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Three score and ten or more

Monday, February 23, 2009

Things change (I think, I don't remember for sure)

I was just thinking about how the world changes, and my world changes.  I have already discussed some of the disadvantages of ongoing coothood, but I was really struck last night by the differences in ME.  I have spent most of my life, either as an amateur, a student, a professional, and a teacher in the area of theatre.   I have been in a couple of films, and even been paid (once) for a film I wasn't in. 

For most of my life, the awarding of the Tony awards, the Oscar awards, and even, sometimes the Emmy and Obie awards have been major moments for me.  As soon as they were available on television I remember staying up way after midnight to see the final awards of Best Actor, Best Picture etc. on film in the  Oscars.  It was much like cutting classes in high school to listen to the world series on the radio.  (I haven't been terribly impressed by the world series lately either.)

Last night, I turned on the Oscar Awards and  within half an hour, I was totally bored.  I was momentarily impressed by the speech by Penelope Cruz, and liked the way they brought out former "subordinate" actresses to present that award, but Hugh Jackman was funny as a crutch, and the rest of the thing was blah.    After dozing for awhile, I began to channel surf and ended up watching cable news. 

I can't figure out if it is just that I will not see old acquaintances at all, (which was an attraction for a long time, but I was enthralled before I ever had any acquaintances that  would show up on an awards show) or if the staging and the presentation were just weaker than they used to be (Bob Hope was always interesting just by himself), but I found myself distressed at the fact that I was bored.   I hope other things that I used to love don't begin to bore me.   Oh Well.

Friday, February 20, 2009

I am seventy plus years old, and I have paid attention to a lot of presidents. The first President I remember was Roosevelt (actually he took office around the time I was born, so that is logical. I know it isn't so, but he seemed to be president till I was in high school. My dad was a union man and my mother, a working mother, and all of my family were working stiffs . He seemed a little bit like God in a wheelchair to a kid from Idaho.

My next President was Truman. He was belittled in the papers at the beginning of his presidency and he was despised by them at the end of his presidency because he (not North Korea and China, HE) had started the Korean war and fired Douglas MacArthur, and the war. was beginning to look eternal. As history sorted the facts, it was clear that he was an exceptional president.

Eisenhower followed Truman, and he began, as a war hero and a really impressive guy to be universally admired. I, for one, as a budding conservative, was so ticked off that the Republicans had nominated him instead of Taft, that I used the radio program I hosted at the time to campaign for Stevenson. (When I lived in Illinois later, I realized what a disaster Stevenson would have been)

I saw the transitions to Kennedy, Johnson,( who really gave me the willies,) Nixon (who lost me some friends, when, after Watergate, I confessed that even if I had known that Watergate was coming, I would have voted for Nixon since his opponent was such a total disaster), Ford, Carter, (bleah), Reagan (who really caught my attention and admiration as he campaigned for Barry Goldwater, some years before, Bush Senior, Slick Willie (who was a surprising good president even as he brought dishonor to the presidency), and George W.

I got angry at most of them, some of the time, admired most of them (Carter the exception, I don't think he did ANYTHING very well, either as Governor of Georgia or as President of the U.s.,though for the first ten years after his presidency, I thought he might be in the running for the best EX-president, only to watch him revert to form for the past ten years.) some times, but at no time did I ever feel frightened by any of them, not for my own situation, not for the future of the country, not for anything. My basic approach to the stupidity of some of the things that happened was to shake my head and think "This too shall pass."

I confess that right now, on a personal basis the Obama presidency has me frightened. The health care provisions in the new "Stimulus" policy wherein it is clear that health care to the aged and aging is going to be effectively rationed. It appears that there is going to be triage by committee, and major treatment will be allowed for only the "healthiest" of the sick and aging. The model for the new system (already signed into law, even though they are talking about more "Health Care" regulation) is the British system which, for awhile, rejected treatment for vision loss through macular degeneration (which appears to be genetic in my family) untill the patient was blind in one eye. (Fortunately the public rose up against that, and it was changed, but it is typical. In Britain, the aged are put at the back of the treatment list for most major surgeries and are "allowed to die). It seems like the past Governor of Colorado (I can't remember the name) who once said, essentially, that it is the patriotic duty of the aged to die.

According to an article by Betsy McCaughy,, former Lieutenant Governor of New York State, published by Bloomberg .

National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective. The goal is to reduce costs and “guide” your doctor’s decisions (442, 446). These provisions in the stimulus bill are virtually identical to what Daschle prescribed in his 2008 book, “Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis.” According to Daschle, doctors have to give up autonomy and “learn to operate less like solo practitioners.”

(I wish I had the computer skills to reproduce her article.)

I remember well, Carter's laments about the malaise affecting the American public and creating so many economic problems (which, by the way were still worse than most of our current situation) and they are still mirrored by Obama's (Much more effective rhetoric) constant pounding on the phrases "crisis" "disaster' etc. Carter almost succeeded in convincing the public that America existed in the past tense, and Carter was an awful communicator. I am beginning to wonder if Obama will succeed where Carter failed since Obama is a masterful communicator.

I am really, truly discouraged and frightened for my health, for Janet's health, and even for my country. Somebody show me something to cheer me up.

Monday, February 16, 2009


To anyone who can count, the last post was number four.  I wrote the post using Windows Write (Which I like) and blogger will let me edit anything in the post but the title. (I can count, but I was tired.)

I had been staying at the home of my sister (and brother in law) who went to Ecuador on a mission.  Their son Ted, who is a dentist, hosted us, introduced us to his girl-friend who lives a couple of blocks away and who came with us to the funeral, and to dinner etc.  She is a delightful young lady.

On the day of the funeral  they began predicting snow and we went to bed a bit worried about the weather (with good cause, it turned out.)  Ryan took me to the airport for  my  morning flight (His flight to Memphis was to leave a few hours later.) and the first thing I discovered was that my flight had been delayed.  I was immediately concerned because my flight from Denver to Atlanta was scheduled to depart only one and one half hours after I was supposed to arrive in Denver.  We loaded the flight a little after eleven (we were scheduled to arrive in Denver at 11:41) but then we sat in the plane for almost an hour.  I was having visions of sleeping in the Denver Airport for a day or two.   To top it off, the plump little lady with the stringy hair, sitting in the center seat kept kicking my left calf and stomping on my foot.  If I were taking up space in front of her seat I wouldn't have minded, but she was just trying to find a place around the full duffel bag she had put under the seat in front.

Finally we took off by the time we were in the air, it was time for my flight from Denver to Atlanta to board.  When we arrived, it was well after my Atlanta departure time.  I didn't care, if I could just get off the plane and escape the gross little Tolkien monster who had removed much of the skin from my leg.

The had postponed the Atlanta departure, but they had moved the gate, so I was once more totally dependent on the guy who was pushing my wheel chair.  He didn't speak any version of English that I knew, but he read my boarding pass and got me to the plane on time (at least before they had completed boarding).  I am not sure how the airlines organize this, my tickets were on Delta, but the plane taking us from Denver to Atlanta was a plane from one of the Balkan countries.  The attendants spoke pretty good English and we got our free pretzels and diet coke.  They showed some movies and CNN, and I had my ear buds, so I locked myself onto the scree and pretended the world didn't exist.  I don't know whether this plane was an Air Bus or a Boeing but it was one of those with two seats on either side and a wall of seats in the middle.  Fortunately I had an aisle seat because my seventy plus year old kidneys decided to torture me, and if I had been in the middle, it would have tortured others as well,

It goes without saying that the fllight arrived in Atlanta after my flight for Jacksonville was supposed to have departed.  I had a wheel chair operator who was trained by Nascar, and he went through the halls, up and down the elevators, into and out of the little underground train with an attitude of "God help anyone who gets in my way, because they will need it" .   He got me where I needed to be in record time.  He got a better tip than usual. 

We found the new gate and boarded the plane in about twenty minutes total.  Of course, after boarding we sat in the unmoving plane for three hours and forty two minutes.   At the end of that time an announcement came on the intercom that they were sorry for the delay, but the catering truck was late, and they had no beverages aboard other than a few bottle of water, but they had been assured that the catering truck would be here in less than thirty minutes.  There was the same kind of muttering in the cabin that must have precede Fletcher Christian's dumping Captain Bligh into the lifeboat so many years ago.  But Fletcher Christian had the advantage that he could make the Bounty go after the mutiny.  We passengers had not that advantage so we satisfied ourselves with muttering.   After about an hour, the announcement came that the crew had decided to leave without the catering truck and there was a loud cheer from all concerned.

Of course, nothing happened, we didn't even go out onto the taxi way.  After about half an hour, the announcement came that that catering truck had arrived after all, so they had decided to allow it to unload before departure.  The passengers greeted that with a resounding BOOOOOoooooH.  They unloaded anyway and about forty minutes later the plane went out on the taxi way to depart for Jacksonville.  The biggest insult of all came when they announced that since the flight to Jacksonville was only a one hour ten minute flight, and their hadn't been time after the caterer unloaded to arrange the galley, no refreshments would be served during this flight. (Another resounding boooooo.)  I did take a minute, before they asked us to turn off cell phones to call my son, who had driven down to Jacksonville (about three hours) to pick me up at 8:30 P.M., and tell him to find a place to park outside the airport because we wouldn't get in till after eleven or twelve  We got on that airplane about 7:45 and arrived in Jacksonville after a 1hour 19 min. flight just after midnight.  According to the tickets, my total flying time was supposed to be 5 hours 38 minutes or 8 hours 30 minutes with connections.  Except for Salt Lake, when I spent a couple of hours waiting for the start, I actually was sitting in an airplane for somewhere between thirteen and fifteen hours.

We had a little lunch on the way and got home at about 3:45 A.M.  I didn't accomplish much that next day.  I didn't go to church, I didn't do anything else.  I was totally wasted.  End of tale.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Presidential Press Conference

I try to stay away from Politics, politicians and stuff like that, but I am always interested in what is going on.  I watched the Presidential press conference today, and hope that the conclusions I drew are wrong.

I told everyone that I thought Obama's communication skills would get him elected and I was right, but this evening was a real disappointment. The whole affair just reeked of collusion.  That is to say that it appeared, from the way it went, that the questions were pre-submitted, selected to make the points that the President wanted to make, and that the answers were rehearsed and planned.

I have never been a newspaper reporter, just a hack add salesmen, but I have known a lot of newsmen and women and these appeared to be presidential toadies.  I hope I'm wrong.  No one could prove it one way or another, but if I were judging it as a rhetorical competition, I would say that the reporters "threw the match."

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Utah, day 3 (for those who haven't lost interest)

Up early, dressed appropriately and Ryan and I set off for the chapel so that we would be there for vocal rehearsal by 8:30.   When we arrived, they were just opening the building so that some of the Relief Society sisters could get in to set up tables for the luncheon for the family that was to follow the funeral.  I had a chance to chat with Alice, my brother's wife, and actually give her the Christmas present that I never had mailed.  (I wasn't that was the time and  place, but she seemed pleased  I wandered around wondering what was keeping Kathy, so I got out the trusty cell phone and gave her a call.  She and her accompanist were at the house where we had been staying.  I obviously didn't clearly understand where we were to meet, but she assured me that she would be at the chapel in forty minutes (good time ).  

Friends and relatives were beginning to file in from both near and far, and I hadn't seen most of them for a long time.   The "viewing" was to start  at nine.   (I have to confess that "viewing" or "wake' or whatever it is called in various parts of the country is not my favorite part of a funeral.   I enjoy meeting all the people who come, but my appreciation of the even itself is colored by and experience from many years ago when I attended one that was given for a neighbor and a man picked up his little boy -about four or five years old I think- to have him kiss his grandma in the casket and the little boy was terrified.  It was a total negative).  I wandered about the room, taking pictures of all my distant kin and wondering if that was totally appropriate, but I did it.

Kathy showed up about ten if I remember right and we went to a side room where there was a piano to rehearse.  It was quite and experience.  Her accompanist was very good, and was able to adjust and coach as well as play the piano.  Kathy pointed out that she and her late husband had sung How Great Thou Art as a duet many times and that they had generally sung the chorus for the first verse, then sung the nest three stanzas without the chorus, saving the chorus as a sort of finale for the last stanza.   I had never done it that way, but it seemed okay to me.  I suggested that if we did it that way, Kathy could sing the melody for the first verse and I would sing the bass  part, then for the next verses we could take turns with the melody and for the last verse and chorus we would both sing melody.  We tried this and it seemed okay though Kathy was straining a bit to sing the alto as a part.  I suggested that she might ad-lib and obligato (actuallly I used some other word, but I meant obligato) when I was singing the melody.  We went through it a couple of times with Kathy experimenting with the parts.  It seemed fine but when I went back, Kathy stayed to work on some parts with her accompanist.

The funeral was very nice with talks preceding mine by both of Doug's sons (One did a sort of Eulogy which was very nice)  My sister said the invocation a trio combining representatives of both Doug's family and Alice's family sang very well, and several of the grandchildren from both families sang Love One Another which was a request Doug had made before he passed.  Then it was our turn.

I have mentioned in previous posts how frustrated I had become in the last few months with my inability to be the kind of choir singer I have been for years, but this was a different experience.

We began the first stanza and obviously had missed communication because Kathy sang alto and I sang bass and left the melody to the accompaniment.  It felt very good though and I went to the melody for the first chorus and Kathy went to the obligato and chills went up my spine.  Our voices complimented each other,and though we skipped back and forth with parts in the stanzas I just felt a swelling within me that I hadn't felt for a long time.  I have often gone to tears while singing but I haven't often felt a kind of electricity that almost made my hair stand on end.  I dearly wish that we had taped the song or copiied it some way just so I could hear if it as as good for the audience as it was for the singers.  (Yes, tears were coming down my face as well, but I don't think any one heard them)  It was, I think as good a tribute to my brother and to our Savior as I was capable of giving.

It was then time for me to speak and I had a momentary urge to just walk to the pulpit and say "I just said it all, I have nothing more to give". but as a conservative old tradionalist  I gave the speech as well as I knew how.  

Alice's son's then sang a nice trio, and the Bishop of the Ward spoke for a few minutes and we concluded by singing, as a congregation God Be With You Till We Meet Again  and Doug's stepson Charles gave the Benediction.  We drove off to the cemetery for the interment. 

I'm really through with this day, except that I notice that Utah isn't the South.  In the South when a funeral cortege moves along, there is a cop in front and one behind and one that controls traffic as it goes, and noone stops for lights or stop signs, and most of the other cars pull off to the side of the road in respect of the cortege.  In Utah, the hearse leads off and if you are at the rear, and you don't know the directions you may get lost, because cars pull in and out around you, get in front of you a stop signs  and, quite honestly I thought we were lost for a little while.

After the burial, we returned to the chapel where they provided a nice meal and we ate and visited, and introduced ourselves to those we didn't know and it was pleasant, if somber.  It broke up a little earlier than it might have because they were predicting snow in the mountains and some folks had to get over those mountains.

Final day and my ultimate frustration with air travel  coming up soon.