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December 5th, 2019

Memo To The Kook Pews

Listen to me all you god created everyone as either male or female jackasses: Nature does what it damn well pleases. And if that’s too secular for you, fine. Here’s something god created.

And there’s lots more where this lovely little thing came from. Deal with it.


Posted In: Life Thumping My Pulpit
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by Bruce | Link | React!

The Other Side Of The Door Is A Place Called Freedom

“It felt like a dirty little secret, it felt like I had chains wrapped around me, I couldn’t be who I was, I felt alone and trapped. Just telling one person made me feel so much better, just that one person took a weight off my shoulder. I told Sophie my best friend first as I knew she’d be really accepting of it. She’s been so supportive and there for me. Now that everyone knows, I have nothing to hide, those chains that I felt wrapped around me are gone and I can carry on with my life as normal and be happy. I felt like there was something wrong with me, I didn’t know other people out there felt that way, I felt so alone, so locked away and couldn’t say anything. Tell one person. Tell your story, how you feel. Everything is all pretty new so I don’t see any point in putting a label on it – gay, bi, straight, any of those kind of labels. All that I feel happy about at the moment is that I’m dating a guy and couldn’t be happier, it shouldn’t matter who I’m dating and I hope people can be happy for me.”

-British Olympic diver Tom Daley.

What makes me sad reading this: it was 2013 when he told the world this during an interview. I could see reading this as a message in a bottle from someone back in 1971 when I came out to myself. But…2013. Why was this still happening to young people in love in 2013?
 
Why is it still happening? To any of us in love?
 
 


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | React!
December 4th, 2019

Dear Apple…Please Stop…

I’m listening to The Warsaw Concerto on the iPhone. It’s lovely Rachmaninoff-esq music (it was actually composed for a movie whose director initially wanted to use Rachmaninoff’s second piano concerto but the copyright holder wouldn’t allow it. So he hired composer Richard Addinsell, to do something in the style of Rachmaninoff. The movie isn’t well known, but the piece by Addinsell is now a part of the classical music canon.

Anyway…it’s the sort of lovely beautiful, evocative romantic music I get in the mood for sometimes. Like the other night…and I’m doing the dishes and I’m zoning out to the music and occasionally swiping back to the beginning of the piece and listening to it again (it’s not really a full blown concerto, it just calls itself that…) and then the iPhone makes a sound and I look at the screen and there’s a popup window. I don’t have my reading glasses on and all I can make out are the words…

Your First Love…

Well all sorts of things went through my head and I scrambled around to find my reading glasses and by the time I got them on the popup had vanished. I looked in the notifications center. Nothing. I checked my mailbox. I checked my Facebook app. I checked my Twitter app. I checked every app I could think of that might give me a notification. I couldn’t find it. It began to feel like some existential message from a digital Twilight Zone about how completely I’ve failed in love.

Hello Bruce, here’s a message from Your First Love! Whoops…not quick enough. Now it’s gone. Vanished into the mists of digital infinity. Now you’ll never know what it was. Still the same dweeb you were as a teenage boy aren’t you? Now here’s your daily reminder to fill out your timesheet!

Before going down to the art room bar to pour myself a drink I decided, just on the off chance that it was some weird new iPhone Apple thing, to google “ios your first love”. Jackpot. It’s the damn music app. I must have touched the heart icon whilst rewinding the music I was playing.

That wasn’t nice Apple. #singleoldgaymaleproblems


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | React!
December 3rd, 2019

Knowledge Or Certainty…Pick One.

An antidote to Franklin Graham’s recent scolding of Jimmy Carter on the biblical truth of homosexuality and sin: Fred Clark on reading the Bible as if it were a children’s book:

To me, stories like this are a reminder that our Bible is an ancient book. If the past is a different country, then the ancient world is a different planet. The ancient stories of our Bible can be inscrutable, impenetrable, and bewildering. An important part of our task as modern readers, then, is to admit and accept that we are bewildered.

We don’t like to do that. We like to pretend that the Bible is as simple, tidy, “perspicuous,” and self-evidently clear in its meaning as our own Arch Books adaptations of it. It becomes merely a collection of stories like that children’s-book version of the story of Josiah — an anthology of facile fables with simple “morals” that no one would ever regard as unsettling or disturbing in any way.

Why would an atheist like myself even care what is or is not true about the bible…I hear you asking? Because in these days of white fundamentalist supremacy and triumphalism it is especially worth keeping in mind, and speaking out about whenever the Franklin Graham’s of the world insist that their interpretation is the only true one. To just sweep it all aside with a shrug about well that’s just religion is to concede not only the validity of the fundamentalist’s own reading as at least a legitimate take on it, but more critically, it is to dismiss the importance of something Jacob Bronowski once said about the importance of knowledge over certainty:

One aim of the physical sciences has been to give an exact picture of the material world. One achievement of physics in the twentieth century has been to prove that that aim is unattainable. There is no absolute knowledge and those who claim it, whether they are scientist or dogmatist, open the door to tragedy. All knowledge, all information is imperfect. We have to treat it with humility.

Always and in every important human endeavor we must ask ourselves over and over, what do we know and how to we know it. And we need to treat the answers nature reveals to us with humility. For the absolute perfect god’s eye view of the universe is not ours to have. Science tells us this, but it is also something to bear in mind while reading Any ancient text, even or especially, those that aspire to religious teachings we are being asked to consider as moral guidance. The lessons the ancients may have had in mind may be completely inscrutable to us in the 21st century. We only think we know what they’re saying to us. Their lives and their times are far, far removed from our own. We need to treat their text with the same humility that we do any result nature provides from any science experiment. And this is important: that does not mean we can never know anything, only that what we know exists within an area of uncertainty that is always present. We are not gods, we are human. We must be careful. We have to keep asking questions and acknowledge where we are unsure.

For obvious reasons the fundamentalist does not want us to be careful, let alone ask questions, let alone to know that we do not know or that our knowledge is incomplete. We must simply believe what they tell us, and do what we’re told. But believer or not. Whether or not we accept the religious belief system in question there is still the question of fact as to what the bible says, and the context from which it is saying it. You cannot just sweep that aside with an instruction to just believe from the pulpit, or a dismissive shrug, without discarding your human identity along with it. And this is the struggle…between knowledge that is something we receive and knowledge that is something we discover. Between those who would make us mere empty vessels for their filling, keeping us locked forever in trusting and obedient childhood that is actually servitude, and the childlike hearts and minds within us that are curious, willing to discover and learn and grow.


Posted In: Life

by Bruce | Link | React!
November 27th, 2019

Howard Cruse Has Passed The Torch…Pick It Up…Carry On…

Last September I posted a link to the most recent episode of A Coming Out Story, that I’d managed to get out while vacationing at Walt Disney World. It’s part of a story arc I’m interleaving with the point in the story where I finally, Finally, come out to myself. The last frame has a shout-out to Howard Cruse in it…something I’d remembered from a one off cartoon he did for The Village Voice titled “Sometimes I get so mad…” It’s about all the static gay folk get from all directions in American culture and how that makes you blow your stack from time to time. You just want to live your life and people who don’t know you from Adam feel free to harass you and it takes its toll. At the end of it is a young Howard, sensing his emerging sexuality, trying desperately to find some facts about homosexuality, nervously looking through the pages of a paperback titled “A Pocket Guide To Loathsome Diseases” by one Doctor Pompous J. Fraudquack, and thinking maybe he’d finally get some facts there.

I knew the feeling all too well, even though I was nine years younger and in 1971 coming out to myself in a theoretically post Stonewall world. It would be decades before the effects of Stonewall and the first ever Pride march a year later would make themselves felt much beyond the confines of the big urban gay zones. For years after I came out to myself, everything I knew about homosexuality and what it was to be homosexual were things I’d been taught by the heterosexual majority. A lot of it was hostile and damaging to a gay teen’s self image. It wouldn’t be until the advent of the personal computer and those first amature computer bulletin boards that we didn’t have to see ourselves through heterosexual eyes anymore and liberation came to the suburbs and the rural zones.

The main theme of A Coming Out Story isn’t so much about what happened to me back then, or the guy I was crushing on at the time, and what happened to us both, but the context in which it happened. I’m trying to tell it in a humorous way, because looking back on it there is a lot there that I can laugh about, thankfully, with an older man’s perspective. But it wasn’t funny then while it was happening to me, and if I’m trying to say anything with this story it’s that the world needs to give sexual minority kids a break. It’s difficult enough at that age to navigate your way through the dating thing with all those emerging hormones percolating through your body. Being the outliers in that dance is harder still. Beating up on the gay kids, damaging their ability to love and accept love from another, only serves the hate filled worst among us…all the little Dr. Fraudquacks who taught us to hate ourselves, or at minimum, distrust our hearts, believe ourselves to be damaged goods, unworthy, never to be loved. It snowballs, all the love that could have been given, and now will never be, on and on and on. And so the world gets smaller, and angrier, and darker. That is what the Dr. Fraudquacks are doing to all of us.

I posted a link to the episode when I finished it and got it out on my website. Then in a comment, I gave Howard a shout-out, as to say Thank You…I remember this little one off you did and it spoke to me and I just want you to know you made a difference. Over the years I’d told him this often. But you can’t thank people like him enough. Trying to make a living at art is a hard, hard path. Doubly so if you dare to be an out and proud gay cartoonist. He never got the commercial success and respect he deserved and I’m convinced that was why, because as a storyteller and draftsman he had very few peers. Seriously…look at his lines. They’re perfect. Every one. Compare his draftsmanship to Any commercial cartoonist you like. The polish he put into everything he did, no matter how small or trivial, is intense.

He was at the top of the art form. And as a storyteller he was among the best. There’s his magnum opus, Stuck Rubber Baby, of course. But look at some of the amazing work he did in Gay Comix. Billy Goes Out for instance. At its surface it’s the story of a young gay man hitting the backrooms for some quick anonymous sex. But look deeper and there’s a heartbreaking story of love found, and lost to hate, and the struggle to go on with life, somehow, after the worst has happened. There’s one panel in it that is I think quintessential Howard Cruse in its surreality while looking life’s bad moments right in the eye and not flinching. Earlier on in the story we’ve seen one of Billy’s older relatives instructing him to keep the gay thing in the closet for the sake of his career, and in another panel telling him off handedly that homosexual love was just mutual masturbation. Billy explodes on him while his boyfriend Brad tries to calm him down. Who are You to tell us how we feel!  Then toward the end of the story we find ourselves looking down on that older relative’s grave site from above, the coffin in the ground being shovelled over by a graveyard worker. But the coffin is open and the relative is looking back up at us as his grave is being filled in, saying that his married life was horrible and he hated every moment of it but at least he has someone to cry over his grave. And, one supposes, he knows Billy won’t. Because homosexual love is just mutual masturbation, and his marriage however much he hated it, was more real than Billy’s love for Brad. The scene creeps you out. Howard gave the chillingly heartless mindset of the bigot its perfect representation in that one single amazingly and meticulously drawn panel.  

So when I posted a link to my newest ACOS episode I waved at Howard, because his example is a big part of why I keep working on it. And as he always did, because he had a big heart, he waved back, and encouraged me to keep at it, that I was making a difference too, just by putting my story out there. You get encouragement from one of your heroes and it really lifts you up.

And now I am more determined than ever. I’m going to miss him. But looking through the tributes he’s getting from the community…cartoonists, activists, family and friends…it does my heart good to know he Was successful at the most important thing of all. By coming out and telling his stories, he made a difference, a real substantial difference, in people’s lives. He was loved. He touched so many lives. And he showed us that we could make a difference too…all of us…whether by art or activism or however…by being our authentic selves, and telling our stories. That is how you defeat hate.


Posted In: Art Life
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by Bruce | Link | React!
November 14th, 2019

Fascists: Even Crazier Than You Thought

Wow…this is just stunning. I was following this post by Fred Clark on his Pathos “Slacktivist” blog…

Erik Loomis visited the American grave of Wernher von Braun, thereby sending me down a Google hole…

And Fred’s post eventually sent me down into Nietzsche’s Abyss.

Fred’s post was Wernher von Braun and his alleged conversion to Christianity, American style. In it Fred notes a passage where von Braun seems to be a supporter of creationism, which has made him a recent favorite of the creationist kook pews. I commented that the fascists of the period had really strange and screwy ideas about nature and physics and noted something I’d read about Himmler and his proposed academy that would teach that the stars are made of ice, which suggested to me that he was a believer in an earth centric universe.

Then another commenter linked me to this Wikipedia article. Wow. It was even crazier than that…

Welteislehre (WEL; “World Ice Theory” or “World Ice Doctrine”), also known as Glazial-Kosmogonie (Glacial Cosmogony), is a discredited cosmological concept proposed by Hanns Hörbiger, an Austrian engineer and inventor.

Hörbiger did not arrive at his ideas through research, but said that he had received it in a “vision” in 1894. According to his ideas, ice was the basic substance of all cosmic processes, and ice moons, ice planets, and the “global ether” (also made of ice) had determined the entire development of the universe.

Oh lord have mercy…

By his own account, Hörbiger was observing the Moon when he was struck by the notion that the brightness and roughness of its surface was due to ice.

Sounds logical…

Shortly after, he experienced a dream in which he was floating in space watching the swinging of a pendulum which grew longer and longer until it broke. “I knew that Newton had been wrong and that the sun’s gravitational pull ceases to exist at three times the distance of Neptune,” he concluded.

Being an efficiently well organized and hardworking German doesn’t automatically mean you are right in the head. But then the entire 1930s is proof of that.

According to the idea, the solar system had its origin in a gigantic star into which a smaller, dead, waterlogged star fell. 

A smaller, dead, waterlogged star. A smaller, dead, waterlogged star. A smaller, dead, waterlogged star. Reading this Wikipedia article makes me want to put a fork in my brain. Apparently the Fascists, including Hitler and Himmler, embraced this intellectual lobotomy because it stood against Jewish influences in science and astronomy. Not to mention everything humanity had accomplished since our line began walking upright. And how did Hanns take criticism of his master work? Pretty much as you would expect…

Hörbiger had various responses to the criticism that he received. If it was pointed out to him that his assertions did not work mathematically, he responded: “Calculation can only lead you astray.” If it was pointed out that there existed photographic evidence that the Milky Way was composed of millions of stars, he responded that the pictures had been faked by “reactionary” astronomers. He responded in a similar way when it was pointed out that the surface temperature of the Moon had been measured in excess of 100 °C in the daytime, writing to rocket expert Willy Ley: “Either you believe in me and learn, or you will be treated as the enemy.”

Calculation can only lead you astray. Yes. Quite. Bronowski was spot on when he said (paraphrasing), When we discard the test of fact in what a star is, we discard it in what a human is. But that is exactly what the fascist mindset demands. It wasn’t so much the Jewish influence in the sciences that the Nazi’s wanted to erase but the human identity, and not just in the sciences but throughout German culture. So they wouldn’t have to see anymore the empty void they’d made of their own souls staring back at them every morning in the bathroom mirror.

The fascists threatening civilization today are much the same as the ones our grandparents faced back then. Same mindset. Same bottomless hatred of the human identity, trying desperately to protect the void inside themselves where a person could have been.


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | React!
November 12th, 2019

But It’s Pronounced Throatwobbler Mangrove. . .


Posted In: Life
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The Oddness Of Life After Heart Attack…

It’s an odd frame of mind you find yourself in this modern world, after having a medical event that would have killed you in any other day and age, knowing as you walk through your day that you have pieces of metal in your beating heart, and yet you’re still alive.


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November 4th, 2019

I Am Being Polite You Mentally Ill Abomination…

Le Dance Pathetique…as choreographed by Virginia Human Rights Commissioner Kenick El

Un…

This is why we need to stop giving men in dresses passes.

Deux…

I have daughters and I won’t accept them sharing a restroom with a grown man suffering from this mental illness

Trois…

Men trying to be women and women trying to be men is really confusing our children…

Quatre…

…and I’m tired of seeing this nonsense promoted to our children.

Cinq…

Homosexuality is a mental illness and should be treated as such.

Six…

Homosexuality is an abomination to the Human Race and it corrupts the hermetic principle of gender by interfering with the laws of nature just to gratify the lower self.

Sept…

I felt like it was very important for me just to express my views on my page in a very sincere, polite manner.

 

Le Curtain…Applaus a vous…


Posted In: Politics
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October 30th, 2019

The Evil Homosexual Bad Guy Who Must Die To Avenge The Heterosexuality Of The Heroes…part the upteenth…

This post from the Hollywood Trade paper Variety came across my Facebook stream this morning…

‘Stargate’ at 25: How Roland Emmerich’s Sci-Fi Classic Overcame a Chaotic Birth

Where to I send the Condolences On The Birth Of Your Classic Evil Gay Who Must Die movie? I know lots of people like this one, I can see that fact every time it comes up, but it really stuns me how nobody notices the homophobia in the portrayal of the evil gender bending alien villain played by Jaye Davidson, just after his role in The Crying Game.

There’s a scene I particularly remember, where the Wimpy Nerd Who Needs To Learn How To Be A Real Man played by James Spader is ushered into the presence of Ra, who is seated on his glamorous bed behind a silken screen being attended to by his muscular nearly naked servants and young nearly naked boys. We see Ra behind the silken curtain slowly combing his long luxurious hair. Tell me this wasn’t meant to push the buttons of every teenage/young adult heterosexual male in the target audience. You know…the age group most responsible for violent gay bashings. Ra’s a godamned queer!! Ra must be destroyed!!!! Pass the popcorn…

I suppose it gets easier after you’ve made your first box office million or so injecting this poison into young males, to ignore the newspaper articles about violent gay bashings and murders. Vito Russo would have had a field day with this movie. God how I miss him.


Posted In: Thumping My Pulpit
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by Bruce | Link | React!

Throwback Thursday Only Wednesday

Facebook tossed this memory back at me earlier today…

This is the winter of 1971. I’m 17. The artist at work. 

I love this one, unruly hair, oversized canvas jacket that I thought was oh so stylish, and mismatched shirt collar though it is. It was taken by a friend with my camera for possible inclusion into the yearbook. In my senior year I was staff cartoonist for the student newspaper (The Advocate…really) and was also made staff photographer after the previous one had a tiff with the editors and quit. What I like about this shot is my friend actually managed a snap when, for an instant, I got into the drawing I was working on and was actually concentrating on it there for a moment. It’s not often I get to see my concentration face.

I’m posing at one of the art room desks, not pretending to draw but actually drawing one of my newspaper cartoons. Even though the shot had to be posed I insisted I would be working on something for real, not faking it. That has always been my photographic style. In this shot you can’t see my hand with the pen in it, but that’s the drawing on the board and paper in front of me. The tackle box also in front of me is typical. The artist’s tool boxes they sold in art stores were Expensive and I noticed they looked a lot like the tackle boxes they sold in the sporting goods section of most department stores, which were a lot cheaper. To this day I have a tackle box full of drawing stuff on my drafting table.

And this by the way is why to this day I draw on a horizontal surface and not with the drafting table top tilted at an angle like I see a lot of other artists do. All my grade school art rooms had tables like these and I just got used to drawing that way. And see the board I have the paper on. I still cut Masonite boards to use for drawing and tape the paper on them. Then I have the paper on a nice smooth solid surface I can turn this way and that while I’m working on it and even tilt if I really need to.


Posted In: Life Woodward
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October 24th, 2019

Dear Night Brain…

Dear night brain… I really do appreciate the vivid dream I had just now, of being back in the apartment with mom when I was a teenage boy and she overhears me thinking out loud about the guy I was crushing on in school and tells me it’s okay and she understands how it is to be seventeen and falling in love because she’d been there too. But these vivid dreams about mom are disturbing. Please stop. I miss her a lot. But she died almost two decades ago after the stent they put in her slipped.

Sigh. It wasn’t until just a couple months before she died she finally accepted it, and wished me the happiness I needed, if not the one she would have liked. I wish we could have talked more. She would have liked any one of the three I crushed madly on. I could have brought them all home to her in a better world. Mom…this is my boyfriend… They’d have got along great. But that didn’t happen. I couldn’t tell her anything back then. She knew, but didn’t want me to say it. I have her diaries. She agonized over it. Two months before she died she told me it was okay.

It took a lot for her to get there. We both missed so much because of the homophobia of her religion and upbringing. I’m sure that’s what these dreams are about. I suppose deep down inside all this will never be settled. That was a very nice dream but I wish they would stop.


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Dear Night Brain…
October 18th, 2019

My Little Heart Attack Diary

As they were wheeling me into the elevator to take me to the room where they put the heart stents in, the doctor told me I looked very calm for someone who’d just been told they’re having a heart attack. But until the moment I got the diagnosis I was full of all kinds of dire imaginings over what was happening. It just didn’t feel like I was told a heart attack was supposed to feel. It felt more like a massive heartburn, or damage to my throat because of all the wheezing and coughing I did after the flu I’d just had, or worse…damage from throat cancer maybe, from the cigars I like to smoke. But now I knew…I was having a heart attack. It wasn’t the fearful unknown anymore. And I was in the ER, surrounded by one of the best hospitals to be having a heart attack in on the east coast. I felt myself to be in good hands. And I was.

It sorta started on my Walt Disney World vacation last month. I’d taken two weeks this time because it was a milestone birthday. I would be old enough now to draw full Social Security benefits if I wanted to. Which I didn’t…my plan is to keep working at Space Telescope at least through launch of James Webb. If I can keep working until age 70 I’ll have a very good retirement package, and since my job isn’t very physical I reckoned that was possible. But in the second week of it I came down with a flu. After that I started feeling my age more than I’d expected. I had a really bad cough for weeks afterward, and I was fatigued beyond anything I had known before. In retrospect, that fatigue was probably a symptom of what was to come.

Back home, I checked in twice to a local walk-in clinic for the cough, which just wasn’t going away. They diagnosed me as having bronchitis, which so I’m told is basically you have a cough. They gave me some meds which took care of the cough, but then I started feeling heartburn, every night, in the middle of the night.

It would wake me up, and I would sit it out. At first it all seemed pretty routine. Sometimes I’d take a Tums for it, and it would go away. Daytimes I felt fine. But at night the heartburn kept coming back. And it was getting worse. I began to worry there was damage to my throat from all the coughing I’d done. Then I began to worry about something else. I am an occasional cigar smoker. And by “occasional” I mean I can go for months without smoking one, or I can get on a jag about it…usually because of some life stress…and smoke one every day for a while, usually at night after dinner. First week of my Walt Disney World vacation I was smoking them every night a the Sosa Cigar Company in Disney Springs. They have a nice little cigar lounge were you can smoke a nice one and watch the people go by. But while cigars aren’t likely to give you lung cancer (you don’t inhale the smoke), they can give you cancer of the esophagus. They also stress the heart and blood vessels, but I was more worried now about cancer.

For several days the night heartburn just kept getting worse and worse. Daytime was fine…except now I was getting severely out of breath walking to and from work. I figured it was an after effect of the bronchitis. Maybe I’d damaged my lungs in some way. Maybe the cigars Had given me a lung cancer. One of my coworkers recently died of it. Suddenly. She was a pretty heavy cigarette smoker, but I was stunned at how fast it took her from us. I’d run into her on The Avenue just the previous week and she looked fine. Then she was gone. I was starting to get a bit scared, but not of my heart. The stabbing chest pains I’d been told to expect in every Hollywood movie or TV show when somebody had a heart attack weren’t happening. It just felt like heartburn. Really really bad heartburn, and slightly above my heart, and just below my throat, in the center of my chest. But there was another factor, that caused me not to rule out the heart attack entirely: When the pain came on, I got noticeably numb at the tips of my fingers. In retrospect I should have paid closer attention to that.

Last Monday morning, in the wee hours. It woke me up again and it was really bad. I think I might have snarfed down half a bottle of Tums. It came and went…something else I didn’t think a heart attack did. When it was gone I felt fine. Great even. Then it would come on me again, a bit worse than before. What I failed to fully appreciate then was there is a stage before the actual heart attack comes on, when the blockage in one or more blood vessels is starting to cut off the flow of blood in a significant way and a patch of your heart stops getting enough blood. That’s when you need to take action to prevent the damage from happening. But I was 4/5ths certain it was damage to my throat I was feeling.

By the time morning came, I’d decided I needed to go to the ER to get it looked at. The pain was getting scary. I figured I’d get a ride to Union Memorial, which is nearby, in my network, and one of the best. I was trying to avoid the ambulance ride because of the possible expense. It’s the abysmal way we have healthcare set up in this country. Is the provider “in network” or not? How can I tell? It’s not like they wear their insurance company credentials on their lab coats or the ambulance doors like race cars wear their advertisers. I was sitting down composing an email to my coworkers and manager, telling them I was taking a sick day, when the pain came back pretty forcefully. It was now officially scary enough that I called 911.

When the EMT truck came the pain had gone away again. The EMTs gave me an EKG and saw nothing. But I’d told them about the numbness and they strongly suggested I go to the hospital. I agreed…I was going there anyway…and they strapped me in and away we went, sans lights since this didn’t seem to be an emergency.

By the time they wheeled me into the ER the pain was coming back. The ER techs took another EKG. The doctor sent back a request for another, but by then the pain had gone away way. He asked for a third and the pain was back. He came into the room and told me I was having a heart attack. Not had…having. And that I was going right away to get it taken care of. Stents, not a bypass, though I wouldn’t have been surprised about a bypass: two of my high school classmates have already had major bypass surgery. 

But for me it was the stents. Union Memorial is state of the art…I was to get them inserted through a major artery in my right arm, not the groin. The procedure was completely painless. I was laid out on a table, drugged up, oxygenated, my right arm strapped to a board flat and straight out, some sort of device hovering over me that I assume was a scanner that could see into my chest. It moved about here and there over me like a curious large bird, while the doctor and the technicians and nurses chatted. Occasionally they’d call out numbers which might have been related to the position of the device they were moving up my artery, or heart and blood data points. I felt very calm. That might have been the sedatives. And curious. But I played rag doll the entire time so they could do their jobs. It was over in just a few minutes. Or seemed to be anyway…that might also have been the sedatives. The chest pain was gone.

They moved me to the Cardio Unit, and kept me overnight for observation. Two stents had been put in, and a third was staged for insert, but determined to be unnecessary. I was wired up to an EKG machine and an automatic blood pressure tester. Eventually they hooked the wires up to a portable EKG device that talked wirelessly to the big one in my room, so I could take short walks around the unit, so they could see how my heart behaved. The next morning they gave my heart a sonogram. It was…interesting…to see it beating there on the screen. Sixty-six years and a few weeks it’s been beating without stop. It’s the one muscle in the body that never rests. Now mine had damage, because I’d let the chest pain go and tried to tough it out and maybe it’ll go away and it wasn’t what I thought it was. It was my heart telling me to take action.

But I was unreasonably, fantastically lucky all the same. I’d had the actual heart attack in the hospital, where I was surrounded by a first rate cardio care facility. Within minutes I’d had the blockage causing the attack cleared. When the head cardiologist talked to me before I was discharged, he was almost bubbling over with satisfaction at how little actual damage to my heart there was, because they were able to get me into care so quickly. He had a small group of intern trainees there with him, and I was his case study for them, probing me with his stethoscope, telling them here’s where you look for this sort of damage…but he doesn’t have it…and here’s where you look for this other sort of damage…but he doesn’t have it…

But I have damage. It’s the minimum amount of possible damage that could have happened, given the sort of heart attack I had. But now my heart has damage. I have heart disease. Now I have to deal with that fact.

But here’s one amazing thing about all of this. I have better blood flow now, because the blockage is gone. The fatigue is gone. Mostly. I’m feeling the after effects of the heart attack and that’s to be expected. For the next several weeks I will be on strict orders to take it easy. I won’t be allowed to walk to work like I normally do, possibly for months. No road trips for months probably, although I’ll be able to drive locally, and in fact driving is what they would prefer I do. I will have to be careful and not stress my body and heart. But I can see that if I follow doctor’s orders and get into a regular exercise routine I will end up feeling Much more energetic than before I had the heart attack. Much more. This is wonderful! And I think, one reason why so many people don’t follow instructions and stick to the plan after a heart attack. You have better blood flow, and the effect of it is really Really noticable. Hey…I’m feeling great…and that eggs Benedict is looking so very nice… But energy is the least amazing part of what I am now experiencing.

I haven’t had this level of mental alertness since I was a young man. It’s hard to describe it, and I never really noticed much how fuzzy the world around me was getting because it happened so gradually. When I did notice I just put it down to getting old. But when I take my brief morning walks around my block now, and moving about inside Casa del Garrett, the world around me just seems so much more…there…than before the heart attack. It’s a really striking difference. Like the difference between watching something on an old analog TV set and a new 4k digital. Really. Seriously. It is like that.

I Never want that to go away again if I can help it. Plus…I got lucky. Unreasonably, fantastically lucky, having the attack in the hospital where I could get immediate and high quality care. It would be churlish, disrespectful, not just tempting of fate, but laughing in its face, to just go on as before. It’s hilarious, but while I was waiting at the drugstore for my meds, the in house music system was playing Second Chance by 38 Special…

This heart needs a second chance…

Okay…I get the message. Really. I take pride in my common sense. 

One other thing. I was hearing that song in that drugstore because a coworker graciously picked me up from the hospital and took me straight to the drugstore to get my meds, and then to home. She also organized an email chain at work to get a group of my coworkers together to help me out with groceries and moving things while I was confined to quarters during recovery. That, and all the expressions of care and support I got this week from family and friends, online and off, really touched me deeply. I have never felt so loved.

 


Posted In: Life
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by Bruce | Link | React! (1)
October 2nd, 2019

Killing Your Customer’s Trust, One Improvement At A Time

For decades…ever since I was a teenage boy…Kodak HC-110 has been my developer of choice for black & white film. I have used it to excellent results on Kodak films, and Fuji Neopan, and Agfa and Rollie films. I’ve used it for so long I know it instinctively.

No more. I’ve just been informed on one of the photography groups I follow, that Kodak is selling a “new and improved” formulation of HC-110. The big difference? They omit a step to remove water from the concentrate. This effectively nullifies one of the big advantages of that particular developer: the concentrate had an insane longevity so long as you didn’t open the bottle. Otherwise it is the same formula. You get the same developer you always did when you dilute the concentrate to working solutions.

They’re saying they did it out of “environmental concerns”. However, they’re still selling the original concentrate in Europe. So you have to suppose the environment in question was Wall Street, yet again. Dig it…Kodak degraded the longevity of a product that’s been favored by many photographers for generations, to move more product. And there goes my trust.

I’m still not feeling well, but I just now took an emergency walk over to Service Photo hoping to snatch up the last of the old concentrate, but Kodak beat me too it. The shelf there is full of the new, where before they only stocked one or two bottles at a time of the original. So I guess I’m done with it. I don’t care that it’s the same thing going into the tank. I care that Kodak doesn’t care about the quality of its products anymore if higher quality means fewer sales. Trust is gone, and with it my business.

I still have two bottles of the original concentrate left. Kodak ticked me off a few years ago when they started selling it only by the liter instead of the pint, which meant I ended up wasting a lot of it. I don’t want to risk separating the liter bottle into smaller ones because once you open that bottle it starts absorbing moisture from the air and that’s what kills its longevity. Water activates HC-110 concentrate. Stick an exposed piece of film into the concentrate and nothing happens. It needs water. But once it gets it in any amount the clock starts ticking. Well…ticking faster. Much faster.

Watching to see what the other photographers head to as substitutes.


Posted In: Photography
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Killing Your Customer’s Trust, One Improvement At A Time
September 29th, 2019

Who?

A comic book series I’m currently following, titled Second Coming is a comic take on both Christianity and Super Heroes. Jesus is sent back to earth to be mentored by a Superman clone, Sunstar, because God doesn’t think he’s manly enough. There’s a line of dialogue in issue 3 that really speaks to an issue I had with Christianity before I walked away from religion altogether. The scene is Jesus is confronted by a group of homophobes in front of an LGBTQ bar…

Phobe: I have to say I don’t think God is very happy with the choices you’re making.

Jesus: He never is.

Phobe: Were you to die now, you would go to Hell, where demons would stab your eyes out with forks, roast you over an open flame ns, I don’t know, feed you to goats or something. The scriptures are a little unclear…

As Paul says in First Corinthians…

Jesus: Who?

Phobe: The Apostle Paul.

Jesus: What?! I don’t know any Paul.

Phobe: Paul, the guy who wrote half the New Testament!

He spent his life spreading the word of Jesus Christ.

Jesus: I asked James to spread my word. I asked Peter to spread my word. I never even asked Paul to spread the jelly!

I laughed for hours after reading that. There’s an old joke about how Protestantism represents the ascendancy of Paul over Peter, and Evangelical Protestantism represents the ascendancy of Paul over Christ…


Posted In: Gently Tapping My Pulpit
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by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Who?
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This page and all original content copyright © 2015 by Bruce Garrett. All rights reserved. Send questions, comments and hysterical outbursts to: bruce@brucegarrett.com

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