So, Mike had his second chemo treatment four days ago. It was uneventful, even more so than the first one. But they did give him more Benadryl, and he was as dopey as he could be even when he got home hours later. It’s a good thing he wasn’t driving. The mystery of the patch of dermatitis on his abdomen is solved. He now has a second patch where he got the second injection of one of his medications. So, obviously, that is the cause. He’ll make sure that the doctors know about this before they give him his next injection on Thursday. Fortunately, it doesn’t itch too much, and it’s not spreading. We will classify it as an annoyance at this time, just part of the adventure. Mike was energetic for two days after his treatment, and even cut down a small tree in the backyard. However, yesterday he was pretty worn out. Michelle came over for a nice visit that Mike slept through, on and off. He did manage to find enough energy make a run with the girls to Dairy Queen for his blizzard. By the way, his blood counts were pretty good on Thursday, always encouraging.
Mike has been following the daily Mussar “Count the Omer” postings on line. (See “The Adventure Unfolds”, May 4, 2019 for an explanation of the omer.) Mussar is a Jewish spirituality practice that emphasizes cultivation of positive character attributes. This year every omer post has been on the attribute of Kavod, translated as cultivating and showing respectful honor to others, as well as conducting oneself in an honorable manner. In practicing kavod, one has the opportunity to practice other positive character attributes such as awareness, silence, humility, and patience. And don’t take this as a complete list. When starting to practice a positive spiritual element on one’s path, others will automatically be developed as well. You might want to try it sometime. Or maybe you already have an effective spiritual practice. I hope so. My sense is that we have entered an era in which kavod seems to be in short supply. Certain world leaders seem to enjoy hurling insults at their political adversaries. They believe that by demeaning those who disagree with them, or who challenge their motives, that they will strengthen their own position with the people who can keep them in power. Some of the insults are simply childish, like “Little M….” They reflect poorly not only on the insulter, but on those who encourage such behavior. Ideally we should approach everyone with love and respect, even if we don’t believe in our hearts that they have earned it through their behavior. We should try to be understanding by listening to what might be true about what others say. Truth isn’t absolute anyway, at least, not according to Mike, who likes to cite Heisenberg’s Principle of Uncertainty as though he understands it. What he does get is that truth is relative. What is true for you may not be true for me. Feel free to disagree about that, if you like.
And speaking of insults, the North Koreans just let go of a good one. I should caution you, however, that one thing that is absolutely true is that in translating from one language to another, some meaning can get distorted. So, take this statement in that spirit. John Bolton, who advises President Trump on foreign affairs, recently made the statement that North Korea had violated an agreement about missile testing. This may or not be true. The North Korean government took exception to his opinion, and attacked not only the opinion but the man. The quote is from Newsweek. I take no responsibility for the translation.”It is not strange that crooked sound will always come out of the mouth of a man who is structurally flawed, and it’s best that this defective human product goes away as soon as possible.” How about a little kavod, y’all? As Mike’s mother used to say, “If you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all.”
And speaking of Korean English, Mike just read a book purporting to be a user’s manual to his new Samsung phone. It’s author is listed as John Wilson, a nom d’plume if you ask me. (The best name I can think of for the author of a manual on a Korean-made phone is Seung Yul Noh. Think about it. But in real life Seung Yul Noh is a young man from South Korea who plays golf on the PGA Tour in the USA and not the author of a smartphone user’s manual.) It looks like the manual covers less than 1% of the functions of the phone, and was of almost no help to Mike at all. Mike is kind of pathetic anyway when it comes to the operation of tech devices. It is a wonder that between Mike and I we get this blog out in a readable condition. And if he wants to work on developing a positive attribute of character, I would suggest patience. He is not able to read directions and follow them, period. Everything in our house that required assembly after purchase was assembled by Judy.
And speaking of cell phones (I kind of was) it seems that every development in technology, which is supposed to make life easier and of improved quality, instead has added to the stress of daily life. A headline in today’s paper (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution) reads “Putting down phone may help you live longer.” (Of course, a corollary to that thought is that it may not help you live longer.) The article is by Caroline Price of the New York Times. According to Ms. Price, people who study these things are finding that “the time we spend on our smartphones is interfering with our sleep, self-esteem, relationships, memory, attention spans, creativity, productivity and problem-solving and decision making skills.” Sounds bad. She goes into the brain chemistry aspect of this, suggesting first that short-term pleasure bursts are caused by dopamine release. But because they are short term, more stimuli are needed to prevent the deflated feeling that follows. More worrisome, according to the article, is the effect on cortisol, the primary hormone in the body that is produced by stress. Chronically elevated cortisol levels can contribute to diabetes, hypertension, depression, obesity, metabolic syndrome, infertility, stroke, dementia, and addiction. You could probably throw in warts as well. What really caught my eye in this story is a statement attributed to Dr. Robert Lustig that cortisol elevation impairs the functioning of the prefrontal cortex of the brain. This area is necessary for decision making and rational thought. Dr. Lustig says that “the prefrontal cortex is the Jiminy Cricket of the brain. It keeps us from doing stupid things.” Let’s not interfere with the effective functioning of the prefrontal cortex, y’all. I personally have no need for a cell phone, smart or otherwise, but if I did have one I certainly wouldn’t sleep with it, and I suggest that you not do so either. A phone holiday for 24 hours once per week is a good idea. Call me and let me know what you think. Just kidding. Let all your calls be important ones. That rule alone would eliminate 98% of phone traffic.
Let us not forget to acknowledge that today is Memorial Day. Those of us in Happy Meadows, and elsewhere in the USA, can look around ourselves and find a world in which we are free to believe in what we want, say what we want (hate speech excepted), and pursue our dreams. God has truly blessed America, but it has come with a price that many have paid with their lives, fighting tyrants and regimes desiring to take what we have for themselves, and to subjugate or exterminate us. It is the way of the world. In my world it is eat or be eaten. Among humans the reasons for killing have less to do with nutrition, and more to do with the desire for power and wealth. There is no cat in the world that would kill a mouse to gratify its own ego. For people, it is another story. So, be everlastingly grateful to the men and women who put their lives at risk so that we can be free, and especially to those who have paid the ultimate price.
So, that’s it for now. Enjoy the rest of your day. Until next time from Happy Meadows, so long!