Monday, February 27, 2006

Sweet Melissa

Sweet Melissa, originally uploaded by George In Denver.

Seventy degrees in Denver today. Um, where's the snow?


I really don't want to become too obsessive about this asthma thing, but there are probably enough of us out there who are experiencing the late-in-life onset of this disease, nuisance, pain-in-the-ass, that maybe a continued discussion might be helpful.

I woke up several times Saturday morning wheezing like a geezer with emphysema and took several hits of Albuterol so I could get a little sleep. Well, the wheezing continued after I finally got up and, about noon, I thought I'd try to catch up on some lost sleep and take a nap.

The nap didn't work. The wheezing just got worse. And, the tightness in my chest and throat was not assuaged at all by continued hits of Albuterol. (Can you overdose on that stuff?)

I got out of bed at about 2:30 P.M., shaved and took a shower because I anticipated what my fate was going to be in the next hour or two. I called Kaiser, told them I was having severe breathing problems and they advised me to head for the emergency room.

David drove me to St. Joe's where, indeed, the doc and the nurse confirmed my lungs sounded "terrible" and the normal protocol (I guess) for this kind of thing was commenced:

1) Two Albuterol sulfate nebulizer cocktails;
2) Three tabs of Prednisone;
3) A script for Zithromax (sinusitis);
4) A script for another round of Prednisone (starting with 6 tabs once, and working down to 5, 4, 3,2, 1 tab(s) a day.

So, I didn't run Saturday. I used the treadmill Sunday (uphill for a mile and a half, while using the isometric pull/push bars) with little exacerbation of breathing difficulties. And, today, I had to wait until about noon before the wheezing got to a point where I could run my 2.25 miles. Wheezing a little right now, but nothing serious.

So, that's my EMERGENCY tale. I really, really want to get this stuff under control. So, any suggestions or, indeed, discussion might help. The Drunken Lagomorph (see my links) who is in the medical field has very kindly offered some input, which I appreciate.

William F. Buckley Jr. - "...the American objective in Iraq has failed."

As I pursued my B.A. at the University of Colorado during the late sixties and early seventies, I remain unashamed that I was a sincere, dedicated, outspoken Conservative. I read Bill Buckley's National Review religiously. I was, in a word, an oddity in what Buckley once called "...the student world of unreason."

After receiving my B.A., I volunteered with the United State Army, my first stop being Fort Polk, Louisiana. (Remember the great scene in the movie, Patton, where he's standing on a stage in full uniform before an enormous American flag and is addressing the troops who are preparing to head overseas to fight the Nazis? The speech to the troops is often referred to as the "...shovelin' shit in Louisiana..." speech. That's the Louisiana where I found myself in 1972.)

Gradually, during the immense self-revelations that came from what I would later refer to in a short story as the loss of innocence store (the Army), I moved slowly, surely to the left and, in the process, put Bill Buckley aside.

Now, I find myself fiercely independent of any label. Not a Democrat. Not a Republican. Not a Conservative. Not a Liberal. (Although most of my posts tend to lean left.)

The point of all this is that William F. Buckley, Jr. has concluded in the National Review that, "One can't doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed." Wow!

Buckley writes, "The Iraqis we hear about are first indignant, and then infuriated, that Americans aren't on the scene to protect them and to punish the aggressors. And so they join the clothing merchant who says that everything is the fault of the Americans.

"The Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, elucidates on the complaint against Americans. It is not only that the invaders are American, it is that they are 'Zionists.' It would not be surprising to learn from an anonymously cited American soldier that he can understand why Saddam Hussein was needed to keep the Sunnis and the Shiites from each others' throats."

Allow me to provide the entire Buckley piece.

February 24, 2006, 2:51 p.m.

It Didn't Work

"I can tell you the main reason behind all our woes--it is America." The New York Times reporter is quoting the complaint of a clothing merchant in a Sunni stronghold in Iraq. "Everything that is going on between Sunni and Shiites, the troublemaker in the middle is America."

"One can't doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed. The same edition of the paper quotes a fellow of the American Enterprise Institute. Mr. Reuel Marc Gerecht backed the American intervention. He now speaks of the bombing of the especially sacred Shiite mosque in Samara and what that has precipitated in the way of revenge. He concludes that 'The bombing has completely demolished "what was being attempted -- to bring Sunnis into the defense and interior ministries.

"Our mission has failed because Iraqi animosities have proved uncontainable by an invading army of 130,000 Americans. The great human reserves that call for civil life haven't proved strong enough. No doubt they are latently there, but they have not been able to contend against the ice men who move about in the shadows with bombs and grenades and pistols.

"The Iraqis we hear about are first indignant, and then infuriated, that Americans aren't on the scene to protect them and to punish the aggressors. And so they join the clothing merchant who says that everything is the fault of the Americans.

"The Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, elucidates on the complaint against Americans. It is not only that the invaders are American, it is that they are 'Zionists.' It would not be surprising to learn from an anonymously cited American soldier that he can understand why Saddam Hussein was needed to keep the Sunnis and the Shiites from each others' throats.

"A problem for American policymakers -- for President Bush, ultimately -- is to cope with the postulates and decide how to proceed.

"One of these postulates, from the beginning, was that the Iraqi people, whatever their tribal differences, would suspend internal divisions in order to get on with life in a political structure that guaranteed them religious freedom.

"The accompanying postulate was that the invading American army would succeed in training Iraqi soldiepolicymakerscymkers to cope with insurgents bent on violence.

"This last did not happen. And the administration has, now, to cope with failure. It can defend itself historically, standing by the inherent reasonableness of the postulates. After all, they govern our policies in Latin America, in Africa, and in much of Asia. The failure in Iraq does not force us to generalize that violence and antidemocratic movements always prevail. It does call on us to adjust to the question, What do we do when we see that the postulates do not prevail -- in the absence of interventionist measures (we used these against Hirohito and Hitler) which we simply are not prepared to take? It is healthier for the disillusioned American to concede that in one theater in the Mideast, the postulates didn't work. The alternative would be to abandon the postulates. To do that would be to register a kind of philosophical despair. The killer insurgents are not entitled to blow up the shrine of American idealism.

"Mr. Bush has a very difficult internal problem here because to make the kind of concession that is strategically appropriate requires a mitigation of policies he has several times affirmed in high-flown pronouncements. His challenge is to persuade himself that he can submit to a historical reality without forswearing basic commitments in foreign policy.

"He will certainly face the current development as military leaders are expected to do: They are called upon to acknowledge a tactical setback, but to insist on the survival of strategic policies.

"Yes, but within their own counsels, different plans have to be made. And the kernel here is the acknowledgment of defeat."

(c) 2006 Universal Press Syndicate

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Garth Brooks Signs Exclusive Deal With Wal-Mart

I'm not sure what to think about this.

Here's what Wal-Mart Workers' Rights.Org thinks about it.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Sweet Melissa - Snowdog Extraordinaire

Snarling at the freeze...

Sweet Melissa - Ten Below in Denver this Morning

Sweet Melissa, originally uploaded by George In Denver.

Monday, February 13, 2006

"Democracies Are Peaceful Countries"

A Dubya rap...

Curiously, this link doesn't seem to work anymore and it appears that it has disappeared from the ifilm library. Hmmmmm....

War Poetry

War poetry, from soldiers who have seen the face of war up close and personal has always captured my interest, my imagination; it is the poetry of absolute reality, perhaps more real than most of us want to even think about. War poetry tends to capture the moment, without metaphor or the flowers of the language. It is real. It is graphic. It should be instructive.

First from Michael Casey, a Yale Younger Poet of 1972, who published a little, precious book of war poetry entitled, "Obscenities," upon his return from Viet Nam. One of my favorites is:

A Bummer

We were going single file
Through his rice paddies
And the farmer
Started hitting the lead track
With a rake
He wouldn't stop
The TC went to talk to him
And the farmer
Tried to hit him too
So the tracks went sideways
Side by side
Through the guy's fields
Instead of single file
Hard On, Proud Mary
Bummer, Wallace, Rosemary's Baby
The Rutgers Road Runner
Go Get Em--Done Got Em
Went side by side
Through the fields
If you have a farm in Vietnam
And a house in hell
Sell the farm
And go home

From Brian Turner, who was an infantry team leader in Iraq, comes this poem from his book of war poems, "Here, Bullet:"

"Eulogy" from "Here, Bullet."

It happens on a Monday, at 11:20 A.M.,
as tower guards eat sandwiches
and seagulls drift by on the Tigris River.
Prisoners tilt their heads to the west
though burlap sacks and duct tape blind them.
The sound reverberates down concertina coils
the way piano wire thrums when given slack.
And it happens like this, on a blue day of sun,
when Private Miller pulls the trigger
to take brass and fire into his mouth:
the sound lifts the birds up off the water,
a mongoose pauses under the orange trees,
and nothing can stop it now, no matter what
blur of motion surrounds him, no matter what voices
crackle over the radio in static confusion,
because if only for this moment the earth is stilled,
and Private Miller has found what low hush there is
down in the eucalyptus shade, there by the river.

(1980 - March 22, 2003)

Ain't war wonderful!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Asthma! Ugh!

"How do I love thee? Let me count the ways." (Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

1) QVar inhalant, an anti-inflammatory.
2) Serevent Diskus inhalation powder, a bronchospasm inhibitor.
3) Albuterol inhalant, a bronchial anti-spasmodic.
4) AeroChamber, a device that is purported to increase the actual intake of inhalants by, I believe, 30%.
5) Prednisone. A steroid drug for the tough times.

Okay, there's the list of meds I'm currently dealing with to control the asthma. Asthma came late in my life, even though I've had moderate to severe allergies forever. Asthma's a bitch.

I've given-up my daily run only once in the past two weeks due to an increased shitload of asthma symptoms, primarily centered on an marked increase in the wonderful wheeze the disease provides every time you take a breath. My most interestingly "musical" wheezes seem to come when I exhale. And, the severity of my wheezing--this includes difficulty breathing, a kind of tightening around those tubes that take and expel air into and from the lungs--occurs most often after I've gone to bed and continues until about 8 or 9 in the morning.

Anyway, within the last two weeks this lovely disease has, for some reason (probably because I live a mile high and we've had one kinda/sorta snow storm out here on the high plains, thus contributing to very, very low humidity) become so exacerbated that I finally broke down and called the doc. Nice guy.

So, now I'm on Prednisone for about a week. Prednisone is probably the most commonly used steroid drug utilized for everything from, yes, asthma to Lupus to probably another ten-thousand maladies I'm not aware of. It's a wonder drug. It's a dangerous drug, if taken for prolonged periods.

When our baby boy, Calvin (150 pound Malamute), came down with lymphoma two years ago, Prednisone was prescribed simply to make him feel somewhat better and to abate the hemorrhages in his eyes caused by that insidious cancer. We lost him anyway. (God bless you, buddy.)

Well, didn't mean to bore you. But, if you've got asthma, I'm sure you can relate. If you don't have asthma, count your blessings.

"How do I love thee?"

I've got a few crosses to bear and asthma is one of them. But, I'm thinkin' if you love your crosses enough, if you smother them with your care and attention and mothering and fathering and obbsessiveness, they might just take a hike. Or, maybe just ignore it.

I can hope, anyway.

Monday, February 06, 2006

The Super Commercials

Super Bowl commercials. My favorite is the Bud Clydsdale, Bud Superfan Cowboy is a close second. One of the Go Daddy (or whatever it is, T&A stuff!) commercials doesn't seem to link, so just skip it and click on the next one after it.


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

That Damned Devil Is At It Again

Bennett, Colorado is about thirty miles east of Denver. It boasts a population of almost 2500, ninety-three percent of which are anglo, with a median household income of $47,000. Bennett sits off to the north of I70, so, if you're not really looking for it, you might miss it if you're traveling either way on the interstate. You get a sense of the great little flatlander town of Bennett from the atypical water tower and, oh, that building is the Optimists Club hangout.

Thing about Bennett though is a little story that appeared in the Sunday Denver Post with regard to an elementary school music teacher who dusted off a thirty-three year old vcr tape she found in the school's music room entitled, "Who's Afraid of Opera." The tape features puppets as narrators and the wonderful presence of soprano Joan Sutherland. The tape is, the Post reported, part of series meant to introduce school children to opera.

Problem is, though, the tape provides scenes from Charles Gounod's "Faust," which--yup, you guessed it--has set off a firestorm of culture war sentiment (ignorance) in the wee, little town of Bennett, Colorado. See, one of the central characters in the opera is Mephistopheles, the devil.

One mother of a nine-year old in Bennett called the video "satanic." Another good mommy suggested the video was even inappropriate for high school students. Many of Bennett's enlightened community want the teacher who showed portions of the video to her students to be fired.

The school's district superintendent made it clear that Bennett certainly isn't anti-art. He added that, "We want to expose kids to things, to help them see there is another world beside Bennett out there. But, we have to understand who we are serving."


Opera. Dramatic representations of the fantastic ability of the human brain to imagine, to create to serve up to humanity a decidedly civilizing phenomenon that is sorely needed in this stark raving mad world we seem to find ourselves living in these days.

Opera, even Faust, isn't satanic. War, fundamentalistic religious bigotry that harbors an intensity of hatred that sanctions the killing and maiming of one's neighbors is satanic.

But, then, ol' Bennett is just a wee bit closer to Kansas than Denver and, well, when the wind blows from the east, I guess the good people of Bennett get an occasional whiff of intelligent design from Topeka which certainly can't help but infuse the little slip of a town with a modicum of fear; a real hittin' home kind of dread of what the human mind can accomplish once it's let loose from the devilishly backward focus of that Good Old Time Religion.

But, maybe there's hope for Bennett. They do have an Optimists Club.