Saturday, June 13, 2015

Three Sonnets Linger

(CVII) ~Ruthless Reprise*

(Three Sonnets Linger)

Since beings must exist in time and space
Nothing we do might show to alter time
We are best served to willingly embrace
All which we muster make to prim our prime
From gross ridiculous to pure sublime:
Best brave more life into your shifty years
Than grieve upon years gone on life’s arrears!!!
Time, well known as one vast continuum
Unaltered by its myriad shifting sands
Unfettered, nor caring of decorum
All-giving yet frugal of stern demands
Nor heedful of the whims the heart commands:
Nor waste, nor save for future to redeem
Serves verdict for each trespass to condemn!!
The eves and flows most bards make us believe
To occur in the fleeting Tide of Time
Are sparks of reverie poets receive
As gratis gifts dreamed from the Muse’s chime
To weave the fabric of cadence with rhyme:
Soar free on wings of imagination
Push envelopes of the soul’s creation.

We sojourn through paths with junctions replete
Each path we take demands discard the rest
Never shall that selfsame juncture repeat
Should picked path prove to be, or not the best:
Events are ordained irreversible
Despite beliefs all things are possible.
Famed Ruins that Spenser** waxed loquacious on
Were not by wrath of ruthless time begot
But by natural deterioration
Inherent to the elemental knot
Losing strength, turning to amorphous rot:
Devoid of any witting intentions
Sans charity, sans malicious passions.
How then Khayyam would attributes impute
In none but twins of hundred-one quatrains***
First as bird with wings, next as host confute
Conflicting views that mortify the brains
Ere lost in cadence of furtive refrains:
Hence feign acquit by licensed poetry
Mere mortals’ trespass on posterity!!
© Constancio S. Asumen, Jr, all rights reserved via
*With the headline blurb, “2SuzettePortesSanJose 4TimeUntold” the first seven lines got drafted as a casual rejoinder to a poem and photo entitled “Time Untold” posted on the Facebook page of Suzette Portes San Jose.  I worked it up to a full sonnet to foster its own copyright protection.  Four more stanzas were since added to the opus, effectively losing its stature/status as a sonnet but may pass as a multiple sonnets.

***Cf., The Rubaiyat (VII, XXII) at

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Smoke Rings in My Mind

Smoke Rings in My Mind

Just like a flame
Love burned brightly, then became
An empty smoke ring that has
Gone with the Wind.
~~ Ella Fitzgerald, Gone With The Wind

I started tobacco smoking circa the late spring to early summer of 1966, before I turned twenty-two.  How it got started should be a classic case study on the pitfalls and subtle vulnerabilities of the idle soul to all sorts of mischief and misbegotten misadventures.

Having just migrated from a quasi-custodial cocoon of the Foreign Students’ College in Chiba University to a bootstrap Ronin lifeboat in Kyoto University in my second quest for a baccalaureate degree, there was not a single soul in school I could call a friend.  My typical day would end with me not having spoken to anybody whosoever.

I used to get back to my dormitory room from school half an hour before the cafeteria served dinner.  I would spend the thirty minutes trying to empty out my mind by making cascading clouds of smoke rings with my feet on my desk.  My pack of cigarettes was then kept in the desk front drawer.

After one week the cigarettes transferred to my shirt breast pocket.  After two weeks I was burning one pack a day.  After six months I made it to five packs a day.  One year later I discovered the economics of the hobby rather unsustainable.  I took up pipe smoking based mainly on economic calculus.

One pack of cigarettes then cost ¥70.  At five packs daily burn, my diurnal cigarette expenditures booked at ¥350.  I could buy a decent lunch at the Kyoto University cafeteria for ¥250.  A can of Momoyama pipe tobacco, costing ¥350 afforded me one week of smoking pleasure.  My first pipe which lasted almost one year, I bought for ¥300.  I was burning an average of nine oz/week, supplemented with a daily two- to three-cigar ration.

I quit clean on February 1, 1993 not because I wanted to but courtesy of a massive stroke which left me out of commission for thirty days.  In fourteen of those the right half of my body was completely paralyzed.  I plan to get back to the pipe and cigar just as soon as I can figure out how to hide it from my wife.  Alternatively, maybe I shall develop the powers of persuasion to prevent her from pre-emptively dismissing the idea.  I’m terrified at the prospect of going to my grave with the ignominious branding of a quitter.

My father, after whom I have been named, has been my only lifetime hero.  I never knew him to be a quitter except when he quit tobacco and alcohol to conform to religious norms of the Seventh Day Adventist Church.  I am not about to vilify his memory by earning the quitter moniker for myself.

I answer to the short name “Stan,” short for “Constancio.”  Other than for it being more than a mouthful to most people, I sometimes demure from using Constancio because of its exalted stately pedigree.  It was the name of the father of Constantine the Great, the first Christian Roman emperor after whom Constantinople (now Istanbul) was named.  I very much doubt that my grandparents were cognizant of this history when they had my father baptized.  Lore had it that my father was first named Demetrio.  It was later changed as a countermeasure to his being a sickly child.

But wherefore, at this particular juncture, dwell on these tedious trivialities?  My excuse would simply be that each time I’m brought face to face with my own mortality everything seems to assume exaggerated proportions.  It propels me to cling on to the most inchoate banalities which seem to make all the difference between life and death.  Or as I noted midway in my “Epicurean Laments of Aging Old,”
Brandy and cigars, marks of indulgence
Ne plus ultra, in Hedonist heaven;
Coveted by consorts of decadence,
Mocked by hypocrites at their mirrors preen
Indulgent of their trespasses unseen:
All bets are off on mere appearances
Je ne sais quoi acquits disturbances.

This all reckons back to the incidental factoid, that I am a veritable walking time bomb as I am writing this piece.  With my abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) measuring 7.6 cm. in one dimension, I can explode anytime without any warning and there is nothing much I can do about it.  Nor is there anything I want to do about it.  I definitely don’t want to go to any Emergency Room to be sedated to escape the pain. 

As a token of respect and deference for my mother’s pain when she gave birth to me, I don’t want to avoid the pain of checking out of this mortal coil.  I probably pass out anyway but at least I would know what shall have hit me.  I don’t harbor an iota of a doubt that my indulgence with all forms of nicotine and brandy, with occasional champagne and gin Martini, and perennial dinner Chianti had brought me my legacy of AAA.  Given the chance at a Mulligan, I would certainly embrace the same choices, albeit start at them most definitely earlier than I had done the first time around.

My strongest grudge at getting old has been my not finding a viable option to navigate through old age without being compelled to do away with my favorite brand of Napoleon Brandy.  I ungrudgingly abandoned the aroma of Manila Coronas and Latakia blend Balkan Sobranie courtesy of my massive stroke on 1-Feb-1993.  But to walk away into the sunset without the bouquet of Napoleon Brandy warmly trickling down and pleasantly tickling the esophagus is tantamount to going gentle into that good night without a fight, if not altogether adding insult to injury outright.

I enjoyed drinking through 47 of 71 years or 66.5% of my life time.  As I documented in chapter 4 on pp. 72 ~ 73 of my last book, before starting high school, I established my bona fides as a successful practitioner of the craft of harvesting coconut sap (tuba in the Bisaya vernacular) for alcoholic beverage.  I did not consider myself a drinking person then, although I imbibed the mandatory gulp to test the taste of my harvest.  It was the standard quality assurance practice for the craft.

I was smoking for 27 of 71 years or 38.2% of my life time.  Pound for pound, I hazard to guess, my cumulative tobacco intake far exceeded the combined consumption of my two oldest siblings.  They started their habit in or before their high school days.  I embarked on mine in my second tour as a college student.

I did not only enjoy smoking.  I was a smoker with an attitude and was never apologetic for it.  Being a pipe smoker became integral to my ego identity.  Pipe smoking itself assumed a rationale uniquely all its own.  I ventured into mixing my own blends of pipe tobacco.  The hobby became an expensive indulgence in a hurry.  I started collecting my favorite pipes.  I spent my weekends cleaning and flavor-tempering my pipe collection.

As a student, I picked my elective courses in Kyoto University based on which professor allowed smoking in the classroom.  This accounted for many a few elective courses cross-matriculated at the Science Department rather than the Engineering Department.
As an Assistant Professor at MSU Marawi, I was the only faculty member who officially allowed smoking in my classroom.  First day of class, my first announcement was “smokers at the window side of the room, and a zero-tolerance for solicitation of cigarettes or lights for the duration of a class session.”  Violators were excused forthwith.

As a consumer, I was abrasively arrogant about my right to smoke.  On one occasion I was waiting at a Japanese restaurant for my dinner date, smoking away like a wood-burning locomotive.  A pair of female customers in their early- to mid- twenties walked in and after settling down at the adjacent table requested me to refrain from smoking because it bothered them.

Summoning up all the cool and collected charms I could muster, I serenely informed the pair that the perfume they were wearing did not exactly titillate my whimsy.  I would gladly forfeit the use of my pipe for the evening if they would go and shower off the perfume they were wearing.  They opted to walk out of the establishment without dinner.

Regardless of how the eventual trajectory of the aneurysm might leverage the onset of my final demise, let the record show that whatever its genesis might have been, I zealously treasured every moment of indulgence which might have fostered its existence, and jealously resented every event which deprived me thereof.  The point is, I lived life to the fullest vent on getting the most of what circumstances allowed, without being miserable about it

My attitude could be reckoned back to the admonition of the drinking Persian sage of antiquity in the below quatrains:
Some for the Glories of This World; and some 
Sigh for the Prophet's Paradise to come; 
Ah, take the Cash, and let the Credit go, 
Nor heed the rumble of a distant Drum! 


Yet Ah, that Spring should vanish with the Rose! 
That Youth's sweet-scented manuscript should close! 
The Nightingale that in the branches sang, 
Ah, whence, and whither flown again, who knows! 

Or to bring the metaphor, closer to earth, to the matter at hand, and coeval with the narrated events:

Oh! why do they seem to picture a dream above
Then why do they fade my phantom parade of love?
Where do they end, the smoke rings I send on high?
Where are they hurled 
When they've kissed the world goodbye!

~~ Mills BrothersSmoke Rings

Friday, April 17, 2015

Statistical Semaphores Semantics

Full disclosure disclaimer: in more than eleven years of my career as a college student, the closest I had come to staring at the prospect of a failing grade was in Mathematical Statistics.  Ergo, with the benefit of twenty-twenty hindsight, my disquisition involving matters statistical should be taken with a generous dose of the proverbial grain of salt.
When I was first diagnosed with an acute Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA, 3A) my reflexive reaction was, “we all got to go sometime, what quicker way to check out of this mortal coil than a ruptured aneurysm?”  But my vascular surgeon had convinced the restless demons of my hubris that passive resignation violated human nature and the instinct to leverage the outcome in the face of uncertainty would be more consistent with the essence of the human soul endowed with a free will.
I of course supplied the metaphysical arguments as an afterthought to justify my willingness to sojourn in the shifting sands of statistical reality that only a pro-active intervention can influence statistical outcomes.  It was sort of the ultimate delicious irony to feel comfortable in the certitude of Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle.
Escapade into statistical jargon started with the routine monitoring of the aneurysm’s growth.  It seems axiomatic in the realm of vascular surgery that when the size of the aneurysm is larger than 5.5 cm, the risks of not doing anything far outweighs the risk of intervention.  It is sort of rubbing in the truism that everything in life manifests itself as a calculated risk.
Thus it came to pass that on 8-Jul-2013 through nearly eight hours under general anesthesia, the procedure for Endovascular Aneurysm Repair (EVAR) was successfully completed and I was pronounced safely in the lower-risk zone of the statistical divide.  I remained there for all of three weeks until another roll of the statistical dice mandated otherwise.
On 29-Jul-2013 the Catholic Home Health Care visiting nurse assigned to my case sent me to Stony Brook University Hospital Emergency Room with a body temperature north of 102ºF.  I was forthwith admitted to the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) and stayed there for all of seven weeks, in continuous intravenous antibiotic regimen for an indeterminate acute blood infection  The regimen was punctuated with nocturnal incubation when my body temperature registered in the 104~105 ºF range.
I was then on the cusp of the statistical divide where nobody was certain what was going on.  The floor attending physician pronounced me to have high grade MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus), a bacterium that is resistant to many antibiotics.  On the other hand, the consulting infectious diseases specialist insisted I had the Methichillin-Sensitive (MSSA) variant.  Otherwise, there would have been no point in administering any antibiotic regimen.
Eventually, my condition stabilized enough for me to be transferred to St. James Rehabilitation Center with a peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) line to continue the intravenous antibiotic regimen for another twenty-six more days.  Although being connected to an intravenous line was not my idea of a grand time, I was relieved to be back on the safer-zone side of the statistical divide.
Shortly after being released from the rehab center, I consulted with the vascular surgeon for a comprehensive evaluation and definitive prognosis on the disposition of the EVAR stents.  On 18-Oct-13 the verdict was unqualified success.  A follow-up look was tentatively scheduled for 16-May-14.
Meanwhile, I got engrossed on more esoteric pursuits such as a membership to the community of aspiring poets.  The tentatively scheduled follow-up assessment did not take place until 23~27-Mar-15.
After an ultra sound and a follow-up CT-scan, it has been established that I am showing a type 2 endovascular leak and the aneurysm has continued to grow to put me back on the critical side of the statistical divide.
Reverting to statistical parlance, the literature reveals that 20 to 25% of successful EVAR cases develop endovascular leaks for a variety of causes.  In my case, the vascular surgeon explained, because my liver is only south of 10% functional, I grow collateral vessels enabling retrograde flow into the aneurysm sac to compensate for what the liver cannot adequately supply.
Ergo, since the body attempts to compensate itself, there is no telling how many other collateral vessels would develop to compensate for a successful embolization closure of the extant leaks.  So we are back at the mercy of Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, to wit, in layman’s parlance, we only know that we are moving but not whether we are coming or going.
Or, alternatively, for a more colorful version, we settle for Uncle Omar’s formulation in the Rubaiyat:
The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, 
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit 
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line, 
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.

And that inverted Bowl they call the Sky, 
Whereunder crawling coop'd we live and die, 
Lift not your hands to It for help--for It 
As impotently moves as you or I.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Author’s Foreword and Introduction

Author’sForeword and Introduction                  

A journey back to your heritage always invokes a modicum of soul searching because the question of what brought you here, at this stage in life at this particular point in time, both demands and allows the unadulterated honesty associated with the benefits of hindsight. When you look at childhood from your prism as an adult it lends a measure of satisfaction that notwithstanding the notorious sarcastic laments of George Bernard Shaw, youth after all had neither been exactly, nor entirely wasted on the young.
The material represents a due diligence attempt to chronicle, via a series of seemingly random and incidental episodes narrated in the first-person, the evolutionary journey of my consciousness from the edge of the wilds of Mindanao* (Philippines) to the rough and tumble of the streets of Manhattan (New York City), with all the tedious yet not the least thrilling detours in-between.  Random in the sense that I had to single out and focus on specific and discrete pivotal decision points which ushered in a definitely recognizable qualitative change in my perception of my unique attributes as an individual, on leaving such decision bifurcations.
It behooves to emphasize that any attempt to present or examine a slice of reality along the dimension of time, the present—the here and now—is the only valid starting point, i.e., coordinate zero on the time-axis.  This stems from the requirement that the end points of the time-axis, i.e., the beginning and end of time, have to assume the value of infinity as coordinates.  For this very reason it has become inevitable that life can only be properly viewed retrospectively.  The locutions “before the beginning of time,” and “beyond the end of time,” denote points of reality which become tangible only with poetic license in the fertile and prolific realm of the imagination.
This argument alone, ipso facto, justified my taking the “Rubicon” piece as the starting point of the narratives.  The here and now being the most fleeting point in all moments contained in that time continuum we call eternity, it became inevitable that the events as segments of memory have to be viewed in time frames of ample duration to fully elucidate the context within which the mindset undergirding any decision had evolved.  The Rubicon episode defined the conscious abandonment of the ego identity directly derived from my formal education and training, in favor of what was construed to be the higher pursuit of nobler ideals.
In a broader context the three parts of the book represent three distinct non-sequential evolutionary phases of my consciousness.  The Narratives represent the aspirational age of ambition, when the drive to transcend any given set of circumstances reigned supreme.  The Poetry I deem to represent the seemingly unquenchable deliberative age of simultaneous inspiration, enlightenment, and illusion.  It was at this stage that you pushed the envelope of the imagination in quest for a reason to go on, to latch on to a sustainable justification for being.
The Essays represent the age of rational resignation, or better yet, resigned rationalization, when you give in to the impulsive reflex to explain away the developments which you know affect your physical and spiritual well-being but they unfold far beyond your sphere of influence.  You are effectively out of the arena.  Your mission is no longer to do or die but simply to reason why, as an inconsequential observer of, to paraphrase Robert F. Kennedy, both the “things that are” then ask why, and the “things that are not” then ask why not?
The impetus to write has been derived from a multitude of sources with varying degrees and dimensions of motivational impulses ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous.  On the most pedestrian level, has been the fact beyond dispute that the journey has been arduously long, and storiedly colorful, with a treasure trove of memories screaming to be told, for the simple reason that they are too effusive and effervescent to remain buried in the bowels of oblivion, at home amongst the unknown and the unknowable.
It all started in the desolate isolation of the evacuation camps of World War II, where I was born.  Thence, trudging barefoot on at times literally improvised and ad hoc pathways through the underbrush, the journey proceeded through thick and thin, to bear witness to the magnificence of what the human mind is capable of conceiving and achieving.  The gamut of wonders encompassed supersonic transport, particle accelerators, man’s round-trip journey to the moon, instantaneous internet communications, and Skype technology video teleconferencing, to name a select few. 
In the recent couple of years, many a few times when I left home without my cell phone I felt helpless and deprived, like a fish out of the water.  Considering that I did not experience the chance to use a telephone until the tender age of eighteen, it is one more eloquent testament to the human mind’s seemingly limitless ability to adopt, absorb, assimilate and adapt to and flourish with the ever accelerating developments in technology and stay comfortably acclimatized and snugly enculturated therein.
On the more mundane, egotistical level, it was propelled by the belated poignant realization, that in this, what I consider to be the twilight of my years, I have not done much to leave behind for posterity: not even children of my own to contribute to the perpetuation of my genetic DNA.  Ever the believer that human events occur for a reason, I am resigned to concede that the absence of a bloodline progeny is prima facie evidence that my genes were not worth perpetuating, in the broader scheme of things.  It probably could be construed as the equitable and just rewards for the abandonment of my professional commitments.
On an inferential level, regardless of the official version of suicide as allegedly arrived at on the ensuing inquest surrounding the demise of my brother-in-law, the late Manuel Bravante, I am convinced beyond the shadow of a doubt that he was liquidated as a retribution for my unceremoniously abandoning the IPT program, if for no other reason than that he was available and I was not.  In a very modest way, I offer the book as a token of my esteem, apologies, and gratitude to Manny, as I knew him, that he took the blows for me, and paid the ultimate measure of his devotion to principles and personal loyalty.  At least I heard more than enough anecdotal circumstantial evidence to arrive at such a grim conclusion.
Admittedly, I do not have concrete evidence to prove a causal connection.  In the movie “Ronin,” there is a line by Robert de Niro which seems most appropriate to my conclusion.  To wit, “if there ever is any doubt, there never is any doubt.”  It has been said of old that vengeance is a dish best served cold.  What more could be a colder serving than liquidating a newly minted proud father by throwing him off the roof of a multiple-storey building while taking final examinations in graduate school?  It was rather well known during my tenure in MSU Marawi that he and I were of kindred spirits and attitudes, respecting university politicking.
Furthermore, inherent to the controversial nature of my departure in 1974, there have been various versions of the narrative attempting to explain the method to the madness and wherefores of that event; none of them accurate and all of them necessarily derived from baseless conjectures fomenting wild speculations.  With the publication of this book the definitive gospel narrative of that event shall have been available to the inquisitive public.  Any further speculation on the matter should thenceforth be dismissed as no more than an attempt to deride and maliciously impugn the integrity of my judgment.
Finally, my endeavors would be less than forthcoming if I did not acknowledge the incidental inspiration which triggered to open the floodgates of narratives included in this work.  I was a couple of chapters into Henryk Sienkiewicz’s In Desert and Wilderness, when I was awestruck and fascinated by the unique beauty he imbued his story with the perspective of a child telling an adult’s viewpoint.  While I have been scheming to tell my story for a long time, that rare Sienkiewicz moment propelled me to write the “Jellyfish” narrative in chapter 6.  I posted the piece in one of my blog sites followed by the “Fallout” piece in the same chapter.
To my pleasant surprise, the blog post elicited some encouraging comments from, among others, Ziba (Bastani), Sam (Prasad), and Larry (Goldstein), in that order of email arrival.  To all three, I want to record herein my immeasurable gratitude for the encouragement.  Both Sam and Larry I have known and worked with for a number of years as an IT consultant.  I credited Larry with the singular misfortune to have saved me, in the winter of 1993 when I suffered a massive stroke, from becoming at best, a vegetable or at worst, a delectable if unwilling victual to fat and unappreciative nasty little earthworms. 
Ziba, I have known since graduate school in my days in Kyoto University.  She is probably the only person who had seen every bit of the narratives as they unfolded.  Not as a witness to the unfolding of the events being narrated but as the one reader who was inundated with every version of the narratives as its state of incompleteness emerged from the cocoon in the cobwebs of my mind to distinct words and phrases grasping for a breath of life into a coherent fabric of a story. Theirs along with cheering on the sidelines from four of my lovely and lovable nieces: Chell, Yak, Gay, and Joy had made my dreams of telling the story, a reality ready for prime time.
I salute all of you:
May your glories multiply
As the stars up in the sky.
The rare occasioned somber sky
 May not but serve to amplify
The happiness of days gone by,
And laurels of unyielding prime,
And promises of days that lie
Uncharted in the blue abyss
And daunting vagaries of Time!
Additionally, it behooves to pay a special tribute to Mana, my only older sister (Lalai to the rest of the clan older than her), not only for her valuable contributions, respecting accuracy of recollection, in my effort to put together the narratives but also, and more importantly, for her priceless assistance while I was living the life narrated herein.  Without her help, no part of my life would have been worthy of telling in any manner, shape or form.
The saintly patience with which Krystyna, my lovely and lovingly devoted wife, endured the seemingly endless clicking of the keyboard even as she struggled to catch some sleep so she could go to work to support me and see the project to fruition deserves to be mentioned for the record.  That the book is ready for the press is proof positive that her admonitions remained unheeded.  To her, goes my endless gratitude.
To the rest of the family: Robert, Renata, Marek, and Nikki who deplore my writing style as inherently unreadable for being too erudite, but whose filial affectionate devotion only waxed more generous with the passage of time despite my perennial absence at family huddles because of the book, I commend you to the gods of prosperity and thank my lucky stars that I am part of your family, the House of Kaczmarski in St. James.  In my defense let me remind you that you can only reveal to the world the essence of what you are.  The insinuations of what you are not, the rest of the universe will eagerly supply sans your behest, nay against your ardent wishes.
Undoubtedly, some who were familiar with the events narrated herein and inclined to look deeper enough into the substance of the narratives are bound to find crimes of omission which may be hidden in the gaps and void interstices of the story.  To them I pledge my intent to flesh those out into a coherent legible whole.  Whether or not they will eventually see the light of day in print only time will tell.  It all depends on the free emotional and intellectual energy at my disposal, not to mention the material wherewithal necessary to midwife their incarnation into prime time existence. 
Ergo, if there is any financier out there ready willing and eager to underwrite the project, I implore you to contact my publisher post haste so we can get to work. I enjoin you therefore to look over whatever is offered here with guarded leisure. There might be more to follow.  This might be the last of its breed.  The most important thing is, may you have half as much fun reading it as I have had both living and writing about it.
With a song in my heart: regards & carpe diem,
Constancio S. Asumen. Jr.

Chapter End Notes: The notes are itemized below in the order that they were referred to in the preceding text.  They have been included herein to facilitate the curious readers’ penchant to verify any and all information that has been only tangentially mentioned in the text. {*I refer to the Philippine Mindanao, the second largest island member of the Philippine archipelago with geographical coordinates of 9° 37' 36" North, 123° 22' 53" East, where the province of Surigao del Norte is located.  This should not be confused with the Honduran Mindanao, situated in El Negrito, Yoro, Honduras, whose geographical coordinates are 15° 27' 0" North, 87° 41' 0" West.  It was such a total surprise to discover that there allegedly is another place in the sun, other than my native island, that is named Mindanao.  But after learning in the internet that there reportedly is a village in Ghana named Asumen [(with geographic coordinates 5° 35' (5.583333°) North latitude, 0° 36' (0.6°) West longitude, elevation 71 meters (233 feet)], nothing much ought to be surprising to discover, as far as I am concerned.  I sincerely hope that this village is not the cumulative result of my younger brother’s unbridled escapades in the youthful exuberant days of his philandering ways.}

Friday, March 13, 2015

Consternation On Medication


Myself when young did eagerly frequent 
Doctor and Saint, and heard great argument 
About it and about: but evermore 
Came out by the same door where in I went. 

It used to be an integral part of conventional wisdom that the function of education was to sharpen the faculties of cognition in general and deductive reasoning, in particular.  In this light, except for the fact that I have delved into the subject at length earlier elsewhere {see, e.g., ch. 11, 13, 14, 20, & 24 op. cit.} this piece could have been titled “Consternation with Education.”  It is deemed proper to focus on medication, however, as it has been the trigger issue that incited this writing.

It behooves to emphasize that I do not approach the subject with a smidgen of nonchalance.  Since I chanced into an eighteen-hour open heart surgery on 30-Aug-2007, as described in detail on chapter 22 of the earlier cited “Flirting . . . , etc.” book, I have been in the care of several specialized branches of medicine with routine follow-up sessions at regular intervals.

The gamut of referrals include: cardiology, gastro-intestinal medicine, vascular surgery, infectious diseases, ophthalmology, dentistry, neurology, orthopedics, and hematology.  The last one was added by my primary care physician yesterday, 20-Feb-2015, pursuant to my latest blood work results.

But here’s the proverbial Shakespearean rub:~~ The higher the tally of specialties gets, the more muddled the health landscape devolves into, and the more disjointed the healthcare picture becomes.  The proliferation of widgets is never conducive to the emergence of a coherent gestalt unless tempered with a generous does of deductive reasoning buttressed in common sense.

Lest I be construed as somewhat unhinged, let’s get into some specifics.  On 15-Feb-2010, less than thirty months after the open heart surgery (30-Aug-2007) gave me my aortic valve implant and quadruple cardiac bypasses, I was diagnosed with a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) and got Plavix 75mg in the bargain.  This was roughly coeval with getting cobalt-cadmium stents in all four cardiac grafts.  I learned then that I was to be on Plavix while I keep the cardiac stents; meaning, for the rest of my natural life, or until an alternate for Plavix is embraced by the health care community.

In early spring of 2013, a shade over three years after I was on Plavix, I ended up at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the GI Department at Stony Brook University Medical Center (SBUMC) with internal bleeding.  At home, the external manifestation of my malady was Black Diarrhea and overall weakening of my constitution.  I was simply too lethargic to do anything else beyond calling an ambulance.

It took me all of twelve hours at the ER for routine testing protocols, one week at the ICU and one more week at the general ward for follow-up observations.  In that interim I got two units of blood transfusion to remedy my low platelet count.  I learned that I only have half a liver left, and that I had advanced esophageal varices which were made to account for the internal bleeding.

In the bargain, they sent me a legion of narcotics drug and/or alcoholism addiction counselors, preachers and kindred soldiers of good intention in an endless cavalcade with the view of recruiting me into their fold.  It seemed to have not occurred to the powers that be that internal bleeding has been a well-known side effect of Plavix, if one bothered to search extant literature, available in cyberspace as far back as 2006.  I was retrofitted into a ready-made demographics and sociological template of health care provisioning with nary a regard for my medical history.

A cursory attempt at making a coherent gestalt of my medical landscape would have rendered my being on Plavix an obvious factor contributing to my proclivity for seemingly unprovoked bleeding.  That it is not being done as a rule makes it more frustrating for us on the receiving end.

I am aware that everyone engaged in health care provisioning of sorts, wittingly or unwittingly, has taken the Hippocratic Oath although it may not necessarily be in a formal sense.  It would not hurt to give everybody the benefit of the doubt.  Most of the time, though I cannot avoid the feeling of their having made the scenario a bit more complicated than it could have been with a moderate does of common sense.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Amazing Discoveries of the Clueless Mind

Amazing Discoveries of the Clueless Mind

A little learning is a dangerous thing ;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring :
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.
~~Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism

Based on my recent rather limited experience interfacing with a few college-age generation or individuals whose educational attainment appears to be of college level, or at the very least, high school graduate, I have come to the deplorable conclusion that the internet foments and proliferates the culture of ignorance.  This observation was instigated by comments exchange on my last four posts at the AllPoetry dashboard, Facebook and other social media.

My consternation centers around the word “Twilight” and the text string “The Big Bang Theory.”  Both of them are title locutions for two rather popular sitcom series TV shows.  To encounter a single individual who cannot associate any meaning to these text strings beyond the sitcom usage would have been ghastly.  But to discover more than three individuals with such mindset is nothing short of scandalous.

Ignorance on the scientific pedigree of The Big Bang Theory may somehow be tolerable.  After all, unless somebody has been exposed to a halfway decent secular course in Natural History one does not routinely ruminate over the origin of the universe beyond what is discussed in the catechism as taught in the Catholic Church or in Sabbath Bible Class sessions.

But to not relate to the fact that twilight refers to dusk, a time of day marking the transition from daylight to night, is simply beyond the pale.  Only two or so generations ago “Twilight Time” was a rather popular song famously played by The Platters.  There was no mistaking the meaning of the phrase, “when purple colored curtains mark the end of day.”

Have we been so engrossed by the pursuit of banality that we hardly notice the daily occurrence of sunrise and sunset?  Or is it simply the case that we notice them but we don’t know any longer what they are called?  It is a sad indictment of the trends and proclivities of our age.

Purveyors of education had better be aware of the disturbing trend.  They have to compete with popular culture in providing content in the internet.  Otherwise, we are in danger of being swallowed into cultural oblivion by the undertow of a tsunami of mediocrity.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

AWAPE from Paris—Obama Uncloaked

AWAPE from Paris—Obama Uncloaked

On some fond breast the parting soul relies,
Some pious drops the closing eye requires;
Ev'n from the tomb the voice of Nature cries,
Ev'n in our ashes live their wonted fires.
Absent Without Any Plausible Explanation (AWAPE) is the condign label for Pres. Obama’s not joining the Solidarity March in Paris last Sunday.  However, for any astute observer the message is outrageously clear: in the war against the soldiers of Mohammed, Pres. Obama is on the side of the Muslim Brotherhood, and against the Judeo-Christian cultural traditions of Western Civilization.

So much airwave chatter had delved into the political implications of Pres. Obama’s all too visible absence from the Sunday Solidarity Rally in Paris.  No talking head has even tangentially touched a semblance of relevance, with the notable exception of Lt. Col. Ralph Peters who does not have the habit of pulling any punches.  The Obama Regime’s grotesque non-representation in the event was painfully consistent with the ideology that underpins the Regime’s paradigm for governance.  {See, e.g., pp. 210 ff, Flirting with Misadventures, etc.}

It would have been a relief of ambrosial proportions if the omission were merely due to the bungling incompetence on the part of the Secret Service who allegedly could not come up with adequate security measures for the Presidential trip in such a short, thirty-six hour notice.  The more plausible explanation would be that the President opted to showcase his version of American Exceptionalism by emphasizing that the Obama Regime is not in the business of honoring victims of Islamic terrorism.

On the contrary, as he emphasized before the U.N. General Assembly on 25-Sep-2012, “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam [original emphasis].”  Ergo, the publication that made journalism out of caricaturing the features and practices of Islamic traditional orthodoxy deserve no future on the planet.  They should be done away with post haste, and with extreme prejudice.  The Obama Regime is therefore organically incapable of expressing solidarity with the victims of Islamic terrorism by the sheer inertia of its undergirding ideology.

Pres. Obama is the quintessential “Wretched of the Earth” of Franz Fanon fame or notoriety, depending on which side of the ideological divide you examine the evidence.  That the American electorate sent him to the Oval Office twice should rank as one of the most grievous tragedies in the short history of the Republic ranking worse than the Civil War.

The predicament is the worst in history because for the first time we are forced into a war, whereby the Commander-in-Chief is unwilling to engage, let alone being committed to defeat the enemy.  Moreover, it can be shown conclusively that he is more invested in weaving a tangled web of deception designed to obfuscate the issues, appease the enemy, and overwhelm the citizenry with legerdemain of the subtlest genre.

As I emphasized earlier elsewhere {see,e.g., pp. 234 ff}:
Voting present on anything is a most appropriate euphemism for the subterfuge of opting to do nothing of consequence that can possibly influence the unfolding of events. Or more precisely, it is Obama speak for obfuscating the landscape to make it appear to a credulous public that the regime is doing something worthwhile and consequential. The approach works brilliantly under two conditions, namely, 1) when you don’t know what to do or what you are doing to change the situation, or 2) when the unfolding of events is trending towards your desired outcome, thus it serves well to let it ride.
President Obama has long established his bona fides as an ideologue.  It was his malignant ideology which compelled him to stay away from the Solidarity Rally.  In football parlance which is a most appropriate metaphor for the Obama Regime’s obsession with “leading from behind,” the President is deploying his no-huddle quick-snap offense playbook.  Again, revisiting the Flirting book {pp.209 ff}:
The danger is mortally grievous because the ideologue has the drive of a jihadist, especially if an annoying obstacle blocks his way, such as the patriotic resolve of the overwhelming majority of the populace. Then the operative battle cry becomes "Allahu Akbar " or some secularist variant thereof but doubtless as devastating if not more so. On perception of adversity, an ideologue is akin to a wounded beast, sensing its mortality, insisting on survival. The blinders of ideological delirium and retrenchment instincts are a lethal combination.
The longer this egregious usurpation of customary decency is beset upon the nation the more toilsome would the recovery and rehabilitation process be.  Ergo the sooner we can restrain this President from running roughshod over everything decent that this country stands for, the better the prospects would be for the country’s well-being.

The Obama Regime’s legerdemain is as to America what to Humpty Dumpty was the wall off which Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.  Lest we forget:
All the King's horses, And all the King's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again!
We definitely need more than a knight in shining armor to accomplish the rescue.  We need the visionary acumen of a nation builder at par with those of George Washington or Abraham Lincoln.  Maybe even just the shining city on the hill imagery invoked by Ronald Reagan would suffice.  As I earlier admonished in a somewhat different context:
With debtors' need false leaders agonize,
For credits, they may make your people bleed;
Bleeding, you may yet seek to galvanize
To life true leaders of a bolder breed:
By visionary men are nations built
Thy lack of vision is this nation's guilt!!
Failing the appearance of a visionary nation builder, America shall be destined to languish in political Purgatory, sharing the profound rhetorical questions of Thomas Gray:

Can storied urn or animated bust
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath?
Can Honour's voice provoke the silent dust,
Or Flatt'ry soothe the dull cold ear of Death?