Sunday, September 24, 2006

News and Notes

First, The News (both good and bad.)

As I have noted in prior posts my old knees have created havoc with my life. I was told by the good folks at the local VA hospital that I needed surgery on my right knee owing to a torn miniscus. They also told me that they had a lengthy waiting list, and it could take upwards of 18 months before I reached the top.

Happily, I got a call a week or so ago from the office of a local orthopedic surgeon that the VA had contacted them, and I was to come in to arrange for a diagnosis and treatment. The VA has arranged for outside physicians to accept some of their patients in need of orthopedic surgery. I made an appointment and went to the clinic last Thursday. That's the good news.

After the doctor looked over my x-rays and my MRI he determined that my miniscus is more or less shredded, some of it missing, and much of my articulate cartilage has worn away. I have moderately advanced osteo-arthritis in both knees and the miniscus in my right knee is a mess. At the very least, I need an arthroscope on the right knee to clean up the miniscus. The doctor also feels that I will eventually need to have both knees replaced owing to the arthritis that will likely continue to progress. That sucks.

I have lived more than 60 years never having spent a night in a hospital (excepting, I presume, at birth.) I still have my tonsils, my appendix, all my appendages for that matter, and most of my teeth. The prospect of the scope doesn't overly concern me. It's likely that I will only be down for a few days at most, perhaps only a couple if all goes well. But knee replacements put you down for weeks, months even. I can't do that as long as I'm working, and I can't see myself retiring anytime in the next 10 years or so unless we hit the Lotto or some such.

I do have the possibility of taking cortizone injections that can ease the pain temporarily. There has been some recent experimental work on injections of a medium which may foster cartilage regrowth, but access to that is very limited and likely years away until it could be widely available, and that's only if it works.

I am taking a Glucosamine/Chondroitin compound, which supposedly encourages new cartilage growth, but the jury is still out on whether it's doing any good. Some recent studies have claimed that it has no detectible positive effects. The surgeon seems to believe that it may be of some help.

All of this is rather depressing. I had started walking in earnest, and as my devoted readers (either or both of you) may know, I walked in the Indy Mini Marathon last spring. Actually, that is likely how I chewed up my miniscus. But I had gotten into a groove of sorts, and I had really come to enjoy distance walking. Unless things change drastically for the better, I will likely not be able to continue strolling about the neighborhood.

I know this is not tragic or earth shaking. I guess it is just a part of moving toward my "golden years." I just hope I don't have to hobble my way into the sunset.

Notes: I find it difficult to fathom with what disdain the Bush administration holds the American people. How cynical can people be? With just a couple of months till the mid-term elections, and a number of congressional republicans in hot water, Bush and his boys bring a dozen or so captured terrorists from various of the secret prisons the CIA maintains around the world to the Guantanamo internment camp (Gitmo) announcing that they are to stand trial for their crimes.

Of course several months ago, when the media made public the allegations that these CIA prisons (or whatever they are) were out there, Bush, etal denied their existence. Now, since it seems that they might make some political hay out of them, they own up. They really hate us. All of us. Political power is their only real concern. What other rabbits might they pull out of their hats? Lower gas prices?

Is Osama dead? We can only wish, I suppose. It seems unlikely that we will ever know. It is just as unlikely that we will ever find him if he still draws breath. In the larger scheme of things, it doesn't really matter. Osama is probably no more than a figurehead with nominal ability to direct any terrorist operations. Dead, he becomes a martyr, giving his minions heart to go win one for the Gipper. The terrorist movement has taken on a life of its own apart from Osama and company, thanks be to our invasion of Iraq. It bolsters terrorist recruitment efforts far better than any "Osama Wants You" posters could accomplish.

Watched a DVD of the film "Capote" last nite. Rather depressing, but an excellent movie.

Stay happy campers.


Sunday, September 17, 2006

Good Job Pope!

What do you suppose he was thinking? Did he imagine no one in the muslim world would hear of it? Did he believe that his being infallible would forestall any adverse responses?

Way to go popey. Real good! Quoting one of your predecessors regarding the great one - mohammed - was a great idea.

Or not.

What is it in the nature of so many religious and political leaders that they feel they are either immune to scrutiny or do they simply relish the opportunity to stick a finger in someone's eye? Did the pope sleep through the cartoon debacle? Or is he just a dumb old holy see?

On the other hand muslims can be such boors. Whenever anyone so much as looks at a muslim crosseyed, they fill the streets, burn whoever the offending party may be in effigy - or for real in some cases - pillage some churches, cut off a few heads, stone a nun or two. Once again, using my favorite phrase; What a load of crap! What a bunch of pea brains! Allah, you lord over an unruly bunch. Can't you manage some kind of control over your charges? Don't they have jobs to do? Children to tend? Homes to manage? Isn't there anything better for them to do than hit the streets chanting "Death to America!, Death to Israel!, Death to Jews!, Death to Christians!, Death to penile enlargement spam!?

I believe I visited this issue in an earlier post in reference to the aforementioned mohammed cartoon mess. While the pope should have used at least a modicum of discretion in his remarks, the over-the-top response that invariably follows any actual or perceived insult or slight against muslims by anyone - especially anyone from the west - is, at the least, tiresome. Violence is virtually always the first response.

There will doubtless be other occurences of people making statements and charges against muslims and islam. Get over yourselves. You are not special. None of us is any better than the rest of us. We are all subject to criticism. If you are sentient beings, as I believe you are, you are certainly free to return the criticism; to make your own statements and charges. But leave your scimitars and your RPGs at home. Death and destruction need not be the consequence.


Saturday, September 16, 2006


If you didn't happen to see or hear of this, click on the following link to MSNBC's Keith Olbermann's commentary from his Countdown program on the 9/11 anniversary: Click on "Launch" for the actual video. The text of it is in the middle of the page.

It's a good listen if you have around 9 minutes. Well worth the time.


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Shameless Promotion

In a bit of shameless familial promotion I am promoting the newly published work of my nephew. Brent Shannon is the author of The Cut of His Coat: Men, Dress, and Consumer Culture in Britain 1860-1914. For all of you folks who are in to late 19th & early 20th century British culture, this is a MUST read. A post Victorian page turner.

ALSO: Check out a new collection of short stories by Karen Russell, St. Lucy's Home For Girls Raised by Wolves. Karen is a friend and former classmate of my younger son. Two of the stories were published in the New Yorker. She is the real deal. Give it a read. (This Karen Russell is not the one who is also former Boston Celtic's center Bill Russell's daughter.)

Happiness is a warm doughnut.


Monday, September 11, 2006


I imagine that there have been thousands of posts related to 9/11 written today. I have watched some of the TV coverage recounting the events of that day and coverage of the 5 year observances. The feelings it all brings back are still surprisingly raw. The images of the Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the field in rural Pennsylvania still evoke fear, anger and an overwhelming sadness.

We are left wondering, not if, but when and where the other shoe will drop. There is an over-arching fatalistic resignation which hangs over this nation that we will be hit again perhaps much harder than we were 5 years ago. Some kind of WMD comes to mind. Of course the hope is that we will forestall such an eventuality, but the specter remains.

At the center of this conflict are resources (mainly oil) and a myriad of cultural differences. But the single issue galvanizing the jihadists into action is religious fervor. Again, my being an athiest makes all of this seem so agonizingly ludicrous. We are a long way from escaping the clutches of religion. If humanity happens to survive, it will likely take hundreds, perhaps thousands of years before that may happen. Meanwhile, religious zealots of every ilk are actively, even giddily promoting conflagration in the belief that it will be the realization of the predictions of Revelations and the expectations of the raptiles which are more or less in accord with the ultimate designs of radical jihadist muslims. They are all itching for a fight.

Osama and his adherents are moral morons. Despite their calculations, their patience, their dedication, their determination, they are at the core, eminently stupid men. Knuckle dragging stupid! Whatever success they may realize from their efforts, ultimately they will be faced with the reality that there is no god - no allah - revealing itself urging them to fight to the death for its honor. There will just be the destruction, the horror and death. There will be no winner.

Similarly stupid men (and women) are also to be found in this country. They would have us run headlong to Armageddon for the glory of their god.

News Flash!! There is no god to give a rat's ass about any of this!

Should these men and women succeed, the result will be exactly as noted above. There will be no winner. Jesus will not appear on a white steed with flowing mane, sword clenched between his pearly whites to lead the "born again" armies against the islamic hoards. There will just be destruction, horror and death.

It is all so incredibly and tragically stupid.


Friday, September 08, 2006

Get a load of this!

An ad for this film was (or perhaps still is) on my blog from Google. Check it out if you want to see something disturbing: Click on "Videos" at the top right of the home page.

I really hate this. These kids are being brainwashed. There is no other word for it.

Summer camp at Hooter Hills was never like this.


Friday, September 01, 2006

What do I look like?

Someone asked amongst a series of comments on another blog site just what I looked like, or more precisely, how would I describe myself physically. As with many bloggers I prefer to maintain a certain amount of anonymity. I'm sure homeland security has no idea how to find me. I move with the shadows, don't you know.

But let's see.

Take the tall, lean, rugged look of say, Tom Selleck, add the suave self-assurance of a younger Sean Connery as Bond - James Bond, all this melded gently with the boyish good looks of Brad Pitt. Then think of the phrase: In your dreams, Bucko!

Harkening once again to revered Hollywood legends think of a combination of the haughty sophistication of John Candy, the come-hither stare and bon vivant charm of Danny DeVito put together with the classic profile of the chubby little bespeckled Hungarian, S.Z. "Cuddles" Sakall, who, back in the 1930s and 40s, giggled a lot and almost always played some guy named Felix. (See Christmas in Connecticut.)

The latter description is more apt. As you might know, I have published a couple of photos of myself in previous posts.(Here's an opportunity for you to bask in the learned glory of my archives.) One, taken on Galveston beach probably sometime during the summer of 1967 at which time I was, if memory serves, badly hung over and engaged in wiping someone's puke out of the front seat of my car. The other, more contemporary shot of yours truly is in the guise of one C. Kringle. While the real me doesn't sport so much hair as the "K" man, what hair I do have is more akin to dirty beach sand with a smattering of soot. The effect is one of a pervasive "grayness."

Pretty attractive, huh? Also, I am usually quick in pointing out to people that the rather large middle section that I am now sporting actually used to be my chest, but that gravity being what it is, I have succumed to its relentless downward force. Always the victim.

I am determined to take self-deprecation to an art, hopefully well beyond that of Woody Allen.
I realize I've set a pretty high standard, but I think I'm just inept enough to pull it off.