Friday, February 29, 2008

Stopping for a Funeral Procession

I, along with a dozen or so others at first, was driving home when I reached the light at my main east-west road. I had some mail to put in the box. But it had slid off my passenger seat into that space between the seat and the door. I was wondering if I had time to unstrap my seat belt and scoot over to that side and try to retrieve it.

I had not decided yet when I was startled by the sound of a police siren. I turned my face toward the front in time to see a motorcycle cop stopping in front of our light and blocking traffic. Behind him, to the west, was a funeral procession with maybe 40 or 50 cars.

I knew I had time to get my mail so I unstrapped and leaned over the seat. I had to feel around on the floor to find the envelopes but it just took a few seconds. I grabbed the bunch and straightened up in time to see the first hearse pass.

Everyone was stopped. There were two straight lanes and a turn lane on the street I was on and by this time there was a pretty good column of cars in each lane on both sides of the cross street. On it all the opposing cars to the funeral procession had pulled over and stopped. Slowly the procession proceeded.

They were going to the cemetery just a few blocks to the east. I know it well. Judy's dad and grandparents are there as well as many other friends' family members. It is an old cemetery by our Oklahoma standards at least. It is possible to identify where the first burials occurred. That's such a small area compared to the current size of the cemetery. Over on the east road there is the grave of a boy I knew when I was a boy. He died way back then. That was a lot of hurt.

When I lived in Kansas City and then in the Dallas area, I did not see cars stop for funeral processions as frequently as I do here. The traffic was just too heavy. It was dangerous to pull over.

I wondered then how long it would be before we, my neighbors and I, had to stop pulling over.

We pull over and stop I think because we want to show respect for the person who died for one thing. But maybe more than that we want to let the family and friends who are in the procession know that we are sad for their loss. Many of us have already been in processions ourselves and nearly all of us are aware it is just a matter of time and we will be in another one.

We don't think too much about it but we know our time to be the one in the hearse is coming, too.

My thoughts drifted to the people in the cars. I really could not see any clearly. I imagined there was probably a spouse and maybe some children or grandchildren. Maybe there was a brother and a sister and some nieces and nephews. There were probably neighbors and friends and coworkers and people from church and clubs. I thought a few nanoseconds about how each one must be feeling or not feeling in some cases.

I wondered if the person who died was a man or a woman and how old he or she was and what killed herm. I wondered if it was Alzheimer's or if the spouse that remained might have that disease. And I wondered if there was a child that would be helping them and caring for him. Or maybe it was a young husband and he left a young family.

Then the procession was past and the light changed and I turned left. In the mirror I could see the end of the procession still retreating.

I thought my life was like this. I still could see the last part in the mirror retreating.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Five Thousand Words

I am over 5,000 words now. I am only writing about the first thee years. Mostly it is from memory. There are some notes I wrote in the hospital but I have not found them yet. I am pretty certain I saw them though since Dad died.

I haven't been able to write anything since Sunday. I've tried a few times but I have just had too many things going on. Then when I have had some time I have been too tired.

At least I am pretty happy with Microsoft Word 2007. I added a macro that lets me save my work to two different locations. One location I name the file with the date and time. That's because early on I lost some work and I decided I needed better procedures.

I also set up an account with Amazon's S3 (simple storage system) and use it now for my off-site storage. That is pretty cool stuff.

I started with the time leading up to my coming to stay with mom and dad. Then I've skipped around a little as I have tired of writing about one subject. I have some loosely identified chapters I think.

If I sit down and start typing it is surprising to me what comes up from somewhere in the depths of my mind. I think to myself that I am as dry of ideas as the desert but once my hands touch the keyboard things happen usually.

Not always though. Sometimes I really am just out of words and when that happens there is no forcing it.

In some ways it is painful because in a certain way it is like reliving those events. But it is also a cathartic process and it offers some relief as well. I think that is especially true about the first three years because caring for mom was so intense before her death and then caring for dad was so intense right after.

I think the closer years may be harder even though there is so much more data. I am surprised at how much research I have to do actually. I have a lot of written information dating from 2001 that I need to read through.

I am also thinking about conducting some interviews.

That's my update.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


I had an argument (kind of) with someone yesterday. Kind of, because it was on a forum.

The exchange of postings went like this (edited by me for inclusion in my blog) in a thread about a local theater:

Person 1: The employees there only get 10 minute breaks.

Person 2: Good. Maybe my popcorn will be fresh.

Person 1: More like it will be spit in. wouldn't blame'em.

Person 3: because they have a job they hate? If you hate your job, get a different one.

Person 4: It's hard to get another job, when there aren't many jobs out there to be had.

flinty***: Hard to imagine a much lower unemployment rate of 3.6%.

Person 4: When you lose your job and can't find another come, I don't want to hear you crying.

flinty***: I don't understand why someone would work somewhere they hate.

Even if they hate their job and their employer I don't understand why they would spit in some innocent person's popcorn.

I don't understand why other people would defend such behavior.

I checked the unemployment statistics here again this morning. We have 120,540 people available for work in our county. 116,170 people are employed leaving 4,370 unemployed. Our big neighbor county that includes most of Oklahoma City has 339,350 people available for work with 14,890 unemployed. That's 4.4% for them. Combined we have 19,260 unemployed out of 459,890 or 4.19%.

We've had various oil busts, real estate busts, and a huge banking bust. I vividly recall unemployment rates in the high teens and low 20% range around here. It was bad.

This notion that we have high unemployment here in our area is crazy. I can't even imagine what people would do if we really had economic trouble.

And I still don't get the deal about spitting in a patron's popcorn because you don't get a long enough break.

I must be really, really old. I sound exactly like my dad recalling the terrible days of the depression and comparing them to the present.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Dangerous Time

I think it is a more dangerous time in the world than do many of my friends.

It seems to me that it is inevitable that Iran, Syria, and other middle eastern nations will once again attack Israel. The reports I read now make me think this could happen anytime. Israel's leadership seems less capable now than in the past and surely that must be a part of the reason that war is edging ever closer.

Even if Israel didn't exist there is the unrelenting conflict between other parties in the middle east. There are numerous religious factions, all of whom are eager to kill and maim not only their opponents but their own children. There are similarly disposed political groups. And then there are just the ordinary thugs. The Iraq-Iran war lasted 8 years and resulted in more than 1 million casualties.

Even with the world economy slowing, oil remains at nearly $100 largely because of the instability in the region.

US presence in the region has probably postponed the inevitable. Eventually though Iran will begin manufacturing nuclear weapons. There appears to be no political will in the world to stop them. It reminds me much of the period before World War II. Pakistan will likely slide further under the control of the Islamic extremists. War between Pakistan and India seems likely to me and it is very likely to be nuclear.

If and when Iran acquires nuclear weapons then there is little doubt they will be used against Israel and the United States. First they will likely be provided to Iran's proxy states and to several terrorist organizations. A dirty bomb seems the most likely event that will first occur in the US. I expect that to happen before an outright war occurs against Israel. Because such an event inside the US would effectively neutralize US support for Israel and that would make it easier for the Iranians and their allies to eliminate Israel. They don't seem to mind taking great losses themselves so I suspect a good number of the Palestinians will also be destroyed.

If that weren't enough, worldwide there are so many other places where conflict either is ongoing or is at the very precipice. One group despises another group and attempts to kill all of their nemeses. Or there is the corruption that now is taken as the norm in so many places around the world.

Not that any of this is new of course. But it does seem to me that there are more incidents and that those are happening with increasing ferocity and frequency. Nearly all of them have the potential to involve the entire world in conflict. It is amazing to think such conflict will really be more widespread than in World War II.

There are developing scarcities of food, water, land, and other resources. Really it is hard to be optimistic about future political solutions.

The United States remains nearly alone on the world stage as a place of hope and opportunity. Which is precisely why so many are trying to get here. On the other end are those who so desperately hate us.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Missing Bees

I watched this 60 Minutes program about the missing bees. One of my friends keeps bees and he had told me about the problem long ago. It is pretty serious for agriculture and will eventually be very serious for the entire food supply. Bees are just disappearing and no one really knows why.

There was this bee keeper who had offered an idea about the problem to the interviewer. He thinks it is due to a certain insecticide that is widely used now.

The government fellow that is working on the issue was interviewed, too. He thinks it is a more complicated problem and it will take years to figure it out and years more to come up with a fix.

I'd lay odds right now that the bee keeper is right and whatever insecticide he mentioned should be curtailed immediately.

So here I am on record and everyone can see whether or not I'm right or wrong.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sometimes A Cigar Is Just A Cigar

That phrase is popularly attributed to Sigmund Freud. Some people say there is no evidence he said it and others hold the opposite opinion. It doesn't matter to me whether he actually said it or not because it communicates the subject of my interest. Most people understand that it means that sometimes things are just what they seem to be with no deeper meanings.

Sunday I watched several of the TV talk shows. The commentators talked about some of Mrs. Clinton's remarks at the last debate. She said that she was proud of being a candidate for president along Mr. Obama and that regardless the outcome she (and Mr. Obama) were going to be fine. The commentators were speculating what she meant by those words and whether it was a tactical or strategic maneuver.

No one seemed to think that she might have said what she said just because she meant it.

I know the political types that read this will chuckle and think I am naïve. I nod my head sadly and think they are jaded and cynical. I am certain that someone who is running for political office makes some kind of calculation every time they open their mouth.

I know several people who have run for public office. I know a few who've served. The jobs are difficult and there is more criticism than praise by about a million to one. The people I've known were pretty good human beings. That is to say they were far from perfect but neither were they evil either.

Seems to me it is worth sometimes giving them the benefit of the doubt. It's not like any of us have suddenly developed the ability to predict with certainty the thoughts and intentions of the hearts of others. And several of us, me included, have a bit of a problem with "… the timber in our own eye" to borrow from the Scriptures.

Soon though the republicans and the democrats will begin bashing each other with increasingly virulent ferocity.

Of course each side believes they are right and what they are doing is not bashing but just telling the truth. I think they mean it, too. I find it a bit frightening actually.

I suppose it will be a long and stormy season.

Cell Phones and communications

The other night I heard Jay Leno say he had been looking through old jokes because of the writers' strike. He said he found one about how a cell phone might be small enough to carry around in your pocket. He said that shows how long he'd been telling jokes.

He's three years younger than I am so that puts us kind of in the same era. My first "cell" phone was kind of like the Motorola one pictured to the right. I think we may have the thing somewhere but I can't remember exactly what it was. Seems like it might have been NEC instead of Motorola but I honestly have forgotten. That was in 1989.

It was pretty heavy. It was definitely not a pocket size phone. I think it cost between $1,00 and $1,500 or so. But that was about the 1/2 the price they were just 3 or 4 years earlier.

Then I started writing about the beginning of my caregiving. That started back in 1998. I think I had a Nokia then. I want to say it was like a 5110 or some such number. I may have it, too.

It was pretty small by comparison.

That was still fairly early I think for people to be carrying around cell phones with them all the time. Or at least it wasn't like it is now when you see people everywhere with a cell phone hanging on the side of their faces.

I was counting people talking on cell phones the other morning when I was stopped at a light. It was like 80% or so.

Of course then I lost count because I had to answer my cell phone.

Since 1998 I have purchased and used several cell phones. The last one and the one that I am still using is a Treo 650. I wore one out or at least it died and I had to buy another one.

I like it quite a bit because it does a pretty good job with email and text messaging and I have my calendar on it and my Bible. I also have my exercise log and I have other programs for grocery lists and food diary and so on. But I don't use the food diary much anymore.

It has a camera, too.

I noticed a new thing (to me) today though. It is a company that Google bought called Grand Central. The web site is

The idea is that you can have one number for life which you get from Grand Central. Then you manage the number from your browser over the Internet. You can direct calls to that number to one of your actual telephones. That way you only have one number for people to call to get you and you only have one voice mail to check and so on. They don't say what it is going to cost.

I thought it was interesting because some years ago when I was hunting a new career one of the things I seriously considered was this deal called Wildfire. That was in about 1994. Anyway Wildfire was a subscription service where you were assigned a phone number. When someone called the number though this sexy female voice answered and kind of acted like a human secretary except it was a computer program. And it recognized speech pretty well for the time.

Then you could call your Wildfire service yourself and kind of carry on a conversation with "her." It was kind of fun actually. For example you would call your number and then you would hear:

"Wildfire. What can I do for you?

You might say "Find."

Wildfire would say "Find what?"

You would say "Messages."

Then Wildfire would say "I found ten messages. The first is from some customer."

You would say "What's it say?"

And Wildfire would play the message for you.

The demonstrations were incredibly well attended. The first one I attended I observed so much interest I thought it would be a sure thing.

Unfortunately interest did not turn into sales. So I don't know what happened to Wildfire.

I miss Wildfire's voice though.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

People are Funny

I was running errands this morning and on the way home I decided to buy a coffee from a new Starbucks that was in between. I decided to use the drive through.

Immediately I noticed the car in front of me. It was one of those early Plymouth Voyager minivans. It could easily have been 20 years older or more. I can't tell the age of cars any longer but this one seemed older.

The first thing I noticed was the rear windshield wiper was kind of hanging loose at a strange angle. The second thing was that the driver opened her door to speak to the microphone to order. I figured the window on that side didn't work.

It must have been a complicated order because it took a long time. I could hear some bits and pieces of conversation from the speaker. There was something about extra syrup.

That's when I realized there were others in the vehicle. I could make out a man in the passenger seat and I think there were two children in the rear. The windows were too dirty to make out too much detail.

Finally we made it to the pickup window. Again the driver opened her door to pay for the order. I couldn't tell how much but I noticed several bills changed hands. It took several more minutes for the product to be delivered. There were two talls handed over first and I could tell they went to the back seat. Then there was a Venti followed by a Grande.

It took a while for everyone to become settled and for the driver to get her door closed. Then the car drove off.

I was listening to Mary Chapin Carpenter on the CD player. At the beginning she was singing "Down at the Twist and Shout" and she finished "When She's Gone" by the time the people left. What a great line:

She knew by the way you kissed her
When she's gone, you won't miss her
I thought it was kind of cool to hear that as they drove off.

Something about the juxtaposition of the old, broken car and the new Starbucks and the four custom drinks and Mary Chapin Carpenter just made me want to blog about it.

Friday, February 22, 2008


We moved the year I turned three. Before that time I remember only bits and pieces of things.

One thing I still remember is the fact that I had a doll. It was unusual then for a boy to want a doll. I don't remember wanting one but I remember being told that I had wanted one.

I think it was true because I distinctly remember my doll. He was a boy doll and I named him Hector. He was a boy because I said so and for no other apparent reason as nearly as I can remember. I have no idea whatsoever why I named him Hector.

The only Hector I remember knowing is the Trojan Hector from the Greek and Trojan war. But I'm seriously doubtful that I would have known anything about him before turning three.

Judy and I were talking about our dolls last night. I told her I had a doll when I was a little boy and his name was Hector. She laughed out loud. Then she remembered that we had found Hector's head over at Dad's house. That's all that's left of Hector. His head is in a coffee can in a closet in the freezer room. Dad's queen size mattress and box springs is in the way or I would try to get it out and take a digital image. I recall seeing it myself. It became too hot sometime during its 60 plus year history and one side is kind of melted. Judy wanted to know what I did with the body. I don't remember doing anything with it.

Judy got such a kick out of me having a doll named Hector that I thought I'd blog about him.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Writing and Anniversaries

Today is the 5th month anniversary of Dad's death. We talked about it at lunch yesterday. Not that anyone remembered but me until we spoke about it. I am the keeper of sacred memories I think.

It came up because I was talking about my writing and how I had discovered something surprising. What surprised me was the date that my brother and his wife and I attended a national reunion just before I started my caregiving career. It was November 6, 1998. That was the nearest date to November 2nd which was the 217th anniversary of the murder of the man from whom my last name is taken. And that was significant to me then and is now, too.

But then I could only look back from 1998 and now I can look back from now. And when I do I see that my mother died 3 years to the day after that reunion. I don't know why I never made that connection before but it surprised me.

I don't know how to write really. I have read some books about writing just recently. Several have been recommended to me by Betsy and Joanne and others. And there are a lot of recommendations on the Internet sites and all over Amazon. But I can't do a lot of the stuff that other writers do. I just start writing. Words fall out of my mind and somehow end up on the screen and about 99% of the time I don't like them very much and they get replaced with new ones. Then I leave it alone awhile and when I return to it I sometimes like it and keep it and sometimes I start over entirely and often I change something here and there.

And that happens every time I return. What else happens is that I remember more detail about whatever it is. Sometimes what I've written will be exactly wrong and more often it will be somewhat wrong. Always it is incomplete because it is just not possible really to convey much by words.

Writing is a lot like programming for me and more so than just typing out words. I don't really know how to do programming either. I've studied programming and read a huge number of books about it. But for the most part I just start writing my programs. At first it is all chaos. It is chaos to everyone else and it is to me, too. It scares people who have not seen me do it before because they can't usually see how something usable will ever arise from the chaos. It used to scare me, too. But I've done it so much now that I know the chaos stage has to happen. I don't know why.

Writing is like that, too, for me. First there is the chaos stage. I have some idea of where we (the writing and me that is) age going but it is only vague and incomplete and fragmented. At some point though the outline stage begins to break through the crust of the chaos. Then I begin to see the entire work unfold in my mind. After that happens it is more a matter of me recording what I see. There are surprises along the way and some branches require pruning and some are false starts and don't support themselves and die.

I was thinking how much my caregiving was this way, too. Except there was more chaos and it kept reappearing along the way. And reading all the books about what to do and how to do it didn't really help me all that much either. I had to find my own way to do it.

Yesterday was interesting though because I finally gave up and bought a copy of Microsoft Word 2007. My laptop didn't come with it but had Word Perfect instead. And I had Open Office, too, and a bunch of other editors and word processor programs. And they all worked but I kept running into things in my publishing research that were distinctive to Microsoft Word so I finally gave up and bought a copy. The version I had on my desktop which I hardly ever use anymore was Word 2003. Well Word 2007 is a lot different. I think it actually may be better but it is different enough that I am having to spend a lot of time figuring out how to use it.

Still I made a lot of progress yesterday. I decided on my trim size. I'm going to use 5.25" x 8" and that's important because that sets the maximum word count and the maximum number of pages. Because I'm planning on using print on demand technology and I'll probably use Amazon's BookSurge. The maximum word count for that size is 230,000. So yesterday I managed another 700 words bringing me to just under 1%. I spent an enormous number of hours yesterday but most of it was figuring out how to use my tools. Still my 2,100 words or so probably has taken about 10 hours. At that rate and if I hit the 230,000 words I have about 1,100 hours of writing ahead of me. And that's assuming these 2,100 I have remain which is far from certain.

But Judy told me I should read about Margaret Mitchell who wrote "Gone With The Wind" and won a Pulitzer Prize for it.

Judy is smart.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Started Writing

I wrote yesterday, February 19, 2008. The program reports 1,384 words thus far. I spent a good 6 hours I think getting to where I am. Probably wrote three times that many words but these are the ones that have survived. And where I am is somewhere near the beginning. Although I am having some trouble finding where that is. But I decided it was worthwhile to try and find it and start somewhere near there.

My working title is "Life From The Porch," of course. I thought of a good many others but decided this one was sufficient for now at least.

I am not happy really with the format I'm using. But I think the more I write the more I'll find things that are comfortable.

Anniversaries of events loom large in my mind.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Writing for Publication

Reading An Uncertain Inheritance made me think once again about writing something of my own and publishing it. I have thought about this from time to time over the last few years. I was reading on my Kindle though and publishing for the Kindle is about as easy as blogging or maybe easier. So I thought I might write something and publish it for the Kindle.

The problem with the Kindle though is that not everyone has one. I am not trying to make money by writing but I'd like it not to be too costly either. There are a few people that I would like to give a copy of any book I might write. Mainly these are a few family members and friends. But none of them have Kindles and I am not very interested in shelling out $400 each for them to have one.

So I decided I should do a little research about writing for print publication in addition to Kindle publication.

I discovered that there are a tremendous number of web sites out there on the Internet that offer all kinds of information for writers wanting to publish works of one sort or another. There are some rather new and exciting possibilities, too.

I know some writers. Two of them are also blog friends. They've provided me some really valuable advice and web site URLs, too. One site was Absolute Write and from there I learned about Writer Beware. The latter has a list of agents and publishers to avoid. Because, and I bet no one is surprised, it turns out there are a lot of folks who are trying to make money off writers who would like to be published.

The publishing business reminds me a lot of the commercial land development business. There's the lowly land owner who is very much like the author. Then there are a number of agents. They don't really do that much but they get a percentage of the sale or lease. And they really work for the buyer more than they do the seller but the seller has to pay them out of his money.

The developer is kind of like the publisher. He puts everything together including buying the land and designing one or more layouts and then selling several retailers to commit to taking a spot and so on. I guess the printer is like the architect and contractor. And there's a bunch of engineers and stuff that would be like proofreaders and copy editors and illustrators.

One funny thing I thought of about this is the lawyer presence. Lots of lawyers are in both fields!!

Once the land owner has signed the deed over he loses control of the project. Authors pretty much lose control of their writing once they hand it over to a publisher.

On the other end are readers who buy books. Some books are bought from brick and mortar stores and some from the Internet and some from various other places. Book stores usually buy from distributors of which there are two main ones. And finally the distributors buy from publishers. And everyone wants to be able to send the books that don't sell back to where they came from.

The publishers, the real ones anyway, don't deal with authors directly. Agents get about 15% of whatever the author gets. Then the publisher has to make money and the distributor and then finally the bookstore. Once all that is done the author ends up with 10% to 15% of the revenue at best.

Now that's still a lot of money for John Grisham or James Patterson or any author selling millions of copies. But most books sell only a few hundred copies. I think about half of what they do sell are copies purchased by the author to give away.

I am pretty much inclined to ignore the commercial publishers and literary agents. I think it is too much trouble for one thing. I see scant possibility for making money because the subjects about which I might write are not likely to become best sellers in the first place. I don't like the idea of giving up control of my work either.

Another big problem for me is the self-promotion aspect. I am not much of a self-promoter. I am more likely to tell people why they should buy some other book besides mine. If Oprah called me I don't know that I'd go. Or Jay or Dave either for that matter. That's not very good for someone who wants to sell books. There is little chance of Oprah calling though so that's not a big practical concern.

But there are other ways to publish. Print on demand (POD it is called) is now possible for just about any book if it is planned that way. That simply means that a writer prepares the material electronically for later printing on a high speed document publisher. These machines are a lot like computer printers but on steroids. They load the author's work, print it (with images), bind it, and make it ready for shipping within a couple of minutes per copy. Typically they run at speeds of between 150 to 200 pages per minute. So a 250 page book is done in 1 to 2 minutes.

Now the cost of a single copy is much more than a single copy printed in a run of several thousand on a more conventional press. But the total cost is much less and there's no warehousing of hundreds or thousands of books. Still the cost is not much greater if any than the price of a new hardback book or even a new, high quality paperback. So the reader buyer would not notice much difference. Besides it is possible to sell more directly to the reader and eliminate the agents, publisher, distributor, and stores.

Amazon, among others, has at least two companies that offer such services. Turns out it is a pretty competitive business, too. It is also possible to buy services such as cover design, illustration, proofreading, content analysis, marketing, and so on.

All taken together these services constitute what is now called self publishing. There are constraints of course but I find it a rather exciting possibility.

I haven't made any decisions yet. I'm still thinking about what I want to write about and whether it really might be useful and whether I want to take it on and whether I have the ability and desire.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

My Read of An Uncertain Inheritance - Part 5

An Uncertain Inheritance: Writer’s on Caring for Family edited by Nell Casey

Joanne D. Kiggins in her blog, WritingAfterDark, gave a real review.

Finally I'm done. It is not as much fun reading a book when you know you have to write something about it. It adds a bit of responsibility I don't like and it subtracts some pleasure that I also don't like.

One funny thing is that at the end of the book there is a section called "contributors" and it has a little biographical sketch about each of the authors. I was looking them up!! I guess this means one should pay attention to the Table of Contents maybe.
Transferred by a Touch by Kerrel Mckay (read February 16, 2008)

Kerrel is a little girl of 9 when her mother tells her not to take food anymore from her father because "he has the AIDS." I spent a while trying to get my mind around that statement. It is another story about a young child having to care for an older parent. It happens a lot doesn't it?

Several things struck me about this story. One thing surprised me quite a bit. And that was the secrecy and misunderstanding about AIDS and how much I related that aspect to Alzheimer's. No one really wants to know they have Alzheimer's and no one really wants to know they have AIDS. And to admit you have Alzheimer's or AIDS can have very negative consequences. Such knowledge changes the way people treat you and it impacts your personal freedom and your ability to work and so many other things. And then there is the misinformation and misunderstanding about the diseases. I surely did not expect to draw those parallels.

I highlighted the following passage:

"That was the curse of this secret: A terrible sense of responsibility, a sense that it was within my power to make my father better."

I bet my caregiver friends recognize that.

The Animal Game; or, How I Learned to Take Care of Myself by Letting Others Care for Me by Julia Glass (read February 16, 2008)

In this story Julia has a recurrence of cancer. She has a 5 year old and a 10 year old at the time and a husband. I won't give away the meaning of the animal game but it becomes a kind of metaphor.

There's a place where she talks about the common greeting "take care" that is said between parting friends and acquaintances and she wonders about what it was supposed to mean. That made me think about that because I say stuff like that myself to those I love. What it means to me is that I am telling the person that I really love and appreciate them and I really do want them to be careful because I know bad things happen out there and I really want to see them again and a whole lot more besides. But it is quite a bit easier just to say "take care" than try to get all of that stuff out in a few nanoseconds.

Another thing she writes is about some gifts she receives and in one place she says "Why in the world would anyone want to read about murder when death is the very thing they are hoping to cheat?" One time my friend thought he was seriously ill and maybe even dying. I gave him a copy of the "Terminal Man" by Michael Crichton. It never occurred to me that it was such a terrible gift to give a friend given his circumstances until after I had handed it over. Then I felt awful. Sometimes we aren't at our best when our friends are suffering and we want to help them and our efforts are so clumsy. And I know when I was caregiving there were times like that when our friends tried to help us.

There are some really good practical things that help that are mentioned in this story.

It reminded me quite a bit of how I started out caregiving thinking I could do it all myself and not realizing just how huge the job was that stretched before me. It took some time to seek help and even more time to appreciate it.

I wonder if I've learned something permanent?

My Conclusions

I am happy I am done with the book. I am happy I read it. I am happy I wrote about it. It was a bit of a chore in a way. I think it may still be a little early for me to be reading about other caregivers and their loved ones since the abrupt end of my own caregiving life.

Abrupt end - that is something that we should talk about right there - as caregivers. It is like hitting a wall at about 100. Then you're supposed to be back to normal within seconds of the collision.

I am intrigued by the general scarcity of faith in the stories in this book and the geographic concentration of the authors. I am not exactly certain what I think about it. I already knew there was a great difference between where I live and both coasts. They call us "fly over country" after all.

I am also impressed at how much I thought about the blogs of my caregiver friends in relation to their own caregiving and how I compared and contrasted those blogs to these essays. I conclude that my experience of reading this book would have been entirely different if I had not previously read the blogs. The blogs are better than the book. It is almost as if a single essay cannot really compare to the experience of reading daily or frequent blog entries over a period of time. And that's even if the essays are written by wonderful authors as all of these are.

And of course there is the experience of reading this book on my Kindle. It was a very good experience.

The premise of the book is interesting to me because it is the caregiving experiences of writers. And that is interesting to me because I don't see writing as being such a great differentiator. So many people I know write or people I have known have been writers. They weren't writers of published books but they surely wrote.

Still there is something more peculiarly permanent about a published book than a blog. I could, after all, in the blink of any eye or less delete my entire blog. You can't do that with a published book. Then there is the possibility that someone or several might benefit from the book. I surely did benefit in several ways not the least of which was reading and thinking about other men who are or were caregivers.

These thoughts along with the Kindle make me consider the idea of a book myself so that's certainly a significant thing if nothing else.

Many thanks to Joanne though because I would never have read this one without her review.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


My bank, or one of them, Bank of Oklahoma which I call BOK has a new branch near my new house. Usually I just use the drive through or the ATM. But the other day I had to actually go inside.

It is a nice building and very convenient for me and I'm very happy someone put it here for me. Actually the first thing I noticed about the building was the windows from the outside because I'm buying windows for my house and I notice them right now. I thought they were pretty nice. And then when I got inside I had to look at them from the other side of course. What I noticed though was that the two offices I happened to look at the windows through both had little space heaters on the floor. It was a nice day so the heaters weren't running. But I thought it was a real shame that they spent a fortune on this office and still the offices had to have these little space heaters to keep the people inside warm. I find that irritating.

I walked up to the counter and a young woman greeted me and I handed her my deposits and told her I was to pick up a cashier's check. I noticed she was very young and very pretty and I noticed she was black. But honestly I didn't pay much attention otherwise being rather still occupied in thought about the deficiency of the building's heating system and wondering if it had anything to do with the windows.

Just then another, different young woman appeared to hand me my receipts. She was also very young and very attractive and smaller than the first. And she was also black. I thanked her for my receipts and she turned to leave and I said "wait, I need my cashier's check." She didn't know anything about that she said and would have to check and disappeared behind this screen wall. Soon she left the teller area and I watched her walk around to one of the offices I had noticed with the little heater on the floor. I heard a man say "ask him to come in" and I started towards the voice.

He was a young man but older than the young women. He was quite tall and handsome and he was also black. And we shook hands and I sat in front of his desk while glancing at the heater and then at the windows because I was still wondering about the heating problem. He checked the details of my cashier's check request and did some typing on a keyboard and then excused himself for a minute. I wondered if I could get up and walk over to the windows and then decided maybe that wasn't a good idea in a bank. I did notice the cameras and the alarms and what I figure were panic buttons and so on. I read his title on his nameplate on his desk and he was the assistant manager.

When he returned I told him I was surely happy they had opened this branch and we chatted briefly. I asked where he had been previously and he'd been at another suburban bank as a teller and this spot had opened up and he'd gotten it. I congratulated him and thanked him for his help and assured him I'd see him again which may or may not be true, the latter that is.

It was only this morning that I was thinking about the fact that in this small little branch bank that I had met three employees who happened to be black. Now I am not an ancient man by any means but I am old enough at nearly 60 to clearly remember the days of segregation and overt racism against blacks. I remember Brown vs. Board of Education and sit ins and Little Rock and a bunch of other stuff. I remember when Prentice Gautt became the first black football player at the University of Oklahoma in 1956. He just died in 2005.

I don't want to belabor the subject but I remember clearly a time when it would have been unthinkable and impossible to find three black people working at a bank in Oklahoma City much less for one of them to be the assistant manager.

What I find even more heartening though is that the significance of what I had observed from a racial integration point of view didn't occur to me until the next morning.

I had to contrast that though with a remark I heard the other day from someone who is several decades older about Barak Obama. The remark was that "I wonder if the country is ready for a black president." Never mind that Mr. Obama seems to be running away with the Democratic nomination among both blacks and whites. But I think it is more generational really than it is racist. She just meant that in her experience, in her time really, it is remarkable.

I think Mr. Obama may well be the next president. I am quite certain there will be those who vote against him based solely on race but there will probably be others who vote against him because they don't like his hair cut or his height or something else. And then there will be those who vote for him because of his color and maybe his good looks.

At any rate I think the whole country has really come a long way from where it was in the 1950's of my time and even farther from where it was in the 1920's of my friend's time.

Friday, February 15, 2008

My Read of An Uncertain Inheritance - Part 4

An Uncertain Inheritance: Writer’s on Caring for Family edited by Nell Casey

Joanne D. Kiggins in her blog, WritingAfterDark, gave a real review.

I had hoped to only have 4 parts but that's not possible now so I decided to post and finish up with a part 5.

The Vital Role by Amanda Fortini (read February 13, 2008)

I've been really sick only one time in my life where I was so sick that I needed help. I was in the Army and no one cared and no one helped me either so it did not much matter how sick I was or for how long. Once, after I was divorced, I had to have my wisdom teeth removed. Dad and Mom took me to the office and then brought me home. They offered to stay but I just crawled in bed and when the weekend was over I crawled out of bed and I knew that beforehand and told them to go on home and they did. Another time I had an abdominal hernia and was in the hospital for a couple of days. That's kind of different I think and besides I was 10. But really I've never needed or really had anyone be a caregiver for me. I'm not a very good patient either so it's probably a good thing.

Amanda Fortini describes what it was like to be really ill and to need someone to help her. She introduces the enigmatic "J" who becomes a kind of caregiver for her. "J" is not one of my favorite characters right from the start. I prefer my caregivers to be a bit more on the normal and responsible side which is to say not a sociopath. But, I thought to myself, these are New York City folk and perhaps things are just really different there.

I continued reading becoming increasingly fascinated by the description of the illness and the effect it had on the author and imagining myself to be similarly afflicted. I realized how one sided is my brush (is 9 years a brush?) with chronic illness and discomfort and pain and, therefore, how incomplete my own understanding. I wondered if it were possible to really understand the suffering of another person. I think it is not.

Then "J" suggests that if Amanda does not get out of New York City that she will die and I think that's pretty likely true for just about anyone but I've only been there once. But then I know its my own bias about living in such a densely populated place. I am astonished though when I read J's solution is for them both to move to Los Angeles. Inside my mind I was like the guy in the Pace picante commercials except I'm yelling 'Los Angeles" in my head instead of New York City.

I must say that I am familiar with a good deal of J's emotions and reactions towards her self-appointed charge. Not that any of those are particularly flattering but having experienced them myself first hand I recognize their reality. I am respectful of the author's ability to also find them and to write about them. She did a great job observing the caregiver and the loved one.

There is not much that passes for faith. I guess there is none if you omit the vegan and yoga references. There is also no family at all.

I think it is a lonely story.

Planet Autism by Scot Sea (read February 13, 2008)

Sad to say that I understood so well so much of what Scot Sea wrote. His daughter has autism. He does a peculiarly fine job I think of describing the daily grind of caring for her. I suppose I suspected that all mind illnesses might have things in common but actually reading certain of his descriptions and reflecting simultaneously on my own experiences with my Alzheimer's patient was rather sobering. It is funny (strange funny not ha ha funny) what words on paper (or in my case on Kindle) will foment images of past caregiving experiences and then what those images themselves cause to happen emotionally inside the heart and mind.

In my early caregiving days I was lonely and I joined a caregiving email list. Through that list I met a man who, along with his wife, were raising three children with some terrible disease. The children acted out and had many of the autistic symptoms that this author describes. But this disease, and I do not recall its name, was fatal and the children were dying. And it was all the more terrible because it was hereditary and so the parents knew that they had passed it along to their own children. But they didn't find out until after the last child was born. There was a lot of guilt. I wonder about them sometimes. I think the children might be gone now. But those parents were on 24/7/365 and were on welfare, too.

In Sea's account the parents try to work and he does a particularly good job of describing how difficult that is.

There is the story about Holland in this one. Do you all recall it from Alzheimer's? It is more or less like "we're planning a trip to Italy and we study about it and finally go but we end up in Holland and everything we learned is useless and we have to learn a whole new language and culture." I heard it several times in relation to Alzheimer's although I recall now it was said to have originated from autism caregiving.

All I can tell you is that there are some people doing some amazing and heroic things out there.

No faith of any kind here either. Also no mention of extended family. This one and the prior makes me wonder if I am so strangely unique and different to have both faith and family. Or maybe I should say blessed I think.

This story made me so tired. The unending ever repeating part is awful but beautifully conveyed.

The Day the World Spit Open by Abigail Thomas (read February 13, 2008)

This is very well written for me to the point that it was a real page turner (or Kindle button clicker I guess). And again so much of it is familiar to me and I relate so much of it to Alzheimer's even though there are vast differences. But I think I relate everything to Alzheimer's so maybe it is more me than the story.

It is also set in New York City. I wondered if there were no red state authors who had been caregivers. Another thing I related to though was that she had placed an ad in one of those singles deals and Rich had read it and responded and 13 days later they married. She tells about keeping the page that had one circled ad on it. I thought that so brilliantly conveyed so much in such a few words. But I related because when I was lonely I signed up for one of those online services. Plus she was 46 and he was 57 when they met and I appreciated both ages actually.

One day the doorman of their building called (I imagine the image of Jerry Seinfeld's building) to inform her that her dog was in the elevator. She wanted to know where her husband was but he had been in a terrible accident and had brain damage: frontal lobes. We Alzheimer's caregivers know something about frontal lobes.

The operation is successful but there is the soon subsequent inappropriate behavior stage and the pros tell her it is only a stage, oh, and by the way, to expect the recovery to be long and slow. And there are changes of course to be expected but no one knows what. And that also reminded me of Alzheimer's.

So many familiar things to me she writes about. She discusses the heightened sense of detail she notices at all times and how old fears seem no longer significant and wondering where her husband went and the pain of him pushing away her hand in anger and being worried about her little dog on the day of her Rich's surgery and so much else.

There was family in this story but no faith, at least not overtly.

Beautifully written.

The Elephant in the Room by Stan Mack (read February 13, 2008)

Well, we (all of us Alzheimer's caregivers) know about that very same elephant. It is the fact that Alzheimer's is a fatal disease but we never talk about that fact. Some people think it isn't fatal in fact. I've heard them say so.

It is another New York City couple. Janet has cancer and Stan is her companion and lover and caregiver. They come to know that she is going to die but it is not discussed even though it is ever present.

It is awfully nicely written I think and just a lovely story about two people who themselves are rather lovely. They had lots of friends.

Interspersed often are cartoons that convey as much of the story as the words, maybe more in fact. Because Stan is a cartoonist is why the cartoons are there. I liked them. Janet was "a writer of nonfiction books for teenagers." There was something about that statement that struck me as being cute. Maybe it was the great degree of specialization or that I immediately thought to myself "what kind of nonfiction books do teenagers read?"

Stan and Janet never married even though they were together 18 years. He wonders early on if they had married would the marriage vows "in sickness and in health" been any more significant to him. I thought to myself that mere vows themselves make neither husband nor caregiver.

It is a story about living with a progressive illness. It is a glimpse of a caregiver learning to be a caregiver and starting from some place negative of zero. And I related to that. It is also about learning the medical system and all the problems that go with caring for someone who is chronically ill. So much of that I related to immediately. It reminds me of sitting in a valley surrounded by mountains and just over the mountain are an entire ring of cities with all sorts of people that could help but you don't know it because you can't see over the mountains.

No mention of faith.

It is really nice for me as a man to read about other men who are also caregivers.

But a beautiful and rewarding story of love and care.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

One Thing I Don't Like About Real Life

Real Life as opposed to the 24/7 Caregiving life in case anyone is wondering what I mean.

My post about offices and desks started me thinking and then when I arrived at the office the other morning I had a flash of insight.

I don't like having to dress every day for work. And I mean by that putting slacks or jeans on with a shirt and belt and having to carry around my money and my billfold and keys and all that stuff.

I miss my exercise shirt and shorts wardrobe.

On the other hand I do enjoy going to lunch and most places expect some kind of dress above exercise shorts.

Oh!!! Happy Valentines Day out there to all my blog friends, too.

My Judy is a Saxophonist so I hunted all over and found her this really nice (I think) pin out of 14 K gold that's shaped like a Saxophone.

It has little diamonds and rubies on it.

I gave it to her last night and she said I did a really good job.

Hard to find things shaped like Saxophones but I've managed to locate a few.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Kindle and Uncertain Inheritance Update

My Kindle (which I've mentioned a few times now) is proving to be better than I ever imagined.

I have not yet finished reading Uncertain Inheritance but I plan to this week and then write my 4th and final installment of my thoughts on the book.

Yesterday I purchased two more books for my Kindle and the previous day I purchased another two. I think all together now I've purchased 8 books and also had several Microsoft Word documents emailed to it. The last two days I bought books that I had no real reason to buy quickly.

I suppose I should explain that last statement. Sometimes I buy books because I am researching something and I want the material quickly because I need to get up to speed on whatever it is right now. If the book is available for the Kindle this is an easy decision because you just can't get the content sooner.

But other times the titles I want to buy are for reading over a longer period of time or just for the sheer enjoyment of reading. And that's what I ordered this week. But they aren't titles I will treasure forever. They are just titles I want to read and I would like to keep them for a while but not because I want to enjoy seeing them on my bookshelves. (Except I don't really have any bookshelves like that anymore.)

So normally that kind of book purchase would be a paperback edition or even a used volume now since it is so easy to buy used online from various sources. I wouldn't try the library for these titles because they probably wouldn't be there for one thing and you have to take them back to the library.

But when I was ready to buy all my titles were available in Kindle editions. One was $.99 and another was $2.99 and, honestly, I wouldn't have bought either in any other edition. The others were $6.78 and $6.39. The regular prices were, respectively, $14.95 and $7.98. So I saved nearly $10 but I spent $4 I wouldn't have otherwise. The other three purchases I've made for my Kindle saved me about $25.

So I've had the thing about a month or a little better now and I've saved at least $35. If this holds up I'll have paid for the thing in less than one year.

The other really cool thing about it though is that all of my purchases are available for me to download again from Amazon. I see the list in my Media Library. So I can read them and then delete them from my Kindle but Amazon still keeps them for me so I can go back and get them again if I need to for some reason. That's a bonus feature I had never considered.

It is a lot easier to find something, too, on line than having to look around the house for a particular book.

I notice there is a "share" checkbox by each title on my media list. I haven't done this so I'm not sure what it does. Plus I don't know anyone that has a Kindle I could share a title with anyway. Although I am thinking about getting Kindles for my children. I "think" if I did that then maybe they could share some of my titles - maybe not. We all read different stuff anyway so it doesn't make that much difference. But if they had Kindles I could "gift" them titles electronically.

But to get back to my main thought here is that I could have bought hard cover or soft cover books and I decided I wouldn't and bought the Kindle version instead. And mainly I did it because I really like having all my stuff to read in this nice little electronic package.

Another thing I've noticed is that I carry this thing around with me and if I have some waiting time - like before a meeting or something or maybe before Church starts or whatever - I get the thing out and read a bit.

Now I keep reading some of the experts saying this Kindle deal isn't going to make it. But I don't think that's true. I've noticed before that if I like something and use it then often there are a bunch of other people that are doing the same thing. I suspect that's true for the Kindle.

The other thing I want to mention is that I'm seriously thinking about writing something and publishing it as a Kindle version myself. And that's because it is so ridiculously easy to do. Basically you just write something (article, book, short stories, poems, whatever) in one of several formats - I will use HTML - and then you upload it to your Amazon account. In my case my Amazon publishing account is the same as my Amazon consumer account. It is in draft mode at that time. And you can view it yourself and if you want to change it then you just make changes locally and then upload again to overwrite. You do this as often as you want. Then, if you decide you want to sell it in the Kindle store, you put a price on it and hit the publish button and that's all there is to it. Now whether or not someone buys it is a totally different thing.

So why would I want to do that?

That's a very good question and I'm not sure I have a very good answer yet.

For me writing has always been something I do for me and not something I do for someone else. This blog is like that. I write it for myself. I admit it makes me happy that people read it sometimes but I think I'd probably be writing something whether anyone else ever looked at it or not.

Another thing though is that I've been thinking about trying to capture some thoughts and memories and stories and maybe preserve them in a way. Maybe my kids or grandkids or some other future generation would enjoy knowing a little about what it was like for me and my generation. I don't want to spend a lot of money doing it though. And let's face it the chances of selling enough copies of a conventional book to pay for the cost of publishing is about zero to less than none. So the Kindle seems like kind of a nice way.

Just musings about it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Offices and desks

My dad worked at his desk in his home office every day when I first came to live with him and mom. He had retired just a few months earlier. He had for a long time carried two attache cases with him. After he retired the cases remained there on the floor by his desk.

He had several desks actually. One was a very old desk that I had saved from an ignoble future. It had been my dad's desk very early in his life. I had a man who did such things for a living completely restore it. He took it apart piece by piece and then put them all back together with amazing skill and passion. And then it took him weeks to apply the finish. But it is a beautiful desk and quite large.

Another desk was one that dad had also used as a very young man. It had never been restored except that someone had put a kind of Formica covering on the top.

The third desk was actually dad's favorite I think and the one he liked to work on. It had belonged to his boss. He thought so highly of his boss and I think the desk made him recollect the man and those days. It is really big and older than the others.

Dad's office at home was originally planned to be a garage. But since we were on a farm we already had other buildings we used for garages. And dad decided he would be better served with an office so the garage was changed to be one. It never was an office although it was pretty obvious that had been the original idea. Later on, about the time I left I think, dad and mom built an extra large garage and attached it to the house by way of a breezeway. Breezeway is not exactly the right term though and "wind tunnel" would be more accurately descriptive.

When I came to live there I needed a place to office and I thought I'd find a nice spot in there with dad. But dad didn't like the idea for reasons I never really did know exactly. And he made me put my office down in the basement room where I now have my exercise equipment. Actually it turned out to be quite a good thing for me because it gave me a private place of my own away from mom and dad. And I really needed that space especially at first. But at first it really hurt my feelings.

When we brought mom home from the hospital and got her settled in their bedroom she had to have pretty much constant care. Dad was not diagnosed then and was not really showing many symptoms. So he was mom's caregiver and he didn't want to leave her alone.

They had this Samsonite card table that I've mentioned before and we used it to eat meals on when the time came. But during the between times Dad used it as his office desk.

But the thing is he didn't really have very much to do after he retired. He had a few bills and bank statements and things like that but not nearly so much stuff as when he was really active in his various endeavors. I understand this quite a bit myself because I kind of find myself in this same situation now. But dad had been working at a desk nearly every weekday and Saturday of his life for about 64 years and it is kind of hard to break such an long standing habit.

Not to mention the fact that sitting at a desk even when there isn't too much to do is kind of a purposeful activity that adds some degree of meaning to one's existence.

So sometimes I'd come upstairs to check on mom and dad. Dad liked to keep the door to their room ajar. He had this little piece of wood that he would put down at the floor between the jamb and the door for that very purpose. So I could very quietly creep down the hallway and peek in the little crack and see if everything was okay. Usually mom would be asleep in bed during that first year. And dad would be dutifully sitting at his card table desk. And all of his papers would be spread out before him there. There would be nice, neat stacks of paper and documents and so on. He was able to do that with things even to nearly the end of his life.

But very often he would be dozing. I could tell because he would be snoring ever so softly and his mouth might be just open a little bit. And his eyes would be shut.

He was a very light sleeper though so if I made even the slightest little noise or even if I just remained a little too long he'd come awake just a bit startled. And then he'd act like he'd not been asleep at all and had just been doing whatever work he had placed before him.

The other day I had to take some mail over to the man whose house I bought. His office is nearby and he still drives down everyday. He is about the same age as my dad was when I first came to live at home.

I got out of my car and went in the door of the building where the office is located. I turned down the hall and saw his name on the wall outside his office door which was open. And I knocked and walked inside. And he was sitting at his desk and looking over all his papers.

And it reminded me of my dad a lot seeing him like that. And I wondered if he sometimes dozed off there.

Then I got to thinking about myself. I wondered if I would also sit at a desk and pretend to do some work. I suppose I will sit with my laptop though. I will probably read my friends' blogs and some of the forums I've found and the online news and so on. And I'll become drowsy which I actually already do and from time to time I'll doze off myself.

And if my son happens on me or my wife or someone else I know then I'll probably wake and pretend like I wasn't sleeping and that I was engaged in something really important.

But that doesn't appeal to me really. I think I'd rather find something else to do. I'm uncertain what right now. Maybe I could knit some yarn from Maple Corners. Maybe not.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Makes one think

I've posted before about my wondering about relative size. I received the following images in an email (Sorry, I don't know who to credit for the images but really made me think):

Sunday, February 10, 2008


I suppose many, many people know about Daniel. I mean the Daniel that is described in the Bible by the book of the same name. Not everyone has a book of the Bible much less a description of his life and faith.

The name, Daniel, means "judged by God" or perhaps "judge of God" or "God is my judge" or a few other variations. The Babylonians change his name though to Belteshazzar which means prince of bel, a title for various gods of Babylon.

We know quite a little bit actually about Daniel.

Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring in some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility - young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king's palace.
Not too many of us can claim such good adjectives.

Daniel is famous for a number of things but arguably I suppose the most famous thing is his imprisonment in a lions' den.
So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions' den. The king said to Daniel, "May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!"

And Daniel's God did, too. This is even mentioned in the hall of faith chapter in Hebrews 11:
the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions,
Although it is interesting that he is not mentioned by name there.

When someone speaks about Daniel they almost always use him as a great example of someone who endures and survives and even prospers in his negative circumstances. Usually it is mentioned that he is delivered from being eaten by lions and so on.

But here's the thing that I find so interesting about Daniel. It is very likely that when he was taken into captivity that he was castrated and became an eunuch. I won't go into the reasons for this conclusion and I will say that the Bible is not explicit about it but it seems very likely to me.

There aren't many young men of noble heritage who are also handsome and strong and virile and vibrant and intelligent and so on that would look too favorably on becoming an eunuch.

You don't hear that particular thing discussed much about Daniel.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

What is the definition of saved?

The other day I read the following:

I don't think everyone is saved by God's grace. What is the definition of saved?

Sin, Get Saved, Ask for Forgiveness, Sin, Get Saved, Ask for Forgiveness and do it all over again the next day? I don't get that.

If they were truly saved, why would they sin, ask for forgiveness and then just go out and do the same thing over and over? ie Sin, Hypocrisy, Lies etc?

I have some of the most amazing Christian friends that epitomize the idea of love, compassion and true Christianity and know of a few people who are wonderful, beautiful Christians...... but on the other hand, I've known some Christians that spew more lies, hatred and evil than all the Atheists I know put together.

At least the Atheists I know personally aren't sneaky hypocrites. But, I'm sure everyone has it in them regardless of religious beliefs.

To simplify, I think we should just try to be good people and treat each other well.
I thought this was interesting because it reveals a number of things about how non-Christians view Christians and Christ and God.

"Saved from what" is a really good question I think for someone to ask. If one has to ask the question then it is probably impossible to understand a satisfactory answer. Jesus the Christ said it best Himself of course. Really there are no new questions. Matthew's gospel at chapter 9 has the following:
10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?"

12 On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
His words are so intuitive and yet were lost on the Pharisees who considered themselves righteous. But those who sought out Jesus knew they were in need of healing. Some needed physical healing from actual physical disease. But there is a greater and deeper illness and in the Scriptures it is called sin. Christ came for those who have come to recognize that sin and its effects.

Christianity is definitely not a faith for those who are already righteous. Certainly it is not a faith for the atheist.

Another interesting thing about Christianity is that with belief does not come perfection or sinless living. Christ does produce in His disciples a remarkably changed life. It is in 1st John (among other places) that Christians are admonished to confess their sins.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

It is wonderful that the person has such good atheist friends. It is sad that the person has Christian friends who he or she considers evil. It would be better for the person to look directly to Christ Himself and make up her mind about Him and what He did and what He said.

As a believer in Jesus Christ myself it is always my own goal only to point those I meet to the Savior. I certainly am no good example for anyone nor do I have answers and solutions for all life's problems. But I have found the One Who does. It seems natural to me that such information should be shared.

But the writer makes a good point that those who do not need such an introduction should not be coerced in any way into seeking one.

Friday, February 8, 2008

House Progress

Practically everyone I know is now sick or just recovering including both me and Judy.

But we've managed to keep the house project going. I'm at the stage where I wonder if this were all a huge mistake. I always encounter this stage somewhere along the line in my construction projects so I am not surprised. There is nothing to do about it because I'm too far along to stop and it is closer now to the finish than the start.

But it is such a mess and so torn up. And the demolition uncovers so many flaws of the original construction and the wear and tear of the subsequent 23 years.

That part made me think about my life in general though. It is kind of the same. There were the original flaws imposed by genetics and environment. And there's been a lot of damage done by living nearly 60 years. And the end is closer than the beginning so it is way too late to turn around.

Yesterday I ordered the windows. I decided to go with Pella but considered several other options. They are just fabulous windows and I'm really anxious to get them here and let my guys get them installed. Then I ordered the security system and the home theater system and the whole house sound system. It is going to be awesome. Things have changed so much in this area and I'm sure we're at the beginning rather than the end of such improvements. We're going with a 50" Plasma TV and a 7.1 surround system. That means 3 rear speakers, 2 front, center channel, and sub-woofer (hence the 7 if you count them). I didn't know this. Just amazing sound quality and the cost is surprisingly less than I expected. The whole house sound system has 6 zones and 6 selectable sources plus 2 simultaneous radio sources. The security system is state-of-the-art as well.

The structure for the new vaulted ceiling is nearly done and should be covered with sheetrock by next week. The wiring and new HVAC will all be done by next week. The floor covering materials are all gone and the wallpaper is gone. And the termites are gone. And all the insulation is gone. But next week or the following we'll begin replacing some stuff.

J goes to select flooring tomorrow. That's pretty exciting. Then she'll choose the vanity and kitchen counter tops. Still lot's to do though.

Thursday, February 7, 2008


From our local small town (as opposed to the big town) paper:

County election board officials said 46 percent of the the county's registered Democrats and 47 percent of the county's registered Republicans voted Tuesday.

Those figures blew away the 1992 record of about 29 percent, state election board secretary Mike Clingman said.

Cleveland County has 133,035 registered voters. Of that number, Republicans claim 63,785 according to January 2007 figures while Democrats have 56,619 on their rolls.

Statewide, more than 750,000 Oklahoma Democrats and Republicans turned out for the state's presidential primary election, obliterating a record set in 1992.

Clingman said almost 42 percent of Oklahoma's 1.8 million Democratic and Republican voters went to the polls in the state's 77 counties Tuesday, easily eclipsing the 1992 record of 28 percent.
Well 46 percent and 47 percent are pretty good numbers especially for a primary. I wasn't expecting numbers nearly so high especially on the Republican side. Actually the Democrat side is surprising to me as well. There is a lot more interest than I expected.

I kind of feel sorry for Hilary Clinton and Mitt Romney. I just read that Hilary (funny to act like I am on a first name basis with her!) had contributed $5 million of her own money to her campaign. And then I read that Mitt (might as well be personal with him, too) had spent $35 million of his own money on his race. I think I would keep the money and let someone else be the prez.

Just doesn't "feel" like there will be another Clinton presidency. There is just not much undecided for her and there are a bunch of people in the "decidedly no" camp. Wednesday morning when I got up she was ahead in delegates and by the time I finished exercising she was behind in delegates. That news was kind of lost though in the terrible news about the tornadoes and all the fatalities. But Obama raising so much money and doing so well in actual vote getting seems to really have a big mo thing going.

It looks to me that Hilary actually did a remarkably good job of being a senator (and I mostly disagree with her point of view). I was surprised at that because I actually thought the senate job was really just a stepping stone. Then again what do I know. Obama is very much unknown to me in practical terms. He is a really good speech maker but honestly I don't see the evidence for the actual work result. He is certainly much more liberal in his positions. But again it is just impression and opinion.

Romney said he was continuing but it is hard for me now to see how he can actually win. Huckabee, I think, will stay in for quite a while. That's so strange, too, that another man from Hope, Arkansas would be running and doing such an amazing job. He has almost no money and has spent very little but achieved amazing results. I have to say I am impressed with his weight loss and his dedication to exercise. I don't really think he is vying for a veep position though despite the punditocracy comments.

McCain seems remarkably different to me than what I am hearing from so many of my conservative Republican friends. They really hold grudges and they view McCain as almost a Democrat and as being wishy-washy. He absolutely does not seem wishy-washy to me - just the contrary in fact. My more middle ground friends in both parties and Independents actually find McCain less extreme and more practical. The same things that anger the far righties appeals to the middle grounders. The lefties hate most everyone including McCain.

I think the country is more inclined to find someone in the middle and someone who is practical. If I had to place a bet right now (and I wouldn't) I'd give the edge to McCain. Also, I think the D's will get an even larger majority control of both senate and house. And the country seems more inclined to divide up the power now which also points more to an R in the White House.

So that's my considered take on the political front and I've written it down and when the election actually occurs everyone can come back here and read about how wrong I am.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Political Season

It is, to me, a lot like a grade school contest where we were divided into two sides. Really the game itself mattered very little. It might have been dodge ball or baseball or tag or hide and seek or some other thing. In fact, I am pretty certain I recall a few times when the game was announced or changed after the sides were chosen.

Usually two leaders were chosen initially, one for each side, and the choosing was by the teacher or sometimes by the class. Wouldn't have mattered much whether by teacher or democratic vote though because even at that age most everyone knew who was a leader, or supposed to be a leader at least.

I think I was always the smart kid and smart kids were never chosen for leaders unless it was for some kind of academic contest. But we didn't have academic contests I suppose because we were supposed to be having fun and fun meant a break from learning. I was also one of the small kids and they usually were chosen towards the end. Does that mean, I wonder, if small, smart folks are worth less than large, dumb people? I do believe there was a song by Randy Newman a while back. But wait. I forgot there were also factors of beauty and social standing. I had none of the latter and very little of the former.

I did, however, have a few things going for me. I was thin, wiry, strong, and fast. So I was chosen before the fatter, slower kids. And I ranked above the kids who were even smaller, the ones who had to have boxes for their feet.

But the political season reminds me of those times. We divide first and then we promote our side.

Another thing I remember from grade school was a trip once to our state capitol and visiting our legislature and the Governor's office. I remember being shocked at learning the trip had been arranged by one of my classmate's fathers who was a "politician." Shocked because I had actually only heard that term used pejoratively.

The man actually spoke to us and was not the ogre that I had been conditioned to believe. Over the years I've come to know a number of politicians and quite a few more bureaucrats. Bureaucrat is an even more pejorative than is politician. Strangely enough the ones I've known are pretty decent, normal people who try to do their best with what they have to work with.

I've known a few scalawags, too. But I think in no higher percentage than I found scalawags in other lines of endeavor.

So I do not believe that the candidates are liars, or corrupt, or only in it for their own self-enrichment and all the other things one hears about someone. I don't know any of them. Even if I did it would not guarantee my opinion would be any more accurate. I don't believe they are just like me though because, honestly, to want to be President (or any other public official) and actually run for the office, puts you in a "kind" that is substantially different than mine.

I've developed a philosophy over the years about the President. For one thing I've come to understand that the American President is definitely not the King. There's a bunch of other people with whom he (or perhaps she) has to contend. Then there's the problem of the events of the time which are mostly unknowable and all future in any event. So right now it looks like one problem is going to be the biggest issue but there very well may be some unknown event on the horizon that will change everything. I've noticed that somehow we Americans elect someone who seems to rise to the occasion more often than not regardless what the occasion might be.

Judging the past is tricky like that. I remember as a very young child hearing all sorts of terrible things about Harry Truman who was the President when I was born. He wasn't supposed to win that election but he did. He had a lot of big problems and at the time people didn't think he did very well. Now he's often presented as a great example of what a president should be. People talk about the perspective of time and I've come to believe it is actually true.

Well, my vote here in my little town in my little state really is not going to make much difference in the big scheme of things.

I vote in a church now. It's been the same place for about the last 7 or so years. The place before that was an office building but we became too numerous for it so some of us got to move. The church is better and there's no line ever. I don't know where I'll vote after I move to our new house.

We have those ballots where they give you the little pen and you have to complete an arrow for each item. Then you take your ballot and feed into a machine. And someone gives you an "I voted" sticker to wear. It's pretty simple but seems to work pretty well. I always think it is amazing really that we pull this off with volunteers and things go as well as they do.

The local news media is just beside themselves though and promoting their coverage of the super Tuesday election and our part in it. And the national news will be all over it of course. And I'll watch some of it.

But I'll vote.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Vive la différence

Friday we went "shopping" for furniture, counter top and bathtub, wallpaper, and so on.

I noticed that I am not really interested in looking at things unless I am going to buy one of them. So just wandering through a furniture store without knowing what I am going to buy is absolutely awful for me.

On the other hand my most excellent spouse wanders in order to become interested.

She's trying to find a color scheme. I said that I had a color scheme which would be taupe walls and ceilings with taupe carpet and some kind of darker stone type tile. She didn't think that was very good.

I read an article once about cultural differences. The first part was a story about an African woman being told that in western countries the female breast was of great interest to men. The woman is supposed to have said something on the order "you mean western men are like infants?"

Saturday, February 2, 2008


Wednesday evening as soon as I made it inside the door I started sneezing and coughing and had to carry around a box of tissues. Figured it must be allergies since it happened so fast. So I took a Claritin and it didn't do anything so I took another one. Probably not the smartest thing to do because about the middle of the night I was wide awake with the saucer eyes. And by then I was feeling worse so I suspected a cold.

I ignored it on Thursday. I couldn't ignore it Friday but just kept going anyway. Not it's Saturday and I'm just staying in. Not such a bad thing either as it gave me a chance to read blogs - which is something I miss.

It makes me recall the days of being sick during caregiving though. Judy says that when I'm sick it makes her feel lonely. I wonder if Dad and Mom felt that way? Being sick as a caregiver was awful. I don't miss that.

Our weather is nuts. Thursday we had an ice and snow storm and at least one death and Friday morning it was 15 degrees. Monday it back to 70.

I'm going to read my books next (actually my Kindle books).