Saturday, September 23, 2017

More summer doin's

Twice I went to the ballpark this past summer--once to see the Nets lose 11-2, not much of a game but I did run into a law school small section classmate and we compared notes, as I have left the legal profession after a bout of age discrimination at my agency and he is still steadily rising through the ranks of power in the government.  The other time was to watch the Democrats beat the Republicans at their annual intra-party charity game, an event both marred by the shooting earlier of representative Steve Scalise by a crazy man and elevated by the public outpouring of support for Congress as a result and recognition of the heroic actions of the Capitol police officers who prevented a massacre.  (Play ball!)

I answered a 6 am phone call to discover that a friend and neighbor who was sick had suddenly and unexpectedly died.  He was laid to rest in a peaceful cemetery in bustling 7-corners after a beautiful ceremony at the Catholic church.  Two people at work passed suddenly earlier this year as well and workmates gathered to pay their respect and celebrate the lives of Dave and Dana.  (...and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.)

I went to several museums which I had always formerly just run by, like the subterranean African Museum which has its entrance in Katies Garden, the Museum of Natural History, the Air and Space Museum, the National Gardens and the National Art Museum.  (The Wind Sail outside the African Museum.)

What I didn't do was run a single mile, as my Achilles strain slowly, very slowly healed, or perhaps just got better to a degree.  What I did do was take a tour of the Capitol which I hadn't done since the visitors center was constructed, or perhaps ever.  Although I kept up with my tour group (required), more or less, I wandered around its edges seeking out the 13 or so endangered CSA statues reputed to be on display inside (each state gets to present two statutes), spotting for sure at least five of these odes to slavery and secession.  (Bobby Lee.)

Friday, September 22, 2017

Summer's Gone

Well, summer's done now and my injuries are getting better to the point where I can start thinking about when, or if, I'll get back to running.  Meanwhile, it was a summer that seemed to pass me by with plenty of business that I was engrossed in but no trips, except to visit a vineyard out by Leesburg with a friend.  (A Rose.)

I did manage to visit some museums in the District which I hadn't been inside of in years.  I had some lunches, and walks, or both, with friends.  (My running buddy friend from my former workplace.)
I did my annual Billy Goat Trail hike with a friend, and saw some movies, the best of which was Dunkirk, a noisy but emotion-laden film which underscored the cost, horror and travail of war.  I clomped around in a boot trying to heal my achilles strain, and saw a couple of ballgames, one at which I saw an old law school classmate unexpectedly.  (The Museum of Natural History.)
Now that I'm looking ahead to fall, when my sore back gets better maybe I'll take my long-promised car trip or sign up for more volunteering in the Virginia governor's race or read more than a book every other month.  Or maybe I'll do nothing at all except go to DC occasionally.  (The cool atmosphere inside the National Gardens.)

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Summer's Almost Gone

The summer is over, and I haven't been running since May, although I have gotten into the District a bit and seen some places and friends.  Here is the bright summer sky reflected off the tranquil waters of the Haines Point channel across from the DC waterfront.

I recently went in for lunch with a couple of my former running buddies and we took a walk instead and went to the Ai Weiwei exhibit at the Hirshhorn Museum.  We've all fallen off the running wagon due to injuries but at least Katie, on the left, hikes miles and miles on national park trails out west where she now lives and Leah, on the right, plays ice hockey twice a week.

I went to Great Falls with a friend, and we hiked its trails and enjoyed views of the rugged falls on the upper Potomac River.  It's not the District but it is a nearby national park.

I enjoyed lunch of all the fixin's from a nearby BBQ shack with my former colleague Leah at a new waterfront park in DC near the Marina.  A running group came through and stopped to do calisthenics in the park before running off, which made us feel guilty as we ate our chicken and beans.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

More books

The year is slipping away! A blue funk, since November 9th last year.  Way back in May I posted that last year I read 14 books, two of which were entirely inconsequential (light reading by the same historian on the history of World War One and World War Two using the same minimal outline for both), and listed the six most significant (to me) works in ascending order (Oswald's Tale, Silas Mariner, Death of a Salesman, Jane Eyre, True Grit, Agnes Grey).

I've been trying to get away in the last couple of years from reading recent history almost exclusively and get back into literature.  So now that I have listed the six most impressive (to me) books I read last year, here are the next half dozen:

Case Closed-Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK by Gerald Posner (1993).  Yep, Lee Harvey Oswald did it.  I've visited the sniper's perch on the 6th floor of the Texas Book Depository and that street below where the presidential motorcade was crawling away below the sniper-scoped viewpoint of the assassin is a killing zone.  Couldn't miss.  That, of course, doesn't explain how the perfect storm of events came together that led this derelict of history at that moment to be there ready to kill this historical figure.  I'll note that his Russian wife Marina was probably a KGB operative, and Kruschev was humiliated by Kennedy in the Cuba showdown that threatened to eradicate all human life on the planet.  I read this tome while recovering from double hernia surgery.

Woodrow Wilson and the Progressive Era 1910-1917 by Arthur Link (1954).  Woodrow Wilson was a near near-great American president, who accomplished many things, many of which were good.  He was also a racist.  I have learned not to comment on the Internet about presidents who owned slaves or were clearly racists.  So...Zip the Lip.

Yoni: Hero of Entebbe by Max Hastings (1979).  Don't know what Entebbe was?  Look it up.  Yoni was the revered older brother of the current Israeli prime minister, and he died at Entebbe and his nation mourned.

The Day the World Came to Town by Jim DeFede (2002).  A heart-tugging book about how the inbound travelers to the USA from overseas had to scramble on September 11, 2001 and in the week that followed, when US airspace was closed on that tragic day.  The eastern-most international airport in North America, in Canada, which had been relegated to backwater status after the Cold War (the US basically built it so its forces could quickly deploy to Europe) and the town reverted to about 2,000 close-knit residents who mostly maintained this world-class airport.  About 120 jumbo jets landed there on September 11th and 12,000 refugees overran the isolated town's resources immediately.  You think the Canadians didn't cope, take care of and welcome these confused, fearful travelers?  Think again.  O Canada!

Dieppe by Harold Palin (1978).  Don't know what Dieppe was?  Oh, never mind.  This is an account of the armed incursion that presaged Operation Overlord two years later.  It was a disaster but O Canada!

The Interloper-Lee Harvey Oswald Inside the Soviet Union by Peter Savodnik (2013).  A portrait of newly-weds, and Russian agents in the apartments next door and the recordings that came out of their planted bugs.  Did they capture the full breadth of the first days of these two "lovebirds" (one was abusive, the other was an agent), because the Minsk agents knocked off at 12PM.  Two years later Lee Harvey Oswald slew the president of Russia's greatest adversary, and his wife knew nothing about it!  Yeah.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The final dental visit

The third and final trip to the dentist this year, to get the new permanent crown put in, came two weeks after the temporary crown was put in.  Again, it capped a tooth which had had a root canal done so I declined the offer of novocaine before the dentist went to the drill to clean off the stump, remove the temporary cement from the site and clear out or enlarge the pinhole the post in the crown was going to fit into.

The dentist remarked that the crown with a short wire rod jutting out below it, much like the old crown which had been unusable, was a thing of the past and he hadn't even trained in dental school last decade on its use.  Cements were so much better now, he indicated.

But he dropped it in, worked on tamping it down into the hole (I suggested at one point that he just use a rubber mallet) and got it seated perfectly.  Two months later I haven't had a hint of a problem with it.

I was pleased that the 40 minutes or so had not produced the dreaded jolt.  The bill for the three hours of work came to over $2,000, my insurance costing about $40 a month paid about $40 of it, and the good dentist charged off most of it as a courtesy.  I paid the rest.  I'll see my new dentist again when I have my next dental emergency, hopefully not for years.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Dental, day two

The second day of dental work after a crown come out on July 4th was uneventful although protracted.  The first attempt at a permanent mold wasn't successful because I couldn't keep my jaw bite still enough for the entire five minute setting period, so evidently it got some bubbles in it.  Another five minute period was ordered up, which evidently was satisfactory this time around.

I remember a lot of drooling, due to all the stuff I had in my mouth for minutes at a time.  I wondered where the tiny swing-away porcelain sink was which my former dentist had.  Nowadays they do a lot of vacuuming up of saliva, give you tissues to wipe your chin with and if necessary to get grit out of your mouth, a dixie cup half full of water with which you can drink, swish and swirl, spit back into and give back to the tech.

Then I sat through a couple of sittings for settings for the temporary crown (I must have moved my jaw again and introduced bubbles on the first time), it was cemented in and I was done for two weeks while the mold was sent away to the lab so a permanent crown could be made.  There was no drilling this time, except for some rasping and buzzing with a dull bit to remove the excess cement or clay or play-dough or whatever they used in the oral cavity.

I once used a temporary crown for fourteen months while I gathered enough money to come in to sit for a mold for a permanent crown.  There isn't any dental insurance in this country that is worthwhile so dental work tends to be on a pay-as-you go basis, if you do it at all.  My last dentist told me just before she retired that she knew me as an emergency-basis-only client, a challenge overtime I walked through the door.  She was the best, but I was liking Nick already because of his dedication, care and solicitous nature.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

More dental, day one.

The twenty-six year old crown with a post that had been wrenched out by chewing on a cold snickers bar was formerly over a ground-down tooth that had my first root canal in it.  Back in the eighties, that procedure turned into a gruesome two-week process for me.  I think it was that dentist's first root canal and several times as I was deep in the chair hearing the electric whine of the drill and smelling the smoke of pulverizing bone, I drew back as an electric shock raced through my jaw.

This always annoyed that dentist and after the obligatory, "Did you feel that?" he'd jab some more novocaine into the back of my mouth.  If the jolt happened again during that session, he'd always dismiss me for a day or two and have me come back later.  This went on for two weeks before the root canal was finished, a time I'll always remember, and I had so many novocaine shots in my mouth that my mouth hurt like, well, the living pincushion it was.

Back in the present, the dental tech lightly placed the old crown into place, saw that it fit, took it out and went to get the dentist.  He repeated that process, saw that it fit perfectly and tightly, and tried to get it back out.  That turned into a struggle that ended with the porcelain bullet finally popping out of the confined space and the suddenness of its release caused him to drop it by accident into my mouth with my face facing upwards and my jaws stretched wide open.

I have always feared something dropping down my throat during a dental procedure but I deftly swept the crown into my cheek with my tongue, where the dentist fished it out.  After the vacant place was filled with cement, there followed a long series of unsuccessful attempts to get the crown back  into place so that it seated correctly.  The fit was too tight and eventually the dentist told me that we would have to create a new crown.  He then ground the tooth stump down a little to clean it off, after asking me if I wanted novocaine although assuring me that I shouldn't feel anything because of the root canal.  I declined the shot and waited nervously as he worked with the drill in my mouth but he was right and I didn't feel any jolts.

So that was the end of day one and I was scheduled to come in to create a mould the next day, as my visit had already consumed 90 minutes.  The doctor asked me if I wanted a prescription for valium to allay my discomfort and anxiety but I turned that down by joking that a staff shot of bourbon would do just fine.  He laughed and said, "Well, we shouldn't be celebrating just yet because we still have work to do."

Friday, September 8, 2017


"Do you have your Safeway card?"
"Yeah, sure. Here it is."
"What's this? It's a library card."
"Oh, I brought the wrong card in from the car."

"Well, enter your phone number, that'll work."
"Okay. This probably means that my Safeway card wouldn't work at the library."
"That's what I'm thinking too. Here's your receipt."

"Thanks, and would you do me a favor?"
"What's that?"
"Please don't tell anyone that I read books. It could ruin my reputation."

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Labor Day 2017

Labor Day 2017 was a beautiful day, heralding the end of summer.  The weather was nice, but the news was and has been disastrous.

Are we going to nuclear war in Korea?  According to our leading luminary, "We'll see."

A noontime meal of pizza took my mind off the endless cycle of news we've had since January 20th.  There's the latest news cycle featuring the current weather devastation stories that Harvey has struck and Irma is coming, but fortunately climate change is merely a Chinese hoax, and the news today about the Dreamer's program ending, negatively impacting immigration, so I wonder where the labor is going to come from that's going to restore Houston and surrounding coastal communities to habitability.

On November 8th last year, I spent an 18-hour day down in Newport News poll-watching to facilitate and ensure a fair election.  I didn't figure, however, on a laser-focused and successful Russian interference in our electoral process and now as our late summer ends with ominous clouds on our horizon, I remember waking up at 3 a.m. on November 9th to a blaring TV with the announcer intoning that Donald Trump is our new president, and I can now recognize that my immediate and incredulous foreboding at that moment was justified, because I believe now that from that moment forward nothing is ever going to be the same again.

Monday, September 4, 2017

See ya, or be ya

September 5, 2016.

Labor Day 2015.

Labor Day 2014.

The 1990s.