The back of a napkin

Check out this clear, coherent, and entertaining explanation of the current hoohah around the health insurance debate:  You may disagree with its position, but it’s clear-eyed and the graphics are spot-on. I love its distillation of a really mucky current event.


On the Upswing

I got good news from the doctors this week. My tibia is finally healing, 8+ months after I fell on the ice, breaking both tibia and fibula. I’ve graduated from a cast to a boot, and can put weight on the leg. Although I still have the crutches, I rely on them much less these days. And, I’ve set up physical therapy appointments. I’ll be walking right around the time that the snow and ice return. (Uh-oh.)

I returned to work full-time several weeks ago and that’s been good, but I’m eager to see more blips on my radar screen – other than orthopedic details and chores.

Mid-summer Notes

Well, my friend Cliff has persistently and incessantly nagged me about my lack of postings. Boy, is he a squeaky wheel. I guess I should be nice to him – he’s brought me several lunches, as well as the company of his lovely wife Martha and our mutual friend Bob (the quintessential Yankee curmudgeon).

My leg continues to dictate the agenda of my life and the scope of my horizon. I’m apparently conquering my anemia (who knew? I’ve never been anemic before), and I’m feeling more energetic.  I’d attributed my fatigue to depression, boredom, thyroid problems… none of which seems to be a factor.

The leg saga will continue for several more months, so I’m trying to pace myself in terms of patience, forbearance, wit. Even my primary care doctor of 25 years has been impressed with the longevity of this recuperation. Dubious achievement, indeed.

The huge sunshine factor in 2009 is the arrival of my grandson Tommy. Although I was looking forward to being a grandmother, I had no idea how much I would relish this new role. Life continues to deliver surprises.

I hear music

This is a cautionary tale of a life experience coming to a household near you at some time in the future.

The background: I seldom set an alarm – usually get up around 6:30 – but I had a 7 a.m. meeting last Wednesday, so I set my clock radio for 5 a.m. All was well – I arrived at work in time for the meeting.

Fast forward to Thursday night: I stayed up way too late, but was getting settled for the night and realized that I heard music – not terribly loud, not offensive, but it was after 11 p.m. I peered out my window, saw a car parked in front of my neighbor’s house. Considered that it might be one of the teenagers who live across the street. I closed my window. Still heard the music but thought it might be coming through the other bedroom window – I wasn’t going to hobble over to that window to close it. Tried to go to sleep but couldn’t.

So I did what any citizen would do – I called the local police and told them that someone was playing music – perhaps the car parked in front of my neighbor’s house. They graciously said they would send a patrol car to investigate. I finally went to sleep.

Fast forward to Friday night: I toddled up to bed, got all comfy, was reading my book, when I realized that – again – I heard music.

I finally put all the pieces together and turned off the clock radio.

As I said, a cautionary tale…

Art imitates life

leg_embroidery_noframeWell, my outrageous coworker Neal decided to hone his embroidery skills during my ongoing recuperation from a broken leg.
He has embroidered – in startling and accurate detail – the x-ray image of my left leg, posted here for your viewing pleasure. I’m not sure that I would have chosen that image for an embroidery project, but I’m proudly displaying the framed embroidery in my cubicle at work.
We appreciate all the support we get.

The Globe has almost lost me…

Yesterday’s Boston Globe included an insert that outlined increased charges. The weekly cost of home delivery is going up to $12.50 a week. I didn’t know where my tipping point was with price vs. my emotional ties to reading a daily paper. $12.50 was it. More than $50/month for home delivery is just too much. (The current monthly subscription is $35.16.)
I called the Globe (1-888-my-globe) to cancel my subscription (of 24+ years). The rep immediately offered me a 25% reduction for 12 weeks.
I’d be more sympathetic if the Globe truly acknowledged that they’re in an end-game. I don’t see them making efforts to move their readers to the Web – they’ve tossed most of their one-time stellar crew of writers and columnists overboard and are patching big holes in the hull with Cheez Doodles and duct tape. The recent rally focused on job preservation, not the Fourth Estate’s historic role as government watchdog.
I can already get the national and international news online – it’s the local stuff that nobody’s really covering. The thin little Globe covers some State House stuff, some sensational stuff, but clearly lacks the staff to really monitor Boston politics (what is the deal with Menino and Boston’s machine politics?).
I took the deal, but I’m a short-timer.

Lessons from a Broken Leg

I’ve been railing against the gods, in resentment that my broken leg has become my entire universe. The 4+ months I’ve spent so far (mostly on the couch in the TV room) and the prospect of still more surgery and recuperation has offered a rich opportunity to whine.
It’s certainly true that the sudden change in mobility is a factor in almost every action but, in a conversation with my good friend Eleanor, I realized that a number of revelations and insights have emerged during my unplanned couch time. Dare I call them blessings?
I’m going to start a list here and add to it as additional insights emerge.
#1 – My sweet tooth just seems to have been left behind on the icy steps last January. Yeah, I eat a few ginger snaps every once in a while, but the raging desire for refined sugar is pretty much absent.
#2 – I’ve lost weight, no doubt in part due to #1 above. True, most of weight loss seems to be due to the departure of muscle tone in my left leg, but I’ll take whatever I can get in that department. A silver lining: it’s such a hassle to get up and crutch to the kitchen that I’ve pretty much stopped snacking between meals.

#3 – I’ve learned (grudgingly) to accept help from kind-hearted folks. My fierce desire to be free of dependence on others has subsided. All those delivered meals, grocery runs, household chores, and supportive phone calls and emails – from my church community, my neighbors, co-workers, and long-time friends – have driven home the point that I cannot be all that independent. Nor should I try to be. I’m such a fan of community, one would think that I’d learned this lesson long ago.
#4 – Live in the moment. This is a big-time lesson. Every estimate I’ve made (for healing, mobility, etc.) has proven wrong; every prediction I’ve made has proved false (or overly optimistic); my hopes for fast healing have been dashed on the rocks. Just be here, now. Accept.

Goodbye to the Boston Globe?

Today’s the NY Times’ deadline for Globe management to reduce costs by a bundle; the Globe has asked for more time. They had a (pretty limp) rally recently, at which the union members expressed their desire to retain their jobs. Not much talk about concessions, and very little chat about the Fourth Estate or the print media’s noble mission of keeping our elected officials honest.
The Globe’s value proposition is failing – I’ve subscribed to the Globe for 24+ years, currently paying about $35/month for 7-day-a-week home delivery (all those juicy deals are for new subscribers). With the iterative staff reductions and reorgs over the past several years, the paper is pretty thin and increasingly less informative. Most of the columnists are gone, local reporting staff is much diminished, and the paper relies heavily on news service feeds for national and international news. There is less and less coverage of any but the biggest stories with Boston or Massachusetts government, and investigative reporting is diminished.
Current media wisdom holds that the future of local media is to become hyperlocal. Let go of the national and international news, which is covered on line and on TV, and provide intensive online coverage of local communities and neighborhoods. Well,, the Globe’s online news, covers Newton, Needham, Waltham, and Wellesley. I think Reading is probably far down on its list.
Granted, as I wait for my broken leg to heal, I’m consuming far more television than I ever have previously. MSNBC is on most of the day, I’m online most of the day, and I usually catch the local 6 o’clock news, so I’m getting a lot of news from different sources.
But I love the tactile experience of reading the daily paper. It’s a very different consumption of information: I re-read stories, flip pages at will, and generally retain information more by reading it on paper. I love critiquing the daily paper’s coverage against the principles I learned as a Journalism major. I love the back-and-forth of intelligent, insightful commentators. The Boston Globe once provided a really rich, informative experience.
Yeah, there’s an immediacy to TV and online, but I get tired of the showbiz marketing overlay to the news.
I wonder what the NYT will decide. I’m sad.

Now this is interesting

This article on points to an interesting new book about how women writers are critiqued differently from the guys. book_showalter1

In a word…

Most of the credit I get for being clever is due to my ear for a good phrase or saying. Here are some of my favorites. Some are my own invention, others are cribbed from sources long forgotten.

Advice, Aphorisms
Get up on the high road. There’s less traffic there.
If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.
The early worm gets caught. (credit to Reg Thayer, my grandfather)
No peaks without valleys.

A circular firing squad
Take a Dixie

Observations and Commentary
Polishing pebbles while sitting next to a boulder
P.T. Barnum was right.