One of the more famous lines from Braveheart comes when the nefarious King Edward the Longshanks quips, “The trouble with Scotland is it’s full of Scots.”
Which could explain why after 300 years of a United Kingdom, Scotland’s voters stand on the brink of voting to leave the union. I make no claim to being an expert on what goes on in the UK, but the desire among Scots to stand on their own has waxed and waned over the centuries and in recent years reached a bit of a fever pitch. Call it the Braveheart Syndrome. Of course, the movie embellishes just a bit on what actually happened, but the events depicted in the movie are “based on a true story.”
I have a bit of Scottish lineage, although I can’t say that tomorrow’s vote is likely to have a profound effect on my life. It could change things dramatically across the pond. Check out the NYT Q&A.
That image to the left is supposedly of the McAdams clan tartan. Apparently most clans have more than one tartan, each serving various purposes. I’ve never seen an actual family heirloom, which probably no longer exists, at least not one from my ancestors. And, truthfully, I’m about as Scottish as Montgomery Scott. Beam me up!
Still, it’s interesting to wonder if I were a lad from Glasgow or Edinburgh, what would I think of all this? Would I be all puffed up with nationalist pride, or would I be more worried about being isolated from the larger UK and the potential economic perils? What if Scotland is forced to stop using the Pound as its official currency?
Going off on a side note, I still get a chuckle thinking about Mike Myers’ SNL skits set in a shop of All Things Scottish. “If it’s not Scottish, it’s crap!” And perhaps my favorite is when he gets irate at a tourist’s ignorance, confusing Scotland and Ireland. “There’s Ireland, there’s Scotland, there’s the bloody sea. They’re bloody different!”
“Now get out!”
So what’s my point here? Eh, maybe I don’t have one.
Didn’t feel like firing up the grill, so I took the lazy man’s way out and fired up the oven. Cruised the WebOMatic and found a pretty decent recipe … here . I stayed pretty true to the dry rub recipe, but lacking a barbecue sauce, I subbed teriyaki to throw in a little Asian flavor. Not too shabby! Not sure how well it would go over in Kansas City or anywhere in the Carolinas, but a nice wrinkle on your basic ribs with a dry rub and a few generous coatings of sauce.
That is all. Next time I’ll throw in some mac and cheese and collard greens. Or the Korean equivalent.
Had a few minutes before the company party I catered Saturday to take some pix at the Akron Zoo. Alas, I didn’t have time to see the tigers or snow leopards or other exotic wild(caged)life. Maybe I’ll get another chance.
Apparently Rockin’ on the River will not return to the Falls amphitheater next year. New mayor, new regime, new directions. Last night’s show leaves only two Rockin’ on the River events to go this year. Behold some of the sights from Friday night:
And to drag out that tired cliche, a good time was had by all.
Although I know Dave Matthews’ body of work pretty well (I have every album since “Before These Crowded Streets”), and I recognized pretty much every tune the band played, only a few stand out in my memory. Was it the contact buzz from all the Mary Jane wafting about us? Probably not, because we were upwind from the source(s).
I think it might be because of what happened outside of the Pavilion.
By the time the show had gotten into its first hour, the lines for the bathrooms had gotten ridiculously long. So what does a person blessed with the proper plumbing do? That’s right, he heads for the woods. So after wandering far enough away from the crowds to avoid any indecent exposure charge, I found a sufficiently secluded spot to take care of business. Then I heard a stirring in the thorny bushes about 30 feet away. There was still enough light to see somebody on the ground, apparently tangled in the bushes. “Can I get a little help?” a male voice said, or something to that effect. “I’ll be right over,” I said.
After apparently tumbling down the hill and rolling into the thicket, he lay there in a helpless tangle, obviously inebriated. I reached into the bushes, told him to grab my hand, and pulled him out of the bushes to his feet.
Once freed from the thicket, he scampered — well, staggered — up the hill toward freedom and the amphitheater and, who knows, maybe another beer.
We were leaving the show, having had our fill of Dave Matthews and adult beverages, walking on the road toward our parking spot when we came upon a young woman passed out in the middle of the road. People were walking around her as if she were just another groundhog roadkill. For some reason, I decided to stop and try to help her. Maybe the previous rescue op had gotten into my blood.
A couple of us helped her to her feet and led her to a nearby picnic table and tried talking to her, find out if her friends knew where she was, etc. She was pretty groggy. Wasted. FUBAR.
Well, along comes a young woman offering to help. Turns out she’s a social worker. Knew all the right questions to ask. The girl had been at the show with her boyfriend who, it turns out, had bailed on her when she got too drunk to take care of herself. What a tool. Yeah, I can understand being annoyed when your date gets falling-down drunk, etc., but to just abandon her on the road? Jeez. What a tool.
The social worker managed to find the boyfriend’s number on the girl’s cell and called him. He came back, though it appeared he did so reluctantly. What a tool.
Again, the social worker asked all the right questions and gently goaded him into taking care of his girlfriend. I just wanted to smack the guy. What a tool.
I told the social worker what an awesome thing she had done, and we all went our separate ways.
I’ve seen social workers in action before, particularly when my dad was ailing and being shuttled between hospitals and rest homes and points in between. They’re the ones who deal with the nitty-gritty details everyone else is “too busy” to deal with or who don’t know where to begin in dealing with the labyrinth known as the health-care system. They are angels.
In the meantime, if I might make a suggestion to Blossom and touring bands everywhere: Make sure somebody takes a look around the place from time to time, to make sure everyone gets out of there alive. Who knows how long that guy would have remained tangled in the brush if I hadn’t answered nature’s call?
Only a month-and-a-half behind schedule, spring done finally sprung. And only a week before Mother’s Day. So we provide photographic proof. Behold:
Sometimes a sliver of the moon is more interesting than howling at a full moon. I noticed the crescent moon last night driving home from work but the clouds covered it up before I could get a shot at it. Here it is, a day later, again peeking through a veil of light clouds.
So there you have it.
Yeah, Cat Stevens came up with “moonshadow” long before I did. So?
And now for some perspective:
When there is a sustained freeze in Cuyahoga Falls, water seeping into the stone walls of the gorge along the mighty Cuyahoga River creates these cool ice formations. And when they get thick enough, they start to take on a bluish hue. There’s a scientific explanation for this phenomenon, having to do with how sunlight refracts with the ice (water) molecules, the same principal behind why deep ocean water looks blue.
I shot this about 4 p.m. Thursday from a lookover bridge off Front Street with my little ol’ Droid Mini.
The ice was just beginning to melt yesterday, and when a chunk dropped into the river, it made a spectacular crackle that resonated throughout the gorge. A photog sharing the overlook (sporting a DSLR camera) said the sound is even more impressive along the nearby walkway that descends into the gorge. I didn’t have time to explore further then, but maybe I’ll return before it all melts away. And I’ll take my DSLR next time.
With insomnia seeming to have a tight grip on me, this seems like an opportune time to write about a recent bizarro dream because, well, it’s what I do best.
So the other night or early morning, whatever, I notice a wartlike bump on the heel of my foot. Of course I pick at it a bit and it starts to scratch off, but something keeps tugging at it. So scratching some more, I manage to pull some kind of string out, continuing to tug at it until it meets some resistance. Something bigger pops out of the bottom of my heel, and while it’s not exactly painful I think, “That’s gonna leave a mark.”
It reminded me of the time I had a bout of plantar fasciitis, and I worried about triggering another episode of that. Plantar fasciitis is a relatively minor but painful condition at the bottom of the heel where the plantar fascia ligament becomes inflamed (hence the “itis” in the condition). It hurts like heck to run, and even getting out of bed can be agonizing for the first few minutes. There, your medical term lesson for the day. You’re welcome.
Ahem. Where was I? Oh, yes.
So I keep pulling, and now I can see some odd spherical things attached to some sort of fuzzy, wiry string, like beads almost, then POP! Out comes a pepper, a jalapeno, I’m thinking. And the pepper seems to have some sort of scanner code stamped on it, as if I could check it out through the local Giant Eagle store. “Hang on a sec while I run my foot past the scanner, OK? Ninety-nine cents?? But I grew it in my foot!” “I’m sorry, sir, that’s our policy. You must foot the bill.” (Insert groan here)
So, you might be wondering, what are all these objects doing in my foot and why are they coming out now more or less intact? I’m wondering the same thing.
All you armchair psychoanalysts, what do you say?
What was all that stuff doing in my leg to begin with? How did I not notice it before? What does it represent, if anything? Some impurity that I need to get rid of? Is it a latent desire to begin a backyard garden again? I should note that one of the few things I successfully grew in the past were peppers.
Then time seemed to move forward and I couldn’t find this mystery thing I had pulled out of my foot. When I woke up, I actually checked my heel to make sure there wasn’t a gaping hole it it. Nope. All clear.
As a side note, I just noticed that I’ve tended to hop back and forth between present tense and past tense in this post, but I have decided that it’s not important in this case. So deal with it.
With apologies to The Who, the AP Stylebook preaches that the proper use is “all right,” never “alright,” but I’m not writing AP copy today.
Today I’m addressing all the hand-wringing about “kids these days” who have no social skills, who spend all their waking hours (and even sleeping hours) with their noses buried in their cellphones or tablets texting and whatnot, oblivious to the world around them. The same with video games. These kids, the pundits and worriers say, don’t know how to relate to others face-to-face. I’m here to say that ain’t necessarily so.
Clive Thompson (clive (at) clivethompson.net) recently wrote in Wired magazine that teenagers actually crave personal contact with their peers and tend to resort to social media, texting, etc., mainly when they don’t have ready access to personal contact. Basing my opinion largely on anecdotal evidence, I agree.
While it’s true you can see lots of (mostly) young people seeming to spend all their free time flipping through touch-screen images and texts, Thompson argues and I second the argument that they go there in large part because their access to in-person contact is limited and a virtual contact is better than none at all.
My son, Matt, tells me he mainly uses texting to make arrangements to meet friends in person. He’s lucky, in a way, though. He has a car (which he mostly paid for himself), which affords him a great deal of freedom not available to all teenagers. He has earned that freedom. He has a cool job (especially for teenagers) at LaserQuest, gets good grades and doesn’t get into trouble. He has several circles of friends through school, work and sport. He has an XBox 360 and a balky laptop.
My daughter, Lindsey, is a little more into the digital thing, although she also maintains healthy “real” friendships. Though more dependent on mom and dad (or friends’ moms and dads) for transportation, she seeks opportunities to hang with friends whenever possible. She wants a car of her own as soon as she’s old enough and can afford one. She has an iPad that all the students at her school use.
While Mrs. AkronDave and I do have to rein them in on occasion, for the most part they don’t overdo the digital stuff.
Thompson says fearful, overprotective “helicopter” parents are as much to blame for the digitally driven “disconnect” as the availability of digital technology. Kids’ lives have become soooo structured (soccer, piano lessons, swim team, dance, etc., etc.) that these kids feel trapped. They go to football games not so much to watch the game as to get a little free time to hang with friends without constant supervision. That much has not changed since prehistoric times when I was in high school.
Again, I think there’s a lot of truth to Thompson’s point, although as the ad industry likes to use as a disclaimer, “results may vary.” Kids sometimes overuse the texting, such as at the dinner table, particularly during holidays. In my family, Grandma banned cellphones at Thanksgiving because even the adults were spending more time looking down at their mobile devices than up at the people in the room.
The bottom line is, like everything else, use in moderation and you’ll probably be just fine.
Hold on a sec, I gotta check this msg … BRB
A group of residents of a small Texas community traveled to the state capital to protest hydraulic fracturing, “fracking,” in their community that is being blamed for about 30 earthquakes since November.
This follows reports of earthquakes near Youngstown, Ohio, last year that were linked to fracking wells, which led the usually business-friendly Gov. John Kasich to order the operation to shut down.
If Texas quakes are like the Ohio seismic activity, the problem could be the injection of fracking wastewater into the ground near a fault line. Geologists say the liquid can create “slippage” in faults, which triggers the quakes.
The fact that fracking has helped dramatically reduce U.S. dependence on imported oil and natural gas makes shutting down fracking operations highly unpopular in some circles. But when the earth is shaking under your feet, you gotta take it seriously.
I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about this.
I hesitate to say anything about Martin Luther King on the national holiday made in his name because, I dunno, it seems kind of gratuitous. You know, yadda yadda great civil rights leader, blah blah, all that. How his dream is (or not) realized is the subject of much editorial content today.
So here goes anyway.
Yes, we’ve witnessed some pretty dramatic change in America, some for the better, some not so much. Racial inequality still exists, but it has been kicked somewhat toward the fringes of society. I grew up in a nearly lily-white neighborhood, went to almost entirely white schools (until I got to Ohio State).
My kids, though, have benefited from going to integrated schools in Akron. My son told me about a time he was at a McDonald’s with some buds and he was the only white kid in the room. His friends joked about “living the dream,” and in some small way they were.
A couple of years ago I was driving behind a school bus around Macedonia or Twinsburg. The bus stopped and two kids got off: one white, one black. They casually strolled toward home, just two kids who were growing up in the same neighborhood, no big deal. Which is kind of a big deal. That probably would not have happened much 30 years ago, let alone 50 years ago.
In Columbus, where I grew up, the city schools started busing to force integration 30-some years ago. At the time, nobody liked it. Busing was an imperfect solution to a big societal problem. And it accelerated white flight, which further exacerbated the whole segregation problem.
Over time, though, kids started making friends with kids who didn’t look like them. Fast-forward 30 years. Our lives are entwined in a much more diverse community, although segregation certainly still exists. But not at my kids’ schools. I didn’t really experience much diversity until I got to college and then in newsrooms, which were way ahead of the curve in terms of cultivating diversity at the workplace.
About 20 years ago, a couple of years before I worked there, the Akron Beacon Journal produced a Pulitzer Prize-winning series about race relations. They drilled deep, revealing some pretty raw emotions. It was an honest exploration that sometimes went to very uncomfortable places.
And I suppose that’s necessary before we can move on to a “post-racial” society that some (prematurely) hailed when Barack Obama was elected president. I’ve seen and heard plenty of hateful and clearly racist comments about him and Michelle Obama. Clearly, we ain’t there yet.
No, TPP doesn’t stand for Toilet Paper Power.
It’s the Trans Pacific Partnership, until recently a nearly unheard-off super-secret deal in the works between the United States and other countries situated around the Pacific Ocean.
This little-known “partnership” could have profound effects on our economy and environment if the most-worrisome aspects of it come to fruition.
Wikileaks uncorked the genie this week on some of the details this week with a leaked copy of the environment chapter, part of a reportedly 1,000-page document. Late last year the Washington Post published a primer on TPP, but it doesn’t seem to focus on what has environmentalists and unions alarmed: Namely loosening of environmental laws and consumer protection and more loss of American jobs to overseas entities.
Negotiations have largely gone on behind closed doors and Congress is expected to vote on whether to give the Obama administration “fast-track” authority to finish negotiations and send the agreement to Congress for a yea or nay vote without any chance to change or amend anything in it. Take it or leave it but you better take it, seems to be the message.
I have talked to nearly a dozen people about this, and they almost universally think this is a bad idea. So do I.
The plan is reportedly being formulated in consultation with a few hundred corporate big wigs, but small business and consumer and workers’ advocates apparently weren’t invited to the party.
If the Partnership deal is not done properly, we could see more lead-tainted toys from overseas, more imported foods contaminated with e. Coli or salmonella, more inferior products made in sweat shops that pay pitiful wages to exploited workers, maybe even have our environmental and consumer safety laws challenged by foreign entities who don’t have our best interests in mind.
I’ll have more on this in a day or so.
At long last I have upgraded to a smart phone. I feel smarter already
Yes, at long last I have succumbed to the siren call of the smart phone. I didn’t really NEED a smart phone, except that my old dumb phone had taken one too many tumbles in the parking lot. A hinge was already damaged, and the last drop severed a link to the display screen. So I was literally dialing/receiving blind. Texting was rendered useless, which is kind of a problem cuz my offspring text more than they actually call. Up to this point, I had been perfectly happy with the old beater. It was like basic transportation: It got me from Point A to Point B.
Still, it’s a significant upgrade from the old flip phone, although it also has a drawback or two.
* Better Internet access, including wi-fi, and now I can do that Facebook Thang on my phone.
* Cool ring tones, although I think I lost my Theme from Archer ring tone
* Much better photos. The old phone made fuzzy, low-rez globs. Which could be interesting in an artsy-fartsy sort of way.
* I can do selfies, which the kids say is all the rage.
* Much shorter battery life. All those apps take a toll.
* Need the owner’s manual to figure some of this stuff out. Although once you learn the basics it’s pretty intuitive. Figured out how to turn on wi-fi all by myself!
* All this Internet access can get expensive in a hurry.
This tale of plumbing woe is fraught with woulda- coulda- shouldas. Alas, it was not to be. And so I have a basement with soggy carpeting, soggy insulation and soggy not-so-drywall. This is yet another chapter in the saga of my hate-hate relationship with the plumbing in my house. Not familiar with the history? Curious? Follow the bread crumbs here.
Long story short: We had a well-publicized spell of unusually cold weather with temps dipping into the sub-zero teens and wind chills south of 30 below. I thought to leave my faucets on a slow drip overnight Monday but, oops, forgot.
Of course the pipes on my outer walls froze, meaning no water in the kitchen.
After a day of ventilating warm air behind the walls, I managed to get cold water restored to the kitchen sink, but hot water stayed stubbornly blocked.
So I was hopeful (delusional?) that the situation would resolve itself once things thawed out Wednesday.
I was wrong.
Stepped out briefly to get a newspaper (old habits die hard) and when I got back I heard an all-too-familiar sound of trickling water. Good thing I was around to shut off the water supply or the whole basement, which is finished, would have been flooded. Pool table and all. As it was, I still vacuumed up about 10 gallons of water.
Plumber is coming Friday a.m. because, although I have some plumbing capability, installing and soldering pipe is not in my toolbox (yet). Today I tore out the drywall, guesstimating the source of the leak. It took two tries, but at least I didn’t have to tear out the entire wall. My drywall installation skills are rather limited as well. Repairs? Check. Spackle? Check. Paint? Check. Install entire walls? Eh, not so much.
The culprit was a pipe joint leading to the outside spigot. It simply came loose. Looks like it wasn’t even soldered! Well, having fixed plenty of other half-assed “upgrades” from previous occupants, I’m not surprised.
Anyway, below is the photographic evidence of my latest plumbing travail.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,600 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 60 trips to carry that many people.
This photo doesn’t do the colors justice.
I have waged war against my nemesis, the bathtub drain, aka The Beast. Not for the first time. Not likely for the last time. It is a tenacious foe, rising up like a rain-swollen creek after a storm. But I have tamed The Beast, at least for the time being.
It was not without a struggle. As always. My battles with The Beast, and all manner of plumbing, are well documented. Read more here if you care to relive my nightmares. Or here. As I mentioned, I’ve had my share of run-ins with this innocuous-looking bastard. After enduring several days of complaints about how slow the drain has gotten (again), I finally relented to the hounding of Mrs. AkronDave and the offspring. She called it my Christmas Gift to her.
Well, it’s cheaper than jewelry, as long as I do it myself. An actual plumber is another story altogether.
Funny, nobody offered to help.
After a few jabs with the rusty old snake, I broke out my secret weapon, the trusty old Sears wet/dry vacuum. It’s no thing of beauty, but it has saved my butt on numerous occasions. It’s like a Medieval knight’s battered old shield. It does the job when it’s needed.
The Beast was particularly stubborn today. At one point the drain seemed to get worse instead of better. Could my secret weapon have failed me? Would I have to take out a loan and hire a plumber? A real plumber? After wandering through the house muttering obscenities, I took a few more stabs at vacuuming out the drain, nearly overfilling the vacuum with filthy waste water. This is not a good thing (see previous posts in links).
At long last, I did slay The Beast without rupturing any drains or flooding the basement (you bet I checked!).
Merry Christmas, Honey.
You can shower without standing in 6 inches of soapy water now.
Before the 1980s, I had no idea who Nelson Mandela was. But being a child of the ’70s in America, that should come as no surprise.
Nelson Mandela had been rotting in a South African prison for two decades when The Special AKA released a peppy tune with a serious message: “Free Nelson Mandela.” I was a sophomore or so in college when the album came out, and expecting something like the band’s predecessor The Specials, I picked it up. Classic vinyl. I was a poor college student who couldn’t afford one of them newfangled CD players. That same album included “Racist Friend” and “Alcohol,” which was particularly haunting.
“Free Nelson Mandela” featured a lively horn section, the kind of stuff you’d expect from a ska band. And while the tune was upbeat, what The Special AKA had to say was politically charged.
That song made me aware of Nelson Mandela, although I had been somewhat aware of apartheid and its cruelty before. It seemed far away, just another corrupt government in Africa.
Mandela died Dec. 5, in case you’ve been hiding in a cave recently.
That song energized a movement that was driven in no small part by rock music (include ska and hip-hop in the overall pop/rock category). The anti-apartheid struggle had been going on for decades, but it didn’t get widespread attention in the West until the 1980s.
Pretty soon you heard a rising chorus of “divest from South Africa” and demands for more sanctions and boycotts against the officially racist South African regime to pressure South Africa ending apartheid, a policy reminiscent of Jim Crow in the United States.
Soweto, de Klerk, Botha, Mandela were names that became increasingly prominent in the news, especially for budding journalistas such as your humble akrondave blogger.
Then along came Sun City in 1985. Led by Steven Van Zandt of E Street Band and The Sopranos fame, an all-star group calling itself Artists United Against Apartheid took direct aim at a swanky South African resort known as Sun City, urging artists not to perform there until South Africa put and end to apartheid. The chorus said it all: “I ain’t gonna play Sun City.”
The list of artists who participated was long and diverse: Bono, Keith Richards, Miles Davis, Bonnie Raitt, Joey Ramone, Lou Reed, Run-DMC, George Clinton, Pete Townshend, Peter Wolf, and so on.
The album featured powerful tracks including the title track and Revolutionary Situation, but the one that blew me away was a last-minute addition that didn’t make the album cover or sleeve material: Silver and Gold. A sticker was slapped on the cover: “Added bonus song.” Bono, the lead singer of U2, collaborated with Keith Richards and Ron Wood (do I have to say of the Rolling Stones?), inspired after meeting several other artists who had volunteered for the project.
I wrote a review of Sun City as a tryout for my collej paper, the Lantern at Ohio State, and it won me a gig as cub music beat writer. Although the album earned praise from critics, it was only a minor commercial success. But the mark had been made on public consciousness.
In 1989, Lethal Weapon 2 featured the apartheid regime as the villain. Funniest moment: Danny Glover’s character Murtaugh at the South African embassy telling the official he wants to return to his “homeland.” The official says, “But you’re blek.” Levity aside, the movie further pushed the issue of apartheid into public awareness.
By 1991, it became clear that apartheid’s days were numbered and in 1994 Nelson Mandela, who had been jailed for 27 years and branded as a terrorist by critics, was elected president.
But rather than conduct a campaign of revenge against his former oppressors, Mandela sought reconciliation and compromise. He prevented what could have become a blood bath, which many white South Africans feared. After all, the white minority colonists had oppressed the natives for decades.
The pressure to end apartheid came from many corners, but make no doubt, pop/rock music was a major player.
Here’s another chapter in Weird Dreams I’ve Had.
So the other night I was fighting through a bout of insomnia when sweet slumber finally came.
Then came the dream in which I was basically nose-to-nose with a wolf. A big wolf, either black or dark gray. I think they’re all basically grouped as gray wolves.
Anyway, for reasons that now escape me, I thought it would be a good idea to make friends with the wolf. A wild wolf. So I reached out to pat him and he bared his teeth (I assumed it was a male, though I didn’t bother to raise its skirt to be sure). That’s pretty much all I remember of that.
I think there were at least two more dreams involving the same wolf.
The last Wolf Dream I remember was me and Wolfie inches apart again. Again I thought it was a good idea to make friends. I think I offered a morsel of food, perhaps to distract him from the notion of eating me (in fact, wolves rarely attack humans except in self-defense or perhaps extreme starvation, or so I’ve read. Grizzly bears are extremely dangerous. Mountain lions pose a threat and have been known to stalk humans. But I digress).
Instead the wolf started barking (National Wildlife Federation says wolves actually do bark as warning – I did not know that; I thought my dream was just being loopy), baring its teeth again. So at some point I became aware of another animal, possibly a bear, behind me, which led me to believe that this was the real threat. The wolf came forward, straddling over me, which seemed like the perfect opportunity to get the f@^# outta there.
So I stared crawling backward, scrambling as quickly as a could before either animal noticed I had gotten away.
I woke up at that moment, still scrambling backward in my bed. I didn’t get very far or I’d have been on the floor. Shaking off the grogginess, I thought to myself this sounds like blog material.
Dream interpreters out there: any ideas? I have a couple of possible interpretations, but I don’t want to spoil it for you.
There’s a reason why they call it complex.
In the aftermath of Lockheed Martin’s announcement of massive layoffs, there has been a ton of hand-wringing, gnashing of teeth and finger-pointing. It’s starting to resemble a circular firing squad in some ways.
In one corner: Peaceniks and (some) fiscal conservatives who believe we’re spending entirely too much money on the U.S. military, lining the pockets of billionaire fat cats and wasting money on $600 hammers, funding unnecessary wars in far-away places that many Americans (still!) can’t find on a map.
In another corner: Conservatives who refuse to budge on Capitol Hill regarding the sequester, which slashed funding to many sacred cows, including the Pentagon. They blame Democrats for not budging on the budget.
In another corner: Liberals who refuse to budge on Capital Hill regarding the sequester. They blame Republicans, particularly the Tea Party, for not budging on the budget. (See a pattern here?)
In another corner: The military-industrial complex itself, which has a lot at stake when military funding gets chopped. Especially vulnerable is Lockheed Martin, a vast military contractor, much of it in aerospace, which expanded dramatically in the 1990s. A lot of people, including its own employees, say the company simply got too big to be sustainable.
The bubble popped.
In yet another corner: Roughly 4,000 workers, including about 500 in Akron, whose jobs are on the chopping block. These include machinists, welders, assembly workers, software engineers and more. Them’re some good paying jobs, hard to replace in an era of crap service industry jobs. This is not the first time Lockheed Martin has experienced major reductions. Since 2008, it has cut its workforce by 30,000.
Still another factor is the slow scaling back of the Great War Machine of the past decade. We’re all but out of Iraq, and Afghanistan is not far behind. Barring some misadventure in Iran or Syria (or God forbid, both), there’s not a great deal of urgency to gear up for another costly (yet profitable for contractors) war or two. After two bloody and (eventually) unpopular wars, they’re all on their own. Unless Israel picks a fight with Iran, or vice versa, but that’s another matter altogether.
So, what to make of this? Where do we go from here?
Akron officials are looking for a silver lining in all this (See Akron link above). A lot of prime real estate is suddenly available, and local bigs say there are potential suitors lining up to grab it. But replacing 500 jobs (not to mention 4,000 nationwide) won’t be easy, especially jobs of that caliber.
There are precedents of other communities rebounding from traumatic losses of military entities. Akron has bounced back before.
And I experienced first-hand the closing of the air force base in Myrtle Beach, S.C., in the early ’90s as part of a widespread reduction in military base operations. Yes, the initial impact was devastating. On the flip side, I was able to buy a house on the cheap. But by 1995 the local economy experienced a phenomenal boom fueled in part by the availability of cheap land (this was far from the only factor; Myrtle Beach has long been a boom-and-bust town). But I turned around and sold the house in 1996 at a tidy profit. This was before “flip that house” was a common concept, and selling was really precipitated by my move to the Akron area, which is neither here nor there, to quote a former colleague.
So, again, what to make of all this?
As much as I resent some of the excesses of the M-I complex, simply shutting it down or cutting back drastically has far-reaching consequences.
Jobs are lost. Suppliers and subcontractors and their employees take a big hit. Local real estate also takes a hit. The local tax base takes a big hit. Hundreds if not thousands of families are hurt.
Lots of national pundits have had their say about the standoffs in Congress over the last few years.
But as the old chestnut goes, all politics is local. Nowhere is that more true than here and now.
This has been a warm fall, so the colors are a tad behind schedule. I hope the leaves don’t all suddenly go brown and fall off. Color foliage is the only thing that makes falls bearable, especially considering the prospects of yet another crappy winter.
I came a way a bit disappointed today at the Nature Realm (happy to see they finally came to their senses and stopped calling it “Naturealm”) in the valley, although there were a couple of interesting images to be found; beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder.
And without further ado or unnecessary blathering:
Got back this week from Fripp Island, SC, a swanky resort near the southern tip of South Carolina. Credit Matt Potkar and Dan Pubal for finding this gem. We did the requisite activities: beach, golf, fishing, the latter two with little success. But the scenery was spectacular and the weather unusually mild for July in SC. The ride home was a 15-hour white-knuckle ordeal featuring a two-hour truck wreck delay in Virginia and three solid hours of rain on the West Virginia Turnpike. Rain and lightning: Check. Speeding truckers: Check. Darkness: Check. Road construction with barely perceptible signs and cones/barrels: Check. But we survived, and that’s what counts.
Anyway, here are a few of the 300-plus photos I shot. Enjoy! Or don’t. I won’t mind either way.
And now for a couple more sunsets …
WARNING: This post is not for the squeamish.
So I was moonlighting as a wedding bartender during a lull in the action when a wave of nausea hit me. I knew what was coming next: that curiously tingly feeling in the jaws, and the race was on to find the bathroom in time. I got there (barely) and did my business, emptying my recently eaten chicken and not much else. It couldn’t have been the chicken: It hadn’t been in there long enough, and nobody else showed any ill effects. Food poisoning usually takes a bit loner to take hold. Anyway, I composed myself and got back to the bar (I was solo, so going home was not a good option at that time).
Got through most of the shift, but as the last of the crowd was started to file out, another wave hit. How could there be anything left, I wondered as I raced to the bathroom again. Full heave again. This time it came out in an alarming purplish hue. Which looked suspiciously like coagulated, dried blood. Well, this can’t be good, I thought. Where did it all come from? Shaken, I again tried to collect myself and try to finish cleaning up shop to return to the caterer. (Again, I have to emphasize that the food was not the problem — I wasn’t feeling terribly well to begin with but thought I could gut it out. Pardon the pun.) I contemplated telling the crew leader I didn’t feel well but decided not to.
I managed to get home, and my stomach again started to feel oddly full despite it having been fully emptied. I’d taken a few sips of water to wash out the putridity but nothing more. After sitting at home for an hour or so, fretting about this disturbing experience and feeling queazy again, that disgusting wave of nausea struck again and I raced to my basement bathroom but didn’t quite make it. Ugh. Reddish brown gunk all over the bathroom. As if I weren’t sick enough already! I hurriedly wiped up what mess I could manage as visions of massive hemorrhages and gaping ulcers danced in my head. I don’t know why I hesitated at all, but I mulled it over for about an hour before deciding I couldn’t wait for another puke attack to get help. Mrs. AkronDave had just settled into bed when I told her needed to go to the hospital. Are you sure? Yup, I said. You gotta understand, when a guy says he needs to see a doctor, he REALLY needs to see a doctor. I could have a foot turning purple and I’d say it’s fine.
We debated whether to call 911, which would have noisy and I didn’t especially want all the attention. Then we debated which hospital to go to, and we are blessed with several excellent choices in the Akron area. We (I) decided to stay close t o home at the Summa Western Reserve Hospital. I think it was the right choice. Smaller hospital than the others, but with access to the same excellent care.
We arrive d to a nearly deserted emergency room. Imagine that! At 2:30 a.m. on a Saturday night!
I was in a bed within a half-hour, getting the requisite inquisition and IV needle stick. The entire staff, from admission to discharge, was attentive and professional.
Here comes the fun part (Again, not for the squeamish)
After I described the events leading up to that evening’s Puke-athon, the attending nurse and tech told me, Good news! We’re gonna run a tube through your nose and down your esophagus into your stomach to pump out the rest of that stuff! Guaranteed one of the most unpleasant experiences ever! And they lived up to their word — it’s right up there with falling out of a tall tree and eating each branch on the way down, only more drawn out. But they praised me for getting through it like a champ.
Want to know the particulars in case someone ever wants to pump your stomach? OK, here goes.
First, you may or may not get a numbing spray in your nostrils and the back of the throat. Then a lubricated catheter-like tube is shoved into a nostril (pick one, any one!), then threaded down your throat as you’re instructed to repeatedly such and swallow from a straw in a glass of water to aid the tube’s path. And yes, now that I see it in type, that sounds vaguely obscene. It was my first time.
Oh, did I mention the puke that came up as the tube went down? Yes, two-way traffic in my esophagus. The evidence allowed the medical professionals to confirm that, indeed, it was blood. The good news is that the amount was considerable less than the previous two deposits.
They praised me for doing so well and for not crying like a baby, which would have been impossible because there was a tube jammed in my throat. Surprisingly, you can still talk, although it’s uncomfortable.
After a relatively short wait (this is a hospital ER, after all), I was wheeled off to my room upstairs. I spent the next 60 hours tethered to an IV line and its attending pole, which I came to call the Old Ball and Chain.
Another group of nurses and techs came along, asking a similar battery of questions: medical history, when did this all begin, are you in pain, etc. I wasn’t so much in pain as I felt like crap. Aside from a few cramps there wasn’t a great deal of pain. Another good sign. Acute abdominal pain would have been a tad more ominous: Pancreas, spleen, appendix, liver, all that good stuff.
The details get a little fuzzy from this point (lucky you!) because of the drugs and my exhaustion. A various team of doctors, nurses and techs stopped by to gather vitals, take blood samples (Oh, boy! More needles!), and more general poking and prodding. Once the patient (that’s me) was stabilized, they could take a closer look at what was going on down there. This meant, of course, running a scope down my throat (this time under anesthesia, thankfully) to see what’s going on.
Two things they found: a hiatal hernia, which is a bulge in the stomach near the esophagus, which apparently may or may not be serious. The other is a mallory weiss tear, which again may or may not be serious. I don’t know who this Mallory Weiss is, but she’s a bitch! The tear was the most likely source of the bleeding, which if my fuzzy memory recalls correctly, is exacerbated by violent vomiting. This could explain the bloodless first hurl and the subsequent bloody mess.
The next 24 hours consisted of pills, pokes, probes, a little more puking and general in-and-out drowsiness.
My biggest complaint about the hospital stay itself is you rarely get a chance to sleep more than an hour at a time — it’s kind of hospital policy, because especially with patients in serious trouble they really need to be watched closely. They told me early in the admission process if certain conditions hadn’t been met, I’d be in the ICU (intensive care). Which is never good.
So between the intermittent rest-and-probe cycle and the drugs, I was groggy much of the time. I think this might be by design. Makes stay go quicker. Evenso, it was one the longer 60 hours of my life. I didn’t eat or drink anything for the first 20 hours or so, which wouldn’t have stayed down anyway, then a liquid diet (broth, juice, jello, ice cream and the like) for the remainder except for Tuesday’s lunch, which allowed solid foods.
And in all fairness, the food was pretty decent.
I was discharged with a drug prescription to help keep my gut calm, and instructions to continue with a solid food diet but don’t go crazy with it. And, of course, follow-ups with various doctors to see what else, if anything needs to be done.
I’ve been to the ER several times as the attending parent or spouse or son, but this was my first first-person experience. I hope it’s my last. Those who have spent a considerable amount of time in emergency care know that even with the best of care, it’s no day at the beach. I can confirm this.
Took a short road trip to capture a bit of color. The trees are still hanging on to their flowers (although the weeping cherry in my front yard dropped most of its white petals in small-scale snowstorm), but they won’t for much longer. I took advantage of the evening light to highlight the colors. In fact, I had to tone down the color saturation because it looked kinda fake. Could be Operator Error. Anyway, I give you: