will brady's ruminations
We celebrated our second on the twenty-first
. Nothing fancy. We exchanged cards and I bought Bruce some a flowering plant. I didn't get cotton or china
as a gift. Neither did he. Why should we? We have a house full of dishes, towels, bedding and clothes. Don't really need any more.
And yes, I am cognizant that in the state of Connecticut, we can legally only have a civil union. Ain't the same as marriage, legally. I don't accept the legitimacy of homophilic apartheid. SO I'll hold on for the day that we can be legally wed.
Picture by Ian Grey
Labels: anniversaries, civil union, commitment, marriage
At the cemetery office
I go to visit my friend who works there. "Can't be busy there
," I think. Wrong!
In comes a man asking for the birth date from the tombstone, of a woman and her brother who died "...oh, sometime back in 1950 or '52, around about that time.
" He was certain about this.
He was followed by a very brisk, officious Funeral Director who just wanted some papers processed and get out of there. He had another funeral to do at two and he needed to get back to his office fast!
Then the phone rang. Could a welfare grave have a "temporary" marker?
This was followed quickly by another, wanting to know why the flowers left last month at Uncle Loved One's resting place had been taken to a different resting place of their own. Why?!?
From the side of the counter diving the office space, the first man came back. "Their last name was Schermer, or Schulmer or Schul... something like that...
Then the Director, "Well, just mail me back the pink copy, I can see you're busy
The phone again: "Was LaTourelle buried near the Chapel or near the Young Saint's Shrine?
", prompting the first man to stand back and say to my friend, "No hurry on my request. I can wait
Another Director "...and a Monument Dealer...
" dressed like a priest with a football jersey and stonemason's arms, comes in offering to help research the plots he's looking for on his own. He waits a long time and ends up sort of unofficially standing guard at the door against even more intrusions into the morning.
The Welfare family calls again to ask if they can put artificial flowers and a different kind of marker that didn't cost too awfully much. Could we do that? When?
When in walks a gravedigger come to tell that the plot down by the stream bed keeps filling in, but the plot in the Cedar Grove was ready for "...that Baby Funeral..."
that was about to come in.
All the while this is going on, my friend she's pulling out files, looking old interment orders up... "I have a Schumacher here, in 1950, was the first name Fritz?
" No, he didn't think so. "Was there a Madaline or Geraldine?
" Ah! I think Geraldina
! A hurried smile. A lead! At last.
"She was born in Austria but I don't know the birth date
The Stonemason/Priest Door Watcher grimly grinned and muttered softly "...or maybe Hungary or Bellorussia, I'm certain of it...
Then a man coming in looking for employment, arrives in a three-piece suit for a digger's job, and with a resume to boot! "Could you take care of this?
" and just as quickly out again, the resume left for her boss. And the phone rings again.
"Meadowlark Cemetery, can I help you?"
It's a call for how much do plots cost and if a stone was required to be installed right away?|
From the counter again, Mr. I'm-Certain remembered that the sister might be buried in her maiden
name and not her married name; at any rate the last name was not the same. Were there any Schumachers buried on anybody else's burial plots
Then the Director from the baby Funeral pops in, puffing and sweating as if it were August, all ready to make small talk and "...may I help myself to coffee?
" he asks as he walks over to the coffeemaker and pours himself a cup. "My it's hot!
" he calls out to no one in particular and about what we're not entirely sure.
When in walks a couple [live brother-sister act this time] who want to know where their mother was interred last autumn. They had been out to the area and sister could remember a tree nearby but then... there was this other tree that looked like that one...
Mr. I'm-Certain just then recalls that there was a Porringer in the family. That could be the name. He's pretty sure of it.
The phone again. This time did the Cemetery know that the Turner Family plot, when old Fred died back in '68, he should have been buried deeper so his wife could go with him now.
My friend pulls out a book from under the counter containing a series of maps. "Now... what part of the cemetary did you roam around in?
she asks the older couple. You're not married are you?
"Oh no! We're brother and sister!
" They look faintly aghast at the possibility of their being guessed as spouses. "We're having a marker added in April, but we just don't know where it goes
..." then they walk over to the corner where some sample bronze generic plaques lie propped against the wall.
The flushed funeral Director suddenly says, "I'll never understand why infant funerals seem so... macabre! I mean, even though they're young, everybody's got to go sometime!!
Stonemason/Priest rolls his eyes, looking quickly at the elderly siblings, then changes the subject, "Can I see one of those maps
Looking up from the cards, "Uh, I have something here, a Podgurney plot with a Geraldine Schulty, she died in June of 1952...
" and I'm-Certain's face beams out as he says, "Yes! That's the one! I'd recognize it anywhere!
" then hesitates before asking "...how old
"About 57 years and a young Fritz Podgurney, aged 49
"But what's the date of birth? That's her but I don't think that's her brother!
Stonemason Priest interjects, about the sister's age, ...that it's probably a guess anyway. Nobody could be certain but the Funeral Director who interred her (back in '52) would have all those records anyway
Old Sister, wearing a bright yellow toque and a worn plaid flannel jacket, now illuminated by a sunburst through the window. " Is this what the lettering would look like?
" and "My what elaborate scrollwork! Is it hand carved?
" she asks while pointing toward the cast plate on the floor in the middle of a row of five such markers.
My friend: "Yes! No! No ...that's the way it comes
" I'm-Certain chimes in, with a new query, "You mean I've come to the wrong place
Stonemason fields that one: "Well, not exactly. Now you've got one of the two at least
Old Sister: "...and will it be this stone? or another one
But back to the maps. there's a large general map, then a book of smaller sectional maps lined in contoured grids, colored in according to what they cost and choiceness of the site. Those plots with panoramic views at the top of the hill, a group near the Chapel, and those in the Cedar Grove cost more. "More aesthetically attractive
" the boss chimes in, having entered the office only moments ago. He grabs a coffee, a few words with the red-chinned Funeral Director [now grabbing a jelly croissant, biting into it only to have a squirt of filling ooze out the front, almost dropping but caught by a deft finger] then he leaves the room to make a phone call.
The old couple look over the colored map, "I thought she was buried closer to the cross on the hill. Those trees look so much alike
By now the counter is covered with note cards and files pulled out to answer questions and it's a bit of a jigsaw puzzle to put them all back where they belong. Through the window the visitors from the infant's funeral drive past the gates and head toward the Cedar Grove.
Red-Faced Director: "Oh darn! They're already there! I can't wait to get this over with
," sets his coffee down and waddles out the door . "Back in 15...
" he says, in case any body's listening.
Labels: burial rituals, cemeteries, graveyards
Playing with the image. The first and last are photoshopped, as pastel and as a smudge sketch.
The center is the original photo. What are your thoughts?
Labels: landscape, photography, photoshop, train and bridge abutment
Combating Negative Attitudes Pushed by the Media
. We must constantly be mindful that images and ideas foisted upon us are done for a reason; that those controlling the images have a vested interest in our being influenced to respond in certain ways to what has been presented.
remain [or become, if such be the case] capable of thinking for ourselves, rather than reacting to the biased information posted before us. For not all of what we are subjected to is true, even if those who place it foremost in our line of sight [and hearing] want us to believe it.
There are other options available. One of them is turning off the television set. Below are excerpted sections from an essay by John Place
republished on the website Turn Off Your Television
, which has published the entire essay here
Like it or not, we live in a media driven world. We spend 11 hours a day bombarded by television, radio, Internet, and other forms of media, a non-stop onslaught on the psyche, an ever-churning series of images, sound bites, opinions, and advertisements, but precious little substance.
The media provides shared experience, collective memory. Unfortunately, many of the ideas we’re exposed to are negative and self-defeating. The pervasiveness of these negative ideas makes them hard to ignore; easy to internalize.
If you’re curious about the cumulative effect of all this media upon the mind, here’s a list of 7 negative attitudes common in the media and tips for dealing with them.
1. Mindless Consumerism: The average American is exposed to 24/7 commercials everyday. Buying things has become reflex. There's nothing wrong with enjoying life, but are you buying things to improve it?
2. Poor Body Image: Never before in history have we been surrounded by so many examples of physical perfection, shaped by cosmetic surgeons, airbrushed by artists,
and distributed by print and video. Yes, attractiveness is an advantage, but your value runs deeper than your appearance.
3. Roaming Eye: Television gives everyone (men in particular) the idea that the world is overflowing with beautiful, willing sex partners; that roaming eye can be destructive if not monitored and controlled. Remind yourself that relationships are built upon more than physical attraction.
4. Destructive Communication: Electronic media brims with insults and anger. Gentle persuasion has collapsed beneath the weight of incivility. In real life, victory is seldom obtained with witty one-liners or rude put-downs. Hone those communication skills. Learn to Persuade without offending. Connect.
5. Clique Mentality: Television programs often have casts that are socially, ethnically, and racially homogeneous. But not every story involves a melting pot. Do not be afraid of diversity in the real world.
6. Stereotypes: Television overflows with stereotypes, all products of lazy writing. Most of us can recognize a stereotype for what it is, but what of the subconscious impact of such repeated exposure. Every human being deserves to be evaluated as an individual, no matter how prevalent a stereotype might seem.
7. Danger Fixation: We’re wired to pay attention to danger; tsunamis, earthquakes, and giant asteroids; why the news leads with gunfire and bloodshed. Yet there are just as many positive forces in the world as negative. Change the focus that the media emphasizes.
Not all media is bad; it’s not. Movies often can be wonderful works of art or much-needed distractions, and there’s nothing inherently evil about television, radio, print, or the internet; quite the contrary, all forms of media provide wonderful channels of communication.
But the media’s darker side is bound to seep into our collective conscience; it surrounds us. And we’re receptive to it.
Earlier this year, I watched a short film entitled Evidence. More art film than documentary, the film focused on the faces of a group of small children as they watched television: their blank expressions, comatose eyes. Every now and then, their facial expressions hitched in response to some image on the television, but for the most part, they appeared undead.
I’ve never forgotten that film. And now, whenever I’m watching a sitcom or gameshow, I think of the way my own face must look, staring blankly up at the glowing screen. Sometimes, this compels me to turn the tube off and go outside, exchanging the gloom of the TV room for the calming brightness of sunlight, the sound of commercials for the chirping of birds; detaching from the hive mind long enough to find some peace and quiet and develop some memories (and a few ideas) of my own.
reprinted on TurnOffYourTV.com with permission from JohnPlaceOnline
Labels: attitudes, critical thinking, indoctrination, stereotyping, television
Psychic Two for One
We took a drive during our Thanksgiving Day visit, stopping for coffee, small fries and apple pie at the Meriden McDonalds ["over 99 Billion Served"] and saw this. The pizza place was closed. I couldn't divine when the psychic reader would be there.
Afterwards, my friend asked if I could read his mind. "No
" I replied. "I have no idea how to do that
Labels: commerce, humor, night scenes, pizza, psychic readers, signage
Ron Bassman is a clinician with a history.
Diagnosed in 1969 as having schizophrenia, his treatments included electro-shock, insulin comas and massive doses of medication.
After he recovered from the "treatments" he began "... addressing the identity issues that had triggered my excursion into "madness," entered graduate school, earned a doctorate and have worked as a licensed psychologist in a state hospital, in private practice, ...and has been the executive director of a 7-county comprehensive mental health center
Now he has published a book about his life; A Fight to Be
. Directed at individuals, families, students, professors and clinicians with a compelling message: we can and must do better. Dr. Bassman is selling the book directly. Give him a look-see.
Labels: alternatives, psychiatric survivors, Recovery, Ronald Bassman
"We haven't bathed at our house since August"
said I, with a grin, to a suitably shocked guest at a gathering yesterday. She wrinkled up her nose, then, tentatively said, "...but you don't smell all that bad
Actually, it would have been more precise to have said that our water well, which is only 8 meters in depth, has gone all but dry and we have not had water running through the house pipes since that time.
As far as the bathing part, well, plenty of people have offered use of tubs and showers. We can both shower at our workplaces and at the gym. The real problem comes when flushing the toilet. So we have developed a storage system that includes six 32 gallon rubber cans [there are four of them pictured on the left]. We refill them with a couple of lengths of hose from a neighbor's much deeper drilled well. From the filled drums we extract water by the gallons in jugs. This endeavor means that the new Gould's water pump
purchased last spring [see the pix to the right] is not much more than an expensive sculptural piece.
Come the winder rains and snowfall, I'm hoping the groundwater shall adequately recharge itself. If not, then we are going to have to bite the fiscal bullet and have a well drilled for ourselves.
I remain perhaps more philosophical about this than Bruce, having lived in places where running water just was not available. I do get tired, however, of all those igonrant types who ask with a troubling innocent incredulity, "Why aren't you getting water from the city
Sub-Urbans! the bane of my existence.
Labels: drought, water, water tanks, wells
Stephen M Stahl, MD, PhD, of Neurosciences Education Institute singing in prose lyrical about psychopharmacology. Music by Gilbert and Sullivan
. Lyrics by who is obviously ADHD. And sometimes, while interacting with drug prescribing shrinks, this same sort of brilliance seeps out.
Labels: big pharma, humor, psychopharmacology, quacks
Connecticut River Fisherman
Labels: autumn, fishing, local scene, rivers
drug wars / big pharma
I predict that Pfizer Corporation will have more problems with its experimental stop-smoking drug Chantix [Varenicline], especially as docs use it while trying to get psychiatric patients to quit
Although clinical practitioners minimize the potential negative impact, The American Journal of Psychiatry, in its August 2007 edition, has already published two reports of problems with using Chantix for people with long-term mental disorders. Here are the links to the recent case reports: Exacerbation of Schizophrenia by Varenicline
by Robert Freedman, M.D., and Varenicline-Induced Manic Episode in a Patient With Bipolar Disorder
submitted by Izachak Kohen, M.D., and Neil Kremen, M.D.
The USA Food and Drug Administration, only this week, warns that healthcare professionals should monitor patients taking Chantix for behavior and mood changes
. The FDA watch site also notes that "...There are also reports of patients experiencing drowsiness that affected their ability to drive or operate machinery. A preliminary assessment reveals that many of the cases reflect new-onset of depressed mood, suicidal ideation, and changes in emotion and behavior within days to weeks of initiating Chantix treatment
My own personal observations occurred with a close friend long diagnosed with schizophrenia. My friend has smoked for a few decades and, for economic reasons, really wanted to quit. He began taking Chantix as prescribed. Within a couple of days reported disorienting phenomena such as double vision and blanking out. He asked a lot more reality-testing questions ["can you hear my thoughts?"] than usual. It bothered him. In less than a month he was admitted into the psyche ward of one of Connecticut's general hospitals. I reported my observations to the clinical staff there. Although I've known the man since the 1980s, the Chief clinical psychiatrist [who, incidentally, prides himself as a researcher] and who had observed my friend less than two weeks, completely discounted my observations as total bunkus, and began to rant at me comments about Chantix that made me wonder if he were on Pfizer's payroll.
I'm not saying that he is, mind you, but he was clearly more inclined to listen to the drug company's PR propaganda than observed reality. Frankly, I suspect that his point of view is typical. Testing my newfound suspicions with pharmacists and docs where I work I found the same Pollyanna-like faith expressed in Pfizer that the community psychiatrist exhibited.
It is important to note that Pfizer's clinical studies involved less than 5,000 individuals. I doubt that any were people with long-term psychiatric disabilities or any other medical problems. The American Heart Association estimates that 25.6 million men (25.2 percent) and 22.6 million women (20.7 percent) are smokers in the USA alone. That's a mighty tempting market for Pfizer to court. But it also means the control studies population was less than 1/1,000th of a percent of that population.
Pfizer is aggressively targeting that market, both with TV adverts and easy to navigate websites like Chantix Home
. They don't care about adverse impacts at all, except maybe to the company's bottom line. Even the Wall Street Journal
has reported on the profit potential, yet acknowledges there seems to be a dark side.
Let's insist that the FDA, and other watchdogs, work harder at keeping this aggressive marketer [and pill pusher] in line.
For a thoughful ongoing discussion about the risks of Chantix check out Furious Seasons
and the thread Pills, booze and Chantix
. A German site, Boocompany, also has posts from readers who report adverse reactions including depression, psychosis and suicidal acts
Labels: big pharma, Chantix, drug profits, drug risks, Pfizer, psychosis
My sister sent me a picture of her new bookshelves
. Serendipitously, it arrived the same day friend Pat enrolled me into Shelfari
, a website that allows you to highlight the books you like the most.
Mind you, I don't doubt that it is a clever marketing tool for booksellers, but that is one kind of merchant - and practice - that I encourage. Literacy has for far too long been under-rated. Here's a way to support it.
We need to re-establish a keen interest in learning, and not just in having it done by people rushing to Google for something the read. Instilling a spirit of inquiry means exposing ourselves to a vast range of ideas and beliefs; creative conjectures, as well as dark, troubling opinions. Reading helps do this.
For what it's worth, here's a link to my book list >>>Will's favorite books
. I havent put up tomes I find disturbing. Maybe I ought to. Though I don't know why; any rabid neo-con website will have stuff that shivers my soul, and there are plenty of those sites available already. Just look at Faux News
Labels: books, literacy
War Porn and silencing soldiers
. Hart Williams at his vorpal sword
provides a detailed account of soldiers being censored for speaking their mind. Yet another example of the Dubya "do as say not as I do
" Administration. AIDS epidemic threat shrinking?
. At Towle Road
, a report that the United Nations is lowering the estimates of AIDS cases around the world, citing more accurate reporting. "As medicine improves, the number of people living with HIV is growing, although new infections are dropping and probably peaked around the turn of the millenium
This is not to drop all concerns, however. "Despite the revised estimates, the epidemic remains one of the great scourges of mankind. This week’s analysis predicts that 2.1 million people died of AIDS in the last year, and 2.5 million were newly infected — or about 6,800 every day
." Where's all the oil
? Web-consulting group Civic Actions
provides a map.
Labels: AIDS, news, Oil