Humanity, in spite of ourselves

Needed to change my flight in order to recover from Irene before coping with a transcontinental dose of high-altitude radiation, cramping & low-grade hypoxia. On the advice of my lovely travel agent at Pacific Harbor Travel, I called JetBlue directly: hi, I’m disabled, I have to change my flight due to Irene.

Unfortunately I missed their Irene fee waiver by one day. Okay, distasteful but I can respect their limit.

Seating was a problem. The staffer was very sweet and very insistent about having no window seats … but on a later flight, there is one on the aisle.

After being straight-faced and literal about my limitations, then hearing her say “aisle seat” with a straight face, I sorta gave up. I confessed, “I would rather be BEATEN with a CATTLE PROD than sit in an aisle seat.”

I didn’t shout, I really didn’t. But I know there was a certain amount of top-spin on the words, because the person in front of me on the bus flinched.

Things changed. I won’t use her words because they were ignorant and would sound too harsh without the audible melting that happened, but she found me exactly the seat I’d have ordered if I had the whole cattlecar to choose from.

I hate bitching about this condition and I don’t like to be so explicit about what it does to me, but sometimes that’s what it takes. So this evening I’ll raise a glass (or mug) to, “Humanity — in spite of ourselves.”

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L.O.B.E.: Lung-Opening Buoyancy Exercise

I floated in the hot springs, like a wallowing marshmallow: inhale to come up, exhale to go down and sink beneath the surface. Lift chin, inhaling through fish lips to lift myself up, wobbling; exhale, slowly descend… to one side.

It had been a few years since I had done this, but something wasn’t right. I was rocking like a drunk.

Inhale, slopping over to the left; inhale further, watch my middle rise, then my belly. Exhale, and sink piecemeal, in chunks.

This was just weird.

I got up, reached for the brains I had left by the side of the pool, and dumped them back into my head.

Now lie back… breathe… whoa, definitely off-balance. Flopping over onto my left side, I grabbed the side of the pool as realization struck.

I was only using my lungs one lobe at a time.

Yeah, weird. I didn’t know it was possible.

Some of you know that the right bronchus is supposed to be more accessible, but it was the left lower lobe that inflated first. The right side inflated second, middle then bottom. Before the left upper lobe. My right upper lobe had simply forgotten how to expand, and took some prodding.

Inhale, slop, wobble; exhale, stagger, bump. The water let me know exactly how well — or not — I was doing.

It was a busy morning, relearning how to use my lungs, rocking like a sea serpent surfing for prey. I spent as little time as possible reflecting on how a once-athletic health nut who liked to meditate, could forget how to breathe.

In a hectic and pun-lathered conversation this afternoon, we decided that “lobing” was a good word to describe working on those skills you really should’ve mastered long ago, preferably with a built-in indicator that not even the terminally clueless could miss.

I’ll spare you the wordplay, except that I’m a little worried about the Loberlords.

Next, I’ll try to go for a walk… but that’s far more complicated.

Maybe I’ll just sit here and breathe.

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Fair Share Challenge: what taxes do for me

This budget horror-show has given us a lot to think about. The role of taxes in our country is probably the biggest, sorest issue of them all right now.
“Why should we pay taxes? That money is ours – we earned it!”I heard this from a member of the armed services who’s quite intelligent.   
Out of respect and consideration for my impassioned, but perhaps distracted, old friend, I wanted to find a non-partisan, preferably non-political way to discuss the point of taxation. So let’s simply see how that money gets used in real life.
Everything in bold-face type is heavily subsidized or completely funded by government money – local or federal, for better or worse. Do any of these tax-funded things affect you?
I take pain medicine which was funded by government grants to develop. My treatment was developed by government grantees. It keeps me alive and functional, so I can write things like this. Is that a good use of taxpayer dollars (printed at the Mint and monitored at the Federal Reserve)?
Read on and let’s all decide.
My nephews go to school by bus, when their mother can’t take them. She has just received her teaching credentials, so she will soon be working as a teacher. Their father, my brother, is a Marine. He runs a base where he supervises the training of National Reservists of the Army, Marines, and Air Force.  He recently visited a friend in the VA hospital.  All of his children were born in military hospitals.
Since they all run on a tight schedule, they use their car a lot. It uses gasoline; they used to have one that ran on diesel; the next one may be an electric hybrid. To cover short distances, they use local roads. To cover long distances, they use highways. They’re careful of road crews, and drive sensibly over bridges and through tunnels (I hope.) Me, I mostly use the bus and train.
My brother and his wife pull over to make room for fire trucks, police cars and ambulances. (Many ambulance systems have been privatized; however, they still work on the basis of city or county contracts that are funded by taxes.)
They eat on the healthy side of a normal American diet. With three growing boys in the house, they eat plenty of wheat and corn-based products, such as bread for sandwiches, cereal, pasta, and so on. They’re allowed occasional treats, including candy and soda sweetened with corn or cane sugar.  I bet they get their beef from the grocery store, so you know it was raised on soy and corn, and was probably fed antibiotics.  Those boys are pure dynamite anyway.
My dear old friend David used to work at the library. He still volunteers there. His pension keeps him in a simple but comfortable style of life. He likes to attend church, though most of his real friends are out and about on the city sidewalks.  He keeps in touch with a friend who has been in the mental hospital, and their conversations help her stay on track.
When my Dad died suddenly, I attended support groups at the local Hospice.  I used to be a nurse, working in hospitals and home care.  In the ER we took care of prison inmates when they got hurt. 
I ran out of work at one point and wound up on food stamps and welfare.  I will never forget that they kept me alive until I could find work again.  Since then, I haven’t really minded paying my fair share of taxes.  
During the last election cycle, I saw an angry woman on TV waving a sign that read, “Get your government hands off my Medicare!”  I hope she understands things better now. 
This has given me a lot to think about.  
And, fellow bloggers, here’s an invitation/challenge: how much better can you write on this theme?  How much do you really know about government support for the things you use every single day that make your life do-able?  How does this pertain to your work, paycheck, interests, family – whatever really matters?
I’d love it if you’d share links here and let me know.
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