Category Archives: Human Behavior

Abdicating by autopilot

These are the outdoor cats tended by jeanne's family a few blocks away.  Note the cat with the pliers and spray lubricant waits patiently while those lower three hang around being useless eaters.  The top cat [above] knows all this but doesn't care so long as the work gets done by the worker cat.  It's all factored in, and the lower three cats are relatives.

These are the outdoor cats tended by jeanne’s family a few blocks away. Note the cat with the pliers and spray lubricant waits patiently while those lower three hang around being useless eaters. The top cat [above] knows all this but doesn’t care so long as the work gets done by the worker cat. It’s all factored in, and the lower three cats are relatives.

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

Puzzling critter, the human mind.  A year ago I hadn’t been examined by a physician for almost two decades and I took full responsibility for my health, was certain I would continue to do so without the involvement of physicians.

If I manage to remain alive long enough to write another long book I might begin with the premise a person just never can tell.  Or something profound along the lines of ‘never say never’.

I began trylng to understand how I got from there to here last night.  I’m thinking it had a lot to do with the cats.  At the time I had my [what's now by hindsight clearly a serious] heart attack November 7, 2013, I was in the middle of nowhere on Gale’s property in Texas.  If I’d dived out of this lifetime and the cats were trapped inside the RV they might have joined me the hard way in a few days by dehydration.

Everything else, the week in the Kerrville Hospital, the trip to Andrews and stay with Eddie Brewer while attempting to begin VA medical care, the return to Gale’s and final dash to Kansas all followed in tiny increments of the mind.  Micro-abdications made in ignorance with a growing determination to know what the hell was wrong with me.

All without ever making a clear and decisive, well-thought-out decision to abandon the conscious philosophical position I’ve held twenty years and never doubted during that time.

So here I sit with a stack of monthly co-pay payments to make out of a skinny pool of finances, taking a lot of medications, carrying a defibrillator in my shoulder, and not profoundly improved in my physical capabilities over November and December, 2013.

Please don’t willfully misunderstand me and think I’m implying my choices were ‘wrong’.  I don’t know whether they were wrong, or right, or whether concepts of wrong and right even fit into the equation.  What I’m saying is that my life enjoyed a major change in direction without the guy in the pilot seat ever having given the matter any thought.

If not wrong or right, probably irresponsible at the least.

A year ago the chances of my living long enough to burn through the money, minus interest, I paid into Social Security over half-century was zilch.  I’ve never figured out what the interest would amount to, nor factored in the FICA paid in by employers.

But I confess in all honesty that I’m probably approaching the great divide because of Medicare paying off for my hospital bills and testing during 2014.  Not to mention all the costs the VA is absorbing in other testing and examinations.  This, by virtue of my being a hero and having protected the freedoms of all you vacant eyed US citizens.  Back when men were men and constantly faced the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases in foreign lands.

So without ever having made a conscious choice to do so, I’ve been reduced to the status of health beggar, become the burden on society I’d have sworn I’d never be.

Precisely how such a thing could come to pass certainly ought to be the subject of a treatise.

But it’s mostly because of the damned cats.

Old Jules

Draft era Vets ponder all-volunteer era vet suicides in VA Med Center waiting rooms

This guy died last year.  He'd have been 20 in 1948.  The pic on the headstone shows him wearing Sgt. stripes.  The stone says Lt. Col. Okay.  Also says he was a 'left' gunner.  Presumably a waist gunner on a B24?  Did B17s have a machine gun blister on the waist?  Anyway, 59 combat missions by a guy who didn't turn 17 until 1945?  And decorated with a bronze star.  Claims WWII, Korea and Vietnam as his own.   Anything happen in his life afterward, you suppose?  Something factual, for instance and worth remembering him for?

This guy died last year. He’d have been 20 in 1948. The pic on the headstone shows him wearing Sgt. stripes. The stone says Lt. Col.
Okay. Also says he was a ‘left’ gunner. Presumably a waist gunner on a B24? Did B17s have a machine gun blister on the waist? Anyway, 59 combat missions by a guy who didn’t turn 17 until 1945? And decorated with a bronze star. Claims WWII, Korea and Vietnam as his own.
Anything happen in his life afterward, you suppose? Something factual, for instance and worth remembering him for?

Lieutenant Colonel Smith in traditional reality.

Lieutenant Colonel Smith in traditional reality.

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

Hanging around the waiting rooms at the VA Medical Center today I got talking with other draft-era vets about these all volunteer military vets suiciding so frequently.  All of them I broached the subject with were anxious to talk about it.

Generally one possibility all expressed is that these modern-day vets are a bunch of woosies.  Nobody’s ruling that out early in the ponderings.  But digging into it, all agreed there must have been something in their expectations far removed from the reality they experienced.

What the hell could that be?  They joined knowing the US engages in all manner of protracted, meaningless wars.  They must have known they’d stand an excellent chance of ending up in one or another of them.

Well, okay.  A lot of them got to kill people who didn’t need killing.  Maybe more than back in earlier times.  And they got accused of being heroes when every last one of them knows THAT is a lie.

But what else?  They joined for the high pay, the benefits, house loan, educational and maybe  health benefits.  They got all that, plus 30 days vacation and 30 days sick leave per year.  They got the Dollar Tree stores and that ilk asking customers to give a dollar to support their kids with school supplies all in the same breath.  Which is to say, they became beggars by proxy.  Victims by virtue of some of the most bizarre reasoning of which the human mind is capable of indulging.

Unanimous about all this, we draft-era veterans.  Pondered it, I did, all the way back to Olathe discussing it with the transport driver who was a pre-Gulf War I veteran [never left Fort Blizz, Texas].  He agreed, too.

It took Jeanne, who doesn’t know pork from venison about military service, to add what might be the answer:

How,” Jeanne asked me, “do you know they haven’t been killing themselves after every war since the Civil War?  How would you have heard about it without the Internet?”

In fact, probably nobody was even paying attention to the matter back then   Certainly not the sort of information the government would be waving around in recruiting offices.  “I WANT YOU!”, says Uncle Sam pointing, “And you’ll hate yourself in the morning.”

Old Jules

Typical Kansans outside the KC metro area

Hi readers.  A lot of you have been asking me to describe my impression of Kansans from a newcomer, outsider-looking-in perspective.

My general impression is that outside the KC metro area they’re not much different from typical, or average Texans.  Stereotype from the movie Trains, Planes and Automobiles seems to cover it as accurately as you’re likely to find anywhere.

Old Jules

Easy no-salt potato-jalapeno pancakes

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

I gather some of you besides me count sodium mgs in your diet the way overweight people used to count calories.  If so, and if you’re on the lookout for a tasty treat you’ve probably never encountered before you might try this.

Blend or process a potato, a jalapeno, half an onion, a tablespoon of minced garlic and a teaspoon of grated ginger together until they reach the color of guacamole and the consistency of pancake batter.  [Works well without the ginger, too, whole different culinary experience.  I'm betting cinnamon could fit into it somewhere, to doctor it up into a mutation worthy of a space alien.]

[Edit:  Cilantro.  I forgot to mention adding some chopped up fresh cilantro.  Important, too]

Pour the mix into a sizzling pan of olive oil or butter and flip them a couple of times as they cook until they’re brown on both sides.

Pop those moneymakers into a dish and eat them like pancakes, or let them cool and eat them the way you’d have a bagel or donut.  Great under blackstrap molasses and buttered, great dry.  Name your own poison

Remember where you heard it first.

Old Jules

Post-Pyramidial and Post-Mass-Grave grave concerns

21st Century cemeteries mostly require stones to be flat with the ground and uniform in size to allow only a name and birth/death dates.  However, this sign outside Andrews, Texas offers a potential solution for communities everywhere.  A single stone the size of the Vietnam Memorial Wall telling everything the people in the cemetery believed would be a huge benefit.

21st Century cemeteries mostly require stones to be flat with the ground and uniform in size to allow only a name and birth/death dates. However, this sign outside Andrews, Texas offers a potential solution for communities everywhere. A single stone the size of the Vietnam Memorial Wall telling everything the people in the cemetery believed would be a huge benefit.

Hi readers:

The grave markers depicted here are located in the Olathe, Kansas, Desoto, Kansas and Lawrence, Kansas [Oak Hill] cemeteries.  Lawrence is probably best remembered for the Quantrill raid and massacre of the men and boys of the town slaughtered by Quantrill’s Irregulars during the Civil War.  The town was burned to the ground and most of those killed are buried in the Oak Hill Cemetery in a mass grave.

Hand signs and finger signs decorate the surface of a lot of gravestones around here.  Pointing upward, sideways, down fingers, etc.  I'm guessing some might be secret society signs of one sort or another.  However, Jeanne tells me this one is a 'deaf person' sign.

Hand signs and finger signs decorate the surface of a lot of gravestones around here. Pointing upward, sideways, down fingers, etc. I’m guessing some might be secret society signs of one sort or another. However, Jeanne tells me this one is a ‘deaf person’ sign.

cable grave

This stone and the one below have been selected by geographers to serve a dual-purpose. Initially they both merely marked the location of buried telephone cables, as noted on the orange tape. But later circumstance conspired to make them useful as markers for human burial locations as well.

Phone cable memorial marker

Limestone or marble markers are probably inexpensive, but they are prone to become unreadable in a century, century-and-a-half. The stone dissolves in acid rain, accumulates lichens and moss, and break more easily than granite, steel, or wood of most types. This is unworthy of concern unless the people placing the stone intend the grave to be identifiable over a period longer than a few decades.

bookout

A person who went through life being called by the name, King David Bookout, probably won’t object to large granite stone sitting above him a few centuries afterward. Nothing any stranger says while looking at the stone generations later is likely to be original. It all got said while he was alive.

sitar or oud teachout

Patricia Ann evidently played the oud or sitar during her life and someone considered it enough a part of her to be noted on the stone. The name Teachout would be less intriguing if the grave were located further from that of King David Bookout. A Bookout buried 50-100 feet from a Teachout seems more coincidence than needed in death.

Finding a purpose in death isn't necessarily easier than finding a worthy one in life.  Vernon Robert Phillips elected to use his to advertise Harley Davidson Motorcycles.

Finding a purpose in death isn’t necessarily easier than finding a worthy one in life. Vernon Robert Phillips elected to use his to advertise Harley Davidson Motorcycles.

This touching marker manages to convey the anguish of the surviving family.  Probably it's actually what graveyards and gravestones are all about, or at least something valid they are about.

This touching marker manages to convey the anguish of the surviving family. Probably it’s actually what graveyards and gravestones are all about, or at least something valid they are about.

Here's an example of what happens to limestone when it's utilized as burial marking material.  Fortunately there's nothing on the stone to suggest anything was worth remembering about Wheeler Green anyway.

Here’s an example of what happens to limestone when it’s utilized as burial marking material. Fortunately there’s nothing on the stone to suggest anything was worth remembering about Wheeler Green anyway.

Another emotional demonstration of whatever causes human beings to want grave markers and graves as a piece of their lives.

Another emotional demonstration of whatever causes human beings to want grave markers and graves as a piece of their lives.

Sharon Snow Fogarty is evidently still alive, but she knows how she wants to be remembered: "She never met an animal she didn't like."

Sharon Snow Fogarty is evidently still alive, but she knows how she wants to be remembered: “She never met an animal she didn’t like.”

The elaborate grave-marker phenomenon spans cultural boundaries.

The elaborate grave-marker phenomenon spans cultural boundaries.

If those people killed in the Quantrill raid had survived they might have accomplished great things.  Some might have been able to be part of the Wounded Knee incident.  As the song says, “Only the good die young.”

Old Jules

Strategic Air Command HQ, Omaha, Nebraska of insignificance

KC VA Med Ctr

VA Medical Center, Kansas City, MO, 100 acres ofparking lot, 20 acres handicapped parking, 100 active hospital rooms serving a shrinking population of US Military Vets who didn’t make a career of being lifers. Draft-era vets are dying like flies, robbing the macho of facilities such as this one.

VA med ctr elevators

The ‘Valor’ elevators. Yeah, but if you think that’s a bit overkill in the nomenclature department the hallway getting there is ‘Hero Hall’. Goes to prove there’s no limit to the lengths the US Government will go to in order to keep all us gullible burned out has-beens who use the place thinking Vietnam, Korea and other Presidential Wars were places where heroism could manifest itself.

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

I said in my last entry I might post anew if anything different happened and by gollywolly it did.  Different as hell, in fact.  The Strategic Air Command HQ, Omaha, Nebraska of different.

You might recall my state of mind as being a bit tentative during the period just prior to my taking a break.  I had what medico-oriented people might consider sufficient reason to be concerned about ‘suspicious’ whatchallits on my goozle and lungs, considerable intermittent pain, and a ticker that clearly was behaving outside the range of idealistic tickerism.  The Strategic Air Command HQ, Omaha, Nebraska, of lousy ticker behavior this side of croaking.

In short, Texas wasn’t working out as the best place to pursue my options in the less-than-optimum mobility direction following anything coming down the pike involving hospitals.  Two cats were depending on me being around and able to do everything necessary to provide them with sustenance.

Jeanne stepped in and save my life at precisely the right moment in human history to allow that option.  Suggested at a moment when I was able to consider it, me trucking up to Olathe, KS, and checking into the horsepital here through the Emergency Room.  Her taking care of the cats while I was inside.

And agreeing to keep them afterward if I croaked during the process.   An offer I dasn’t refuse.

So I loaded up Hydrox and Tabby, groaned into the RV the day before the worst storm to hit Texas in a number of years, I’m told.  The Strategic Air Command HQ, Omaha, Nebraska, of winter storms.

Drove most of the night and reached the end of my tether in Gainsville, Texas, north of Dallas.  Checked into a motel room to croak.

Jeanne sent her two sons down to interfere with the Grim Reaper by driving me on up to Olathe, KS.  Shortly after arriving I parachuted into the ER of the Olathe Medical Center for a week or so vacation.

Turned out after they’d done a lot of poking and prodding I’d killed off allbut about 15-20% of my heart back when all this whining and complaining I’d been doing started in November.  And my goozle was a thing to behold over in the gastroenterology end of things.  That poor old tube had more ugly mess going on inside it than I’d have dared hope.  But [after swilling a tea of Burdock, Turkey Rhubarb, Sheep Sorrel and Slippery Elm for a month before the Cat-Scan] not malignant.  Nor was the suspicious lung stuff.

Quicker than you could tell it they stuck a magic electric cow-prod under the skin of my chest/shoulder and ran wires from it down into my heart.  It’s there to remind my mildly functioning heart muscle that it needs to keep trucking without any drama if it doesn’t want to get struck by lightning, kicked by a mule, as many times as it takes until it decides to behave itself.

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been sleeping in Jeanne’s recliner, wearing a restraining thing so’s I can’t raise my arm above my head, thus protecting the wire running down into my heart from getting yanked out by the roots.   Another couple of weeks and that shouldn’t be necessary.

The RV’s in Jeanne’s driveway, Tabby’s finding a new home for herself with Jeanne’s daughter, Julia, and her sons, Michael and Andrew, and Hydrox is here with me trying to become a Kansas cat.

I’m figuring I’ll be here a couple more months, at least.  I’m forming a new relationship with the Missouri Veteran Medical Center mainly because I was so impressed with what all they did in Texas to prevent me having to go to a private hospital in Kansas to find out what the hell was going on inside my body.

But hells bells, I’m grateful for all of it.  Been finding a lot of reasons why my life’s going to be a better place as a consequence of not having cancer of the goozle, lung cancer, and having a cow prod in my chest in their stead.

I’m thinking, for one thing, I’ve arrived at a place in life where Hydrox can no longer depend on my services.  When I leave here most likely he’ll be staying behind with Jeanne.

All in allI’m the Strategic Air Command Headquarters, Omaha, Nebraska, of grateful to be alive and feeling as well as I do.  Luckiest man on the planet, any way you cut it.  Don’t try this at home, though.

Old Jules

Prioritizing insignificance

clownpic

Hi readers:

Those of you who’ve read through this long series of anecdotes will recognize that my life’s been spent in a forest of insignificance incapable of being recognized as such except by hindsight.   To qualify for the insignificance merit badge each item running for office had to be at least a week in the past.

Lately that’s changed.  I’ve got a 1950s Africa movie scene dust cloud of stampeding herds, pods, prides, coveys, flocks, and occasional individual insignificances coming at me out of the future, stirring up all manner of noise and dirt right here in my normally significant present.  Even when they drift downstream into the past they keep zigzagging around trying to fight their way back uphill to make nuisances of themselves in my today mode.

Fact is I’ve got another reincarnation coming into the picture, as well, and though it’s probably insignificant, I need to tip my hat to it various ways.  Just so it doesn’t get pissed off and decide I need to pick up on past themes earlier reincarnations.  If I’ve got to bow and scrape a bit it’s worth it.

So I’m going to take some time away from this blog.  Spend my time sorting through whatever I can convince myself is more significant than something else over the next period of time.

Those of you who’ve been frequent visitors, I appreciate you.  Those who haven’t, I appreciate you, also.

I’ll send you no more omphaloskepsis unless something different happens.

Old Jules

Pondering the dearth of cumulative human wisdom

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read. 

I’m still muddling along with God Knows, by Joseph Heller, but he’s got me thinking about a lot of things somewhat unrelated to his own theme.  So what’s below inevitably has roots, both in the OT, and in Heller’s recreation of Hebrew history and the Bible through the eyes of King David.

So this is going to be me, Old Jules aka wossname, Jack, mulling this over.  Not King David, not Heller, not even God in the sense you’re most likely to define the concept.

I’ll get into this thing about cumulative human wisdom, but first I’d just like to confide to you how much better I’d feel if God weren’t so sneaky and cagey about his real name in his dealings with those old time Hebrews.  What the hell is that all about?  Who is He afraid they’ll find out he really is?

I'm not pushing the idea He was Roy Rogers, mainly because Roy was a fairly consistent, courteous human being, though daft.

I’m not pushing the idea He was Roy Rogers, mainly because Roy was a fairly consistent, courteous human being, though daft.

And if they did know who God really is, how’s He scared they’d think less of Him in the knowing of it?  After all, it ain’t as though God was putting on any airs in his dealings with them.  Never makes any attempt to explain himself, elevate himself in the eyes of his Chosen People. 

Just go back and read the OT.  How he treats Moses, sheeze, Job,  King David, Adam and Eve, even Cain and Abel.  And inconsistent, uneven-handed so consistently as to assure nobody’s going to acquire any wisdom from any of it.

Call me paranoid, but I think there’s more to this side stepping and dodging the true identity with a name stamped into the dogtags than those ancient Hebrews imagined, that anyone since has explained sufficiently to argue He might have been Anyone, but particularly some located in the vicinity of Greece and Rome before too much more time passed.

So you end up with an ancient religion and storybook to accompany it preserved from a language with a vocabulary of 88 words, 17 of which are pseudonyms for the name of God, and not one of those 17 believed by those using them in spoken words to be the actual name of the party of the first part.

But I’ve digressed. 

I was going to muse on why human beings are unable to acquire cumulative wisdom similarly to the way technical knowledge assimilates.  About how it happens all these centuries have sneaked by and the King Davids are still capable of becoming so captured by passion as to compromise, destroy themselves.  About how Adonijahs then until now, rhetorically next in line for their thrones, their power, their wealth, still rape their sister Tamars and [at least] risk destroying themselves in the doing of it.  About how the Joabs all these centuries have coldly murdered in the name of governmental authority anyone standing in the way of their ambitions, always maintaining the moral high ground.

But I’ll have to save all that for another time, I reckons.

Old Jules aka Frank C. Riley

Filler between adventures

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

Jeanne’s explained some of the things happening in my life at the moment, how I’m having phone and Internet access issues.  And she and I have both been sufficiently cryptic to cause some to conclude major issues are stalking around my life making nuisances of themselves.

Fact is, nothing here is all that major, nothing uncommon.  What’s going on in my life is an interlude between adventures.  A break in the plotlines to allow some breathing on the part of the author and major characters before the really juicy stuff comes trotting down the pike.  Nothing at all gloomy in this neck of the woods.  Mild anticipation, excitement kept carefully under control best describes the mood.

Hells bells I had a whatchallit, ecco or echo sonogram of my heart the other day, got to watch that poor worn out, frayed piece of meat trying to keep track of what it’s supposed to be doing, got to watch it wiggle, trot across that screen looking and sounding for all the world like the grim reaper.

If that ain’t a one-in-a-lifetime experience I can’t imagine what would be, and I was the one right there lucky enough to get to see it.  I don’t blame you folks for wishing you could be me.

But in between all the pesky details packed into the upper end of a human lifetime I’ve been seeing some pretty decent old movies I’ll be telling you about.  And reading some good books.

In a few days I expect I’ll begin a blog entry telling you about God Knows, by Joseph Heller.   So much better than Catch 22 it’s a wonder anyone even ever heard of Snowden.  If King David had written a hindsight view or review of the Old Testament, God, everything you read and passed over in the Bible without stopping to think about it, think it through and examine the implications, God Knows would have been the result.

But for some reason it took Joseph Heller to come along and actually do it.  A book you should hunt down and read if you can find one.  An important book.

I’d send you mine, but I have it earmarked for my ex-wife.

Old Jules

A morning on the VA medical launchpad

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

I don’t know a lot more about my health this afternoon than I knew when I awakened this morning, but I know a good deal more about other interesting matters than I once did.  Went through the television interview with some people somewhere else asking about various health issues.  This evidently resulted in checkmarks going to a file telling them what testing to do afterward in the lab.

Judging from the tests the interviewers weren’t discounting a hyperfunctioning thyroid, though they  were closed-mouth about any opinions they formed during the interview.  They did hint at the possibility I might want to take it easy and not do anything particular until I’ve seen the doctor on the 20th of December.

But hanging around that waiting area was worth the price of admission.  Discovered what a huge percentage of the circa 1965-1975 US Army, AF, Navy and Marine Corps who end up getting health treatment from the VA have discovered they were point-men infantrymen, snipers, and other non-company clerk in Danang, personnel or supply clerk, cooks, or motorpool monkeys in Siagon [folks comprising 90+ percent of the Vietnam jobs of the time].

Which is to say, when you’re an old bastard and find your life hasn’t been sufficiently interesting, you can sit in the waiting room at the VA and blow smoke up the asses of a lot of other old guys.  And if you do, some others will crawl out of the wood work to provide an atmosphere of reciprocity and mutual ex post facto revisions of history.  I’ve got a feeling the non-vet practice promiscuously using phrases such as, ‘fought for our freedoms,’ or ‘fought in Vietnam’  brings the incentive.  If you were in Vietnam and never heard a shot fired in anger along with almost everyone else in Vietnam, how do you reconcile it with someone accusing you of ‘fighting for our freedoms?’  Or, ‘fought in Vietnam’?

Lordee what a needy bunch of sons of bitches we Americans are in our dotage.

Old Jules’