Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Back Soon

I’ve received notes of concern, private and comments, and I wish to thank everyone for caring so much- it means more than you know. Complete recovery will take a few more months, but I’m already leaving the can’t-think-of-anything-else phase and entering the merely-a-damned-nuisance phase. I’m off the narcotic painkillers, so I’m starting to think linearly enough to make sense again- I’ll be resuming regular blogging soon.

Even though I haven’t been contributing, I’ve been enjoying my favorite blogs, and they’ve been a Godsend in helping take my mind off things. Of course ChaliceChick and Ms. Kitty are always good reads, but I particularly want to bring to everyone’s attention an excellent post by Jamie Goodwin that deserves better kudos than I’m currently capable of- it wouldn’t be fair for me to say “You took the words right out of my mouth” when he said it better than I could have.

Again, thanks everyone. What an amazing community the blogosphere is.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I have an empassioned suitor

Pain. Pain is a harsh mistress. She is insanely jealous; any attempt to think of another causes her to clasp me in an embace that cannot be denied. Like any abusive spouse, she separates me from my other loves; she causes me to adopt her habits of bad temper; when rivals speak to me, she whispers into my ear so that I cannot follow their conversations; she causes me to talk of nothing but her. Of all rivals for her attention, only the gentle daughters of the Goddess Lethe, Oxycontin and Hydrocodone, can get a word in edgewise- but she waits impatiently, balefully, to grasp me all the stonger when they weaken.

The seers, the Oracles of Aescapulus, assure me that in a couple weeks she will loose interest and embrace another... and she laughs. "What is time," she whispers, "A few weeks with the right person is eternity."

Sorry, my loves, I must go; my mistress is calling.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

I'm afraid of my apples

I worry about the Granny Smith apples in the fridge. We have a drought on here in Indiana, no lawn sprinkling allowed, etc. But if it don't rain in Indianapolis in the summertime, then God didn't make little green apples. And yet, there they are. Are they Satanic apples?

And I still hurt.

And I want to cry.

With all the complications they warned me about from undergoing two different surgeries at the same time, nobody mentioned any of these.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Installing Love

Here's an oldie, but a goodie:

Customer Service Rep: Can you install LOVE?

Customer: I can do that. I'm not very technical, but I think I am ready to install now. What do I do first?

Customer Service Rep: The first step is to open your HEART. Have you located your HEART?

Customer: Yes I have, but there are several programs running right now. Is it okay to install while they are running?

Customer Service Rep: What programs are running?

Customer: Let me see.... I have PASTHURT.EXE, LOWESTEEM.EXE, GRUDGE.EXE, and RESENTMENT.COM running right now.

Customer Service Rep: No problem. LOVE will automatically erase PASTHURT.EXE from your current operating system. It may remain in your permanent memory, but it will no longer disrupt other programs. LOVE will eventually overwrite LOWESTEEM.EXE with a module of its own called HIGHESTEEMEXE. However, you have to completely turn off GRUDGE.EXE and RESENTMENT.COM. Those programs prevent LOVE from being properly installed. Can you turn those off?

Customer: I don't know how to turn them off. Can you tell me how?

Customer Service Rep: My pleasure. Go to your Start menu and invoke FORGIVENESS.EXE. Do this as many times as necessary until GRUDGE.EXE and RESENTMENT.COM have been completely erased.

Customer: Okay, I'm done. LOVE has started installing itself automatically. Is that normal?

Customer Service Rep: Yes it is. You should receive a message that says it will reinstall for the life of your HEART. Do you see that message?

Customer: Yes I do. Is it completely installed?

Customer Service Rep: Yes, but remember that you have only the base program. You need to begin connecting to other HEARTS in order to get the upgrades.

Customer: Oops...I have an error message already. What should I do?

Customer Service Rep: What does the message say?

Customer: It says, "ERROR 412 - PROGRAM NOT RUN ON INTERNAL COMPONENTS". What does that mean?

Customer Service Rep: Don't worry, that's a common problem. It means that the LOVE program is set up to run on external HEARTS but has not yet been run on your HEART. It is one of those complicated programming things, but in non-technical terms it means you have to "LOVE" your own machine before it can "LOVE" others.

Customer: So what should I do?

Customer Service Rep: Can you find the directory called "SELF-ACCEPTANCE"?

Customer: Yes, I have it.

Customer Service Rep: Excellent, you are getting good at this.

Customer: Thank you.

Customer Service Rep: You're welcome. Click on the following files and then copy them to the "MYHEART" directory: FORGIVESELF.DOC, SELFESTEEM.TXT, REALIZEWORTH.TXT, and GOODNESS.DOC. The system will overwrite any conflicting files and begin patching any faulty programming. Also, you need to delete SELFCRITIC.EXE from all directories, and then empty your recycle bin afterwards to make sure it is completely gone and never comes back.

Customer: Got it. Hey! My HEART is filling up with really neat files. SMILE.MPG is playing on my monitor right now and it shows that WARMTH.COM, PEACE.EXE, and CONTENTMENT.COM are copying themselves all over my HEART!

Customer Service Rep: Then LOVE is installed and running. You should be able to handle it from here. One more thing before I go...

Customer: Yes?

Customer Service Rep: LOVE is freeware. Be sure to give it and its various modules to everybody you meet. They will in turn share it with other people and they will return some really neat modules back to you.

Customer: I will. Thank you for your help.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

How can you possibly disagree with me?

Here I am, about sixty six hours out of surgery- surgery made much more complicated and invasive than expected because during the course of the scheduled procedures, they found and removed a two-lb benign tumor! I’ve been advised not to make any important decisions, sign any contracts, nor attempt to drive or cook because I’m taking narcotic pain pills, muscle relaxants, anti-inflamatories, and ferrous sulfate in the hopes of someday having red blood cells. So what’s a guy in my position supposed to do? Why, blog of course!

I’ve been wanting (during the lucid moments) for a month to comment on something the Ranting Rev said. I always read his stuff- while we don’t agree often, he has the enormously valuable knack of asking the right question. The “right question” I wished to address he asked in the comments section of Helpless But Not Hopeless : “Begs the question of how can positions be different if principles are alike?” This question is at the heart of all the devisive, bitter debate in America today- because most would say “They can’t- you must be either stupid, evil, or both.”
That belief- rarely stated aloud (except about Bush; people glory in calling HIM names) but always in the back of people’s minds- is the cause of all the shouts of “Nazi”, “Commie”, “Fascist”, and often “Racist” or “Homophobe”. As almost no one actually studies rhetoric or debate these days, it’s incomprehensible to most people how two people with the same morals, values, and desires can disagree about some pretty fundamental things. It is worth the effort to understand how this could be, both to civilize the state of politics and to understand how to come to a compromise everyone can live with.

The first thing to understand is that no belief or position is an island, complete unto itself. The “interdependent web” applies to concepts and ideas as much as to the environment. Any position will have ramifications and consequences- some of them unintended- that your opponent may be considering. For example, twenty-some odd years ago I opposed Gay Marriage. Was I a Bible-bashing fascist homophobe (as I was accused of being)? No- I was a small businessman who could only afford a really crappy health insurance plan for my employes. These were the early days of AIDS; the only treatments available were costing upwards of a quarter of a million dollars a year, and insurance companies were trying to find ways to dump gays from existing policies and prevent them from signing up for new ones. I was afraid that without insurance reform first, Gay Marriage would push all married couples into the same high-risk group and make health insurance out of reach. Fortunately, several major corporations decided to extend health coverage to spouses of gay employees, and used their clout to force the reforms Congress didn’t have the courage to pass. Stumbling point removed; I could now support Gay Marriage.

Sometimes your opponent may have experience or perspective that calls the basic precepts of your position into question. For example, many opponents of the new immigration reform bill call it an amnesty plan; proponents say that it is not because it calls for more enforcement, more papers, etc. Opponents say we’ve heard all that before- dating all the way back to Eisenhower, every immigration reform law has promised closed borders, more officers, more clerks to keep paperwork up to date- and fifty years later we’re still waiting. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. So are the proponents of the bill spending all their efforts trying to reassure everyone that this time the comprehensive parts really will happen? No- they’re just calling them anti-Hispanic bigots and saying they don’t know what’s good for America.

There is a truism in business that if a plan has no downsides to it, you’re missing something- go over it again. It helps to grill all your positions now and again to see if conditions have changed, if it still makes sense. Read your opponents positions to see if they also make sense- do NOT presume that you know why he opposes you. There was an exercise in debate class that I found invaluable for personal growth in finding my way philosophically and politically. This was a formal debate that you had a week to prepare for, and winning it was major extra credit. The catch? You didn’t know until you took the podium which side you would be arguing, for or against! Can you imagine how much I studied that subject? Can you say that you have given all your positions the same comprehensive study from both sides?

Of course you can. But most people just read the proposal, say “This is a civil rights issue; therefore I’m for it. Anyone against it is a bad guy.” and believe the issue settled. From then on, they aren’t debating the issue, they’re debating the morals of their opponents. This is a shame. I had friendships cool over the Gay Marriage issue- were they rekindled once we were on the same side? No; I do not enjoy being insulted, and I found I could not respect the thought processes of someone who would do so. Who knows? Had they listened to me at the time, and joined with me in writing Congressmen, we might today have better health insurance laws AND Gay Marriage.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Personal update, plus random notes

A number of people have written, both email and comments, asking how I was doing- and I'm grateful for the concern. I haven't been posting because I've frankly felt terrible. My red cell count had gotten down to 6.5, (13-14 is normal), for which I received a transfusion. It's currently hovering around 10, which is good enough to stand up with only dizziness rather than fainting, but still leaves me too weak (especially when combined with pain that mere Vicodin is no longer coping with) to even follow long posts, let alone write one. In about 12 hours I will be undergoing two operations that should clear most of this up, followed a few weeks later by a procedure in which I swallow a digital camera that radios pictures to a receiver/recorder I will be wearing. (surprizingly enough, they don't want the camera back) I hope to be back to regular blogging by then. Until then, everyone else keep up the good work and I'll follow you care of UUpdater.

As to the current controversies, I have little new to add, so I'll just recycle some old quotes. About the disaffiliated independent affiliates- don't do anything to make them feel not wanted. I said this in another context, and I believe it still applies: "... if all the UU Christians and UU Pagans left, the average age of the average congregation would approach triple digits, and the membership list would drop down to double digits- and half of them would be Buddhist."

About the brown bag controversy- this quote from another context sums it up well for me: "... and the UUA plays more with rhetoric than any other denomination I’m aware of. If the UUA could be considered to have a central doctrine at all, it would be that controling the rhetoric controls the reality."

So goodbye for now, and assuming I don't die on the table, I hope to be back blogging regularly in one-to weeks. Thanks, friends.

I'm told that both operations were successful! Recovery mode, full speed ahead!