Sunday, June 29, 2008

If you've got a few minutes, here's something you might enjoy:

Praan, by Garry Schyman, the music from "Where the Hell is Matt?" Lyrics from Rabindranath Tagore's poem "Stream of Life":
The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures. It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth in numberless blades of grass and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers. It is the same life that is rocked in the ocean-cradle of birth and of death, in ebb and in flow. I feel my limbs are made glorious by the touch of this world of life. And my pride is from the life-throb of ages dancing in my blood this moment.
The poem in the original Bengali is as follows:
Bhulbona ar shohojete
Shei praan e mon uthbe mete
Mrittu majhe dhaka ache
je ontohin praan

Bojre tomar baje bashi
She ki shohoj gaan
Shei shurete jagbo ami

Shei jhor jeno shoi anonde
Chittobinar taare
Shotto-shundu dosh digonto
Nachao je jhonkare!

Got it?

The vocalist is Palbasha Siddique and the concert master is Belinda Broughton, drums and engineering by Dan Blessinger and on guitar, Kevin Dukes.


Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin

This is getting to be a habit; bemoaning the loss of someone known to many.
I find it difficult to consider following the ebb and flow of the current presidential election campaign without Tim Russert.
Likewise, I now am saddened by the prospect of no longer hearing George Carlin's take on politics and the social order. Carlin was an intelligently funny man. He was facile in his ability to cut through the crap and get down to the base hypocracy and ludicrousness of political shenanigans and social mores.
My current "stand up" heros are Carlin, Robin Williams and Lewis Black. Of the three, Carlin was again, in my opinion, the most intelligent and most on target with his often scathing commentary. I hate like hell that he is gone.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Floods, Bad Knees & Gettin' Old

The last few weeks have been trying for many people in the middle western U.S. The late spring weather has brought havoc to large portions of Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana among other states. Currently Iowa and points south are still suffering the brunt of flooding resulting from drenching rains.

Indiana had its own round of tornadoes and unprecedented rains. The last really soaking rain that ran its course through central Indiana poured as much as eleven inches of precipitation in some communities. Here on the south side of Indy we got around seven inches of it.

My wife and I have been in our current home since January of 1994. It is a very typical one level ranch style home wrapped in Bedford limestone, which is fairly ubiquitous in this neck of the woods. It has a full basement which is wholly finished including Berber carpeting in the rec room. The home was built in 1961. It has always and ever been dry.

At around noon Saturday, June 15th it had been raining pretty much steadily since late Friday evening. My wife noted that water in one of our three sump pits was rising. The pump in that pit has never functioned. I was concerned, but didn't really know what to make of it.

Suddenly, I heard my wife exclaim "Oh my god!" Water came gushing up through both of the basement's floor drains. Within seconds the water was pouring across a portion of our rec room into the laundry area. We soon discovered that water was also spouting up and out of another sump pit with the pump sitting submerged in silent stillness. At its peak, we had something like two to three inches of water eagerly flowing across this portion of the basement. It lasted for perhaps as long as an hour, subsiding only sometime after the rain finally abated outside.

While the apparent flow was limited to a relatively small section of the basement, when we started checking around, it became apparent that water had been absorbed into all but the furthest reaches of the carpet. After about three days of endless vacuuming with super-sucker wet/dry vacs and a half dozen fans, including two borrowered actual carpet fans, blowing air continuously making the basement sound like some kind of factory, we gave up the ghost. The carpet was a total loss. It stunk. Had we pulled it out within the first 24 hours and gotten rid of the pad, we may have had a chance of saving it, but that's not what we did.

Now, before you sit back and say: "Well, boo-hoo. You lost some friggin carpeting. Big friggin deal! Thousands of people have lost everything: their homes, their cars, most, if not all, of their other personal belongings, their businesses, their jobs. Some have even lost loved ones. So who gives a rat's ass about your friggin Berber carpet? Well, yeah, I'll give you that. Our carpeting is a piddling loss by comparison.

I guess the point of this is that, while we lost relatively little, it still represented a major glitch in our lives. We have always lived pretty close to the vest, having little in the way of reserves or disposable income. We cannot replace the carpet. Given that, I cannot imagine what it must be like for those who have, in fact, lost it all; those who are living in some middle school gym or sleeping on a grandparent's living room floor; those whose jobs are gone and no money coming in. No prospects. No insurance. FEMA, in its typical fashion, moving slower than the Mississippi in the dry season.

With all the unsettled weather here and elsewhere, even a rare midwest earthquake a few weeks ago, my wife likened the world to a large dog shaking back and forth trying to rid itself of us "fleas." I make no claims about this stretch of weather being symptomatic of global warming. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. But thousands of people are reeling in despair and disbelief. Global warming is the least of their concerns. Some may succumb to that despair. Most will ultimately prevail, but it will likely take at best, months, and for some, years to get their lives back on any kind of meaningfully normal track.

Fortunately for us my younger son flew in from Florida on Wednesday and did the lion's share of work in pulling out the wet, stinking carpet and pad, and doing much of the clean up. To further complicate things, I had had surgery early the Monday after the flood on my ailing left knee. For the next several days, while there was untold work to be done, I was hobbling around on crutches and eating Vicadin. My wife assisted our son as best she could, but she has some of her own health issues which limits her as well. I can't begin to describe just what a life saver our son's presence has been.

I am now on the cusp of my "old fartdom." All of the above events have been unsettling at best. What has been hardest for me to absorb is that owing to my age and still relatively minor, but nevertheless escalating, infirmities, I can no longer take part in the day to day maintenance of our home, our lives, at least not as I have always been able to do. It is my first time feeling, at least to a degree, impotent. Not in the sexual sense, but in the sense of being an adult, and, yes, being a man. It was killing not to be able to dig into the mess and do my part in making it right. It's a helpless, disturbingly emasculating feeling.

What makes it perhaps more difficult is the knowledge that time will continue to take its toll, that we will continue to decline physically, perhaps mentally over the coming years. I don't obsess about this. I don't dwell on it with any constancy, but recent events have had the effect of bringing it all to the surface. It's always there at my finger tips, as it were. Little reminders: a twinge here, a forgotten name there.

I am reasonably confident that I will recover adequately from the knee surgery (just a scope and clean out, not a replacement) in due time resulting in a bit less pain and a bit more mobility. I'm not ready for a permanent spot confined to a wheel chair staring out the window of a nursing home cubicle as the world continues moving onward without me. That day may perhaps come, but not yet. Not just yet.

I intend to stave off this aging process, and remain active and effective in keeping my house and home and my family as safe from harm as any one person can hope to. It will require of me a concerted effort and, I'm sure, a great deal of mental and emotional strength. At this juncture I don't know that I have those in great enough supply. I guess we'll see, won't we?

I hope to take heart in the dauntless spirit of those who have lost so much more than we, those who will persevere and rebuild their lives from their catastrophic losses as so many have done since the devastation of Katrina. I also take heart in the selfless, loving and tireless efforts of my son in this instance, and from the love, gentleness, intelligence, enthusiasm for learning and the creative energy of both of my sons, and my wife as well, who has hung in there with emotional strength and humor.


Friday, June 13, 2008

Tim Russert

I'm sure that anyone taking the time to read here has already heard of NBC newsman Tim Russert's passing, so this post is not meant to be "news."

Many people have little good to say regarding the mass news media. But Tim Russert was, in my opinion one of the best. He became the face and voice of "Meet the Press," and his tireless enthusiasm for politics and the election process in particular was infectious. At least since the 2000 election, I can remember him zeroing in on the state or states that the respective elections would turn on with his white marker board. His love for his job and his thoroughness in doing it was always obvious.

Much more has and is being said by Russert's colleagues regarding his professionalism and his humanity; much more than I can offer. I can only say that I will personally miss his broad, smiling face and excited energy in the coming weeks and months as the presidential campaign progresses.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

First Up!

This is my first entry on this site. I know it's pretty much bare bones at this stage, but I just wanted to get something rolling. For those of you who are uninitiated, I have been blogging at my original site, Rupture the Rapture for a couple of years. I have ceased posting there as I felt I had painted myself into a corner. I want to write and be read by those having broader interests than just atheism/religion.

I am an atheist and I will still deal with that and related issues. But I am a lot of other things as well. As is obvious, I am of a certain age - nearly 62 years - and have concerns regarding the maintenance/deterioration of my mind and body as I approach what some laughingly refer to as "the golden years."

Politics will be at issue here at IB. Like it or not, this has so far been a long and at times fascinating presidential season here in the good ole US of A, and the real campaign is just beginning. I will almost certainly be voting for Barack Obama come November, but there are and will continue to be issues that will ebb and flow over the coming months worthy of comment. I welcome jabs from right and left, from Ron Paulistas, Ralph Naderites, Greenies, or whoever.

In a lighter vein I always like to find humor wherever I can. We all too often take ourselves and the world much too seriously. When looked at in a certain light, most of what we say and do is a bunch of silliness. For those of you (there must be, I don't know, four or five, at least) who took the time and effort to peruse at least some of my Rupture rants know that I find the ironic and ridiculous in things like trips through airport security or knee surgery.

I welcome, in fact I am pleading, with any of you to comment early and often (you know, like voting,) whenever the spirit moves you. Don't be shy. If you think I'm an idiot, or a son of a bitch, let me know. I won't mind if you let me know that you agree with me either. (Stranger things have happened.)

I know this amounts to a rather inauspicious beginning. I haven't even thought this piece out very well. But it's the best I've got right now.

Just as an update, to bring my situation current in some respects, here's the latest poop from my end, er, I mean ... well, you know what I mean.

I had been invited to be an editor over at Blog Critics Magazine in the politics section - I even had my name listed as an editor for the last few months. However, I never managed to edit anything. I felt that I was biting off more than I could chew. It required, I believe, a computer literacy that I don't possess. So, ultimately, I passed and my name is no longer in lights at BC. Que sera sera.

The incredibly bad weather that has plagued much of the midwest in recent weeks finally caught up with us last Saturday. We had around 7 inches of rain at our place from Friday evening through Saturday afternoon. It proved too much for our house which has remained dry since it was built around 1961. My science guy brother in-law said that our basement foundation and floor succumbed to "hydro-static pressure." At around noon water began spouting up through our floor drains by the gallon. A portion of our carpeted basement was suddenly under 3 to 4 inches of water with no obvious means to stop it. We have 3 (count 'em - three!) sump pumps, but one failed to function. It finally ceased to rain some time in the early afternoon and the flow subsided, but we still had volumes of water trapped in the basement.

I won't go into all the gory details, but eventually, using a small electric pump borrowed from my science guy brother in-law and 2 gigantic shop vacs I frantically purchased at our local Lowes store, we managed to get most of the water out. (We figured that we dumped something like 80 to 1oo gallons of water from the shop vacs into the main sump pit. I have no idea how much water the little pump moved. Since then my wife has been trying every trick in the book to save our precious Berber carpet. (Ironically, we obtained this carpet from some friends whose basement flooded a few years ago. The carpet had been pulled out of their basement by the good folks at Servicemaster. We trucked it over here and fortunately had several consecutive warm dry days during which I dried out all of the 6 or 7 pieces on our concrete drive. We found a carpet guy who brought some mongo commercial padding and installed the whole lot for about $450. This carpet now runs for around $40 a square yard. If we can't save it, we'll probably have to revert to trash bags and newspaper for our basement flooring. Of course, we have no insurance. We're not in a flood plain, or we weren't at any rate.

As I write, my wife has given up the ghost, and is having my younger son, who flew in last nite from Florida, pull up and remove the carpet. The smell is becoming pervasive - kinda like a few dozen cats wandered into the basement and tinkled in every corner.

In the mean time, Monday morning I had my left knee surgically mauled, I mean - repaired, at Methodist hospital here in Indy. I had been living with what I was convinced (and later proven correct via a series of MRI images) that I had torn my miniscus which I had done to the right knee a couple of years ago.

Apparently, the damage was more severe this time around, and I also had a nasty bone spur which the good doctor filed off as well. Consequently, the surgical trauma was greater and the recovery will be slower, more drawn out, and, of course, more painful. This being Thursday afternoon, I detect little, if any, improvement and will likely be constricted to crutches for several days to come. This really sucks. Thanks be to science for Vicadin. On the up side, I've been sleeping great.

Enough of that.

In the future, I hope to be writing of things like the upcoming election, religion and the election, gay rights and the election, but also things like Indy getting the 2012 Super Bowl, the fall from grace of the Indiana Pacers and the Indiana University basketball program. (Note that I am not a sports nut perse, nor am I any kind of expert, but I have some interest in such things and how they may impact life here in Naptown.

I will also endeavor to further discuss a recent trip my wife and I made to Germany to visit our older son. I wrote a couple of pieces about the trip over at Rupture which I invite anyone who stumbled in here unknowingly to give them a read.

I may from time to time steal a post from Rupture and re-post it (them) here if I believe it (they) might have some timely relevance, or perhaps if I'm just feeling lazy.

As I mentioned, I will endeavor to flesh this site out more as time goes on. I will add a blog roll and other features; perhaps a nice toaster oven. But for now I will include one site which I heartily recommend, that being a complicated salvation by my blog friend Zoe. If you have or are contemplating leaving the church, or have an interest in womanly concerns, or just the world in general, ACS is the place to be. She does good stuff there.

Till later,