Thursday, July 24, 2014

It was like pulling teeth, sort of

Except that it wasn’t. That is a poor analogy.

Now it can be told. Not that it couldn’t have been told before, but I simply chose not to share the information.

For nearly two weeks I have been doing battle with a very large kidney stone, or perhaps I should say a very large stone in one of my kidneys. (It’s the stone that was large, not the kidney. I mean, I may have a large kidney, I don’t know, but that is not pertinent to the story.)

Depending on various expert estimates, the stone was 5-6mm, or 8mm, or 10mm. It weren’t goin’ noplace on its own, ducky.

As of this evening, finally, all the pain is gone, due to the fact that I went into the hospital today and the kidney stone is now gone.


Blasted to smithereens.

I did not undergo the perhaps more-familiar Extra-corporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL) , a procedure in which a kidney stone is blasted from without with sound (a sonic wave) in an attempt to break it into smaller, you should excuse the expression, chunks, which can pass more easily through the ureter into the bladder.

I underwent the perhaps less-familiar ureteroscopy.

My ureteroscopy today was not from without. It was most definitely from within. It involved inserting a tube with a laser and a camera into Mr. Peepee in an attempt to touch the stone (with the laser, silly, not with the camera) and dissolve it (the stone, silly, not the laser).

The procedure, I am happy to report, worked. I would have had to wait five more days to get the sonic-blast ESWL because I take low-dose aspirin daily for my heart condition, and a person has be off blood-thinners for a period before ESWL is tried. Then, if that procedure failed (and it does, 15% of the time) , I would still have had to undergo the laser ureteroscopy anyway, which is almost always successful. So I opted for the Less Is More (also known as the Why Prolong The Agony? approach.

I feel normal again.

Not that any of you ever really knew what “normal” might look like in my case. You’ll just have to take my word for it.

There are eight million kidney stone stories in The Naked City.

This has been just one of them.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Full disclosure

My friend Michelle (All Consuming) left a comment on my Neils post that made me think that she thinks that I wrote the poem myself.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

People my age (there are still a few of us around) would recognize “Neils” immediately as the refrain of the song “Smiles” with the word smiles replaced by the word Neils.

“Smiles” was written in 1917 by J. Will Callahan and Lee S. Roberts.

It was recorded by Benny Goodman in 1936. Judy Garland sang it on “Jack Oakie’s College” radio program on April 6, 1937, when she was a teenager, two full years before she uttered the immortal words, “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas any more.”

Here’s proof (2:30) .

I thought it was a pretty clever thing to do on my part, but I don’t want to mislead any young and impressionable readers like All Consuming.

Sunday, July 20, 2014


There are Neils that make us happy
There are Neils that make us blue

There are Neils that steal away the teardrops
Like the sunbeams steal away the dew.

There are Neils that have a tender meaning
That the eyes of love alone can see

(Photo by Andy Roo 2009, CC by 2.0)

But the Neils that fill my life with sunshine
Are the Neils that you gave to me.

To give all semi-famous Neils their moment in the sun, here they are in one place.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The days dwindle down to a precious few

I would like to blog more often, really I would, because I thoroughly enjoy reading your comments. However, this year my rate of posting has dropped off significantly from former years. I really have no explanation for it, other than that the perpetual motion machine that is moi is finally beginning to slow down. Eventually it will come to a stop, and then there will be no more scintillating posts emanating from this address.

In 2012, one of my more prolific years, my output (in terms of blogposts) for the first seven months of the year was:

January 2012 - 24
February 2012 - 18
March 2012 - 16
April 2012 - 20
May 2012 - 17
June 2012 - 17
July 2012 - 15

but 2014 looks like this so far:

January 2014 - 10
February 2014 - 6
March 2014 - 12
April 2014 - 8
May 2014 - 8
June 2014 - 9
July 2014 - 5

so, in anybody’s book, there has been a definite and observable reining-in of rhymeswithplague gray matter.

Perhaps I shall go the way of the dodo bird and the passenger pigeon. If you don’t fancy extinct birds, knock yourself out looking at the pictures in this list of extinct mammals.

[Editor’s note: In the preceding paragraph, the word “perhaps” is not needed. --RWP]

I hope we as a species will be around for a long time yet, but my own individual participation in this great experiment known as Life On Earth has only a few years left, at best.

As the French say, “C’est dommage.” (It’s a pity.)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Early morning, pre-coffee thoughts

Every little movement has a meaning all its own.

Except when it doesn’t.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Except when there isn’t.

Everything will turn out all right in the end.

Except when it won’t.

It’s always darkest just before the dawn.

Except when the day is even darker.

While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease. (Genesis 8:22)

Strangely comforting, yet there is that unsettling subordinate clause at the beginning that clearly implies that should the day ever come when the earth no longer “remaineth,” the rest of the sentence will be inoperative.

Exercise, exercise, watch me do my exercise. Up, down, up, down. One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four.

All right, now the other eye.

Monday, July 14, 2014

douze... treize...quatorze juillet est ici! let me wish you:

Happy Bastille Day!

I was going to post a picture of the Eiffel Tower or the Arc de Triomphe or Notre Dame Cathedral or a portrait of Napoleon Bonaparte or Louis XVI or Robespierre or somebody, but the thought of having to choose just one takes too much effort in this Georgia heat and humidity. I found an interesting crossword puzzle with a Bastille Day theme but it was copyrighted, so ix-nay on at-thay as well.

Nevertheless, whatever you’re doing this quatorze juillet, do it with gusto befitting the day. (Hey, I made a little rhyme!)

Liberté, égalité, fraternité!

And Crêpe Suzette for everybody!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Post-Independence-Day thoughts, 2014 (inspired by thousands of Central American children crossing our southern border into Texas and Arizona)

Many years ago, when speaking to a gathering of the Daughters of the American Revolution, President Franklin D. Roosevelt shocked his audience by beginning his address with the greeting, “Fellow immigrants.”

Daughters of the American Revolution aside, we used to be proud that we were a nation of immigrants, but some Americans today would rather not be reminded. Some Americans would rather lock the doors and never allow another person to enter.

I ask them a question: Who tried to keep your ancestors out?

Nobody, that’s who.

Some people, if they had their way, would rewrite the poem on the base of the Statue of Liberty to read as follows:

The New New Colossus
(with apologies to Emma Lazarus)

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Stopper of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide rejection; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. “Spare me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Do not send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I douse my lamp beside the golden door!”

Emma Lazarus, and my ancestors, and theirs, must be weeping in their graves.

Friday, July 4, 2014

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power. He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

(end of document)

P.S. - Thank you, George III. We could not have done it without you.

P.P.S. - Or Thomas Jefferson.

<b> Mundane is also a word</b>

My blogger friend Rachel Phillips is currently in the midst of a series of posts (three so far) about a trip she took with her friends Liz...