Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Poconos

SCRANTON, PENNSYLVANIA. In 2004, I spent a week in late November walking the woods in the Poconos, in eastern Pennsylvania. All the leaves were down from the beech trees, making a copper-carpet, and soft for walking from the rain. I don't hunt, but I never saw a woods that looked so right for it -- fat bears in those hills. I didn't see the bears, but I know they saw me. Deer and wild turkey too -- I could have gotten my Elmer Fudd hat and shotgun and just gotten lost in those woods.

People from the West Coast think there's no country in the East, but they haven't seen places like the Poconos.

Besides the hunting news, there is little to report on the dreary debate between Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton, as the Pennsylvania primary approaches. One hopes for a decisive outcome.

Old John McCain, the War Hero. First, I have several good things to say about McCain. He is an indifferent fundraiser, and I consider that high praise. He has refused protection from the Secret Service and won't live in a cocoon. His son, a Marine, is serving in Iraq. McCain is one of few office pubic servants who can say that, and yet he never says that, because talk is cheap.

But his war record in Viet Nam -- yes, I know what he did, but why? He thought he was defending his country, but he wasn't. He was on a military adventure in a country we never heard of, protecting people who never did anything for us, and attacking people who never did anything to us.

Viet Nam wasn't our fight, and so my genuine praise goes to thousands of men my age who served their country best by refusing to fight in that damned, useless war.

Zimbabwe Independence Day Celebration. Saturday, April 19, 9 pm,
SIAM ON LAKE UNION,1880 Fairview Ave. $10, cash bar, live music. Open to one and all. Meet the real people from Zimbabwe -- those immigrants who have settled in the Seattle area. Hear the wonderful Shona music -- it is so good for dancing. It promises to be a great party this year, in celebration of Robert Mugabe's imminent departure.

"Don't Get Me Started"

At the Water Cress Medical Center, where I work in a stress management position, I have noticed a lot of "guarding" behavior in the nursing staff. Guarding is a medical term, defined as follows:

Abdominal guarding: Tensing of the abdominal wall muscles to guard inflamed organs within the abdomen from the pain of pressure upon them. The tensing is detected when the abdomen wall is pressed.

But in the nursing staff, guarding is not evidence of a diseased organ, but rather a psychological defense. It means, "Don't ask me how my day is going, because I just want to get through it. And please don't ask me what's wrong, because if I start talking, I won't be able to stop, and I'll start screaming..... I have to get back to work."

Medical Modesty. Last summer, the White House announced, with full-color illustrations, that President George Bush was about to undergo a colonoscopy. We got all the details of his intestinal examination, because our beloved president was being "open" about it. But I didn't want to know. Why don't they just say "a routine medical procedure" ?

And Washington Governor Christine Gregoire, several years ago, bravely and openly, told the public at large about her breast cancer.

I don't actually know these people. We are far from being intimates. So, why, in God's name, are they compelled to literally spill their guts to perfect strangers?

I'm going to vote for the first candidate who makes the following statement:

"My health is my own business. I see a doctor and I have a loving family and friends with whom I discuss these matters.

I will only tell you that my health is quite good and I am as certain as anyone can be that I will be able to complete my term of office. But if I become seriously impaired, I will resign.

And if you can't trust me on what I just said, then don't vote for me."

This statement of privacy applies to the rest of us. It's a matter of modesty, not shame. Of course, one should never be ashamed or embarrassed about their health, or some disease that threatens their life, but one ought to be modest.

Modest -- such an old-fashioned word. Do you know what it means?

Retirement Plans

I'm going to retire when I stop working. At that point I will continue eating, but not as much, since I won't be working. When I'm too old to drive, I plan to resume hitchhiking. It will easy for an old geezer to get a ride if he waves his thumb. Also, I will continue to take care of myself until I am no longer able, at which point I will become someone else's problem.

I'll work out the details on a day-by-day basis.

Also, old men tend to be long-winded when they talk about their past. I intend to keep it short, unless someone really wants to hear it.

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