Wednesday, August 10, 2011

"Human Lightning Rod"

I had dinner with an old friend in June. I provided him with a brief summary of the alarming events in my recent life. He explained to me that I was a "lightning rod."

I raised my eyebrow.

He explained, "I was an EMT. Everyone knew who the lightning rods were. When you were on shift with them, you knew that lots of strange things were going to happen. Some people attract trouble despite every attempt to avoid it."

"I am one-half lightning rod. I was on shift once with a FULL lightning rod. I have forgotten most of what happened that day, but I remember feeling as though I had entered the Twilight Zone, and that I did not have one minute to rest."

A search of the literature on human lightning rods yields little. Pythagoras, however, was favorably described as a lightning rod.

"His tranquil but nevertheless quite charismatic personality was a lightning rod for young intellectuals eager to be accepted as a disciple of the great teacher. The application process was difficult."

Not that I am comparing myself to Pythagoras. That's for others to do. *snicker* (Paraphrasing "Aldous Snow" in "Get Him to the Greek.)

No one will dispute that my life has been complicated, dangerous, tragic, and dramatic all out of proportion to my mild-mannered and gentle personality.

For example, I crossed the country last February to see my son and his family. The night before I was to fly home, a frantic man appeared on my son's doorstep. Jessica said, "Don't open the door. He looks crazy. I'll get Scott."

Scott opened the door. The man said that he had hit a car in front of Scott's house, and that it was really bad. I started swearing a blue streak. My rental car was parked in front of the house.

Scott told me that he would handle everything, and he did. After the man who had hit the car had left, Scott said I could come out.

My rental car, which only had 500 miles on the odometer, was so badly totalled that it had to be hoisted onto a flatbed towtruck to get it out of my son's front yard.

Another example:

Sweetie found a property in the city where he longed to live. We went by on Saturday, saw a dilapidated old house with a sagging roof and a large yard overgrown with weeds. He decided that he wasn't interested. As we drove away, an inchoate sense compelled to look back at the house. I thought that it was a "sweet spot." I felt drawn to return.

The next morning, we decided to make an offer on "the perfect house" we had toured yesterday. I said, "Before we decide, would you mind if we drove by the 'old house' again?" He readily agreed.

Sweetie wrote an offer on the 'old house' the next day. I am an ethical, experienced, and tenacious real estate broker. I represent buyers only. I surely know how to put the thumbscrews to a seller to get disclosure of all known defects in a property.

Sweetie opened escrow a week later, in early March, after my intellectual chokehold on the seller got him the information he needed to make an informed decision.

I took and passed the broker's exam on March 10.

My knee had been bothering me for some weeks. On March 12, it became so painful that the vibrations from Sweetie walking nearby sent electric shocks up my leg. The pain increased in intensity for several more days. I saw a physician's assistant, who did not seem to know much about orthopedic medicine, and who seemed not to believe my description of my malady. She spoke to a doctor at the hospital about my case. During the conversation her body language reflected anger and resentment.

I learned that I could not be seen for another four days, on March 25. My closed eyes leaked slow tears.

She turned to me and said, "He always talks down to me."

Guess what. "He" turned out to be the Physical Medicine doctor who saw me. "He" was the among the rudest men I have met in my long and trouble-prone life...prolly among the top 5, though.

As "He" was the head of the Physical Medicine Department at that regional hospital, I knew that I could never get help there. I relayed my experience through complicated means to my primary physician, Dr. Doctor, a compassionate and patient woman.

I could not tell the story in the 1200 characters allowed in their form email, so I prepared it in Word and turned it into a digital image, which I sent as an attachment.

The next day, Dr. Doctor had set up an appointment for me at another convenient regional hospital and I received a cortisone shot, which gave me immeasurable relief within 24 hours of administration. I felt grateful and happy.

My pain ebbed to a dull ache...unless I moved. I was still taking Vicodin in search of more relief. I do not like taking Vicodin. The side effects cause me great discomfort.

On March 27, my knee gave way and I fell down two steps to land flat on my face on a concrete patio. I did not move for 10 minutes, all the while leaking astonishing amounts of blood. Back to the learn that I had broken my nose.

On April 7, I fell ill during a business trip. I called home and told Sweetie that I thought I should remain at the hotel, because it was bad, and I did not want to infect him. He told me not to be silly and come on home.

I thought I had fetched up a nasty case of the flu. But the symptoms were wild, and strange! My temperature fluctuated between 95 degrees and 103 degrees. Chills and fevers ravaged me constantly, in succession. My stomach rebelled. I slept only during brief naps.

Poor Sweetie, stressed, worried, and overburdened, began to wonder if I had malaria. I remembered how my friend Lila was when she had pneumonia...she did not know what was wrong with her. Her husband had to tell her that she needed to go to the hospital.

I consulted with Dr. Doctor's staff several times over many days. Dr. Doctor was overbooked, they explained. They also explained that I had the flu and that it was a bad flu, and it would go away after ten days. Moreover, they were swamped, and they could not do anything for me if I did come in, because it was the flu.

I explained that my body temperature was fluctuating between 95 degrees and 103 degrees. They did not find that remarkable, but I sure did. My body temp has never been as low as 95 degrees, ever.

Well, once it was 92 degrees but it was because my surgeon had put too much saline into my body during an arthroscopic procedure. I received cocaine in the recovery room to stimulate whatever it is cocaine stimulates. Must have something to do with heating you up. "I get no kick from cocaine." Cole Porter; I Get a Kick Out of You.

So, I gathered up my courage and decided to spare them the trouble. I would be a brave soldier and wait it out.

My hair matted up. A number of revolting odors arose from my flesh. I showered when I could but the reek returned within an hour.

I had only five more days left to endure to prove to their satisfaction that I was dreadfully ill.

Meanwhile, Sweetie had a nervous breakdown. It was impossible for me to get rest because of the racket he made. I had soaked through one mattress and the couch separated whenever I laid down on it. I knew that I was not going to get better there, so on Saturday I told Sweetie that I had to leave. Chalk-white, running a temperature and sweating gallons, I packed my bags and loaded the van.

He asked me if I was breaking up with him. I said, "No. I just need peace and quiet so I can heal." He said, "OK. Please call me when you get settled in.

A friend came to see me, fetching me food, drink, and medication at my whim. I felt peace descending upon me. When he left, I felt as though I had turned the corner.

That night, at a lovely hotel, I began to hallucinate. The next morning, I began coughing up blood. I went to the hospital as soon as I could summon the strength. I saw a doctor at 7PM on Monday.

I did not receive the help for which I had pled until 14 days since onset. The doctor-on-call prescribed a broad-spectrum antibiotic. I began to improve 14 hours after the first dose.

We were at the end of escrow. I had not been able to pack anything for our evacuation from Sonoma.

I had thrown enough into the van so that I could camp out at the new house. I have lived in primitive conditions more frequently than the typical top-tier law school graduate, I state without hesitation.

This ADD Life

A guest blogger, Olivia A. Wells, will entertain you with details of her life as an survivor of ADD and a lighting rod.

August 2011: Missed an important appointment due to a minor back injury.

July 2011: Held and managed a housewarming party for my sweetie's friends. We had fallen so far behind schedule because the power to my cottage failed and it took four days for us to repair it. I nearly canceled the party the day before. We held it anyway, but it took me 2 1/2 hours to eat my meal. People have asked us to have a party once a month.

Broken finger in construction accident.

Broke up with my Sweetie due to serious unaddressed matters. The unthinkable. I was bereft. Sweetie then addressed the matters promptly and we did not break up. I was overjoyed!

Pneumonia rebound, out of action for four days.

Someone told me that I was "imaginative, sometimes to the point of annoyance." It came with a wink.

June 2011: Started the process of repairing numerous known defects in the property and rendering the dwellings functional. We were still unpacking, placing or storing objects as they appeared throughout the month.

May 2011: Don't get pneumonia, is all I have to say. I am exhausted just by walking a hundred feet. I can only manage 10 minutes in the grocery store before I must sit and rest. Medical authorities told me that it could take up to six months to recover from pneumonia. As always, I was skeptical.

The move was two days away. I was still unable to pack the house for more than two hours. I could not stand for more than 10 minutes. Then I lay me down to rest, and slept between four and six hours. I convinced Sweetie to hire moving help, and he did. Moving day went very well. The crew chief asked me why I wasn't frantic. I said, "I don't have the energy." *giggle*

Near-death experience: I was headed westbound toward the Bay Bridge in my trusty van when I heard a "thunk" sound from the undercarriage. I knew that I had run over something, but thought that it merely bounced off. Then at 500 feet away from the tollgate in the Fastrak Lane, the steering became erratic and the van was bouncing up and down. I glanced in the rear view mirror to see billows of smoke from the right rear tire.

People would have been hurt if I stopped. I slowed gradually and moved right every time an opportunity presented itself. I crossed at last into the last right lane, breathing a sigh of relief.

An Alameda Transit bus passed me on the right, doing at least 60 miles an hour. It bounced off the freeway and over a high curb. The bus rocked to-and-fro. I goggled at it in terrified shock and hoped against hope that it would remain upright.

It did. I nearly wept. I did not understand what had happened. I donned my raincoat and walked to the passenger door of the bus.

A serious young woman pulled the lever, looked down at me and invited me in. I apologized for whatever the heck it was I had done and gave her my contact information. She was polite and responsive.

She had performed bravely in a dangerous situation. I told the Highway Patrolman of her skill in keeping control of a mighty machine in life-threatening circumstances.

Damage to the bus meant that another had to be called.

Thirty-five despondent people walked by me when the backup bus arrived. I apologized to them as well. No one said anything, but I received a wee few deeply hostile glares. I couldn't blame them for feeling angry that they had lost time for no reason of their own.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Al Gore Calls for an "Arab Spring" in the USA

A link to Al Gore's comment about the USA's Arab Spring.

It's snotty, but of course you know it would be, from the Wall Street Journal. I wished to provide a mainstream source for the story.

Here's another:

You will be gratified if you listen to or read this Special Comment by Keith Olbermann ("someone named Keith" in the WSJ Online article.) It's called "The Four Great Hypocrises of the Debt Deal"

This call of Olbermann's shocked, yet thrilled me. I studied social movement formation at UC Santa Barbara in the early 2000's, still do, and I have never heard a "mainstream" commentator ask for this kind of mobilization.

"And the only response is to be organized and unified and hell-bent in return. We must find again the energy and the purpose of the 1960's and early 1970's and we must protest this deal and all the God damn deals to come, in the streets. We must arise, non-violently but insistently. General strikes, boycotts, protests, sit-ins, non-cooperation take-overs - but modern versions of that resistance, facilitated and amplified, by a weapon our predecessors did not have: the glory that is instantaneous communication.

"It is from an old and almost clichéd motion picture that the wisdom comes: First, you've got to get mad."

Here's the entire transcript:

I close, as promised, with a Special Comment on the debt deal.

Our government has now given up the concept of right and wrong.

We have, in this deal, declared that we hold these truths to be self-evident: that all political incumbents are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Re-nomination, re-election, and the pursuit of hypocrisy.

We have, in this deal, gone from the Four Freedoms to the Four Great Hypocrisies.

We have superceded Congress to facilitate 750 billion dollars in domestic cuts including Medicare in order to end an artificially-induced political hostage crisis over debt, originating from the bills run up by a Republican president who funneled billions of taxpayer dollars to the military-industrial complex by unfunded, unnecessary, and unproductive wars, enabled in doing so by the very same Republican leaders who now cry for balanced budgets - and we have called it compromise. And those who defend it have called it a credit to a pragmatic president who wins some sort of political "points" because, having stood for almost nothing here, he gave away almost nothing for which he stood.

It would be comical if it were not tragic.

Either way, it is a signal moment in our history, in which both parties have agreed and codified that the political structure of this nation shall now based entirely on hypocrisy and political self-perpetuation.

Let us start with the first of the Great Hypocrisies: The Committee. The Republican dogs can run back to their corporate masters and say they have forced one-and-one-half trillion dollars in cuts and palmed off the responsibility for them on this nonsensical "Super Congress" committee.

For two-and-a-half brutal years we have listened to these Tea Party mountebanks screech about the Constitution of the United States as if it were the revealed word and not the product of other - albeit far better - politicians. They demand the repeal of Amendments they don't like, and the strict interpretation of the ones they do, and the specific citation of authorization within the Constitution for every proposed act or expenditure or legislation.

Except this one.

Where does it say in the Constitution that the two houses of Congress can, in effect, create a third house to do its dirty work for it; to sacrifice a few Congressmen and Senators so the vast majority of incumbents can tell the voters they had nothing to do with this?

This leads to the second of the Great Hypocrisies: how, in the same breath, the Republicans can create an extra-Constitutional "Super Congress" and yet also demand a Constitutional Amendment to force the economic stupidity that would be a mandated balanced budget. Firstly: pick a side! Ignore the Constitution or adhere to it.

Firstly, pick a side, ignore the constitution or adhere to it. And of what value would this Mandated Balanced Budget be? Our own history proves that at a time of economic crisis, if the businesses aren't spending, and the consumers aren't spending, the government must. Our ancestors were the lab rats in the horrible experiments of the Hoover Administration that brought on the Great Depression, in which the government curled up into a ball while it simultaneously insisted the economy should heal itself, when, in times of crisis - then and now - the economy turns out to be comprised entirely of a bunch of rich people who will sit on their money no matter if the country starves.

Forgotten in the Republican Voodoo dance, dressed in the skins of the mythical Balanced Budget, triumphant over the severed head of short-term retrenchment that they can hold up to their moronic followers, are the long-term implications of the mandated Balanced Budget.

What happens if there's ever another… war?

Or another… terrorist attack?

Or another… natural disaster?

Or any other emergency that requires A government to spend a dollar morethan it has? A Constitutional Amendment denying us the right to run a deficit, is madness, and it will be tested by catastrophe sooner than any of its authors with their under-developed imaginations that can count only contributions and votes, can contemplate.

And the third of the Great Hypocrisies is hidden inside the shell game that is the Super Congress. TheSuper Congress is supposed to cut evenly from domestic and defense spending, but if it cannot agree on those cuts, or Congress will not endorse them, there will be a "trigger" that automatically cuts a trillion-two or more - but those cuts will not necessarily come evenly from the Pentagon. We are presented with an agreement that seems to guarantee the gutting of every local sacred cow from the Defense Department. Except if the Congressmen and Senators to whom the cows are sacred, disagree, and overrule, or sabotage the Super Congress, or, except if for some reason a 12-member Committee split evenly along party lines can't manage to avoid finishing every damned vote 6-to-6.

We're cutting Defense. Unless we're not.

The fourth of the Great Hypocrisies is the evident agreement to not add any revenues to the process of cutting. Not only is the impetus to make human budget sacrifices out of the poor and dependent formalized… but the rich and the corporations are thus indemnified, again, and given more money not merely to spend on themselves and their own luxuries, but more vitally, they are given more money to spend on buying politicians, and legislatures, and courts, buying entire states, all of which can be directed like so many weapons, in the service of one cause and one cause alone: making by statute and ruling, the further protection of the wealthy at the expense of everybody else, untouchable, inviolable - permanent.

The White House today boasted of loopholes to be closed and tax breaks to be rescinded -- later.

By a committee.

A committee that has yet to be formed.

There are no new taxes. Except the stealth ones, enacted on 99 out of 100 Americans by this evil transaction. Every dollar cut from the Safety Net is another dollar added to the citizen's cost for education, for security, for health, for life itself. It is another dollar he can't spend on making a better life for himself, or at least his children. It is another dollar he must spend instead on simply keeping himself alive.

Where is the outrage over these Great Hypocrisies? Do you expect it to come from a corrupt and corrupted media, for whom access is of greater importance than criticizing the failure of a political party or defending those who don't buy newspapers or can't leap website paywalls or could not afford cable tv?

Do you expect it to come from a cynical and manipulative political structure? Do you expect it from those elected officials who no longer know anything of government or governance, but only perceive how to get elected, or how to pose in front of a camera and pretend to be leaders? Do you expect it from politicians themselves, who will merely calculate whether or not it's right based on whether or not it will get them more contributions?

Do you expect it will come from the great middle ground of this country, with a population obsessed with entertainment, video games, social media, sports, and trivia?

Where is the outrage to come from?

From you!

It will do no good to wait for the politicians to suddenly atone for their sins. They are too busy trying to keep their jobs, to do their jobs.

It will do no good to wait for the media to suddenly remember its origins as the 'free press,' the watchdog of democracy envisioned by Jefferson. They are too busy trying to get exclusive details about exactly how the bank robbers emptied the public's pockets, to give a damn about telling anybody what they looked like, or which way they went.

It will do no good to wait for the apolitical public to get a clue. They can't hear the clue through all the chatter and scandal and diversion and delusion and illusion.

The betrayal of what this nation is supposed to be about did not begin with this deal and it surely will not end with this deal. There is a tide pushing back the rights of each of us, and it has been artificially induced by union-bashing and the sowing ofhatreds and fears, and now this ever-more-institutionalized economic battering of the average American. It will continue, and it will crush us, because those who created it are organized and unified and hell-bent.

And the only response is to be organized and unified and hell-bent in return. We must find again the energy and the purpose of the 1960's and early 1970's and we must protest this deal and all the God damn deals to come, in the streets. We must arise, non-violently but insistently. General strikes, boycotts, protests, sit-ins, non-cooperation take-overs - but modern versions of that resistance, facilitated and amplified, by a weapon our predecessors did not have: the glory that is instantaneous communication.

It is from an old and almost clichéd motion picture that the wisdom comes: First, you've got to get mad.

I cannot say to you, meet there or there at this hour or that one, and we will peacefully break the back of government that now exists merely to get its functionaries re-elected. But I can say that the time is coming when the window for us to restore the control of our government to our selves will close, and we had damn well better act before then.

Because this deal is more than a tipping point in which the government goes from defending the safety net to gutting it. This is wrong, and while our government has now declared that it has given up the concept of right-and-wrong, you and I… have not, and will not, do so.

Good night, and good luck.

August 4, 2011

Our discussion tonight focused on possible reactions to the alleged debt deal and the subsequent stock market freefall. Some of us thought that it might be time to listen to Al Gore's and Keith Olbermann's exhortation to have an Arab Spring in the USA.
[8:55:41 PM] debocracy:
[8:57:14 PM] Gloria: Although we are GODS own party, from time to time we have to do things that do not reflect ourselves. To get the point across you will have to DO ANY MEANS NESSESARY to get it across. This is a time that language or other courses of action are ok. Remember to Pray for Gods forgiveness afterwards
[8:57:34 PM] debocracy:
[8:59:55 PM] debocracy:
[9:16:12 PM] Glenn:
[9:26:30 PM] debocracy: That is why I still have a telephone land line, and a 56K modem.
[9:26:48 PM] Glenn:
[9:26:54 PM] debocracy: The land line exists so that I can access the Internet without cable or DSL.
[9:27:38 PM] debocracy: I learned that during the Egyptian uprising. You have to have a land line and a 56K modem if they shut down other access methods.
[9:32:03 PM] debocracy: also
[9:32:07 PM] Glenn:
[9:35:03 PM] Gloria: This is another free lance site, and where I read a great deal of "joe blow American" opinion.
[9:35:10 PM] Gloria:
[9:36:40 PM] Glenn:
[9:36:49 PM] debocracy: If there is ever civil unrest or a natural disaster, will be of immense help. if you are in the San Francisco Bay Area.
[9:37:07 PM] debocracy: otherwise, come to
[9:37:11 PM] Glenn: Cornel West
[9:37:14 PM] Glenn: Invite
[9:37:17 PM] debocracy: and find your city or region :)
[9:38:03 PM] Glenn:
[9:39:59 PM] Glenn: