Went to my medical person again because this stomach thing–vague nausea, loss of appetite, profound flatulence, incessant stomach gurgling (loud enough to hear across the room), non-traditional stool plus fatigue–just wouldn’t remit.

I was happy to see she had on hand the results from my blood work up that is part of the yearly physical. I figured those might indicate something or better yet nothing relative to this gastrointestinal issue. And thank goodness, the results of the blood work throughout and on every item were “Normal.”

That word perplexed me because it is not one I would ever think to apply to myself, not having felt normal, for at least 40 years and probably longer.

But according to the tests I fall into the norm in every area.

I have been normed but do not feel normal. You can see the word “normal” written on the test results.
results.gifBut being normal did not afford a diagnostic avenue for this stomach thing.

I paid attention though when the medical person’s assistant said, as she was walking me to the office, “A stomach thing, huh? I don’t know what is worse. A back problem or a stomach problem.” This was heartening in a way since it suggested that my stomach problem would probably prove no more fatal than the ubiquitous back problem, but not so heartening since it suggested the stomach thing could be chronic and something of a mystery–in the way back problems sometimes can be. Just one of those things–for which there is no cure precisely except to learn to live with it.

Possibly my stomach or more precisely my colon is just showing the wear and tear of age. According to the results of my colon exam a couple years back I have a good deal of diviriticula in that same colon. These can become irritated from eating the wrong sorts of food. While I may be headed in that direction I do not have full blown diverticulosis. This can be accompanied by very sharp pain and blood in the stool.

So for now–more tests most especially to check for a bladder infection, since that too could produce odd sensations in those regions–and next week I must harvest materials for a stool study to determine if I have become a habitation for a parasite.

About I can do in a personally way is to eat very bland and non-irritating foods for a couple weeks and see if that makes a difference.


So I am alive but, without Mexican food, can I call it living?


Out of the corner of my eye, I caught this ad featuring a beautiful young woman dancing in close embrace with a handsome young man  and as drew closer:


 I am suddenly introduced to a new product. A toothbrush, actually two of them packaged together, each with a dab in the middle of the bristles of Johnny on the spot toothpaste. And this toothpaste was apparently so juicy that using it does not require the adding of water. So much for carrying around in your bag a toothbrush and a cumbersome tube of toothpaste and bottle of water. What with it being so juicy, one doesn’t even head off to the bathroom, but brush behind a bush maybe and spit on the ground or something.

Talk about your convenience.

I guess the fear of halitosis runs deep. That’s an odd word, halitosis. I don’t hear it much any more. We now say, quite openly, “bad breath.” But at one time, I think, the word served to suggest something sort of scientific that required a sort of scientific cure, like Listerine. Indeed, the Listerine people made it up by combining words from Greek and Latin. They devised a disease and gave it a scientific name.

For a long time now, women especially have been subjected to advertising suggesting that halitosis is just god awful and may completely ruin one’s social life.

One ad shows a man and a women in embrace with the line “Till breath do us part.” So bad breath is like death and possible grounds for divorce. Once again the ad is directed a women, suggesting that they especially must be concerned about emitting foul odors.

Below, we find that poor Milly catches the bridle bouquet. She should be next in line to wed but her friends know otherwise and they know why too. Milly has bad breath. But she doesn’t know it.

badbreath2.jpgPoor, poor Milly. Damn! 

So there you are with a constipation so intense that you suffer loss of appetite, early weakness, nervousness, and mental dullness, but what you are really, really worried about is halitosis.

Rain, Rain

I think it started raining Monday and only now, Friday, does it appear to be letting up. Rare around here to have a week straight of rain (and another week appears on the horizon, a little way out).

People grumble. The rain is an inconvenience, but then they say, “Of course we need it.” Because of course we do. Here in sunny Southern California.

We continue in a drought. Out where Carol and I walk, the grasses are burned out and turn charcoal black in the summer.

In class Wednesday, the row of students by the window of our horribly small room let out a gasp when the one of the trees out in the courtyard just keeled over with a bang. Luckily, it was raining so nobody was sitting on any of the benches the tree hit.

One of those damn eucalyptus. Another much bigger one fell and blocked one of the main entrances to the campus.

This eucalyptus behavior confirms me in my opinion that the eucalyptus is a pernicious weed.

And to think one of the reasons they were brought to this country was to serve as windbreaks. And as possible sources for railroad ties. Did nobody even stop to look at that corkscrew wood.

Sometimes I think the bees people get in their bonnets distract them from what is right in front of their noses. 

No More Office

Yesterday, I got up early, because I had a meeting at nine, and drove down to get blood drawn for the blood test for the yearly physical. Friday seems to be a good day to go because very few people were there. The lady drawing my blood asked me how I was, and I said, OK, I guess. And she said, At least you are still here (having perhaps picked up on a negative tone in my voice and the fact that I now look old), and I said, This getting old stuff is the pits. Then she started talking about how old she was–I swear she didn’t look more than 45–and how she was a grandmother, and how tired she got after a day at work and then going to baby sit her daughters’ children until her daughter’s husband got home from work. Boy, people lead hectic lives.

She gave me the package of stuff to test your own stool. I hate that and last year I just didn’t do it. She said the tests were better now and I said, yea, but they were so complicated that, well, I just tended to forget it. And she laughed really hard. I didn’t think it was that funny. Maybe it was unusual for a patient just to admit well, yea, I decided to shine it on rather than come up with heaps of excuses for not having done it. Beats me.

Then I went to the meeting at nine.

Then I went to a meeting at ten. I learned there (I had some hints of this previously but hadn’t paid much attention) that an “administrative reconfiguration” is going on that would mean that the Writing Program would no longer have its own office. That freaked me. I can’t imagine the Writing Program without its own office. As long as the Writing Program has been the Writing Program it has had its own office. True, the turn over of staff in the WP has been enormous; still you get to know people after a while, and if you have a problem, you can go over and get some help getting it fixed, and when you walk in the office door people know who you are.

Soon we will have no office and therefore no office door to walk into and no faces on the other side that know you. Well, they may know you–but whoever they are they will be very, very busy. Because the plan is to consolidate the “administrative” aspects of the English Department (which is huge), and the Linguistics Department, and the Philosophy Department, and the lowly Writing Program in ONE office.

I wonder what the hell they will call this office; maybe the HUGE office. Sure as heck one will not get that little bit of personal touch one got in the Writing Program Office. Because sure as heck there will be fewer people in that one Huge Office than there were distributed among those four smaller offices. After all, this consolidation of offices is aimed at saving money–and would not have occurred had it not been for the ongoing financial crunch.

So some staff will be fired.

And the Writing Program will not have its own office, or dedicated administrative staff, or mail room.

This is set to happen next fall.

I left that meeting feel a little strange and light headed, perhaps from having my blood drawn.

Yearly Physical

Went in for my yearly physical this morning. Don’t know how many yearly physicals that makes. But it’s been quite a few. The package of materials on me has reached small phone book size.

According to my PCP (primary care person) I am–and I quote–“doing great.” My weight is even further down from last year to around 160. The PCP thinks I shouldn’t let it go lower than that and a few more pounds wouldn’t really hurt. The heart seems good, and the lungs sounded good. Also all the stuff in the lower parts is, well, hanging in there.

Still have to do the blood tests though and don’t know what that will show. Brother Dave went in recently for a routine physical, and it turned out not routine at all with all sorts of follow up tests before they finally concluded that all was fine.

I think I mentioned feeling as if I were suffering a fatal attack of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). Turns out, according to the PCP, I had an intestinal bug making the rounds, a low grade infection, down in the bowel, hard to get rid of, that makes a person feel bloated (that’s what I felt) and that upsets the bowel (I had that too) and pretty much screws the appetite. I had that too. I mean I knew I was hungry but I just didn’t feel like eating. At one point I started drinking a lot of water. Turns out that was the thing to do. The bug is still there a bit. But I continue drinking water and herb tea.

So things could be worse. For me, that’s optimism.

On the way home from the physical, I stopped off at a Walgreens to get the H1N1 shot. Man, was that a pain. All sorts of paper work and then the person giving the shots disappeared for a half hour. So there I was mingling with a bunch of other old folks in a Walgreens waiting for a damn shot. A lady who was seated…and seemed clearly older than I…kept asking if I wanted to sit, because she would get up, if I wanted, and shouldn’t feel ashamed or anything. And I kept saying no thank you and wondering how the hell old do I look or miserable that she should keep offering me her seat.

And then when the person giving the shots finally showed up, the old folks there insisted I go first (the line wasn’t quite clearly defined), so I took the seat, displacing a mentally ill person who had failed to do the paper work. And the shot person kept trying to poke me through my nicotine patch, so I took it off finally. So I got up and thanked the others for their courtesy, and they said, Don’t smoke. Because they had heard me talking about my nicotine patch.

And I left wondering how the hell decrepit do I look.

This getting older stuff is the pits.

For me, that’s optimism.

cannady-d.jpgMy PCP

Cell Phones Again

Some students in my morning class showed me a bit from the student paper that I had my students in the afternoon class read. The author of the piece had decided to go without his cell phone for a day. He wrote, in part:

I walked upstairs and told my roommate about my ordeal [of not using the phone]. He responded, “How would you know if any girls wanted to come over?” I just laughed in agreement, but there is a real message behind his words. People like feeling validated, feeling popular, feeling needed. Receiving and sending unproductive messages which ultimately hold no value is part of how we as a generation feel a sense of comfort and perhaps confidence. If I didn’t’t receive any messages in a day I would feel somewhat offended. Why don’t people like me enough to want to meet up, or even just say g’day? Technology is what our generation has turned to as a means of feeling a sense of togetherness. Without Facebook and a cell phone I would feel extremely vulnerable.

My students have written things very much like this for the class blog, and the students in the afternoon class seemed to very much understand what the author of the piece was saying. It was nothing new to them. So I asked, as I do now every quarter, how frequently do you check your cell for messages. The answer was: constantly. In class too, I asked laughingly because I knew the answer. Oh yes, you bet, they said. Some phones I was told have a little light that blinks every time it gets at hit, so even without actually replying to the cell a person can sit there and track the flow.

In my next class I will have my students read a bit from Jeremy Rifkin’s The Age of Access (2000) and see what they have to say. He writes in part:

” In the new world of computers, hypertext, nodes, links, and networks, the nineteenth-century idea of the self as an island–an autonomous being, solid and boundaried like the printed books and physical­cal goods bought and sold in the industrial marketplace–succumbs to a new relational self. Philosopher Jean-Francois Lyotard makes the point that in the electronic networks of cyberspace,” the self does not amount to much … no self is an island; each exists in a fabric of relations…. Young or old, man or woman, rich or poor, a person is always located at ‘nodal points’ of specific communication circuits.” Having access to multiple circuits–i.e., being connected–in” the new network economy is as important as being autonomous and propertied was in an earlier market economy.

Rifkin is writing here about the net, but the cell phone seems to jack up to another level the notion of “self” or the experience of having a self as somehow the result of inter-connectedness. When young people get a text message, they feel recognized.

I think, though, that, while of course, no self is an island, Rifkin may go too far in saying “the self does not amount to much…” The student felt vulnerable when disconnected from his phone. That feeling of vulnerability is an expression of the self. 

The Thrill is Gone

The first day of classes for the new quarter was Monday. After–and it was dark already–I bumped into a colleague and said, “You know. The thrill is gone.” She said that it was still there for her, but she had previously had some horrible job for 20 years, so teaching still had a kick. I don’t know, I said, but I have been teaching writing as my primary source of income since 1976. Maybe I have just worn it out.

I felt crappy. I don’t like feeling the thrill is gone. But what I was feeling was a bit worse than that. I just didn’t know how much longer I could go on doing it. As in, would I be able to make it through the quarter even.

The next day I woke up feeling completely washed out. I have been wrestling with some intestinal complaint and figured maybe I had contracted a fatal case of IRS (irritable bowel syndrome). Or I had stumbled into some depression hole. All I wanted to do was sleep.

Carol came home and said she knew what was wrong. One of her colleagues had missed Monday and looked terrible on Tuesday suffering from some bug that caused fatigue, headache, aching muscles and PND (post nasal drip). Honestly, that could pretty well describe my “normal” daily condition, but the idea I had a bug did help to explain the increase in intensity.

Wednesday–what do you know. Sure the IRS or whatever it is was still there, but I had some energy. That’s what had not been there Monday, not so much the thrill, as no energy at all. Wednesday the classes felt better. I enjoyed myself a little, and I think it’s important that teachers enjoy themselves at least a little.

So, OK. Maybe the thrill is gone. But as long as I have the energy, it’s a job I can do and feel it worth doing.

Untitled Document

The web is pretty amazing. I was clicking around randomly as they say and came across this:


I was startled. I didn’t know my CD had any relationship to something called But I did pay 35 bucks to CD Baby and they said they would handle digital distribution. I guess they did. So I clicked on the Links there in that picture and listened to those four songs for the first time in a long time. Not too bad, I thought.

You can’t click on those links here because that’s a page capture.

But you can listen to the first thirty seconds of all ten songs songs on the CD if you click on the links below.

This is the web for you, spreading like a spiderweb. I guess too Lala is engaged in what people call distribution or marketing. But the web is like a giant trash dump; you’re not going to find anything unless you’re looking for it in the first place.

Still, pretty amazing. Though I haven’t made a cent on the damn CD.  Wait! Except for a few kind friends who bought the CD to make me feel good. Thank you, kind friends! 

And, in any case, what’s really going on here is that I acting as an advertiser for Lala.


Bad Boxes

I received an email informing me that several UC officials had received boxes in the mail containing a white powder. Tests showed this powder was harmless. Nonetheless, forewarned is fore armed, I guess. So the email listed the warning signs of a possible bad boxes as follows:

1. They are unexpected or from someone unfamiliar to you.

2. They are addressed to someone no longer with your organization or are otherwise outdated. An addressee’s name/title may be inaccurate.

suspiciouspackage.jpg3. They have no return address, or have one that can not be verified as legitimate. It may show a city or state in the postmark that does not match
the return address.

4. They are of unusual weight, given their size, or are lopsided or oddly shaped.

5. They are marked with restrictive endorsements, such as “Personal” or”Confidential.” This factor is significant when the addressee does not
usually receive personal mail at the office.

6. They have protruding wires, strange odors or stains. It may feel rigid, or appear uneven or lopsided, and is unprofessionally wrapped with several
combinations of tape used to secure the package.

7. They look markedly different than most that typically arrive in your office.

Now tell me who is going to open a box that is lopsided, oddly shaped, strangely stained, has protruding wires and emits odors? Not to mention, appears unprofessionally wrapped!

Not me. I can tell you.