March 28: Talk and Die
But then there's what doctors call the "talk and die" scenario, where someone seems fine, only to die hours, or sometimes even days later. "Talk and die" can happen with several different kinds of brain injuries. In the case of epidural hematomas, blood pools in the area between the lining of the brain and the skull. Fluid is building up in a contained space, creating pressure.
Everything seems fine, and then it's not. Monitoring is necessary to find the "then it's not." We avoided doing this with Wall Street.
March 30: The Log
The verb is "to log on." The noun is "logon." The verb is "to blog." The noun is "web log." Although sounding new—though not as new as a tweet—the log is a very old concept: a record of income and debits at year's end; a notation of miles traveled on the high seas; gifts for the King; hashmarks of sunlight on a cave wall. No information. Just data.
But bloggers give life to the days' data. They opinionize and dream and comment on religion, politics, life, and love, as did history's diarists. Perhaps the more accurate term for today's Web writer is Webdiarists. The odd twist to today's blog is the commentary tool built-in to many pages—anyone can be the PhD candidate with an opinion on Samuel Pepys.
For the last few years, as life got in the way, I missed logging events and thoughts and feelings onto these pages. The data of the days' events were logged on my calendar but never transformed into information by my commentary. Moving words—all for my own amusement and memory—can be immeasurably satisfying. You can come, if you're quiet. No twittering. No Pepys.
April 3: The Artist of the Beautiful
I went to an artist's reception today. George "retired" last year, or maybe the year before. He was our print graphic designer who had been painting portraits on the weekends, to fulfill his dream of being "an artist." Was he an artist before he retired to paint full-time? Of course. Like Hawthorne's "The Artist of the Beautiful," George has risen "high enough to achieve the beautiful," and his spirit possesses itself in the enjoyment of the reality. See georgedowse.com. He inspires me to take that chance.
April 12: With All Good Intentions
At the airport in Cancun, we were told by the orange-shirted shuttle bus operator NOT to talk with anyone—bellboys, people in the lobby, other shuttle bus operators—NO ONE. NADA. When we arrived at the Moon Palace, we reluctantly received cold washcloths and carnations curbside from smiling Mexicans with whom we were hesitant to talk. Inside, we declined drinks and snacks from waitstaff we had been instructed to ignore. Check-in was problematic until we found out with whom we could speak. Apparently, it was all about competition for the tourist dollar. Orange shirts competed with blue shirts who competed with resort relations who competed with timeshare salespeople. It was all in the sale, and we were innocently very confused. Our definition of "all-inclusive" didn't include confusion, frustration, and other emotions.
April 13: Luxury, all-inclusive resort located in Cancun, Mexico
Actually, the Moon Palace is not "strictly" in Cancun but is located 15 minutes south of the Cancun airport, which itself is south of Cancun. We were nearly an hour south of Cancun. This happy lack of attention to detail should have clued us as to what we discovered to be the Mexican temperment. It took a New York minute—a very short period of time—to realize that a Mexican minute means the complete opposite—it is an extremely long period of time. Luxury is also relative; the resort was equivalent in opulence to any Pret restaurant in NYC. Mexicans smile more, however. Hola!
April 14: Mayan Ruins in Tulum
We signed up for an "all-inclusive" bus tour to spend a few hours at the Mayan ruins in Tulum and then an afternoon of frivolity at another Palace resort. At least that is what we thought we signed up for. We were told to make sure we ate breakfast and be at the bus stop hut before 8 AM (Mexican time). Once on the bus, we were captives to Mayan indoctrination of dubious accuracy (e.g., Do all Mayans really have a birthmark on their lower back?). The tour bus (1) stopped at a Mayan gift shop, (2) sped up a one lane road to a Mayan village (complete with huts, a shaman, cellphones, a basketball court, and a solar panel), (3) sped down a dirt road to a cenote (walk down 75 steps to swim in the clear waters, where, if you sink, you will travel within the underground rivers of the Yucatan), (4) sped back to the Mayan gift shop that happened to have a Mayan restaurant (lunch at 3 PM was complete with native dancers who balanced beer bottles on their heads and asked for tips, to which we replied "Don't quit your day job"), and (5) arrived at the Mayan ruins in Tulum 45 minutes before closing, paying to take the trolly from the bus area to the ruins (not included in the all-inclusive price of the tour). We were exhausted and confused. The Mayan tour operator—a Mexico City transplant— was exhilirated. Or maybe just sweaty. On the way back to the resort, he put in a video to quiet the kids.
April 15: Chichen Itza
We had also signed up for the Chichen Itza tour, which we were better prepared to handle. We took food and double the water. We expected the detour to another Mayan village and a 3 PM lunch, which was at a restaurant / gift shop that was a carbon copy of the one from the day before (although in an entirely different part of the penisula). We were able to spend a few hours at the ruins, in dry heat reportedly over 100 degrees. The main cenote at Chichen Itza was not a cave but open to the air. The water was a lot more muddy, but the openness allowed bejeweled Mayans to be thrown into it in sacrifice.
While we were held hostage by Mayans, the Palace Resorts proudly announced that Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort in Cancun received the XIX Premio Nacional de Calidad (National Quality Award) in the tourism sector. The distinction was awarded by Mexico's President, Felipe Calderon, who highlighted the efforts of his nation to become a more modern and competitive country. The Instituto para el Fomento a la Calidad Total (Institute for the Promotion of Overall Quality), the organization that evaluates the performance of public and private entities, selected Moon Palace as the resort that complies with the high standards set by the Institute.
April 16: The Civil Ceremony
We've experienced the "destination," and today was the "wedding." I've not ever been to a purely civil ceremony. The Mexican government official stood with the family and friends, microphone in hand to be heard over the wind, as Jenny and Scott signed papers on the sea side of the round open-sided shelter. And then the witnesses signed papers. And more witnesses. And more papers. And cake and champagne. Paper signing. I only hope they didn't unknowingly buy a timeshare.
April 17: Hacienda
The Palace Resorts are apparently run by Mayan decendents—hence allowing the Mayan tour operators to have their way with us. Our resort's housing, however, appears to me to be architecturally similar to the hacienda—the 18th century Spanish estates equivalent to plantations in the United States. It's an odd choice, as the Spanish really destroyed the Mayan culture, including their conversion to Catholicism. Mexico is not to be analyzed; you would never go back.
The word, hacienda, is from Latin meaning things to be done. And so, back to Boston we flew, for it was a thing to be done.
May 1: Time Magazine
A metaphor for the current U.S. economy came out of my mailbox today—the most slender Time magazine I have ever seen. A mere fifty-six pages, with sixteen pages of ads (plus the inside front and back covers). Note these advertisers in the May 4, 2009 issue—not all commercial and two are self-promotion:
- Fill the Cup, World Food Program
- Dow Jones (The Wall Street Journal)
- Lens Crafters
- The Jewish Guild for the Blind
- National Stuttering Association
- Post Foods (Shredded Wheat)
- The U.S. General Services Administration
- The Smile Train
- The U.S. Customs and Border Protection
- 2010 Lexus RX sponsoring Time's mine magazine
- Office of National Drug Control Policy
But wait! That's forty pages of content! Nearly three-quarters of the magazine is content! Yippee! But will (can?) content survive without sponsorship? We complain about ads—on television, on websites, in print—but underwriters are the Medicis of our time. When nobody is left to pay the bills, what will happen to our art? our content?
The back cover of a magazine USED to be prime real estate—when coffee tables were used for, well, whatever. Today, if it ain't between the covers, it ain't there. I never saw the at&t iPhone ad on the back cover until I tossed the magazine onto my—coffee table.
It's a great ad. It shows all the useless icons for the useless apps that the useless can't live without—Analytics App, Time Tracking, FedEx Mobile, Quicksheet, Nomina, Credit Card Terminal, SimpleMind Xpress, LogMein. If the picture is actual size, one could pretend that I have an iPhone on my coffee table. It's so thin! And useless! Like Time itself.
*Pfizer is hawking Caduet (CAD-oo-et), the one-pill-two-drug solution for blood pressure and cholesterol.
May 2: I Have No Time For This
A metaphor for the current U.S. state of mind spilled out of my mailbox today—the Time 100, the "World's Most Influential People." Apparently there are 100 of them, and Time magazine knows who they are. What problems do I have with this issue?
- All the ads are back (see May 1 post), so my concern about capitalism was misdirected. I won't be fooled again.+
- The magazine is dated May 11, 2009, which is over a week from today. If you want to give your employees a week off by putting out two issues in one week, that's fine with me, but don't be coy. Do what the New Yorker does and print a double issue.
- Dear Time: when you proclaim the "most influential" AND you willy-nilly make up publication dates, your "truthiness" is suspect. If you are not to be believed, why should anyone write for you? Why should anyone read you? Why should anyone advertise with you? The metaphor for the current U.S. state of mind is living the lie. Without support, you are not too big to fall.
+ Well, that's not entirely true. I probably will be.
May 24: Cathedral of the Stone Bridges
Today in New Hampshire, I traveled between the Cathedral of the Pines and the stone bridges of Hillsborough. My grandmother and mother were fond of visiting the Cathedral of the Pines many decades ago, perhaps in the 1940s and 1950s. Mt. Monadnock can be seen in full view since many of the pine trees were blown away in a 1930s hurricane. This year, the ice storm of 2008 took away many more pines. But the mountain stays majestically behind the open-air altar. Mt. Monadnock is on my list of hikes-to-take, as 19th century literary figures have done. Ah, but not Alcott or Dickinson, to my knowledge.
When I frequented Maine more than I do today, I remember driving past a new bridge that was replacing an old, crumbling bridge. I remember thinking it's about time, being disgusted with neglect, leaving the "old" functioning until the last moment. Older now, I understand the beauty, strength, and functionality of these old, stone structures. We followed a route down a dirt road, and then another dirt road off that. Mosquitoes had a feast on us, but we feasted on craftsmanship and the endurance of huge, cut stones placed together with exactness. Precision still stands within the weathered beauty, the strength of stone created by the Scottish immigrants as Thoreau and Whitman may have walked up a spiritual mountain.
May 25: Memorial Day
Today, on this Memorial Day, we drove to a creamery in Walpole, New Hampshire and ate ginger ice cream. The shop, next to a laundry and tire store, provided the benches for us to take our licks. As we left, Norman Rockwell missed a moment as a family was celebrating their uniformed son with a good ice cream cone.
June 11–13: About Reunions
When I was nine, my family moved. I was born in one state and graduated from high school in another. That winter was the first time I had to pack away the stuff that had always surrounded me. For days, cardboard boxes were everywhere when I came home from fourth grade. White boxes with orange numbers stuck on from a roll of numbers. A roll of numbers identified my boxes. My stuff. I remember the Allied Van Lines truck leaving our driveway, carrying away from me everything I ever knew and everything I ever owned. It was not my choice when the truck slipped away. I felt uprooted and disoriented.
This month I am feeling coerced to go to two different reunions—one is a family reunion with paternal focus and one is a high school reunion. My class. Our class. People who promote reunions are special people, for sure, but I can't get inside their heads to know what there is to celebrate. I just don't get it. A reunion presupposes that at one time there was a union—unus, oneness. But, I never felt "at one" with either of these groups—father's family or adolescents. How does one explain that my experiences and memories are not yours?
Looking at the moving van leave began the disconnect needed for examining self. The imposed separation of external from internal made self more clear. That experience was the first of many opportunities for developing true unus. Is this what I shall speak of at reunions?
Although we may share DNA or locations in space and time, we have precious few common stories to compare. My experiences are not yours—and I cannot coerce you to travel with me. So, after three days of contemplation, I propose the ANTI-reunion, where we see the highway open before us, look at where we may go, and travel on—one day forward at a time.
July 9: I Can See Sarah Palin From My Window
Last week, on July 3, the governor of Alaska desired to upstage even the fireworks of our country. In a gasping news conference, worthy of any breathless fisherman, Sarah Palin announced that she would not only abstain from running for another term, but that she would step down from her current gubernatorial responsibilities. The reigns of Alaska are being given over to the lieutenant governor.
Ah! The position of lieutenant governor! Just last year New York State lost its lieutenant governor when Eliot Spitzer stepped down because of "private failings." Poor David Patterson can't get anything done because there is no lieutenant governor to cast tie-breaking votes in the Senate—the legislature is in a mess because there is no leadership. But wait! Sarah is ripe for leading! Would you reconsider, maybe switching positions with David Patterson for awhile? New York State is much more tolerant of ethics violations—it's immorality we cannot stomach. Or maybe, dear Sarah, you would like to be lieutenant governor of New York! Albany is a little bit like Alaska—always near, yet too far—remote, yet near the City lights—the seat of government, but really not that important. You would love it here!
Late last month Michael Jackson overdosed on sleep, so maybe Sarah sees an opportunity even there. Could she be eyeing the 50 concerts that the King of Pop won't be making? Oh, that Sarah. She just loves a good concert. And, ya know, being in Alaska, she's closer to the moon and can do that moon walk thing as well as anyone, don't-cha-know. What a trooper she is—giving up the governorship to fulfill an international commitment made by a U.S. citizen. Sarah is national. She's got a future. You betcha.
This week David Brooks wrote a fine opinion piece on the search of dignity:
"First, there was Mark Sanford's press conference. Here was a guy utterly lacking in any sense of reticence, who was given to rambling self-exposure even in his moment of disgrace. Then there was the death of Michael Jackson and the discussion of his life. Here was a guy who was apparently untouched by any pressure to live according to the rules and restraints of adulthood. Then there was Sarah Palin's press conference. Here was a woman who aspires to a high public role but is unfamiliar with the traits of equipoise and constancy, which are the sources of authority and trust. In each of these events, one sees people who simply have no social norms to guide them as they try to navigate the currents of their own passions."—David Brooks, The New York Timeshttp://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/07/opinion/07brooks.html?em
July 10: The Periphescence of Mark Sanford
"The word itself means nothing. Luce made it up to avoid any etymological associations. The state of periphescence, however, is well known. It denotes the first fever of human pair bonding. It causes giddiness, elation, a tickling on the chest wall, the urge to climb a balcony on the rope of the belovedís hair. Periphescence denotes the initial drugged and happy bedtime where you sniff your lover like a scented poppy for hours running."—Jeffrey Eugenides, 2002, Middlesex, p. 34.
December 7: More New Beginnings
Pearl Harbor was bombed. I had my first injection of Avastin into my right eyeball. My Dell Vostro just arrived. I'm back!