13 September 2021

Presence and Leadership

America currently has five former presidents and of course, one president. This is a record as former presidents are often older men. This is a record that is not widely celebrated because one of the former presidents is Mr. Trump. Given his assertion of what is now widely called, "the big lie," admitting he is a former president, or appearing at events where he might be treated one, is a problem.

September 11th this year was the 20th anniversary of the cowardly murder of over 3,000 Americans and residents. Most American media and many politiical leaders joined in commemerating the date. Former president Bush attended the ceremony at the crash site in Pennsylvania. Former presidents Clinton, and Obama, attended the event in New York City. President Biden made appearances at the Pentagon, Pennsylvania crash site, and in New York. Mr. Carter, now 97, and unable to travel, sent the event in New York, his greetings which were read. I am certain Mr. Trump would have been treated appropriately at any of the events had he appeared.

Ethics teachers always warn young people that lies carry their own penalties because once a lie is told maintaining the facade and not admiitting the truth requires more and more lies. Perhaps Mr. Trump has provided the entire country with an example. He can't continue the big lie and accept any appearance as a former president.

Truth imposes its own pernalties on Mr. Trump. At any civic event, Mr. Trump would be seated, and possibly introduced as "Former President Trump," or "the 45th president." He would have to abandon the big lie. His history is that he is always willing to abandon co-conspirators, but not to confront truth.

Truth always wins. Reaching this age and level of experience before finally learning this lesson generally taught grade school kids is another record.

07 August 2021

Diabetic Technology

2 weeks ago, my primary care nurse practitioner introduced me to the Dexcom G6 CGM. "CGM" stands for Constant Glucose Monitor. As near as I can tell, this technology is a spin off from the insulin pumps that some diabetics use.

The G6 uses a small sensor about the size of 2 dimes and about 1/32 inch thick that is attached to the skin by an adhesive tape and a tiny needle. It comes with a precision injector / applicator the use of which is completely painless. Using a Bluetooth transmitter, the sensor reports every other minute, to the smartphone system.

This is transformative. I have been testing my blood sugar (BG) a lot by contemporary standards -- 5 times a day. I have been able to stay touch with my BG and determine how much if any insulin I required. With the Dexcom system I test automatically 12 times per hour! I don't have 5 lancet test punctures in my fingers every day. Instead I have three utterly painless sensor insertions a month. Dexcom have even managed a hypoallergenic tape.

In addition to precision, the app allows me to share the information. So now, in a new and precise way, Sue-z can monitor my BG. I have settable alarms so that the system lets us both know if I am low sugar. We are learning to avoid emergencies, and more effectively control BG.

This has led to some interesting conversations. How should Sue-z react to a critical low warning? When should a combination of a warning and an inability to wake me lead to a 911 call? Should she ever inject insulin for me, or spoon feed honey? Dexcom gives us information that leads to these conversations.

When Drs. Banting McCloud and Best discovered insulin and how it works they changed the life prospects for diabetics. Refinements in treatment including the patient's portable BG meter, and the insulin injection followed by the pump made life expectancy rise and quality of life improve. This system, with the sensor, transmitter, and software, is near the peak of the current technology. It empowers diabetics, family, and medical personnel in a new way.

The bonus is the kind and effective customer service one receives when you call Dexcom. In the world of technology and mass production, this company, and this device are special.

01 April 2021

Hallu Triduum 2021

Jewish  psalms and songs  include a form of praise in the face of adversity called a "Hallu." One such is psalm 113 which cries out praise, there are others which name the pain and difficulty of life and affirm praise anyway. A modern version is the amazing "praise of God in a minor key." 

There is a Christian version, perhaps unrecognized by some, Gospel. Gospel music arises from the horror of slavery, rape, and Jim Crow that was imposed on Africans by whites. In contemporary African American churches Hallelujah often rings out in the midst of sermons. Sermons lamenting pain, loss and horror none-the-less ring out Hallelujah. The songs of praise and pain ring out there.

So how do we praise God when almost 600,000 Americans have died in the last 13 months of Covid? It is not a small question, for the families and loved ones of over half a million people. How do we not fall into outrage, and fury not only at God but at fools who refuse to mask and distance to fight the virus?

Lenard Cohen's brilliant "Hallelujah" is a Jewish answer that should move us all to tears. Sadly, it has moved some evangelicals to substitute Christian lyrics feeding on his music and rhythm. We should not do that! But we do have our own form, and we do share the Psalms.

Authors have been moved to this word before. Perhaps Handel's Hallelujah Chorus is best known in the West. But as we go down to the grave we sing hallelujah and as we mourn 550,000 dead Americans and more than a million people world-wide, we need the minor key of lament, and the cry, "Hallelujah!" We need Holy lament, cries for justice lest we forget George Floyd and other victims of violence, and we need this Triduum, these three days to remember, lament, and praise God. Hallelujah and as Louie Crew cried out in the face of bigotry, Joy Anyway!

06 February 2021

Things that make me wonderwo

Here in Illinois, each major step in the public education system comes with a mandatory exam on the constitution and government structure. Neither test would qualify as a BAR exam, but to pass one has to have at least a clue about the way government operates, is structured, and the content of the Constitutions of Illinois and the US. Highschool diplomas also a require successful completion of a 2 semester American History class. Literally, one can not conclude 8th grade or receive a highschool diploma without passing.

Although kids in Illinois know this is coming and treat it as routine, they do learn. So why don't other States, Wyoming for instance do something similar?

I ask because a nearly unanimous vote of the Wyoming Republican State Committe voted to, "censure" Congresswoman Cheney because she voted for the second impeachment of Donald Trump, even though the House did not have a hearing of give Trump an opportunity to defend his actions.

12 year old kids stiill working on their civic educations know that the House of Representatives acts as a grand jury for impeachment anctions, and no hearing or right of defense obtains until the trial which occurs in the Senate. It is a simple idea that appears too complex for Wyoming's GOP. I am not a fan of Congresswoman Cheney, but compared to these intellectual failures she is both morally and intellectually miles ahead.

26 January 2021

A New Day? Really?

Under the alleged Trump plan, which it appears never existed,  Sue and I should already have Covid 19 vaccinations. There is no question that we qualify as "1b" candidates. Sue, is a bit older and probably qualified as a mod 1. 

The County has a web site for appointments. It is a bit primitive but I could live with poor design if the system were working. Large numbers of the "sites" report that they won't schedule appointments until they receive some vaccine. One, Loyola's Mac Neal site is still limiting itself to mod 1's. The rest of the sites, all of them, report no available appointments. 

We qualify and it doesn't  matter.  I  don't think the issue is the county public health staff. There is simply not enough vaccine or staff.

We remain hermits. There is nowhere other than doctor visits, we can go.  Most of our food comes via delivery services. Drugs come from a drive through pharmacy.  We did have a few socially distant outside Sunday evenings for soda and whiskey. It is way too cold and muddy for that now. Church is a Zoom event.

Listening to the talking heads, you might think there is vaccine. Nope. 

29 July 2020

Changing, Shifting, and Moving

Indeed, things are shifting and I doubt we have internalized many of the changes. Here are only a few things I think will be changed, perhaps forever.

  1. Hand shakes arose from Viking gesture which assured a person that one was not holding a sword or knife. The firmness of a handshake was once a referent to male vigor. The handshake is dying as virus transmission makes "elbow touches," and bows more and more acceptable.
  2. I think the teenage hug culture is over. Yes, hugging someone is a way of expressing caring and closeness, but in the age of Covid, it is also murderous. I think the greeting hug will never return. This will have an enduring impact on those churches where "the peace" is a thing.
  3. The cruise culture is dead. Instead of a floating palace of hedonism, the cruise ship is now thought of as a petri dish of infections. I doubt the public will re-embrace the cruise.
  4. There are other changes is in the area of worship. Luther said the church is revealed in reformation. Jesus said he would lead believers to new places. So what might be the changes?

    I am thinking that Zoom(tm) and streaming are changing how we think of community. The verb, to congregate, currently means dangerously gather. I have been having an interesting discussion on the range of a sacramental blessing. Covid has made meetings of congregations distant or electronic for months.
    I do not know where these experiences and conversations lead, but I think the altar is moving.
In a sense this is my argument with Vice President Biden. He sees as a portion of his mission bringing America back to a level of decency and community ripped apart by the racist presidency of Trump. I am not at all sure we can claw our way back to civility. And when I look at the murderous police, and the murder of George Floyd, Lashan McDonald, and many, many others, I am not sure we should want to get to a now lost, largely White Privileged place. We need a new culture. A place where Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders, and especially Elizabeth Warren set the tone.

Is Biden better than Trump? Of course! He is a decent man. But we may need more radical changes.


23 June 2020

fathers day 2020

So Father's Day has past. The home improvement centers will have to find another reason for me to buy stuff I do not need. Sue and I live in an 800 square foot appartment. I had to chuckle at the adds to sell me a backup generator.

I was touched deeply by the care my sons, daughter-in-law, and grandkids showed. My younger son settled for a web greeting, pointing out that he has not been tested. When it is safe, he will buy the first Guinness, which is enough. My elder son, and daughter-in-law, wearing N95s, brought the masked grandkids, and a gluten free cheesecake. Outside, we served, ate, and cleared without going into the apartment, and without getting less than 6 feet apart. They were heartbreakingly careful.

There is a point here. My family is not afraid of Sue or me: they are afraid for us. They have a lot more contacts, carefully, but they have public contact jobs. Christal particularly, deals with children. We do not hug much now.

This Father's Day brought me to tears. Both of my sons will tell you that is rare. But this day, by caring so much, and social distancing, they did it. I don't deserve this, but I will for sure accept the love.

St Laika's

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