No News

I won’t get the facts exactly right of course since my memory is shot and I don’t have the energy to "research."

But somewhere or other, a clerk at McDonalds rushes to the aid of customer who is just about to be shot, gets shot himself, in the process and now lies at home with a bullet still in him. He can’t afford to get it out because the company that insured that particular franchise said the clerk’s job description did not include rushing to the aid of customers threatened with a gun. Apparently the clerk should have exercised greater prudence.

In another part of the country, another stupid good Samaritan runs into a street to push two people out of the way of an oncoming vehicle. He saves the people, is himself struck and injured serious. Finally he is ticketed for jay-walking seeing as how, from where he was lying in the street, the ticketing officer concluded he had not crossed at an intersection.

Finally, and most horribly, somewhere in Georgia a man decides to bring his life to an end with the assistance of some others. He can no longer stand the pain of his cancer. The people are gathered and the time is nigh when the man decides to go downstairs to get a picture of his wife to put by his bed for his final moments of life. Downstairs he is arrested by cops who have gotten wind of what is up and have broken into his house. Talk about your basic gut wrenching moment.

I don’t know the point of these stories–which I believe largely true–except I wish I had never heard them and wish I had not broken my vow to never again read or listen to the news.

Tinnitus Again

By virtue of my birthday, December 14, 1945, I am on the very cutting edge of the so-called baby boomers, and by virtue of that fact, I have been frequently just slightly ahead of the curve when it comes to fads. For example I was drinking Perrier (anybody remember that) well before Time magazine did a cover story on it. The same was true for the coffee craze and later high class ice cream. Also, sadly, I have been on the cutting edge of physical complaints. I had gingivitis long before Time ran a cover story on that. And now I find a lengthy article in the New Yorker on tinnitus–written clearly in partial response to boomers. The article reports that as of now 12% of men and 14% of women over the age of 65 have some form of ringing in the ear.

And when all those baby boomers hit 65 the number of people walking around with some noise in their ears will be enormous. A whole new industry may be developed around trying to figure out what it is and how to get rid of it.

First they really don’t know what it is? Well, they know that–it’s a noise in the ear. But wait. That’s the problem. They don’t know where it is. One person for example had his or her whole ear removed because of cancer and still had tinnitus in that ear even though the ear was gone. So you can’t say it’s noise in the ear. One has to say, it’s a noise. But that would fail to indicate that it’s tinnitus.

No longer will people be able to say dismissively, "Oh, it’s all in your head." Sure, one can say back, that may be the case but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

How the hell I am able to hear something in my ear that isn’t in my ear is a mystery to me. It’s there all right, though. In my left ear and not my right or any other place. Something neurologically is going on.

Thankfully my tinnitus is apparently very mild. One poor fellow has it so bad that his life has been disrupted. He hears it all the time at high volume. One day he went outside during a thunder storm and stood by a flag pole hoping lightening would strike and carry him off. That’s one of the more bizarre attempts at suicide I have heard of.

Also I appear to have stumbled on a cure. I don’t know why I thought of it, but I bought a really cheap white noise machine about the size of a pancake. It sits next to my bed and makes white noises, like the sound of surf or the sound of rain. Unfortunately, the soothing surf sounds are punctuated by the squeaks of sea gulls and the sound of rain sounds more like static on a television. I settled for the water fall sound, which doesn’t sound like a water fall but is nonetheless soothing.

I find that, if the tinnitus really starts to aggravate me, all I have to do is move my hearing from the tinnitus to the white noise and bingo the tinnitus goes away. How I switch my hearing like that, I don’t know. But then I don’t know how I move my eyeballs either.

But that is one of the "cures" now being promoted. White noise. Also they have developed hearing aides that pick up more background sounds, like the sound of a refrigerator, and for some that too works to "block" the tinnitus.

I don’t know why they feature nature sounds on those white noise machines. I think they should make an urban sounds white noise machine that includes, for example, the sound of a refrigerator. I also find the sound of the dishwasher mildly soothing as long as something is not banging about in it.


The Writing Program employs a goodly number of teaching assistants. Since teaching assistants are not professors or anything like that, they have officially to be supervised. I’ve been doing that–supervising–for a number of years. I can’t remember how many. Any way the last couple of weeks I have been visiting the classes of "my" TAs.

I try to make these "visits" as low key as possible. I always hated–back in the day–being visited myself. Some professor would come in, sit in the back, and stare at you the whole time. One time a Professor came in and sat in the front row and acted throughout the class like the most bored student possible. There he was–right in front of me–crossing and uncrossing his legs, and drumming his fingers on the desk, and yawning! This did absolutely nothing for my confidence. I don’t know what that guy’s trip was. I think he was a sadist.

So when I "visit" I try to blend in. I sit over in the corner with my back against the wall, with a pad of paper in front of me; I scribble stuff on that, pretending to take notes. Some times, if the TA is trying to have a discussion, I will participate and throw in my two cent’s worth, and if the students get into groups to do some group stuff, I will go sit with the groups and participate while they do whatever they are supposed to be doing.

I tell my TAs to be sure to tell the class who I am and why I am there. I don’t want any of the students wasting their attention wondering what that old gray haired fart is doing in the room.

One TA, as a way of teaching literary interpretation (genre and such), had his class view "Halloween," the original one with Jamie Lee (Scream and Scream Again) Curtis. That is one slow movie by modern horror standards, and then to elaborate on a point about how these films create their particular sense of dread, he had students view a clip from "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," again the original directed by Tobe Hooper (the TA is a purist when it comes to horror).

He made good points as he went along and the student discussion was lively. But I gritted my teeth the whole time. The fact is I couldn’t do what he was doing. I mean I couldn’t show a horror film without worrying about freaking somebody out (I know the TA always asks his students to let him know if they have any problems with horror). So I asked a couple of students near me if they had any trouble watching that stuff.

They looked askance. What? That move? That was nothing. They had been raised watching "Saw."

I felt in the presence of a multi-dimensional generation gap. First I could not teach what the TA was teaching and I had to turn "Saw" off half way through.

These visits are making me feel more and more like a ghost.

Oh!  The horror!

Me and A-rod

About three weeks ago, I lugged some groceries into the house and noticed, not long after, pain in both knees, though much worse in the left. I thought it wasn’t so bad, a little swelling maybe but not enough to deter me from my daily exercise. That was a mistake because right about in there I began to experience that old dull ache almost constantly. I could walk ok, albeit with a hobble, and I took to getting to school early to make sure I wouldn’t rush and inadvertently hurt myself. I trudged along on the far right, with everybody, even little people with short legs, leaving me in the dust.

The pain from that little humiliation was slight compared to the fact that the damn knees began to disturb my sleep. I couldn’t find a place–as I tossed this way and that–that it didn’t hurt, just enough to keep me from lapsing into my usual torporous sleep. So I was wide away and just had to wait for utter fatigue to carry me off–and that knowing that tomorrow as going to be an extra busy day. Or I would wake at three am and the leg aching and nothing I could do about it but pound more Advil, hoping I didn’t blow a hole in my stomach.

So finally Carol did it for me and got me an appointment with a knee doctor, though I had to wait a week to see a real knee doctor and not a PA.

I go in yesterday and walk up to the doctor desk and am told by the receptionist to truck over to X-ray. So I trudge over there and am taken to a little room and told to go into this little closet and take off my pants and put on my smock and lock my clothes and belongings in the closet and when I have done that go sit in the waiting area–which I do in my smock, with my white thin legs sticking out, and holding in one hand the key to the closet. Then they do the X-rays. First stand here, then stand there, then lie down, the roll over. And after that I re-clothe and go back to the reception area and wait for the doctor and about this time Carol shows up to keep me company.

Finally I get to tell the doctor guy what’s up and he just sits there and then points at the X-ray and says, "Your right knee there’s got bone on bone and early onset arthritis." This panics me because I am sure I am aging prematurely because of evil things I have done and ask, "Do you mean it’s early for a person like me to get arthritis." No, he just means it’s arthritis in the early stages of a progressive degeneration.

Great! And what are my options?

Not many actually. Evidence is now in that arthroscopic for this kind of thing frequently doesn’t work at all and may make things worse. He has seen that he says in his own practice (he is filling in for a doctor who hurt his foot). But he can give he a cortisone shot–which he sets about doing immediately. The needle looks really long and goes in a long way but only into the empty cavity behind the knee.

So now I am on steroids. I may get relief for up to a couple of months and then the knee may ache again. But I can come in for another cortisone shot–and so on.

I am being set up for the Cadillac of knee surgeries: knee replacement.

Getting old is a crock. I don’t want to boldly go where this is taking me.

February 7, 2009

An email from Brother Steve served to remind me that today, February 7, marks the date of WB’s death, three years ago now in 2006. In his email Brother Steve said the day is sunny back in SC and that he might drive down to the Ora ARP to visit WB’s grave.

I started this blog–the best I can tell–right at the end of January 2006.

I think the events leading up to WB’s death and the death itself, followed by those ups and downs with Joan tapped into something, and I used the blog back then as sort of notebook–just to get things stuck inside of me out in the open a bit.

Sadly, a good deal still feels stuck, but the blog opened the window a bit and let in some air. That’s good.

And the blog too allowed me to establish contact with relatives back in SC that I would not otherwise have had. That’s a very good thing. Perhaps that’s the best thing to come out of the blog, and something, when I started it, I had not anticipated at all.

Oh, before I forget Cindy Tingle Stockman started a Yahoo-group for the descendants of William Berner and Bertha Mines Tingle. She ruminated in a recent email about how to get Sam and Samantha on it and whatever other descendants out there who might want to contribute family news, or weather reports, or recipes for corn bread.

Click here to go to the group sign up page.

Amy and Emilia, daughters of Douglas Tingle, recently signed on.

I hope all are well.