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Rumilluminations March 2015
By: Esther M. Powell
Posted on: Sun, March 01 2015 - 8:23 pm

March 31, 2015                                         Madison, IN

It is with great honor and pleasure that I now help usher out the docile lamb March.

I've been toying for awhile with the idea of writing about books and movies again, but wanted an appropriate occasion.

It just occurred to me, what better occasion than April Fool's Day?

What better time than a time of new vision (literally), new glasses to make close work easier, a little more comfort with a new technology and a re-read of some of my stuff that shows how sassy I used to be?

No! The fool in me shall live again, but I'm just going to make my movie interviews and commentaries part of my daily blogging activities. Movies will be at the bottom of my daily entries marked like a footnote with an asterisk. Ditto for books only with a ¥ whatever that is. I hope it doesn't represent anything obscene! It does evoke some visceral sensual response in me somehow.

All hail April! Let folly reign!

March 30, 2015                                         Madison, IN

Since the Indiana government thinks it's okay for a business to refuse service to someone based on the religious beliefs of its owners,  maybe I, as an agnostic, should warn people about exactly who (what) I am. 

Maybe I should go in, pick up what I want to buy, take it to the counter, then pause. "Oh, before you serve me you (evidently) need to know that I am agnostic. Is that acceptable? Because I would sure hate to see you have to serve someone you dislike for religious reasons. Gee, I might ideologically contaminate your other customers!"

It's patently untenable. Whether a gay, atheist, or agnostic could get service would depend not on what she is, but rather on how hypocritical she can be.

Haha. It's so easy to see from  language alone what the law should be. If the potential customer is a who, you should serve him. It is literally none of your business what he is.

March 29, 2015                                          Madison, IN

My partner just started a new job in which he's around a lot more people.

He is enjoying the fact that he can still turn some heads.

The only trouble is, he jokes, that he can't turn his look back because of the crick in his neck!

March 28, 2015                                          Madison, IN

The other day I cut my thumb. With a bandaid on the wound this screen wouldn't respond to touch. I don't know why. I'll have to look it up.

What this infernal word processing program does do, however, is hover over my shoulder like an pretentious mother - there! That is exactly what I'm talking about!

I did not say pretentious. I said (typed) overanxious and without a by your leave this program changed it to pretentious.

That's actually pretty funny because I was going to say, " an overanxious mother or in untrusting editor" but pretentious would have been a better word to describe such an editor. After all, what editor is paid to be trusting.

There is a limit, though. Talk about grabbing the pen from your writer's hand!

Compounded with my temporary difficulty seeing, this overweening behavior on the part of my word processing program justifies, I believe, this statement:

I take all credit for all the good content of my comments herein. Any and all mistakes are completely the responsibility of the word processor.

(Gee, I'm surprised my self-appointed editor didn't take the hatchet to that.)

March 27, 2015                                     Madison, IN

This morning I walked to my ophthalmologist's office on the off-chance they were going to give me a call anyway. I'm dying for my new glasses.

It was strange walking up Hatcher Hill Road on such a freezing spring day.

Dr. Kirkpatrick and his staff have done very well by me. I'm singing the praises of one of the optical staff there (are they a separate business? I don't know.)   

She gave me great advice about lens choices for my vision and aesthetic choices for others' view of me. Thank you, Peggy Yount!

While I was waiting I thought, Maybe they will have one pair - the sunglasses. And so it was.

The errand took me hours. It's a long walk.

Later I was chowing down my dark chocolate and pecan ration for the day when dang - I  chomped down on grit or something and broke a crown.  Grrr. I was afraid this would mean a new crown.

Called my dentist Dr. Kortokraax and he offered to see me this afternoon.

Meanwhile the water in the apartment building went off unexpectedly. For once my pitcher of filtered water was empty. Aargh!

I decided to go get some water at the nearby grocery. First, though, I would run over to the dentist's a mere quarter mile away.

Brrr! What is going on? It's supposed to be forty-five degrees out here and it's... Snowing? Flurries. Fat flurries.

Good news from my dentist. No new crown needed and he smoothed off the ledge on my crown free! What a great guy.

Bought two gallons of water on the way home.

Now it's evening. I have a new pair of glasses, a mended tooth, and hot and cold running water. It's snowing outside.

It's been a strange day.

March 26, 2015                                       Madison, IN

I used to think that the parent's worst nightmare was losing a child. Now the morning news reminds me that there are nightmares - and then there are night terrors.

It seems that yesterday a thirteen-year-old shot his two brothers (ages six and sixteen) before killing himself in a fight over food.

This has recalibrated my notion of the worst parental nightmare.

...and why am I even writing about this, anyway? It is the time of year for joy, nonsense and delirium! April Fool's Day is just around the corner.

Why am I not feeling it?

March 25, 2015                                        Madison, IN

My experiences with the young lately make me feel like a virtual person. I feel that I'm something on a screen that is of no interest to be scrolled past as quickly as possible.

My feelings aren't hurt. How could they be? The process is completely impersonal.

What worries me is that the young are looking at the real world as if it were not interactive - what is happening in front of them is just an image on a screen.

I might be in denial. Maybe this just happens to everyone when they reach a certain age.

I must admit it's a cut above having their faces buried in a screen.

March 23, 2015                                         Madison, IN

For some inexplicable reason one of our book club members last week read the obituaries of three women.

Most of us are getting up there in years. I for one try to avoid obituaries for obvious reasons.

The woman who read them said she thought they were interesting - that she would have liked to know these women. I just wanted to flee. I don't know why I didn't; some of our number did.

They made me feel like a real underachiever, but one comment made by one woman astounded and confounded me.

She is quoted as saying, "Never say 'no' to a child."


I could probably rant, puzzle, question and speculate for half an hour regarding this amazing opinion, but I think I will leave it to your own imaginations.

At least for today!

March 22, 2015                                          Madison, IN

Having once been a Christian, I can (believe it or not!) understand belief. There is a virtue in holding to practices; it can instill discipline.

I do have a little trouble, though, with people cherry-picking (that is, rotten cherry-picking) the most self-destructive rules of their particular faith to adhere to.

I have recently read about a man who, against the tenets of his religion, smoked cigarettes but then failed to get medical help for the same religion. When a person treats himself like that he doesn't need a God to punish him.

A very recent tragic example is from New York City. A family uses a hotplate to keep food warm for a religious observance thus avoiding the forbidden use of flame. This is obviously an attempt to observe the letter of the law at the expense of the spirit of the observance. Unfortunately another cost of the ploy was several family members' lives in the ensuing fire.

The recent attack of ordinary people in an airport in Louisiana waged by a machete-wielding bomb-carrying man inspires the same puzzlement. The killing of human beings was against his religion but he tried. His religion forbids medical treatment that would have saved his life, so he died from gunshot wounds he suffered at the scene - thus saving us from having to make a determination about his sanity.

What is religion for, anyway? If it's to help people live well and virtuously in the world, part of that commitment would seem to be to live in whatever world the believer inhabits.

March 21, 2015.                                          Madison, IN

I'm reading a great book called Spring Chicken by Bill Gifford, who is a spring chicken compared to me. It is full of really interesting information about health, aging and longevity.

Today one sentence really grabbed me. Gifford was talking about a certain hybrid of unhealthy mice. Given a special drug to kill their "senescence" cells "...their ...cataracts cleared up, and even their wrinkles went away."

Dang! I want see of that stuff! This description allows us hopefully to see a future in which our children won't have to undergo surgery to get rid of their cataracts.

I can just hear them saying, "I just took those pills and my cataracts just melted away!"

That would be awesome.

March 19, 2015                                           Madison, IN

My partner and I were talking about which states are the poorest today. Of course that depends partly on how you define poor.

I went for the percentage of people living below the poverty line as a good indicator of poverty.

Something interesting occurred while we were trying to make our determination. While Washington D.C. came out as poorer than any state by that standard, it came out number one in ranking for highest income tax paid (also based on percentage of population) as I recall.

Ha, ha! I never saw a better argument against the trickle down theory of economics. According to that concept the trickle in D.C. should be a veritable waterfall of benefits flowing down to the citizens providing goods and services there.

It seems that in fact the reverse is true.

I guess those poor lawmakers are spending too much time and money in their constituencies - and the Bahamas! - to have any left over for their neighbors in the District.

March 18, 2015                                        Madison, IN

In the past month or so I find myself more impatient with stuff I'm reading and unwilling to persist with something I find distasteful or uninteresting. Sounds healthy enough but has me doing some soul searching.

Could it have anything to do with the cataract surgery? Has lifting the fog from my eyes so I can see with less struggle made me less willing to work to relate to or understand unusual subjects?

Or am I merely trusting my intuition more in ceasing to waste my time on what holds no interest for me?

Hey, it's almost springtime! This is the upbeat time of year!

Of course I am only getting wiser in my choice of activities.

The fact that I can see better also makes me want to get out and move more.

I'm still waiting, though, for the delirious manic high that comes with the return of the light.

I sure hope I haven't outgrown that!

March 17, 2015                                             Madison, IN

I already wrote today and tried to save what I wrote onto my website and it just didn't happen.

It was all just a miscellany anyway. One piece of real news: I drove at night yesterday and felt completely confident of my vision - so much so that I didn't even think about it until I was home!

Cataract surgery is worth the time money discomfort and inconvenience - for sure.

March 14, 2015                                            Madison, IN

The flooding of the Ohio has gotten exciting, not yet scary. The road along the river, Vaughan, is partially flooded and partially closed. The number of steps useable down to the now invisible main structure of the platform is one. The higher smaller platforms are not inundated and probably won't be this time around.

I'm beginning to realize, though, that when it comes to natural disasters there are no guarantees.

Snort! What am I saying? The human race has always known that.

It's just that we're also good at forgetting.

March 13, 2015                                           Madison, IN

Big bad Friday the thirteenth didn't do anything unusual for us. This is my least favorite superstition because it has no practical purpose or consequence at all that I can figure.

To the contrary, the avoidance of the number 13 in architecture is just dumb. People have to take it seriously because so many of us do/don't/do/don't ha ha ha.

I don't get it. Why has this fear resonated through the centuries since Julius Caesar?

March 12, 2015                                            Madison, IN

Last week (March 6) I wrote bewitching and whining about what I understood Medicare's policy to be with regards to cataract surgery.

Today I decided to call them and find out what was going on with toric lens cataract surgery.

The good news is Medicare does partially pay for the surgery itself. What it will not cover is the cost of the higher-tech lens.

There seems nothing to do about this at the present time. You can't appeal a failure of Medicare coverage unless a file has been claimed but there is no category that the toric lens fits under so the claim can't be filed.

It's your classic catch 22 sit.

The bad news (besides the fact that I got through two surgeries before fully understanding the charges (if I do now)) is that I won't recoup any of the money I've already paid.

That is a lot less than the procedure actually cost so I am very grateful for Medicare - and for my new lenses.

This is the first time I've seen distances clearly without correction for over fifty years.

March 11, 2015                                            Madison, IN

This morning walking along the still-swollen river we startled a dark little duck that had been hanging out in some brush debris close to shore.

I didn't even see it until it was running away across the water.

Yes, running!

Sure, it was flapping its wings madly but it wouldn't have become airborne if it hadn't run for takeoff like an athlete heading into a broad jump.

Never before have I realized how well a duck's feet are suited to navigating the surface tension of water.

Duck did manage to fly but not before I began to wonder.

Later we saw what looked like the same bird riding the river downstream giving the same impression of uncertain competence.

Hope he was a lucky duck!

March 10, 2015                                            Madison, IN

I'm so I glad I lived to see a black man elected for President of the United States of America! The fact that this was even possible is so wonderful!

Not so wonderful - except in an awful way - has been seeing our lawmakers (not our ordinary citizens but our LAWMAKERS!) treat this President with an unprecedented lack of respect.

Our lawmakers have shown themselves to be now shameless lawbreakers in undermining the President's attempts to make a workable peace in the Middle East.

Worse yet, the nation-wide scramble of precincts to gerrymander (and thus control outcomes of district elections) promises to guarantee our lack of individual equality for decades to come.

Gerrymandering was taught to my class in grade school as an archaic form of cheating that used to be practiced by the political parties to get and keep power now no longer practiced in our progressive country.

Even my word program did not consider offering the word as an active verb. Gerrymandering? Sure. That was something that unfortunately used to be.

But "gerrymander?"  I had to type it out and add it to my dictionary.

Just goes to show you. No evil is too ancient or taboo to be resurrected.

March 9, 2015                                              Madison, IN

I guess the river didn't crest quite as high as expected but this afternoon only five steps were dry. It has already begun to recede a little and our experience of it is different from usual.

The Lighthouse Restaurant, which is usually much lower than the street, is now riding high. Same goes for Skunk Hollow Marina.

Tonight looking out the winning towards the river I saw unaccustomed lights that looked like the coals of a big fire.
Even with binoculars it took a while for me to recognize light reflected from the water. Very glittery, very close, enchanting and seductive.

Snow here, now departing. Waters rising, now falling.

We're enjoying the changes.

March 8, 2015                                             Madison, IN

Yesterday walking along the Ohio River I counted the number of steps down toward the blue metal platform I could take without getting my feet wet. Nine.

This morning we walked across the bridge to Milton and bought a couple of Kentucky lottery tickets. Lots of debris in the river. On the way back I counted stairs again. Seven.

This afternoon seemed like the first day of spring. Beautiful! This time only six steps weren't under water. I'm looking forward to seeing what the river will look on the day it is supposed to crest - tomorrow.

I was a little concerned with the effect of all the snowfall in the East on our flood levels. Silly me! Of course, as a neighbor pointed out, we don't really have to worry about Boston record-breaking snows here. They are part of a different watershed on the other side of one of the continental divides.

March 7, 2015                                             Madison, IN

The Ohio River is predicted by the NOAA to be at flood stage at Clifty Falls day after tomorrow. It's already higher than we've seen it in our three years here, covering the blue metal platform and portions of the walk closest to the river.

We were awed by how much bigger the swimming geese seemed and there was only one big metal cylinder sticking out of the water where we usually see two.

The river supplies real-life optical illusions and lessons in visual relativity. When I watched the mockingbird harassing the vulture last fall I felt that I was looking up. Today the top of the structure looked much lower - more like the level of the walkway.

The trailers (mobile homes?) across the river are just gone. I wonder where their owners take them at flood time. I wonder where we will take ourselves if the river gets too high.

With all the snow in the East this winter we really don't know what to expect.

March 6, 2015.                                           Madison, IN

Medicare refuses to pay for toric lenses, which the agency considers cosmetic. There are not merely cosmetic motives to improve your vision without correction.

I'll give my own situation as an example.

For decades I have been protecting my eyes from UV radiation on the advice of ophthalmologists. The wisdom of doing so seems obvious for that reason, but it became even more compelling when my mother developed macular degeneration.

Since my eyes are very sensitive to light I needed sunglasses in addition. Scatterbrained as I can sometimes be, transitions lenses seemed the way to go. The same pair of glasses rode my nose indoors and out.

This wreaked havoc with birdwatching and other distant observation, though. I could either get enough light to see color details or I could see clearly with too little light to see enough detail.

Okay, okay so maybe I'm expecting too much to be compensated for the corrective lenses in both eyes. But why does Medicare punish those who choose this option by refusing to reimburse the amount they always dish out for basic cataract surgery?#

There is one positive consequence to this circumstance, though. Now I am determined to ensure that my bucks haven't been spent in vain. I figure this lens choice will save me from having to buy new lenses as often. It will pay for itself only if I live long enough.

Well, I love a bargain. I will try very hard to live long enough to make my toric lenses a financial as well as a visual bonanza, collecting my social security all the while.

(Don't resent my attitude too much, young'uns, it's not enough to live on, really.)

# Later:  As it turns out, this is not the case. See March 12 entry for correction.

March 4, 2015                                             Madison, IN

Listening to the furor over Hillary Clinton's use of a private server to send emails: well duh. Maybe it could have something to do with reliability?

Evidently she has been doing what her Secretary of State predecessors have done, including comply with the law.

Sigh. Over a year and a half before elections and I'm already exhausted.

Makes me nostalgic for the decades when I had no TV.

March 3, 2015                                                   Madison, IN

Recently read a book called Kidding Ourselves in which the author argues that humans are biologically set up to believe.

Not only do we want to believe in someone or something we cannot necessarily see, but faith has real survival value.

The question becomes, then, not whether to engage in believing but what to choose to believe in.

One thing I believe for sure: this must be my choice and my right.

How great is that? What could be a burden or a duty becomes an exciting project in shopping - or creativity!

March 2, 2015                                                   Madison, IN     

Trying to walk on snow and ice the last couple of weeks reminded me that the best way to keep your footing on ice is by lifting your foot vertically and putting it down again as vertically as possible.

In other words, by marching.

I can really see the survival value of that style of marching.

The goose step - not so much.

What could the goose step possibly be good for?

Maybe the display of sheer power necessary to make so many people do something so dumb?

March 1, 2015                                           Madison, IN

I know it's March but I can't believe it.

It's too snowy out there.

Between having surgery and a month of real winter my world has gotten way too small.

This method of "typing" has me bemused, though. (Do people still call this keyboarding now? I don't even know the terminology.)

When we were learning typing were taught not to look at the keyboard. With this word program I dare not look up from it. I might miss the word suggestions up at the top.

On the other hand, super sensitive responses to touch mean I have to constantly check or I will be unwittingly saying something entirely different from what I intend.

Watch what I come up with when I don't check:

Even though it is potentially much easier to write now with this program it still takes me much longer to write than it did before.

(Well, so much for my demonstration. I'm improving. Yippee!)

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