Saturday, August 05, 2006

Commentary from a wonderful columnist

Waiting room awaits us all
May 22,1996 - It is church quiet in The Waiting Room when the woman in the knit pantsuit pulls out the jigsaw puzzle.
"If we all work on this together, we'll be done by the end of the day," she says, dumping 1,000 cardboard pieces of "The Beech Trees" onto a circular table in the center of the room.
Her no-nonsense tone, crisp and authoritative, confuses many of the dozen people waiting in small knots or all alone for word of relatives fresh from, or still in, surgery.
Who is this woman? Not a hospital employee -- no ID badge. Not a volunteer -- no pink smock. "Come on now," she coaxes, her good cheer jarring in a room thick with anxiety and exhaustion. "I had more takers last week."
This is her sixth week in the Waiting Room. It has been that long since her 85-year-old mother was wheeled into the Intensive Care Unit deep in a coma after open-heart surgery.
Now she is the Veteran, the self-appointed recreation director for the Waiting Room, a one-woman entertainment committee devising ways to fill time between the 15-minute visits permitted on even-numbered hours between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.
It is the Veteran who instructs newcomers that the pay phone takes incoming calls, that the wall clock in the Waiting Room is three minutes slower than the one inside the ICU.
It is the Veteran who steers newcomers away from the coffee in the cafeteria and toward the cappuccino from the pushcart outside Radiology.
The windowless Waiting Room where the Veteran holds sway is in a university medical center but, with its French Impressionist prints in pastel frames, its day-old newspapers and its gray carpeting blackened by coffee stains, it could be in any hospital, anywhere.
The room is dominated by middle-aged women suspended between their children at the end of the pay phone and their parents at the end of their lives. Some of the women come and go during the day; most just stay, adhering to their own routines, until it is time to return home or to a motel nearby.
The Napper curls up on the too-short, too-hard couch and manages to sleep. The Reader moves too quickly through Jane Smiley to Sue Grafton. The Weeper stakes out a corner chair, where her sobs are as quiet as her cheeks are damp.
There is no privacy here. Every emotion is on display, epecially when someone in blue surgical scrubs enters. The silence and the tension hang heavy until he or she alights.
Everyone eavesdrops, measuring their own fortunes against the good or bad news being delivered to someone else in the Waiting Room. The Veteran always hovers then. Over the weeks, she has learned to read the room, figuring out who needs a hug and who needs to be left alone.
She keeps a box of tissues at her elbow while she works the puzzle. The box comes in handy the night the surgeon tells a woman that a large blood clot, dislodged from her father's chest during surgery, has come to rest in his brain.
It is depleted after a nurse explains to a Russian immigrant that her husband's disorientation and paranoia is temporary, a consequence of narcotics and too much time in the netherworld of the brightly lit ICU, where day is indistinguishable from night.
When it is time for a visit, it is the Veteran who leads the group through the automated doors, past the nurses station where they separate, heading off to mothers on respirators, fathers on morphine.
Visitors go alone or in sometimes awkward pairings. The newly minted ex-wife meets her husband's lover in the ICU. He has had a massive coronary. His prospects are grim. The two women work out their respective positions silently. The younger woman moves from the side to the foot of the bed, giving 20 years of shared history their due.
It is church quiet late in the afternoon when the doctor slips into a chair at the blond oak table where the Veteran is hard at work piecing together "The Beech Trees."
"Did she wake up?" she asks, startled after so many weeks of benign neglect to find herself the focus of interest.
"No, she didn't," the doctor responds quietly, leaving unsaid what the room knows. The Veteran's wait is over.
The Napper brings her the tissue box. The Weeper folds her in an embrace.
When the Veteran has gone, those who remain in the Waiting Room pull their chairs up to the table and set to work on the unfinished jigsaw puzzle.

Commentary written by Eileen McNamara at the Boston Globe 1996.

Thiry second window

Time for a lightning round of links:

Saw this and was amazed. Because I don't like freshwater enemas.

Read this and am still stumped how the ring leader keeps his job.

Too damn true to be funny.

He speaks for us all.

Intelligent commentary here.

For the geek in all of us.

That's all for now... Let us know if there's anything you'd like to see in our next lightning round of links.

Friday, August 04, 2006


I am befuddled. I have managed to increase my traffic to this blog significantly, have done my best to post thought-provoking content, and still no one comments on my blog. Anyone have any ideas as to why this might be the case? My original intention for this blog was to stimulate some intellectual discussion of various things philosophical and political. However, to have discussion, you guys must comment. Which you have failed to do. So, quit slacking! ;)

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Mind over Matter

In a brief attempt to return to the original purpose of this blog, I am posting this. It is a link to a site at Princeton University where they are conducting research on the interaction between mind and body. What I find quite interesting is that they (and others) have been able to show a statistically significant effect of participant intention on the outcome of otherwise random mechanical events. In other words, these guys are uncovering proof that thoughts influence physical events. Big stuff! For those unaware, philosophy has been trying to solve the mind/body problem since Descartes' now famous "Cogito ergo sum" or "I think, therefore, I am."

Battle Won

I finally won a battle o' the blogs. Yea! Thank you to all who voted for me and to my opponent. It was a good fight.

Blog Competitor

Here's a link to my latest competitor's blog. Check it out and let me know what you think:

My Experiences among other things......

P.S. I like it...

Battle o' the Blogs

Its true. I lost my recent battle. Which brings my score to 0 and 2. Well, I have made some changes and updated with some new content and am prepared to gird my ethereal loins for yet another battle. If you are reading this and are planning to vote in the battle, please look carefully around my site and read some of the archived postings before making your decision to vote against me. Some posts that I am particularly fond of can be found here, and here, oh, and over here. And at the risk of being too redundant, here.

Come together

Found this. It is the blog of someone who had an interesting encounter with the Muslim world. Basically, this guys site was hacked by an Egyptian kid who doesn't know quite what to think about all this mess going on in the world today. I think we can all agree that it certainly is confusing. What interested me most about this, and why I posted it, is the fact that what started out as conflict between middle east and west has actually ended in a positive way. I would like to see more of this kind of thing (not the hacking, mind you). If we as a race (humanity) are to survive, then we have got to start looking more at what we have in common and quit rushing to judgement. The blogosphere is FULL of people blogging about the wars in the middle east, most of them heavily inflammatory. To be fair, I too, have been responsible for some of this rant and rave. That will be the case no more. From this point forward, any post that I make on this blog will be positive in nature, and I hope to inspire others to do the same.

Afghan perspective

Was surfing through blgospace tonight and ran across this. It is a blog owned by an Afghani. I thought it interesting to see things from an Arab perspective. Perhaps you will too.

An excerpt:

However, what has to be understood is the fact that organizations like the Hezbollah do not run on mere ideologies or quests for material gains; they run on religious fervor and emotions. This means even if the rocket-and-rifle Hezbollah is gone, the fervor-and-zest Hezbollah is still there. Religious feelings and emotions never accept defeat.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Got Toejam?

got nothing but toejam

Enjoyed this little piece of blog heaven. Thought you might too...

Free money! (tm)

Reflections on Playboy

This guy will actually pay you to blog for him...

Linky tink.

Red Statement

Check out the poem about the national debt. Pretty good stuff. Talented writing. Good blog. Go see for yourself.

And now, for something completely different...

Paulie's Place - It's not always about YOU jesus!

Blogger faux pas

After spending the last couple hours surfing for blog explosion credits, I have come to the distinct conclusion that many of you out there in the blogosphere are in need of an education. Mind you, I am not saying that I have the best of blogs or that I even really know what I'm doing. But I can pass on what I believe to be a few gems that make me more likely to read your twattle.
First, and most important, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT post video or audio on the opening page. This is important. Some people out there do not have broadband connections nor the desire to load some cutesy video or audio clip just because you felt like including it on your page. If you must include this content, then please do so via a link. If you do not know how to include links in your post, then please turn your blog over to the proper authorities pronto. You have no business using it.
Second, it is VERY hard to take seriously the comments of someone who either does not understand the rules of English grammar or fails to take the time to ensure that such rules are followed. One of the most flagrant examples of this is the all-too-common "of" instead of "have." Like in I "could of" learned how to write in English class but instead I flirted with the cute chick beside me who "could have" dated any guy she wanted. Granted, for the illiterate, the two sound similar, and if you are comparing the contraction "could've" they sound the same but are VERY different. One form is proper, the other form shows your ignorance.
Third, AVOID CLICHE. Do not tell me that such-and-such is off the hook, off the chain, etc. Find some way to explain exactly how or why you think such-and-such is such a wonderful thing and is deserving of your highest praises. Now, granted this will force you to expand your previously limited vocabulary beyond the list of hot phrases used on MTV, but hey, what else have you got to do?
Fourth, please do not post something that requires a deep background of you and/or your blog for understanding. If you do, at least link to something that will give new readers some background so that they too can understand what is going on. Remember, if you want me to read your blog, you will need to make sure I am in the loop.
Failure to do these four, very simple, very easy to do things will certainly drive me, and many others, as far from your blog as possible.

One Way or Another

One Way or Another

Sunday, July 30, 2006

50 cents and a bachelors' degree...

In an attempt to ignore current events and politics for my own sanity, I ran across this:

Education in this country has become a farce. I don't know that it was ever anything but. Too many times have I found myself looking around at the people in my courses and realizing that these people have no inclination to learning whatsoever. They pay exorbitant fees and tuition to attend a university and don't even show up for class. Or if they do, they spend the time texting their significant others or doodling, or just plain drooling. Now, I've been known to skip a few classes from time to time, but I will at least read the covered material and grab notes from someone else if possible. But these mindless drones that keep popping out of the woodwork on my and others' campuses won't even do that. They expect to be spoonfed the material exactly as it will appear on the exam, do not want to discuss the material, and then want to regurgitate the same drivel unprocessed on the exam. This is no way to learn!
Back in my 8th grade English course, I was taught that learning occurs at multiple levels. I don't remember what they all were, but I do know that memorization, which the mindless automatons practice, is the LOWEST possible form of learning. Back then, even in the 8th grade, I was being asked to perform at all 7 levels of learning! Is it really too much to ask that someone who claims to be ready for a university education actually take some initiative to learn? How can you possibly understand what is going on in a masterpiece of literature if you cannot interpret and analyze incoming information? I'd be willing to bet that there are English majors out there who think that Moby Dick is nothing more than a story about a man and a whale (if you don't know, its really about man's quest for the divine and search for meaning).
What's worse is the fact that most of these mindless sheep have dropped out of some department (math, philosophy, etc) that actually requires learning and have become 'education' majors because the curriculum is easy and they can pass without actually being required to put forth more than a basic level of effort. Which, leads us to a worsening of the situation because now, our children are being taught by these idiots and are not being forced to actually learn how to learn. Each generation it seems to get progressively worse. I, for one, am sick of it.