The West Wing-Two Cathedrals
The National Day of Prayer is tomorrow. To honor that event, I am posting a YouTube video of the best monologue in television history–an excerpt from “Two Cathedrals,” an episode of THE WEST WING. This scene happens after the President’s secretary is killed by a drunk driver in her first new car. Many people have told me about the power of prayer, and that they are praying for Steph during this cardiac crisis. I am praying, too, and I freely admit that many of my prayers lately has sounded like President Bartlet’s. I make no apologies for that. Any believer who speaks truth will admit that their prayers sound like this once in awhile. (The translation of some of the Latin phrases can be found in one of my earlier entries, before I learned how to blog on YouTube videos.)

Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington-Duke’s Place
In addition to this being my birthday, this would have been my father’s 79th, Emperor Hirohito of Japan’s 107th, and Edward Kennedy (“Duke”) Ellington’s 105th. To honor Ellington, I am posting a video (of sorts) of my favorite song of his, a vocalese of “C Jam Blues,” sung by Louis Armstrong.

This 45th Birthday is a Mixed Bag

Susie made me a wonderful animated video using Mike Post’s theme from Law and Order.  I wish I could post it here, but that seems to either be beyond my capabilities, or something that LiveJournal is unable to do at this time.  I’ll experiment with it and try to put it in at some later time.  She did an excellent take-off on the opening credits of the various Law and Order programs.  (She named one of the actors in her mini-credits “Coff-E.,” since she knows I like Ice-T., who plays Detective Odafin Tutuola on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.)  We ordered in two pizzas from Pizza Hut, and I ate the cake that Susie made for me.  (There was enough left over that I don’t have to decide what I’m bringing for lunch in the morning.)

So why is this birthday a mixed bag?  We kicked off the day by going to Steph’s cardiologist for a once-over regarding the “comedy” of errors last week at Riverside.  The doctor who screwed up the initial cardiac catheterization submitted a report for the file.  (Here’s where I used one of my ex-typesetter skills: I was able to read some of the file, even though it was sitting in the folder upside down.)  It was single-spaced and looked like it was the length of a James A. Michener novel.

There’s been no new information on the cardiac front.  Steph will be seeing her surgeon, who wielded the scalpel in ’99 and will be doing so at this latest procedure, on the fifth of May.  He’s currently in Europe, and won’t be back in the U.S. until the end of this week.  I learned something that was worrisome.  When Steph was in the hospital last week, the doctors at Riverside thought her situation was serious enough for them to FedEx her file to him in Europe.  (For a more detailed description of today’s appointment, go to Steph’s blog at and read her thoughts.)  From what I’ve been seeing and hearing since we first learned Steph’s valve was leaking, it seems like all the cardiacs and surgeons are all on the same sheet of music–surgery is a matter of “when,” not “if.”

Earlier in this blog, I was ranting about the new working-hours policy that will be official as of next Monday.  I must halfway recant some of that.  I got into work at 11:30 a.m., after the appointment with the cardiologist, and spent the last hour of the work day in a section meeting about the new policy.  A lot of people came in loaded for bear, but I came to like the policy a little more.  I have been notoriously wasteful of the 3.1 hours of sick and vacation leave I earn every two weeks–I am a notorious “earn and burn” employee.  But, I found out how I can be with Steph for her 5/5/08 appointment and not have to use what little leave I have remaining.  As long as an employee logs 40 hours in a week, with preapproval, an employee can take shorter lunch breaks (a 60-minute lunch period will be the norm as of Monday) or work some extra time at the start or end of the day.  So, next week I’ll work 1.25 hours extra at the end of the work day, and take four 30-minute lunch breaks.  The hours have to be made up in the same week.  Governor Strickland’s goal was to have butts in the seats 40 hours a week–how those 40 hours are to be distributed are a little more flexible than they were.  The proof will be in the delivery, though.

I got a long overdue haircut and beard trim on Saturday, after Susie was at soccer to see what she’ll be doing on Saturday mornings come fall.  Nothing could be done about the gray hair, but I am (for the moment at least) without the “Grizzly Adams Goes Hasidic” look I’ve had for the last few weeks.  It caused quite a stir when I walked into work yesterday morning.

I need to stream the interview with Rev. Jeremiah Wright from PBS’ Website,, since I missed Bill Moyers’ Journal last weekend.  From what I have seen of Jeremiah Wright on TV, the wrong member of Trinity Church is running for President.  (If Wright had been here in Columbus, I’d still be in the United Church of Christ.)  Wright is getting raked over the coals unnecessarily right now, but I try to bear in mind the title of the sermon that Martin Luther King, Jr. would have delivered April 7, 1968.  It was called “Why America May Go to Hell.”  There may be some truth to the adage that a tree is best measured after it has fallen–King would have been crucified upside down had he delivered that sermon.  What I have seen of Wright’s sermons reminds me of something that was spray-painted on an embassy wall soon after 9/11, which I heard about from the pulpit of a UCC church here in Columbus.  The graffiti said, “America THINK!!  Why does the world hate you?”

Some Champagne Corks Will Be Popping At Work

I don’t know why, but I forgot to cut and paste this into the blog when it was printed.  I did Xerox it and put it in my handwritten diary, though.

Official ousted from embattled state agency over treatment of subordinate

Thursday,  April 24, 2008 8:09 PM


A state human-resources manager who was accused of waging a smear campaign against an underling has been fired, while the underling is back on the job after a six-month suspension.


The actions are the first taken by the Ohio Industrial Commission in response to back-to-back audits last week that blasted the 500-employee agency for shoddy management, retaliation against whistle-blowers and mishandling of employee complaints.

Laurie Worcester, the commission’s human resources manager, will be fired from her $85,000-a-year job Monday, commission spokeswoman Crystal Davis Hutchins confirmed today. Meanwhile, the target of allegations by Worcester, equal-employment officer LaTanya Carmichael, came back to her $54,400 position Monday of this week.

In a report issued last week, the inspector general accused Worcester of leveling false accusations against Carmichael, such as falsifying time cards and improperly deleting e-mail messages. The inspector general called Worcester’s department “inefficient and dysfunctional.”

The report came a day after the Ohio Department of Administrative Services said the Industrial Commission has bungled equal-opportunity complaints since suspending Carmichael last October.

Worcester is fighting her dismissal. She filed an appeal with the State Personnel Board of Review today seeking protection as a whistle-blower.

Her attorney, James E. Melle, said Worcester was simply following the directions of her bosses. He said the inspector general’s findings were “absolutely unsupportable.”

“She’s being made a scapegoat in this.”

Meanwhile, Industrial Commission Chairman Gary M. DiCeglio announced today that he is in the process of hiring a third-party investigator to look into employee complaints alleging retaliation and other mistreatment.

Hutchins would not name the investigator or say whether he or she works for state government.

Gov. Ted Strickland, who appointed DiCeglio last July, has pushed the Industrial Commission to “ take appropriate action” in response to the two critical audits released last week, Strickland spokesman Keith Dailey said. 

Susie to Become a Jock This Fall

I signed her up for Youth Soccer at Whetstone Park yesterday morning.  She watched two games, just to see what she’s getting herself into.  So now that I’ve signed on the dotted line, that means that come fall, I’ll be spending many Saturday mornings at the fields near the Shelterhouse in Whetstone Park watching Susie and her team duking it out.

With two non-athletic parents, it’s surprising that Susie is showing any interest or knack for athletics.  I keep seeing on the local news and reading in the newspaper about schools having to cancel their phys.ed. programs because successful tax levies keep failing and the school districts are drowning in red ink.  When I was in junior high and high school, I would have been the happiest kid on earth if phys.ed. had gotten the axe!

The one blessing that I had during ninth grade was that I had gym class on even-numbered days.  That meant that I could never have it two days in a row.  I was content with that, although I would have been happier not to take it at all.

I did manage to get myself suspended from phys.ed. temporarily.  We were playing touch or flag football, and the gym teacher said that we had to adhere to the same rules they used in high school and pro football.  He was keeping a close eye on me, because he knew that I was not thrilled to be there.

A kid on the team opposite mine, a kid who weighed maybe 100 lbs. soaking wet, managed to catch the ball.  He was completely in his glory as he was tear-assing down the field.  He had never been that close to the ball before.  When he entered my area, I thought it was a God-given chance for a vacation from phys.ed.  I stretched out my arm and clotheslined the kid.  (I did wonder if that would catch the gym teacher’s eye–he was conveniently ignoring what the NFL would call “unnecessary roughness.”)

Nothing was hurt on the aspiring Boomer Esiason except his pride.  For a millisecond, I was afraid I had broken his neck when I stretched out my arm and yoked him.  He was a little stunned and very mad, and but essentially unhurt.

How much of an athlete was I?  In grade school, they were choosing sides for kickball, and a kid on crutches was chosen ahead of me.

And I got my wish… suspension from phys.ed.

While I’m typing, Steph’s learning how to delete events from the calender on her iBook.  I have the headphones on and I’m listening to Donald Fagen’s 2006 CD Morph the Cat.  So far, all I’ve heard is the title cut.  So far, it’s not grabbing me the way The Nightfly did.  My late father used to grade papers with Steely Dan’s Gold album playing.  When the tape ran out on one side, he’d flip it over and play the other one.  He used to truly like the song “Time Out of Mind,” mainly because the title was a line in Don Quixote.  (The song was on Gaucho).  He stopped playing it, however, once I explained the song to him.  He loved the lyrics, “Tonight when I chase the dragon/The water may change to cherry wine/And the silver will turn to gold/Time out of mind.”  I had to open my big mouth and explain that “chasing the dragon” means to freebase heroin.  I never knew if he knew where the band got its name, and I was damned if I was going to explain it to him!

I never saw the movie FM, but Steely Dan’s theme song from it, “FM (No Static at All)” was one of those songs where I would camp out for hours at the radio with my tape recorder.  I always felt a little cavalier because the lyrics twice used the word “fuck,” and the FCC never got after WXIL-FM, the stellar station over in Parkersburg, for it.  Later on, Steely Dan released the song again, with a long saxophone outro (the beginning of the song is the intro, so the end of it is the outro.)  One announcer would get very close to the microphone, and in a Barry White-ish voice, he said, “From the original soundtrack, ‘FM (No Static at All).’  And that is Donald Fagen… (pause for 10 seconds) Walter Becker… (another 10 second pause) Steely Dan.”

After church (I was the only one from our household who went–Steph is too exhausted, and Susie just needed a day at home), I went up to Graceland Shopping Center and bought some plastic plates and tumblers at Target, along with a six-pack of microcassettes.  I found the microcassettes I thought I had lost once I got home, naturally.

That’s a wrap for now.

Cut and print.

Home Again, Home Again

Steph is home!  I heard this good news about 9 a.m. today.  Pat and/or Tanya were willing to drive me to Riverside Hospital this morning, but I had barely been out of doors since Steph and I arrived at the hospital Monday morning, so I took the bus there from Pat and Tanya’s house.  It felt good to be on COTA again–the first indicator that my life was returning to normal.  (The last “normal” thing I did was go to church on Sunday morning.)  While I was at a bus stop at W. North Broadway, my cell phone rang.  It was Steph, excited to be telling me she would be discharged.  I was at Riverside less than 10 minutes later, and our excitement was a little premature.  We should know by now that any news about being discharged from the hospital is followed by hurry-up-and-wait.  It was at least three or four hours after Steph told me she was getting out of the hospital that the nurses and technicians began taking any steps toward the actual discharge–pulling out Steph’s catheter, cleaning and dressing her incisions, letting her put on her own clothes.  (My experience has been that 95% of recovery comes from doing that; after several days of being sick, just taking off my bathrobe or hospital gown and putting on outdoor clothes improves my physical health and my overall attitude.)

Our senior minister, the Rev. Dr. Mark Belletini, came by shortly after noon, by which time we were tired of watching reruns of Frasier and The Golden Girls.  He has had a cardiac catheterization, although he has never had a heart attack.  He almost did not have his procedure at Riverside after he learned they did 60 catheterizations daily.  Rightly so, he was worried that they wouldn’t vary the procedure to suit his individual needs and situation.  He sailed through his procedure, but their inflexibility was the main reason that we had so much trouble since Steph went for this “outpatient” procedure on Monday.  (The first news I heard about what had happened during the catheterization came while I was in the waiting room late that morning, watching Rachael Ray on TV help two men shop for lingerie for their wives.)

We finally made it home by mid-afternoon, driven by Tanya and her kids, and I’m barely recognizing my own living quarters.  I am actually looking forward to returning to work tomorrow, although I’m not looking forward to the FMLA back-and-forth that began before Steph went in for the procedure.

And we are not out of the woods yet.  The whole open-heart issue went to the back burner when all the vein/artery/clot crises started, and you’ll have to keep clicking on this blog in the days and weeks to come to view the next chapter.  Dr. Duff, the cardiac surgeon who did Steph’s procedure in ’99, is out of town at least until next week, so they won’t set a date until he has some input.  The cardiologist who examined Steph’s X rays and hospital reports this week have said that there is more going on than we originally thought with the leaking valve and the muscle hardening around it.  What bothers me most is that I may have wiped out all my paid leave to be with Steph as Riverside Hospital has been cleaning up its own debris.  I would love to be a fly on the wall at my insurance company when Riverside presents them with the bills for this week.

As a sign that I can step back from all this chaos, albeit temporarily, I am going to make a plug for a Website that Pat showed me last night when I got back from Riverside.  For ephemera junkies, homeschoolers, and history buffs, I highly recommend, which is an invaluable resource of public-domain videos, books, sound files (including old-time radio and Grateful Dead concerts), and other things that I will probably enjoy and have yet to discover.  I passed along this link to several friends of mine by way of my regular E-mail account, and I said that for me it was like giving a kid access to Santa’s workshop.  Set up an account–you won’t be sorry, and you’ll be tied to the computer for the foreseeable future.

Stephanie Held Hostage, Day 2

We still have no date for the open-heart surgery at Riverside, and that is because the surgeons and technicians there are still trying to clean up their own wreckage. In yesterday’s entry, I described how the initial cardiac catheterization went kaflooey when the technician placing the catheter managed to completely penetrate an artery and then stick a vein. After plugging that mess surgically, they managed to do the cardiac cath via Steph’s right arm. I was sleeping on Pat and Tanya’s couch this morning just as it was starting to get light, and Steph called me, and she sounded miserable. She was in pain and she was groggy and nauseous. I was ready to make it over to Riverside from Pat and Tanya’s on foot (just a little over a mile), but Pat gave me a ride there.

Being nauseous and groggy was the least of everyone’s concern. Steph was losing circulation in her right arm–the hand and forearm were cold to the touch. After some exploring with an ultrasound and Doppler, it turned out there was a clot in the arm where the cardiac catheter had gone in. They determined this in mid-morning, and it was not until nearly 6 tonight that Steph went in (under local anesthetic) to have this clot removed. I was worried the whole time (and this week makes you think in terms of worst-case scenarios) that while everyone was taking their sweet time with this, what was to stop this clot from breaking off and going into the brain or the heart? Steph was under the knife for a little over an hour. My First UU friend and walking partner Scott stayed with me in the families’ waiting room until the doctor called and told me that Steph sailed through the procedure, but would be in recovery for awhile. Scott and I waited in her room for almost an hour until they rolled her back in, barely conscious and having a very hard time tracking. Steph did, with some help, seem to be aware of Scott’s and my presence. She spoke with Susie for a few minutes. I only heard Steph’s end of the conversation, but I gleaned from that that Susie was telling her of her homeschool activities that day.

And now I am going to run out of paid leave at work, and just because the doctors have been cleaning up their own debris. The open-heart has almost become an afterthought.

As Linus Van Pelt once wrote to the Great Pumpkin, “If it sounds like I’m bitter, it’s because I am.”

Helluva Day, and It’s Only Monday!! What More Does This Week Have in Store??

It’s now 11:08 p.m., and typing tonight’s blog will use up the remainder of what energy I still have. I am spending the night at Pat and Tanya’s, in their living room with Steph’s iBook in my lap and past the point where caffeine is fueling me. Susie is sleeping upstairs with Gianna. I’m riding on fumes here, but I do feel a need to bring everyone up to date on what’s happening.

The cardiac catheterization was not a simple procedure. I think I mentioned in an earlier entry that it would involve running a needle and tube up to Steph’s heart via her groin. During the procedure this morning, they were putting the catheter into the artery (there’s supposed to be one catheter for the artery–arteries carry blood away from the heart–and one for the vein–carrying blood to the heart), and the tube went through the artery, in one side and out the other, and on into the vein. When they tried to withdraw the tube, it started bleeding profousely. The doctor who spoke to me late this morning said that they would only remove the tube as a surgical procedure, or else they would not be able to control the bleeding and there would be a risk of substantial blood loss.

When they moved Steph into the pre-op area, I left voice mail messages for Wendy Fish, the associate minister at the Unitarian church, and with Pat, who was at work. Wendy stayed with Steph for a little bit, and then with me until Pat was able to leave work and be with me during Steph’s procedure. (We stayed in the families’ lounge and waited for over two hours, with only bad syndicated TV for company.)

Steph was in recovery a long time, but both Wendy and the hospital staff assured us that didn’t necessarily mean anything was wrong–it may have just meant they were waiting for a room to become available. Once in her room, a little after nightfall, Steph mentioned that she was going numb in her right arm. This meant another procedure, to see if there was a clot in the arm, and if there was, to prevent it from breaking off and heading for the heart or the brain. (After much testing, there turned out to be a clot.)

So, Susie has been to see Steph, Tanya took Susie to the hospital and took the two of us home, and all of us are going to collapse and sleep tonight. Once this is over, I have earned myself the mother of all nervous breakdowns.

Steph is at Riverside and she is under fine care there. The only genuinely scary moment was the conversation we had pre-procedure with the anesthesiologist. It wasn’t the information he conveyed to us as much as his bedside manner, or lack thereof. I have to take into account, however, that his clientele is usually asleep.

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

Mr. Tom Petty and his Heartbreakers spoke (sang) the truth when he recorded that song, people! I am in the waiting room at McConnell Heart Care Center, part of Riverside Methodist Hospital, while Steph is in the back getting her cardiac catheterization. Once the nurse put her on a saline drip, I was able to spend some time with her in the curtained cubicle, but once they wheeled her away for the catheterization itself, I went downstairs to buy my first Diet Pepsi of the day–my shut-eye last night was minimal, between worry about this procedure and being keyed up from last night’s Billy Joel concert at Nationwide Arena. Steph is the most level-headed of all of us about this whole thing–Susie is a nervous wreck, and between Steph’s heart issue and a crisis in the union at work (I cannot elaborate on the issue here in this blog), I’m about ready for a straitjacket. Our friend Greg (whose wife works at the Franklinton branch of the library) drove us from home to the hospital this morning, so we were spared the nightmare of transportation logistics.

The nurse just came out and notified me that the procedure with Steph began at 11:05 a.m., which, according to my watch and this computer’s clock, was two minutes ago. Steph is having a catheter inserted into her groin all the way up into her heart, and the doctor will decide when to operate based on what they find today. Steph is wanting them to move her straight to cardiac care and have it tomorrow–that would make it easier for all involved.

The Billy Joel concert was the first one I had been to since I took Susie (and me!) to see Phil Collins in ’04, again at Nationwide Arena. He is just as good as I always thought he would be, and when I was in junior high and high school, admitting you listened to Billy Joel was about the same thing as admitting you liked Andy Gibb. I feel vindicated when he became as popular as he did… and stayed there. He reserved “Piano Man” for his last encore, and everybody in the arena was singing it, almost made it sound like church. The signal for “encore” has definitely gone high tech. I am old enough to remember when concertgoers would hold up a match or a lighter to indicate they wanted an encore. Now everybody flips up their cell phones and lets the lit inner screen convey the message. I noticed also that they no longer have the signs prohibiting taking cameras and tape recorders inside. With most cell phones also being camera phones, they realized the futility of trying to enforce it. (The exception to that always was the Grateful Dead–they actually encouraged their fans to meet and exchange homemade tapes of concerts and events, and it only got better once the Internet came into its own.)

Will post more once there’s more to report.

Continuing the Thought Begun in the Video Clip; Heart-y News

As I said, Oklahoma City affected me much more than did the 9/11 tragedy.  The reason is that in the spring of 1995, I was working as a data transcriber at the IRS’ regional facility in Covington, Kentucky.  I had been there since January, after resigning from the post office.  Even though I did not know anyone who perished at Oklahoma City, it felt like a stab at myself and other people who worked in government–state, Federal, county, or local.

That is why I never saw any humor in the late, unlamented Ronald Reagan’s little asides about government and its evils.  Just before the Federal government shut down in the fall of 1995, I was interviewed by a WBNS-TV reporter just outside the Federal Building, where I was working (I had moved to Columbus from Cincinnati in August, to take another IRS job).  In that interview, I said that Federal employees served their country just as much as any soldier who had fought in Desert Storm or any other war.  If someone were to take Reagan’s quips about “government” and “bureaucrats,” and replace them with the word “soldier,” his political career would have been stillborn.

Even among soldiers, the clerical and support positions never received respect.  My dad was drafted into the Army in 1952, just after he graduated from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.  Just after he completed basic training, his unit was going to be shipped out to South Korea.  The commanding officer of the new unit asked the men, “Is there anybody here who can type?”  My dad raised his hand, and they changed his orders and he was the new company clerk in the outfit at Camp Breckenridge, Kentucky.  It quite possibly saved him from coming home in a box.  He told me later that clerk-typists and other support personnel were sneeringly called “Remington raiders,” and Remington referred to the typewriter, not to the rifle.

Civil servants, as I stated, serve their country as much with a word processor as with an M-16, and yet they are always blamed for whatever problems people have with the government.  I had to deflect many tirades when I was an appointment clerk from the IRS, and there were times I had to remind people that the IRS doesn’t make the tax laws, its mission was to enforce whatever tax laws Congress passes.  So if they didn’t like the tax laws, vote your representatives out of office.

By working for the IRS, I knew that I was on the short list of the militia inbreeds’ real or supposed enemies, right after the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.  Rumors at the IRS facility were flying like mad the whole evening after the bombing–we didn’t know where, or if, another building had been targeted for demolition.

I initially learned of the tragedy when I took a bus from Cincinnati to Columbus for a job interview at the Agriculture Department.  I was greeted at the Greyhound station by my friend Ivan and his young stepson.  As we were leaving the bus station, Ivan said, “Did you hear about Oklahoma City?”  I hadn’t, and he filled me in on just what happened.  As I reconstruct the time line, I was just getting on the bus in Cincinnati when the explosion happened.  I either dozed or read during the two-hour journey, so I was pretty much incommunicado.

When I got back to Cincinnati that night, I went to my graveyard-shift job at the IRS, and was glued to the TV for much of the next 2-3 days.

I’m in Sullivant Hall, where I typed many of my entries before getting Internet service at home.  Susie is at a Women in Engineering program over at Hitchcock Hall, and since parents and guardians weren’t invited, I’m killing time here, blogging, reading newspapers online, and ignoring the spring training OSU football game (the team divides into two squads and they play each other.)  Even though this isn’t an “official” game, the Scarlet and Gray, drunken idiots, and buckeye necklaces were everywhere in sight.  Just since I began typing this entry, I have heard sirens going down High St. no less than four times.

Steph’s cardiac catheterization is Monday morning.  The procedure itself takes only about 20 minutes, but she has to lie completely still for quite a long time afterwards.  We’ve heard conflicting stories–some hospital literature says seven hours, some say 12-15 hours.  Steph didn’t want to have it before Monday, because Pat and Tanya are taking us to see Billy Joel at the Schottenstein Center tomorrow night.  Susie will be at a sleepover near Lancaster tonight for a birthday party, and she will be spending Sunday and Monday nights (at least!) at Pat and Tanya’s.  I suspect she may be there Tuesday night as well, because Steph and I both have a hunch that she’ll be admitted right after the procedure.  Whether she’ll go under the knife right away is another story.