Sunday, June 5, 2016

rethinking my 'dukes of hazzard' moment

Until I looked down and saw a deflated airbag in my lap, I had no idea I had just crashed or that my car was destroyed.

This was three weeks ago.

I was driving on the freeway, less than a mile from my house, heading downtown, when I suddenly knew that I was blacking out.  I recognized the sudden, overwhelming dizziness because I had just blacked out the day before at the gym, bloodying up my hard head, which led to the onset of paramedics and an ambulance trip to the E.R., where they tested me for stuff and decided that I was just super-dehydrated.  Good guess, but wrong.

These blackouts were not your run-of-the-mill fainting spells, where you have some idea that your head is spinning and something ain't right and you better sit down fast.  In both cases, there was, out of nowhere, maybe ten seconds of warning, which, when you happen to be driving a car at 60 m.p.h., isn't very long -- for me, just enough time to see that I was at an exit.  The last thing I saw was the exit sign.  I was unconscious almost immediately, but my foot, unfortunately, was still on the accelerator.

At the scene of the accident, it took me a while to realize that amazing passersby had stopped to help me out, that something really bad had happened, that I couldn't just put my car in reverse and drive off.  Cops were there, the paramedics (again!) were on their way.

It wasn't until later, when I was in a hospital bed, that I was told what had happened.  After I had turned onto the exit, my car kept moving at a high speed, zooming through an intersection, knocking down signs, jumping curbs, then careening off a hill, "Dukes of Hazzard"-style, and landing in a clump of trees and bushes, pieces of my car's engine scattered behind me.

My injuries from the accident were minor, but I was kept in the hospital for observation to figure out why the heck I was passing out.  They hooked me up to monitors, and it wasn't too long before I had another blackout, lying there in bed.  This time, thanks to the monitors, they had the answer:  my heart had stopped for 18 seconds.  Obviously, a problem.  When I came to, the nurse said, "Looks like you'll be getting a pacemaker!", which I did, and I'm doing fine now, have a beautiful new car, and life goes on.

But an incident like that will make a person a bit more introspective, sort of a wake-up call to how vulnerable we are all and reminder of how everything can change in a second.  As I now think back to the whole dreadful experience, these are the thoughts that haunt me or encourage me:

-  Considering what my car went through, it's amazing that I was not more injured that I was.  Kudos to Volkswagen engineering for producing well-designed and relatively safe vehicles!
-  How thankful I am that my out-of-control car passed through a busy intersection without hitting anybody else.
-  That North Memorial in Robbinsdale, Minnesota is a great hospital... and these words are coming form me, who has a general distrust of the U.S. medical establishment.
-  That there are a lot of wonderful, helpful people in this world.  The bystanders -- all strangers to me -- who stopped to help -- they were so kind and patient and caring -- both the people at the accident scene and the guys the day before at the gym.  If I were a person who believed in angels ......
-  That I have more friends in my life right now than I have ever had before, and I felt their support and love through all of this.

Okay, that's enough of that.

The "General Lee" -- minus the Confederate flag, of course.

Sunday, May 1, 2016


So ends another vacation.  Three nights in Vegas, a couple days of beautiful scenery in the California Sierra Mountains, and two nights here in Reno, from where we are flying home, changing planes in Salt Lake City.

Monday, April 25, 2016


With Jerry and Tom, heading back to Las Vegas, my escape from reality place...

Saturday, April 23, 2016

at the thai restaurant tonight

For once, a fortune cookie connected with the thoughts that have been noodling through my brain --

"Affirm it, visualize it, believe it, and it will actualize itself."

It's coming and I'll tell you about it when it happens, but I needed to hear that, even if it just comes for a fortune-cookie factory...

Friday, April 22, 2016

the treasury does its history lesson

The U.S. Treasury this week announced that it was making a change, starting in 2020, to the 20-dollar bill.  For many years, the image of Andrew Jackson, President of the U.S. from 1829 to 1837, has appeared on the bill.  He is to be replaced by Harriet Tubman, former slave and active abolitionist  hero from before and during the U.S. Civil War.

Some (e.g., Trump) would call this "political correctness", but the irony is outstanding.  Here is an African-American woman who risked her life many times to help slaves get to freedom (the "Underground Railroad")  taking the place of a man who actually owned slaves.

Out of curiosity, I googled the phrase "presidents that owned slaves" and found the list.  There were twelve U.S. Presidents that owned slaves.  George Washington ("the Father of Our Country") owned more than 300 slaves and did not free them during his lifetime.

Amazing.  And this was only a couple hundred years ago.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

a local prince who happened to love purple

It may have been a big story today across the country and across the world, but here in the Twin Cities it was the number one conversation of shock and grief.  Prince, local music icon going back to his prime in the 1980s, died suddenly this morning at age 57.  He was the guy who wanted to "party like it's 1999" when 1999 was far off in the future.  He put Minneapolis and the "Minneapolis Sound" on the musical map and kept Minneapolis as his base of operations and his life.

Appropriately, it's been raining here all day today, but the rain isn't purple.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

one way to end a career

It's not often that I have one of those dreams that go on and on for what seems like hours and is in reality probably just a few minutes, and it's not often that I remember a whole lot of detail about my dreams... But I had one of those on-and-on ones last night, and I remember bits and pieces of it...

It's one segment of the dream that I recall vividly.

In it, I was a concert pianist, playing before a large audience.  The piece I was playing:  Piano Concerto No. 2 by Camille Saint-Saens, one of Saint-Saens' most popular works.

If you happen to know that particular Piano Concerto, you know that it has three movements:  an andante, an allegro, and a presto.

So there I am, playing the piano beautifully (obviously a dream), the audience is getting into it, and then I reach the end of the second movement... and stop.  I stand up to take my bows.

Now this was no run-of-the-mill audience.  They knew their Saint-Saens, and they knew that this beautiful piano concerto had three movements and that the third movement was the wild climax and that I had skipped it.

So there I stood like a fool, alone on the stage.  There was a smattering of polite clapping -- obviously not the Saint-Saens fans.

Most of the rest of the dream was about how I had destroyed my concert-pianist career by skipping that movement.  I don't think I cared very much.

I woke up this morning, got out my vinyl recording of the 2nd Piano Concerto (Earl Wild on the piano), and listened to the whole thing.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

when 15 april isn't 15 april

Sometimes, deadlines control...

April 15th -- generally the date when tax returns are due -- has been a controlling deadline for me for the past 38 years, and, while my involvement is much less now than it used to be, this past week was crazy busy with last-minute client stuff...

April 18th (tomorrow) -- is this year's tax deadline because of Emancipation Day in Washington, DC, which means that since April 15th fell on a Friday, it coincides with the legal holiday in DC, which somehow means that it couldn't be the IRS deadline.  Don't ask me to explain that, I'm done with the topic.

Anyway, I'm done with all of it.  Get away from the desk, get away from the computer.


Grass is green, the buds in the trees are out ahead of time, the yard is beckoning.... or the garden center.

Monday, April 11, 2016

is it time for ice cream yet?

This might be the first time I ever blogged on my iPhone, so who knows what auto-correct and my fat-fingered mistyping will do to it.

I just finished eating a tough overpriced bratwurst sandwich while sitting here at Target Center in downtown Minneapolis watching basketball-- our Minnesota Timberwolves playing horribly (so far) against the Houston Rockets.  Across the street it was baseball, the Minnesota Twins just had their chilly home opener and are now 0-7, their worst season start in franchise history.

Meanwhile, across town in downtown St. Paul, hockey playoffs start soon, and the Minnesota Wild somehow made it into the playoffs even though they lost their last five games.

And now you are up to date on the state of Twin Cities professional sports.  And typing this nonsense on an iPhone isn't easy.  Remind me not to do it again.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

going to hellenium

My son Jon, the would-be horticulturalist, dropped by today to plant three new additions to my front garden, all helleniums (hellenia?).  Jon is major fan of the hellenium, a beautiful and versatile perennial.  He had me plant several last year, and they turned out great -- for instance, here was how one of them looked mid-summer 2015:

Thanks, Jon.... Looking forward to seeing how this year's bunch turn out.  Try the hellenium, readers, if you can find any!  It's spring!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

stall thrills

The latest pretend crisis in the right-wing political world is the transgender "which-bathroom-to-use?" thing.  These idiots that are proposing and sometimes passing the "biological gender" laws seem to be implying that men are going to dress in drag just to be able to be in the stall next to a woman as she pees.  I mean, really??  In a world of real anxieties and problems, these are the fears that some legislators fantasize about?

A sidenote:  Europeans often get a kick out of American use of the word "bathroom" -- when there are no bath options in sight -- just so that the more graphic word "toilet" can be avoided.

Friday, April 8, 2016

when good friends move away

They move away, and you realize you didn't spend enough time with them when they were here...

And they come back to town for a three-day visit, and they have a lot of friends to see, and you are on their list of people to see... and it will briefly seem like they never left...

See you tonight, Jamie and Alan.... 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

that twangy stuff

As I was driving around, I had the Willie Nelson station on my Sirius satellite radio.  It might surprise you that I would ever listen to a country-music station, but I do flip by there now and then, partly because it's amusing, partly because I'm off and on reading Willie Nelson's autobiography (amusing in the extreme), partly because the old "classic" twangy country music from the '50s and the '60s is a thousand times better than current "country" music, which, let's face it, is pretty obnoxious.

Today and yesterday, though, the station is focusing on Merle Haggard, the country-music icon (what is the definition of "icon"?) who died yesterday on his 79th birthday.  I knew little of Merle Haggard, whose main irritation to me was his 1969 hit song, "Okie From Muskogee"...

We don't smoke marijuana in Muskogee;
We don't take no trips on LSD
We don't burn no draft cards down on Main Street;
We like livin' right, and bein' free.

etc., etc., etc..

That irritation came partly from being stationed in the Army (against my will), where everybody in my ranks was either a drunk or a pothead, and the potheads happened to be more interesting,... It was a difficult anti-Establishment period in our history, and Merle was there to irritate some of us...

But listening to this Willie Nelson station tribute to Merle Haggard's sometimes sad, personal music has made re-think some of this... I raise my drink to you, Merle, and may you find peace always.  We're all in this together, and we all share much.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

eight is enough -- or maybe way too much

Being about the same age as Hillary and Trump and a few years younger than Bernie, I gotta say that the one good thing to say about this goofy and stupid election season is that AGE is rarely being mentioned.  The effect of that open-mindedness (?) on me personally is to let me know that I might still have a few good productive years left in me, and, whatever I do, it should be a whole lot less strenuous than being President of the U.S.  Have you ever seen photos of past Presidents that compare what they looked like on Day 1 of their Presidency to how they looked eight years later?  Check it out sometime, or find a photo of how President Obama looked when he was first elected.