Archive for October, 2008

Toward Heat

I did something this morning I have not done since 2006: I paid my Ameren/CILCO gas bill. In Illinois, your gas cannot be turned off until April, regardless of whether you make partial payments or no payments at all. It is a humane thing to do. But it makes paying my electric bill from Springfield’s City Water Light and Power Company (a city-owned utility) the higher priority. 

I had suffered this shame twice before, the first in 1981 when I was living at 326 S. MacArthur. During the discommect time, I carried a big pot of water taken right off the stove and boiling, up a flight of stairs and poured into cold water from the tap, combining them to make minimum acceptable comfort. I paid my overdue bill in June that year. The second time was 2004. Using the same big pan I had carried in 80, I did the same thing about once a week. In 2005 I ALMOST had the Ameren/CILCO disconnect my gas to avoid paying for my hot water. Washing my hands in icy tap water was no big deal any more, nor were baths in about three inches of water in the tub. Prisoners of war could do it. Soldiers and pilots in remote combat theaters could do it, and by golly I could do it too! I shared my intentions with friends, and they talked me into keeping my gas connected.

Since April I have taken one three-inches bath because I found a technique for thorough sponge baths which used about half the water but sure gave my stove a workout. The over-use of the eyes led to a small one burning out.

The forecast for the next week is warmness. Until I read of a stretch of three days in the 40s, I’m not even going to call Ameren/CILCO to re-connect my gas.

No reason I should just to keep the hot water hot in my water heater.

Live long . . . . . . . . and proper.


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I’ve played a betting game with office temperatures. I was so comfortable in the sweater I brought Tuesday, I bet with the warmer temps predicted for Wednesday I wouldn’t need it.

WRONG. I left the showroom yesterday slightly bent forward from trying to conserve body heat, mostly the discomfort in my midsection. This morning at work I learned why my body felt is had been shaken near senseless by the Angry Gren Giant. The body, I was told, works about every muscle  to keep from shivering — as I tried, successfully,  every conscious moment from walking into my house from work until the space heater in my office began to take effect, and I quickly warmed beneath an afghan and a bed spread when I ate dinnr, napped and on awakening to that fab show’s theme song, enjoyed the first Charlie Rose show I’ve seen tis week.  Stop me if you already know all this.

I was so frikking cold and almost spasmodic and down on slings in general I could not finish the pan of Chilli Man Chilli I heated about 7.  I have ALWAYS eaten the whole thing. Until last night.

You’re waiting for the “eros” part. Probably 30 years ago, as I watched Phil Donohue explain “what ‘surprise’ is. That’s the first time you can’t do it the second time. You know what “panic” is? That’s the second time you can’t do it the first time!” I consider the cbili shortfall another brush with “surprise.” SO . . . . . there’s your eros.

After Rose, I experienced what I call the loneliest hour of the day: from 11 pm to 12 am. That’s when WUIS plays a repeat of the fine music I heard once before the same day from 2 to 3 pm. I don’t want to hear it again so soon. I have to be an optimist to enjoy classical music. I also have to think more than I want to think at that time of day.  Betweem 11 amd midnicht, I don’t want to think a lot. The perfect solution, as I descovered Wed late, is to read the best magazine printed in the American language and likely the rest of the languages too: The New Yorker. The one weekly issue is not enoiugh to see me through the week. Knowing that I left the rest of a supreme article about Marlon Brando and God knows what else so I can go back to last week’s issue.

A brief conflict of interest before surrendering to sleep. I KNEW I wanted to start taking Vitamin C tablets again, but I also knew it can hurt the unprepared stomach and I was NOT hungry.   — STILL not hungry at  4:30 this afternoon and had nothing more to eat today than eight or nine Pringles. There’s always a place for Pringles. — So I drank a glass of iced tea with no ice and finished, swallowed on little old 500mg tab and chased that with a left over half a glass of Burgundy.

Yesterday was as cold as I intend to be at work and at home. I brought my sweater today; took it off. Don’t need it. Hope izzon the horizon.

Y’all stay warm now, y’ heah?

Live long . . . . . and proper.

Thank God the weather is warm today. Even the front door at “Rock City” propped open.  But I still feel I’ve been through a wringer: my entire booooooody.

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Over the years, we’ve all heard folks fed up with the way politicians dug into the granite edifices of DC SHOUT as though a chorus that they should be removed with our votes and replaced. “THROW THE BUMS OUT” is their mantra.  Given the fact that Republicans have ruled that roost from 2001 through 2004 and maintained fillibuster-proof demagogic control since, and there’s no doubt that the party which has slashed its path through the past eight years is the Republican establishment, I’m beginning to see the wisdom in that mantra. They had their chance. We all know — at this stage — how they succeeded with their almost impenetrable barrier to second opinions and change engineered by the Democrats.

But as the campaign approaches the finish line, the Smugs (my new name for the DC Republicans) are spending more time making the CASE for dissent. While distancing themselves from the noble patriot they entrusted with Smug party nomination for our nation’s highest elective office, the new point of their campaign is a rear-guard antic telling voters what a shame it will be if those mean old fancy Chabliscrats (my new name for Democrats) go to DC in January holding all the marbles, unafraid to play them. Suddenly the Smugs are pro-second opinion. What a refreshing turn of events! Better they see the wisdom in that principal too late than not at all.

The Smug presidential candidate is saying “fight, fight, fight, FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT” repeatedly in his speeches in the past week. Whatever happened to “my friend,” which I’ve not heard in days? To whom is he speaking? When did the people attending his rallies cease to be his friends, and what the heck is he FIGHTING? Are you fighting with your ballot?

In Springfield poet Vachel Lindsay’s exquisite poem  To the United States Senate, which I will post here in a day or two, he says “What will you trading frogs do , , , (my ellipsis; not the poet’s)  when each sad patriot rises, mad with shame, his ballot or his musket in his hands?” Vachel believed the people know the difference between right and wrong, and I believe the majority of the voters today know as well. I pray voters don’t fight. We are not a nation of quarreling tribes (not that there’s anything wrong with them). Are we?

Are we?

I said are we?

We are a nation UNITED. Let us, united, not run from the future, let us engage it and do the best we can to shape a better one.

Live long . . . . . and proper.

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Some days I spent more time reading State Journal-Register editorial page columnists than the rest of the paper. The October 28, 2008 contributions by  Richard Reeves and Clarence Page were particularly attention-worthy. The danger of having erudite writers of similar political perspectives is that — at least today — the focus of their contributions, even large parts of parallel paragraphs seem to be verbatim clones of each other.

In Page’s second paragraph, he refers to “Alaska Sen. Sara Palin” but recovers the fumble elsewhere. Do EDITORS see his work before the syndicated words are distributed? That’s a minor observation. Reeves doesn’t mention her.

The cloning becomes evident when, in mid-column, Reeves and Page relate the sad story of Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R – Minn). In the words of my favorite Bachmann (Turner Overdrive) hit. she was “takin’ care of business!   Reeves includes a picture of her at the top of his column, looking the way Elvis Presley probably looked before losing consciousness and dying so many moons ago. Both writers call her colors, so to speak, for the same reason but I won[t tell you why. READ the columns!

The final stretch of both writers is consideration of Colin Powell’s interview on Meet the Press two weeks ago. The points each makes are the same down to selected quotes of the great general and the final point. I was amazed how coming to their keyboards with the deadline of a Tuesday contribution prime on their good minds, they so incredibly closely coincided. If I had been reading Reeves at home instead of at work at the conclusion I would have shed a frikking tear and that is no bull waste effluent!

Read the columns and see for yourself. It was almost as though Mark Twain and Ambrose Bierce wrote the same short stories!

These columns are keepers, along with E.J. Dionne’s assessment of the presidential race in Florida. When reading the paper at home and at work, I always have a scissors close at hand. After a quick glance to decide if I want to read all of it, I cut it out and set it aside. When I have read all the paper, I return to those I’ve clipped: About 80% of the time I read at least two columns; 40% of the time three, and I’m always the exceptionally better nourished hummin’ bean from the effort.  I also clip articles relating to aviation and Vachel Lindsay.

If you have not visited Richard Reeves and Clarence Page today, you should. Read them and reap! 

Live long  . . . . . . . . and proper.

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Ragged Nights

Pilot induced oscillations (PIO) occur most frequently during landing when the hands on the stick or control wheel overcontrol, often to pull up the nose when the rate of descent is too high. What follows, as he or she realizes the airplane is about to stall and fall because of the sudden pull-up, is an overcontrol in the opposite direction to get the nose down and maintain flying speed. Then the process is repeated until stable flight is resumed because of less extreme control inputs or the aircraft impacts the ground, typically fatally. Typical post-mortem analyses report “unrecoverable porpoising due to PIO.” I’m experiencing something similar: sleep induced oscillations.

They began Saturday when I stayed up late and ate the last of the M&Ms and Pringles for dinner (there was better food in the house, but I didn’t want to waste it by consuming it when feeling so poopy. I stayed up until two, knowing the focus on completing two articles for publication would keep me going the rest of the day. I couldn’t sleep when I went to bed, and one reason why was I stupidly chose to listen to WMAY’s ultra-conservative, illogical, flirting with insane radio rant that seems to be directed to semi-truck drivers boring holes through the darkness on the Interstates.

Months ago, when I began listening to it, the two brownshirts who would — as November 4 drew nearer, trade their venomous snideness so relentlessly — talked most of the time about truck business. I found it interesting, an education. I had switched from WUIS’ BBC Nnews because I wearied of their chatter about the intramural politics in their former mercantile empire. Reviews of Baliwood movies (made in India, an incredible, wonderful kaleidoscope of societies to be sure but as interesting to me as Albanian horticulture) made me want to pierce my frikking ear drums. (or change the station) I love the English as well. I love the culture of the United Kingdom. They don’t seem to be breathing helium when English men and women talk — as virtually every woman reporting or interviewed living in EEENNNDYA does. I love all cultures, even those who hurt my ears. Anyhoooo, I enjoyed learning about trucks and those who make their living on the long haul. But as I said,  there’s so much bile on the show that begins at 11:00 pm on WMAY and the Phil (somebody) show that leads into it, that it has kept me awake and squirming mentally.

Sunday night, having completed most of my journalism for dollars, I napped before awakening and sending pics to editor. Then back to sleep but too soon awake again, in part because I was too lazy to change the station. So I arose at 4, worked in the office until 6, slept until 7:30, went to work in a near daze, bouyed by the adrenalin generated by putting finishing touches on my articles, and then crashed. I must have looked like a zombie, sitting at the office computer and forcing myself to work on some magazine indexing for AeroKnow. The progress was excessively protracted.

Home, dinner, fell asleep 10 minutes into the fabulous third part of The American Experience story about LBJ. A month ago, I’d have stayed up for the whole thing AND watched Charlie Rose. Awoke at 11:30 and went to bed with WMAY on and it took forever to get to sleep. I awoke to something about 2:30 and I’ve been up since. It’s now almost 6. No coffee. No wine. Just some iced tea without the wine. I haven’t even noticed how cold it is in here. Only my fingertips are particularly chilly. I’ve been listening to BBC Niews and concentrating extra hard when my eardrums begin asking brain for long and pointed object therapy.

So I’m going to take a heavy hit on the wine and sleep for 2.5 hours. When a friend coming to repair my side door knocks on my front door, he will awaken me. And after that, I’ll spend the rest of the day at work.

These are ragged nights.

Live long . . . . . . and proper.

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Punk on a Roll
By Job Conger

Every schoolyard has a bully with a bad attitude:
a grand dragon out to build his own name.
As he swaggers through the throng of kids he doesn’t get along with,
he’s the referee and master of his game.
Watch him transform earnest student into dull street thug,
from friendly young man into strutting demi-god.
What a crime that folks whose wisdom
far exceeds his simple
thinking don’t consider
gross dimentia wrong or odd.
He will crush the earnest opposition,
cut out the tongues of those with questioning suspicion.
Like ranting Adolph in a ten-gallon hat,
he’s a punk on a roll.

In Germany of ’32 they laughed at the furry-lipped haranguer,
and they put him into jail to settle down. The saner proletariat calmly ignored his yada yada
as though babble from an angry, classless clown.
But while they laughed, he burned their books
and he destroyed their holy temples,  a crusader
for his patriotic Right.
The charade was all too easy
for him, conning all the brightest
while his underlings prevailed in crystal night.
As pompous songs of mobs in motion swelled to thunder,
came waves of jackboot justice tearing the world asunder.
In brutal disregard for non-Aryans, marked a punk on a roll.

There are some who say he lives again among us:
the bad penny returned to bankrupt the world.
And he barks more than most idealogues his size could ever bark
protected by the flag that wraps him now, unfurled.
And the world, uncaring for his paranoia
of his hollow, loud. unceasing siren song
prays for someone to lance the yammering,
festering, pestilence of heart
unfettered by the knowledge of right and wrong.
The goose-step of hoodwinked hordes is not solution
for the shell-game king far worse than air pollution,
for the man who is so clearly in control: a punk on a roll

— first draft completed 5:30 pm, December 27, 2002; revised October 27, 2008
published in Bear’ sKin  by Job Conger  available from the author

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The city’s slithering on a cold patch today. There were rumors of snow flurries in northern Illinois a portent of the inevitable. If I hadn’t seen the extended forecast last night which predicted a trend to warmer temps later this week, I’d be colder than I feel today.

There is no heat here. SURPRISE! During the morning, as I finished the Business Journal artlcles, I was as cold as early Saturday when I finally turned on a space heater.  Such a device in my “office” behind the counter in the large, open showroom would serve only to blister my shins from direct heat deposited directly. No space heater; no ten space heaters will warm the room.

I’ve not worn a “tee shirt” since I was a high school junior, and then only in gym class. I’m a business shirt person. If I get cold I put on a sweat shirt and then a sweater. The showroom is not “sweat shirt” appropriate, but you can bet your sweet bippy, I shall be sweater clad on the morrow!

There is some solace in knowing my employer has hot water. He had no hot water until about two weeks ago, and that suggests at least his gas bill is paid. So maybe it’s a matter of thermostat control. I’ll know for sure Tuesday if he elects to engage heat, and if not, I’ll be okay with a sweater.

The Springfield Business Journal articles are in esteemed editor’s hands, and she called to say both look very good. WHEW! I’m glad to have it all done until next month.

Since I didn’t get to bed until past 2 a today and was up at 7,  I’d be sleeping if I weren’t working. Only the chill out here at the edge of the world gives me something to feel, so I’m grateful for that.

Live long . . . . . . and proper.

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