From the political to the personal. That’s how I roll here at Paul’s Thing.
Yes, the beard is gone. Like an infant discovering its tongue, I’d become obsessively aware of the hair on my face, touching it, scratching at it, thinking about it day and night. The symptoms were like a series of signposts, and they read: “A shave / That’s real / No cuts to heal / A soothing / Velvet after-feel / Burma-Shave.”
By the way, this must be the sixth or seventh beard I’ve shaved off. Donna hasn’t noticed once, and her record is unbroken.
So what’s with the bandage? No, it’s not a shaving cut. It’s the result of having another basal cell carcinoma removed, this one near my right eye. I went to a doctor who specializes in Mohs surgery. It took a while, what with the doctor removing a layer, leaving to examine it under a microscope, coming back for another slice, etc, but Donna says once it’s healed I’ll be as pretty as Muhammad Ali. She should know: she had a skin cancer removed from her nose with Mohs surgery last year. There’s no scar at all, and she’s even prettier than Ali in his prime.
When I left the doctor’s office yesterday morning I was wearing a thick gauze pad and plenty of tape. The dressing was supposed to stay in place two days, but part of the tape covered the inner corner of my eye and drove me crazy. Not only that, my glasses slid down to the end of my nose and I had to tilt my head way back to read. One day was all I could stand. It’s not bleeding, so thin bandages . . . which I was supposed to start wearing tomorrow anyway . . . will have to do. The things we do for vanity!
Our daughter Polly’s been living with us for more than a year. I’m not as upset by this as I was six months ago, because at least she has a job now and isn’t underfoot all the time. Over the past few months she’s interviewed with a few Phoenix-based human resources outsourcing companies, but none of the jobs have panned out. We try to be optimistic, but suspect there’s a red X on her record from a previous job in that career field . . . either that or it’s her lack of a college degree in a field where virtually everyone else has one.
How much longer is this going to go on? We don’t know, obviously. Polly’s dating again, and maybe that’s her escape plan. The job she has, working as a cashier at Ace Hardware, doesn’t quite pay enough for her to move into her own place, or at least that’s what Donna maintains. I wonder, though . . . Tucson is full of people working low-paying jobs and somehow managing to make ends meet.
I’m sharing some pretty personal stuff with you here. I hope you realize I’m not complaining . . . I’m mostly thinking out loud, wondering when our daughter will finally become a person in the world.
I’m through with the Republicans and their hatefest of a convention. I snarked on Melania Trump’s plagiarized speech, and so did everyone else. Sadly, everyone else is still going on about the goddamned speech, ignoring the truly frightening excesses on display in Cleveland, and now I’m embarrassed to have been part of the chorus. Republicans are going to do their thing no matter how much we try to shame them. It’ll be the Democrats’ turn next week, and maybe Hillary can calm things down and get a positive bump while she’s at it. Hey, it could happen! Not that it’s likely to. . . .
I was taught to indicate a trailing-off thought by ending a sentence with a period followed by an ellipsis. . . . Yes, that’s how it’s done, with a full space after the period and thin spaces between the dots of the ellipsis. When I do it, though, it looks fussy and pedantic. Why can’t we just trail off without the period? Like this . . .
(. . . trailing off now . . .)
With regard to yesterday’s terror attack in Nice, I wish there was some strong, effective “Lafayette, we are here” assistance we could offer our long-time friends the French. But how can anyone predict and prevent this kind of lone-wolf terrorism?
It’s safe to say we already share terror network intelligence with France and other Western nations. Any such nation-to-nation intel sharing would be highly classified, and for that reason if it has been successful in preventing planned terror attacks, we won’t hear about it for 40 or 50 years.
Beyond sharing intel, though, what can we do? There’s no military response, not inside France. We (and the French, and several other nations) are already bombing ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and sending special operations forces after other terrorists in the Middle East and Africa. What else can we do?
I hesitate to ask why we in the USA aren’t experiencing large-scale attacks like the ones in France. I feel that would be asking for it. Some of our own mass shootings have turned out to be lone wolf terrorist attacks, different only in scale from what the French are experiencing. Huge crowds gather on the streets of American cities all the time.* We’re as vulnerable as anyone else.
Seriously, though, have any American politicians publicly admitted there’s not much we can do to prevent lone wolf terrorism? Sure, you can catch the stupid wannabes before they get their stuff together, but what about the true lone wolves, the ones who keep their plans to themselves until the moment they strike? The French prime minister, Manuel Valls, said this to his countrymen yesterday: “The times have changed, and France is going to have to live with terrorism.” True enough, but I can’t imagine our leaders admitting such a thing to us.
What does living with terrorism suggest to you? To me, it conjures visions of a police state with martial law and curfews and prohibitions against mass assembly. That’s what clamping down will inevitably lead to. Hmm … would I rather be clamped down on by Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton?
*Some day our kids and grandkids will learn about the planned terror attacks the Obama administration successfully prevented. I’m sure there have been many, and I want to believe we’ve helped the French and others prevent a few as well. I hope Americans of a few decades from now will better appreciate President Obama than the ungrateful assholes who snipe at him now.
Another day in Ed’s shop:
Work in progress: rear wheel done, front wheel off and ready for new bearings and a fresh tire
I bought a set of motorcycle tires a while back because they were on sale. The rubber on the Honda was still good, but who knew when or if another sale would come around? Last weekend I rode the bike on an errand and noticed it didn’t feel right. I checked the tires and found the front, which looked normal, almost flat. Plugging leaks in motorcycle tires isn’t a smart move, so I called my friend Ed to see if he had time to help me put the new set on. He had all day Wednesday available, so we did some additional work while we were at it.
While the wheels were off we checked the brake pads, pulled the old front wheel bearings and replaced them with a new set, replaced the fluid in the final drive, and changed the engine oil and filter. Even though we were working in Ed’s air-conditioned shop, it was still hot and sweaty work. We started at 9 AM and finished up at 3 PM, and I was beat for the rest of the day. I’m sure Ed was too. What a great friend!
This morning I decided to take the bike to the corner car wash before it got hot. That would have worked out fine, except I managed to pull one end of an elastic strap under the seat, and had to remove the saddle when I got home to fish it out. Removing the saddle’s a bit of a job and by the time it was done, working in my own decidedly un-air-conditioned garage, I was drenched all over again.
But hey, the Honda’s in great shape and clean to boot, and Ed and I are talking about another cross-country ride together … as soon as it cools down, that is.
Chewie, our cat, is 20 years old and on her last legs. There’s not much more than a skeleton underneath the fur, and her back legs are stiff. She can no longer jump, so she uses the ramp I made for the doggies to get on and off the couch. I’ve seen her stagger a couple of times. She’ll eat a bit of baby food, but mostly just drinks water or chicken broth. And then pees on the floor. One of the things she’s started to do in her old age (that she never would have considered doing when she was younger) is snuggling up with Schatzi, who seems happy to let her do it.
Chewie & Schatzi
Donna called a couple of vets about putting her to sleep. I don’t know that Donna will be able to take that step. I probably would, but I’d always wonder afterward … the old girl doesn’t act like she wants to die, and other than peeing on the floor, is there any reason not to let her live out her days? That’s the trick, though, knowing whether she’s happy or miserable. How can you tell?
It was so hot at the air museum this Monday, admissions cancelled the afternoon tram tour. I worried that the cancellation had something to do with me, because on the late morning tour one of my passengers got sick and bailed out.
As I was driving and narrating, I noticed an older British tourist looking ill. He had been looking at the airplanes, but now he had his head down, looking at his lap. I kept my eye on him in the rear view mirror. As I slowed to say something about one of the airplanes he stood up as if he wanted to get off the tram, so I came to a full stop and let him off, asking if he was okay. He said he was, and started walking back to the snack bar, which was nearby. The snack bar has air conditioning, and I figured he was trying to get out of the heat. The other passengers seemed okay, so I continued the tour.
It was only afterward I began to think the man might have been experiencing heat stroke. I should have called admissions on the walkie-talkie, as we are supposed to do if a visitor has a medical issue. What if admissions had cancelled the afternoon tour because my passenger fainted in the snack bar? Damn it, I should have called in!
I tore myself up all the way home, then called a couple of other museum docents to see what they would have done. Surprisingly, they said they would have done just what I did. I also learned that no one had fainted, which was a relief.
Still, though, I could have done better. If a visitor has a serious medical emergency, I’m confident I’ll know what to do and will be all over it. If it’s iffy, like what happened Monday, well, I always monitor the passengers in the mirror and from now on I’ll be trigger-loaded to stop the tram and offer assistance, even if it does embarrass the visitor. Heat stroke is a pretty awful experience, if you’ve never experienced it. I did once, after a brutal hare & hounds run in Singapore, and I’m not likely to forget it.