Inhale Love. Exhale Hate.

InhaleLoveby Brad Nelson6/28/16
Turn down your damn radio.  •  It was hot on the Left Coast yesterday. In my part of the People’s Republic of Washington State, it was 80 degrees. I don’t know what that is in Celsius, and I don’t want to know. I have no interest in being a global citizen.

So I’m sitting at a stoplight at a busy intersection with my windows rolled down. The air conditioning broke a couple years ago and it’s just not worth fixing. A friend said it could cost upwards of $1200.00. The car is slowly devolving into various things that are “not worth fixing.” Things still worth fixing are the brakes, tires, steering, and probably the legal stuff like turn signals. But the frills are going by the wayside.

But I digress. Did I say it was a hot day? It must be the heat. So here I am sitting at the intersection with my windows rolled down. And this is not going to be a story of some punk kid (or, worse yet, a wigger) playing his music too loud. And in such cases, the problem isn’t so much the volume as it is the content. Pop music these days is truly horrible. Rap is absolutely toxic. Name your poison, death by girly-man aridity or deadly anger masquerading as music.

No, in this instance I’m the one playing my music loud, or at least loudish. I am, after all, one of the civilized. And what’s playing? Oh, you silly person. Why, Sinatra, of course. I was blaring some groovy song from Come Swing With Me: ”Almost Like Being in Love” with also features a swingin’ arrangement by Billy May. And I got a subtle, but strange, look from the 30-something fellow in the car next to me. It wasn’t a look of derision like I would have given some punk blaring pop or rap. It was a quizzical look with perhaps just a brief glimpse of approval.

Who knows? He may have truly heard something he had never heard before and was genuinely curious. Or he thought I was from Mars. But I make no apologies for open-air Sinatra. God knows the crap from others we all have to put up with. A little Mr. S would likely to the Vulgarites some good. And, oh, that look was worth it.

Spreading Mediocrity

Mother broke her hip a couple weeks ago and this has given me more familiarity with the health care system than I ever wanted. Her orthopedic surgeon comes highly rated and he seems to have done a first-rate job. But the rest of the system outside the Big Poobahs is pretty thin. Long story short, if you or a relative has to make a trip to the emergency room, the hospital, or a rehabilitative facility, understand that there is no one really looking out for your interests. (I can see Annie tapping her knee and nodding in the affirmative.) Unless you are proactive, these places can be downright bad for your health. Do not just sit there and go with the system. The system is very broken and certainly not oriented to attending to people’s needs.

For my mother, we had to takes steps several times for just basic stuff that should have been a normal part of a nurse’s (or doctor’s) duty. Urinary infection? Hey, how about taking a test. They agreed this was a good idea and could be causing some of her symptoms. Oops. They never took the test. We reminded them again a few days later. I think they did take a test, but I’m not sure. I’ve got brothers and sisters also intervening.

One night I came to visit her and she was hallucinating. Severely. Did the nurses or staff know anything about it? Well, it might have been hard to have this communicated to them because most of the help staff there at the rehabilitating facility do not speak good English. I had the hardest time commenting with one of them. Now imagine you are an elderly person whose hearing (such as my mother’s) isn’t all that good to begin with.

Luckily one of the interns there (and I’m not making this up) looked up her problem on the internet and came up with some likely causes. Calling Dr. Google. I mean, I’m not making this up. I held my tongue. And this guy was actually sincerely trying to help. But why are we (or Medicare) paying for a staff to sit on their asses at their stations Googling for remedies while non-English speaking nurses do the minimum of care?

I was not much impressed by the Chinese Fire Drill nature of the operation. And, mind you, this is one of the highest rated facilities in the state.

As it happens, none of this will likely matter. Mother seems to have lost the will to live. She does nothing now but make excuses for why she is not eating, why she isn’t doing very good at her rehabilitation exercies, etc. I guess we might all find ourselves there eventually. But the lesson to learn from this is stay home if at all possible. Our healthcare system is extremely over-rated. There is no exaggeration in my voice when I say that I think the main function of the healthcare system is to employ as many people as possible to sit behind a desk. Giving careful and attentive care to the patients seems to be an afterthought. Outside of toilet functions, you’re on your own.

And if you’re in your 70’s (and I’m serious), consider wearing padding on the hips, as well as knee and elbow pads as well. What is going to get you is a fall. I think I could make a fortune selling hip pads for the elderly. Maybe make them a bit stylish. Maybe a Sinatra motif. Broken hips are the kiss of death, generally speaking. Avoid them.

Inhale Love. Exhale Hate.

I had reason to make a rare excursion to Facebook. One of the reasons was to check out a hot chick who is a friend of a friend of a friend. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and all that. Well, I realized again why I don’t spend much time on Facebook. It’s pretty stupid. This one chick was a nature-lover — perhaps a modern-day Pagan. Her page was full of drippy slogans, including “Inhale Love. Exhale Hate.”

We are witnessing the fortune cookie-ification of our culture. I do think it’s a good idea to inhale a little love and minimize the hate. I get very frustrated with much of conservatism which has devolved to just various ways to express how dissatisfied one is. I’ve always tried to get people to also focus on the positive, to tell a funny story, or just focus on another aspect of life other than what the Obamas are doing to screw our country.

There is at least a tiny bit of wisdom in the “Inhale Love. Exhale Hate” shtick. Very little, in fact. Think of that ditzy mayor broad (of which city, I forget) who said regarding the Jihadist who blew up all the Democratic voters at the homosexual nightclub that all that was needed was to love then more.

I wonder if Satan is still having a good laugh when he inspired the Beatles to write “All You Need is Love”?

Brad is editor and chief disorganizer of StubbornThings.
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Brad Nelson

About Brad Nelson

I like books, nature, politics, old movies, Ronald Reagan (you get sort of a three-fer with that one), and the founding ideals of this country. We are the Shining City on the Hill — or ought to be. However, our land has been poisoned by Utopian aspirations and feel-good bromides. Both have replaced wisdom and facts.
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66 Responses to Inhale Love. Exhale Hate.

  1. David Ray says:

    Some radio host named John Bachelor has a show that ends at midnight. For awhile some song that sounded just like it was cut from the 20’s played near the end of the show. (It had the words “midnight” used oft.)
    I probably had the same reaction as the others in the car. I actually grew to like it (though it seemed ham-fisted) in that it became a sore reminder of some innocence & virtue that this nation has lost.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Compare Sinatra, Bing, or anyone pre-1950’s with the garbage of today. Today has no style, and certainly no music sensibility. There is no reason songs such as this can’t sound good in a hundred years. I won’t put it in the same category as Mozart. But compared to today’s crap, this is indeed Mozart. It’s the last music that stylized romance instead of descending to the gutter by being explicit.

      • M Farrell says:

        Hi Brad–
        Nothing compares to Sinatra– I once avoided a speeding ticket because the police officer that pulled me over was so amused that I was crusing (and singing at the top of my lungs) to the Chairman’s version of “Chicago, My Kind of Town”– The closest I come to “modern” music is tolerating Rod Stewart’s redo of the “Great American Song Book”– But there again all the material dates from Tin Pan Alley through the 1950’s– It’s Stuart trying to redo Sinatra– Silly idea, no?

        • Timothy Lane says:

          I think the decline in music was somewhat gradual. I have a lot of material from the 1960s and early 1970s, and some from as late as the early 1980s, but that’s about as late as I listen to (other than parodies by the likes of Weird Al Yankovic, Paul Shanklin, Bob Rivers, or the Capitol Steps). For all their bad guy reputations, most performers then weren’t explicit or crude in their romantic/sexual desires, and still reflected a desire for marriage as opposed to flings.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            I think the decline in music was somewhat gradual.

            Dennis Prager says “Everything the Left touches, they make worse.” Well, the Left has degraded all forms of art. This phenomenon is apparently expertly treated in Tom Wolfe’s book, The Painted Word. I have this on my list of books to read. I’ve read the free Kindle sample portion of it.

            Long story short, art changed from the expression of beauty (even the beauty of painful moments) to either deconstructing, or simply celebrating vulgarity or ugliness. Many art forms fell in on themselves, if only out of top-heavy layers of pretentiousness and pomposity. You’re surely read some of the stunningly stupid forms of postmodern thought stemming from academia. Much of art has become the equivalent of that. There is no true meaning. It’s just a collection of colors pretending at meaning. Lack of meaning (nihilism) is the new meaning. Celebration of the ugly is the new aesthetic. Pretend-talent (like Guitar Hero) is the new skill.

            Think of singers such as Karen Carpenter who could sing without any backup or synthesized voice effects. Now it is apparently quite common to have the voice electronically altered to make it pitch-perfect (or just listenable, I guess). Art today is more and more fraudulent. But there was nothing fraudulent about the siging ability of, say, Frank Sinatra. He was a true artist.

            • David Ray says:

              I got a huge kick outta R. Lee Ermey’s epitaph in “Full Metal Jacket”. He tells Lawrence/Gomer Pile that “You’re so ugly, you could be a modern art master piece!”

              modern art (which has figuratively & literally involved urine) DOES make an excellent comparison to deprivation and ugliness, does it not?

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          That’s a great story about avoiding a speeding ticket. I think they should hand out tickets to people blaring often pop or rap music.

          And if you’re talking about Rod Stewart trying to redo Sinatra, that is about as possible as Phyllis Diller trying to redo Kathy Ireland.

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            I think a more apt comparison would be Caitlyn trying to redo Bruce. At least Phyllis got the genitalia correct.

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    My experiences at University of Louisville Hospital have been better than that. For the most part the nursing care has been good, though I’m less pleased with the doctors (and especially their poor performance communicating with me).

    Elizabeth and I have had a few falls over the years. She tried changing a lightbulb using a footstool that collapsed under her a few years ago, and slipped (for reasons that aren’t clear) in the kitchen a couple of days ago. Fortunately, she still has sturdy bones. I slipped on the stairs some years back, and ended up with a cracked rib. On the other hand, on another occasion I tumbled down the stairs — and suffered no injury at all. So far, overall, we’ve been lucky. (We know how to deal with a cracked ri ourselves, thanks to the advice of a friend who happened to be a NASA physician and a chiropractor, and recently died.)

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Well, you’ve been very lucky (and sort of unlucky) in regards to falls. Yours truly spent the last five years or so off and on counseling my mother to walk when she’s walking and think about nothing else, not your grocery list, not what you need to get done…nothing.

      And she’s often thanked me for that. But I think it’s particularly hard for women to sort of walk and chew gum in regards to paying attention while they are walking. Yes, men fall too. But I do think women are more prone (and perhaps less disciplined) in this regard. At least that was true of my mother. God bless her, but I had to constantly remind her to think about what she was doing. Well, I wasn’t there when she fell. And her obstinance (or vanity) was such that she wasn’t using her cane…no matter how many times I prompted (nagged) her to do so. Oh well. That’s another lesson, men (and women). Use a cane. Churchill had one and they can be very stylish.

      Now it’s likely my mother’s life is all but over. She seems to be deteriorating beyond anything having to do with her hip.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Well, I do use a cane now, at least part of the time, due to various pains in my legs and hips. Fortunately, they tend to go away after I’ve been up for a bit. Of course, if the cane hits a piece of paper on the floor, it can slide. So far that hasn’t led to a fall. Elizabeth uses a walker and moves very slowly, which probably makes falls less likely.

  3. Glenn Fairman says:

    “If you’re looking for sympathy you’ll find it between shit and syphilis in the dictionary.”
    ― David Sedaris, Barrel Fever: Stories and Essays

    But seriously folks, it had to be 105 out here with humidity, but it was light years better than being at the Istanbul Airport covered with pieces of Hadji or being a fly on the wall in Hillary and Huma’s boudoir while they were inhaling love and exhaling the odor of rancid tilapia. Did I mention my swimming pool is 91 degrees Kelvin? Must be the heat….

    Give mother my best, she’s not the only one who’s looking for a reason…..

    • Timothy Lane says:

      The Kelvin scale starts at absolute zero, and uses Celsius degrees. 91 K is -182 Celsius. (I still remember a lot of my high school and college physics.) Do you put dry ice in your pool to cool it?

      • Glenn Fairman says:

        I was using hyperbole but failed. But it is 91 F which is much too warm for a swimming pool, even one situated adjacent to the River Styx.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          Oh, I didn’t think you intended it literally, but I can’t resist certain opportunities. A pool might be good at such a high temperature, but the problem is having to go to the pool.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        They do tend to go to extremes out in California. I just figured, well, maybe Mr. Fairman has an alter ego. Mr. Freezeman?


    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I had a friend just come back from Arizona…it was 120 when he left. But it’s a dry heat. 😀

      • David Ray says:

        I’ll take dry heat ANY day. (Once during my days in the Corps, the bread from the chow line was literally turned into a crouton within the few mere minutes it took to walk back to my gun/howitzer)

        We had many nose bleeds, heat postrates, starched blouses, but thankfully NO SWEAT.

  4. Glenn Fairman says:

    Brad: Does that mean the hippiechick took in love and expelled hate? Now that’s truth in advertising……

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Yes, I guess it depends upon what you mean my “exhale.” The verb does sound rather active.

      I was going to go into a whole diatribe about how it was indeed necessary to hate certain things (rape, theft, murder, sweet pickles). Loving everything sounds nice but it’s wholly narcissistic in that the point isn’t justice but feeling good no matter what. But I didn’t go down that road because I just, err, hate repeating myself.

  5. Lucia says:

    Brad, thank you for sharing about your mother. My mother also hallucinated at night in the hospital and rehab center. It could have been because she was afraid in a strange place and had waking nightmares. Or night time happenings perceived through a half asleep brain tend to be very weird especially if dosed by sleep aides. Then again, strange things happen most often in the middle of the night. I spent the first night in her room at the rehab center to help her understand the strange noises so she wouldn’t be afraid. People called out from their beds, nurses rolled their medication carts from door to door, custodians vacuumed the halls, nurses aides chatted by the door, etc.

    My husband goes to the VA and I learned quickly to keep tabs on everything the medical staff do and say. That experience helped me to double check Mom’s symptoms via WebMD which not only helped me understand at least partially what was going on with her but also equipped me to deal with the nursing care and talk more confidently with the doctors. They appreciate it when somebody in the family understands what they’re telling them and can ask probing questions.

    My dad used to say that if it weren’t for human error, life would be perfect. Nothing shines a spotlight on incompetence and mistakes like life and death situations. Help your mother to face her future without fear and you will be doing her a great favor.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I came in one the day after I first discovered her hallucinating, Lucia, and she was scolding me because she said that me and my other brothers and sisters had spent part of the night running around her bed throwing things at her (or something like that). I told her at the time that this never happened. But it was real to her and she said that it was best if we just put it behind us. Okie doke. A few days later, she understood that she had been hallucinating.

      I’ve been told that this kind of disorientation is quite common amongst the elderly. They even have a word for it. But I also wonder if over-medication of pain killers and other drugs isn’t the driving factor. There’s no way to know. The government is very picky about your medical “privacy” but apparently there is no mandate to “first do no harm.” The first thing hospitals do seems to be to over-prescribe medicines and pain-killers. For an outsider, there’s just no way to know for sure. But one gets the distinct impression that there is very little discernment going on and that everyone who works in one of these facilities is completely beholden to an unbending “this is the way things are done.”

      • Lucia says:

        During her first time in the hospital after her first night hallucinations, Mom swore she was being spied on and cautioned us to talk in a whisper, which scared my brother, but he freaked out about everything anyway. He tried to change her mind but she just got mad at him and said she wasn’t crazy. Come to find out, the night nurse uses a video camera in the corner of the room, hidden inside a glass bubble up by the ceiling. Mom was relieved to learn she hadn’t lost her mind.

        She continued to hallucinate at night even after she went home but we accepted it as part of the decline. She didn’t sleep more than an hour and a half at a time all night long anyway, had been like that for a few years, so having waking dreams was to be expected.

        This part of life is very difficult for everyone. I hope that I won’t be as difficult to deal with in my last years as my mother was, but most likely my children will find me to be a pain-in-the…no matter what I do or how much I prepare ahead of time. It’s the differences in personalities that make family relationship so painful. Some rare types are happy with whatever and whomever, but some seem to be at war with everyone over everything.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Mom swore she was being spied on and cautioned us to talk in a whisper, which scared my brother, but he freaked out about everything anyway.

          Every family has their pansies. 😀 Same here, but I won’t mention any names.

          I’m pretty well battle-hardened. When my mother was hallucinating I just talked her back to reality. After about 35 minutes or so, it worked. And as I later discovered, I did the right thing. Don’t argue with them. And don’t give into their delusions. But tell them where they are, how they got there, what is happening next, and anything else relevant and reality-based. I might make a good nurse.

          I don’t imagine being old and near the end makes anyone particularly chipper. And yet I have vowed to never be like that. We needn’t be old, cantankerous, negative, and cranky. And the weird bit is that she is (or professes to be) a Christian.

          Don’t those beliefs actually mean anything? Isn’t there some comfort that this isn’t the end? But a whole generation (or more) seems as if they don’t really believe their own beliefs. I’m not sure what’s coming next, if anything, but if I believed that death wasn’t the end, I would certainly be less hung up about it.

          Believe me, none of us should want to become is a black hole of negativity, whether near the end or not. I’ve lived with that for too long. This is certainly one of the reasons I try to steer people to do other than just bitch, bitch, bitch in their various articles. Life is too short for that.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            I don’t know if it could ever be said that I hallucinated, though I have had dreams that seemed real to me (I recall one about roof leaks all over my apartment one stormy night). The closest I’ve come is probably when I had ultrasound during my January 2012 hospital stay (caused by my congestive heart failure and severe edema). I had hardly slept all night (not an unusual problem for me away from home), and I noticed that if I closed my eyes, it seemed my cart was moving even when it wasn’t. Weird.

          • Lucia says:

            Gloomy Gus does more harm than he knows. He clips the wings of dreamers so they don’t ever soar to great heights, he stabs hope in the heart so it never grows, he clings to his own small demands with his fist clenched so tight that he never receives what he really needs which love without fear, abundant, forgiving, healing.

            Glass-half-empty people are right 50% of the time. They are a pain to live with but not entirely unlovable. Well, maybe some are. Optimists who have to deal with them will find a way to protect themselves and grow wiser in the process.

            • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

              Life tends to be full of people who want to tear you down. I’ve taken some of the lessons of life and turned them on their head in defiance. Although I haven’t got the time to do a proper job of it, my commission here at this site is to encourage good thinkers to become good writers. Not just bitchers, complainers, and fault-finders, but complete, all-around writers.

              So you see, my evil plan of introducing people to Sinatra has a larger context. Really. I mean, you’d likely laugh (as I do) at some of the crappy music conservatives typically listen to while claiming they are traditionalists. I’m not saying there is a “conservative correct” music. I listen to a very wide repertoire myself which occasionally includes Rammstein (but usually not). Oh, and my brother has a huge archive of German marching music and traditional anthems, so sometimes it sounds like the coming of the Fourth Reich around here. LOL. That said, if we think this culture is full of trash, why do we willingly heap so much of it upon ourselves while continue to complain about it all?

              And, dagnabit, speaking of glasses, the glass *is* often half empty, if that. The point of life is to use what you’ve got, not obsess on what you don’t have and likely can never have, although being free to seek those limits is very American (which requires, of course, lots of failure, stick-to-it-iveness, and doses of pulling oneself up by one’s own bootstraps…anything but the namby-pamby Pajama-Boy-ism that is so common now).

              I don’t refute that the glass is often half full. I just say make use of the water that you have. But this is my taste. I kind of hate chirpy optimism (I definitely don’t exhale that)…which is why I’m making fun of the whole “Inhale love/exhale hate” fortune cookie notion — even white agreeing it is a good practice to lighten up (another, and less namby-pamby, way of saying the same thing).

              As a Catholic in attitude, if not in actuality, I say it’s more than okay to make friends with your misery instead of hiding it under a log where it will tend to come out in a hundred unexpected (and often destructive) ways rather than just one way in perky and somewhat pithy self-awareness. Yes, my mother is a pain in the ass (whether in good or ill health). But that’s life. She’s still my mother. And I’m breaking no Commandments by admitting the obvious and it helps me to fulfill the Fifth because I haven’t gone insane trying to pretend everything is all sunshine, roses, and unicorns.

              But that’s just me. I think some people do really well on chirpy optimism. Not just me. Exhale.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                Back in high school, I did a speech at the Optimists’ Club about the desirability of optimism. What made this ironic is that I was definitely inclined toward pessimism (a reflection of some unpleasant personal circumstances). Well, I wrote a suitable speech and delivered it (and got a minor trophy — every participant got one).

              • Lucia says:

                Maybe I have the wrong idea about optimists. I thought they were the “silver lining” crowd, more like realists who see the darkness but also the light at the end of the tunnel, the ones who make lemonade out of lemons. They are the ones who bounce back from adversity easier than the pessisimists who think all is lost forever.

              • Glenn Fairman says:

                No one can listen to Bossa Nova long and be a pessimist.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                Lucia, I would say an optimist is someone who expects the best to happen. The ultimate example is Dr. Pangloss in Candide, who believed this is the best of all possible worlds. (Leonard Wibberley, in his parody of Candide, Adventures of an Elephant Boy, featured President Pangloss of the Best of All Possible Nations.)

  6. Glenn Fairman says:

    google sundowner’s syndrome.

    I am not privy to the facts about your mother, But when we find ourselves fading away from this world, especially when a spouse has gone on ahead without us, the joy of living turns stale and eventually turns existence into a chore. This occurs even for those who have long maintained a spiritual center with God. Facing the prospect of a parent on the cusp of life is an emotionally daunting ordeal, and one in which you will not return from unscathed.
    I would like to tell you that things will get better, and they may, but coming into being and passing from it are inexorable tides that travel inconsistent arcs. We that must remain, who can read the writing on the wall, suffer deeply from the loss of our loved one’s joy and personality, and in losing this, we lose increments of ourselves. We cannot bear to look too closely, for in our waning parent we capture a prophesy of our own mortality and perhaps the absurdity of life without a telos.
    Any man who does not begin to ask significant questions about his life when faced with what lies before us is either a fool or one who has already purchased death on the installment plan. You will need strength in the days ahead, and who will you rely on if it is not someone stronger than yourself?

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      When my father died, he went suddenly at 72. The more I hear stories of other people’s aging parents, the luckier I know he was. He died while still an active, vibrant man.

      My mother is my mother. She is where joy, enthusiasm, and optimism go to die. She’s sort of a black hole of negativity. But as a mother she was a good physical provider, as was my father. But it was basically emotional boot camp. It left scars, but you can’t blame your parents forever. (I now blame Obama and “the poor.”)

      My mother has been losing her marbles for some time. She has some dementia issues. But even before that, she is the least logical person I know. I remember reading your heartfelt eulogies of your parents as they passed, Glenn. Such stories were both heartwarming and poignant because I can’t write anything like that…at least not without lying or very carefully cherry-picking.

      Still, a friend of mine had a mother who suffered from schizophrenia before she passed. That was no picnic and I don’t think I realize just how difficult it was for him. One thing I hope is that I will just drop dead some day as my father did. I don’t want to be a burden on people. And I don’t want to become a cranky old man, whether because of illness or just general temperament.

      But story after story that I’m hearing from friends and acquaintances regarding an aging parent are truly horror stories. I’m sort of naive and just figured most people had some version of Aunt Bee as an elderly parent. The truth seems to be that this “Greatest Generation” will not go quietly into that goodnight, not by any means.

      There will be tears and a sense of loss when mother finally passes. But she has been a piece of work to handle for the last 13 years…since my father died. We have always done our Fifth Commandment duties (mainly my brother and I because we are the closest to where she lives). But I can certainly understand fully why we have Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. It wasn’t to take care of the elderly, per se. It was to relieve children of the burden. And given how cranky many of the elderly are, I can hardly blame them. Has it always been this way. Is Aunt Bee just a myth?

      There was a lady in the room next to my mother in the rehabilitation facility (the one where many of the nurses can barely speak English). I adopted Betty. I brought her (and my mother) some homemade soup. She loved it. And I spoke to her as well when she was awake. She was old and worn down and I don’t know what precipitated her visit to the facility. But she did go home the day before yesterday. I can’t say she was Aunt Bee, but wouldn’t it be nice to have one?

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        But story after story that I’m hearing from friends and acquaintances regarding an aging parent are truly horror stories.

        After I returned to the US, after many years abroad, I would often hear from Americans just how great the medical system was in this country.

        Having experienced medical systems elsewhere I would simply ask, “As compared to what?” Of course, not one of those making such claims could answer that question as none had had any experience with medicine outside the USA.

        I have found that too many Americans have become dumb clucks who simply parrot the propaganda being fed them daily by varying media, governmental and/or business interests. Of course it is gratifying to repeat propaganda which makes one and one’s country look good.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          The true power of Big Government (as well as socialized medicine) is that people become born into it and never know any differences. Remember at the London Olympics where they had some kind of tribute to the NHS? This is the kind of creepy Orwellianism that we used to laugh at. Now evil people such as Obama have made it normal. Socialism will always mean that there will be layer upon layer of propaganda whose purpose is to try to convince people that stale mediocrity is, in fact, excellence.

          Look at Donald Trump. There are a lot of people squinting to see him as something other than who he is. And Obama is double that. We now live in this world of make-believe competence, at least in a lot of areas.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        Well, I don’t have any real horror stories about my parents or my relatives, though there were obviously bad moments. The worst was my mother’s second husband, who joined my brother and the principal at Fort Campbell High School on my personal demonology (only my brother is still alive). The main problem I had dealing with her in her later years is that the deterioration of the cerebellum made her virtually incomprehensible. It’s hard to have a conversation if you don’t understand what the other person is saying. Of course, my father also died in the prime of life — killed by the VC near a facility they named Port Lane after his death (I assume the new owners changed the name long ago).

        But there certainly were problems. When I read the first volume of Mercedes Lackey’s Last Herald Mage series, which involves a psychologically abused child, the reading went slowly as painful childhood memories came back to me. A couple of months later, my mother came up to visit her mother for a month, and she called me to let me know. Her call brought back those memories (though she wasn’t the reason they were so painful, she still brought them back), so I never got around to visiting.

        Her mother, incidentally, lived to 100 and remained somewhat functional, though her eyes didn’t work too well. Elizabeth and I visited her occasionally, including her 100th birthday party — and her funeral later that year, which is when I linked up with many of my relatives still living in that area.

  7. Lucia says:

    I wanted to add that staff in a medical facility are governed by a strict structure and nothing gets done without the doctor’s orders. The head nurse is responsible for making sure the doctor’s orders are followed by the staff and that concerns from the patients family are addressed. Stepping gently but firmly on the right toes is the only way to see action. Privacy regulations are also an obstacle to getting care for your loved one, so find out if your have the “legal right to know”. Some facilities have staff meetings that include the patients family where problems are aired and solved.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I was just talking to a chap last night…whose wife is a nurse, by the way. He was telling me about a friend of his who was in the hospital fairly recently and is a bit OCD…combined with an extremely high IQ. I guess he just checks everything. And each time before taking the pills that the nurses tried to give him, he would ask if they were actually on his chart to be taken. And quite often the nurses were in error.

      This guy was, as my friend described him, annoyingly proactive. And one case does not make a trend. And yet it’s a fair bet that many people receive drugs they do not need. I understand that patients are no cup of tea. But it is supposedly the job of the hospital (or other medical or rehabilitative facility) to administer care. God knows that care isn’t cheap.

      And yet what an opportunity for an entrepreneur if he could be set free from the kind of regulation that is for some reason so damn concerned about our “privacy” but otherwise does little to ensure fine-tuned care. I’m convinced you could give triple the care for half the cost. The facility that my mother is in sure looks nice from the outside. But inside it is just a dumping ground where people are giving pro-forma treatment. People sit at their desks and the patients (such as my mother) press the call button and are usually ignored. There is little monitoring of their situation. They might as well be in an automated assembly line in Detroit.

      But because these places look nice and charge a lot, they fulfill their main purpose: Making the children feel better about dumping their parents there. My mother has always had the expectation that she will move in with one of her children. But that’s not going to happen for a number of reasons. Would you want Aunt Edna (from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation) living with you? And that’s not much of an exaggeration. It would mean the end of your life as you know it.

      So I understand the function fulfilled by these places. Health and wellness are merely the veneer. Their true purpose is a dumping ground for the elderly.

  8. Glenn Fairman says:

    It is impossible to honor a mother and father’s life without cherry picking memories, and many of mine were perhaps less than pleasant. It took a great amount of time for me to see how their raw material was influenced by horrendous childhoods, and so I was given the wisdom to judge them not by their end states, but by how far they had travelled given the character of that material. We are the ripples of that pain and concern they wrestled with, and if they did not emerge from the flame as seraphim, at least they held the rudder with as much diligence as they could master as broken yet dutiful beings. In retrospect, they more than redeemed themselves in my eyes, and if I chose to dwell on the joy instead of the heartbreak, then I am none the poorer for it.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Well, I still pine for June and Ward Cleever.

      People who are intrinsically unhappen or driven by inner demons are never people who are easy to be with. That describes both of my parents. Yes, I can cherry-pick a lot of nice moments too. But overall it was not a pleasant experience.

      And rather than emulating my parents, I hope to use them as examples of how not to be. That’s not exactly how it’s supposed to work. But you do what you can do. People are, or become, broken in a lot of ways. That’s just how life is.

  9. Glenn Fairman says:

    Well Ward, providing a safe haven for Stubbornthings’ incarnations of: Eddie Haskell, Lumpy, Larry Mondello, Miss Landers, Fred Rutherford, Whitey, Gilbert and Tooey to hang out after school qualifies you for special recognition. Hopefully someday you’ll find your special Beaver.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I was just talking (as it were) to the deaf lady across the street. She’s usually out in the street with her leaf blower cleaning the pavement and sidewalk. She does that nearly all day long. She’s told me before that she hates leave. (Obviously she did not learn to inhale love.)

      I was working out in my garden just now and she was trying to sign me something and I didn’t understand. So I went inside and got a pen and paper. She said she wanted to look around my garden. I said okay. And I kind of gave her a tour, letting her smell and taste a few things and signing (as best I could…gesticulating, really) what they were.

      She was in a talkative mood and she wanted to tell me about herself. She’s lived across the street for years. She’s highly autistic or something. She doesn’t speak and just sort of grunts. But she’s intelligent. She can write what she needs to say. She used to hold down a job with the government shipyard as a typist or something. She’s not stupid.

      But she is obviously severely handicapped. And she’s odd. Most people in the neighborhood (her neighbors) make fun of her behind her back. More of the little monsters this supposedly kinder-and-gentler “Progressive” society is fostering.

      Anyway, she told me she had a mother with bad legs and her father was dead. She has two brothers, Roy and Bobby. Bobby is a very very special needs brother. Their mother raised Bobby to at least young adulthood. But she started suffering from increasing dementia so Roy took over care of Bobby. But then Roy had a heart attack and Ellen (my neighbor) had to take care of her brother. He lives there now.

      I told her, in the course of this conversation-via-notepad, that I, too, had lost my father. And she wrote, “Yes, I knew your father.” And of course she did, because she’s lived across the street (from our office) for a long time. She told me he was very kind and often helped her. She said she missed him.

      And that was the kind of guy my dad was. Most people really liked him. He liked to help people. But the dynamics inside of a family are often much different than outside. It’s just the way it is. It’s as if some people pick up a family like a boat would a barnacle. It’s there and you just have to make the best of it. But it slows you down.

      I think families are traps for many people. Or marriages that start out good gradually go sour. What mother and father seemed to have in common is fighting with each other. They were a mirror image of Seinfeld’s Costanzas. But outside the home, everybody loved them.

      They say you can choose your friends but not your family. And that’s the way it works. That’s life. I don’t sugar-coat the bad stuff. I’ve seen way too much denial from people to see that as a happy alternative. But neither is it good to fester in the bad. People are complicated. They have many sides to them.

  10. Glenn Fairman says:

    you have unwittingly, or wittingly, provided me with my next theme, Miss Landers.

  11. Lucia says:

    During Mom’s 3 weeks in rehab she failed to improve and instead steadily declined so I arranged for in-home care, round-the-clock, from a private franchise. She was thrilled to have her own private nurses, although prior to the weeks of in-and-out-of-the-hospital trips, she insisted that no strangers would come into her house. The parade of strangers that violated her privacy in the hospital and rehab facility cured her of such nonsense. Between hospice, provided by Medicare, private nurses, me and my brother, Mom got to spend her last weeks in her own home. It wasn’t perfect, but at least she got what she wanted.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I totally get the lack of privacy thing. And dealing with the hospital experience has taught me that no one really has cared (at least in my area) to think out a better way of doing it. These are not patient-centered facilities. And if you are aware of a good in-home care franchise, that might be something I’d want to look into. You can find my email at the bottom of the article. My brother has a place already reserved for her. But in-home is preferable if that is at all possible. It might not be at this point.

  12. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Just a general comment, not aimed at anyone in particular (oh…maybe Mr. Kung). I think the reason I hate (exhaling or otherwise) this tattoo craze because it is a sign of the Guitar Hero-ification of society where merit is quite beside the point.

    I was joking to a fellow last night who took me on some particularly rough bike trails. At one point there was no trail and we had to pick up our bikes and precariously carry them over fallen logs and etcetera. I told him at the end of the ride, “I think I earned some type of Boy Scout merit badge.” He laughed.

    If someone has an anchor or “USN” tattooed on their arm, they’ve earned it. I have no beef with them. But what I think a large part of the tattoo-ification of yutes is about is unearned credit. They are dolling themselves up in garish (to me) “art” as if this was some sign of earned esteem. But it’s just crappy art that shows nothing more than what can be purchased if you have no taste and want the cheap route to esteem.

    I have no problem calling someone “doctor” if they’ve earned it. I’m pleased to do so. But you may doll yourself in the yute equivalent of an admiral’s coat of honors and awards, but it’s still just make-believe.

  13. Anniel says:

    When my mother was in a rehabilitative hospice they took her to Physical Therapy every day and forced her to walk between the balance bars. She kept crying that her “neck” hurt and she kept it pulled to one side. I checked it several times and could see nothing wrong. Finally I asked her to place her hand on the spot that hurt. She put it out by her “shoulder” and I gently pulled her gown over. Her shoulder was dislocated, and nobody had noticed. Very painful injury, probably inflicted when some worker was cleaning her or changing her bed. It was torture inflicted on her at that facility. We quickly moved her elsewhere.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      My mother is such a complainer about every little thing, she’s “wolfed us out” (as in crying wolf). She complained about rough treatment six months ago when she first fell (causes unknown…no physical damage found). Same thing this time. There is no way a sane person can possibly know if her reality fits real reality. That’s the conundrum. But certainly one has to watch out for just the kind of stuff you mentioned. Thanks for the feedback.

  14. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Back in high school, I did a speech at the Optimists’ Club about the desirability of optimism. What made this ironic is that I was definitely inclined toward pessimism (a reflection of some unpleasant personal circumstances). Well, I wrote a suitable speech and delivered it (and got a minor trophy — every participant got one).

    The thing is, Tim, as conservatives we are for real diversity instead of fake diversity. If someone wants to write a fully optimistic article, have at it. I’m not saying there aren’t lessons to be learned from chirpy optimism. Thete are. And a positive sense of life or self is almost required. But anyone in their right mind is going to have some fun with the overly-optimistic chirpiness of a life lived via stupid Deepak-Chopra-like slogans. About the only slogans worth a damn come from Benjamin Franklin.

    Congrats on the speech. But shouldn’t the transaction for giving a pessimistic speech be you giving them, say, five dollars instead of them giving you an award? Just a thought. Pessimism does have its ethical commitments, after all. 😀

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      About the only slogans worth a damn come from Benjamin Franklin.

      Although I am no Ben Franklin, I will give you a slogan I came up with in my late teens.

      Take your weakness and turn it into your strength.

      If one follows this idea, much can be done.

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Take your weakness and turn it into your strength.

        After word-raping Kevin Williamson for his obtuse intellectualism, I’ll see if I can elaborate and support your good point without running into the thickets.

        Having been connected to artists in my line of work, it escapes few people’s notice that the most creative people tend to have idiosyncrasies. These idiosyncrasies can often be constructive and destructive at the same time. The demons, if you will, that can drive us to great things can also drive us to horrible things — often both, and for the same reasons. But I would say it is that inherent imbalance, the unsated appetite, that propels us. A perfectly balanced rubber ball on a flat table goes nowhere.

        So I would say that it is often our weakness that is our strength and needn’t necessarily be turned into a strength but recognized as a potential strength. Perhaps the “turning it into a strength” is about understanding that “normal” is a utopian state. It doesn’t exist. There is no normal, per se. If there was, you’d be so normal as to be bland, uninteresting, driven by nothing, seeking nothing, and ultimately accomplishing nothing.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:


          Much of what you say applies. IN addition to what you have written, I would also say that my aphorism contains the implied idea that one must be aware in order to recognize one’s “weakness”. This in itself, is a good and proper step in working to strengthen oneself in a particular area, i.e. to improve oneself or at least to find a way to turn ones weakness to one’s advantage.

          In any case, the point of an aphorism is to try and put a kernel of truth into a pity and catchy phrase. And while your explanation and my comments above may add some clarity to the matter, I find my short aphorism much more inspirational, and I suspect most other people would as well. The point is to get people thinking and they can come up with much of the reasons themselves. They will have then learned something which will stick with them a lot longer than a dry lecture.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            I wonder how many modern yutes would interpreting taking a weakness and making it a strength as “portraying yourself as a victim.”

            • Timothy Lane says:

              That’s a frightening thought. Of course, one tends to get such thoughts when thinking about those who have undergone modern miseducation.

            • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:


              It would be an indication of twisted thinking, but given today’s public mis-education, I guess it is a possibility.

  15. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Maybe I have the wrong idea about optimists. I thought they were the “silver lining” crowd, more like realists who see the darkness but also the light at the end of the tunnel, the ones who make lemonade out of lemons. They are the ones who bounce back from adversity easier than the pessisimists who think all is lost forever.

    Oh, I don’t disagree with that assessment of optimism at all, Lucia. Perhaps I’ve just come to prefer the lemons in their present form rather than the lemonade. That is, “realism” can seem like pessimism depending upon how high up the “optimism” ladder one’s radar is tuned. A lot of people are “optimistic” about Donald Trump, for example. I think “optimism” tuned too highly toward the top end of the scale can become mere delusion.

    So I’m fine with seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, seeing the silver lining, and even making lemonade out of lemons. But one core weakness of too much optimism is unrealism. What if the light at the end of the tunnel is an on-coming train? What if it’s mercury in the lining, not silver? What if one is out of sugar to make the lemonade?

    There can be a constructive “pessimism” that optimism can never satisfy. Pessimism (or realism) can prepare for things optimism may never see. Obama is a case of run-away optimism, for instance. And rather than many people adjusting to a bit of realism (if not pessimism) because of the reality of him, they just keep pretending that sour is sweet.

    • Lucia says:

      Realism is required for problem solving, then. Facing the prospect of a bad outcome is the only way to deal with it constructively, maybe even helping others to survive it or at least make the best of it.

      When 9/11 happened my optimism bubble burst forever. Bad things do happen to good people on American soil. Out went faith in karma, or the belief in earthly reward for good behavior that’s preached by the prosperity doctrine people. Jesus warned that we would have trouble in the world. But how do we know that the evil that happens to us wouldn’t have been worse without God’s protection, like the story of Job?

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Islam is a great example of the perils of delusion. And I don’t call optimism “delusion,” per se. It needn’t be an attitude that ignores dangers or even minimizes them. I agree it is healthier and more productive to see the glass as half full instead of always complaining that everything isn’t how we like it and then throwing one’s hands in the air and saying “What’s the use?” Optimism can carry us forward, valuing what success we do have, and thus propelling us to other successes.

        But surely anyone living in this age of Progressivism has to look askance at the kind of optimism that is barely distinguishable from delusion. “Islam is a religion of peace.” “All cultures are equally valid.” “Inhale Love, Exhale Hate.”

        Progressivism/Leftism tends to leave people in a child-like state of naiveté, both good and bad aspects of naiveté. (“There are monsters under the bed” has changed to “Global warming.”) Your average yute now believes, for all intents and purposes, that simply repeating the general mantra of rainbows and unicorns will make the world an ongoing and thoroughgoing happy place. This is one reason that Islam must be a “religion of peace” (but hardly the only reason).

        There’s an aspect of realism, and even pessimism, which is about taking an eyes-wide-open look at the harsh realities, and not so that one can throw one’s hands up and declare “What’s the use?” It’s so that we don’t become this childish, silly culture that actually needs tags on garments that say “Cape does not enable wearer to fly.” That describes much of today’s “optimism” whereby the laws of nature, the laws of human nature, and common sense itself are ignored because they do not supply the overripe and overstuffed variety of rainbows and unicorns.

        If, for example, it is true (given the Trump phenomenon) that we are often defined by who we oppose instead of what we are for, I would say I would define my views on “optimism” in opposition to the general rainbows-and-unicorns definition that exists out there today…apparently making me a pessimist, in practice. And whether or not my realism or pessimism can then act to nominate the day-to-day equivalent of good Supreme Court justices as I act in my own life, we will then see. But I would agree, in principle, that “optimism” as an attitude is generally good and ought to be rescued from the goofballs who now hold it hostage with their vapid fortune cookie-isms.

        • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

          But I would agree, in principle, that “optimism” as an attitude is generally good and ought to be rescued from the goofballs who now hold it hostage with their vapid fortune cookie-isms.

          I think optimism can have have a somewhat “unrealistic” and sometimes egoistical taint attached to it. The bad little boy who found horse droppings in his Christmas stocking and came to the conclusion that Santa had left him a pony which had unfortunately run away, comes to mind.

          I would rather use the term hopeful.

          I also believe that having a positive attitude would be more helpful than an optimistic attitude as, in my mind, “positive” has more of an active tinge to it than optimistic. I know I am splitting hairs.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            I’m not sure I could drive a flea through your distinction between “positive” and “optimistic,” Mr. Kung. But given that I’m also trying to make small distinctions, I’ll add that split hair to my mantlepiece.

            One wonders sometimes if it is the “optimists” who throw themselves out of buildings when markets crash. Perhaps we both have it in mind that there is a form of “optimism” that requires butterflies, sunshine, unicorns, and rainbows wall-to-wall in order to exist. I might make a case that a realist or pessimist would not jump out of a building following a market crash. Instead, he would not be surprised by such a thing, nor would his worldview require wall-to-wall puppy-dog-tails, fluffy bunnies, and good vibrations.

            But I could be wrong about that.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              I would say that a positive attitude represents the idea that things can go right, and in particular that you can make them go right. Optimism is the belief that they will go right. On that basis, I’d agree with Kung Fu Zu.

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:


                I just logged in with the intent to write something along the lines you wrote. Since you have expressed my thought, I will leave it at that.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                I accept your distinction. Fine though it may be, you need fine instruments in order to cut diamonds. I think James J. Kilpatrick would appreciate someone in this day and age still managing to eek out distinctions in meaning. You can paint more detailed pictures with a fuller palette…and maybe a Fuller brush as well.

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