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Monday 08.09.21


The Tokyo Olympics just ended, but can you believe the Beijing 2022 Winter Games are less than six months away? Here’s what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On With Your Day.
 

By AJ Willingham

A medical worker rests last week at a Covid-19 ICU ward in Jonesboro, Arkansas.

1

Coronavirus

The average number of new coronavirus cases in the US has increased ninefold since the beginning of July, and hospitalizations are at their highest rate since February. In some parts of the country, hospitals are at capacity, and loved ones of those battling the virus are pleading for access to life-saving equipment. As if the situation isn’t bad enough, new concerns are starting to arise: Dr. Anthony Fauci says the continued spread of the virus could allow new variants — possibly ones more resistant to vaccines — to emerge and spread if more people don’t get vaccinated. Experts are already seeing more cases of the Lambda variant, which is designated by WHO as a coronavirus “variant of interest.”

2

Afghanistan

The Taliban has seized five provincial capitals in Afghanistan and let loose a string of violence as foreign forces, led by the US, complete their withdrawal from the country. Among the areas now under Taliban control is Kunduz, a strategically important provincial capital that marks the first major city to fall to the Taliban since it began its offensive in May. Afghanistan’s swift descent into violence has been alarming and follows international warnings that a foreign troop withdrawal could lead to a Taliban resurgence. Now, there is concern that even the country’s capital of Kabul could fall. In the past week, the US has increased airstrikes against Taliban positions in a bid to halt its advances.

3

Infrastructure

The Senate has voted to cut off debate on the massive $1.2 trillion infrastructure package, clearing the way for a vote on the final passage of the bipartisan bill. Sixty-eight senators, including 18 Republicans, voted to invoke cloture (quickly halting the debate) to break the filibuster and push the process forward. The Senate is now expected to hold a final vote tomorrow morning. Senators are confident the bill will pass, but there’s been some recent shuffling of necessary Republican support of the bill. If it passes, it wouldn’t just be a win for President Biden’s agenda; it would also be a win for both parties, which have worked for months to come to an agreement on the bill. An affirmative Senate vote wouldn’t make it a done deal, though. The bill would still face significant challenges in the House. 

4

Climate

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change just released a new report, and the message is clear: Deadly and irreversible effects of climate change are already here. Unlike previous assessments, the report also concludes it is “unequivocal” that humans have caused the climate crisis. It states the world has rapidly warmed 1.1 degrees Celsius higher than pre-industrial levels and is now careening toward 1.5 degrees — a critical threshold that world leaders have agreed should represent the upper limit of global warming. Scientists say the only way to keep from reaching this point of no return and to prevent even more catastrophic damage is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero.

Ferguson

So today on Facebook I posted a piece written by a black woman who was raised by white parents which Gloria Steinem had originally posted. It’s been up for a few hours and there’s only one comment. No likes. A friend of mine “unliked” it saying it was biased. I think it’s right on. The writer describes what it’s like to be black in a world where racial profiling is a part of our national profile. It’s a very moving and passionate piece expressing what the writer feels in her own life and asking us, the white people of the world, to do something. She says that prejudice can only be changed by the people who are prejudiced. We are all prejudiced. We can’t help it. No matter what the reality was of the shooting incident in Ferguson, the cops there would probably have hesitated if the guy had been white. Yes, he may have robbed a convenience store prior to the incident, but that mean he should be shot on sight? The only way we can have true equality as a society is if those of us who are in the position to speak up do so. What would it be like if everyone was “colorblind”? It’s not up to the underdog to change things, it’s up to the people of the world who never had to worry about being the underdog. Change happens at the top of any organization. If everyone made an effort to look at their own misplaced fear of those who are different than we are, interesting and positive things will happen.

Heart

Subject: heart
I was waliking in San
Francisco and I felt a sudden jump in my chest: a kindove a flip flopping or a fist turning or maybe more like something foreign inside me that was trying to get out. I kept on walking as that’s what I do. I was the master of my heart.

Other times in my life my heart had tried to get the better of me and I had prevailed. Sometimes, cruelly I thought, it was at night just when I was going off to sleep. I had to remind it rather sternly that I was tired and had no time to play jumping games. Just a small cough or a walk to the bathroom was usually enough to discipline it back into shape. Until this time, that is.

I had a doctor’s appointment up the hill and I was right on time which I usually am so I kept on walking. The hill seemed steeper than usual and I, more breathless than usual, but onward and upward I went.

My heart kept jumping.

I found my new doctors office, checked in, filled out the forms, chatted with his receptionist, all the while noting my new internal enemy. I commented to myself how calm and controlled I was during the examination of my nose, throat and ears. I commented to myself how impressed the doctor would be if I had a heart attack right in front of his very eyes without a word of complaint! I think I was kidding here.

Finally, at the end of my visit, I asked the receptionist if my internists office was on the floor we were on now and she said yes. I found my way there, sat down in the waiting room, and told Serena my heart was out of control. She looked at me with concern, brought me in the back room and had the doc come in.

Apparently my heart was stuck in arythmia and I needed to go immediately to the Cardiac Lab for an EKG and so I did. Except I wasn’t allowed to walk on my own and was taken by a very nice medical student who was there to observe what happened in the course of a typical day in a doctors office.

The cardiac lab seemed weirdly abandoned which I quickly learned was true as it was lunch time. The tech assigned to me was from Egypt and efficiently attached wires to my chest all the while commenting on the fact that it was lunch time. Once she got the EKG machine up and running her tune changed and she exclaimed to the medical student to take a look at my heart! Of course this was unprofessional and very alarming, needless to say, but she did it anyway. The two of them stood looking at the monitor for a good five minutes all the while commenting and exclaiming. I was in deep conversation with my heart asking it to just stop this behavior.

Clearly my heart was enjoying all the attention as it kept right on with its really weird rhythm. At this point I as fluctuating between total terror and a nice and calm feeling of detachment. I’ll take detachment any day given a choice.

Later, while sitting with my brand new cardiologist, I was shown the places in the EKG where I had been able to disrupt the heart rhythm all on my own. All I felt was frustration that I wasn’t able to stop it completely.

Its disconcerting to lose control of your heart as you feel frightened about the next time .You know there will be a next time. It’s as if your heart has been working up to this for long time. Though I now have a bottle of pills in my purse that may or may not stop the arythmia I don’t feel safe. I feel anxious but also more peaceful. Its hard to explain.

I have learned that this is a very common condition and that this condition can cause a stroke which can kill you. I really don’t like that idea. I don’t like the idea of drooling, l don’t like the idea of losing control of a part of my body, and I really don’t like the idea of dying.Aparently this condition is hereditary. My father died of a stroke. I am not sure he had arythmia but I would bet on it. He had everything!

Now I need more tests to see why the upper and lower chamber of my heart are not getting along. There are things called “rogue cells” that disrupt heart rhythm and the cure is extermination of these cells through a process called “ablation”. Sounds like a skin procedure or a religious event. I wonder if I will be purified or remain in the underworld. I also wonder how long I have.

It’s a sultry morning here in Maine: the kind that might make you think you were in Antigua waiting for an early morning coffee on the porch of a house overlooking English Bay and around you were the remnants of a late night party with one pale pink sandal cast off in the corner. You walk to the edge of the porch and gaze out over the bay and you notice you are alone. I wonder if  one notices the beauty of a place when one is not alone? I wonder if the edge of night that has merged into the light of day would go unspoken about  The warm breezes that could so easily be drying the sweet mornings of love makings in other houses would not be felt as poignantly if one were with another. The makings of a dream would be lost in other lost recipes and flour, butter and eggs would be cast aside  to be forgotten. Breakfast should always be bacon no matter where in the world you are and those that say otherwise have no knowledge of what life is. Even British bacon has its merits and the smell alone is enough to bring you into nursery dreams of  cream merging with stories that always end happily.There are spirits here on North Haven visiting me nightly: having asked for years what it is they cry for now I give them up. There are a few plaintive midnight cries but for the most part I am alone and peaceful. How many moments like this will I have until the next life, I wonder? I spent last night with my friend, Violet, who is 89. We went to a local wine tasting and she decided half way through the event to pour all the little bits of wine from her 5 glasses into one so she could enjoy it! Isn’t that the best idea? Kindove like what we should be doing in life!

today

The world remembers to turn.

The sun:to find holes in the atmosphere.

New York, Tallahassee,

New Orleans,

Phoenix,

Lake Tahoe

(still causes God to blink)

I am surprised by waking

as sleep is an unmapped state.

Surprised to find the sun

before I had finished examining the darkness.

Summer in Maine

Maine Revisited

There must be another word to describe silence as here in Maine it is so much more profound that “silence”. Listen to the silence and you hear the soft, round roar to the lobster boat hauling traps a few islands away. Or maybe the loon crying because he is happy to have discovered a bit of fish in his glistening dive under the water in the quiet cove.  Wait a minute while still listening to the air around you and there will be another echo of a boat engine and then the greedy gull calling back to you. When the wind starts up right after lunch the pines play an arpeggio of beaten drum notes lulling you into a nap of sweet summer dreams. Imagine tangy pine and sticky ginger drifting under your nose and then suddenly, some rock salt in water with sprits of sea mud thrown in for good measure. At night when lying between air dried summers sheets you ask the Indian ghosts to stay above you and you tell them you are sorry. Ask for the blessing of sweet Venus and for the grace of the moon so your sleep will be safe all night. When it is morning try to stay as still as invisible in your bed and refuse to start the inhalation of the morning.

Larry Rivers: Shame on You!

Larry Rivers From the Grave: Another case of sexual abuse

All right, guys, let’s be honest here. Larry Rivers was a well-known artist who left his estate in the hands of a foundation. The foundation gave most of his work to NYU. When NYU found there were films in the collection of River’s young daughters that the daughters wanted returned to them because of the very personal nature of the films, NYU did the right thing and returned the films. They didn’t return them to the daughters, however, but to the foundation.

The Foundation in charge of Larry Rivers’s estate refuses to return to his daughters films that Rivers made when the girls were 11 because they might be of value. These films were of his daughters who are partially naked and Rivers questions the daughters in the films about their changing bodies. The daughters have now asked for the return of these films and are having a hard time getting them back. NYU has done the right thing and returned them to the foundation but the foundation refuses to take the final step and give them back to River’s daughters.  The daughters are waiting and still reliving their childhood experience in all its inappropriate and manipulative behavior by a parent.

Why is this difficult decision for the Larry Rivers Foundation? The foundation board is probably made up of men as it would be hard to believe a group of women would hear this story and allow the films to be kept and viewed as “art”. If these films are thought to be art then what about all the child pornography on the internet. Is this art as well? Are we as a society so bent on preserving art that we can’t discern between what is sexual abuse and what is art? If the victims of the crime report it and are still told they can’t have the evidence back, what kind of society are we running here?

These young girls were manipulated by their narcissistic and perverted father under the umbrella of “ART” and now deserve to be left in privacy with the evidence of his abuse and manipulation buried forever. Shame on the Larry Rivers Foundation for carrying on like this. Their only motive can be greed which is the usual suspect in all cases like this.

I dreamt I was taller

I dreamt I was taller…

Last night I dreamt I was taller and was so happy. In my dream I was standing on a doctor’s scale and had extended the height stick so I could show the doctor I had grown. I was surprised, myself, about this event. In my dream I felt more powerful and straighter and happy that I had grown taller. It made me feel as if I was going to be more successful in the world and that I looked infinitely younger.

I think I had the dream because I am finally emerging from a dark and enclosed cocoon of relative misery I have surrounded myself with over the past few months. While the world fell apart with environmental and economic disasters, I felt an extreme need to hide from everything and so I did. It seemed safer to remain at home, sequestered, and not venture out into the world much. I am interested to see that this period appears to be over.

This morning I applied for a job, planned three trips, and emailed people I have been out of touch with. Last night I went to an extraordinary place where I saw a collection of photographs that amazed me with their character and life. I was invited by a couple I have recently met and who are very interested in photography. They have collected an extraordinary group of photographs which captivate the observer. They are not in any ordinary museum, but rather in a space created especially for them by the couple.

I found this visit inspiring and am grateful to have been included in the group viewing these photographs. Mostly I am in awe of what life is offering me at the moment. From a vast and deserted wasteland I am now entering the excitement zone where anything is possible. I find myself meeting new and interesting people, planning trips to places I have always wanted to go to, and seeing opportunity rather than dismay.

Something has shifted in the world: it is as if all the old and bitter things have vanished from my vision and only the light is shining through. I still think life is not going to be what it was for most of us. I wouldn’t run out and invest in the market or buy a very fancy house, but I would take a look at whoever crossed my path and take the time to communicate with that person.

We are going to be presented with new opportunities now and these opportunities will be filled with wonder. I know our job is to accept these opportunities as gifts we must open and gratitude is the most welcoming and acceptable form of response.