Less Than a Month to the 1-Year Point
I can still hear my chemo doctor saying, "If this type of cancer does come back .. it usually comes back between 1 and 2 years after treatment."
And then she said something like, "But we are not concerned about that, because this is not going to come back on you."
Tho I did not hear the rest of her statement her very well, because I was still thinking about the implications of the first part.
» Is That Another Bulge in My Neck?
Last week I was in the bathroom and the lighting seemed different and I happened to glance at my neck and thought I saw a lump there.
» Not the Expected Reaction
And even tho all my doctors say that I look good [ "You look fantastic." ] I have still been reading a little here-n-there of that book by Bosworth (1877-1958) Christ the Healer (1924).
A page here, a page there. It's very thought-provoking stuff and I cant read very much without stopping to ponder. I usually read until I see somthing new .. which usually doesnt take very long.
I mean, I have a ways to go .. grasping this stuff. This is something that I can tell. But at least I am starting to grasp what the scriptures teach on this particular subject.
They teach, for example, that you shouldnt freak out like I did .. when I thought I saw a lump in my neck. No. The believer is supposed to believe the word of God regardless of contradicting physical evidence.
» Not as Easy as Abraham Makes It Look
This is not as easy to do as it might sound. Which is one reason why Abraham is so universally revered. Try it for yourself and you'll see what I mean. It's not as easy as Abraham makes it look.
Sometimes it seems downright impossible. You can feel inside when you are really believing something. Versus merely mentally agreeing. And when you can feel yourself really believing something, it feels like you are doing the impossible. Which is probably why it impresses even the most impressive.
» My Neck and Throat Feel Different Now
Anyway .. I am not going to get off on a tangent here. Tho I certainly could. But my neck does not feel like it did before treatment.
Rather, it feels like somebody pressed a hot coal to my throat .. and held it there long enough to burn a hole right through. Sure, it's healed now, and is no longer painful. But I can still feel the effects of the past burning. The scar tissue.
I no longer need to shave my neck. At all. No hair grows there. It stops at the line of my jaw. Ever since treatment.
So the thought enters my mind more than once » "What is that feeling that I am feeling there in my neck?"
And worrying about anything is not good for your long-term health. So I find myself dealing with and grappling with these things every so often. I imagine that they will subside as the 2-year point approaches.
I dont ask many questions in this area (for obvious reasons) .. but my doctors suggest that, if the shit comes back, then it sounds like they start cutting stuff out (.. instead of more radiation/chemo).
Right now I feel confident and secure that I will not be dealing with any such things in the next year. But this doesnt mean that these thoughts dont periodically fuck with my head. (You know.)
It seems like I am always feeling something here or feeling something there. And the last time I was feeling something strange, it turned out to be cancer.
» Adapting to a Lower Energy Level
Regarding energy level, I am just having to adjust to dealing with less energy. I thought by now that I woud be close to my pre-treatment levels of energy. But I am not even close.
This is probably the most frustrating aspect of my post-treatment life. I could do nothing for so long that now I want to do everything .. but I obviously can't.
And if I push it, physically, I always regret it .. for days and sometimes even for weeks.
In the old days before treatment, a good hard workout would make me feel invigorated. Now, when I do such things, my ass is sucking wind and I am regretting doing stupid things.
» Who Has Not Yet Felt the Awakening in the Force?
I saw the new Star Wars movie a few days ago. It seemed to go by so quickly. I think this is characteristic of a good, engaging movie. It's over before you know it. (I saw it in 3D.)
I felt emotionally fatigued at times while watching it. Not sure what that might mean.
» Did You See the Burnt Helmet, Dad?
My son said, "Did you see the burnt helmet, Dad?"
I was never much into Star Wars myself, growing up .. but my son was. We watched untold episodes of Clone Wars .. which is a cartoon version designed for kids. Which we would check out from the library.
A cartoon version that stars Anakin Skywalker .. who later becomes Darth Vader. And the thing that turns Anakin into Darth Vader .. or, at least, the thing that represents that transformation .. is the burnt helmet. So to speak.
As a little side-commentary .. consider, if you will, the p.a.r.a.l.l.e.l.s between Anakin turning into Darth Vader .. and the Count of Transylvania turning into Dracula.
Both men started out as beacons of light .. both men were strong, morally and physically. Both were genuinely trying to do the right thing .. the noble thing, the honorable thing, the godly thing.
<end side-commentary for parallel consideration>
But the Evil Count Dooku tricks Jabba into thinking that it was really the Jedi who stole his son. And when Anakin and Ahsoka return Jabba's son to him, Jabba says, "Kill them both!"
And Ahsoka turns to Anakin and asks (somewhat exasperatedly, because this type of thing has happened before), "Does this always happen to you?"
And Anakin responds by saying, "Everywhere I go."
And Anakin's response resonated with me. On a deep level. Especially the way he says the word "everywhere" .. which suggests an air of resignation .. to the unfair shittiness than life can often be for some .. and especially because of its implied theme of "no good deed goes unpunished."
Of which I could elaborate on .. ad naseam. But I won't. I mean, it's funny, yeah, but not really. You have to be able to see (and appreciate) the humor in the absurity that life can sometimes be .. or it will eat you alive.
(Which is what happened to Anakin. The shit can get to you after a while .. particularly when your lightsaber's power level gets low.)
In a way, it makes you feel good to simply know that there is another human being out there somewhere who gets it. You're not alone in your particular insanity.
But yeah, I saw the helmet. The burnt helmet. The badly burnt helmet. I relate to the burnt helmet. I 'get' the burnt helmet .. better than I would like to. Far better.
» Tarantino Breaks Out the Good Stuff for Christmas
Tarantino's new movie was shot with some super-duper quality film. 70mm super extra wide shit. Check out the trailers and see for yourself the vibrancy of the colors.
This is the kind of stuff that gives Film people a total boner. I would hear them talking about "image quality" and you could see the look in their eye.
Tarantino knows the colors are gonna look super rich and vibrant. And you can see the way he plays with that.
He might very well know more about the art and craft of making movies on film .. than any other person ever. He's a walking encyclopedia.
Tarantino has something going on with him. I dont know what it is .. but I can feel it whenever I write about him. It's strong. The force is strong in him. Or around him. And he keeps popping up in my writing. Scenes from his films.
And speaking of Film critics at the NY Times .. that might very well be the best job in the universe.
Tarantino is both a writer and a director. A screenwriter. Notice the credits for Hateful Eight. Both the Written by and the Directed by credits go to Tarantino.
The sense of freedom that must come with such a repertoire .. the creative freedom. Virtually unlimited. He must pole-vault out of bed every morning. Another day in Boner City.
» Delving Deep into the Turmoil of Dostoevsky's Psyche
What a deeply enjoyable experience it is to read this biography. I am often surprised by how closely I resonate with the life of the 19th century Russian. I could cite passage after passage .. but I won't. (Because that would be too revealing.)
Well, here is a passage that spoke to me quite loudly .. one that is not too revealing. In speaking about a man [ Ivan Shidlovsky ] who served as something of a mentor to the young Dostoevsky, who "aided Dostoevsky in making the transition from his childhood faith to its sophisticated modern equivalents" .. Joseph Frank writes (page 54):
Nor should one underestimate the future influence of Shidlovsky's living demonstration that intense religious commitment could be combined with a frank confession of the torments of doubt. Genuine faith for Dostoevsky would never afterward be confused with a tranquil acceptance of dogma.
Boy, could I ever get off on a tangent there. But I wont. Tho the phrase "its sophisticated modern equivalents" (speaking here of what became of Dostoevsky's childhood faith) .. that is a mouthful. That is something of a mind-blowing transition.
I never would've imagined that I would have had much of anything in common with this man. But he did not always have a reputation .. of being "one of a handful of thinkers who forged the modern sensibility."
So naturally, I want to know » how did he come upon such a towering reputation? And » is such a reputation warranted?
But there is a fascinating passage in the chapter where Dostoevsky, as a teen, is a student at the (bording) Academy of Military Engineers in Saint Petersburg .. when his dad died (with questions about a murder).
I will return later to quote it for you. Super yummy shit. I love stuff like this .. delving into what makes people tick. Delving into what makes them do the seemingly weird shit that they sometimes do. Boner-city.
But I remember reading this quote from Dostoevsky .. which said that true art must, by necessity, be fictional. So I am very much surprised to see how closely the Brothers Karamazov echoes the most intimate themes of his life.
His work is not nearly as "purely fictional" as I had anticipated .. based on that quote I read long ago.
Okay .. here's the passage (page 49) I mentioned earlier. I will simply share it now and return later to set the scene.
If we assume that turmoil of Dostoevsky's psyche can be described in such terms, then we can come close to providing a specific explanation for Dostoevsky's behavior in the 1840's and for the character of his work. Nothing would have been more natural than for him to try to relieve his guilt by projecting it externally in social terms, where it assumed the particular humanitarian form of joining a conspriracy to spread propaganda against serfdom.
"Guilt over what?" you ask? Good question.
» Robert Downey Jr Gets a Christmas Pardon from Jerry Brown
If I were king, I would assign Robert Downey Jr and Russell Brand and the Dog (you know) and Lisa to a committee .. to design a policy that is more compassionate than the highly biased, draconian drug laws that were designed under the administration of "I'm-not-a-crook" Nixon.
I bet Emma would agree.
» More Netflix DVDs
The nice people at Netflix continue to send more new DVDs to watch. I probably have about 70 titles listed on the que, and I dont even know what is coming next. Some months ago, I moved up to the top all the ones that I really wanted to see. So it's always a surprise what the mailman will bring next.
EXODUS Gods and Kings » Dedicated by Ridley to his Brother Tony
Right now, for example, I am in the middle of watching Ridley Scott's Exodus | Gods and Kings.
I am totally impressed. I am trying to figure out what is real and what is computer generated. Particularly the scene where Moses gets caught in the rocky mud-slide on the mountain. That looked like Christain Bale really did get caught in a rocky mud-slide.
There are *lots* of people in this movie. And the settings look so .. real. I think filmmakers call this 'high production value'. Gorgeously shot film.
Anything that Ridley does I catch myself looking a little more closely .. at the composition. At the craft. "Ooh, I like how he did that," I found myself saying.
I particularly appreciate the artistic elements woven into this film. I very much feel that they get the gist of the story. The spirit of the story. And if you honor the spirit, then you are free to take whatever artistic liberties that you see fit .. as a filmmaker .. in order to best convey the story. (God, for example, is played by a young boy. Clever.)
There are children in this story, as you know. Pharaoh often says to his sleeping son, "The reason you sleep so well is because you know that you are loved."
And I remember when the Bug was that age .. how I would just lie there beside him and watch him sleep.
Then, when Pharaoh sets the lid on the coffin when his son dies .. that scene is short, but it delivers a powerful message. Along with a few seconds of the mother rocking an empty cradle .. that is almost too much for me to handle.
This would be a great movie to see on the big screen. I'm at the part where the Israelites are now leaving Egypt. I wonder what will happen next.
Update » I have just finished it. Ridley dedicates the film to his brother Tony .. who jumped off a bridge. (Something mentioned by Bukowski, I recall.)
So naturally, I find myself curious about » how much of this crafting comes from the writer .. and how much comes from director (Ridley).
» Honoring Purity-of-Vision Vs Playing to Mainstream Values
The artist (creative person) is able to present a vision (script) in any number of ways. A more-creative person will have more options at their disposal than a less-creative person. (This seems obvious, no?)
And one of the more common points of creative interpretation is found where the artist cleaves more strongly to the purity of the vision .. or one that is designed to please a larger audience. (Because mainstream values might be offended if you stray too close to purity-of-vision.) Hard-core Film school students call this, "Selling out to commercial values."
When I saw that the reviews were not so great, I naturally wondered why. I mean, with the no-holds-barred commitment and dedication that actors like Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton bring to the lead roles (whatever it takes), and Ridley directing .. you have craft-talent-potential that is pretty close to unlimited.
Ridley is 78. Who knows how many more good years he has left? So everybody wants to get in on a Ridley Scott-Free production while the getting is still good. He is already a directing legend among many discriminating movie-goers.
I am not saying that either Ridley or the writer cleaved more closely to creative decisions that honored the creative vision, no. Or that they shunned creative decisions that might play better to the masses.
Rather, I am saying that, if Ridley Scott feels good enough about the creative decisions that were made in the crafting of this film .. good enough to dedicate it to his brother Tony .. then it doesnt much matter what anybody else thinks.
» Conversations With a Rock (Or a Bush)
Perhaps my favorite scene was where they have someone spying on Moses, as he is talking to God. And it looks, from the perspective of this person who is hiding behind some bushes .. it looks like Moses is talking to a rock. Like he is having a full-blown conversation with a rock.
And how they portray Moses as slowly losing his marbles .. which Christian Bale portrays so well. That is almost his signature talent, no?
» The Lingering Evocative Parallels
Particularly the scene where they raided the grainery. After which they line them up and let them have it. You know. The obvious parallels.
» Sublimely Gorgeous Visuals
I am a visual person. I am visually stimulated (like most men) and I very much appreciate an artistically designed scene that is well-shot. There are some scenes in this film that are so gorgeously shot that you have to stop the DVD and go back and watch them again.
I am talking about some of the scenes with Moses' wife. And some of the scenes at night with smoke and candle lighting. (No electricity in Egypt a few millenia ago.)
» The Exercise of Power & Authority and Other Depressing Ironies of Life
A line that hit me particularly hard was delivered by pharaoh himself, while he is lying on a bed .. when he said » "It's one of life's more depressing ironies .. that the men who crave power .. are best-fitted to acquire it and least-fitted to exercise it."
(All of the Pharaohs, I would imagine, probably knew a thing or two about the exercise of power and authority .. seeing how they were considered livings gods.)
Having spent some 6 years in the military and double that much in large military-like organizations .. I have had countless opportunities to observe power in action. The power of authority. Observed at work in people. Exercised in ways both good and bad. And from all different angles .. from the top and from the bottom and from the sides, both inside and out.
» The Corrupting Effects of Power
I find the subject downright fascinating. And it is not difficult to see the corrupting effects of power. This is a thread that you can pull on that goes back to the very first city-states. Maybe further.
This is something I'm sure you know about well enough. Not something that you need me to elaborate on. It is probably something that you learned at a tender, young age. (The later in life you learn this lesson, the better.)
We are really talking about the exercise of authority. And the things that go along with such exercise .. things such as responsibility and competence (and the lack thereof) and even ruthlessness. Alliance-building. Reputation. (Which is based on past achievements.)
I can see this tangent forming right before my very eyes, encouraging me to continue. The most enthusiastic encouragement that you could imagine.
But we shouldnt get on the roller coaster unless we are prepared to ride that bad-boy all the way to the end. And this is something that I am not prepared to do right now.
» A Feel for Nuclear-Grade Management Skills
You could probably boil-down the topic of management into these two functions:
- setting up your people for success (your view looking down the hierarchy)
- keeping your bosses out of trouble (your view looking up the hierarchy)
Both of which require a degree of insight and foresight. And tact (which I have worked on very hard .. mostly by biting my tongue).
But this is why pharaoh's quote jumped out at me and seemed to slap me upside the head.
"True that, Mr. Pharaoh," I said. "I can see that you have insight into men."
I have actually addressed this topic before .. from a slighty different perspective. But the gist is the same. And fuck it it wasnt evoked from another film directed by Ridley Scott. (Is that a coincidence?)
This is one of the reasons why I liked being a contractor. Because, as a contractor, you gotta be performing every day for your masters or you are gone. You could be fired at any time .. for pretty much any reason.
There is no resting on your laurels. Not for very long, anyway. [ I almost wrote 'resting on your laurens.' Ah, now wouldnt that be nice. My ego is convinced that she moved back here to the left coast in order to be closer to me. Is it just me, or is she not a total hottie? A total smart hottie. Speaking of which .. have you seen this? Ooh, I just caught your whole deal for the Iowa caucus. Very nice. It was an excellent stream, too. High quality. No glitches. Anchor action. You make it look so easy. Effortless. A natural. I was impressed. You obviously have excellent social skills. That felt very twenty-first century. What a great team. Say hi to LZ for me. Are you back in New York now? Oh, I saw your tweet about stand-in anchor-action. That's how it starts. I am so proud of you. Take some management classes. You already have the impressive social skills. You already know how to talk to people. I would love working for you. You are drawing a bold arc from fringe to mainstream .. just dont drink any Kool-Aid while you're there. Corporate muscle has some very tasty Kool-Aid. Dont lose sight of the sassy renege that we've all come to love. ]
And this aspect of being a contractor makes it more difficult for the corrupting influences of power to corrupt you .. as a boss with authority over your peeps and influence with your bosses above you.
The whole intention and purpose behind the construction of the US Constitution .. was to devise and design a way to incorporate checks and balances .. on the corrupting influences of power.
Both the English and the French had long-observed the problems associated with their monarchies.
Everybody loves a good story, no?
I have spent considerable time and energy, over the years, studying the topics related to management and leadership.
It wasnt that I had any burning desire to be in charge of other people .. quite the contrary, because the management of other people brings with it a myriad of problems.
Rather, it was the thought, the belief, the conviction that » "Surely I can do better than this inept piece-of-shit."
My intuition proved accurate. Tho I worked hard at it (because I had strong motivation). And I certainly made my share of mistakes. Probably more than my share, actually .. but let's not cry over spilt milk.
There was definitely an ad-hoc-ness to some of my positions .. where you identify a problem, a deficiency that they obviously dont or cant see .. and you move to rectify the problem. And when they see how much better things run .. then they can see how the problem was fucked up.
And then they start giving you more leeway. More rope. More duties. More responsibilities. More respect. You know the deal.
But this takes time .. time honing and developing your skills. Continually.
And sometimes you get in over your head .. and you say, "Fuck, what am I gonna do now?"
Speaking of the insidious corrupting influences of power and DVDs that I really wanna see .. the next DVD that happened to come in the que .. was Citizenfour, which won the Oscar for Best Documentary last year. [ Reviews » certified fresh. Trailer. ]
Which I have started watching.
Wow. Double wow. I actually stopped it shortly after I started watching .. and lit some myrrh incense .. and walked around the room for a minute. And said a little prayer.
Because watching it felt like I was treading on holy ground. [ A theme from the movie I watched previously. ] You can feel how much people have sacrificed (their whole lives, in some cases) in order to make this film happen. I doubt most people can really grasp the magnitude of the implications.
When I first heard that Citizenfour won the Oscar for Best Documentary, I suspected that the Academy was flexing its political muscle. But now, I was able to see (and right quick) that this is an impressively crafted piece of work. Everything about it. (I could go on ad nauseam.)
The crafting is actually at a level with the subject matter itself .. which is saying a lot. Because, it's a lot to grasp. You can feel the weight of the implications heavy on you.
It kinda blows you away .. I mean, you are seeing this stuff, but it is still hard to believe. The leaders of the Intelligence community sitting there and bald-faced lying to members of Congress. (And nothing happens to them.)
I actually had the feeling that a (mere) Academy Award does not do justice to this documentary-film. I dont think I've ever had that feeling before with any other film.
This documentary speaks volumes about the state of our nation. Actions speak so much louder to the we-the-people than any presidential election-year rhetoric.
The testimony of our Intelligence leaders before Congress (supposedly our representatives) reminded me of that old joke » "How do you know when they're lying to you? .." [ Answer: You can see their lips moving. ]
The thought occurred to me while watching the DVD » If you are gonna wait for the government to come thru for the average citizen .. then you are gonna be waiting a long time, my friend.
The way that Snowden and Poitras and Glenn Greenwald often didnt know from one day to the next how things were gonna go .. how they were making it up as they went .. that came thru loud and clear .. even tho we now know how things turned out .. they didnt have the advantage of hindsight, like the viewer does.
Making it up as you go .. that is almost the very definition of avant garde. And in many ways beyond mere artistry, they were indeed out there on the bleeding edge. It must've been electric. [ The Federal Reserve knows a little about the avant garde. ]
Edward Snowden is even more intelligent than I thought .. this comes thru from the film. His grasp of things, of both the big picture and the small, is obvious.
The level-of-skill required to pull off something of this magnitude .. and the execution itself .. that is an impressive thing.
If I were king, wherever she went, for the rest of her life, she would go straight to the front of the line. She's wasted enough time waiting around for stupid shit at airports.
It was very cool how they had the airport logs on her. That must have brought a degree of vindication. "Hey, look what I got. Does this look familiar?"
The shit is on .. that came thru loud-n-clear in the film. The shit is on in a big way.
Tho .. I must say, that I find it curious that Citizenfour came right after Exodus, Gods and Kings in my que.
I mean, my Netflix DVD que is by no means dialed in very tightly. I just moved up to the top the titles that I really wanted to see.
And the two movies seem to go together far better than I ever could have imagined. The corrupting influence of power .. still at work today.