Friday, July 24, 2009

Cuff The Professor

Time to wade into this controversy between the Cambridge Mass. Police Department and Harvard Professor Henry Gates, Jr.

Gates has characterized this kerfuffle as racial profiling. Even President Obama accepted Gates' argument.

Nevertheless, it's important to remember that Gates isn't just a Harvard Professor (the highest paid professors in the country work at Harvard) but a Tenured, Celebrity Harvard Professor (seen regularly on PBS!) Thus, Gates isn't just a professor, but a 100% USDA Grade Professorial A-Hole. The fellow isn't accustomed to explaining himself to anyone, and certainly not in his own home, much less to a Cambridge cop.

This squabble isn't about race, but about class.....

Now, given the turf, the Cambridge cops are a pretty tony lot. Nevertheless, on the class scale, they are way, way below Harvard Celebrity Professors. Given the burglary call, the cop had good reason to grill Gates, even in his own home - maybe others were in the home unbeknownst to Gates.

The cop and the Professor seem to disagree whether Gates adequately demonstrated that he was in his own home. Whatever. The charge was Disorderly Conduct, and Gates apparently was disorderly. The charge has apparently been dropped. Too bad. Someone needs to puncture Gates' bubble.

Obama characterized the Cambridge Mass. police department as 'stupid'. I don't think so! Look in the mirror, Mr. President!

More Mobile Home Fun

Last night, we watched Will Smith's "Seven Pounds" on DVD. A much better movie than I expected at first. An interesting ending! And Rosario Dawson is the best!

Endless television: Judge Alex, Judge Karen, Judge Joe Brown, and, of course, Judge Judy. These shows are ever-popular!

My current, completely-inert lifestyle is driving me bonkers. The lack of exercise, in particular, is killing me. So, I've started jogging in the morning, when my Dad is taking Nap #1. I jog right next to a truck terminal just as the morning deliveries are going out, so the air is choked with soot, but at least it's a change from complete inactivity.

Simple activities, like cleaning the toilet, or washing the windows, are welcome departures from the daily tedium, and thus highly-welcome.

Some characters featured on Albuquerque TV commercials are STILL here, 30 years after I left town. Ambulance-chasing lawyer Ron Bell still has his schtick (although he seems focused on the lucrative Social Security benefits appeals process these days). As do a slew of other lawyers.

In this recession, everyone is confused about how to focus their educations to remain economically-viable. As OMB Chair Orszag recently explained on Charlie Rose, unemployment is considerably higher than they expected - roughly 2% higher than they consider reasonable. That is probably because the economy as a whole is over-staffed. Excepting the loss of consumers, the economy could probably function fine with just 1 out of 4 people currently employed retaining their jobs. Improvements in computer technology are just aggravating this trend.

Society's confusion bleeds onto TV. Vocational education advertising seems obsessed with health care, one of the few sectors that seems to be growing. Oh, the opportunities in health insurance pharmaceutical coding! Remember, the Baby Boom generation will start retiring in two years, and we'll soon be just like Japan is now! In ten years, half of America will be inserting suppositories into the other half. We'll still have a budget deficit, though, because we still won't be exporting anything. Even our suppositories will come from India. And it's hard to export services: I'm sure Europeans won't need our help in that department.

My Dad's shower is set up for himself, so I shower, when I can, at my sister's place. I haven't been able to get over there very often, though, so instead of showering every day, I now shower every three days, or so.

Interestingly, this chronic fungal-type infection I have, which I affectionately call crotch rot, has improved the less I shower. Maybe it's not really a fungal infection at all, but some kind of skin allergy. Whatever. This cleanliness thing appears to be over-emphasized in American society.

I think I will stop showering entirely. Because that is the healthy alternative!

Preparing For The Mission

Everyday features meetings of one sort or another regarding my Dad's health: spiritual support, oxygen supplies, and medical support. It's almost like he is going aloft on the Space Shuttle, or something.

My Dad's appetite has increased, but only after significant weight loss: from 135 to 122. Hopefully we can stabilize that loss. He currently has about 20 meds, some used several times a day. That list is increasing to about 30.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Life Confined To An Albuquerque Mobile Home

Hum-dee-dum. Dum-dee-hum......... Gonna be a warm day today! Hope we get some rain!

Watched two movies on DVD: "Paul Blart: Mall Cop", and "The Wrestler" Good movies! Paul Blart, especially, is iconic.

Read (and reread) the latest issue of 'Vanity Fair', the one with the Sarah Palin, Harvard endowment, and AIG profiles, plus the 1930's photoshoot including Greta Gerwig. Nice!

Oh God, is Judge Judy on again? Drew Carey looks a little unsteady on 'The Price Is Right'. KOB TV's 24/7 weather channel features some of the worst, most-indistinct weather graphics ever. And the commercials are filled with a variety of drugs, and a variety of lawyers. Has all of America become incontinent and hard-of-hearing these days, or is it the elderly audience alone that watches free TV?

Bruce Warren In Albuquerque

Left: Bruce Warren at Albuquerque's Frontier Restaurant.

Bruce and I ate enchiladas and talked, among other things, about how bad free television reception has become since the digital converter boxes became mandatory.

Out Of Hospital, Dad Slowly Improves

When I first saw dad on Saturday morning, he looked very, very tired (you don't get much sleep in the hospital, ever), but after several good nights of sleep, he looks a little better. He is now resuming his normal schedule, which is highly-regimented and programmed by the ever-expanding list of medications he is taking around the clock.

As luck has it, the tumors have first hit areas and organs that do not yield pain, so he as comfortable as anyone with stomach cancer, COPD, and emphysema can be - for now. That will change, however, and likely soon. Right now, I'm providing important support, allowing 24/7 attendance for now, while my sisters cobble together a way to provide attendance 24/7 when I leave. I'm sure they don't want me to return to Sacramento, but I've got responsibilities there too, and plan to return in a week-and-a-half. I just hope we can get close to 24/7 by then. If it's troublesome, I anticipate lots of airline trips to ABQ in the near-future.

Hector, the robust fellow who mows the lawn, came over today. He was happy to see my father, and when informed of the cancer, blew all that aside in favor of the power of faith and prayer. Nice guy: I like his confidence!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

My Dad Didn't Quite Hear....

Dad, it's hospice, not hostage!

Quiet Saturday

With my arrival, my sisters, who had been living on adrenaline all week, could get some much needed rest.

Went to visit my dad. Hospice staff came over to start the enrollment process.

Watched TV, did laundry, took naps, helped my dad.....

Dad looks better than I had expected. A quiet night's sleep after a hectic, sleepless week in the hospital sure helps!

Assessing The Trouble In Albuquerque

At 12:30 a.m. on Saturday, I arrived at my sister's place. Interestingly, she was already outside in the driveway, relaxing after a tough day by watching the thunderstorm roll in. Driving up, I waved and said, "Good to see you! I'm heading back to California!" She laughed and welcomed me in.

She explained the events of the week:

  • On Tuesday, they had taken my dad to the hospital after stomach bleeding was noted;
  • On Wednesday, masses located near the stomach had been detected;
  • By Thursday, stomach cancer (adenocarcinoma) was strongly suspected; and
  • On Friday, results of the biopsy were in. The diagnosis: Stage 4 metastatic adenocarcinoma, in the stomach and several other locations.

All of this on top of the long-existing, life-threatening COPD and emphysema.

Mr. Valdez, may I introduce to you the Grim Reaper; Mr. Reaper, Mr. Valdez.

There had also been a real interesting confrontation between the VA medical doctors and the staff of a hospice that had been recommended to us for final care.

The doctors felt the cancer was beyond surgery's power to help, but radiation might help as a palliative - not as a cure, but able to slow the cancer's advance. The hospice staff viewed radiation as part of a continuing effort to cure the cancer and not as a palliative effort. They did not want to enroll my father under those circumstances: all hope must be surrendered to enter hospice.

The VA doctors reacted with white-hot indignation and fury to the aspersions about radiation's purpose. Their job was to make certain that all veterans, including my father, get the best care possible, and they would not tolerate any hospice questioning their judgment about what constituted palliative care. Ultimately, hospice staff backed down.

It was heartening to see what doctors do when challenged. They fight like mad dogs! They gouge! They rip!

Go East Young Man!

Left: The Roadkill Cafe, in Seligman, AZ.

Left: Heading east on I-40, near Meteor Crater.

Smoky Flagstaff

The trough off the CA coast has kept the monsoon in NM, away from AZ, and the results are forest fires in the Williams/ Flagstaff area.

Dang It, It's Still Under Construction!

Left: The Hoover Dam bypass road, still under construction.

Quick Las Vegas Evening

Left: View of Tropicana and I-15, from my room.

Left: The Las Vegas Strip at night.

Left: Medieval props never die, they just fade away.

Left: Welcoming staff at Studio 54.

I drove into Las Vegas from the NW, on Highway 95, about 11 p.m. I had no plans where to stay, but I remembered where the Excalibur registration desk was located (having stayed there last October), so I went there first. There was a long line there. Terrible. What would the charge be?

They offered a room for $66.00 I was stunned by the low price.

And the room turned out to be a 3-room suite: enormous bed, enormous bathtub, shower, couches, a bar, 2 sinks and 2 toilets. What am I going to do with 2 toilets? Same as I would do with one toilet, I presume. Grandiose beyond belief! Too bad I would be here for just 11 hours!

I had to squeeze days worth of debauchery into two hours, three hours tops, so I headed over to the MGM Grand.

The music was unappealing at Studio 54, so I played blackjack instead for an hour (loss: $120). Returning to Studio 54, the music had much improved, so I danced, danced, danced! A few strange things there.... Flailing my arms, as is my custom, I accidentally gave a guy a slap on the behind. Well, I hope he was flattered. A break dancer spun on his head - amazing! How do they do that?

At the MGM Grand they had signs for a birthday party to be held at the Tabu UltraLounge, for Natalie Martinez. I wonder who she is? A microcelebrity wannabe, maybe? Maybe I should do the same and rent out Tabu?

I got five hours of sleep, tops. Sightseeing helicopters woke me up. The day would be blazing hot!

After an oil change at the East Tropicana Jiffy Lube, I quickly hurried over and got stuck in the Hoover Dam traffic jam. Nothing like idling in a hot tin can perched on the side of a stuffy desolate desert canyon on the hottest afternoon of the year so far!

A McDonalds In Crisis

The Tonopah sunset was approaching, so I stopped at McDonalds for a bite to eat.

I was struck at first by the absence of customers, and then the smudged windows. Odd. Inside, it was blazing hot: a broken air conditioner and the absence of blinds had turned the the glass box building into an oven. Propped-open doors barely helped. The bathroom was non-functional too. This clearly was a McDonalds in crisis.

Food was nevertheless being served, by a small, stressed staff. The clerk misentered my $20 as $10 into the cash register. He was very worried that his till would be off, but his superiors assured him repeatedly that, as long as he gave me the proper change, everything would still be OK.

I wonder what happened here? The location is good - comparatively lots of traffic, and it's located near the high school. But something was amiss....

Reminds me of a standoff I once witnessed at a Las Vegas McDonalds, located in the basement of a Strip casino (since replaced), about 1986. There had been a labor shortage that year, and everyone on the graveyard shift was mentally-challenged, with the exception of the manager. A show had just ended, and a wave of demanding, rude customers began hurling abuse at the slow service. Wounded, the staff rebelled, and refused to give service. There was nearly a riot! I saluted the rebellious staff!

Here. who knows?

[Update here]

Yerington In Summer

Generally, the few times I've passed through here, it's been in winter. It's nice to see the hay fields of Lyon County at the height of summer.


Hawthorne Ordnance Museum

Hawthorne, NV, is home to an army base focused on the development and use of high-tech munitions. The Hawthorne Ordnance Museum, located in town, features wonderfully-presented mockups of the sorts of munitions I've read about since childhood.

I missed business hours, so I had to be content with taking pictures outside.

Museum boosters sell engraved bricks to raise funds to support the museum, much in the manner that other non-profit organizations do. Nevertheless, it's strange. Here, you can buy bricks to memorialize weaponry that can pulverize other bricks into oblivion.

Juvenile South Lake Tahoe Bird

The gray bird landed on the surface of the hot parking lot and started fluttering its wings. What was it doing? Looking at its reflection in the hubcaps? Looking for food?

I tossed some bread crumbs its way, but it didn't react: it just continued fluttering.

Instead, a black bird the same size strode over, picked up a crumb, chewed it up, and offered it to the gray bird, who eagerly accepted the offer. Ah, the gray bird was a juvenile! Almost looked like a different species!