Mom had a surgery on Tuesday to clean out an open wound on her right foot that resulted from falling and bruising her feet a couple weeks ago - ah, the joys of being diabetic and injuring your feet. It seems that her heart rate shot up really high during surgery, and they ended up knocking her out completely at that point. When I went in to see her that evening, the cardiologist told me that she was in atrial fibrillation - and so her heart rate has been around 150 - 160 bpm. She was started on a Cardizem drip to help slow her heart down some.

This morning (Wednesday) her blood pressure bottomed out, and her blood sugar went really low - 24, when the normal is 70 - 120. Her heart rate was still up, and her body temperature was around 92 - 93 F. They apparently had orders to transfer her to ICU, but then she stabilized some, and they kept her on the Advanced Care Unit, instead.

I watched the nurse do the dressing change on Mom's right foot, and you can now see the bone in her foot under the wound. It is, however, bleeding well at this point, as evidenced by the pool of blood that collected on the floor after she sat with her foot dangling off the bed for a few minutes.

Mom's got a freakin' Christmas tree on two IV poles: NaCl 0.09%, Dopamine, Heparin, Cardizem, and occasionally a hyperalimentation solution or cefazolin.

Mom's creatinine - one of the lab tests for kidney function - is at 6.0. (It is supposed to be around 1.3 or so. and 4.0 is considered "critical.") The nephrologist at Camden-Clark wants to start Mom on dialysis, but Dr. Rudolph (the one primarily caring for her in the hospital now) wants to wait a bit. Thing is, if her body doesn't get rid of the toxins through urinating, they just build up and cause more problems. She's already somewhat confused - not quite sure of the day/time, etc. When it was too warm in her room today, she suggested that I open the blinds a bit, as a way to cool off the room, to give an example of her confusion. That is probably caused by her lack of kidney function.

So, that's the basic on what's going on. I think I should try to sleep, though I'm not sure I'll have much success.

The Passion Of The Christ

Last night was the first time that I saw this movie. Usually, I am the first one in the queue for any movie, but circumstance said it was not to be for this one. I went into the cinema with months of talk about it stashed in my head, although I try not to think about that at all when watching films, it is hard to avoid.

Being very interested in films in general I was most intrigued when quite a while go I began to read little things about Mel Gibson wanting to make a movie about Jesus, about him wanting to film it entirely in the ancient languages and make it as real as possible. Interesting, thought I. Sounds like something that could be pretty special, but I don’t think anything will come of it, too unconventional. But then the articles got longer, the whispers louder and people were cast. I read about it when I came across it, but it didn’t seem like it was going to be the next big thing or anything.

I was impressed though, in terms of a piece of filmmaking I thought it was a brave move. Okay, so it’s not like the story was anything new nor the ideas, no revolutionary technical wizardry was at play. But I have a lot of respect for someone who is willing to put so much of their own time, money, effort and reputation into something – even when they are being backed by no one else. That is the kind of Passion that impresses me most.

My experience with religion, Catholicism in particular, is pretty limited. The only thing I am familiar with on a deep level in Buddhism, that’s how I was brought up. Of the rest of my family scattered around the globe, some are Jewish the others somewhere between Christian and atheist. In terms of academics I have spent a few years in its company whilst doing Sociology, in the first two years I brushed with it on many occasions and in the third year I chose it as my specific field. Thus I could tell you many theories about religion and its causes and effects, yet I often find myself having a strange lack of knowledge about its history and the beliefs associated with each form. This is my state as I watch the movie.

Before going into the movie I kept thinking what the audience would be like. This is not something I normally wonder, but I kept thinking that they may be somehow different, not just going to the movies, this was A Very Important topic. Why? I was there and I just wanted to see. For a brief moment I even wanted my boyfriend not to buy popcorn because he’d make popcorn eating noises and that just didn’t seem right. Why I had this strange feeling of respect or reverence I have no idea, but it pretty much disappeared as soon as we walked into the cinema and it felt just like any other time – everyone else was talking and eating popcorn. Now see, I said to myself, stop being silly. It’s a movie!

I’d heard that in some theatres they didn’t even show trailers or anything before the movie, I knew it wouldn’t be like that here, my country is never like that. Being such an avid film watcher, there is pretty much never a case where a go see a movie that I haven’t seen the trailer for, seen pictures of and read lots about. This somewhat prepares you for what you are going to see, you know who the actors are, you know the story arc, you know the look of the cinematography and the type of dialog. Sure trailers can be misleading, but it’s a taste. For this I had seen no trailers, nothing but the poster, which looked very much like any painting or picture I’d seen before.

I found myself very taken with the way it looked, and as it progressed, the way it sounded. The sound of the metal rings clanging against the cross when the Roman’s pulled the rope out, the shuffle of the sandals on the rough floor. It was so beautifully captured. The sparse but well placed use of slow motion, the way each frame was shot through with a certain clarity, nothing out of focus in the background or dark and half hidden. Nothing except the Satan. Admittedly I found myself rather scared as I felt myself being tempted by him, he had those beautiful androgynous features and flickering eyes, it was only after that I found out he was a girl, that explained it somewhat. And as for James Caviezel I was most impressed, I have never really like any of his movies before, but aside from that it really didn’t feel like I was watching an actor. This was the dude. He had a perfect look of serenity, and the way they had made his eyes gold when normally they are a very bright blue. I straight away accepted that this was he, and that lack of particularly obvious faces kept this feeling throughout.

As the scenes in the garden unfolded I found myself intrigued, I knew what was going to happen in the end, but I didn’t know how it all played out. I felt it entice me although it assumed knowledge I knew I didn’t posses, it made me what to know more. Indeed, had it been an ordinary blockbuster movie, the ending would have certainly called for a sequel.

As Jesus was taken, but before the blood began to run, I felt like the next night I would definitly need to go and rent Monty Pythons Life Of Brian – this was all taking its self very seriously, I wanted that other side of the coin too. But as the events took place and the pure cruelty kept on coming it began to dawn on me that this really was a serious story, no matter whether you believe it actually happened, or that he really was the Son of God or not, the themes that ran rife where all to pertinent and real. By the end I could sort of understand why some people might be upset by movies such as Life Of Brian, not that I’m saying any banning or other such nonsense is justified, but the strength of peoples convictions is very powerful, and to be shown something that you believe in so deeply in such a light is difficult. When one gets even a glimpse of the full horror of something it becomes much easier to appreciate other people’s passions.

It hurt to watch it. The story felt so personal and human, not like something that was on a grand scale nor something that involved higher powers. It was about people, about a man. It was something that the more I realized it, the more I felt that that feeling is lost today. As I watched the scenes throughout the movie with Jesus and his disciples, the ones where he spoke the words of his beliefs, I felt very much at peace with it. Not for one moment did I feel I was being preached to, that I was being told my way was wrong or that I should change. Rather it made me feel that regardless of what I think about Christianity as a religion now, or about Christians in general, those words, the simple ideas contained within them were things I agreed with. They were compassionate and kind and they made a lot of sense.

This surprised me, because I know myself and I would never think that I ever even agreed with Christian morals or anything like that, I admit I think that in ignorance because I don’t know much about it, but from that impression which I get daily, it’s not something I care for. And I wondered, what is it that makes someone a Christian? What is the defining criterion?

I often hear my mother argue with people who say things along the lines of ‘I am a Christian, just because I don’t believe all that stuff in the bible about Creation or Noah’s Ark doesn’t mean I’m not. I can still believe in evolution and the big bang while being a good and true Christian.’ And she’d always say, no you are not – to be a Christian you must believe that Jesus was the Son of God, that God created the world and all in it, that if you do not sin your soul will go to heaven. I always thought I agreed with her, that if one was going to claim to be a Christian (or anything else for that matter) one should believe it whole-heartedly and live by that, but people don’t. Thus one could say, I believe in being good to others, I believe in life after death, I even believe in basic Christian moral principles, yet I am not a Christian.

As Jesus was carrying his cross and he fell, when the skirmish broke out between the soldiers and the people and he lay on the floor in the middle – there was a lady who came to him with a cup of water. It was slow motion, and it felt as many things in life sometimes do. You stay still, shocked and helpless in the middle of life, as chaos reigns around you. But as she came toward him, wanting to reach out and help, I was taken by this overwhelming sense of what can I do? What can I do? It’s nothing big, it’s something that made zero discernable difference in the end, something unnoticed by any but the two involved – yet it rang with such truth and love that I could not help but wish that I was there, that I could reach out with a cup of water to one who needed that. And that feeling of humanities utter carelessness and cruelty, that if only everyone would make just the tiniest of efforts that things could be so different. Now of course this is nothing new, but that’s the whole point. Those basic morals, not even right or wrong, just love for fellow man and compassion for others no matter if smaller or different from you are things that should not be new to anyone, they existed before Jesus, others have said them since and lived by them. Yet at the same time they seem to be totally forgotten.

Not usually being squeamish at all in movies, I found myself unable to watch as the spikes where driven through his hands and feet. It was too much, after all that had come before it, it was so utterly painful. I do not think that the violence was gratuitous or over the top or unnecessary – yes, it was uncomfortable to watch - but that’s what happened. I’ve heard many people say, ‘I know, but I’m fine as I am. I’d rather not know.’ Well, if that’s the way you feel…

After the movie, not a word was spoken by either of us until we were halfway home. Partly because I didn’t know what to say, but also because I felt stunned, somewhat drained. The only thing that has kept us quieter for longer was 21 Grams. The Passion had been a long, hard journey, but one that I felt was more than worthwhile. When the film was over I did feel a sense of relief, but I also felt challenged, I felt inspired. Not through guilt or preaching, but through a feeling that one person can do something. That those random acts of kindness or the care given to something else in the world do make a difference.

I went to bed humming 'Always Look on the Bright Side of Life...'

Debian it is!

After two weeks of compiling, installing, re-installing and again re-installing numerous Linux flavours and OpenBSD, I have finally settled on Debian. Why Debian? Well, it was easy to install, it didn't overwhelm my machine with thousands of crappy applications, it instantly recognized my hardware, and it just works! Downside is a rather ancient set of KDE applications (based on KDE 2.2.2), but I hear that's going to change in June, when KDE 3.2 enters "stable". Why not OpenBSD? Or Gentoo? or even Suse?

Well, OpenBSD is, I believe, not made for the desktop. With it's excellent security and pf packet filtering system and it's emphasis on a safe environment, Theo's baby is better installed in front of a desktop machine. You just feel during installation, that X Windows and KDE are rather grudgingly supported and really only just tolerated for all us pussies who prefer a mouse to a proper Unix commandline, but that's ok, as OpenBSD will continue to be my preferred choice in OS's when it comes to protect my network against the evils of the rest of the internet.

Gentoo didn't make it because, well, for me as a n00b, the installation was just to tricky. I know that sounds like a capitulation, and it is. After my third install that didn't work I was just tired of it. Sorry.

Suse 8.2. has a great installer, but crams your HD full of unnecessary crap and just didn't support my Trident PCI card, due to it's rather weird way of installing X Windows. Sax2 just never worked for me, so, after a day of getting a proper picture on my monitor, this had to go as well.

So, running Debian's Woody I might not have the latest set of KDE apps, but the machine now has an uptime of more that 82 hours without any hangups. That's something I can't say about the other Linuxes. So, a round of applause for the debian community and thumbs up from this noob!

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This is probably only going to attract a somewhat limited audience. Nevertheless, there might be a message in here somewhere.

Did you ever sit back and take the time to just watch your kid at play? I do it often. I sometimes choose to be a somewhat distant spectator from the porch rather than trying to join in the fun and games. Many of the other neighborhood parents seem to feel the need to be involved in every activity that their child is involved in. Whether it be walking the dog to jumping rope to playing catch with a Frisbee, they seem to feel the need to have their presence felt. Believe me, I’m not in any way condemning their actions, I just feel that sometimes, kids ought to be left alone so they can act like kids. So they can be themselves and work out their little differences without mom and pop jumping in to solve every little inevitable dispute. So they can be at play and not have to worry about impressing either of their parents. Maybe it's because I do the single parent thing and I don't have the luxury of splitting duties while my kid is with me. Maybe it's because I know they’ll be adults soon enough, and that there’s plenty enough of time to go about trying to impress the world.

While I’m watching from afar, I often take notice of my kids’ mannerisms. Everything from her style of walking, running, talking, and posture to the way she throws and catches and rides her bicycle. None of it escapes my eye. I see a lot of me in her.

I’ve been doing this joint custody gig on a fairly consistent basis and, barring a couple of hiccups over the last seven years, things have worked out reasonably well. Although, I sometimes feel sad that my ex and me couldn’t work things out while we were married. While the animosity I felt from the circumstances of our divorce has certainly faded over time, I doubt it will ever go away completely. On the other hand, I feel glad about how we have worked things out while we are apart. We try and remain flexible towards each others schedule and often adapt our plans to suit the needs of the other. We don’t chitchat too often about the events going on in today’s world, we’ve both got other ears in our lives to hear those opinions and stories. No use cluttering up what already seems to “work”.

So there I was last evening, prepping the grill to cook the perfect cheeseburgers and corn on the cob. Since last night involved piano lessons for the little one, her mom was going to drop her off at my place around 6:30. Finding myself with some time to kill, I flipped on NPR, broke out a beer and a copy of the latest Atlantic Monthly, settled in on my porch and felt the cool breeze sifting through the neighborhood. The neighborhood kids were across the street, playing whatever kids games they were playing under the watchful eyes of their parents. An idyllic setting indeed.

Sure enough, around 6:30, the car pulled up and they got out. My kid took notice of the activities going on and asked me if she could join in the fun. Realizing that fun was more important than the perfect cheeseburger, I told her to go ahead. She took off running…

Normally, this is the occasion when me and my ex are forced to share an awkward moment of silence or two. Vague pleasantries are exchanged, the upcoming schedule is confirmed and we both go our separate ways. Last night was a little different.

As my kid took off running, her mom walked up to the porch and sat down. I was little surprised and, expecting the worst, asked her what was on her mind.

”She’s you, you know that don’t you?”

She went on to describe some of the same things I mentioned earlier and some other things that might’ve escaped me. I made some self-deprecating remarks about how that wasn’t so much of good thing, that I’m sure, given time, my influence will fade and hers will take root. She smiled and said it was time to go.

I watched her drive off and give a beep of the horn to the kids as they played down the block. I felt a certain something that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I don’t know if it was misplaced pride or that if it was the fact that even though we’d been apart so many years, that it felt nice to be remembered, however slightly.

I gathered myself off the porch and went down the street. The kids and their dutiful audience of parents were engaged in a game of hopscotch. I told my kid that dinner was going to be ready in about twenty minutes or so and she should make her way home soon. I gave her a hug and a peck on the forehead. I turned my back and began the walk home, a huge smile spread across my face.

Lynyrd Skynyrd, a band with three guitarists, attempts to write 'Free Bird'
(in the style of the immortal 'The Troggs Tapes')

Part I: The Fuckin' Twelve-String
Mike Skynyrd:   Right lads, I've come up with this guitar part here.

(he plays the guitar)

Mike:           You see? Dah-dah, dah-dah, that's it, right there. 
                That's what we need.
Dave Skynyrd:   Look, do that again.
Phil Skynyrd:   Dah-dah, dahdah-dah?
Mike:           No, it's dah-dah, dah-dah, here.

(plays, but slightly differently)

Phil:           Dah dah dah?
Dave:           How about dah-dah-dah, dah-dah?

(plays similar riff, but with a twelve-string guitar)

Phil:           No, look, that's too fuckin' much. You're making it
                too... fuckin'...
Mike:           Dah-dah-dahdah?
Dave:           No, dah-dah-dah, fuckin' just like that, like you
                were playing it fuckin' then.
Mike:           I was playing 'dah-dah, dah-dah', look...
Phil:           No, no, you were playing 'dah-dah, dahdah-dah', the
                fuckin'... fuckin' second fuckin' time, the first
                fuckin' time you were playing...
Mike:           No, look, I was fuckin' playing it like this...
Dave:           You were playing it different the fuckin' second time.
Mike:           I had a fuckin' different fuckin' tone the second time.
                I was thinking of it on the fuckin' twelve-string,
                because it just has this magic... sparkle to it, see?
Dave:           Well, I just fuckin' played it on the fuckin'
                twelve-string, and you said it was fuckin' wrong.
Mike:           No, you fuckin' played it fuckin' differently.
                It was dah-dah, fuckin' dah-dah.


(fade out)

Part II: The Fuckin' Drums

(it is half past three in the morning)

Mike:           You see? It's no fuckin' good on the twelve-string.
Dave:           Can we track it?
John Skynyrd:   Can I do my bit on the drums, now? I've come up with
Phil:           We've done that, we worked that out. The fuckin'
                drums are not a problem. That's okay, we need a really
                fuckin' good riff here, that's the thing.
Mike:           Although a good drum part can make a song, make you
                really... listen to the different...
John:           Yeah.
Phil:           But nobody's going to fuckin' hear the fuckin' drums
                if there isn't a fuckin' riff at the fuckin' start,
                because the fuckin' drums come in fuckin' later.
Mike:           We could start off with the drums... like in that
Phil:           No, we've fuckin' done that already, on the other
                fuckin' song... we can't just start off with the
                fuckin' drums on every song.
John:           It could be a big thing, drum music, you know? A
                concept, just an album starting off with drums, and
                then... more drums.
Mike:           After the drums... more drums?
John:           Yeah. And then, after the more drums...
                yet more drums.
Phil:           Look, it doesn't matter if we start off with
                fuckin' drums, we need to work out this fuckin' riff.
Mike:           AH! But now you say it doesn't matter if we...
Dave:           It does matter.

(the rest is silence)

(To explain: As a British person growing up with television in the 1980s I was not exposed to Lynyrd Skynyrd at all. The band mean almost nothing in the UK, apart from 'Sweet Home Alabama' which pops up in adverts every so often. Therefore my only knowledge of 'Free Bird' until extremely recently came from reading about it rather than hearing it. On hearing it for the first time - shortly after hearing 'Stairway to Heaven' for the first time - it struck me that there is a man soloing on the guitar all the way through the first half of the song, which becomes annoying very quickly. The soloing makes sense in the context of the latter half of the song, because it's supposed to be guitar overkill, and very entertaining it is too, but it's out of place during the vocal phase. It was pointed out to me that the band had three guitarists, which seemed like a nightmare recipe for confusion, which reminded me of the Troggs Tapes, and voila).

Shucks howdy. This was the first day in over 2 years that I returned to E2. I left after a very one-sided political argument and I figured that it's been long enough that things might have changed. I hope so, since I had fun noding, but I will have my writing subject to some editor with an axe to grind.

So, for the time being, I have picked up where I left off in my quest to get the power of the C!.

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