Sunday, October 28, 2018

This Week Sucked

Just not feeling it this week. My personal health condition is unchanged, at least for right now. Taking my medicines and hope to have my next cardiac ablation scheduled later this week.  Which is a two-edged sword since I have to go off the meds for five days to clean out my system so they can find the problem heart cells and zap the little bastards with electricity. Of course, going off the meds means I might have another incident before I have the procedure.

On an entirely different note, the nation had to live through a conservative republican terrorist sending pipe bombs through the mail this week. Nothing signifies the utter corruption of American politics when all manner of Trump-supporting MAGAts openly believing those crimes were some Democratic-inspired hoax. And just to add another insult to an already injured country, another conservative wacko decided to shoot up a synagogue in Pennsylvania.

What comes close to leaving me in despair is that the Orange Bastard is still out there trying his best to burn the country down. 



Sunday, October 21, 2018

More Cardiac Adventures- An Unexpected Hospital Stay

Just a quick update. Had a cardiac ablation on October 11th to solve issues with things like heart flutter and ventricular tachycardia. Cardiac ablation is a relatively simple outpatient procedure but I took a four day weekend to recover because my groin area was quite sore. You really don't want me to explain that detail, just take my word that it's unpleasant.

After a relaxing weekend, on the afternoon of October 15th had a setback. I was suddenly hit with another bout of ventricular tachycardia which sent me to the emergency room and a hospital stay that lasted until this passed Thursday.

Didn't post anything about this hospital stay because I was both depressed and more than slightly pissed. Depressed because the assurances I was given about the problem being "solved" weren't worth the toilet paper stuck to Trump's shoes as he boarded Air Force One the other day. And pissed because I didn't do my own research into VT and the cardiac ablation procedure. Found out people can have up to four procedures and still end up taking the medicine that controls crazy heart rhythms.

Feeling "better" as compared to the events on October 11th. But I'm still getting use to the new blood pressure meds and the fact I don't really have much of an appetite lately. The appetite thing could be a blessing since I need to lose weight anyway.

Once again, huge shout out to my wife, son and daughter who did their best to take care of me. And a massive thank you to my coworkers who visits made me feel much better. 

Sunday, October 14, 2018

A Subtle Decadency

Let me go ahead and write that this post will be even more askew from my usual rants and trite observations. Nothing really surprising although my eventual point will probably be a little too abstract for most people.

Over a week ago, I had to make a Lowes run to once again pick up supplies for yard work. As per my usual habit, I stopped by the place quite early in the morning while on my way home from work. That way I didn't have to deal with both the large crowds that frequent the warehouse-style retail stores and and the locals who I simply do not like. Yes, that latter part is from my longstanding inability to fit in with the stifling atmosphere that engulfs anything to do with modern American suburbia. A physiological deficiency of mine that still drives my wife crazy.

As most already know, the vast majority of American retail stores of all types start laying out Halloween merchandise at the end of August. This is mainly so all manufacturers of Halloween stuff can make as much money as possible off the docile masses. I could mention the Pavlovian nature of bringing out all the cheap and crappy trinkets of the various holidays a little earlier each year, but what would be the point? American consumers are a nicely tamed and trained bunch who eagerly drool the second the proper stimulus appears. Whatever the case, as far as my 50-something mind is concerned, I problem with bringing out all the horror-related junk while everyone is walking around in sweaty t-shirts and shorts. I still associate Halloween with far chiller, autumn-like weather that required people wear long pants and light jackets. Not that my childhood memories matter since these days in the American South, hot and humid summer-like weather stays well into October.

Walking into Lowes that morning I thought I had seen all the possible excesses that could exist when it comes to what I will call meaningless holiday bling. The definition of that term being any item whose cost is inverse to the time it can be displayed. Because just a few steps inside the store was a sixteen-foot inflatable Grim Reaper. Strangely fascinated by this Halloween decoration, I had to know how much that thing cost. The price tag on that item was two-hundred bucks, technically not a huge amount when you consider the surrounding area was overwhelmingly comprised of upper middle class white folks who eat that kind of materialistic crap like Cheerios. Personally, I was hit with a feeling of disgust so strong I could almost taste bile in my mouth.

From my own point of view, I can see the use of new smart phones, new computers or kitchen appliances, and hundreds of other item that could easily be considered “trendy.” Newer items generally use less power and have increased functions that, for me, translates into a justifiable reason to blow away money. But that inflatable Grim Reaper violated some fundamental principle in me that superseded the idea that everyone has a basic right to do what they want with their money.

My nonconforming, anti-community attitude party comes from the fact that I was raised by my grandparents. They were people whose childhood spanned the worst of the Great Depression and the austerity demanded by the Second World War. It's also worth mentioning that for them being born in the American South during those years also meant a general level of poverty, that while was much worse for some, was still around third-world levels for everyone. So they would never for a second entertained the idea of purchasing something even remotely akin to that inflatable Grim Reaper. They were type of people who truly had a credit card for emergencies. Which I know from first hand experience because while a busted water heater was enough of an emergency to pull out the credit card, a broken television was most definitely something that could wait until after payday.

For those reasons I am what could be called strongly anti-bling. I abhor anything flashy or what I would consider blatantly wasteful, which the inflatable Grim Reaper fits perfectly in that category. I've got far better things to do with two-hundred dollars than blow it on a piece of seasonal holiday crap that probably won't last three years before it rips or the blower fails. Truth be told, one of the ongoing issues I have with my wife is her three separate boxes of decorations for the Christmas Tree. Each box contains a different style of decorations ranging from Disney stuff, my favorite, with the other two made up of Victorian era-style stuff and “Three Kings” items, which I frankly don't understand. Growing up, we had one box of standard Christmas decorations that lasted decades.

On a more subtle level, the inflatable Grim Reaper reeks of a societal decadency that bothers me more than it should. I live in an area that when a county referendum was approved calling for a penny increase in sales tax to fund road improvements, those that pushed for the measure literally received various forms of physical threats. Yeah, the county roads where I live are quite bad and while some did eventually get much needed maintenance, the funding came from the state government. Do I even need to mention the county tax referendum was massively defeated? Getting back to my main point, Lowes just didn't throw out boxes of the inflatable Grim Reaper to its stores nationwide for shits and giggles. Such corporations know what products sell and what the local customers ignore.

This all leads back to my hate of suburbia and the people who inhabit it. These are people who piously attend church and spout the approved orthodoxy but have no real idea of the teachings of Christ, at least the parts about social justice. To them, Christ is a Republican who loves capitalism and is highly suspicious of anyone outside their ethnic group. While there are exceptions, these suburbanites reside in narrow universe and react quite harshly to anything outside it that even threatens to disturb their blissful domain. That mindset makes it hard for any possible reforms that would correct injustices or prepare for the future. They have their stuff and to Hell with everyone else.

They more or less live at the top of the social ladder. Yes, I fully understand it's the billionaires and multi-millionaires who truly rule over the nation and world. But from my observations, to suburbanites the ultra rich are even more of an abstract concept than to the working poor who watch the reality television that show off their lavish antics. Working poor people placate their dead end existence by thinking their just one good idea away from having lunch with the Kardashians.

To the average suburbanite, the future is nothing but a continuation of their current lifestyle. They live in comfortable and spacious homes, have unbelievably huge televisions in their living rooms, and have enough “money” to buy inflatable Grim Reapers so they can essentially show off to the neighbors that they play the same bullshit game as everyone else.

The thing that I find darkly humorous in all this is that if some event or circumstance upsets the suburbanite apple cart and shits get really bad, I understand enough about human nature to know that the outwardly pleasant persona of these people display will evaporate in a second. If the Walmart or Kroger shelves go empty and the convenience stores run out of gas they will be eating each other by the end of the week. Then that would be a perfect time for someone set out their sixteen-foot inflatable Grim Reaper.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Eternal Vigilance

As things to continue to spiral out of control with intolerance and fear given free reign by those in power, it's easy to become exhausted and give up hope. God knows there are times I want to puke after listening to the television talking heads microscopically examine the latest political atrocity. And I'm not just talking about the damn right-wing nutcases that daily edge closer to deifying the Orange Bastard.

I've heard a good many Liberal pundits paint a far too rosy picture of the future after he 2018 midterms. As far as they are concerned, after the November election a Democratic-controlled Congress will impeach the monster occupying the White House and restore decency to the government. A really nice idea but when you examine it further and realize that Pence would take over he gives every appearance of being a total nutcase in his own right. For now I'll ignore the possible fact that Pence is as corrupt as his boss because impeaching Trump alone will be a really difficult task even if the Russia Investigation has clear cut, blindingly obvious evidence of traitorous behavior.

Liberals have essentially walked down this deluded primrose path before during the early Obama years. It might be hard for some to remember but after eight years of Bush/Cheney many on my side of the political spectrum thought President Obama would usher in a new Golden Age. Obama was going to fix the economy, cure all social injustices, and reverse global warming all before the midterms. Not six months into his administration, Liberal whining had already started with various factions bemoaning the fact that their special interest had not been addressed. Sorry folks, societal and government problems are not tasks with easy solutions. To think they are suggests a lack of understanding that rivals the delusions of the right-wing Marching Morons. 

This is on top of the proto-fascist "Tea Party" types claiming President Obama was everything from a secret fundamentalist Muslim, radical atheist Marxist, space alien, and even the Antichrist. On a side note, Tea Party types also raised hell about the federal budget deficit that Obama mostly inherited from Bush/Cheney. Funny how with Trump now pushing it back over a trillion a year with his massive corporate tax cut they appear to have gone extinct.

So what happened when the 2010 midterms came up? Liberals largely stayed home allowing the Republicans to take control of Congress. Yes, there was some progress during Obama's years but as we now have seen it is being undone because once again Democrats/Liberals/progressives decided 2016 was a great time for a bullshit civil war about political purity.

Maintaining a healthy democracy is not a winnable war. It is a constant battle with the forces of both those who long for some simpler time when they were in charge and the elements on our own side who are self-destructive. I guess the Republicans have a reversed situation in that back when their party was sane they had to prevent government from going too far and delving into matters best left to the individual, local, or state governments. I would add that they also had to fight against the insane wing of their party that are attracted to authoritarianism, but they clearly lost that war.

So it goes without saying that we're all in some pretty deep shit. We've let a dark chaos take control of the country and unless we elect a Democratic congress next month the following two years will make the nightmare we've lived since 2017 pale in comparison. But that is only the beginning, every rational person has to continue to vote in every election no matter how trivial it might seem. There is no victory that can be achieved, keeping the American experiment alive is a battle that will never end.

 Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty; power is ever stealing from the many to the few. The manna of popular liberty must be gathered each day or it is rotten. The living sap of today outgrows the dead rind of yesterday. The hand entrusted with power becomes, either from human depravity or esprit de corps, the necessary enemy of the people. Only by continued oversight can the democrat in office be prevented from hardening into a despot; only by unintermitted agitation can a people be sufficiently awake to principle not to let liberty be smothered in material prosperity.” 

Wendell Phillips - 1811 to 1884