Thursday, February 28, 2008

Muffintop

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Thought I'd post it here in case I ever want to watch it again.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

White Guilt

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Even liberals make fun of white guilt. I think they need to be careful because if white guilt loses its power, Obama might not have a chance to become president.

Jamal





A warning. I’m going to write about my old cat. Not everyone wants to hear this kind of thing. You’ve been warned
I recently read a thing on the internet about a woman with chronic pain that got little relief from medications but her cat’s purring gives her some relief and contentment. http://abcnews.go.com/Health/HeartDiseaseCenter/story?id=4325718&page=1 I was reminded of Jamal, the last cat I owned. He did not cuddle or sit on my lap. Most of the time I owned him I worked the night shift on a locked psych unit. We worked twelve hour shifts. Once in a while I would come home in the morning feeling unusually worn out and overly abused. I would get into bed and call Jamal. He would usually be in the kitchen looking out the window. But if I called him from the bed he would slowly make his way to the bed and lay in it for a while. He would lay about a foot from me as if he was afraid I’d roll over on him or we’d get too close. But I came to notice that on those days when I was feeling really down he would reach out one paw and touch my hand. It was his way of being healing. And it helped that this self-reliant cat with such good boundaries was there for me. He’s been gone since 2002 but I still miss him and I use pictures of him on my desktop sometimes.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Just Another Empty Headed, Self-involved Member of the Hollywood Ignorati

videoI'm at least as conserative as she is liberal but none the less I love Tina Fey. I hope Ms. Fey doesn't mind if I post a little bit of her work for the few people who read this blog. (I don't even know if anyone ever comes to this site since I've only gotten one comment posted since I began the blog.)

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Modern Library

When I was young I read a lot, all kinds of books. I read those horrible books written for specific age groups and then slowly went beyond to the classics. Sometimes I look back and wonder what it was that so drew me. I know part of it was deep insecurity. I had no sense of purpose or goal . And I felt that if I read and studied the books that centuries of consensus called the best I would become better by learning what mankind valued most highly. And that is how it works. Matthew Arnold called education an introduction, “to the best that has been thought or said.” If done properly it includes developing critical thinking. And also developing a sense for recognizing and appreciating beauty which is a specialized form of critical thinking.
One of the things that made the classics attractive was Random House’s Modern Library. They are simple but delectable little books. When I was in school they mainly published the best writers from Homer and Confucius to Joyce and Proust. In those days I spent dozens of hours a week in libraries and these beautiful little jewels of books were sprinkled throughout the stacks. Initially I didn’t read any of these books. But I took them down off the shelf and just enjoyed looking at them. They were smaller and had more pleasant proportions than most books. They all had essentially the same binding. It was clean, symmetrical and appealing and each had a little surprise: the title and author’s name in the small dark box. When younger I was always mildly startled by the art deco naked runner with the torch. I grew up with Pinkie and Blue Boy and landscapes on the walls. I didn’t know from art deco. In spite of their modest size they were not inconsequential. Printed on heavy paper they had real heft. And I loved to open them to the back and look over the list of all of the titles offered . Here I slowly made familiar objects of all the names. Turgenev, Pepys, Plutarch, Goethe, Gogol and many others slowly began seeping into my consciousness.
Then I slowly began reading them. One I tried earliest was Gulliver’s Travels. It moves slowly compared to what I was accustomed to. There would be pages and pages of minute descriptions. I couldn’t hack it. I don’t think I made it to page forty. Then I started checking out some of the Caedmon recordings of plays. Some Shakespeare, some O’Neil and lots of Tennessee Williams. I didn’t enjoy any of this but I forced myself because I was sure it was good for me. In those days the average American education didn’t prepare a ninth grader for Shakespeare.
I kept at it. I was a senior when I read Plato’s Republic. And even though most of it went over my head it was the first of the bunch I recall enjoying. (I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a Modern Library edition; it was probably the Viking Portable edition.) From there I went to reading histories of philosophy and many individual thinkers. I ended up with some fondness for Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Spinoza, Hume, Kant and Wittgenstein. When I entered college I intended to get a string of degrees in philosophy. But I soon realized that my mind does not have the acute gift for logic that serious philosophy requires.
As I was growing away from philosophy I developed deeper enjoyment of literature. Many of the greats were to be found in the Modern Library. And I had begun to haunt bookstores. Used bookstores were full of Modern Library editions in those days (the seventies and eighties). And I discovered some other great and attractive books. The Loeb Classical Library filled some of the spaces left by the Modern Library, e. g., Strabo. But the Loebs are higher priced. Penguin books are great. The Oxford Classics are ok but don’t have the grace and charm of the Modern Library. The Viking Portables are pleasant and reasonably priced. I highly recommend the multivolume collection of English verse if only for the marvelous and enlightening introductions to each by W. H. Auden.
The other day I looked up the Modern Library on the net. http://www.randomhouse.com/modernlibrary/ And they still have a hell of a fine line up of books. Though they seem comparatively more expensive and I didn’t see any frequent flyer type of program. And, no, they didn’t pay me to write this.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

How I Spend My Mornings

It has now been nearly two years since I last worked. I had worked a Saturday night shift and was scheduled to work the Sunday night shift. But, when I woke up in the afternoon, I couldn’t walk. I was on crutches for a couple of months because I had lost most of the sensation and muscle control in my legs. Then I slowly lost muscle control in my hands. It was made more frightening because I didn’t know what was causing my problem. My doctor didn’t have a clue and he sent me to a neurologist. The first two times the neurologist saw me he didn’t know the cause of the problem. But he did some test and finally did an MRI and we found out what was going on. A small part of the problem was peripheral neuropathy caused by my diabetes. But the major problem was a vertebra that was pressing on my spinal cord and also pressing on some of the nerves exiting the spinal cord in the area.
So I started physical therapy and in a few weeks I was walking with only a cane though I was more unbalanced on my feet than I have ever been. During this time I fell frequently. And I had to undergo occupational therapy because of the loss of function in my hands. The OT helped but it is only recently that the strength and coordination in my hands has increased enough for me to open a two litre soda bottle using only my hands alone without my vise grips. I still walk unsteadily but seldom fall down anymore.
And I really like not working. I enjoy spending time on the internet. I enjoy reading more. Unfortunately I am watching more television than I ever have. Rarely PBS will have a good show (some might find this hard to believe but I have even seen PBS go an hour without comparing Bush to Hitler - - - ever notice that funny little smile of Bill Moyers’ when someone goes on a mindless rant about Bush and Cheney - - it’s kind of like the look you see on well behaved men at a strip club.) There is probably more worth watching on the History Channel and A & E. But I waste too much time on Monk and House and Deadwood and Rome and such.
I recently read that retired people tend to fall into a strict routine and I have seen this in myself over these two years. I like to get up around four or five am, pray and then make some coffee (about two litres of sweetened cafĂ© au lait). Then I read a Psalm and then meditate for about fifteen minutes. Then straight to the computer. First, I go over the front page of the BBC website. Then look over every headline on Drudge. Then I go to Hot Air.com I return to Hot Air ten to fifteen times throughout the day. And recently I check out Ezra Levant’s site daily (http://ezralevant.com/). All of this often takes till nine or ten am. Then I take a nap. Followed by reading and watching shows I’ve tivo’d.