Sunday, February 17, 2019

Idiots about Esquire

March 2019 Esquire Magazine cover
The March 2019 Esquire Magazine cover.
Nothing makes me lose respect for people faster than seeing them make sweeping pronouncements about something based on a cursory scan of it, and that's what people I used to admire are doing about the edition of Esquire Magazine that's on the stands as I write this.
Hilariously, many are furious that Esquire would release this issue, which features a white boy on its cover, during Black History Month. If they knew even a little about magazine journalism or had ever paid attention to magazine publication dates, they'd know that magazines publish editions with dates well in advance of when they actually hit the stands in order to give them a longer shelf life. This issue is, in fact, the March issue of Esquire.
I went to my local library today and read the article the cover refers to. Clearly, most making opinions about it have not done this. The kid's not a bad kid. Yeah, he likes Trump, but many do and this boy is seventeen. If you held me to every belief I had at that age you'd think I'm more of a complete and total loser than I am, which I know that by definition should be impossible.
Also, the editor's letter talks about the article and also says that it's the first in a series that will include a diversity of people in the future. 
(Note to many: The title is An American Boy, not The American Boy. Articles matter.)

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Predictons: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
 She'll screw up and be put in the nation's time out corner now and then. She won't, however, be tainted by sex scandals that way men are, which bans them from public service forever, apparently. She'll apologize and come back.
The right will vilify her, the left will love her. She and others will make the 2020 election year all about capitalism versus socialism. The right will depict socializing anything as complete socialism and compare her to Stalin and Mao, whose policies murdered many millions of innocent people. The left will dig in. Moderates will be ignored. There will be fake pornographic images of her online. Those will be discounted by nearly everyone. There will be false stories about her. Those, too, will be discounted, but not by as many.
Mao and Stalin
Mao and Stalin.
When Ocasio-Cortez runs again in 2020, her opponent will be generously funded. So will she. With two years' experience, she will do well in a debate, if there is one. Turnout in her district will be the highest it's ever been, and she will win, but not by as wide a margin as predicted.


Tuesday, February 12, 2019

I love this man

man walking dogs
A man walking his two dogs.
 My quiet street is a good one to walk dogs on and I see this man most mornings walking his. He looks grouchy and sour, as if he'd rather be doing anything but walking his dogs. But I bet it's one of those times when things are not as they seem. This is probably a bright spot of his day; getting outside in the fresh air, surrounded by nature and looking at things in the distance, stopping to chat with a neighbor or two.
As an amputee, I envy him. I'd love to be able to walk a dog again.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

My 240 million-year-old friend

Pappochelys
A Pappochelys, with friend.
On what is now a riverbed in Germany, a Pappochelys basked in the sun 240 million years ago, its belly full of meat it got from gnawing on the carcass of a fish. The sun rose and set, insects whirled through the air. At the time, air had a higher percentage of oxygen than it does now. Animals moved with greater energy and those flying insects were a size impossible for them to reach today. 
The Pappochelys developed cancer in its femur, cancer which spread unchecked, killing it before its natural lifespan was up, a team of JAMA researchers said in a New York Times article today.
This cancer is similar to my own in every way, though on the opposite limb. Also, unlike the Pappochelys, I have a slight chance of survival thanks to the amputation of my leg last year.
My hope is that a century from now people will look at cases like mine and many others and shake their heads sadly, bemoaning that so many died of something so curable in their time, the way we do when reading about people die of simple infections.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Radiation routine

The twenty-six appointments to destroy my cancerous prostate gland are scheduled for three o'clock at the cancer center, but I always arrive early because they can often take me earlier. This may be because others' procedures go more quickly than the schedulers anticipated, or other patients were unable to come. I get to the parking building by 2:15. It's dark, gloomy and dirty, leaks on all floors when it rains, and though it has many handicapped parking spaces it's always hard to find one. There are many cigarette butts near the elevators. This sort of makes sense: People with unhealthy lifestyles are more likely to be at a place like this or have friends who are. But still ... smoking at a cancer hospital?
As I sit in the car I drink the sixteen ounces of water I've brought with me in a thermos. They want my bladder to be full before the treatment so I'm to drink at least twenty minutes before it. The drive there takes fifty minutes and now, nearly at the end of the treatments, that region of my anatomy is so inflamed that I have to urinate often and with tremendous urgency. Getting to the nearest restroom after the drive is always a priority. So far, I've made it without incident. 
reception area waiting room
The reception area waiting room.

The radiation oncology floor is a level down from the entrance level. On crutches (now and forever), I take the elevator. At the check-in desk Beverly puts a hospital bracelet on my left wrist. We greet each other on friendly terms. She uses "Mr." and my surname. I told her early on that she was welcome to call me by my first name, but she demurred. I get that. I used to work in a hospital and I know that they are nearly as hierarchal as the military. Also, making the sort of pseudo-friendship with people many tend to do may not be a good idea at a hospital that treats cancer patients exclusively; it's easier to say, "Mr. Smith died" than "John died."
The waiting room at the front desk for new patients is large. Told where to go my first day, I know to head for Waiting Room C, down the long, wide hall and on my left. I go there and enter one of the two small dressing rooms, where I strip from the waist down, put my clothes in a locker, and put on a hospital gown. When ready, I enter the waiting room.
The waiting room has a dozen chairs but I've never seen more than three patients in it. Unlike me, most of them are accompanied by a family member or friend, so talk between them and me is infrequent. 
There are large stacks of old magazines and a television tuned to ABC. I don't watch TV anymore and if I did it wouldn't be daytime TV. If I'm there before 2:30, Who Wants to be a Millionaire is on. The show's pattern is always the same. Easy first questions with jokey answers, then one or two at a normal trivia level, and then ludicrously difficult ones, something like, "Of these four nations admitted to the United Nations in the nineteen sixties, which was last?" That show's followed by Right This Minute, the most irritating kind of show there is: People sit at monitors and comment on clips that have become popular on the internet. There are four of them and their comments are supposed to be funny or thought provoking but never are. They often repeat the clip several times, as though the viewer can't comprehend visually what happened the first time like they have, or that viewers really want to see video of people slipping on ice and falling down again and again. As stupid a show as it is, it's both visually and auditorially noisy, making it hard not to glance at the screen now and then during it.
radiation oncology waiting area
Radiation oncology waiting area.
I'm often called before this show is well underway.
The technicians who perform the procedure are friendly and polite. They are usually women. Although I go to the same room daily, one of two rooms that does this procedure, I seldom have the same two technicians because some of them work part time. The room is darkened, which is calming. I sit on the table, one takes my crutches and puts them aside, and I lie back. I raise my pelvis and one puts the mold that was made of that area under me. They put a cloth over my lower pelvis and pull up my gown before telling me to lower myself. The cloth is about the size of a dishtowel and it covers my genitals. That's as good for them as for me—I hate getting naked in front of strangers, even in a medical setting.
Having my pelvis properly aligned is important, so I had three small tattoos before I began this. Next, they raise the table I'm on and then, with one on either side of me, tug on the large cloth I'm lying on to align the tattoos and the laser. "I need a two," one will say to the other. Tug, tug. "Three." Tug. During this, I relax and remain passive, like a lump of clay being thrown on a potter's wheel, a crooked picture being adjusted. When they're done, they go into their control center. The big machine goes around me, taking a low-resolution MRI of my pelvis to make the alignment perfect, which it does by moving the table millimeters in whatever direction is necessary. This feels like I'm in bed and a dog jumps up on it, or that I'm lying on a floor during a mild earthquake. 
After this, one of the technicians says over a speaker, "Beginning treatment." I never know if I should say anything or not. How loud should I speak if I do? I trying to keep my breaths shallow, so I don't respond. Again, the machine circles from below around me clockwise for one minute, pauses for a few seconds, then circles back again counterclockwise, again, for a minute. As it does this it emits an electronic sustained "la." The entire procedure last just minutes. Music from a Spotify account plays in the room and once, the whole procedure fit into the length of just one song, though that song was over eight minutes long (Don McLean's American Pie). 
hospital hallway

The procedure isn't at all bad, but I've disliked the process. The drive, the parking, the undressing and dressing, the waiting. These are complaints other cancer patients would gladly trade for their own. Years ago, when I was a newspaper reporter, I interviewed a woman with brain cancer who had undergone extensive chemotherapy. "Ever cell in my body hurt more than you can imagine," she said. She later died from the disease. In my case, the sarcoma I also have is likely to kill me pretty soon, meaning that the prostate cancer treatment will have been unnecessary.
When the procedure is over, I rush to the dressing room and then to a bathroom as by now my bladder is ready to burst. The drive to the turnpike is winding, suburban-like. I head west, toward home. 
The afternoon sun highlights a surprising number of jets and their contrails in the sky as the jets also head west. The jets are close to one another, sometimes just half a mile or so apart, but at different altitudes. I think about the hundreds of people on them. They're heading toward or away from family members and friends, joyous or sad events, different jobs or business ventures, vacations, experiences. New lives.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

My perfect Super Bowl record

It's Super Bowl Sunday and I won't be watching it. In fact, as I've said here before, I have never watched a football game live or on television. 
eagles fans riot philadelphia 2018
Eagles fans rioting, Philadelphia, 2018.

 Part of my reason for this is growing up with a malformed leg; I knew I would never play the game in any real way. When I got older, I got cynical about big money sports. 

In the early 1980s, when I was in my early twenties, I decided it was time to begin watching football games because it seemed like an important aspect of male bonding. Right before I was going to, however, I read that referees call time outs so the network could air commercials. That sort of thing doesn't raise an eyebrow now but it did mine at the time. And more recently, of course, football has been shown to cause lifelong brain trauma.
philadelphia from art museum
A part of Philadelphia seen from the steps of the Art Museum.
I'm amazed at how passionate fans get about their city's teams. If any of the players are from that city, it's only by chance, and their loyalty to the city is broken as soon as any other team offers them more money. It would be as if I automatically loved any movie that happened to be shot in Philadelphia because that's where I'm from.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Tara Condell and this blog

The word "blog" is short for "web log" and in their original form blogs were for people wishing to share the daily happenings in their and their family's lives ("Janie hit a homer!"), to post about their hobbies and activities ("Local philatelists went to the show in big numbers this weekend ..."), or to share their ideas and beliefs with like minded people ("I've got a good one about those 'round earther' morons!").
This was before Facebook usurped those functions. Now, blogs not designed to sell something are about as common as non-workplace landlines.
tara condell
Tara Condell

I started this blog in 2009 to write about myself and to practice ordering my opinions and beliefs into coherent prose. I've never told any family or friends about it because I wanted to write with no filters. I wanted, for example, to be able to put down how I felt about my aging, then ailing and finally dying parents without having to think of them reading it.
Why not keep a journal instead? Actually, I do have a journal I write in using cursive and, believe it or not, with a fountain pen. I make entries in it about as often as I do here. I use this forum because there will always be something about writing something theoretically for all to see that makes me think and write more consciously than I would in a journal. This is likely a holdover from my years as a reporter.
Of my over eight hundred entries, the one getting the least number of hits was "Summer is ending" (8/27/12) with just two. The one getting the highest was "Bissextus" (2/29/16) with 2,461. (It has a picture that you should not look at if you're at work or around the kids. The picture is the reason it's gotten so many hits and is there as a joke about the title, a word that sounds racy but isn't.) Entries on this blog often get hits just in the single digits. However many an entry gets, it's clear, judging from the average number of comments entries get—a number barely above zero—that all but a few of those hits are accidental.
amy winehouse
Amy Winehouse

That record high number changed this week after I wrote about the suicide of Tara Condell on January 31. That post has gotten over 5,600 views and several comments. I'm an extreme introvert and unused to having people judge what I say or write. I've always been surprised how deeply it hurts when people insult or disparage me, even when it's on the internet, and even at my age, sixty. Simply having lived that long should have thickened my skin, but it hasn't. Part of that is probably because I never married or had a successful relationship, so I can't, like most, go to the loving embrace of a partner after being called a mean-spirited idiot elsewhere.
jimi hendrix
Jimi Hendrix

I moderate the comments and usually publish them all, even, in this case, the one that called me an asshole and recommended that I "give it a try." Most of the comments have been civil, even when they find fault with my opinion or disagree with me to an extent that they get angry.
The sum of what I said in the post is that with the right intervention and treatment, Ms. Condell could have gone on to live a long, happy and productive life. Some comments on that defended or semi-defended her action, saying things like, 
  • She'd seen and done it all, and met all her goals 
  • It was her life, and her decision 
  • She was in pain. Give her a break, poor thing  
  • The suffering can become unbearable and suicide the only option 
  • Never judge or assume it would be that easy of a "fix" 
  • Sometimes depression never gets better despite decades of the best treatment
  • If you haven't been there YOU DO NOT GET IT AND CANNOT GET IT and you should be thankful for that but shut the fuck up with your "help" 
  • We did not walk in her shoes, and each person's path is their own. She theoretically had so much more life left but who knows? She could choose to go on and be struck by a bus the next morning.
Ms. Condell did seem to live a full life and achieve many of her goals. I can see how a young person could argue that it's best to go out on a high, and the number of people who have died at her age, 27, is well known. Most died from unintentional drug overdoses, but I'd argue that those who truly want to live are more careful when taking drugs, making those deaths a small step removed from flat-out suicide. Among the famous to die at that age are Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, and Amy Winehouse. 
kurt cobain
Kurt Cobain

Ask anyone who's sixty if they'd rather had died over thirty years ago and ninety-nine out of one hundred will look at you as if you've gone mad. Some of those ninety-nine would even include people who tried to kill themselves when they were around that age. No matter how much you've done or how finished you are doing it, you will never make a convincing argument that killing yourself is a valid thing to do, unless you're in extreme and incurable chronic physical pain, in the last months of a terminal illness, or doing it to save others as in throwing yourself on top of a live grenade in a crowded room.
In my reply to one who commented, I mention Kevin Hines, one of the thirty-six known survivors of an estimated 1,700 people who've jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge, which Hines did in 2000. Of that, he said something like, "As soon as I was over the railing I realized that everything broken in my life could be fixed." The first time I contemplated suicide was when I was thirteen. There were times after that, of course, but I never attempted it. The closest I came to doing that was in 1987, when I was in my late twenties, freshly rejected, and several stories up a tall building with an easy jumping off spot. Every time I thought of jumping off a building, I saw myself changing my mind a second or two into it, thinking of how I could have moved to Paris or Sydney, tried hard drugs, taken up meditation, written a book. Anything but falling toward a hard surface. In general, I'm not going to write approvingly of suicide. Ever.
A few of those commenting mentioned faith and their god. I have no religion, but I think that casting suicide in this light is valid because Ms. Condell mentions her faith in her letter, though in my opinion hers is an immature "Family Circus" comic strip version of it (your grandfather sitting on a cloud, playing checkers with Benjamin Franklin, smiling down benevolently on his grandchildren). Most religions have severe strictures against suicide. This makes sense; if you can kill yourself and spend eternity in bliss, why not kill yourself when your fifteen? 
Some of those comments:
  • She is now where she wants to be...for whatever reason.  
  • Lack of faith leads to suicide when a person becomes unable to endure the stresses of the contemporary life. Faith broadens the horizons and gives hope and confidence in the creator of this universe. The most Merciful, the most wise
  • I am very saddened by this Story my Prayers go out to her Family and Friends
  • Perhaps she believed she is not leaving us, but joining him. We mortals can only shake our heads and hope we make our choices differently, because the finality of death, whether accidental or intentional, is irrevocable
  • She's definitely in pain now because she's in HELL. I am so sorry for her and any other that is tricked by the devil to perform such a foolish act
Some commenting chastised me for not recounting the good things Ms. Condell had done in her short life. Fair enough. I was reacting to one article in a daily newspaper and to what she'd written about herself on her website. I was not trying to eulogize her and will leave that to others who knew her better. No matter how much good she may have done, though, I still think that doing more may have saved her. Maybe I'm completely wrong about this. Perhaps what I should have said was that she should have put in more time and effort into finding enough meaning in her life to make her put off its termination for at least a few more decades. My own death from disease is probably going to come in a year or two, a fact that has made me think of these things. You can see this by scanning a few previous entries. One features (but isn't about) Fatima Ali, a chef known for her appearance on a TV cooking show, who died of what I have at the age of twenty-nine. How she would have loved to have the good health Tara Condell possessed.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Happy birthday, Mom

My mother is 88 years old today. Sort of. She died when she was eighty. But her ashes
exist, so what was my mother is 88 years old today. What did she do with her life? Not much, by some accounts. You've never heard of her, she never saved a boatload of people or discovered a cure for a ravaging disease.
But she did raise three kids and two of them had two kids apiece who are decent people, out in the world, not hurting others, enjoying life. That doesn't sound like much but it's more than most people do.
If she were alive I'd probably bore her by telling her about how the number 88 is a sign of good fortune in China and Japan because the writing of it is similar to the writing for the word "rice," so the number can symbolize an abundance of food.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Tara Condell could have been saved

tara condell

Tara Condell was a registered dietician who hanged herself on Wednesday, January 30, 2019, at age 27. Before doing so, she posted this letter on her website:

I Hate The Word “Bye,” But See You Later Maybe?

I have written this note several times in my head for over a decade, and this one finally feels right. No edits, no overthinking. I have accepted hope is nothing more than delayed disappointment, and I am just plain old-fashioned tired of feeling tired. 
I realize I am undeserving of thinking this way because I truly have a great life on paper. I’m fortunate to eat meals most only imagine. I often travel freely without restriction. I live alone in the second greatest American city (San Francisco, you’ll always have my heart). However, all these facets seem trivial to me. It’s the ultimate first world problem, I get it. I often felt detached while in a room full of my favorite people; I also felt absolutely nothing during what should have been the happiest and darkest times in my life. No single conversation or situation has led me to make this decision, so at what point do you metaphorically pull the trigger? 
I’m going to miss doing NYT crosswords (I was getting really good). That one charcuterie board with taleggio AND ‘nduja. Anything Sichuan ma la, but that goes without saying. A perfect plate of carbonara (no cream!). Real true authentic street tacos. Cal-Italian cuisine. Hunan Bistro’s fried rice. The pork belly and grape mini from State Bird Provisions circa 2013. Popeye’s of course. Bambas too. 
I’m also going to miss unexpected hugs. Al Green's Simply Beautiful. Cherries in July. Tracing a sleeping eyebrow. Smoking cigarettes. The Golden Gate Bridge at sunset. That first sip of iced cold brew in sticky August. Making eye contact with people walking down the street. When songs feel like they’re speaking to your soul. Jeopardy. Saying I love you. Late night junk food binges. Shooting the shit. And especially the no-destination-in-sight long walks. 
No GoFundMes, no funeral, no tributes, no doing-too-much please. All I ask now is for you to have one delicious (I mean a really really great) meal in my honor and let me go, no exceptions. 
It’s selfishly time for me to be happy and I know you can get down with that. Please try to remember me as a whole human you shared memories with and not just my final act. This is not your fault. It’s not exactly easy for me either, I’m here for you. I love you. I always have and I always will, I promise. Shikata ga’nai. 
I’m coming home, Dad. Make some room up on that cloud and turn the Motown up. 
I’m really sorry mama.
Always, TLC
Condell's death is about as sad a thing as can be. It could have been prevented with the right guidance. (Some will say medication would have helped, but I think she could have done without it.)
Look at what Condell lists as the things she'll miss. Nearly all of them are superficial diversions. Music. Puzzles. Television shows. Food. Many of them are things I like too, and if you've read a few of my previous entries you'll see that I'm all about distracting things these days. Last night, for example, I watched Ant-Man and the Wasp. A comic book movie, at age sixty. 
Some of the things Condell lists indicate that she had real depth and she clearly was very bright. What's missing though is anything that shows that she made herself get involved with other people. She could have gone to a homeless shelter and cooked healthy and delicious meals, she could have given free classes to school kids on how to eat right. Those are just two ideas without having to think much about it. Her initials, TLC, also stand for "Tender Loving Care," which she was no doubt aware of. Looking at her website, it seems she did some of this. Perhaps if she had done more, she'd have found a way to cope.
Suicide is the most selfish act a person can do, which Condell acknowledges. To end your pain in a way that causes pain to others (her mother will not enjoy fully even one day of the rest of her life) is unkind. And Condell put far too much faith in there being an afterlife. Did she really think she sit on a cloud with her father and listen to songs they both love? For how long would that be satisfying in any way?
Poor Tara. Poor Tara's mother and friends.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Don't be like this rich guy

What is hell? It's dying knowing that after your death you'll be remembered as having been a bad person, if you're remembered at all. A bad person died five days ago and his name was Albert J. Dunlap, often called "Chainsaw Al."
He was famous for gutting companies and making them, in the short term, profitable in a way that made him beloved by Wall Street. If you're liked and admired by Wall Street, you're very probably not a good person. Not definitely; probably.
From Dunlap's obituary in the Washington Post:
“In all my years of reporting, I had never come across an executive as manipulative, ruthless, and destructive as Al Dunlap,” journalist John A. Byrne, author of the 1999 Dunlap biography “Chainsaw,” later wrote in Fast Company magazine. Mr. Dunlap, he added, “sucked the very life and soul out of companies and people. He stole dignity, purpose, and sense out of organizations and replaced those ideals with fear and intimidation.”
Imagine something like that being in your obituary!
Dunlap was eighty-one when he died and in his later years he contributed much of his fortune to Florida State University. Chances are they threw parties for him and said great things about him, never mentioning the countless lives he diminished if not ruined. 
Dunlap probably died at peace, thinking he was, overall, a good person. That's one definition of heaven.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Nothing worse than this

Fatima Ali
Fatima Ali, a fan favorite on the show "Top Chef," who died Friday, January 25, 2019, of Ewing's sarcoma.

When you have a rare kind of cancer like I do, there are few things that will ruin your day faster than hearing about someone dying from it.
That happened to me just minutes ago.
Day ruined.
And really, there is something worse than this. Much worse.


Monday, January 21, 2019

Celestial events

I went outside last night around ten thirty to see the lunar eclipse. It had started, with the earth's shadow taking a bite of the moon's lower left quadrant. The sky was clear but there's a temporary cold snap in my area so I went back inside after a few minutes. An hour later, I found that I could see the moon from a skylight in the house, so I watched the last bit of the lunar surface fade to shadow from there. 
The moon gets a pinkish hue during these because the light hitting it is passing through the earth's atmosphere. I heard an astronomer describing it on the radio yesterday as it being like the light of a thousand sunsets. Poetic. 

The best lunar eclipse I ever saw was in 1985. I was living in Nagoya, Japan, and I didn't know it was going to happen. I was sitting on the balcony of the apartment I was living in enjoying the evening when I saw the moon getting shaded. Seeing it this way, I felt a little of the wonder and awe that people must have felt centuries ago. 
Watching it last night, I thought about how part of the reason people like watching things like it is that they happen rarely and the times between their occurrences can be long. I also thought about how many people like me, with multiple health conditions that will likely kill me in a year or two, regard every sunrise as a celestial event.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Old dog, new tricks

Sometimes when people learn that they've been doing some minor thing wrong and that there's a better way to do it, they dig in and continue doing the thing the way they've always done it. They get angry and defensive if you say anything about it. "I like going this way!" they'll say about driving someplace using a certain route. It's like they don't want to admit even to themselves that they've wasted thousands of hours and gallons of gas. 
gas cap and door '98 Toyota Camry
The gas cap and door '98 Toyota Camry.

I probably do this about some things but I try not to. Still, it's humbling to find out that I've been wrong about so many things, even though I'm good now at admitting it when I am. 
I drive a twenty-year old car, my late mother's. I'd driven it off and on when visiting or housesitting for my aging parents since they got it, and I've been driving it all the time since they both died eight years ago. It wasn't until two years ago that I realized that the little door that leads to the gas cap has a sort of slot you can put the cap in while filling the car. 
How many times have you seen a gas cap on the ground at a filling station, or driven off with your own on the trunk, which it slides off of and is lost forever? Probably never, if you're young. But if you're my age, sixty, you've seen that happen at least a few times.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

John C. Bogle

Unless you're a well-to-do type or follow financial things, you may not know who John C. Bogle was. He was the founder of Vanguard, the mutual fund investment company that's has $4.9 trillion in assets under management. He died today in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, at age 89.
I knew his son, John Jr., in high school, a small all-boys school in suburban Philadelphia. My family wasn't poor but we weren't rich either. My mother went back to work as soon as I was in grade school, in the mid-1960s, and all but a few of our cars were bought used until she began making real money as a real estate agent in the mid-1970s. My two brothers and I did, however, go to good schools and unlike (and thanks to) my parents we all went to college.
John C. Bogle
John C. Bogle in an undated photo.

While in high school I didn't really know who was rich and who wasn't. Part of this was because I had few friends in high school and the ones I had I saw only in school. I would not have known that John Bogle Jr.'s family had money if I hadn't read about his car being stolen the summer after his junior year in a local newspaper. The car was a Porsche. This was odd because his father was known for being frugal, despite having such a successful company. 
The best story I ever heard about John Sr. is maybe the best story that has anything to do with money I've ever heard about anyone:
About twenty years ago, Bogle and another successful friend were at a birthday party a man in the same field was throwing for himself. It was one of those parties you read about for its lavishness. Professional A-list entertainment, the best food and drink, fireworks, bold faced names among the horde of guests.
Bogle's friend said to him, "Wow! This guy really has it all, doesn't he?"
Bogle said, "Maybe, but he doesn't have one thing I do."
"What's that?" said the friend.
Bogle: "Enough."

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Intimate moments

They know when I'm full of shit. They know when I have to urinate. They even know when I wouldn't mind farting. And then they see my crotch.

They are the technicians administering the daily radiation to my prostate gland, a process which should kill it and the cancer in it. Before they do it, I lie on a mold made of my pelvic area and they line up the three tiny tattoos I had for this with laser beams. Then they go in and do a low-dose MRI to target the prostate gland accurately. That's when they see all the inside stuff. 
It's a little weird, but they are professional about it and when they do much of this they're behind glass and the jokes they make about me, if any, go unheard by me.