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.