Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Random Notes

I've been on a surprisingly long hiatus -- partly due to health issues, partly because of the surrealness of the passing scene. Sometimes I wonder if we have all tumbled down a rabbit hole from which there is no turning back.

Health: My condition (rheumatoid arthritis) is stable, I guess. But word came yesterday that the rheumatologist suspects I have another complicating condition that needs treatment as well -- but she won't say what she suspects, just wants me to see another specialist. Sigh. What I can say is that there have been periods recently when I've felt... strange. Almost out of body. I attribute it to medication, but I'm not sure. At any rate, just remembering to take all the medications I've been prescribed is something of a challenge. They seem to work well enough, but there are so many, it's sometimes more than I can manage to remember them all and remember to take them in the right sequence.

Costs are starting to climb as well. So far, the cost is not crippling, but it's surprising just how much of my treatment and prescriptions are not covered by the Medicare Advantage plan I signed up to or are covered at such a low percentage of cost that I pay almost full price.

Brexit: Jeebus. What a clusterfuck. Watching the utter meltdown of Our Betters following the vote was/is entertaining, I suppose, but there is something curious about all the sturm und drang and garment rending that strikes me as completely phony. Things are not what they seem. There is a strong element of Show Business, in other words, that leads me to believe that in the end, Britain will not leave the EU, and the voters will learn that their vote really doesn't matter. These things are not to be decided by plebiscite. Very little is to be decided by the Rabble in the end.

Anyone who's watched what's happened to Greece, among other places, should have learned that by now. The People are to have as little say in matters of state and importance as is possible. Going forward, they should not expect to have any say, or if they have one, they should expect their decision to be ignored -- if it contradicts the decisions of Their Betters.

We'll see, but I'm not convinced -- at all -- that The People will have their way in Britain any more than they have had their way most anywhere else lately.

Clinton v Sanders v Trump: OK. It's always more important for neoliberal Democrats to attack and if possible destroy their left flank. The Left is considered an existential threat to the neolibcon program and must be crushed. Consequently much more energy is devoted to suppression of the so-called Sanders "Political Revolution" than has gone into "fighting" Republicans.

More and more it appears that Trump will not be the Republican nominee, assuming the Republicans want a contest for the White House (not entirely clear). The Rs seem to be happy enough with Clinton, almost as if they would have nominated her if Sanders had become the Democratic nominee.

The important thing for both Clinton and Trump is to keep the Sanders Wing from any kind of power no matter what else happens. The spectacle is typical but largely uninteresting.

That's just me, though...

Houses: On a completely different note, while pondering the world my parents grew up in -- so different from our own -- I've thought a bit about the houses where they lived. Those houses, I think, had a shaping influence on them, just as the houses I grew up in have shaped who I am.

My father was born in Iowa in 1901, the second son of a prominent Irish-American attorney and his German-American wife. The family lived in a series of Victorian houses on one street, actually one block of one street. These houses were not that big, they certainly weren't fancy, and even the biggest of them and the fanciest was relatively modest compared to the mansions of the town's wealthy just a couple of blocks away.

As the family grew, their houses got bigger. There were eventually eleven children, nine of whom lived to adulthood. They did not have electricity, however, until about 1913. They had servants -- a cook/nanny/housekeeper and a man to take care of the yard and drive the car. Ultimately, my father inherited one of his father's houses on that block and he lived there the rest of his life.

It was an old and very small house, though it was two stories. I remember it well, even from a very early age. The earliest memories I have of it are of the smell of the coal furnace in the basement and the rough feel of the wool rugs against my skin. There was nothing fancy about this house. Parts of it dated back to the 1840s or 50s, very rough and simple. Additions were made in the 1870s and 1890s, and my father remodeled some of it in the 1940s and 50s. But even though it grew, the rooms were small, some of them were actually tiny. The house still stands. It's been remodeled and expanded again, but I imagine it's still small and plain.

My mother was born in Indiana  in 1911 and lived the first five years of her life with her mother, grandmother and aunts in a house that no longer stands. It was replaced in about 1915 with a fire station. The family moved next door into a house that still stands, a simple Victorian place that is deceptively large. In 1917, however, my mother, her mother, and her step father moved to California where lived in a pretty typical California bungalow that still stands, though it has been heavily remodeled over the years. The bungalow was something like this. In fact, I think it was a lot like that. I think that house had a strong influence on my mother when she was growing up.

In Sacramento, we lived in a neighborhood that was filled with Arts and Crafts bungalows, and I became familiar with some of them. What struck me about so many of them is that they were dark, dark as caves, and nothing at all would brighten them up. I think it was because they were so dark that owners painted the woodwork white. Arts and Crafts aficionados, of course, are passionate about stripping the paint from bungalow woodwork, and then they wind up with a dark house once again. But I guess they like it.

Bungalows were considered progressive compared to their Victorian predecessors. It's a rather strict style, floorplans tend to be standardized, and for the most part, bungalows are compact. There are exceptions (like the Gamble House in Pasadena) but the house my mother grew up in was small, tight, dark (I'm assuming) and she probably felt confined.

How that influenced who she became is a topic for another post...

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