Archive for the ‘THOUGHTS’ Category

SILENCE IS VIRTUE?


Ever since the last National Election I have refrained from using this Blog as a vehicle to vent any frustrations that may arise within me in the context of whatever political discussions I may be having at that time. I am like a pressure vessel that is slowly being heated to an extent that is is in danger of exploding. But like any pressure vessel with a safety valve, one expects the safety valve to lift at a pressure lower than the bursting pressure of the vessel. Only an idiot would deliberately tie the safety valve down such that it cannot lift and perform its vital function. By not responding to the almost daily insults to my presumed intelligence I have become like the pressure vessel with the tied down safety valve. Either I start responding to these perceived insults (untie the safety valve) or suffer the consequences (the vessel will burst). I offer the following as an attempt to untie the safety valve.

I have been given a list of what I assume are political talking points promulgated by some ‘wise person’ with a megaphone and a political agenda. My first reaction upon reading the list was one of dismissal. Upon a second thought I decided to describe how I think my discussion of the contents of the list might unfold.

Such a discussion would likely start with an expression of complete faith in the veracity, intellectual honesty, and competence of the author of the list the bearer of the list. Next would follow an expression of complete faith in the obvious good intentions of the author of the list. Any expressions to the contrary by me will be met with indignant statements designed to leave the impression that the person offering the contrary view is somehow an accollite of a conspiracy theory which is never explained except as being composed of “them”. At this point in the discussion I probably would be trying to not not let my rising gorge become a problem for me. I expect I would emerge as a loser in that effort and would attempt end the discussion sooner rather than later. I expect that both parties to the discussion will leave the scene with a feeling frustration at not being able to sway the others opinions.

One of the advantages of a discussion of the list using the written word is that one can set forth your reasoned responses without any distractions by the other party and thus minimize the necessity for verbal interaction. I will begin by picking one of the statements from the list and analyze it as an example of how I might proceed. I do not intent to analyze the entire ‘list’. My pick is: “. It was cool for Joe Biden to blackmail the President of Ukraine, but it is an impeachable offense if Donald Trump inquires about it.” It is obvious that the author of the list wants the reader to accept as fact the following: 1. Joe Biden blackmailed the President of the Ukraine. 2. Donald Trump was impeached for asking a question of the President of the Ukraine. Neither is factually correct.

Donald trump was not impeached for asking a question of the President of the Ukraine; he was impeached because sufficient evidence that he violated the Constitution of the United States prohibition against committing “high crimes and misdemeanors”. The power to define “high crimes and misdemeanors’ is vested solely in the House of Representatives. He was impeached specifically for using the office of the President to force the President of the Ukraine to conduct an investigation of Joe Biden and his son by illegally blocking foreign aid to Ukraine that had been authorized by the Congress of the United states. He was also impeached because sufficient evidence that that President obstructed the administration of Justice by use of the powers of the Presidency. It is wholly immaterial as to the perceived ‘coolness’ of any action of the president.

I conclude that statement no. 4 is without merit of any kind except as an example of the techniques used by unscrupulous purveyors of intellectual garbage. The remainder of the list in my opinion would suffer the same fate if examined using a similar approach as used to debunk no. 4. I do not intend to spend any more time on this ‘list’.

SUDDENLY, I’M CRYING!


I was up late recently watching a TV program about the experiences of several young mothers who had tested positive for the BCRA gene, the so called ” breast cancer gene”. I learned that women who have inherited two copies of this gene have a 85/100 chance of having breast cancer in their lifetime. It is not possible for a woman to know with certainty if she has inherited the BCRA gene without having an elective test performed. Some women decide to not have the test and live with the uncertainty. Other women have the test and, if they have copies of the gene, they may elect to have a double mastectomy operation to significantly reduce their chances of having breast cancer in the future. The program went on to tell the stories of the women who had inherited the gene and subsequently elected to have both breasts removed. The technique used to present these woman’s stories was that of letting the story be told using the voices of the women without undue comments by others. This technique was very effective as far as I was concerned as I vicariously shared their anguish. At one point in the program, where the woman was receiving the results of her gene test, I suddenly burst into tears and I cried for several minutes. As I look back on this episode, I was reliving the time in Patty’s Doctor’s office when she was telling us that Patty had breast cancer. Patty’s response, after the initial shock passed, was along the lines of: OK, I have breast cancer! what do we do next? This ‘matter of fact’ attitude about the twists and turns of our lives was typical of her. She was the rock to which our family was anchored. She really was a ‘one of a kind’ person and I feel very lucky that she choose me to be her companion for the 66 years of our marriage.

PATTY JOHNSON 1932 – 2017

DID YOU KNOW THAT MY WIFE WAS A PHOTO BUG?


PATTY JOHNSON 1932 – 2017

I loved my wife very much and I miss her in ways that I am beginning to fully appreciate and understand. In a strange way, I am growing closer to her as the memory I have of her slowly changes within my consciousness. She died a little over three years ago and thus bringing to an end to our sixty six year long marriage. Her death was sudden and it profoundly affected me. I think of her constantly. We shared many interests and that is one of the many reasons we stayed together so long. We were also very close friends and we enjoyed being together but we were also aware of the separate interests we maintained as individuals. For instance, I have a life long interest in the history of the Union Pacific Railroad and she did not, to put it mildly. Despite her disinterest in things mechanical, she made it possible for me to pursue my interests even when doing so would mean she would have to temporarily shoulder more of the day-to-day responsibilities of our married life. I tried to reciprocate this; she would go on vacation in Hawaii with my blessing (with her sister as her companion) while I took over her responsibilities at home. (I did the best that I could which never seemed to be good enough to get it all done.) It was through this process I learned how damned difficult it was for me to do all her work during her absence. However, the only times we seriously discussed the division of labor in our marriage was when we concocted our plan to further our education and much later when she learned she had breast cancer. To this day I do not know where she found the energy to do what she did so easily for so many years. She was ‘Wonder Woman’ for sure, but I think, looking back, that she realized she was not going to be able to keep up her normal activity level after she received her cancer diagnosis; it was apparent to us that it was time for her to ‘retire’. (It is my personal view that the ‘wife person’ in any marriage is never allowed by society’s conventions to fully retire.) (Any observers close our family who were witness to the marital interactions described above would be be puzzled by this account of the spousal interactions because most of what passed between Patty and me was unspoken. I honestly believe we could read each other’s mind!)

One of the things Patty liked to do was photograph the minutia of her life. She liked to photograph flowers, family and friends and whatever else caught her eye. But I do not recall her ever photographing a train or an airplane, or any thing else that was the least bit mechanical in character; such things were of little interest to her. She left behind many photographs she took on her trips to Maui and these photographs illustrate my point. I have been scanning these photographs in order to help preserve them for others to enjoy. It is also good therapy for me to scan them because doing so is like my opening up a time capsule. I believe it is the recovered memories scanning spawns in me that motivate me to continue. One treasured memory I have is of her infectious (and sometimes loud) laughter. I have observed before that she could ‘light-up’ any space she entered by her very presence.

I have included some of her photographs in this Post for you to enjoy. Remember, she was a ‘mid-western farm girl’ at her core and that never changed, so try to view these images as she viewed Maui: an exotic new world for her to explore with her boundless enthusiasm for life as her guide.

Click on any photograph to enlarge.

WELL, I’M STILL HERE!


It as been a long me since I have written anything for my Blog; stick with me and we will do the best we can. So, here we go!

My health has been fairly good but I feel weak and tired most of the time. I’ve fallen several times due to a combination of balance problems and just plain carelessness in my walking. Each fall that I have experienced has had the beneficial effect of strengthening my resolve to walk and move more carefully as I had learned how to do. One good thing is that I have demonstrated that my bones are sturdy. Many of you who know me well will agree that I have a hard head.

My ‘brain stimulator’ continues to work well. I had new devices installed several months ago because the old ones were signaling that it was time to replace the batteries. The stimulators are a complete success as my right hand tremor is gone completely. It is worth noting that my handwriting, printing really, has gotten very bad in the past six months. However the bank is still cashing my checks so I guess things will be OK for a while

The Levodopa/carbidopa pump that I had installed several months ago continues to meet my expectations. I have sixteen hours per day during which I can almost forget that I am ingesting a lot of powerful medications. Except for the pump hung around my neck and the small ‘hose’ that goes thru a permanent hole (a stoma) in my abdominal wall and on to my lower stomach, I do not think about it much. The other eight hours, the hours the pump is disconnected, when I am supposed to be sleeping, is another story. I have to awaken twice to take my medicine in capsule form and this creates a situation similar to my ‘before the pump’ experiences. I do not sleep well and I nap frequently in the daytime, but all in all though, the pump is a definite plus for me.

Because of my being in a pandemic high risk group (I am eight seven years old), I am pretty much isolated in the house. David and Jeannie keep their distance from me and I have not gone any where since the lockdown order went into effect. I have been doing a lot of scanning of family documents and old photos taken from albums that Patty kept. My new scanner scans twelve slides in one batch at a high resolution and does so at an amazing speed. It is just as good when scanning documents and photo prints. I am using very good software from VueScan to control the process. I am glad that computer ‘memory’ is so inexpensive today as I am sure using a lot of it! I edit images as necessary using ‘freeware’ from FastStone. We, our family, has a lot of history preserved in our historical records. I am investing a lot of my time in scanning these in the hope that someone will step forward to take over this preservation work after I am gone. It is really a pleasant task for me to do this work; it is much like opening up time capsules and I am constantly amazed at the ‘trivia’ that I can recall as I work my way down memory lane. I am always happy to share what we have in our family records. I would be happy to help you understand our common history in any way that I can.

I just looked at the clock and It tells me it is a a little after nine o’clock. I must disconnect my pump at ten, so I will stop writing for tonight. Next time I will tell you about my TV that recently went belly-up and the adventures that followed. For your information, the last time this happened (to Patty and me about 40 years ago) and we stopped watching TV for the next 30 years. Stay tuned!

I am off the pump until 6 am tomorrow. It is a simple task to hook-up and unhook the pump each day butI try to not think about having these “must-do’ tasks hanging over my head. I remind myself of the ‘positives’ of having the pump for me to use and the small sacrifices I make each day to enable the ‘positives’. After I completed the ‘un-hooking’, I realized that I was not ready just yet to ‘hit the sack’ so I will continue with my TV story.

A while ago I did something that I regret; I looked up the dollar cost of the pump’s medicine cassettes that I use daily. The cost is so exorbitant that I cannot bring my self to state it now except to tell you it is a figure much greater than my retirement income for an entire month. I am thankful of course at having excellent insurance that covers almost all of the cost (I pay 8.00$ for a month’s supply of 28 cartridges.), but I cannot stop thinking of those of us that have no insurance while I have this expensive pumo. There, thats off my chest; now on to the TV story.

About a week ago, I sat down in front of my Samsung 32″ class TV and pressed the ‘on’ button on the remote. The TV responded with a medium gray colored screen that my many years in Aerospace Engineering has taught me to recognize as a sign of the impending death of my TV set. I immediately went my computer where I determined that a class 32″ TV set was not a mainstream item. Anything from a 55″ class TV and up to 85″ class TV’s were easy to find. A more focused search of Amazon’s offerings led me to purchase a Samsung QLED 32″ class TV. Several days later a ridiculously thin and lightweight box (~12 lbs.) appeared on my porch. It was my new TV set. My son David set it up for me (two screws) and we powered it up. The manual that came with the set was woefully short on details. I mistakenly thought I must, as a condition of progress toward watching TV, hook-up the TV to my Wi-fi network. I found that the password that I remembered did not work. I tried every password I could find on any slip of paper that I could find in my desk drawer, where I normally hide such things, without success. I finally asked Jeannie what the password was and I was rewarded with success after I entered it. I then went through a learning process that I might well describe as being confused and free of any logical moves on my part. I accidentally discovered that I needed the new remote only to turn power on and off and then I could use my old familiar remote to control the TV set. Wonderful! Those Samsung guys think of everything.

The new TV set has new technology high resolution viewing screen and my slides look OK using it. Maybe someday I will learn how to adjust the colors so the sky looks blue. Someday!

A DEATH IN OUR FAMILY


I learned this afternoon that my wife’s youngest brother Jim has died. He was sixty years old. His death did not come as a surprise to us as he has been in increasingly poor health since his return from Vietnam. He was one of the many young men who experienced combat in Vietnam after being drafted into the U.S. Army. While in Vietnam, he was exposed to Agent Orange by the U.S. Army. Agent Orange was used  frequently as a defoliant to expose the solders of the Viet Cong by making the leaves on all vegetation to fall off thus leaving them no place to hide when attacked. Agent Orange was essentially a nerve toxin, very close chemically to nerve gas. A large number of personnel were severely injured by  this exposure. As a result Jim was chronically ill for the remainder of his life. This episode, in which so many men were injured, and the subsequent maltreatment of them by the Veterans Administration, remains one of the most shameful episodes to have occurred in our history. Every time I hear some politician heap praise on the V.A. and telling us how well we treated our returning men and women, I almost gag.

(Postscript: I must apologize for this Post. It was written several years ago but it was only published recently. Upon reading it the reader is unfortunately left with the the impression that Jim had died a short time before the post was published. Jim actually died several years prior to the 2019 publication of this Post.) 

2032! I”LL BE 100 YEARS OLD AND MY LIFE MAY END – – – – .


In the year 2032, I will be 100 years old and my life may end in a very spectacular way. Well, spectacular by Human standards; not so spectacular when compared to other events in our Universe. This is the gist of my thoughts after I read of a large Comet that is predicted to strike Earth in 2032 and this event, and the aftermath, has the potential to end most life-forms. The chance of this actually happening is estimated at  one part in a hundred, that is, one percent chance of a really bad day for Us. I have heard similar predictions before and We are still here. This time, however, the 2032 prediction resonated with musings of my own death and I am now wondering what I may experience if the prediction survives more analysis and the chance of a “really bad day” approaches ten percent and more. Upon approaching this level of certainty, I feel confident in predicting macro-level Human behavior will exhibit all the characteristics which make us Human – good and bad. However bad or good the macro-level becomes, it will affect my experiences during the run-up to the “really bad day” in ways which I will notice slowly over time. I, I am sure, will be more interested in micro-level behavior exhibited by the people who surround me now – friends and others – all of them.

SAME PERSON – MANY FACES


These are images were obtained at various stages of my life. I am now (2020) nearly 88 years old, so these images cover a lot of of living.

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