Saturday, February 10, 2018

Things You Don't Say to Your Wife

You might have seen this before,but I just saw it recently, and it had me rolling on the floor (Jenn even liked it, too. . .)

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Things You Don't Say to Your Wife
by Tim Hawkins (with apologies to Green Day)

Hey honey have you gained some weight in your rear-end?
That dress you wear reminds me of my old girlfriend
And where'd you get those shoes? I think they're pretty lame
Would you stop talking 'cause I'm trying to watch the game

If you're a man who wants to live a long and happy life
These are the things you don't say to your wife

I planned a hunting trip next week on your birthday
I didn't ask you 'cause I knew it'd be ok
Go make some dinner while I watch this fishing show
I taped it over our old wedding video

If you're a man who wants to live a long and happy life
These are the things you don't say to your wife

Your cooking is ok but not like mother makes
The diamond in the ring I bought you is a fake
Your eyes look puffy dear, are you feeling ill?
Happy anniversary I bought you a treadmill

If you're a man who wants to live a long and happy life
These are the things you don't say to your wife
If you're a man who doesn't want to get killed with a knife
These are the things you don't say to your wife

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Just for fun, here it is on YouTube (or, the Tube o' You, as my late friend Buck would have it ). . .

Friday, January 26, 2018

Sad Times at the Alma Mater. . .

There are no words to describe my sadness over the situation over at my alma mater. I mean, it is beyond awful, and anything I could say runs the risk of seeming trite.  I wish it were a bad dream, and I could just wake up and make it go away, but alas, it is all too real. . .

I am a father of three daughters, and I understand all too well the sheer helpless rage that this awful person was able to abuse so many young women, who are themselves someone's daughters, right under the noses of people who were charged with protecting the well-being of those young women.  I mean, some of the abuse happened while the girls' mothers were in the room with them.  Such was the level of this man's deception and depravity.  It boggles the mind.

On one level, I understand how it could happen.  Dr. Nassar had achieved for himself a certain lofty reputation as a sports doctor.  He didn't just work at MSU; he worked for the US Olympic women's gymnastic team, which won gold medals, and whose members became the darlings of TV coverage every four years.  Some of the women who testified in court had more-than-modest fame.  There was a level of prestige that accrued to the university for having such an eminent doctor on its staff.  So, when he 'explained' his abusive actions as 'cutting-edge' medical techniques, there was a disposition to accept his 'explanation' at face value.  Because, you know, he was a 'cutting-edge' guy, and he knows things the rest of us don't.  It can be hard to see things one would rather not see. . .

There were 156 women who spoke in court about being abused by Dr. Nassar.  One hundred and fifty-six.  It seems pathetic to even cite the number.  To paraphrase Josef Stalin, one young woman abused is a tragedy; 156 is a statistic.  But each one of these young women was somebody's daughter.  And they weren't all university athletes; the youngest was only 6 years old. And all they wanted was to play gymnastics.  Or soccer, or softball, or volleyball, or tennis, or track.  Getting sexually abused wasn't supposed to be part of the program.

I have always been a proud alumnus of my university; I have bled green, as we like to say.  But this is just the saddest, most awful thing I could imagine.  The kind of thing that happens someplace else.  But this happened here.  At my school.  And people I have admired and respected were found wanting.  The school's president and athletic director have both already resigned/retired, and one wonders who'll be next.  I have no idea how events will finally shake out, and what the university will look like when they do.  I hope that things are put in place to ensure that such a thing can never happen again; or at least, that the next would-be abuser is stopped at least 20 years sooner. . .

One of the women told the court that her life had been ruined.  I would hope, and pray for her, that that won't, ultimately, be true.  Harmed,she has certainly been; perhaps even scarred for life.  At least one of my daughters has suffered abuse, from which I was unable to protect her.  And she was irrevocably harmed by it; her life has not gone the way she planned when she was young.  But her life wasn't ruined.  She is a stronger woman today, even notwithstanding the awful things that were done to her.  There is healing, even if you walk with a limp.  And I would pray for healing for each of those 156 women, and the unknown others who didn't speak in court.  Don't let this define you.  You are worth so much more than Larry Nassar gave you credit for. . .

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(add, 27Jan)

Rachel Denhollander was the first of Larry Nassar's victims to go public, and the last to speak to the court. Her statement is a hundred thousand times more eloquent than anything I've said, or could ever say.  I encourage all my readers to read it, in its entirety. . .

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Update. . .

It's coming up on four months since I had a stroke.  At the time, the main 'stroke specialist' who saw me in the hospital was quite optimistic that my vision would recover, and that within three months, I would be back to normal. . .

Alas, that has not been the case.  My vision is essentially unchanged since then.  In the first weeks, I thought I was noticing some improvements, and I may have, but in the sober light of nearly four months experience, the recovery turns out to be pretty minimal, so far.  I tell folks that there are three aspects to my 'recovery' experience: (1) actual healing/recovery, which, in retrospect, seems pretty minimal, (2) adapting to the new 'boundary conditions' on my life and health, which is certainly happening, and (3) wishful thinking, which has probably also been happening.  It is, unfortunately, hard to tell the difference between the three, from inside the confines of my own experience.

So, unless something major happens in the next few months, I am probably done with my working career, and will be looking at retirement options.  Which, you know, ain't so bad as all that.  I turn 62 in less than two months, so I'm not cutting that many years off the various and sundry 'time lines'.  Besides which, I will almost certainly qualify for Social Security Disability, which, along with the long-term disability benefit from my company, will carry me nicely to age 65, when things will 'normalize' again.  Plus, I can start taking my pension from my first job at age 62, at the full payment (which ain't all that big, but it ain't nothing, either).  So, financially, the stroke might even turn out to be a happy thing.  Financially.

The thing is, other than my vision, I feel fine, physically speaking.  As in the initial days, I don't have any physical 'deficits' other than my vision.  All of my limbs are working normally, my speech and memory are fine, and my smile is the same one I've had my whole life.  I had my vision evaluated, and they told me it was good enough to drive, if I felt confident enough.  And that has been the case - I can see well enough in the 'global' sense to drive, and do most of the things I would normally do.  The problem is with the kind of detail that's involved in reading and writing.  I can read, but it's more of a grind than it used to be, and I find myself going over the same passages multiple times to be sure I'm getting them right.  It's actually easier to type stuff on the computer than write them by hand (for whatever reason, writing a check is a particular adventure; maybe that'll save me some money in the long run. . .)

Honestly, my overall health has probably improved since the stroke.  My blood pressure is lower, and I'm sleeping better.  I'm coming to the realization that, for the last few years, I've been pushing myself really hard, in all sorts of ways, and it was taking a toll on my body that I was slow to realize.  If I felt tired or lethargic on a bike ride, you know, the answer was just to keep riding, even ride harder, to burnish my conditioning.  Which works better when you're younger than 62, I guess.  In fact, knowing what I know now about my symptoms, and thinking back, it's likely that I had at least one previous mini-stroke, the effects of which were small enough to basically ignore. . .

And you know, in the back of my mind, the thought of going back to work was provoking in me feelings of dread.  If I were really determined to go back to work, I might even be able to, but I couldn't be anywhere near as productive, and it would only provoke more anxiety and stress.  To say nothing of the 'background' stress of commuting over an hour at either end of the day, just to get there and back.  I'm seeing that I just don't have the energy or stamina for that kind of pushing myself, anymore (and you know, I didn't have it even when I was doing it, the past couple years).  And that simple acceptance is proving to be very liberating.  I was talking with a guy after church, who had recently had a stroke of his own, and had briefly gone back to work, before his boss finally told him it was time for him to be done, before he hurt himself worse than he already was.  "It's just not worth trying to be a hero," he told me, and just admitting that thought into my mind lowered my blood pressure several points, all by itself.

So, the adventure continues.  Jenn and I have been saying for a while that we'd love to retire and have more time/energy available for the marriage ministry we've been involved with, and it seems that we'll be able to do that even sooner than we'd hoped.  Jenn is still working, but me being at home has us looking more seriously at how/when she can join me.  8M graduates high school in two more years, and that will probably be a bright line in the sand (if that isn't mixing my metaphors too terribly).  But at this point, we will simply see what we will see (heh; you see what I did there?)

Monday, December 25, 2017

John Chrysostom at Christmas

From a Christmas homily of St. John Chrysostom (c. 349 - 407) 

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The angels sing. The archangels blend their voices in harmony. The cherubim hymn their joyful praise. The seraphim exalt His glory. All join in praise at this holy feast, beholding the Godhead here on earth, and man in Heaven. He who is above, now for our redemption dwells here below; and He that was lowly is by divine mercy raised.

Bethlehem this day resembles Heaven: hearing from the stars the singing of angelic voices and enfolding within itself the Sun of Righteousness. And ask not how; for where God wills, the order of nature yields. For He willed, He had the power, He descended, He redeemed; all things move in obedience to God. This day He Who Is, is born; and He Who Is, becomes what He was not. For when He was God, He became man; yet not departing from the Godhead that is His.


Come then, let us observe the feast. Come, and we shall commemorate the solemn festival. For this day the ancient slavery is ended, the devil confounded, the demons take to flight, the power of death is broken, paradise is unlocked, the curse is taken away, sin is removed from us, error driven out, truth has been restored, a heavenly way of life has been planted on the earth, angels communicate with men without fear, and men hold speech with angels.


Why is this? Because God is now on earth and man in Heaven. On every side all things commingle. He has come on earth, while being whole in Heaven; and while being complete in Heaven, He is fully on earth. Though He was God, He became Man, not denying Himself to be God. though being the Impassable Word, He became flesh. He did not become God. He was God. Therefore He became flesh, so that He whom Heaven could not contain, a manger would this day receive.


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May the Word-made-flesh, Emmanuel, God-with-us, be intimately present to each of you. . .

Sunday, November 12, 2017

A Couple More Quotes. . .

"The Truth is like a lion.  You don't need to defend it.  Let it loose.  It will defend itself."

          - St Augustine


"One word of Truth outweighs the world."

          - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Quote of the Day

"The Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it."

                                 -- Flannery O'Connor

Monday, October 2, 2017

Doctor My Eyes

Well, whatever ancient Chinese person I've offended is at it again, because life just keeps getting interesting-er and interesting-er. . .

Last Saturday (23Sep) was a hot day, and I knew it was going to be hot.  So I got out on my bike early, not wanting to be out in the afternoon heat.  I cut my miles a bit shorter than my usual, and was off the road before noon.  Then I ran some errands, and came home.  Saturday afternoon, I was sitting at the dining room table, trying to keep myself adequately hydrated (I was drinking lots of water), when I suddenly became extremely sleepy.  I mean, I was literally nodding off, sitting in my chair.  Which was odd.  But, you know, 60-something individual that I am, I thought I should just take a nap, and I'd feel better.  So I did, and I did.

Saturday evening, we were having dinner with friends at their house, and having a good time.  Then, sometime during dinner, I was looking across the table at one of our hosts, and her face wouldn't come into focus.  No matter how hard I concentrated, I couldn't get her face to snap into focus.  Well, I'm here to tell you, that was strange.  Nothing else seemed amiss, so I just soldiered on through the evening, then went home and went to bed, fully expecting that, in the morning after a good night's sleep, whatever was going on would have worked itself out.

But when I awoke in the morning, my vision hadn't changed at all.  I could see reasonably well in a 'global' sense, but whenever I tried to focus on some small detail, it was 'locally' just kind-of scrambled.  We went to church, and I was scheduled to be a communion minister, which turned out to be interesting in a whole new way.  While I was holding the cup low in front of myself, it sort-of 'disappeared'; I could feel it in my hands, but my peripheral vision couldn't see it.  Then, when I held it up to a communicant, it suddenly reappeared - "oh, there you are!".

After church, we went home, and it didn't take a long time to reach the conclusion that something wasn't right, and hadn't been right since the previous evening, and it wasn't getting better.  So we went to the ER.

After I described my symptoms, the attending doc did a bunch of little 'quick tests' - asking me to push against resistance with each of my limbs in turn, to smile, etc., which I easily recognized as checking for a stroke.  I smiled, happy not only that I recognized what she was looking for, but also that I was passing all the tests.  Then she sent me for a CT scan, and they wheeled me back to my waiting spot.

A half-hour or so later, the doc reappeared, and took a seat next to my bed.  She looked very earnestly into my eyes (which were having trouble focusing on her, but we knew that already), and said, "You've had a stroke."

Um, excuse me?  Did you say I've had a stroke?  That can't be right - all my limbs are fine, my face isn't drooping, and my speech is fine.  Now let's talk about getting my vision cleared up, and forget about all this 'stroke' nonsense.  I mean, I hear all the PSAs on the radio about FAST, and I don't have any of those symptoms.  Well, it turns out that sudden changes in vision are another sign of a stroke, but it isn't in the PSAs, because nobody outside the stroke sufferer him/herself can discern it.

So they admitted me (and I got my very first ambulance ride out of the deal, because they sent me to the 'mother ship' hospital across town that has all the fancy diagnostic equipment), and proceeded to spend the next two-and-a-half days running all manner of tests on me.  I won't bore you with the details, except to say that there is something very surreal about doing an MRI at 4AM.  That damn tube is every bit as claustrophobic as anything you've ever heard about it, and getting shoved into it when you're on an interrupted sleep cycle borders on cruel and unusual.  Mercifully, I managed it by just focusing on taking my next breath in, and then out, and after a few minutes, I was mostly OK.  By about halfway through the test, I even opened my eyes.  But that was not noticeably different from having them closed, so I decided to just close them, and if I fell asleep, so much the better.

By the time I left the hospital last Tuesday, I had a lovely parting gift of a computer chip implanted in my chest, to monitor my heart rate.  They still don't know what caused the stroke, which is a tad concerning, because not knowing what caused this stroke, makes it harder to know how to prevent it from happening again.  The docs are working on the hypothesis that I had an episode of atrial fibrillation (a-fib), possibly due to the exertion of the bike ride and the hot weather (which is reminiscent of another a-fib episode I had six years ago, just before my dad died), and a blood clot from the a-fib made its way  to my brain, and clogged things up.  So they want to watch and see if I have any more a-fib episodes, in which case, they'll put me on a blood thinner.

I have two more doctor appointments this week, and the promise of more to come, I'm sure.  I had to go on disability at work, since I can't drive, and reading is a struggle.  The docs are telling me that my vision ought to return to normal within 1-3 months, and all will be well, except for that not-knowing-how-to-prevent-it-from-happening-again thing, and we're working on that.  My PT, such as it is, is to take daily walks, and read a lot, to help my brain re-route the 'reading' app.  So, you know, that's not too bad.  At some point, I'll want to get back on my bike, if only to tax my heart enough to give the monitor something to look at.  But maybe not just yet.  And I've got to lose weight.  Again.

(*sigh*)

So here I sit, waiting for my vision to come back enough for me to read and drive, so I can go back to work.  Other than that, there is nothing wrong with me (well, you know, other than the things everyone has always known were wrong with me).  So, it's a little weird.

The adventure continues. . .  ;)