The emotional disaster I suffered recently now seems like a distant memory. My doctors have come up with a new drug combination that is necessary, for now; and it's working marvelously. I feel like my old self — but more important, I feel in control. Being in control is something that I'm quite used to. In business, it's my job. Being in control; being the one others come to for advice and guidance; feeds my ego (which at times is too large). My ego's gotten a downsizing. Nothing's more humbling than being told "you're a danger to yourself and we're locking you up until we don't think so." So much for control.

When I lost control and felt so deeply hopeless and depressed I didn't even realize I was a different person. A "crazy" person. Those who treated me in hospital re-assured me that if I'm careful and take the correct steps to be mindful at all times that I have a disease — one that is life-threatening although it's not one that many people think is — I'll be alright.

The stigma of mental illness (bipolar disorder in my case) is something that bothers me immensely. I wanna be "normal." Borgo's magnificent writeup, inspired by the lovely and brilliant Borgette, Normal is just a setting on a Washing Machine helps me a lot. I re-read it once in awhile.

My deep appreciation and thanks for all the messages of concern. Rest assured that I'm doing well and taking care not to burn the candle at both ends.

Christmas came and went. I worked. I volunteered at the Soup Kitchen for a few hours (that made me very, very grateful for the blessings that God — Buddha in my case — has given me).

By 4:30 the Christmas dinner that I cooked was spread out in our bar. I was surprised how many folks were either alone for Christmas or just spending the day with a significant other. It was a joyous time and although sober for the holiday, I joined in the drunken caroling, merriment (and a little Christmas mayhem). They weren't ready to see a 5'6" 225-pound elf (who knows, perhaps the folks who'd had a little too much thought it was the Christmas version of the "seeing Pink Elephants" effect). Those who over-imbibed were driven home by me or one of the staff and left their cars in the lot. So Christmas was safe, too.

Now my sights are set on New Year's Eve. Sadly, the reservation book is not nearly as burgeoning with names as it has been in the past. It's a very competitive market up here - and although our cover charge ($18) is among the lowest around, response is well below what I'd expected. I'd hazard a guess that my wife's going to near kill me for the expenditures I've committed to for entertainment. And the champagne, hats, noisemakers and decorations were quite costly, too. However, if the entirety of the crowd we get spends money eating and drinking, I think we'll do okay.

At the urging of my grief counselor, I've collected many of my father's writings and letters together and am going to node them. I wonder if Hank_Lewis is the first non-published dead writer to appear in the cyber-pages of E2. Difficult is a mild word to use when describing the choice of what, out of thousands of pages, I should type first. Suffice it to say that I've a lot of work in front of me. But joyous work, this. It's like listening to dad again and I thoroughly enjoy it.

Finally, my Linux project is also in full swing (kinda). I've been reading all the websites I can about it; and still don't have any of the three machines I've committed to convert working. At all. I'm chomping at the bit to breathe new life into these older computers. I'll keep going, though, no matter how much my wife complains about my sitting patiently in front of a blank screen watching the disk images load, only to spew obscenities when the machine refuses to cooperate.

One of my aims is to get the knack of Linux programming down well enough to load a version with a GUI into machines that are discarded by local companies and give them to the after-school youth center in Hartford, for the use of the kids who've chosen that humble but entertaining place to spend their time doing homework, playing (and, sadly, for many of them, avoiding the chaos at home). It sure beats selling drugs on street corners.

By now I'd hazard a guess you're thinking that I've got too much on my plate. Yes! But with so much, and counseling, going on, I hope to squeeze depression out of my psyche.



Saddam Hussein swung this morning. His hanging made headlines around the world and many in the Islamic world are calling this a war crime. Others celebrate, and I suspect George W. Bush is enjoying a celebratory glass of Pepsi to honor the occasion. Honestly I think getting rid of Saddam was the real reason for invading Iraq, even if Bush might not even admit it to himself. After all, Saddam did try to have his father killed and his continued defiance constituted a blot on the family name.

Given all the carnage Saddam's execution seems almost anti-climactic. You'd think that after three years of war and many thousands of dead (mostly Iraqi) he'd go out like one of the immortals in Highlander. But our world is not a comic book even if George W. Bush thinks like a silver age character. Superman will not appear to save the day. Believe me, I've tried pinching myself and it doesn't work.

Last week conservative commentator Jonah Goldberg honored the life and legacy of Augusto Pinochet by saying that Pinochet was exactly what Iraq needed. ( Goldberg is the man who named the French 'surrender monkees' because they didn't want to sign up for this war in Iraq.) The obvious rejoinder is that Saddam was Pinochet, adapted to the Middle East. In Goldberg's view Pinochet 'restored sanity' to Chile by overthrowing a democratically elected government in a bloody coup d'etat. .

Still, Goldberg has a point. America doesn't have a problem with murderous right-wing dictators so long as they play stepin fetchit. Pinochet knew his place and sucked up to corporate power. Hussein did not, and that's why he died of hanging while Pinochet went down from old age. The truth is that had Saddam kow-towed publicly after his defeat in Gulf War I he would still be in power and the sanctions would have ended long ago. He'd have have been treated like the prodigal son returning, welcomed with open arms.

I think we all sort of hoped that Saddam would break down at the end. He did not, and it appears that he met his end with courage and dignity. I wonder if the same could be said of our President if the hangman came for him. I suspect not. As Ann Richards so aptly described his father, " He can't help himself, he was born with a silver foot in his mouth."

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