2 Sep 2013

30 minute workout at 5:45 AM: 2.5 minutes warmup, supine with hand weights, 200 low-rise steps with one hand free to prepare for adding weights, walking and 150 dance moves with walking stick (the old soft shoe). Goal as regards steps is to get to 300 with one arm weights in one hand then the other in the second half of the workout, for a complete full bodied burn in about 30 minutes. Don’t yet have the balance to hold weights simultaneously in both hands, and not stabilize with one hand on the wall socket.

During The Old Soft Shoe, I discovered a more aerobic effect if I lifted alternate legs while not jumping in a sort of Karate Kid or Tai-Chi pose. With my missing muscle function on top of my left foot I am searching for any kind of anaerobic or aerobic effect. Swimmimg daily would be perfection but it’s not on here.

No physio. Was going to but got a visit from my lovely and talented costar in the 2010 Glengarry, Nicole Garbellini. Realized I need to return to theater despite my cancer pain and other symptoms (see below) and attend all or most rehearsals, and, all performances no matter what even if I’m dead.. I cannot so casually let go of theater. Far from harming my health, such an activity will help, for it is an activity with duende and telos, magic and a goal. Such activities are a direct confrontation with the dark magick of cancer and its own self-reproducing telos. So, if I pass the audition then the show must go on.

De Pain, Boss! De Pain!

(Fantasy Island: de Plane, boss? O never mind). Actually, it’s surprising how these Pop culture memes survive. Many people too young for Charley’s Angels still recognize a Farrah Fawcette shag cut perhaps because Mom still sports one and has the complete Charley’s Angels episodes on DVD. So hopefully most people will think my header, above, funny.

Intense butt pain on opening my eyes: painkillahs before and after the workout as has often been the case. Pain flows out now, bye bye. Marx’s carbuncle.

No. Damn. It returns, intensely, after breakfast (the yummy white congee that’s a bit more liquid and filled with tasty chunks) so I take a THIRD painkillah. Need to speak to doctor about this and get with others in the dayroom to avoid focus on “de pain, boss! de pain!”

(An hour or so later). Now it’s gone. Don’t focus on it and it won’t return. Try to “tough it out” if it does return.

From Pain to Grand-Daughters, Morning Thoughts

Cannot go back to USA if pharmacists are going to treat me like a common addict: cf. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOzRt1x2FPk: these crude, misogynist and hate-filled little “movies” are made with a tool called xtraNormal, a movie creation template. The “movies” are uniformly bad. The maker of this series of “cute little animals speaking” is probably a pharmacist who hates his job, and most of his customers, who has chosen “cute little animals” more or less randomly.

To this pharmacist, painkillers have become another “entitlement”, like enough money to live on, where “entitlement” is pronounced by right-wing pundits with the same contempt that Latin American dictators pronounced “intellectuals”.

Pharmacists hate doctors because (in my experience) doctors are more fully human and able to communicate better with patients, whereas at mega-pharmacies like CVS everything is so rule-driven that categories (such as “junkie”) are imposed in a manner free of any real equity or sensitivity, those words “equity” and “sensitivity” having been expunged from consciousness below a certain social level. Sure, some doctors, especially in the now distant past, abusively prescribed. But today the pressures are in the opposite direction and people with cancer pain like mine are given Tylenol. Last year I was prescribed humane if opioide painkillers by my doctor, who’s also Mick Jagger’s physician. Grantham Hospital doctors are giving me pain control that’s mostly effective. Today’s a bad day but I obviously can think and function.

Equity and sensitivity to the humanity of people without a lot of money has been expunged, I’d say, by a little known aspect of the 1960s, almost discovered by Susan Jacoby and described in her book “The Age of American Unreason”. The “left” degringolade (departure from standards) was mirrored as in the fun-house by a permanent, self-destructive and self-hating rightward shift in working and lower-middle class attitudes, that resulted in “white backlash” to civil rights, the assassination of Dr King and finally the election of Reagan by blue collar “Reagan democrats”.

According to Jacoby the “right” degringolade was in a massive tu quoque: the justification of unreason on the right because it existed on the left in the “you’re another” narrative of right-wing thought leaders like William F. Buckley (who in the long term was almost liberal, and resented by the rest of the right as an elitist because of his erudition and mannerisms). The final upshot is the heart-breaking scenes at Tea Party rallies where physically unfit adults (barely able to walk, or spell words on signs correctly) crawl out of the ruins of the Dream to babble nonsense.

Not only that, the whole merciless farce of insurance creates unbearable scenes like that which I saw at a Walgreen’s in the cruel state of Indiana while picking up my father’s medications: a little old lady in obvious pain etched on her thin face presents a prescription, doesn’t have the money, is turned away.

Am I a junkie now? I don’t know. I’m researching Medicaid to see if my presumptions about it are correct. But it’s clear; to go back to the USA would be to expose myself to the ongoing ceremony of hatred of one’s own weakness and of psychological transfer of that weakness to others. Are Medicare’s costs more manageable by the patient? I wish I had an apartment at Memorial Sloan Kettering but I’m pretty certain that “I got nothing coming” to paraphrase something prison guards like to say to inmates.

The guy(s?) who use the xtraNormal tool to dramatize their frustrations as pharmacists or community college adjunct professors don’t seem to realize how consistent they are in using the tool. The tool allows one to select from an absurdly limited stock of precoded characters (with, in all probability, the rarely used ability to create new templates) and to transform all text into dull and choppy “speech”.

A stunning majority of the xtraNormal-based YouTube movies set a beleaguered male authority figure (pharmacist or adjunct) against a woman, often of color or sexy or both, who is consistently “clueless” and at the same time pushy and all too post-Sixties…all too aware of her rights, and unwilling to acknowledge the pharmacist’s or adjunct’s authority.

She’s often impatient because she’s gotta go that afternoon to Yourup on her new line of credit, or wants to study “philosophy” meaning, for her, “Derrida and Foucault” whereas the beleaguered male authority believes that D and F belong in the English department, and a sterile, choppy debate ensues with zero light being shed.

I waited in line at the Evanston, Illinois CVS (which has long replaced the family pharmacy Hoos Drugs where I would buy poor Eddie’s asthma medicine). But I saw no scenes like the McPharmacy exchanges, or what I saw in Indiana. People were treated with dignity and respect, perhaps because Evanston has long been a racially integrated city whereas Indiana is still plagued by de facto socioeconomic segregation of the sort that creates a global suspicion and mistrust even of white strangers.

I also noticed, during my last trip home to Evanston to be at my poor son’s funeral, that the hatred and mistrust was producing its dialectical opposite. Everybody seemed pretty cool and everybody seemed to want to give Obama another term. I’m pulling that feeling/fact out of my hat: it was based on talking to my friends. Also, some of the new shops along Diversey and in Evanston were coops and charities almost as if we’d gone back to the 1930s when commercial real estate was so cheap it could be occupied by charities and left-wing political organizations; even in the 1960s, the Socialist Workers had an office next to Union Station.

Additionally, almost all cars with political bumper stickers about the upcoming election were pro-Obama.

Remnants of the 1930s were still present in the early 1950s, remnants I could sense as a kid: co-ops and pharmacies (like Hoos Drugs) more interested in helping people (letting them pay later and get the needed drug now) than turning a constant profit.

Mom could take us to doctors who’d treat us for free as a professional courtesy because she was a nurse, Dad a doctor.

We thought this world of Free Stuff was the real world and would last.

Of course, subsequently and starting even in the late 1950s, the great big middle class rip-off (of the future of their own descendants) started as a result of Jacoby’s right-wing degringolade. By the 1970s my coworkers were advising me to overclaim and underpay because by then and in contrast to actually making useful things, insurance had become the license to print money…which money was then grabbed by policy holders whenever possible.

Doctors advised patients to overclaim and were victimized in turn by unconscionable rates for malpractice insurance…unconscionable, that is, if one was a doctor.

Truth became the car you owned, truth became the house you churned, truth became a bank balance and “winning thru intimidation”.

By the 1980s, this cynical gamesmanship triggered an inexorable rise in premiums across the board for all sorts of everyday insurance including medical insurance. Something I took for granted at my company in the 1980s (the last decade in which I had decent dental coverage in addition to gold plated medical insurance) had become “the impossible dream” ten years later, when companies would offer you temporary work as a gateway to permanent employment, an ever more unattainable prize.

I thought that I’d become stupid as a result of giving up smoking; I actually thought I was not “productive” enough to maintain my previous status and salary because I couldn’t “concentrate”. Damnable foolishness but this is how bourgeois people think. It wasn’t until I studied social theory that I realized that it wasn’t about me. It was instead a vast, Gothic spectacle of what the right wing pundits call “creative destruction” but we experience as job loss, unpayable deductibles, errors on tax returns, 16 hours a day, working remote from one’s family, and, in my case, the Biblical death of my firstborn from clinical depression…triggered and fostered in large measure by the way he was treated on the job.

But das ist ein Anders, and I digress (“yeah, you digress” – Dan Appleman 2003).

To return then to my main theme…not only are profits to be made today on insurance, a fearsome number of jobs are dependent on the Byzantine mess of insurance. You can now get community college degrees in medical insurance and billing and in my direct experience, the software in control is huge in scale, to the point of being completely unverifiable from the standpoint of correctness or reliability.

Which is why HilaryCare failed and ObamaCare may yet be destroyed. Many of the Marching Morons of the Tea Party are people whose current or prospective employment is in medical billing and insurance software or its use, at the low level of maintaining the current mess, who claim a false expertise in the technology. They have no Hope for Change; quite the opposite; their employers tell them that ObamaCare will destroy their jobs. This is true if all they know is the current model and they are unwilling or unable to migrate to a new and slightly more communitarian model.

IBM’s pensions and retiree medical insurance plan software was continuously if incrementally modified by computer programmers, many of whom were members of the very plan they were destroying. Their fathers fought for decency in the form of what, by mid-century, was identified by Peter Drucker as a hybrid government/corporate socialism, in which the companies I worked for gave us dignity on the IBM model.

We mocked our fathers’ IBM, with its white shirts, its ties and its IBM fight song; but not until Mad Men has the story of our fathers’ search for dignity been told. I realized too late that I wanted to work for IBM in which my manager would protect me from outside questions about “that guy who wrote this smartass code” or “the guy in the beret” and it was accordingly taken from me, making my kids’ lives much harder.

Well, we’re all retired now. The “smart” ones retired with gold-plated “entitlements” from IBM and Microsoft; the “dumb” ones like me retired with surprisingly generous Social Security awards because we were “dumb”, and we worked so long and hard for a salary, contributing only to our SS plan because that’s a no-brainer and we can’t figure out how not to do it.

By heaven, methinks it were an easy leap,
To pluck bright honour from the pale-faced moon,
Or dive into the bottom of the deep,
Where fathom-line could never touch the ground,
And pluck up drowned honour by the locks…

Shakespeare, Henry IV Part 1

Using the government Web site to check my amount due based on what information Social Security had on file and discovering in 2009 that this was enough to live on was like two things.

It was holding my breath in suspense and diving like Hotspur to the bottom of the sea to pluck up my pension amount by the locks.

And after seeing the amount and checking it out repeatedly, realizing that it was enough to live on was like not dying.

Furthermore it was only last month that I excavated my MPF (Hong Kong Mandatory Provident Fund) balance using one of those misnamed HSBC “help” lines. This was like diving into an oil slick to the bottom of the sea. I had to ask repeatedly for the information until the operator understood and I was also pleasantly surprised.

I suffer from that crippling lower middle class anxiety that hounds Willy Loman; it is a little noticed detail, pointed out by smart Bernard the successful lawyer, that all Biff needed to do when he failed math was take a class for the credit.

This is exactly what I needed to do when I flunked French spectacularly in 1967 and wasn’t, big dealski, allowed to graduate with my class: I took one of the best art classes I’d ever had at James B. Conant High School in Schaumburg and learned perspective from a great teacher and got my HS diploma.

With that crippling anxiety we worry about conforming to authority so that Authority will love us. We fantasize that our tax bills will beggar us because that’s what right-wing pundits and the vendors of tax books tell us, but in my experience, when I sat down and cranked the math, I’d get…a fat refund. Using only tax software and IRS information available for free.

In cranking tax returns and now checking my Social Security income I felt like Hotspur, diving into the sea to pick up, not Honour, but enough resources to live because in searching on the Internet and waiting for account balances always feels to me like I am underwater…and in terms of overall debt I am underwater.

I am very thrifty when I pay the least attention to my savings, whether US Social Security or Hong Kong “MPF”. Thomas Jefferson brought his full mental resources to his budget; he wrote down all of his spending and income in little account books. With the result that Jefferson went bankrupt at the end of his life, whereas I may be on the road to financial recovery courtesy of my “fiduciary friend”.

He also keeps the cards that read, have mercy on his soul.

– Bob Dylan, Desolation Row

My FF keeps on saving me money and he holds my ATM card since he does the footwork to pay my bills. I have end of month credit balances that I can save or use to help others; this is great. I have to discuss foolish purchases in advance with the FF and his rather phlegmatic, English responses dampen such ideas as “buy the Apple Store prepaid purchase card at 1000,00 to Buy Things Online”. They make me sound like that foolish woman in Shopaholic, so I don’t ask for funds for such purposes.

Apart from de pain and my cancer, life is good (“other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?”). I find the cancer and de pain surprisingly bearable and quietly enlightening. And when I express my anxieties over a future of Hunger Games for my grand-daughters my son replies with the quiet optimism of a young fit man in his prime, in his thirties as I was a long time ago. He can and will take care of his children just as I went to Silicon Valley to support him many years ago. No Hunger Games for them if he has any say in it, with me to backstop him as best I can. He is Good.

The babies look out from framed photographs (I will not put their images online on the public Web altho I put them on Facebook).

Esme Sesame is in her bouncy little seat with brain-building attachments as if to say, “I got dese junglee widdle bouncing things which wiggle and hit me in da nose”. They help her to get from Kant’s sensation to Kant’s Begriff, or Concept. Begriffmagesundtheit!

Esme looks wisely out from under her birdie owl hood as if to say, “be wise like me, Grandfather”.

Tessa America is the Saliva Teething Nook Monster approaching Tokyo as millions flee!!

Tessa in a gesture I’ve seen twice, offers the cameraman and the world her favorite toy, a colored set of interlocking rings.

Study

Finished the pre-Socratic sections of Johansen’s History of Ancient Philosophy as well as his introduction to Pericles’ Athens of the fifth century BC. I am never quite clear on the dating of historical events of the ancient world because the numbers go backward. It is time to get clear. After the birth of Christ my mental picture is clear, before then it’s murky.

The pre-Socratic section may help if I return to trying to decode Heidegger’s monstrous tome Being and Time. People who resent his “confusing” style need to realize that if you’re steeped in the history of philosophy your world-view and style will be radically different from that of the ordinary slob. But this is a theme I have often returned to.

Change Record

5 Sep 2013 The “election” of Dr King ===> The ASSASSINATION of Dr King:
WTF: these dreamlike errors are not acceptable!

5 Sep 2013 Improvements to the “dream” paragraph: the American dreamers crawl out of the ruins, physically unfit, unable to spell and talking rot

5 Sep 2013 Various changes and improvements

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