and phone number in an article for SF Weekly. I mean, I wouldn't wish this on anybody, but as an anonymous voter says at the end of the article:

"If they're making him as uncomfortable as we are, good."

(Heard it from Instapundit.)

By the way: No, the Information Awareness Office logo doesn't make me uneasy. At least, not for the same reasons it does so many other bloggers. The "spooky" pyramid with the eye, odd as it may seem, is on our money (check your wallet -- or do the rest of you not carry one-dollar bills any more?). It's the globe on the right, conspicuously centered on the Middle East, that bothers me. Is that meant to be reassuring?

Friday, December 13, 2002

No "Holy this or that" joke
Just a fine overview of Batman's career, with a fistful of links to other fascinating Batman sites, from (of all people) NPR. (Heard it from Mark Evanier.)
Blatant plug
If any of you are in the Atlanta area this weekend and have some time to spare, consider dropping by Stone Mountain Park. Why? Well, because I'll be there. I'll be easy to find: I'll be on stage at Memorial Hall.

No, really. The Atlanta Radio Theatre Company will be performing portions of "An Atlanta Christmas" at 1:00, 3:00, and 5:00 Saturday, and 2:00 and 4:00 Sunday. Mostly written by Thomas E Fuller, adapted for audio by me, with a segment written by me, and featuring me as the host...

Oh, yeah, and my daughter plays several prominent roles as well. It's radio theater, we can double-cast.

I mean, it's no visit from Al Roker, but it's a dreaded purple personal appearance, that's gotta be worth something.
The personals
Thursday Threesome:
Faith: Are you faithful in keeping your New Year's Resolutions?
I don't make New Year's Resolutions.

Hope: ...and what are your hopes for the New Year?
Fewer funerals and near-misses.

and Charity: Do you support any causes or charities? Any special projects this time of year?
We support Food for the Poor, but we do that year round. Other projects will have to wait until I have a full-time income again.

The Friday Five is still on vacation.

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

The WeatherPixie put up a Christmas tree!

And so did we.

Every year, I complain about having to do this, and this year I was no help at all... and I missed it. Go figure.

I've let Thanksgiving come and go without comment, mostly because I hate being the center of attention. "Boy, you think it's all about you, don't you?" No, I don't, and I wish it weren't... No, wait, that didn't come out right.

What I mean is this: My wife's family insists on having everyone speak in turn to list the things they're thankful for... And when you have a guy in the room who recently survived two heart attacks and two strokes, you sort of have to include "I'm glad Daniel lived." (I'm not quite rude enough to point out that if I hadn't, I'd still have been the center of attention, I just wouldn't have been bothered by it.)

Thursday, December 05, 2002

I must share this
You have heard the voice of Paul Frees, although you may not be aware that you have. Boris Badenov. The cat in "The Last Unicorn." Burgermeister Meisterburger in "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." The narrator in the original "George of the Jungle." Squiddly Diddly, Morocco Mole, and Ludwig von Drake...

Well, I had no idea he had recorded an album, but here's a review of Paul Frees and the Poster People, in which Frees sang "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head" in the voice of Humphrey Bogart. How can you not go listen to the sound samples?

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

Journalism cliche #83: Collect them all
It's "searching for answers". When there is no more to say about some horrific event, murder, fire, act of war or what have you, the reporter tells us that the community is Searching for Answers. Funny, I always thought the reporter was supposed to search for answers. Oh, not those answers?

Tony Woodlief knows what they really mean. (You're already reading his "Sand in the Gears", right?)

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.

Thursday, October 31, 2002

A Hallowe'en Story
Trust the lovely Dawn Olsen to come up with a heartwarming Hallowe'en story. Well, at least it warmed mine.

(Aaugh! Even has replaced its logo with a pumpkin carving! Aaugh!)

Monday, October 28, 2002

Sniper subculture?
The "Violence Policy Center" thinks there's a sniper subculture? Encouraged and fueled by manufacturers of "military-style weapons"?

I think that depends on how you define subculture. This seems to require us to define it as "any identifiable demographic that buys things you wouldn't buy yourself." I think there's a simpler answer.

Reminds me of my days working retail bookselling. We carried a handful of those stupid "how to be a ninja" books, but to my knowledge we never actually sold one. They kept getting shoplifted. I now recognize I should have been blaming the "ninja subculture" instead of the pimply-faced adolescent guys that appeared to be responsible.

(Saw it at Instapundit: Didn't everybody?)
Joining the crowd
Okay, there's the ubiquitous WeatherPixie, okay? Now that I've picked her up, she's on Every Blog In The World, I think.

No, I'm just jawin'. If it really bothered me, I wouldn't use it. We'll see what she does...

UPDATE, 4:00pm EST: Is rainin' purty good here, you betcha. Pixie don' know 'bout it. What the heck's goin' on at Hartsfield Airport?

Saturday, October 26, 2002

The personals
Thursday Threesome:
Onesome. Bubble, bubble: As in bubble bath. What's your favorite way to relax?
A hot, hot bath.

Twosome. Toil: What's your least favorite chore, and why?
Mowing the grass. Talk about neverending work. It just seems so futile. Just pave the yard and paint it green, or plant a ground cover that looks good without periodic trimming. Why make homeowning more work than it has to be?

Threesome. and Trouble: What do you get into trouble for around the house?
Everything. I'm the Dad.

The Friday Five:
1. What is your favorite scary movie?
I'm not a big fan of scary movies. Force me to a decision and I'll pick M with Peter Lorre.

2. What is your favorite Halloween treat?
Staying home undisturbed. Oh, you mean to eat. I don't know what's specifically a "Halloween" treat as opposed to some other kind, but I like Hershey's white chocolate kisses.

3. Do you dress up for Halloween? If so, describe your best Halloween costume.
I don't.

4. Do you enjoy going to haunted houses or other spooky events?

5. Will you dress up for Halloween this year?
Nope. I hate Halloween. If Halloween had a Grinch, it would be me. What a colossal waste of time and energy.
Nothing is real
Holy cow. It's worse than I thought.

PhotoDude commented on a story originally in the Charlotte Observer. I know this is a blinding flurry of links, but the core of the story is this: "John Boy & Billy" host a radio show syndicated to numerous stations. It's hard to say just what kind of show it is, because different stations get different music. At 6:40 Tuesday morning, right after the news, oldies stations got "But It's All Right" by J.J. Jackson, while country stations got "Wish I Didn't Know Now" by Toby Keith.

And classic rock stations, immediately after a report of the latest sniper attack, played Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust".

[Executive producer Randy] Brazell said that during a break, the morning team discussed whether to address the issue on the air and decided against it. "We decided that if we called attention to it, people who didn't notice it, then would," he said.

People who didn't notice what? This terrifically unfunny accident? Or the fact (rapidly becoming a fact of life) that there is no such thing as a local radio show anymore -- and almost no judgment applied to what you hear?

My point here is not that accidents happen. Of course they do. This program is syndicated to over a hundred markets. There's always the possibility of an unfortunate justaposition with a local news story. One shouldn't read too much into that, per se.

What worries me is that nobody is taking responsibility. Nobody decided to play that song: A computer did it. The DJs weren't even aware of it until the affiliate stations called in. Everyone is sorry it happened, but it's nobody's fault.

How important can the programming be if the programmers are paying so little attention to it? If it's not worth their time, what makes it worth mine?
Playing catchup
It's proving to be more difficult than I anticipated, hence the gap between my last comment and this. A big reason for this is (I shouldn't admit this) I used to gather a lot of source material at work (between 24 hour cable news and a T-1 connection), and I haven't been to work since July. From home, with my measly rabbit-ears antenna and dial-up, a blogger has to be intensely motivated to maintain a regular flow of, well, whatever this is.

So many of the things I'm interested in, other people are monitoring and saying the things I would like to have said. McKinney? Photodude. Congress? WSJ Best of the Web. Bellesiles? Instapundit. The beltway sniper? Everybody.

I even missed my own birthday (Oct. 13, if you must know), and not because I was particularly busy either.

I'm not giving up, though.

Saturday, October 12, 2002

"I'll take the flippin' obvious for $100, Alex" Story of the Week
"I'm not that nice. I'm a very biting, caustic, sarcastic person."

Okay, hands up, who thought Rosie O'Donnell was nice? Anyone?

Thursday, October 10, 2002

Is the scale broken?
No. I am continuing to lose weight at a safe, healthy rate. Earlier I said:

As of 9/18, I am 25 pounds down from my weight the day I had the stroke, 34 pounds down from my first heart attack in July (at which time my cardiologist told me to lose forty, so I�m six pounds from that target � which was supposed to take a year to reach).

As of now, 10/10, I'm eight pounds lighter still. I'm lighter than I've been in at least ten years. I'm down 42 pounds from 7/8 (two pounds past the cardiologist's order). You don't notice how many little aches and pains you've gotten used to, problems that are directly attributable to carrying around too much weight, until you lose the weight and don't have 'em anymore.

This is another thing for which I can thank my long-suffering wife, for (as she has noted) it was she who did the dietary research in order to tell me what and how much I should be eating.

I haven't mentioned specific before-and-after numbers. Do you think I should? Frankly, I was ashamed of my weight, even though my body's tendency to distribute fat evenly created the illusion that I was less overweight than I was. And my current weight, though a great improvement, is still nobody's idea of lithe.

But, you should excuse the expression, I can live with it.

I'm getting stronger, too. Not yet up to pre-stroke levels, but it no longer exhausts me to walk my son to school or climb a flight of stairs. It may not sound like much, but it's progress, and it's very encouraging. Is my wife responsible for this, too? Well, yes. It was she who asked me to start walking our son to school in the first place. It's about a mile round-trip, downhill all the way there (and uphill all the way back). There's that half-hour per day (actually a touch longer) that the cardiologist wanted me to walk.

I still hate exercise. But I can't deny I feel better.

Now if only I could see straight...

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

Gentleman's agreement
PhotoDude has made some entertaining observations regarding the wall-to-wall television coverage of the President's speech Monday night -- or, more precisely, the lack of it.

Those who question the need for war with Iraq call for more debate, a slower approach, more talk, and for the President to do a better job making his case.
So tonight at 8 the President was to give a 25 minute or so speech on just that topic.
...None of the Big Three Networks carried the speech.
...I can't really understand why the White House failed to make the request [that the networks carry his speech], nor can I understand why network executives feel they must only act on the directions of the White House, and not use their own brains to figure out that since our nation may soon be at war, covering the President's speech might be A Good Thing.

Oh, Linda Ellerbee spilled these beans years ago in her book, And So It Goes. I'll pick up her narrative as she is in the White House press room in the early eighties:

I covered a briefing by Jody Powell. My assignment editor wanted to know about plans for President Carter's trip to Poland. Powell began the briefing by giving us that very information. I took it down, then listened as he went on to tell is ut was National Sweet Potato Week and later the president would be in the Rose Garden with Miss Sweet Potato and some farmers if anybody wanted to take advantage of the "photo op".
...I didn't think we had all that much interest in sweet potatoes, so I left the briefing before Powell finished, called the assignment editor and told him the plans for the Poland trip.
"How long did Jody talk today?"
"Hard to say. He's still talking."
"What? You left before the briefing was over? That's completely against the rules. Go back immediately."
It seems all those news organizations that took out ads telling you how competitive they are had gotten together and agreed no one would ever leave the briefing before it was over. That way nobody would scoop anybody. Cozy.
In that case, I told him, we were in real luck. I'd already left. The damage was done. Now we could scoop everybody on the sweet-potato story.
Some people don't recognize a gift when it's handed them.
...[After the briefing] a voice over the public addres system interrupted me.
"The lunch lid is on. I repeat. The lunch lid is on."
Now that was the sort of announcement guaranteed to send a reporter back for further instructions, especially one who'd already messed up as a White House correspondent. Another call to the assignment editor.
"Hi. It's me. At the White House. Thought you'd want to know the lunch lid is on. I don't know what that means but it sounds important. Maybe we ought to tell Nightly News right away, in case they want to change tonight's show. Meanwhile, what should I do?"
He said I should go to lunch. The announcement meant reporters could go to restaurants with their sources, or each other, and not have to worry about war being declared while they were away from the press room. No news would happen until after three o'clock. Well, fancy that. Not only did competing news organizations make sure no one would be competitive on the briefing, but the White House joined in the game when it came to the important stuff, like lunch.

I've seen nothing to make me think the prevailing attitudes in Washington -- or anyplace else where reporters are dependent on handout news releases from politicians, which is everywhere -- have changed.

I'd like to think some network might have carried the presidential speech had it been opposite mere reruns, but of course they still would have had to eat some commercials to do it, so it would have been a difficult decision. After all, the president hadn't asked for the time, so it must not be very important. If he were actually going to say anything, he would have told us first.

The lunch lid, after all, was on. (The prime-time dinner lid?)

Or perhaps, in the news directors' open, unbaised judgement, since obviously there could be no justification for war against Iraq (they settled that over lunch, before moving on to split up the check), there was no need to embarrass and confuse the nation by allowing the president to demonstrate his failure to grasp that "fact" on national television. Or am I reading too much into this?

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

Medical Her Story
The more I thought about the essays I posted about my recent hospitalizations, the more I realized I'd shortchanged Oreta's perspective. Sure, it's still available in the blog archives, but for convenience's sake I just assembled it (and your lovely virtual get-well cards) into a single document for your perusing pleasure. You'll find it here.

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

Since I am having to rebuild my AOL pages from scratch, I'm taking the opportunity to redesign them as well, and adding new content. Well, actually, it's old content, essays that previously appeared in the amateur press alliance I edit, Myriad. I've been meaning to do this for a while, and now seems like the time. The first new/old entry is up now, with more on the way.

I'm also trying out CityDesk, the site management software that almost no bloggers use (USS Clueless being the only one I know of). With my iffy eyesight, it was a real adventure to recreate my template in CityDesk, but it seems to work pretty well.

Monday, September 30, 2002

"Noted attorney and military expert..."
InstaPundit led me to ScrappleFace, where I collapsed in a helpless heap on the floor. "'Let Me Post Bin Laden's Bond,' Says Bonior in New Book"; "Rep. Bonior to Host ABC's 'Salute to Neville Chamberlain'"'; "PLO Football Team Loses 72-0, Arafat Declares Victory"...

But what got me, the piece I couldn't even finish, began:"Barbra Streisand, the noted attorney and military expert..." * Bwah hah hah* *snort* *thud*

Sunday, September 29, 2002

You want to see my scar?
Now's your chance to prove whether you really are interested in my hospital stories: They're on the web now. Here's the first visit, and here's the second.

Sorry, the comment engine doesn't go there: You'll have to come back here to talk back.
I missed it?
Aw, $#!+! I missed the Buffy season premiere! Why doesn't somebody tell me these things? (Based on previous years' late starts, I wasn't expecting to see Buffy again until mid-October.) Aargh!

Saturday, September 28, 2002

Am I still gone?
Well, yeah. Sorry. This blog is not dead. That print deadline will be past soon.

And, by the way, I don't have so low an opinion of my self-worth that I don't think you care whether I live or die. What I meant was that I wasn't sure you would care about every little detail of my ongoing medical adventures. I've no desire to turn into an old fogey who has nothing to talk about but his own decrepitude. I have a lot of that to tell you about.

Since most of it is, at this point, old news, I am thinking I will probably create another page for it elsewhere and link to it from here. Since AOL (my main provider) thoughtfully deleted all of my existing web pages during my last hospital stay (do you have to edit them every so often to maintain currency?), I have a clean slate to work with. (That's why my purple cow went away, if you were wondering. I put her back. We've been together too long to break up now.)

Thursday, September 19, 2002

Where did I go?
Very sorry for the lapse. I'm still here, nothing has gone wrong -- I'm still recovering, but my vision is getting better, one of my two brain bleeds has disappeared, and the other is much smaller. I'm writing for an upcoming print deadline and for another personal project (I doubt you'll see it here).

It is still my hope to let you see the detailed descriptions I've written for my two hospital stays (I am deluding myself that you could care). The second one, in particular, surprises me: How could I possibly have so much to say about a period of time I don't remember?

Oh, well. People write about the 1960s, too, and as the saying goes, "If you can remember the sixties... then you weren't there, man."

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Day of Resolution
Not that I don't respect the media's attempts to portray the baffling spread of emotions inspired by the events of a year ago, but somehow I don't think they have it right.

In that light, allow me to suggest an alternative meme. We here in the South have been using it for quite some time now, but in my opinion it has outlived its usefulness in our context. Thus, although I cannot speak for all Southerners, speaking for myself I am more than willing to transfer "ownership" of this inspirational cry to the ongoing efforts to remember exactly what did happened on September 11, 2001, and to ensure that it will not happen again.

"Forget, Hell!"

Sunday, September 08, 2002

Backlogs and Bulldozers
I'm beginning to think I may never catch up from my medically-imposed separation from my computer. I guess it isn't unexpected. I mean, you try ignoring your e-mail for three weeks and see what happens. Yahoo even de-activated my e-mail address -- and I pay for that!

It's particularly frustrating to waste such little vision as I have identifying and deleting spam. I'm not in need of weight-loss drugs, "girth and length enhancers", adult download services, or Nigerian money transfers, thanks.

On the other hand, I wouldn't have wanted to refuse mail from everybody I didn't already know. (Yeah, I'm leading up to saying something unforgivably sentimental. Yeah, I know, I already did that in a previous comment. I'm gonna do it again. Deal.)

I am trying to catch up, honest I am. I want to. My reading speed is still slow, but it's increasing every day. And, remember, on top of everything else, I'm on a dialup connection. :)

But what I want you to understand is that I don't remember anything more than the occasional scrap from August 9-14 (I'm told this is just as well), and I see August 15-22 through a persistent but clearing fog. (My stay at the rehab center is, unfortunately, all too clear.) Yes, Oreta told you she read it to me, and I'm sure she did. Don't blame her that I don't remember it.

Which is to say that as I work my way through my own blog over the last month, most of it is news to me still. It impacts me twice: Once as I follow the events that Oreta describes, learning what happened to me during those lost days; and again as I see just how well cared-for I really was.

As I read what Oreta has told you, and what you've told her, I'm struck by several things.

What a marvelous, unexpected communication tool blogging turned out to be. Some of my friends and family started reading it, I know, because it was the easiest way for Oreta to keep you updated.

Glenn Reynolds left a comment? (And mentioned me several times on his page, causing several instalanches.) James Lileks mentioned me on the radio? E-mail from "SWVCTM" (of "It Can't Rain All the Time") and Natalie Solent? I shouldn't even start mentioning names, because I must stop sometime and I don't want to leave anyone out, and I know I will. For me, this was instantaneous: I have very little sense of time having passed while I was at Crawford Long. Can you imagine what it feels like to "come back" and find all this?

Hang on, I'm turning into Sally Field, and that's not where I wanted to go.

Every comment is precious to me. Not just for the get-wells, but doubly so for the encouragement and support you've offered to Oreta. She, after all, was doing all the work: I was just lying there. Thank you so much for keeping watch on her when I couldn't.

This is strong stuff, both hers and yours, and I can't read more than one posting at a time without breaking down. I am a very lucky man.

I don't know what it's like to sit by and care for a spouse who isn't all there: She, I'm sorry to say, does, now. Those of you who complemented her for her strength, yes, you're absolutely right, she's the best advocate I could ever have. And you don't know the half of it. I thought I did, but now I'm in unrestrained awe of her.

I don't think she'll mind if I tell this story on her, she's told it herself. Years ago, she was a retail manager at a bookstore in downtown Atlanta. She was, and is, a demanding boss, a fact that probably doesn't surprise you. Nor would it surprise you that she works herself as hard or harder than her employees.

She is also a small woman, at five-food-four and mumbledy-mumble pounds. One of her employees, feeling overworked by her, described her as "an itty-bitty bulldozer."

It wasn't meant to be a compliment. I don't know if she knew Oreta heard it. But shortly after, Oreta bought a matchbox-sized toy bulldozer and put it on the corner of her own desk.

It's still on her desk today.

Thank God this itty-bitty bulldozer is on my side.

Of course I'm going to recover. I mustn't disappoint her.

Damnit. Now I'm making myself cry.
Drop Dead, Reuters
Steven Den Beste and Charles Johnson have something to say about a photo and caption being distributed by Reuters. I'd link to it, but Reuters has pulled it, so you'll have to visit Den Beste or Johnson to see it in its full glory. It was a March 25 photo of the cleanup operations at the World Trade Center, accompanied by the following caption:

Recovery and debris removal work continues at the site of the World Trade Center known as "ground zero" in New York, March 25, 2002. Human rights around the world have been a casualty of the U.S. "war on terror" since September 11. REUTERS/Peter Morgan

Now, I can't find it in myself to claim that no one should hold that opinion, nor that they shouldn't say so if they do. But I'm really uncomfortable with it being presented as a straight factual lead, rather than an opinion piece.

But then I guess it wasn't really intended for an American audience. In the name of equal time, I feel compelled to link to the complete story by Richard Waddington as found at Yahoo Asia, "Human rights are victim of 9/11 attacks", of which the photo's caption is the first line. (Hey, I Googled for it.) All things considered, though, I don't think it speaks well of anyone involved at Reuters to attach so little importance to, one might say, the first 3000 victims of the 2001 War on Terror. They lost their human rights too.

(So, you see, all you violent people at Little Green Footballs, the person you're really after is not Peter Morgan, who's only the photographer. The words are Mr Waddington's.)

In the wonderfulness that is the web, it's no longer possible to write for a particular audience in serene confidence that nobody else will see it. That's why they call it a world wide web.

Thursday, September 05, 2002

I lied: I�m not 90% back
I can blog, yes, but only slowly � and I certainly can�t keep up with everything I used to.

I can type pretty well, but that doesn�t help me much: My output is necessarily restricted by my tremendously slowed input. I'm not taking in new things to talk about very quickly. My workplace, for good reasons, has a television with a news channel on 24 hours � but I�m not there. I don�t even have cable at home. Newspapers are difficult. I can reformat text on my computer to make it easier to read � but it takes time. And many pages (like my own, ironically) use CSS and don�t allow easy font resizing.

What�s wrong with me?

Well, my eyes are fine. I know this because I just had the most comprehensive neural/ophthalmological exam I�ve ever had. It�s not my eyes: It�s the blood in my brain pressing against nerves.

Everybody has a blind spot: It�s no big deal, the place where your optic nerve joins your retina, producing a gap that (if you noticed it) would be about the relative size of a penny held at arm�s length. Your brain is very clever, though: It extrapolates around the spot to present you with an unbroken field of vision. You don�t even notice your blind spot unless you perform a specially-designed exercise to draw your attention to it.

At the moment, I have a blind spot that covers one third to one half of my field of vision.

Again, because the brain extrapolates so well, as incredible as it sounds, I don�t usually notice it. The ophthalmologist made me see it by the simple expedient of having me focus on a spot on a piece of graph paper and asking me if there appeared to be any gaps in the grid.

Good God Almighty. Most of the right side of it was gone.

It�s not that I can�t process written language anymore, I just can�t see it. My usable visual field is so narrow that the whole word won�t fit. It�s like trying to read a billboard from three feet away. I�m writing this, and reading what I�m writing, by using a two-and-a-half inch horizontal margin and 10-point type. Anything larger and I can�t see the whole word at once.

In a way, this is a relief. The therapists at the rehab clinic were having me read large-print children�s books, and I was struggling through them painfully. I sounded, well, brain-damaged, and I felt hopeless. Reading is my favorite hobby, and if I can�t do it anymore� I was beginning to think maybe I belonged in the basket-weaving classes after all.

And the first clue came from dumb luck. In a desperate attempt to find some age-appropriate reading material (the rehab clinic has a lot of facilities, but no library: that says something about what they think of the intellectual level of their patients), the therapist bought me a newspaper. (It also says something that she had to scrounge for the fifty cents, because the center doesn�t subscribe to one.)

So here I am, with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, staring blankly at the front page. God help me if I am intellectually stymied by the AJC.

The headlines I could stagger through with difficulty, if at all. I noticed, though, that the text of the stories was easier to manage. Only proper names, especially unfamiliar ones, stumped me completely.

The therapist, bless her, realized we were onto something, and had me turn to an interior page � as it happened, an op-ed page featuring an analysis of the recent primary election, specifically the defeat of Congressional incumbent Cynthia McKinney at the hands of newcomer Denise Majette. It was relatively small print in a relatively narrow space line.

I rolled right through it. Halleluiah!

Wednesday, September 04, 2002

Stuff I wish I'd written
I would say that I want to be James Lileks when I grow up, except that I�m probably as up as I�m going to grow already � and I think I�m older than Lileks is, besides.

Yesterday he explained why CompUSA is doomed, and (almost as an afterthought) made the best case for the Macintosh platform I�ve ever seen. (I�m so tired of religious arguments. I�ve used Mac and Windows: Heck, I�ve even taught both. C�mon, people, they�re just tools, not divine gifts.)

And today he explained why a lot of people still don�t admire Clinton. Pure Democrats remain clueless.

Just curious: let�s say you�re the parent of a soldier going to fight in Bosnia. Do you prefer the Commander in Chief to:
A) Be the passive recipient of oral sex from an employee while your son or daughter�s fate is discussed by your local representative
B) Be sitting in a chair with his pants on, taking notes

I had no idea this could be a difficult question.

LATER: Sorry about the link problem to "yesterday's" Lileks screed. It should work now.

Friday, August 30, 2002

More emotional...?
I should elaborate: When I say I'm "a bit more emotional", I don't mean depression. Overall, in fact, I'm feeling quite "up" and optimistic. The doctors keep congratulating me for my positive outlook. (It doesn't seem that remarkable to me: Of course I am going to recover. I'm getting better every day: I can perceive it myself. I'm a very lucky man. But, really, what are my alternatives? Either I'll get better, or I'll stay where I was at my worst: I won't know who or where I am, and I'll have to have the jokes in "Garfield" explained to me every day. Who wants to live like that? I want my life back. I'm going to have it. I'm already 90% back: I can blog. Within a couple of months I'll be able to read effortlessly, and I'll be strong enough to walk around the block, and then I'll be wholly me again.)

It's more that whatever I happen to be feeling, I'm feeling closer to the surface than previously. For most of my life I've been a reserved person, and in a lot of ways I still am, but every now and then something will hit me that I just can't conceal. It's not unpleasant, just different. I'm not going berserk; I'm just more easily affected. Does that make sense?

Which is why, although I am not the kind of person who cries, I wept with appreciation for the kindnesses you've shown me over the past few weeks, and for the concern you've expressed for my overworked wife, who's been keeping you informed, whom I've put through so much and for whom there is no adequate thank you. (She'll see this, though: Maybe that's a start.)

Thursday, August 29, 2002

On the road
Daniel here. It appears that I will be able to attend Dragon*Con this weekend, after all.

Several weeks ago, I was scheduled to appear with the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company in two plays: As voice actor in Friday�s �Dancer in the Dark�, and performing sound effects in Sunday�s Lovecraftian horror �Special Order�, scripted by me (from an original story by my wife). Recent medical problems (see below) have made it impossible for me to actually perform, but at least I will be able to see the show and meet people.

I�m very proud of my association with ARTC. The group is a collection of intensely talented people, and I�m flattered that they allow me to play with them � and delighted that I won�t miss our Big Show of the Year. If you're in the neighborhood (downtown Atlanta), stop by and say hi.

Later: On rereading that comment, it sounds rather self-promotional. Please understand that it wasn�t intended that way. I had a feeling someone might say something. Thank you so much, Ron, for not holding back on account of my condition. :)

I�m been looking forward to this event all year, and I�m just very happy that, with everything that�s happened, I�m still going to be able to go.

I can also assure you that my going will not overstrain my loving wife, to whom I already owe so much. She is committed to some un-delegatable responsibilities with ARTC at Dragon*Con, as are several other close friends, and it will be simpler for them to keep an eye on me if I am there than if I am home.

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Before I was so rudely interrupted�
Daniel here. I�m home. Brief pause for a virtual happy dance. A real one is beyond me, but I don�t care. I�m home!

I still tire easily, and I am experiencing significant visual impairment -- although noticeably less so every day. (I am able to type this for myself, for example, although my typing speed is slowed to a crawl, and I am much more dependent on Mr Gates� spellchecker than previously.) This is going to be a longer convalescence than July�s, but my doctors assure me I should recover fully in a matter of two to four months.

The phrase I hear from every nurse and doctor is that I am doing very well for someone in my condition. I find this phrase hilarious, but I can�t seem to explain to the doctors why. Perhaps it bears too much resemblance to the World�s Worst Encouraging Thing To Say, �Well, it could be worse.�

And, indeed, it could be. I am able to walk, unassisted, without any version of wheels, canes or crutches, and without any noticeable limp. Although my stamina is not what it was, I am experiencing no particular weakness or disability on either side. I am alert and aware, able to follow and participate in conversations, and speak with clarity. Every now and then I experience a brief bout of aphasia; I lose a word (usually a noun). On the other hand, I know plenty of people who do the same thing, some to greater extent than I, some with much less reason to do so. Mentally, I am pretty much myself.

Well, there does seem to be one relatively trivial exception. I�m a bit more emotional than I was.

Yes, for someone recovering from two heart attacks and two strokes, I�m doing pretty darned well. I�m a very lucky man, and I thank God for that.

Thank you all for your continued well wishes. That seems such an inadequate thing to say for something that meant so very much to me.
Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Oreta again. But Daniel said he would try to get online later today.

Yes, he is home.

I went in yesterday at 0930 to observe his therapy, but they had taken him over to the neuro-opthamologists (and abandoned him there) so I tracked him down there, where we spent three extremely interesting and useful hours finding out that he does still have visual problems (Duh), pinpointing the exact nature of those problems, suggesting some strategies for coping with said problems, and being assured that the problems will get progressively better. All in all, the most fruitful three hours we have spent at Emory Rehab. (At some point, every medical person we have met will say, "For someone who has had (fill in the blank) he's doing remarkably well." and this place was no different "For someone who has had multiple brain lesions....")

However, I am under no delusions. Left up to their own pace, Emory would have eventually gotten around to the neuro-opthamologists. About a month from now. The only reason he saw these folk now was because I kept insisting that he was having trouble seeing. I even wrote a note for his file, so they couldn't ignore it.

After the neuro-opthamologist appointment we returned to Emory Rehab to eat lunch and to wait to be discharged, which they did at 1500. The moment the discharge papers were signed we left. John brought the children home from school shortly afterwards and Daniel spent the evening in bed, with both kids sprawled around him on the bed doing their homework.

There are a great many loose ends to tie up, but they aren't important. Daniel is home.


Tuesday, August 27, 2002

Tuesday, August 27, 2002

Still Oreta.

Just a quick note, because I am on the way to Emory Rehab to observe his therapy and to hear the results of the staff meeting about his condition (which I am forbidden to attend.) Grrr.

Yesterday, for the first time since he arrived, Daniel actually received therapy, rather than just assessments. They worked him hard and the Physical Therapist and the Occupational therapist say that as far as they are concerned, he can go home. Speech and visual stuff can be handled on an outpatient basis.

We'll see what comes of this after the meeting. With luck I may have good news for you this afternoon.

Daniel is still very weak. His perception problems get better each day. Oddly enough, Daniel can read small print better than large print. He makes noticable daily improvement. (His improvement is noticable even to himself, which is very cheering.) He would be making even better improvement if he could get a full night's sleep. But the Rehab Center does not seem to care about that (they moved a very noisy patient into Daniel's ward last night. The new gentleman is confused enough to need restraints and aware enough to fight them constantly, and to call for help.) It is difficult to watch.


Monday, August 26, 2002

Monday, August 26, 2002

Well, it is still Oreta.

Thank you, Ron, for posting an update in the comments section. I'll just repeat it here.

Daniel is out of the hospital, but not yet home. They moved him to the Emory Rehabilitation Center at 6:00 pm Friday.

Daniel is doing much better. He is recovering his strength and he is able to move around. His aphasa has improved to the point that very few people will notice it in a casual conversation. His vision has improved, but although he can see clearly, he has trouble making words on a page make sense. He can do it, but it is hard work. Think of it like a form of dsylexia.

With any luck he will be seeing a therapist who will help him today. Since he came in so late Friday, he is not yet "in the system". He has seen several physical therapists and occupational therapists and a speech therapist, but apparently nobody trusts anybody else's data because they keep putting him through the same evaluations over and over again. I would have expected that they would be having him walk longer and longer distances each day, for instance. Instead they do the same evaluations over and over again. Each person exclaims over how well he is doing, but no one asks him to do anything more difficult. Ditto for the occupational therapist. The upshot seems to be that he can walk around okay and do basic things like brush his teeth okay, although he has a little trouble with co-ordination and balance. Since he has been in a bed for two weeks this is not surprising.

As well as the frustration of "When do we stop testing and start therapy?" the nurses and therapists are not communicating with each other or us. Each nurse, therapist, or technician has a different idea of what he is allowed to do; so we have to choose between constantly getting into trouble or lying in bed being bored and listening to the guy across the room discuss his incontinence problems every five minutes all day and all night.

I appreciate and approve of the need to keep Daniel in a medical facility until they are sure that he is not going to have any more cardiac incidents, but I'm hoping they will send him home and let him do his therapy on an outpatient basis soon. The contrast between this and Crawford W. Long Hospital is rather spectacular. Crawford W. Long is a gorgeous hospital. Even the Emergency Room lobby looks like a hotel lobby. There are pocket gardens everywhere. There is even a small aviary. The rooms are painted in attractive colors. Emory Rehab is functionally ugly and there is no effort expended to make the wards attractive or pleasant. Personal possesions are discouraged despite the fact that the average stay is 19 days.

When the nurses leave the room the patients' primary conversation is about when they will be able to escape,er, go home.

Now, I understand that things should get better today. That part of the problem is that he came in on a weekend and is not in the system yet. I hope so, or Daniel's stay here will be much shorter than they bargained for.

I take back everything I said about modern medicine and its communication practices.

But really, Daniel is much better. We just need to lick the visual perception problems.


Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Still Oreta, but we are working on finding a laptop for Daniel to type on.

Daniel continues to improve. The aphasia is better, but still there. The speech therapist is very encouraged. Today he picked up the breakfast menu and read it. Big step. His vision is coming back -- there is a noticeable improvement from when the nurse checked him last night and the neurologist checked him this morning.

I was wrong, he isn't seeing a physical therapist, but an occupational therapist. Occupational therapists make sure you can do things like brush your teeth and take a bath. She is very pleased with his progress and let him sit up in a chair today for about ten minutes. He is still quite weak though and took a long nap afterwards.

They did an MRI last night but I haven't heard the results (except that the technician commented that he still has blood in his brain which was no surprise.) The neurologist says they'll run another CT scan in four or five days so it sounds like we are going to be here for a while.

Daniel stayed up a little late last night listening to the election returns in the McKinney-Majette race. Go Majette! I've heard some folks complain about the Republicans crossing over to vote Democrat, but honestly, the Democrats gerrymandered that district to such an extent that there is no hope of a Republican ever being elected. So the Republicans decided to make their votes count and vote in the Democratic primary. This is not what the Democrats intended, but is sort of poetic justice. "Photodude" has been following this story very intensely if you want more details.

Sigh. I realize that in the above paragraph I should have put two links, one to a map of Majette's district and another to Photodude's blog, but I don't know how to do that yet. I promise to learn as soon as I can.

Anyway, Daniel is getting better each day.

Thank you all of you.


Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Still Oreta.

What a difference a day makes! Let's see, first, Daniel is out of ICU and in a regular room. It's a "telemetry" bed so that they can keep track of his vital signs, but at least he's not hooked up to the IV tubes and the wires. Everything that goes beep is at the nurses' station now, which makes for a much quieter room.

Second, they have pretty much decided he does not have a staph infection, so he doesn't need the picc line after all. They ran four blood cultures(two each day) and there was staph in only one of them, so they think it may have been a contaminant.

The cardiologists are still negociating with the neurologists and the current plan is one aspirin every other day. They will also be running an MRI which the neurologist says will give him an idea if Daniel is really susceptible to this sort of brain bleed and that should affect the medications as well. Although I am frustrated by the communication I am receiving from the doctors, I am confident, from various comments they are making, that the doctors are talking to each other, which is really the most important thing at this point.

Daniel has been seeing a speech therapist for several days now, and he should see a physical therapist today. I hope the physical therapist will say that it is okay for him to get up out of bed to perform various necessary bodily functions, because Daniel is really, really tired of the alternatives.

The aphasia continues to improve.

He's not getting much rest -- he sleeps but doesn't remember falling asleep, so he doesn't feel rested, and of course he is awakened every few hours by someone doing something; taking a blood sample; checking his blood glucose level; checking his blood pressure....

Things continue to improve. Thanks for the messages and comments.


Monday, August 19, 2002

Monday, August 19, 2002

Oreta here again.

Gosh. Thank you, all of you for the comments, especially yours, Dr. Stoufflet.

Daniel has weathered the weekend well, with his aphasia getting much better and his pulse and blood pressure responding to the oral and patch medications. He can move around on the bed without it sending his pulse through the roof now. I don't believe I have mentioned it, but he also has a staph infection, so he has been running a low-grade fever. They've been giving him tylenol, which controls the fever but doesn't do much for his continuous headache.

Friday's CT scan was good and they will be running another one today. Today should be a big day. As well as the CT scan they will be putting in a "picc" line. This is a special IV which can stay in longer and which can be used to deliver the intrevenous antibiotics that they want to use on the staph infection. For what it is worth, the doctors seem confident they can lick the staph infection. The plan was to start him on some aspirin today, cautiously. Since he had another mild "cardiac incident" one night last week ("angina" is the word I pried out of the doctor) the cardiac doctors really, really, really want him on some sort of blood thinner. The neurology doctors, of course, have a different opinion.

You know, I could have cheerfully gone the rest of my life without learning the difference between a "C-line", an "A-line" and a "picc-line".

Because they work the nurses in twelve hour shifts and because we've been here for over a week, I'm getting to know the nurses. I can't tell you all their names because they persist in wearing their badges wrong side out. :-) The nurses all have their different styles. Some are in and out of the patients room all the time; some vigiliantly sit at the nurses station staring intently at the monitors. Some are comfortable with patient families; others less so. The older nurses are comfortable asking me to hand them stuff and to do things; the younger nurses not comfortable with that. Some are sticklers for rules; others not. All of them are less hard-nosed about rules then they were the first few days.

Communication continues to be a problem. The doctors come when they can, which is usually when I am away and in Daniel's case there are a lot of doctors. One of my frustrations is that there is no central place or person to ask a question of. This may be a function of being in the neurology/surgical ICU where there are a variety of reasons a patient is there. Daniel's needs are very different from the patient three doors down who had a tonsilectomy a month ago which has started bleeding uncontrollably. (He's doing okay and moved out of ICU three days ago). This is different from the cardiac ICU where there were a variety of problems but they were all cardiac problems. It is possible to get different answers from different doctors -- some are optimists; my favorite is a pessimist. And some come in to talk to me after only a cursory glimpse at his chart. Then after giving me some generic information they go out and go over his chart in depth with the nurse. It would be nice if it were possible to schedule a daily briefing. It doesn't have to be with a doctor; it could be with a "patient advocate", say a nurse practioner, who could review the results of yesterday's tests with me and talk to me about the what to expect. So far I am getting some of my best explanations from my priest (it is very convenient to have a priest who was a med student before deciding to become a priest.) It would have been a great deal of help if someone had turned to me last Saturday and said, "He's going to get worse before he gets better." It's not difficulty in understanding the doctor -- it's difficulty in getting the information. I should not have to ask for the results of his CT scan or blood cultures.

Again, I'm not really dumping on modern medicine, because I know very well what state Daniel would be in even twenty years ago. But my concern is -- if they aren't talking to me, are the doctors talking to each other?

Well, it's time for me to go back to the hospital since visiting hours will be starting again. I've been shuttling between work and the hospital and home -- fortunately they are all 10 - 20 minutes from each other depending on traffic.

I'll post more when I can get back to a computer. Thanks everybody.


Friday, August 16, 2002

Friday, August 16, 2002

Oreta here.

Nothing much to report. Daniel's pulse and blood pressure continue to be elevated. His aphasia is about the same and he still can't see to the right -- it's not that the right eye doesn't work -- it does. But the brain simply isn't processing the information it receives. They will be doing another CT scan today to see how well the two bleeds are being absorbed.

His pulse and blood pressure continue to be elevated.

He is still not eating well. Part of that is being ill. Part of it is the hospital food. They used to cook it on site and it was okay. Institutional food, but well-prepared institutional food. Now they bring the meals in from outside and the food is simply not edible. IMHO, the executive who made this decision should be forced to eat the same food the patients get for a week. The policy would change.

Many years ago when I was in college at Clayton Junior (now Clayton State) the campus was considered to be one of the most "accessible" campuses in the Georgia system. Why? The student government association had a policy -- one day a year they rented a truckload of wheelchairs and everybody from the college president on down tried to go through their daily routine in a wheelchair. I tell you, this event had far more impact on accessiblility than any amount of government regulations.

Well, I'm wandering off the subject here. Y'all take care. thanks for the comments.

Thursday, August 15, 2002

Thursday, August 15, 2002

It's still me, Oreta.

Daniel's aphasia is much improved but his heart is not happy. He still has an elevated blood pressure and pulse rate. The cardiologists would like very much to put him on blood thinners; the neurologists are vetoing that. He is, however, off most of his IV medicines and being treated with oral and patch medicines (A lot of them -- he had to take seven pills at lunch). He is beginning to eat, but not a lot, so it looks like we are going to be in ICU for another couple of days.

Thank you very much for all your messages.


Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Oreta redux.

We are still in a holding pattern here. The fourth CT scan shows no change. No new hemmorhages (good); no increase in the two known ones (also good); and no decrease either (not so good, but not bad either. Expected.).

He still has the visual impairments. Basically he can't see anything on his right side -- the eyes function but the brain is not processing the information. There is a fair amount of aphasia, which is a fancy term for difficulty in understanding and using words.

The hospital is "weaning" him off the iv cocktail of cardiac medicines they have him on. They want him on oral medicines and skin patches so that he can be moved out of ICU onto the regular medical floor. That part of the process is doing nicely, but I have slightly mixed feelings about it. I will be very grateful that he is well enough, but frankly, I've been spoiled by the quality and quantity of the nurses here in ICU at Crawford Long. The regular floor nurses have many, many more patients so they don't have time to do the kinds of things the ICU nurses do. His day nurse has been adjusting his medications in little increments constantly, playing around with all the different ones to get his pulse and blood pressure exactly where the doctors want it. There appears to be as much art as science to this. Eye of beta-blocker and toe of calcium-channel blocker...Wool of nitro and tongue of esmolol.....

Other than that, it's a waiting game.

Thank you, all of you, for your messages. I've been reading them to Daniel and I'm sure he is grateful for them also.


Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Oreta here again. There is not much to update. The third CT scan shows no more hemmorhages and not much change in the two that are there.

While I admire much about modern medicine, I find that I am increasingly frustrated with its ability to communicate. If I may be blunt, the doctor-patient relationship frequently reminds me of the auto mechanic-automobile relationship. The mechanic does not explain to the car what he or she is doing; neither does the doctor explain to the patient. Hospitals are even worse, because of the number of medical professionals involved. Furthermore, there seems to be no one person who pulls all the strands of care together. Certainly there does not seem to be a person who communicates to the patient, or the patient's family.

So, I'm still a bit puzzled by what is going on and I may be using the medical terms incorrectly. Daniel has had two hemmorhages in his brain. If I understand correctly this is a kind of stroke, just not the blood clot kind that is most common. The problem is not that there is not enough blood getting to the brain, but that a combination of high blood pressure and too much anti-cougulant has caused blood to leak through the blood vessels.

At the moment he has some trouble speaking and lacks vision in his right eye. This is not the kind of stroke where one side of the body doesn't work -- it's really mostly a software problem not so much hardware. Think "corrupted files." Daniel is extremely weak and his heart is not happy, but they have him on medication to control the way his heart beats and to control his blood pressure. They ran one kind of a heart test yesterday and will run another kind today.

He's very weak and still in what is called the "acute" phase. They will wait a few days and run another CT scan. (A CT scan is a series of x-rays of the brain taken from multiple angles and then put together by a computer into something that tells a doctor what is going on in the brain. The whole set up looks very much like a science fiction movie set. But it is x-rays and they don't do those casually these days.)

The problem seems to be that the blood in the brain puts pressure on the brain and irritates it, which also causes swelling. The nurse tells me that the maximum swelling occurs around 72 hours after the hemmorhage. Depending on whether or not the first one happened Friday morning when his headache started or 0300 Saturday when it became bad enough for him to wake me up, we should be approaching that point. When the swelling goes down, we'll see what kind of permanent damage, if any, there is.

However, I want all of you to promise me that if you don't have a history of headaches and you ever, ever, have a headache that hurts so much it is hard to think, you will go to the ER. Immediately.


Monday, August 12, 2002

Hi. It's Oreta again. Yes, that means what you think it does. Daniel is back in the hospital. I took him in early (0400) Saturday morning. He has a small hemmorhage in the right temporal lobe of the brain and a somewhat larger one in the left occippital lobe (People who know something about medicine please forgive my spelling.) The situation does not appear to be life threatening and so far does not appear to be severe enough for surgery, but it is serious. I'll know more today after they run the (third) CT scan.

I'll try to post further news, but the ICU room has neither phone nor internet connection, so my postings will be somewhat spotty.

I hope you will have Daniel back and typing soon.


Friday, August 09, 2002

The Friday Five:
1. Do you have a car? If so, what kind of car is it?
It's a Nissan Pathfinder.

2. Do you drive very often?
Daily. I gotta job.

3. What's your dream car?
One that runs. Cars are tools, I don't form emotional attachments to them.

4. Have you ever received a ticket?

5. Have you ever been in an accident?
Yes, but not since 1971.
Thursday Threesome:
Onesome. Blue - what is it that bums you out and makes you feel blue?
Due to my odd work schedule, Tuesdays are the only day I see much of my family.

Twosome. Light - what is the light at the end of your tunnel?

Threesome. Special - who is that special someone who has seen your bluest of blues and your light of the tunnel?
My lovely and loving wife, of course.

Thursday, August 08, 2002

Monday Mission
1. Ever considered just deleting your Blog and not doing it anymore? What prompted that and what stopped you?
Nope. Although I'm constantly trying to decide just how personal to get. Once it's on the web, it's hard to take back.

2. How about a quick review of the last movie you saw?
I'm assuming you mean the last movie I watched for the first time, rather than settling in for a comfortable re-viewing of an old favorite. In the theater: Spider-Man. I liked it. On video: Legally Blonde. Disappointing.

3. What's your favorite gadget? Are you lusting for any new ones? Will you ever be satisified???
My favorite gadget must be the computer I'm using right now, a Dell Dimension 4400. I want a portable CD player that will play CD-Rs full of MP3s, but I won't be spending the money for one anytime soon. "Lusting" is too strong a word: I'm pretty satisfied right now.

4. What "table game" do you enjoy playing most with other people? Have you played it lately?
I haven't played any games lately. I used to be big into "King Maker" and "Risk", but not for many years. I'm not sure I even own a set of either any more.

5. Have you ever been obsessed with something so much that it was close to causing you physical or mental harm? If not, have you known anyone else who has?
Only blogging.

6. Did you grow up in a family or community that displayed racist or prejudice attitudes? Did it influence you in any way, either toward or away from those views? How did you manage to avoid it, or did you?
Yes I did. More I cannot say without breaking confidences. I avoided it because, by the time I was old enough to perceive them, I was old enough to reject them as an affront to logic.

7. Good grief, I am starving! You got anything to eat around here?
What are you after? If it's a snack, I got tons of popcorn. If it's a meal, I can rustle up some burgers or chicken and rice.

BONUS: What did you tell them?
The truth. Perhaps you'd better move and change your name.
Am I the only one...
...who knows where the original hampsterdance song comes from? Is this one of those open secrets that everyone knows and pretends not to, or is it really that big a mystery?

LATER: I fixed the link. Sorry. And good luck finding the Original Song there: I couldn't.
Some people shouldn't be handling money
From HappyFunPundit:

Tales of Mathematical Inadequacy
...The total was $14.72. I handed the young woman a $20, and waited for my change.
Then disaster struck. As the woman pressed the 'total' button, a look of fear and confusion swept across her face. A look not unlike the one the cat used to get when I came home with a bag of hot sauce. This girl was clearly troubled. Nay, frightened.
"What's the problem?" I asked.
"The cash register! It's.. It's not giving me the amount of money you need. It must be broken." she replied changelessly.
A quick subtraction in my my head. "You owe me $5.28".
The girl looked up, startled. A number? The man just said a number? How could he know? After all, the machine won't give the number! "Uh, I better find a calculator."

The story gets better -- although, as Professor Reynolds points out, it would be funnier if it weren't true. I remember when one of my college roommates wondered out loud what ten times eleven was. Without thinking, I said "one hundred and ten."


"One hundred and ten. Ten times eleven. It's one hundred and ten."

"Let me just get a calculator and check that..."

You do that, partner. You just do that. And think about how much more time you'd have on your hands if you didn't have to struggle with ten times eleven.

Math is not that hard, yet businesses insist on putting people in charge of their cash registers who haven't mastered it. Is there a shortage? Look, making change is the easiest thing in the world to do once you learn the trick. You don't subtract, you add.

"$14.72 out of twenty, that's..." It ends with a number other than zero and five, so you know you'll need pennies. Grab some and start counting up from what the customer owes you as you drop them into your other hand. "...seventy-three (plink), seventy-four (plink), seventy-five (plink)..." I don't think it's asking too much to memorize those numbers that are only one coin from a round dollar. Grab a quarter. "...and twenty-five makes fifteen dollars..." Now you've eliminated the coin change: You're at fifteen dollars on your way to twenty. That one ought to be pretty easy, too. "...and five makes twenty." Now you've got $5.28 in your hand -- the correct change -- and you didn't have to subtract anything. And count it out to the customer the same way you just counted it: Don't just drop it in his hand like a hanky full of snot.

Try that a few hundred times, if you must, to convince yourself that it will work every time. If you can't master it, get out of the cashier business. And better take a grown-up with you when you go shopping for yourself, or you're going to be shortchanged every time. After all, you won't know any better, and maybe the cashiers you encounter will be smarter than you. The odds don't seem to be good, but it could happen.

How the hell are you ever going to know whether a two-pound bag at 89 cents is a better buy than a five-pound bag at $1.99? And Heaven help you if you encounter a 60-ounce package.

Maybe you'll just eat out. No, wait, that's where I came in.

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

I knew there was a reason I don't buy many CDs
...but I don't think it's because I'm awaiting the arrival of Amanda Latona. See if Charles Dodgson makes as much sense to you as he does to me.