Thursday, March 13, 2014

The One Where Marcus Aurelius Kicks Pascal's Butt...

A nod, wave, and smooches to TW for the Marcus Aurelius quote.

Q:  Why do we even bother with Pascal and the "wager" of the famed Section 233? It's insulting.  It's a chaotic distortion of Marcus Aurelius' clear, clean clarion call.  Well, okay, it lacks the "Christian" thing.  But give me a Stoic o'er an Apologist, any day.

Live a good life. 
If there are gods 
and they are just, 
then they will not care 
how devout you have been, 
but will welcome you 
based on the virtues 
you have lived by. 
If there are gods, 
but unjust, 
then you should not want 
to worship them. 
If there are no gods, 
then you will be gone, 
but will have lived 
a noble life 
that will live on 
in the memories 
of your loved ones. 

--Marcus Aurelius
Meditations (Casaubon translation)

Pascal's Pensées (Thank you, Project Gutenberg)

Infinite—nothing.—Our soul is cast into a body, where it finds number, time, dimension. Thereupon it reasons, and calls this nature, necessity, and can believe nothing else.

Unity joined to infinity adds nothing to it, no more than one foot to an infinite measure. The finite is annihilated in the presence of the infinite, and becomes a pure nothing. So our spirit before God, so our justice before divine justice. There is not so great a disproportion between our justice and that of God, as between unity and infinity.

The justice of God must be vast like His compassion. Now justice to the outcast is less vast, and ought less to offend our feelings than mercy towards the elect.

We know that there is an infinite, and are ignorant of its nature. As we know it to be false that numbers are finite, it is therefore true that there is an infinity in number. But we do not know what it is. It is false that it is even, it is false that it is odd; for the addition of a unit can make no change in its nature. Yet it is a number, and every number is odd or even (this is certainly true of every finite number). So we may well know that there is a God without knowing what He is. Is there not one substantial truth, seeing there are so many things which are not the truth itself?

We know then the existence and nature of the finite, because we also are finite and have extension. We know the existence of the infinite, and are ignorant of its nature, because it has extension like us, but not limits like us. But we know neither the existence nor the nature of God, because He has neither extension nor limits.

But by faith we know His existence; in glory we shall know His nature. Now, I have already shown that we may well know the existence of a thing, without knowing its nature.

Let us now speak according to natural lights.

If there is a God, He is infinitely incomprehensible, since, having neither parts nor limits, He has no affinity to us. We are then incapable of knowing either what He is or if He is. This being so, who will dare to undertake the decision of the question? Not we, who have no affinity to Him.

Who then will blame Christians for not being able to give a reason for their belief, since they profess a religion for which they cannot give a reason? They declare, in expounding it to the world, that it is a foolishness, stultitiam;[90] and then you complain that they do not prove it! If they proved it, they would not keep their word; it is in lacking proofs, that they are not lacking in sense. "Yes, but although this excuses those who offer it as such, and takes away from them the blame of putting it forward without reason, it does not excuse those who receive it." Let us then examine this point, and say, "God is, or He is not." But to which side shall we incline? Reason can decide nothing here. There is an infinite chaos which separated us. A game is being played at the extremity of this infinite distance where heads or tails will turn up. What will you wager? According to reason, you can do neither the one thing nor the other; according to reason, you can defend neither of the propositions.

Do not then reprove for error those who have made a choice; for you know nothing about it. "No, but I blame them for having made, not this choice, but a choice; for again both he who chooses heads and he who chooses tails are equally at fault, they are both in the wrong. The true course is not to wager at all."

Yes; but you must wager. It is not optional. You are embarked. Which will you choose then? Let us see. Since you must choose, let us see which interests you least. You have two things to lose, the true and the good; and two things to stake,[Pg 67] your reason and your will, your knowledge and your happiness; and your nature has two things to shun, error and misery. Your reason is no more shocked in choosing one rather than the other, since you must of necessity choose. This is one point settled. But your happiness? Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is.—"That is very fine. Yes, I must wager; but I may perhaps wager too much."—Let us see. Since there is an equal risk of gain and of loss, if you had only to gain two lives, instead of one, you might still wager. But if there were three lives to gain, you would have to play (since you are under the necessity of playing), and you would be imprudent, when you are forced to play, not to chance your life to gain three at a game where there is an equal risk of loss and gain. But there is an eternity of life and happiness. And this being so, if there were an infinity of chances, of which one only would be for you, you would still be right in wagering one to win two, and you would act stupidly, being obliged to play, by refusing to stake one life against three at a game in which out of an infinity of chances there is one for you, if there were an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain. But there is here an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain, a chance of gain against a finite number of chances of loss, and what you stake is finite. It is all divided; wherever the infinite is and there is not an infinity of chances of loss against that of gain, there is no time to hesitate, you must give all. And thus, when one is forced to play, he must renounce reason to preserve his life, rather than risk it for infinite gain, as likely to happen as the loss of nothingness.

For it is no use to say it is uncertain if we will gain, and it is certain that we risk, and that the infinite distance between the certainty of what is staked and the uncertainty of what will be gained, equals the finite good which is certainly staked against the uncertain infinite. It is not so, as every player stakes a certainty to gain an uncertainty, and yet he stakes a finite certainty to gain a finite uncertainty, without transgressing against reason. There is not an infinite distance between the certainty staked and the uncertainty of the gain; that is untrue. In truth, there is an infinity between the certainty of gain and the certainty of loss. But the uncertainty of the gain is proportioned to the certainty of the stake according to the[Pg 68] proportion of the chances of gain and loss. Hence it comes that, if there are as many risks on one side as on the other, the course is to play even; and then the certainty of the stake is equal to the uncertainty of the gain, so far is it from fact that there is an infinite distance between them. And so our proposition is of infinite force, when there is the finite to stake in a game where there are equal risks of gain and of loss, and the infinite to gain. This is demonstrable; and if men are capable of any truths, this is one.

"I confess it, I admit it. But, still, is there no means of seeing the faces of the cards?"—Yes, Scripture and the rest, etc. "Yes, but I have my hands tied and my mouth closed; I am forced to wager, and am not free. I am not released, and am so made that I cannot believe. What, then, would you have me do?"

True. But at least learn your inability to believe, since reason brings you to this, and yet you cannot believe. Endeavour then to convince yourself, not by increase of proofs of God, but by the abatement of your passions. You would like to attain faith, and do not know the way; you would like to cure yourself of unbelief, and ask the remedy for it. Learn of those who have been bound like you, and who now stake all their possessions. These are people who know the way which you would follow, and who are cured of an ill of which you would be cured. Follow the way by which they began; by acting as if they believed, taking the holy water, having masses said, etc. Even this will naturally make you believe, and deaden your acuteness.—"But this is what I am afraid of."—And why? What have you to lose?

But to show you that this leads you there, it is this which will lessen the passions, which are your stumbling-blocks.

The end of this discourse.—Now, what harm will befall you in taking this side? You will be faithful, honest, humble, grateful, generous, a sincere friend, truthful. Certainly you will not have those poisonous pleasures, glory and luxury; but will you not have others? I will tell you that you will thereby gain in this life, and that, at each step you take on this road, you will see so great certainty of gain, so much nothingness in what you risk, that you will at last recognise that you have wagered for something certain and infinite, for which you have given nothing.

"Ah! This discourse transports me, charms me," etc.

If this discourse pleases you and seems impressive, know[Pg 69] that it is made by a man who has knelt, both before and after it, in prayer to that Being, infinite and without parts, before whom he lays all he has, for you also to lay before Him all you have for your own good and for His glory, that so strength may be given to lowliness.

Sean Kerman, photograph

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CRPS: Twist and Shout!

Warning... this was done as a diversion and without pretension of video quality.  It's 8 minutes of your life if you watch it;  It was 8 minutes of mine whether you watch it or not.  I was/am extremely punchy because the spaz attacks began last evening...

© 2013 L. Ryan Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Skull found in crab pot sent for DNA identification

This sounds like a poorly thought out hoax to me.  Hoping so.
To read background posts from this blog on missing child Lindsey Baum, click HERE.

Informant Told Lewis County Detectives Lindsey Baum's Body Was Put in Crab Pot
By Stephanie Schendel 
Posted: Friday, February 28, 2014 10:14 pm | Updated: 5:17 pm, Sat Mar 1, 2014.

Possible Link?: Man Who Testified in Riffe Murder Trial Also Provided Information on Missing McLeary Girl

Nearly a year before a child-sized skull was recovered in a crab pot two miles off the coast of Westport, Lewis County deputies sent information to the Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office about a tip they received from an informant indicating that missing McCleary girl Lindsey Baum’s body had been put inside a crab pot and dumped into the ocean.

A skull was recovered on Feb. 21 after a local fisherman pulled up his crab pot about 2.3 miles off the coast of Westport, according to Grays Harbor County Undersheriff Dave Pimentel.
[Read the rest of Schendel's article HERE.]



Skull found in Westport crab pot going to FBI lab
By Associated Press Published: Feb 24, 2014 at 12:12 PM PDT

WESTPORT, Wash. (AP) - The human skull found in a crab pot off the Washington coast is being sent to the FBI crime lab at Quantico, Va.

Grays Harbor Undersheriff Dave Pimentel tells KXRO investigators hope to extract DNA, which may lead to an identification.

The partial human skull was found Friday morning in a crab pot about 2 miles off of Westport. The fisherman set the pot the previous week in water 90-to-100 feet deep.

An anthropologist in King County confirmed the skull is human.

Pimentel says nothing else is known about the skull, including how it got into the crab pot.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Hodgicush Podgicush

It's a good day for Fred.  I won't divulge his secret, but he has done something to improve his well-being, and after dropping back by The Manor for a quick high protein nosh, revved up Darling Ruby the Honda CRV, tore over the drawbridge -- giving a smart remarkable arc of spit in the general direction of the moat -- and headed toward an early evening meeting with the Militant Feminist Lesbian Existentialists and Ukulele Band (they've expanded, an expansion full of great fresh ecumenical airs), after which they are all headed toward Tête de Hergé's premier Home for Aging Party Animals to hear a traveling band of hot shot ukuleleans.

Fred's band?  Well, one of the definitions of "air" is "an expressive succession of musical sounds." Okay?  He's not been playing much himself -- not the guitar, not the piano, nor the plucky uke -- due to increasing arthritic pain in his hands.  He has described, with those same arthritic hands, in the air, where "air" means "the invisible gaseous substance surrounding the earth, a mixture mainly of oxygen and nitrogen," a device he desires to make, but must first more intricately invent, that will provide the needed support for his gesticulating hands.  I nod but do not understand.

I miss the music.  I am sorry his hands pain him so, to the point that music is not an option.  But I smell a rat, too.  Fred spends hours at a time doing detailed work on electronic parts that mine eyes can barely see and that must be awesomely difficult to manipulate.

We'll figure it out.  Or I will.

In other news, I get more pain relief from a pill containing 7.5 milligrams of pain killer than I do from a pill containing 10 milligrams of the same pain killer.  When I made this news public to the medical establishment, sirens went off, red lights flashed, and the Department of Homeland Security rappelled down the sides of the two-story building in which my doctor and I were hiding out.

Good thing I didn't finish my confession -- that Fentanyl 100 mcg patches hit the height of effectiveness on the fourth day.  I am not supposed to know that, since the directions from above dictate that I change the patch every 48 hours (say some rarefied know-it-alls) or 72 hours (according to the remaining know-it-alls).  So kill me, I experiment.  As I've stated in other engrossing posts, the day will come when I plaster every reachable inch of this bodacious bod with pain patches, so serious research is necessary, yes?

Anyway, it appears that my body is on a "less is more" kick.  Of course, there's also been some switcheroos from one generic brand to another, so maybe the old or the new generics are a bit "off."

The cats, how are the cats, you ask?  Well, Marmy Fluffy Butt is scheduled to be surgically removed from my chest early next week.  I tried everything in my considerable arsenal to get her to let go today -- wheelchair vacuuming, a double cat threat, since the chair itself is scary enough when I'm doing donuts on the Haddock Family ancient oriental rugs, and since the vacuum is extraordinarily loud and unwieldy, a threat not only to felines, but to moi-même.  It's been a while since I've entertained you with my prowess in the vacuuming department, but I am not above dragging out this old, embarrassing video to make my point.  As you watch this masterpiece of a short documentary, imagine the addition of an 8-pound puff of insolent feline, richly clawed, frightened by both wheelchair and the Devil's own suction contraption but desperately in love with... me.  [I have to say, despite my babbling and cursing, this video cracks me up... it's so accurate... the weird things I go through in my attempts at being a worthy worker in Marlinspike Hall... an adventure arises midst the mundane, without fail...]

Anyway, I'm soon going to be driven to vacuuming my sinuses, if the surgical separation of Marmy from moi fails.  Her love stems from having been taken to the vet and examined without a thousand pardons, then forced to take pills twice a day for ten days.  Fred is Evil.  I am All That Is Good.

This profound change in Marmy has the usual ripple effect through the Feline Triumvirate. The two boys are completely confounded.  "Who is in charge?  Since Marmy has claimed Retired Educator's chest and lap area, do we have dibs on shoulders and feet?"

Dobby has taken to spending hours in the myriad closets available to him, demanding only his usual coffee time grooming.  Buddy the Outrageously Large Maine Coon resorts to violence, stalking Dobby, and stalking Marmy when the litter box calls or she gets hungry enough to chow down.  Then, after dispersing terror all around, he comes and sits by me as the whirlwind of confusion plays itself out, and gives me his best heartrending face.  "Why, O why, have you foresaken me?"

It's a tragedy that only La Bonne et Belle Bianca Castafiore can rival for effect.  But the judge has issued a gag order on her latest doings, praise the judicial system.  I'll fill you in when they rip the duct tape from my mouth, but don't fret -- she's fine, no one died, and if she's granted a visa to travel with the newly mounted Gounod's Faust, the Milanese Nightingale will make restitution in... about five years.

Sven is standing by her, of course.  Sven's son, Cabana Boy, hangs back in the shadows, and that... well, that is a saga.  Again, though, don't worry.  What could happen?

Okay, I'm going to scrounge up some dinner.  I'm afraid to cook over an open flame.  Kitty flambé isn't on the menu...

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Another Shower, More Chicken Soup

I ran into another person.  No, let's rephrase and reconstitute that!  
I came across another situation peopled with idiots, and the situation does not allow for the differentiation of the well-meaning idiot from the uncaring idiot from the trained monkey with flat affect.  
That's right!  It was a lawyer.
And it made me think of this post, written last October 23, and the poem which concludes it. 
You can't tell, but the air here today is rank with that smell peculiar to desperation.  It's in the sweat, it flits from the pores, the lightest of emulsions.

There is not a story behind every poem.  Every poem is not "true." Not all writing is autobiographical.

Because of my "success" in typing through the minefield of the ACA online Federal Marketplace, actually succeeding in finding very good and very affordable health insurance that will maintain my near poverty very well, my name has been given to several media outlets.  Among them, CNN.

The reporter who interviewed me, twice I think, if we don't include today, does not listen.  He wants a certain response, of course, and steers his interviewee in that direction.  You can tell he is not listening because he often begins his "next" question while you have not finished, adequately, the answer to the current one.  And by the tone of voice, and by the fact that he does not seem to retain the information you have given.  But, who cares?  It's his métier, let him be good or bad at it, and let that be his choice.

So I did my part.  Never was there a mention of actually being recorded for televised broadcast -- nothing beyond audio, I presumed, since it never came up.  I assumed that I sucked so much as a subject that it just wasn't even a viable issue.

And besides, life has gone on in the interim.  Damn it.

I had a bad night last night.  You know.  Screaming, which oddly enough assumes more and more dreamlike status, whereas gentler moans will actually wake me from real sleep.  Lots of pain, lots of infection symptoms in the shoulders and hips, and so on and so on, ad nauseum.  You know the Punch Line:  the screaming ninnies of spasticity.  I didn't even bother with meds, just put in the earbuds, sang my heart out between yelps and sometimes must have slept... if those moans really did bring me back to consciousness.

Concern for Fred.  Concern for me and Fred.  Regrets.  Wishing I would die before sun up, so that my room might be redolent with the odor of roses.  That's right, you reprobates, I fully intend to die a sainted death.  I like this new pope and have already put in the paperwork for sanctification.  You laugh now, but one day you won't.

So I finally get the screaming meany ninnies to stop, close my eyes, rest, and the phone rings.  As I am waiting for several important calls -- maybe even El Papa, himself -- I pick up, something I never used to do before the crisis with the Mother-Unit.  Now I am a true adult, ready to speak to anyone, medical bill collector, Mother-Units, veterinarians, friends (ha!), insurance company, or rambling, ambling CNN reporters.

My "Hello" might have been deceptively bright -- the sure way to know if you have awakened some poor soul at the other end of technology.

Anyway, he yadda-yadda-ed and then asked about bringing a crew over for a quick recorded interview.

Now I had given this journalist person full access to this enlightening blog -- such a simple document -- and even suggested a few of my pristine video selections on YouTube (channel "profderien"), not so much because I was whoring myself, but because I figured he needed to understand that between being butchered half to death these last few wonder years, and having CRPS in all limbs, including my frigging face, that I would not be given to appearing on television.

I cry when I see myself.  I can handle the CRPS update videos, done mostly for the CRPSers in my small but dedicated audience, because it is piecemeal, it is abstracted, somehow, and I can include touches of minute humor.  But... take the elevators in my go-to-guy doctor's building.  The doors are mirrored.  So there I am, in my wheelchair, surrounded by normal looking folk, looking... grotesque.  Seen as a whole, I do not recognize myself.  Not just from the CRPS, not just the wheelchair, the legs, the hands, the face, but also the impact of over 15 years on steroids and clothing that was designed for gimps.

You'd have to be an idiot to read this blog and not know that every mention of high-powered italian leather shoes reflects my love of shoes.  I haven't been able to wear shoes for over a decade.

I mean... I thought a reporter would GET IT.  But then, I made an assumption based on narcissism (a decent definition of "hubris," really).  His story is not about me.  It is about "Obamacare," something I desperately want to support, and had been handed a mighty vehicle with which to do my small part.

I love my step-mother with a full and aching heart.  But I would never let her see me.  Not now.  I love TW with a heart more than full, more than aching... and never will he cross the threshold of The Manor's Bronze doors.  I will let Grader Boob (the other Brother-Unit) in... but only because he was wily enough to stop by once already.  And because he's been here, or there, through it all, anyway.  Because I don't think there is much left that can shock him -- more is the pity.

So something led me back to that freaking file of writing that I did earlier this year, and to this poem written kind of for Fred and kind of for the new friends I was making, who were wearing me out with suggestions for cures.

People don't GET IT.

This is the poem I wrote, for people who don't GET IT.  There is no imperative that they should, but there'd be a deep water well full of gratitude if they did.  So, in this unimportant instance, "A Shower and Chicken Soup" is dedicated to John Bonifield and Elizabeth Cohen, with all due respect.

A Shower and Chicken Soup

"Have fun," she called, and waited
for the sound of the key in the lock
to ready herself for a walk.

"Just do it.  Just do it.  Just do it,"
she said, eyeing the clock.
Not exactly scared -- more properly
put -- she was reticent.
"Don't dare mock me,
cats, and don't dare
get underfoot..."

Transfer from bed to chair using
one step with the right leg,
which leg is the right leg?
(they are easily mistook
these dread and crafty limbs,
one for the other, just look
at 'em) add a table grab-'n-push
with the right arm,
find the cane! find the cane!
then pivot, pray, and sit,
stare straight ahead,
it will ease, it will away,
will it away. where is that
leg now, cagey bastard?
It can stray, did it stray?

We said we'd walk together baby come what may
That come the twilight should we lose our way
If as we're walkin a hand should slip free
I'll wait for you
And should I fall behind
Wait for me

Reach to retrieve three towels from the half-bath,
folded earlier today, towels in waiting,
attendants all. Remove the Fentanyl pain patch,
dispose of it carefully, lest you kill a small animal.

(By accident.)

Take off the pink metal-studded hairband,
that wonderful confusing message!
You stall as you recall, you stall as you recall.

Gather the grabber designed for water,
aquamarine with finely molded tips, the three towels,
a clean pair of scrubs and the veterinary formula
of skin cleanser prescribed by the infectious disease specialist --
because you cannot afford the stuff made for people
and, it would appear, there is no difference.
This is labeled: For Horses.

It lacks in fragrance. It's not honeysuckle, trenchant lemon,
clement cucumber, or any of the serene green teas.

Poured in an old spray bottle accorded precisely
scored markings of perfectly proper proportions,
add the fragrance of the week,
something he deplores but you love:
(I picture fields of flickering blues;
I don't like the smell, either.
It smells too much.)

I shower in his bathroom.
The chair won't fit the door.
All these fine parameters, tincture of this,
precious local provender,
And the chair won't fit the door.
Grabbing on to sink and towel holders,
using my peony-decorated cane,
I lean on the tile at the shower-and-bath
combination corner, keening, keening,
so afraid, leaning, keening.

Toss the towels, the grabber, the cane,
the clothes, all, all of it goes, flying and clanging
into the bathtub, as you inhale
and search for sane,
focus on the pretty pretty cane.

Lift in the right leg, drop it,  scream,
and grab for the stabilizing bar
on the opposite side, my guard, above
the soap dish, with my right hand,
half pull, half fall inside,
the abattoir, hips on the shower
chair that stays in there,
that stays in there.
There is a screw poking through
the plastic, you said it did not match
the pre-drilled hole, and I always land on it,
ripping my clothes, scratching my right thigh.

I never tell him because this piercing keeps me focused
-- spastic and sarcastic --
this is what keeps me from screaming more:
the mean cost of a small scrape.

I cannot reach the mat that keeps me
from slipping; it's now on the left,
therefore unreachable.
If what I need is not within
the right's realm,
it cannot be mine.
She sighs, she cries,
she stops, she stops.

She stops,
thinks of the clock
and how there is no time
for this sighing, this crying.

Now for the undressing, the easiest part:
The few moments of liberation,
nothing touching the skin,
and I would sit there naked all day
except that he'd come home
and I'd still be unclean,
my hair a fated mess, and my legs... my legs.
My hated fenestrated legs.

Right arm tosses the dirty clothes
just to the right of the sink,
but not too far, not to block the way
out, not so the door won't open.
I'd be trapped in here,
and that would defeat
almost everything.

Now everyone dreams of a love lasting and true
But you and I know what this world can do
So let's make our steps clear that the other may see
And I'll wait for you
If I should fall behind
Wait for me

Use the grabber to put the clean clothes over the shower rod:
This will take time and patience.
Put one towel on the tub floor
in lieu of the non-skid plastic mat
that is too heavy to lift.

Put the veterinary antibiotic spray poisoned
with lavender on the tub floor
between the feet.
Use the grabber to retrieve
the shampoo and conditioner,
the purple "pouf"
from the shower caddy.
Pick up the pumice stone and loofah
that you knock
off by mistake,
and replace.

Brace yourself and slow your breathing.
Turn on the hot water first; it takes 20 seconds to warm up,
then adjust the cold so that the water becomes lukewarm
to your body, to your chest;
do not trust the readings of your legs or hands,
your face.

Hold the shampoo bottle in your left hand, and be glad that it naturally
tilts downward so your right hand can catch the coconut (for extra body) white
pool, slap it on your head, one more time as fast as you can, and catch the shampoo bottle before it falls on your feet -- your foot,
because that right foot is like a magnet.

Lather, being as attentive to each side of the head as possible,
grab the grab bar, lean forward into the spray, get all the shampoo out.
Apply the conditioner in the same manner.  Start your mental clock.

While it's making your hair luxurious and smooth,
spray your body with the antibiotic cleanser meant for horses.
Don't rub or scrub it in, just let it sit, keep spraying until time to rinse
that lovely head of curly hair, about three minutes
(an extra minute for luck).

Rinse the conditioner from your head, try to stop crying,
because looking down you see red streaks in the froth
of the foam
and feel your skin splitting,
small tears in both shoulders, the thighs,
the right shin, the feet,
and maybe that spot on your butt
from the poked-through screw,
but probably not,
there's actually a callus there now.

Bend and twist and let the water rinse away the spray
then lather the purple pouf with soap
and gently gently wash every place that you can reach
from head and bloody ears to bloody toes.

Gasping now, wanting so to take the memory of a lovely warm shower
coursing down skin so silky, relaxing muscles tight from a day in the sun
playing pick-up tennis at the park courts downtown,
pausing to cool down with wall ball now and then,
cramming the car full of kids to drive to the last surviving
pharmacy with a fountain to get real lemonades, limeades.

Holding my face right up into the spray, hands over my head,
running through my hair, short then,
the idea of standing through a shower
now as foreign as saffron.

Rinsing, she has learned, is crucial, as she's never
terribly dirty, just a mass of dead skin and sweat that her twice
sometimes thrice cleansings per day obliterate, but the lotioned,
medicated cleansers so recommended leave traces, traces,
bits, hints, lint, evidence, of themselves
and her inabilities.

Her stepmom used to comfort her when the flu would hit,
bustling about efficiently, able to do a sickbed mise en place
but lost before the recipe ingredients in her huge kitchen.
equipped with culinary's finest stainless.  She bears bedside
basins and washcloths, clean gown and sheets, and as she talks to you
about the plans for redecorating the breakfast nook, she
untucks the top sheet, helps you off with your gown,
and, keeping you covered and warm,
she washes and rinses clean your face, your arms,
your arm pits, wipes down your legs, but really scrubs your feet.
A matter of fact, she hands, at the last, two wash cloths,
one soapy, one rinsed, to clean between your legs
while she gathers up all the dirties, holds out the basin
to collect those last two cloths, and takes it all away --
but is back in a flash, saying, "That takes care
of the hot spots, you see.  Always wash the hot spots,
and always wash your feet, you will feel so much better.
Now don't you feel better?"

All in her sweet southern lilt that belies
the swift efficiency
of a born nurse,
if not a mother.

She slips the clean gown, your favorite, blue with blue ribbons,
over your head, helping with the confusion of arms, laughing,
and simultaneouly removes the dirty, now damp, top sheet.
She pulls the wing chair she says is for "reading" close and
before you know it, you're ensconced in it, and on the bedside table
is her famous Campbell's Tomato Soup and whole
wheat toast, for dipping.

You can't eat it all, that's fine, and look, the bed's all made,
amplified with extra pillows, the sturdy kind, the kind
that have you sitting up and doing crosswords, or reading
(outside the reading "chair"), and looking out the windows --
(when did she open the drapes?) and looking out
to see the woods.

You notice that she's gone.  You cannot remember if you thanked her.
The house is huge but even in huge houses, you know every sound and
you detect the tiny click of the other wing's separating door
and laugh, hearing the advancing, slowly speeding click-click-click
of the small thing they call a dog, coming to amuse you.
Oliver, half cocker spaniel, half poodle, sweet and small
and not ingenious.

There is nothing for it but to do the feet,
let the tub fill up six or nine inches, try to move
them around a bit, take the pouf by the grabber --
now that is a saying wanting wide adoption:
take the pouf by the grabber, lads --
and gently scrub unless too much skin
slides off and pinkens the six or nine inches.

When the water drains, give the feet a good spritz of Magic
Lavender Lavage and do what you can to make it seem
you'd never been there.  Grab the grabber, lads,
and take up the sodden towel, wipe and spray,
wipe and spray, leave no microbes
alive.  Die, pathogens, die.  Disappear,
O Flakes of Me, down the drain.

And now you fold up, you ball up like tissue paper, lose
form,  lose patience with yourself and this, your accomplishment.
Dizzy, naked, and still clothes to wear and hair to do,
and my, you are aromatic.

It takes two towels and a method:
Dry the hair, gently, and toss the towel in a slap
to the back as many times as you can, then
rest.  Without giving it much thought, pull
up on the steadying bar, and stand.
Put the towel on the seat and sit back on it
as that is how one dries the derrière when
exhausted and the right arm ready
to give out.

Take the second towel, toss it over your legs,
gently, gently, stop, stop, stop.
Grab the grabber, lads! Grab the grabber, boys!
The clean top pulls on, hitches where the skin
is still wet, damp, humid. so be
patient. Be patient.

Grab the grabber, lads!
Grab it, boys!  Unfurl the scrub pants
that always look so huge until you have to put
a foot in, matching right foot to right pant leg,
left foot to left pant leg, yelling, screaming,
rivulets of pink, mostly sera now,
mostly lymph, but every inch aflame.

Scan your area. Is all that can be in place
in place, is there no embarrassment left to shame
you?  Your top is on, your pants around your ankles.
Hang the blessed grabber on the caddy, grab the bar
and stand again, yelling, screaming, those noises cannot
be my bones, mobilize your self, girl, get the waist
of the pants with ye olde grabber, pinch them with your left
hand, finally good for something, and use the right
to pull them up and fashion loops resembling a bow.

We swore we'd travel darlin side by side
We'd help each other stay in stride
But each lovers steps fall so differently
But I'll wait for you
And if I should fall behind
Wait for me

Hug the wall, no other description writes, hug the wall,
the hooks there mere inches from your eyes and every time,
every time, you think my eye my eye my skull my skull
impaled on this hook, and after I've done all this?

Crying, sobbing, more because you are almost done and
because you can, because he's not here to hear you,
you edge to the door, using grabber and cane, both
for crutch, then fall into the chair, waiting there
like an old hated friend, with two cats, big-eyed and
scared by all your noise, and about to be crushed by your
descending butt.  They run, squeaking, happy
that you made it out alive, in time
to feed them.

The cane now more useful held by the bottom end,
using the handle to hook all the towels and clothes,
pulling them to you, then bending, if you can, to grab them
up, pile upon the bed, ready for the washer.
You're almost done, you're almost done,
you're almost done, stop talking and breathe,
stop crying and breathe.

Comb out your wet hair,
and there's a memory of normal,
clean, fresh hair,
a touch of mousse --
shake the can in the right hand,
spray it into the left, scoop it out with the right,
smear it on the parts of the head you
can reach as the muscles seize, don't take
the pills, not yet, you'll hurt more later,
and they really don't help, it's more a crutch
but far less useful than cane and grabber.

Music, music, as loud as can be.
You've got a half-hour,
at least, love, play your music loud, raucous,
scream that and not despair.
Bruce, "If I should fall behind,"
Nina and "Mississippi
Goddam!" and I am suddenly sure
that I am an outraged black
woman, singing my piece, and I enunciate,
with incredibly sober drunken dignity:
"This is a show tune

But the show hasn't been written for it, yet."
Then I hear that earliest of bonny Bonnie
Raitt, so clear it breaks my heart, and I am
young (coveting that head of red hair),
singing with blue's greatest
in my parents' garage.

I put on my armor,
my three rings, my three bracelets,
my four earrings, my kickass hair band,
pink with rivets. Each thing a touchstone,
a meaning that I must wear, touch, and see.
I wish to God I could pluck this unibrow
but I cannot see well enough to do it,
nor control the hand enough to pull out
hair by hair, those straggling hairs.

But enough of what you can't do,
princess, look at what you've done:
you are clean, deloused, and you certainly smell
interesting.  There's a load of wash going,
and if you don't allow yourself to slow, to stop,
there's a chicken with some meat still on its bones
the start of a marvelous stock.
We've carrots, celery,  onion, garlic,
dried and earthy things --
squashes and four kinds of peppers.

I'll wait to see what you'd like for starch, perfectly diced
potatoes or the weight of brown rice or aromatic basmati
or jasmine, maybe beans (I vote potato).There is,
not that we can find, no Italian in you, anywhere,
but you will likely ask for noodles, without encouragement.

I stir in, at the last, my great love, musty lusty
mushrooms, buttons and baby bellas, and when you ask me
if I washed them, amplifying, eyes all squinty, adding "with care?"
I turn away and lie, like always:  "But, of course,"
having wiped each one with a clean cotton cloth napkin,
having pared away the stems you so fear
(scary, scary stems).

You're afraid of strange
things, but I respect your fears,
because I have seen your courage --
still, your terror of my green Amish bentwood rocking
chair amazes me, and the sweat of your upper lip
at mere mention of hot air balloons, and, of course,
being killed by a dirty mushroom.

Should we lose each other in the shadow of the evening trees
I'll wait for you
And should I fall behind
Wait for me

When you come home, I hear the key in the door,
the ever hysterical "Honey, I'm home" done in bad Arnaz.
And I am so glad you never notice that I've showered,
though you usually call from the back, "Do you want me
to put your the wash load in the dryer?  When are we
eating?" And I remember to inquire about potato,
rices or beans, know to pause and wait for "how about pasta?"
I pick rotini instead of egg noodles, cook them separately
so as not to muck up my perfect broth,
and remind you to be better about buying
canned tomato products with added salt,
and spices.

I want my tomatoes unseasoned.

I add my own seasoning, and I love you,
and I will shower, dress, and adorn myself
with clean clothes, aromas,
talismans, prayers, and cries to the sky
as long as I absolutely can, for you.

]with thanks to The Boss]

© 2013 L. Ryan Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Monday, March 10, 2014

Draft Scat

so i thought that cleaning out accumulated drafts would be a semi-useful activity. 
 it sounds focused and goal oriented, right?  but i keep running into funny little starts, 
some funny enough to evoke a snort, even after two years of storage.  like this, 
the beginnings of a favorite rant topic -- BHL.  so on the off chance that you carry 
benadryl to fend off unexpected exposure to bernard-henri lévy, this is for you!

I have mixed feelings about Bernard-Henri Lévy, that "public" philosopher, one of the roughly ten self-proclaimed nouveaux philosophes --  facile contrarians with an affinity for cameras and microphones. Nothings bests Cornelius Castoriadis' description of the New Philosophers moniker as a rare example of "double antiphrasis."

There's a marked tendency among the membership toward being former Maoists, and a marked approbation of Late Capitalism.  I ask you:  Among the Maoists of your acquaintance,  is there even one who doesn't sheepishly cite "the spirit of the times" as what led them so astray?

On the one hand, he is a buffoon.
On the other hand, where else can I get my necessary supply of  "trademark panache: crisp, unbuttoned white Charvet shirts, golden tan and a windswept silvery mane of hair"?

I see his name these days, and I usually smile.  Someone once described this reaction as "delighted disbelief," a deep amazement that there are publishers out there still willing to air the easy quibbles and antiblahblahs of BHL.  My official stance on Lévy, as on all those who have made the choice to dig their own graves, is that he should remain interred, undisturbed by media attention or any other backhoe.

Impervious, however, to public ridicule, BHL rises again and again, a sophist zombie.  That thoroughly explains his persistent returns;  What explains ours?

Things like this have made me chuckle:

In his newest book, Mr. Lévy attacked the 18th-century German philosopher Immanuel Kant as a madman, and in support cited the Paraguayan lectures of Jean-Baptiste Botul to his 20th-century followers.

In fact Mr. Botul is the longtime creature of Frédéric Pagès, a journalist with the satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaîné...

Mr. Pagès has never made a secret of his fictional philosopher, who has a fan club that meets monthly in salons throughout Paris.

Mr. Botul’s school of thought is called Botulism, his followers are botuliennes and they debate such weighty theories as the metaphysics of flab. As they describe it, Mr. Botul’s astonishing ideas ranged from phenomenology to cheese, sausages, women’s breasts and the transport of valises during the 1930s

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Eric Carson, Doctor God

Due to an assortment of reasons, delay in diagnosis of CRPS is probably the foremost cause for treatment failure.

That's why I wish the diagnostic criteria were clearer, physicians and nurses were better informed, and, in those cases where litigation over injury/negligence/malpractice is ongoing, disinterested medical care were made available concomitantly.

There's nothing quite so demoralizing as having a competent physician, experienced in CRPS treatment and research, interrupt your Castles in Spain presentation to say, "Retired Educator, there is nothing, no treatment, no drug, left for you to try... It's not going to get any better... It's only going to get worse." That ranks up there with the doc who muttered, "If I had CRPS, I'd kill myself."

In my case, a group of doctors (Carson, Sween, Kelman and friends) and a hospital (SJHA) kept me undiagnosed and untreated long enough for the CYA statute of limitations to kick in after I developed CRPS after a fall in the ICU.  In lieu of suing, I asked for an investigation by the state, who uncovered enough details that investigators declared the 2002 clusterfuck a "Sentinel Event."

Dearest doctors, dearest hospitals!  You'd be surprised at how far honesty and compensatory action in good faith would get you.  And by "compensatory action," I mostly mean just doing your best to make things right.  Like providing prompt and appropriate treatment.  That kind of stuff.

So, my longtime readers are rolling their eyes in boredom, with thoughts like, "grow up and get over it" quite rightly popping up in between their ears.

I had been wondering why my first visit to my new Pain Management Dude last week was "off," beyond the significant impact of his radiating body odor -- which I am willing to attribute to an overnight shift and hard labor.  When he inquired about the genesis of my CRPS, I began to give him the extreme short version, but even that was cut off.  This is what I got out of my mouth before he gave a huge cough and began shuffling papers:  "I fell while in ICU and broke..." From there we went directly to his predictions of doom and hopelessness, with well-placed exclamations of "oh, my God" when he pried the slippers off of my feet.

His name was so familiar.

I deposited that name into the wondrous search function of my browser and voilà... he is part and parcel of the offending and offensive orthopedic group that spearheaded the 2002 ClusterFuck.  That's why there was no need for me to finish my story, provide my medical history -- because he already knew it. He clearly could not bear to hear it again.

Recently, during one of those late night screaming orgies we so love, I sent an email, between spasms, to Dr. Eric Carson, egotistical major mover of the 2002 SNAFU.  It's gone unanswered, which is good, as there's no appropriate response.  He's now attached to the University of Virginia, practicing Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Surgery.

People have asked me if I don't fear reprisals from people like José "The Turd" Ochoa, or Sween, Kelman, and Eric Ward Carson.  No, I don't.  Were I posting lies, yes, I suppose I'd be scared.  But since it is just the sad truth that I present, I doubt any of them have the courage to look in the mirror.

Dr. Carson,

This coming May will mark the twelfth year I have been living with CRPS.  It has spread to all four limbs, and part of my face.  The pain is unrelenting, the disability total and permanent, and no one told me about the likelihood of spasms.  But then, not telling me anything was a major goal at the time.  The failure to administer stress dose steroids pre/peri/post-op, the ensuing adrenal failure and fall, requiring further surgery, and the evident development of CRPS -- followed by a malicious attempt to avoid prompt diagnosis and treatment -- it's still beyond the pale.

I developed chronic and untreatable osteomyelitis, and eventually, that left shoulder prosthesis had to be permanently removed.  Despite 5 years of surgeries and PICC lines, intravenous antibiotics, the infection remains, believed to be in the form of a "biofilm" community.  It spread to the right shoulder, as well.

I need to let go of the rancor I feel at the mention of your name or every instance requiring an explanation of the genesis of the syndrome, or the infection.  It's hard, for you have essentially gotten away with murder, and apparently are unrepentant.

The often repeated lie, that hubris is necessary to be a top-notch specialist, is the only thing I can imagine at the root of your psychopathologies -- which I suppose would be better described as your "alleged personal problems." 

Please don't allow your ego to so get in the way that you ever disable another patient like you did me. Mistakes happen, and then should simply be acknowledged and addressed.  Covering things up, dismissing your patients as ignorant wastes of your time -- that's where you do enormous harm.

I will never forgive or forget you, but I have to trust that the "system" keeps an eye on you, and that, in spite of your natural proclivity to refute any insinuation of error, you've traveled the length of a helpful learning curve. 

I know you're scoffing at this email.

I hope you've changed.

The Retired Educator

Well... time to move on.  Try, try, to fake it 'til I make it!  I've some chores to do, some lovely creatures needing me, and the promise of a kickass fish dinner to fulfill.

I am grateful and happy for and about many things and relationships. For instance, Marmy has so come around in her feelings for me that I'm perpetually gifted with a soft 8-pound wad of fluff attached to my midsection.

The sun does shine, the flowers do bloom.  The kids break into a run for no reason, and Fred is as sweet as only Fred can be.

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