Thursday, November 28, 2013

28 November 2013
Thanksgiving – morning

Oh yeah, don't forget to be thankful
no matter what

I awoke this morning at six unable to sleep any more, so I got around to my usual supine routine. I turned on the iPad to tune in the nearby university streaming radio, so I could listen to NPR news without being gnawed into submission by endless and unrelenting commercials. The problem with starting NPR early is that there comes a point in their broadcast where the stories begin to repeat. If I have been left alone and haven't missed a story, this can become tedious. If that happens I turn the iPad off and switch to my computer, a MacBook AIR, a mighty nice and very small computer. I had a MacBook PRO but that slid off the bed at another nursing home I was placed at, due to the air mattress (to alleviate pressure sores) cycling through its pattern of increasing and decreasing air pressure within the mattress. I returned to find the mortally wounded computer, open and still trying to function, on the floor.

The management said that they would fix it. It was yet another in a long list of promises that were never intended on being fulfilled, sad is the experience of one caught in the jaws of such a large, burgeoning actually, market for caring for the unable of us amongst the population. I eventually sent the computer for repair back in Lansing, by way of a friend of mine. The computer store, the employees whom I know, indicated that repairs would have totaled $600, that the age of the machine made decision not very worthwhile. So we decided to scrap it and recycle the parts. Now I am down to two machines, this MacBook Air and my main computer a 24” iMac that I wrote my dissertation on, which currently is living in storage at my idiot brother's house. It has been there over two years and isn't getting any newer. But no amount of begging and cajoling moves him not one bit. It only teases me that I own a machine that was so capable as that and it is effectively being kept from me. I dis so relish the big beautiful real estate that machine afforded. Now the choice of better resolution is being offered, called Retina display. Eventually I will want one of those.

I did purchase a pneumatic arm designed to be affixed to the wall to hold the iMac so it would float over the bed, a cordless mouse and cordless keyboard would allow me to work with the machine, very cool. But there was one tight nut that would not come undone so it could be mounted, my brother took the machine back to his house, I got unceremoniously moved here, the arm was summarily removed and delivered here , where it languishes on the floor in the closet. I have spoken with my brother about constructing an armature of white ABS plastic pipe that could be assembled next to the bed on which the pneumatic arm could be mounted.
But he insists that he is an engineer (never took any engineering classes though) and true to his form he always wants to over engineer something. Next thing I know he is telling me about a design he has worked out that has all sorts of legs going in different directions, and using a couple of cinder blocks to hold the legs down from the extra stress magnified by the lever arm of the computer on the end of the pneumatic arm … I said. “Fine. Who is going to haul all of that stuff up here to the third floor?” Why he would, of course. I have been here since the beginning of February and there has been nothing yet. I really don't expect anything, but it is a kind of perverted fun to reckon the continuing clock running down,wondering if anything will happen?

This morning is Thanksgiving Day, I should consider things that I am thankful for. It is hard, though. So much does not go as expected, in spite of well laid plans, simple human frailties get in the way. It often comes out sounding sarcastic, but that is how things work. One of the administrators told me once that when the cat is away the mice will play. I suppose all of the nurse overseers are off site having their own Thanksgiving. Meanwhile I am left to enjoy mine with the mice. I have had my call light on for an hour now, waiting for someone to come so I can get some water (been out now since 2 1/2 hours ago) and my toothbrush from the other room were it is recharging. At 11:30 it is time to get breakfast out of my mouth. I suppose I am thankful for a call light, even though, depending on it seems a fool's errand.

I am thankful for all the time I was able to spend aimlessly in the woods finding wonderful items to photograph and feeling so included by nature. I certainly do not feel so included by people, almost as if they were bound and determined to be exclusionary oriented. It is so difficult to even see some of the pictures I had taken over the years, mostly the best I can do is remember those times. I am thankful that at least I can do that.

When I was first divorced (actually before then too)I used to cook a lot. For me it was an exploration of living in the world, with style. I had begun as a self defense because of the Celiac disease I endured, but I soon reached a point where cooking was a celebration of life, not merely a means to an end - calorie loading. I am thankful that I could at least learn to push the possibilities as far as I could. When I left my home I was exploring sous vide cooking and the potential there. Obviously none of that equipment survived, it would not surprise me if my idiot brother ate all of the frozen beef in my freezer as well, so it wouldn't go to waste, if you know what I mean …

Looking back at my list, most of the things I am thankful for are from the past. That is because there is so little that I can do, or am allowed to do now. It is amazing how limited one becomes living like this. No incense, everyone is deathly afraid of fire. No candles either same reason. I really miss the annual season long fire in the wood stove. There is no heat quite like radiant heat. I am thankful that I had the presence of mind to record all of my CD's onto the big iMac, and that I got the wireless backup of that entire Hard Drive on my Time Capsule. I am thankful for a decent WiFi system here at the facility, through my computer and iPad I can explore the world, instead of being confined to one very small room.

I am glad to at least have some of my books.  

I suppose that to some small degree I am thankful for this place and its denizens. But as they often do a less than stellar job, I hesitate to speak too loud or too fast less I jinx the whole thing and the maddening little peccadillos become the new norm. Let's just say it could be worse. Now I await the big Thanksgiving meal that was advertised, the delivery is already forty-five minutes later than usual for the noon meal. Let's see for what I could be thankful for.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

27 November 2013
6:20 AM

Yet another day in the crazy house

Awake since 5:00 AM sleep is no longer imperative. Listening to NPR morning news, there is a quiet knock at the door – the sign that a staff member is outside intending on entry. The knock, subtle as it is, the knock alleviates the surprise factor of someone barging into the room. After an evening that has been for the most part a quiet interlude of rest and restoration. This time the knock was followed by one of my least admired CENAs entering the room. She announced, “Good Morning” in the flattest tone of voice that one could imagine. The felt sense that arose was one of just going through the motions without any investment of ones self. We have all experienced this. It is the tone used by insolent youths who have the need to make a statement and yet unwilling to be open and own the comments they make.

This is nothing new from this CENA, she has demonstrated a continued unhappy exchange with me in the past. In one discussion from the past about the lack of CENAs signing in on the white board in my room, I made the comment that it was interesting to note the sign-in behavior slowly drain away to the current state of no one telling, even verbally, if they were the assigned CENA working with me today. Her immediate response was that such things were not her fault. She offered that her toddler daughter always used her markers, bought for work, and then left the caps off, so they would dry out. I surmised that she could buy some markers and leave them in the glove compartment in her locked car. “Oh no”, she countered, “She would get into that.”

I ask, “So who is in charge of your household, the toddler?” she surely didn't like this observation. I am continually amazed at the adolescent quality that some of these CENAs insist on using. They show the need to be grown up even if it puts them into a logically compromising position. It is the standard I-am-too-grown-up. The fact that they may be parents does nothing to boost their cache, it only shows that it is possible for children to beget children. Others show an amazing ability to always want to be right and correct. This reminds me of being back in the court system where I was years ago, dealing with youthful offenders. The behavior is remarkably the same.

There are other CENAs who celebrate their youthfulness, who try to go about their duties with the refreshing antics that only 20 somethings can do, I do enjoy interacting with them. Many of them, in turn, seem to enjoy interacting with me as can be seen by their numerous inquiries of me and my life.

But today's CENA has shown herself to constantly a dark cloud whenever she enters my presence. She radiates a dark attitude, a sense of just doing what needs to be done and nothing more. There are times when I wish I could be surrounded by more positive staff members, being subjected to such individuals as today's CENA goes a long way toward coloring my tendency to drift into depression.

I was questioned the other day by the facility Social Worker as to a standard orientation questionnaire. I am oriented to place and time properly, when he asked if I was depressed I smart assed replied, “You bet I am, I just love losing all of the emotional, physical and intellectual choices to a bunch of people who are too busy to even get to know me, and yet the believe that they know enough about me to make decisions about me without even asking for my input. I find that completely an institutionalized form of dehumanizing behavior.” Its one thing to lose the physical ability to stand or walk on ones own, I can grow used to that. What I have difficulty with is institutionally being rendered less than human. I don't believe that any medication is designed for me to take that changes the behavior of others. It just doesn't make sense.

Watch out the Red Queen is due anytime soon.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

9 November 2013
Saturday approximately 9:45 PM

Even though things are alright
they are not rosey

Well, nothing too exciting or harrowing to report today from this muffled life here in Happy Haven. I have discovered that usually on Saturdays and Sundays everything takes on a very lax tone around here. I suppose this echoes what goes on in most homes throughout the country. There is not a push to get to work on time or get kids off to school or any of those things that keep us hidebound to the clock. And usually when we have the time to ourselves, as in the weekend, things can get a little laid-back. We may not get out of our jammies until later in the morning, find no need to quickly address and prepare to leave the house, everything just takes a laid-back, easy attitude.

Same thing happens here. I'm not sure if many showers are delivered on Saturdays, it is my understanding they certainly are not done on Sundays. The place I see it the most, is contact with the CENA staff. Unlike the weekdays no one comes in to regularly "take my vitals" trailing behind them a machine on wheels that is designed to simultaneously take my blood pressure, temperature and pulse rate. For some reason, that sure is not done at all on Saturday or Sunday. Also when meals are delivered around here that are approximately close to the same time for all three meals of the day. Usually, during the week, the tray with the finished meal and used dishes is picked up approximately an hour later. Then there is the weekends. Often the pickup of my used tray is 3 to 4 or sometimes six hours later. This even surprises some of the CENA staff, as can be viewed when they enter the room as their faces register the surprised look when they exclaim, "Is your tray still here?"

Rather than treat this as a straight question awaiting a straight answer, I treat it as a foil to which I need to make some sort of quick and witty comment immediately. I look at this is grist for the mill, or yet another of the many unending methods of being set up for some sort of creative response. The trick is to come up with something unexpected and yet not mean or aggressive towards others. Usually this response from me brings forth a grin from the CENA, which I hope implies that I'm not upset. Although, I too have to ask incredulously, is that tray still here?

I did read (or more accurately came across to a combination of video and audio reporting on one of my electronic devices) and article based on some general news print that came from some scientific journal reporting, that in the US the measurable amount of creativity in our children is slowly inching downward. This caught my attention immediately. Now I do I consider myself one of those creative people, but much of my academic studies in the field of psychology were predicated on various aspects of creativity. Even before Iheard the article I could guesstimate as to what the problem was. In the article they went through the usual searching for causation. This did not surprise me as in general this is what a lot of our society is doing lately. You can see it in the politics as one particular conservative group insists on finding the cause behind everything, and what makes their "findings" so absolutely hilarious is that they're looking in the wrong direction. There's this huge surge and cry to"Go back to basics", there are great number of people who want to turn back the clock in live like we did, in say, the 1950s, or even further back. To bolster their argument they point to the Constitution and how the founding fathers lived. I find it interesting with a smirk. If you want to live like they did in those colonial days, go do so. In fact they have a nice place in Virginia that is an historical replica of village life back then called Williamsburg. Go live there.

Meanwhile technology does not slow down, nor does it take a U-turn because some people want to. I doubt you could find many people who would willingly dispense with their smart phone, their tablet computer, Wi-Fi, Internet, or the ability to see and buy things from a distance without having to travel. I just don't think that human nature is going to buy into that for very long, no matter how seductive or accusatory some of these "self-proclaimed tea lover types" try to make themselves appear to be so wonderful. There is a reason why we don't live like they do in Williamsburg anymore, it was cold, hot, hard, boring, took so much work to live that we had no time to do much else. I have a real rough time believing that the bulk of this country would like to go back to that. However this does not stop the tea heads from pulling every trick in the book to try and get their way. Even if they succeed, it will only be temporarily as people will realize, "What the hell were we thinking?"

Back to the creativity measurement of children receding. With all the fuss about how to run our school systems, the constant pressure to measure and make sure that everybody gets to be the same. This is where the toll is being paid. Everybody isn't the same, that's why we had this built into our government in the first place. Wake up folks! This is a very backwards and underhandedly insidious way of dumbing down the populace. If everyone is taught to try and be the same, it may make it easier for the teachers, or those others who designate themselves to be overseers in charge of the rest, but it will do nothing to increase what our culture has been known for - innovation, production beyond the wildest dreams, pulling out the most audacious result not done by others. Want an example? How about in less than 10 years building a space program from scratch and landing a man on the moon. Not just once but several times. Look at all the innovative things that have been built and absorbed into our culture that people don't even realize, but take for granted.

Part of the problem is that people are trained to just note that some of these things have changed and to accept them. When was last time anyone looked critically at why certain things were changed? What was adjusted and why? Does it make it better? Whose version of better? In what way?

In the last decade people have been lamenting the economy. It certainly has changed. And there are several people that will show you many ways that started this change, those are all debatable and only time will settle the issue. Meanwhile technology keeps moving on. As certain politicians will now tell you, with measurements, that the economy is improving. Yes, the economy may be improving, and it can be measurably shown. However, an economy and a jobless rate are not a straight correlation. Notice that as the economy is improving, many manufacturing concerns are now placing orders for robots that they plan on having do the work of several employees. In an article I read one moderately priced robot at $27,000 has an expected lifetime of 5 to 7 years, will work 24 hours a day and generate no healthcare problems, a factor whose price increases no employer has any handle on. Simple grade school math rather than high level economics dictates which way they should go on this choice. So while the economy is improving, there are less people being hired back to take the jobs they used to have.

If one were to look at this from strictly an objective point of view, the choice is a no-brainer. The company becomes more efficient, more product is generated, the owners and stockholders become wealthier. From a subjective point of view, the worker can no longer find the same kind of work that used to be done, they no longer have money which does not get plowed back into the economy. So the problem becomes how much objective and subjective point of view are we to include in our view of this situation. Yes it is true that we no longer have thousands of people employed making buggy whips any longer. And it is a valid question as to whose job should it be to retrain workers who may find themselves supplanted by machinery. I would argue that if you are one of those previously mentioned owners or stockholders, you could give a ripped shit about what happens. And for a while your monetary fortune may keep you insulated from a growing problem outside your door. However, those untrained workers who are unable to find any way to reinvent themselves and make themselves useful to others are going to gather and grow in size and strength, gaining support from others like them. Does the history of the French Revolution mean anything to you?

Looking back at that event it was not pretty, nor did it really achieve any good purpose. Some observers will say today that French politics and governmental systems are still somewhat haphazard, and lurch from one charged position to another depending on the whim of the public. Taking a larger view of the French Revolution, it did act as a diffusing of long pent-up anger and emotions, but at a very steep cost. While that may have been affective in the short run, I'm not so sure that the long-term shadow of the way that event proceeded has really served the French people very well.

Back to the issues of creativity. One of the things that the creative person is able to do is step back and look at the same situation as others and be able to see it differently. They can see different outcomes, they can see different factors taking place, they can see different ways of helping guide it to the successful resolution. The noncreative types will, I'm afraid, tend to see things for the easiest, cheapest, most logical ways. This may not be what we need to do. Go back and search the newspapers and public media from around the time of Kennedy's speech charging the nation with a manned space program ending with a man on the moon - and being brought back successfully. We had nothing to build on. Up to that point most of our rockets either exploded on the launchpad are only rose a few hundred feet up in the year before they blow up. In the race against the Soviets for supremacy we looked to be very far behind. But people bought into the image of landing a man on the moon and then they looked critically at what we had to work with and began to design better. We took incremental steps, and critically analyze the success and failures of each. Then change the design as we progressed. Eventually we were able to control rockets so they launched successfully. Through tremendous errors we figured out after the fire in the Gemini capsule on the launchpad, 100% pure oxygen atmosphere was not necessarily the way we needed to go with the breathing atmosphere in our space vehicles. Again we learned with the Challenger disaster that space shuttles are so complicated they need to be prepared and launched when ready not because were trying to adhere to some sort of timetable following a business model. Eventually we learned not only how to modify our technology, but also our approach and use of that technology towards more perfect results. Even simple things that most people have never seen or heard of like Venn diagrams and Gantt charts were used to plot the timing of subassemblies and the completion of supporting events that fit into the whole, which had never been done before. Now these things are taught in most business programs so that people can anticipate needed parts to be delivered on time at the right place.

None of this would've occurred if we wanted to stay in the same mindset of the strict production oriented worker. The creative person usually does not specialize in only one area. It's a lifestyle. It can be applied everything that the individual may see or do in their life. It requires familiarity with the materials and techniques so that one does not go down a wrong path unnecessarily . Sadly I am not seeing that this approach is being very welcomed in the school systems these days. Everything is oriented towards conforming, being like everybody else, at a high level, but very much the same. The thing that bothers me about this is that these things have sort of been shown in nature to not work very well. For example the potato blight that hit Ireland and caused so much death and misery, and caused more than three quarters of the Irish population to emigrate, just so they could live. More than once we've been shown that to depend on such homogeneity is a recipe just waiting for disasterto come in. Did we not learn the lesson? Is there a reason why we insist on doing this again with a whole generation of our youngsters? Is anybody paying attention? Does anyone care?

Friday, November 8, 2013

8 November 2013
Friday evening

All this and asking as well
Contrary to what appears to be believed - I'm not dead yet

Well, it's been an interesting week. There been some exciting moments and some things that have happened that one would not have expected. For example, as you may know, Friday is one of my shower days. A moment that I look forward to as it only comes around two times a week (the shower, not Fridays). And one never knows when one of those times might be superseded by someone else's more important construct or situation. Like the time I was nearly in my wheelchair, literally halfway from the bed to the chair, when a CENA popped her head in the room and announced that suddenly all showers are off as of now.

Why? It seems that when someone from "corporate" arrives on surprise basis to tour the facility. The word is that such demanding chores as helping residents get their carcass cleaned is too demanding of the CENA staff. They need to be out on the floor where they can be visible attending to residents, not hidden away in the shower room dealing with only one person at a time - it just doesn't look good. So my shower was canceled so that we could make a nice impression for some fat guy from out of town. This is not sour grapes speaking. I saw the guy. He literally looks like he could be a double for Norm on the old show Cheers.

Only problem was, I couldn't generate much positive feeling for the man. His general overweight condition did nothing to help my assessment. The lack of any form of neck whatsoever and the fact that his belt was straining mightily against the overwhelming onslaught from his belly region reminded me of too many other people that I've known who exhibits the same physique and yet also project thoroughly self-serving personality. Somehow that self-serving personality aspect matched up perfectly with the fact that my one of two showers per week and been canceled, just so he could be served a false image of how wonderfully busy everyone was.

Today's shower was much more efficient, the CENA helped me remove the leads from a 24-hour heart monitor that I'd been wearing since the day before. Then we proceeded to the shower. Everything went smoothly and I was set up in the shower. Since I have shown proficiency with being able to do most everything by myself, the CENA is free to leave me for a while to attend to other chores. Things like stripping my bed for new linen, getting things that we had forgotten from my room, like clean pair of socks, and on such things.

I noted while the water was running waiting for the pipes to heat up as the water traveled from the water heater to where I was using it, the sound of the water hitting the floor beneath me did not have his usual splatter of drops of water hitting the tiles. It didn't take me long to realize that the sound of water dripping into a gathering puddle of water indicate that it may be the shower drain was running a little slow. Slow enough that the input from the showerhead was overtaking it. I proceeded to soap up and scrub, processing the shampoo through my hair when I began to notice that the water was growing deeper. The water dripping off my seat onto the area beneath me wasn't hitting the tile floor, but rather was adding to the mix of the growing puddle beneath me. I then realized that the water was starting to raise to the area my feet were. The floor of the shower slopes slightly upward to imaginary line bisecting the shower area from the rest of the shower room. The water on the shower stall side of line flows toward the drain any water that flows in the other side of this mentoring line flows out into the larger room itself.

It didn't take me long to realize that if I took my time and delighted in the shower (which is one of the few joys attendent to taking a shower) the slow drain would cause the water to eventually flood the shower room, and as there was no drain in that floor, it would seep under the door out in the hallway. I had no control over what might get into that water in the hallway. Along the far side of the wall was a baseboard heater. I had no idea was electrically run or hot water based. Suddenly the image of some stray source of electricity meeting up with my growing puddle frightened me quite a bit. I proceeded to finish my shower as quickly as possible and turn off the water. I did get clean, although the parts that would normally wait for the CENA to come back and finish for me the parts I cannot reach did not get scrubbed. Somehow that seemed like small enough issue under these conditions.

I was beginning to wonder if my shower might turn into this ?

Or this?

Or some rollers like this ?

What if sand dunes began to form?

Or if exotic livestock appeared?

I managed to finish everything and turn the water off and I noted that slowly the water was lowering in my shower stall. So the drain was not completely stopped up, just running slow. I didn't have any access to a towel at this point but did have two wash clothes provided for me, I had only used one. Realizing that it might take a while to shiver dry, and not wanting to do that, I took the dry washcloth and used it as a miniature towel to at least get most of the water off the surface of me so I would not be losing heat so fast.

The emergency call light cord was just about out of reach. I suppose if it was a real emergency, and I was conscious, I may be able to expend a lot of effort and energy to reach the call light to pull cord, but under these conditions I thought why would I do that? I was clean, I was safe, there had been somewhat of an adventure, but pulling the panic button now would not be of any real service. I could afford to wait.

Not long and I could hear the CENA pressing the lock key code into the door lock from outside, meanwhile exclaiming in a loud voice, "Hey there is water out here, what you doing in there?" As the door opened I could hear by her exclamation that most of the shower room floor was still underwater. Also, the water had been seeping outside the room under the door and was starting to run down the hallway. Suddenly the first chore that needed attention was to grab as many towels as possible so as to throw them on the floor and sop up the water. Problem was that towels are not always stocked in the shower room every day. Or if the stocking had been done it was early enough that most of them had been used by now.

She quickly ran to the linen closet for more towels. She was gone quite some time before she came back, explaining that she had to go down to the second floor and then finally to the laundry room to find more extra large bath sheet type towels. She explained that the woman in the laundry, when she found out why they were being sought so quickly, said so that's why they had so many yesterday. She mentioned that the plastic bag used to collect soiled towels to take them to the laundry, was so heavy that she could hardly lift it.

This is a major clue. Are you paying attention? This clue tells us that yesterday there had been some major water on the floor event that many large towels had also been used to sop it up, and they had made there way to the laundry for processing. Knowing how communication is the first thing to suffer around here, it is an easy stretch to imagine that possibly this drain was running slow yesterday and caused a backup when the towels gave away the situation. Now as we chase this down the inevitable maintenance man, who will get the chore, to see if he has heard of this before. An amazed comment and a negative response will let us know that whoever was overseeing this fiasco previously did not think that it was valuable enough to let anybody know so that would not happen again. It occurs to me that anyone would continue to allow something like this to happen without doing anything to stop it is a candidate for the dumb shit-of-the-week award.

I just can't get over the fact that what seems obvious to me, should seem not so obvious to those who work here, and then I just blown away as to how many times I see this sort of thing not followed up appropriately. There is some CENAs with whom I share my observations about events like this, and they too have a difficult time picturing how some people, who happen to be their peers, fail so miserably in following through on something like this.

I did eventually get dressed, inspected by the nurse to see if my various wounds are healing, set my chair and released upon the facility. The CENA did an excellent job attending to my shower as well as the unexpected facility cleanup. Needless to say, her lunch break was following this episode, and she was eager to go and relax.

Meanwhile, my father's wife was due to come for a visit and bring a nice salad for lunch. I went downstairs, visited with a few people that I normally find down there and made myself ready for my visit - and lunch!

Earlier in the week my father had come to visit. Prior to his arrival I had written a note to his wife, asking if she wouldn't please use her magic to nudge him into completing an errand that he has promised to complete for many times over the last few months that I have been here. This was to bring a couple of my favorite photographs that were saved from my home so that I can hang them here. I had already found from the building manager that would be okay to do and that he would be more than willing to help me. I found out today that my father's wife had gently reminded him by getting my photographs out of wherever he had put them away and put them in large garbage bags, then placed them in the hallway where he had no chance but to see them as he went toward car. Then she made sure to ask if he was going to have any problem carrying them into the car and into building once he got here. He assured her that he could do it and indeed he did. As luck would have it I ran into the same building manager the day after Dad was here with my pictures and he put one of them up on the wall which is at the foot in my bed, where I can lie and look at it with no effort at all. We talked about this over lunch and I told her I was very glad that I written and that she had made the effort to "nudge" dear father in this direction.

It's not much, at least compared to all the other photographs I've done, many of which my younger brother thoughtlessly gave away as he was closing my house, because he didn't want to deal with them at all. I don't know how these were saved, they are couple of my favorites. Now as I take a moment throughout the day and gaze at that photograph opposite me, the memories and thoughts that arise just as a result of seeing that particular photograph are more numerous than most memories I have been entertaining in the months that I have been here.

I have noted that most people treat me as if I'm already dead and gone. That's one of the strange things about long-term illness or disability in this country. It's well known that most of your former friends suddenly are finding themselves "too busy" to take the time to stop and see you, or even write, or call. I would imagine this is about the closest thing to dying without actually leaving the planet. There are few people who come by, even fewer who come by regularly. Many who came by once, have somehow found reason not to be able to come by again. I can't tell you how much this hurts. It's a strange condition to be just as live as you once were but now nearly everything that you used to know is gone. House, savings, investments, the money set aside for retirement, car, friends, nearly all of your possessions, many of those little knickknacks that really did that amount to much, but they were saved because for some silly reason they meant a lot to you.

There are certain things that mean a lot to me. I'm very visual, I had a lot of photographs. Not just snapshots in a shoebox in a closet somewhere, but I had noticed there were things that really attracted me and so I strove to get good representations, well presented, often well framed and hung up on the walls where I could admire them. These gave me inspiration often.
A print ad destined for a magazine cleverly showing the strengths of each hemisphere
catches your attention doesn't it? 
To have a family member, whom you thought would have known you better than they showed they could handle, inform you that you had too much "junk" and that their method of dealing with it for you, at your request, was to throw it out in a dumpster or give it away. That did feel and still feels like having my heart ripped out of me while it's still beating. I wasn't ready to find myself so separated from the things that meant much to me. Little things used to mean a lot to me like, I had printed out once the words to George Harrison's My Guitar Gently Weeps and had them on my refrigerator, held with glass magnets that I had made in my own stained glass studio in the basement. Granted it was just a piece of paper with some ink on it, but I always got a little misty eyed every time I passed that song and read even just one or two lines from the whole thing. That's why it was there. There are the things too, some of which were not even considered. The Grateful Dead song ripple always gives me pause. I cannot hear that on the radio, on one of my iPods, anywhere without the world slowing down in my view expanding infinitely in all directions. Many things that I had collected had this kind of impact on me. How anyone could not see that, not understand, not even try is beyond me.

So the recovery of two of these photographs has done a great deal to encourage my attitude in the months that I've been here. I know that this is basically a rehab facility, people are here for a short while and then move on, usually somewhere else often to a place that they call home. I heard this social worker earlier today talking to a woman about how she's going home to her place over the weekend, and that they're going to coordinate with another agency to make sure that she's being checked on regularly as she acclimates to being in her own home, again. I'm happy for her. And yet hearing those words from around the corner and down the hall, I could not help but think to myself I don't have a home anymore. Everything that I used to have is gone. This is my home now, and I may live another 20 years. I realize after having that missed photograph of mine recovered and hung up on my wall, how much we gain from our surroundings. And if you can decorate a place to your own liking that will sustain you. And I'm here to tell you living in an institutional setting quickly overruns its newness and there is not much to sustain one. Unles you strain to attain the sanitized effect of institutional living.
Grab shot of Photograph recovered
Made over thirty years ago

View of photograph as seen from bed in perspective with the rest of the wall
There is a lot more empty space to fill
Some other photographs needing framing can be seen on table next to television

To some degree I am lucky. I have managed to make myself noxious enough to get some of my family members to regain some of the things that used to belong to me in my own home. For example, in a box over by the entryway to my bathroom (which I am unable to use) in a box full of many knickknacks are all four of my college diplomas. It was fortuitous that those do not get thrown out with some of the other things that I'm missing. They are in good shape and something I have always wanted to do with them when I was at home, but never got a chance to, may come to fruition now. I always wanted to frame all four of them and hang them together. Now these show my acedemic achievement, but it also shows that if you stick to it you can get to the end. Granted this is not exactly the end I envisioned - but it's the one I have available, now. And I would like to get those framed. The building maintenance manager has even said that I can frame them and hang them on the wall in the space above the door transom visible in the picture I'm going to include. I have a packet of the 3M Command product to hang them. All I need now is to get them framed.

Therein is the problem. Due to Medicaid's draconian requirement that people in my position covered by them on nothing of value more than $2000. I did have some of that money but has drained away. So I invite you to do something bold and adventurous. I have begun a PayPal account. As you may know, if you've ever used PayPal, it is a way to send money to someone all you need is their email address. Since Medicaid does allow people to give small gifts or things in kind, this in no way stretches anybody's rools . I'm going to put it out there and ask anyone who would like to to donate any sum that they feel comfortable with through my PayPal account. I am going to try and get enough funding to purchase framing for my diplomas so they can be hung up and appreciated. Just knowing they're there in the box is one thing. It will be quite another to see them protected and displayed proudly for one in all to acknowledge. Seeing them displayed like that will be of tremendous boost to my sense of attitude and who I am. The next step will be to find somebody who will be willing to take them to and from the framing store so that this can be accomplished.

I imagine most facilities like this one have the right intent at heart. However, the journey from at heart to being completely accomplished often causes a huge diminuation in the original intent. I'm saddened to find out how many people are willing to put up with such losses. That attitude never served me well at all. It is half the reason how I got behind getting so many Degrees in the first place. I do not wish to succumb to the general attitude of so many around here just to get along. I'm looking at too many years of having to lose myself in such a gradual, diminished fashion. If people are not familiar with how PayPal works, go to, they have an excellent set of webpages instructing on how this works. My email address is

This feels awkward, but under these conditions, I am no longer allowed to work and am scrambling to find some way to put my talents to use. If I factor it out there is nothing wrong with asking for help, and the results to be gained by feeling a part of a community. That will go along way in these conditions where the community is so conditional, and so antithetical to what I used to be. I am not used to quantifying what I do against some economic scale and then deciding that it cannot be done because it's too costly. There is more to interacting with people than the economics of pecuniary materialism. I'm looking at too many good years to live like somebody else that is so foreign to me. Asking is hard, somehow we tend to believe that it belittles us. It doesn't. It is an honest act brought right out into the open. I have paid for nearly everything I wanted. It was my nature and how I was raised. Asking for something and getting it some seemed as if I had done something slimy and socially improper. But now I am existing under certain rules that preclude me from earning anything, or I run afoul of those rules and those earning can and will be taken from me. Suddenly the very thing that was that the at the core of my being is now not to be done. If I play the game according to these strange rules I might as well be amoung the unburied dead whom Medicaid creates and encourages. I am free to involve myself in hobbies, thing I have done before, but as you may recall, most of my equipment, tools and work equipment has so thoughtlessly been disposed of by my younger brother. Most of my camera equipment, stained glass tools, books are all gone now. The only thing I have left is a chance at a clean start and the inability to earn my way to the new beginning. I'm not ready to live a life that seems to be straight out of the Twilight Zone.
Strangeness may be closer than it appears

Sunday, November 3, 2013

3 November 2013
Sunday evening

Still I find myself here,
   no better off, contrary to everyone's mistaken belief

I ought to write, its been a while. I did the free system upgrade that Apple offered back on the 19th of October. It does add some neat little features and some mighty nice big ones. But there was one drawback – my speech dictation program won't even mount. I checked their website and was led to believe that the newest upgrade will and won't work. I called the toll free line to get the straight answer. But like so many events in the world today, straight answers are relative. I should know better, especially if the exchange of money is involved. If that is involved then truth is usually the casualty, and people (like me) are more like collateral damage.

I was told that the new software was great, I could do so much more with it. Golly-Whizzbang stuff. So I sent off some money. That money was hard to let go of, I have so little any more. Not only am I institutionally made and kept poor (such is the way of being swept up into the Medicaid system) but family seem bent on becoming exceptionally stingy under these conditions. This never used to be their nature, so it has been a shock to see the change that has come over them lately.

The software arrived to great anticipation. I unwrapped the package and loaded the disk. The machine hummed and did all of the work itself. The moment arrived to see how the attributed wonderfulness took shape. It didn't.

I clicked the icon, everything proceeded, then a pop up window appears telling me that this newer version of the speech dictation software doesn't work with the latest version of the OSX. Damn! Lied to once again, or at least sweetly encouraged to believe what the corporation wanted me to believe. It was Friday, late enough that a phone call wouldn’t do anything anyway. I checked the web site, only more pages of how the latest version of the speech dictation program is needed with OX 10.9 Well, that is what I have - and it still isn't working. I have had to go for weeks without writing, waiting for the new software, now it is here and I still have to poke out the letters one at a time.

I used to type like the wind. Back when I could sit upright before the keyboard in the correct ergonomic position. That is all gone now, as is my nice big 24” iMac which rests at my brother's house about ten minutes away. There is no place for it here. He said that he would make a support frame to hold it next to my bed – ten months ago now! No frame, no computer, and hardly any brother visits. He begs of that he's too busy, or his feet hurt, or … You get the picture.

I hate being lied to. Most advertising does just this. Although those in that business will call it enhancing the positives. One of the curious things about words is that they are very powerful in that the can develop pictures in our minds, good authors make good use of this. So too can advertisers, to the disadvantage of those being pitched to. Most of us in this culture have been subjected to advertising to the point that many of us have unconsciously picked up how the techniques are used. The problem with this is that it becomes very easy to lose track of the fact that the other person is a human being, not an object to be convinced, manipulated and influence.

This has occurred to such a full range as to change the way most people speak to one another, and to some degree the way they think about one another as well. For if you consider for a moment our speaking is often indicative of how we think. Many people don't catch this and so their speech often belies what is rolling about inside of them.

This morning I noticed that my briefs did not survive the night unviolated, although this is exactly what they were designed to do. So I asked the CENA this morning when breakfast was delivered if I could, after breakfast, have a brief clean up with a washcloth and a new brief? No problem, I was told, after the breakfast trays were collected. The person who delivered my tray was not the one who collected the tray when I was finished … about the time the lunch trays were to be delivered. It was the first shift nurse bringing my first medications of the day, she took the tray away. I told her of the brief that still had yet to be changed. She said she would remind the CENA.

Second shift began and I grew weary of waiting so I rested my eyes and found myself waking a few hours later. I pressed the call light and after forty minutes a CENA came by to see what I wanted. I told her of the briefs and that every time I peeled the covers back to use the urinal, the ammonia fumes about knocked me out. She said she would be right back. No one came back and I grew sleepy again so I soon fell asleep. Dinner arrived with a different CENA. I restated my wish to have the now completely sodden briefs changed. She informed me that she will let my CENA know, then left.

[Apparently the CENAS do help one another out during the shift with some chores like passing and later collecting meal trays, but when it comes to actually working hands on with a resident the boundaries are suddenly strictly observed as to which resident is on which CENA's care list for the day.] With all of the, “I'll get your CENA.” talk going on there must be a lot of forgetting going on, either on the part of the message bearer or the receiver. Either way I spent most of Sunday in soaked briefs.
By the time the CENA assigned to me arrived to see if I was okay in bed for the night, one of the duties of the second shift crew I was ready for the Easy Stand to lift me to the commode to release a bowel. Now it would be easy to effect a change of briefs as I would be vertically suspended for a while. In the course of using the easy stand and sitting on the commode, I personally experienced which easy stand to use as only one of them any more had the required chest strap that holds the victim resident securely in position while being lifted (no one has been able to find the missing strap, oh you mean like the one that has been left languishing over there in a corner of my room? No, that one is for the legs.) A borrowing of the battery pack from the Easy Stand I was using to power the other Easy Stand temporarily as its battery was dead. There was a comment on how the corporation no longer had chocolate to mix in with the coffee (the coffee is beyond drinkable by itself). The latest box of tissues is an even cheaper variety than the brand used before, this variety has all the softness of newspaper. For lunch today two hot dogs were served, the only condiment was salt and pepper, I considered the hot dogs to be salty enough. Dinner was meatloaf, the CENA offered to find some catsup packets, none were offered with the meal. The CENA's are talking, complaining really, about how this outfit used to have more CENAs per resident, now with the high resident ratio to CENAs more of them are getting hurt on the job. Ah yes, and the more residents per CENA the frustration of the CENA's mounts as many of them would like to do a good job, but they are too harried to do that. And the more the CENA's have difficulty helping the residents, the longer the response to the call lights the more unhappy the residents become. I hear it every day as more residents are cursing the staff for taking so long to respond tom the call light.

This does not even take into consideration the complaints about the food since the kitchen has been shifted to a different company. Yes, it has been a long slow slide into oblivion, a state of being degraded and forgotten which few people can see what is occurring or do not have the will to make any adjustments any more. Seems as if this were coming from several different points of causation but no one wants to stand up and do anything to stop it. I point out the problem to one and all, but if they aren't listening, for whatever reason, the assurance is that nothing will get done. Somehow I suddenly feel expendable. As long as this facility gets its money, nothing will change. As long as the software vendors get their money they will coast on their past as long as possible. As long as the CENAs continue to receive no clear support from the company and see their cohorts slacking off without recourse, the will just hunker down until they can no longer take the demands and the poor level of care to which they are subjected.

I used to see this sort of activity going on, but I had the ability to take myself to another situation. Now I no longer can move of my own volition. I require help to get out of bed and into a wheelchair. For months I could no receive permission to even go out side of the building. If I get out side there is nowhere to go. I need special transportation to travel anywhere. The overall message is that I am a burden to just about everyone for most of my activities of daily living and many of them dislike having to provide me with even this. If I am not seen as a burden, then I am some rube destined to be descended upon by those who see in me a purse with limited funds that they figure is theirs only in waiting for the moment to make those monies find their way to them.

I must be good at disguise for very few see me as a human being. Or maybe they have a difficult time showing it.

Let's hope for a better week ahead.