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Three score and ten or more

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I am leaving for the weekend to have Thanksgiving with my daughter. I am not without pain, but I can sit in a car seat (the one that came with the car :->) for quite awhile and can sit in my office chair for fifteen or more minutes (enough time for this) and I want to wish my good friends (or not) a very happy Thanksgiving.

I cam home from Finland with Janet just before Thanksgiving a year ago. I was so full of Thanksgiving at the time but I couldn't imagine how much more grateful I could be. I look back at a bunch of whining this year, but it has been on of the most wonderful years of my life. If I made a list of all the things for which I am grateful it would be so lengthy that it would put all to sleep before anyone got to the end of the list. I hope you all have as much joy in your hearts (if not in you sit down places) as I do. Have a wonderful "rest of the year". One thing I am happy about is the number of folks who seem interested in my thinking and writing. Thanks to you all for that, and thanks to the Lord for the rest.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Funeral (again)

I have already written about funerals a few times. One of the obvious things about becoming a coot (or even just a geezer) is that folks around you are going to die. (ultimately so are you). This means that, unless you are completely friendless and have no living relatives, you are going to have occasion (more and more frequently) to go to funerals. Some times this is a blessing, sometimes almost a curse. I went to a "viewing" this evening (funeral tomorrow morning) for one of the most remarkable women-- - no, one of the most remarkable people I have ever known. I doubt that you will find her name on any "who's who" list or any other list (except this one, I guess) of remarkable people but I have not known anyone who has personally made so deep an impression on so many people. For much of her life she was just like most other people of faith. She taught Sunday school, worked with youth, converted her husband, and generally was a really nice person, the type we all would like to be. It was not just the living of her life that made her remarkable, it was the leaving of it.

Some years ago, she was diagnosed with lung cancer. ( I don't think she was ever a smoker. Certainly she was not during the thirty or forty years that I knew her). She went through most of the trauma suffered by most cancer patients. She had radiology treatments that beat her down. She went through chemotherapy, lost her hair, (spoke of baldness with a humor that belied any suffering) and finally, about six or seven years ago, her doctor told her that she had only three months to live. She looked him in the eye and told him "You are not God. You have no right to try to determine how long I will live. I will work this out with Him, if you don't mind."

In the ensuing period she has been diagnosed with uterine cancer, a lymphoma and a variety of other carcinogenic situations. In this entire time, riding in her wheelchair with her bottle of oxygen attached she has attended church services, preached a sermon or two, born witness many times of her faith in, and relationship to Jesus Christ. She has visited the sick, held the hands of those who have been ill for a variety of reasons. Her hair has fallen out again, and grown in again as she has suffered the indignity of most of the known cancer treatments. In all this time, I don't know anyone who has done more good for more people, those with, and without faith. I know no one who has met her and talked to her for any length of time without feeling that they were made a better person from the meeting. I know that I am a better, more tolerant and more patient person as a result of our relationship.

In total peace she chose her own burial clothing, helped with the funerals of friends, and radiated the strength and vision and tolerance of the foibles of others that should be the example of true religion. The book of James in the first chapter, the twenty seventh verse says the "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction and to keep himself unspotted before the world." The concept demonstrated in this verse was demonstrated by my dear friend. I hope, that when I leave this existence there will be one person who will feel about me the way I feel for this dear sister. If so, my existence will have been worth living.

Friday, November 16, 2007


It doesn't hurt any less, but I had to do this. I went for an MRI yesterday (I ended up lying on my side on the floor in the waiting room, which gathered some attention, and I felt very proud of myself when they parked me on the table in one position where I had to stay without moving for almost an hour, and I didn't scream out loud once though I thought "scream" a lot). After it was over, they gave me a disc of the results, and I couldn't resist posting a couple of the pictures (I don't have a clue what they represent, thoughI know that one picture represents my spine and the other represents a vertebrae. I just thought it would be cool to post a couple since I don't often post pictures.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

If anyone has dropped in to read this for the last few days, I apologize. I haven't written anything for awhile and I probably won't for a few days. It hurts too much. I don't mean that I am suffering some kind of emotional angst, but last Friday while I was helping my son arrange our post-moving sale to get rid of the stuff for which we have no room in the new house (as well as a lot of clothing that losing between sixty and thirty five pounds makes pretty baggy) I managed to do something that irritated my hip. I have been to the doctor a couple of times, been Xrayed and will soon have an MRI. My hip hurts so badly that I can't sit down, the act of walking makes me actually nauseous, and I cant really sleep at all. The only reasonably comfortable position I can assume is lying on the carpet in the living room on my right side. This doesn't make for good computer work. In fact, I am in agony right now and will stop this foolishness and will try to take it up again when some of the pain pills begin to have some effect. (so far I have tried lortabs, percocet, arthritis strengy tylenol, 1000 mg of naproxin daily, and am now starting lorcet.) I will try to sit at the computer again. Bye for a few days.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Momentary Meditation--Vioxx

I read this afternoon about Merck Co. settling settling 4.85 Billion bucks on 45,000 people who were injured by Vioxx. Some minimal information in the article I read stated that you had to have used Vioxx for at least three months before you had "injury" results to qualify for a piece of that pie.

This set off a greed reaction in me. I started taking Vioxx in February a few years ago for relief from Arthritis pain in my shoulders and knees. In August I started having a lot of new pain in my upper arm, went to a Doctor to see what might be causing it and ended up receiving a quadrupal bypass.

When this whole Vioxx thing hit the papers the vultures began to circle around the internet, and I weakened and sent my name into somebody along with the details of my medical stuff, and received a form reply that said, basically "You didn't die of a heart attack, so we aren't interested in you."

At that, I forgot the whole thing, until this afternoon (I ignored the daily spam that I received about Vioxx suits.) Somehow this mention of 4.86 BILLION dollars being paid out to Vioxx users got my attention and little horns of evil greed started popping out on my forehead (I probably will have to change the avatar at the top of my blog.) I'm really embarrassed.

You don't know how critical I have always been of the lawsuit generation. I have a friend who sued almost everybody over "stuff". He usually won, got a bunch of money, and somehow, deep in the recess of my mind I suspected that he created situations to sue about. I don't remember all the tales he told, but he broke a tooth on a bolt that found its way into a milkshake, and was injured when a ladder broke, and on, and on. Sometime later, I read about the prosecution of the guy who got a mouse into something from one fast food place and about the lady who got a thumb into her Wendy's chili, and wondered if my old friend were not giving classes somewhere about lawsuits.

The fact is that class-action lawsuits have become a part of all our lives. Just this year I received a notice that, as a result of some law suit against Altell, I now have sixty six long distance minutes that I can use with ANYY long distance company. A few years ago my wife started using Phen-fen (or something like that) to lose weight. She had PHENOMENAL results, lost a lot of weight, started jogging and power walking and was so healthy it was almost disgusting. Suddenly they took the product off the market (and Janet was no end P.O. ed) but she had to learn to do without it. A year or so later she received a letter from someone about settlement of a class action suit (she hadn't sued anyone) that asked her to go get an echo-cardiogram (I get them all the time now) . On the basis of that echo-cardiogram and evidence (I guess from the pharmacy or the Dr.) that was received, one day she got a check for 6000 dollars. It was like money dropping in from heaven. She never told anyone but if they had put the product back on the market, she would have spent the 6000 on a multi-year supply. A few years later she got another check for 2800 dollars. (I hope that our glee on this Christmas present type money had nothing to do with the aortal aneurism that made our lives so exciting last fall, about a year ago.)

Anyway there is a part of me that wants to call a lawyer and try to get into this multi-billion dollar thing that Merck is putting out, even though, to be honest, I don't suspect that my daily Vioxx use (which REALLY made the arthritis in my shoulders and knees much less painful) had anything to do with my needing a quadrupal heart bypass. Gee whiz 4.86 billion dollars. I could use some of that. I'm beginning to wonder about my own character. All that money, and if a few thousand dropped on me, I could- - - - -BE NICE Richard. Chase that greed monster away.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Geezer Problems, Oh My!

One of the things about being a geezer is that the mere process of becoming a geezer entails being around for a long time. (okay, I admit that some folks begin to act like geezers after only a relatively short time on earth, but they are rare, and that's a different issue) When one has been around for a long time, one necessarily has a lot of experiences (they may or may not be interesting experiences, but one has them) and one of the characteristics of geezerhood is the need to tell somebody about a lot of those experiences.

I have heard of geezers who ended up in prison because they reached an age where it was necessary to share experiences and some of them were experiences for which the legal time of official forgetfulness had not run out. (I try to avoid such stories, although I was such a nice person that I never did anything {that I can remember} which would bring about legal interest or action after all this time.)

Since geezer garrulousness is a given, sometimes it is hard to remember to whom what story has been told. Every geezer has a reputation in some circle of telling some stories over and over. That's why there is a cliche about beginning stories with "Have I told you about------?,, or Stop me if you've heard this one". I don't use these tag lines often, but when I see my children's eyes glaze as I start to tell an important truth, or I notice them look from one to the other and smile, I usually (not always) drop the story and find something else to do with what's left of my mind.

This is a problem right now because of all the stuff in the papers about super-staph infections, and I had a really interesting and painful experience back in the eighties with a staph infection that didn't end my life, but certainly changed it. I sat down yesterday and began to tell the story to you folks when suddenly, in my mind's eye, I saw my children glancing at one another with that knowing smile. Whoops, thought I, I have told this story already. No matter how interesting I might think it is, it will not be interesting for folks who have already heard it. But have they REALLY????

I began to go back and cull through the tales I have told from the beginning of this blog, skimmed through about thirty of the 200 plus that are here, and decided to forget it and take a nap.

Now a real Coot, who has been through the geezer stage and has accomplished coothood should ordinarily write the story anyway because coots go for the gold and to heck (or something) with those who have already read it. There are bound to be a few newbies who don't remember how brilliant I once was. ( I think). Oh woe is me, what to do? what to do?

A second problem, not related to garrulousness but related to the accomplishment of the geezer state of life is that some important new terms have arisen for which a younger mind is necessary for the processing. Some of these are blog related. What in heavens name is meant by "trackback" or "RSS feed" or "permalink". I know in my heart that my blog would be admired by all if I could use or do whatever these things are, but- - - I am humiliated to acknowledge it but I HAVE NO GEEK. Ed Abbey, in a post this week talked about his experience remodeling his computer and about pava or pravda or some such system and it's reluctance to interact with ata systems (I think it was really ata and pata, but the possibility of a pravda pun was too tempting). I read in blogger the neat ways to advertise using someone else's material from UTube, and all the other new additions to blogger and I weep at my lack of geekness. Oh WELL, woe is me, what to do? what to do"

Monday, November 05, 2007

Not a political comment

This afternoon I was listening to Cavuto on Business on FoxNews. He interviewed one of those people who are most properly identified as the south end of a northbound horse. The "south end" interviewee was going on and on about the problems with the school founded by Oprah Winfrey in South Africa. She deserves everything she gets, he ranted, she should have spent her money in her old neighborhood in the USA.,And On- and on and on. I think it is amazing how other folks feel justified in criticizing the way other people use their money for charity. (and avoid using their own)

I ordinarily give away a little more than fifteen percent of my income to various organizations and people, ranging from my church to the charter school my wife helped found, to Carl the homeless guy who used to live in my pocket, to the Heart Fund (with our family experience in cardiac situations this seems justified) and I always seem to run across someone who discovers what I have given to some organization or person and has some caustic comment about it. and some better idea of what I should have done.

I am not an Oprah fan generally speaking, but I appreciate someone who puts her/his money where her/his mouth is. She discovered what she has determined as a need and did her best to at least partially fulfill the need. Some people said she did it for PR or for other reasons (what does one of the richest performers in history need with more PR?), but it doesn't matter.

I am so used to liberals in this country identifying what they think is a need, then wanting to put MY money where THEIR mouths are. Seeing anyone approach it from an individual approach without demanding that we all follow their examples is refreshing to say the least. Nuff Said!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

K Mart, WalMart and stuff like that.

I think I should say that I am not like some of my friends. I don't have any aversion to "big box' stores, and I shop at Kmart (sometimes) WalMart (more often, though my wife hates to go in there, since her strokes, because of the crowds) Sam's, and I am, in some ways, a Lowes addict (probably because I don't have a Home Depot to get addicted to). I would love to become addicted to Costco, but there isn't one close enough to become addicted to. (I like to go in when I am with someone who has a Costco Card, just to eat lunch).

I drove past K Mart today and, for some reason noted the rather silly "Big" that was added to the K Mart name a few years ago. Has anyone except someone reading a commercial on radio or TV ever called K Mart "Big K Mart" or the Big K? I don't think so.

Sometimes I marvel at the idiocy of people who are paid to market products, names, stores etc. They seem not to recognize the silliness of some of what they do. Can you imagine the millions of dollars K Mart spent, at a time when business was slipping, to make new signs for hundreds of stores. Signs that were ultimately absolutely meaningless.

I remember the first time I ever went into a K Mart. My family was young, we were poor, and the plethora of things that we could afford was almost mind boggling. Just as I got a little excited about the regular stuff, there was an announcement that there was a Blue Light Special on aisle ????. We dashed to aisle ??? to find a cart with a revolving blue light selling out a bunch of stuff (probably over supplies) at almost nothing, and the money nearly leapt out of the pocket for things that we might not even need, but couldn't resist at that price. We became K Mart regulars.

Gradually K Mart cancelled the Blue Light Specials that were one reason for going into the store in the first place. The selection became a little more limited, but everyone I have ever talked to quit going to K Mart for the same reason. Fewer checkout lines and longer lines at every checkout became the norm. It became a lengthy chore to go into K Mart for any reason. It had nothing to do with the sign on the outside and little to do with the merchandise. It was a simple breakdown in service.

After K Mart began to be identified as having problems (in the newspapers) a fortune was spent to publicize the return of the Blue Light Special. Did it return? No. In K Mart TV adds, little characters that were supposed to be spotlights (blue?) but which had legs and ran around pointing to products, began to show up. They were accompanied by a slogan "Blue Light All the Time", and were, I suppose, to be a competition with Wal Mart's little yellow smiley face that ran around knocking down price tags. For a fraction of the cost of those ads they could have hired a few minimum wage checkers, and actually provide service. (I actually went into a local K Mart to ask if they were going to really return the Blue Light Specials and was greeted with an effusive shout, "We have Blue Light All the Time". Yeah, right, and long lines at checkout.)

Today I walked into the local WalMart to buy something and noticed that the "twenty items or less" checkouts each had six to eight people waiting, and the regular checkouts (there were four out of about twenty open) had six to eight each, and I wanted to scream "Don't you know what killed Kmart.???"

I know, K Mart isn't totally dead, it is now a part of Sears, has a better line of tools, and STILL has very few checkout lines open, with a line at every single one if there are enough customers to make a line, but I resent that a little bit. I have several friends who were stockholders in the original Kmart who were totally ripped off ;when Kmart (not Big K) went into chapter eleven bankruptcy. I keep wishing that they had REALLY returned the Blue Light Special, had hired enough folks to keep the lines to a minimum, and saved my friends thousands of dollars.

WalMart is advertising the equivalent of "Black Friday" sales this weekend to boost an anticipated bad holiday season. I wonder if they will have enough "associates" to keep folks from waiting in line forever. Maybe the crowds will begin to thin enough that my wife won't hate the place anymore.