I had to be reminded that I have cancer. I really hadn’t thought about it in those terms. A friend of mine, a doctor, felt it necessary to tell me that yesterday. I had cancer. I have cancer. And I will continue to have cancer until it, or some other illness or accident, claims my life. Remission? I will never be cured. I may one day be told that my cancer isn’t expanding or easy to find. But, it will always be there.
Well that’s pretty bleak. We are not machines. I am totally aware that I will not live forever. I don’t think I would want to. But I think that hope is as important as oxygen. And at some point you have to have faith in the doctors, the hospitals, and the system to guide you towards a positive outcome. Even if a cure is not possible, relief from pain or an extra year or two might be. Maintaining one’s focus on those realistic outcomes seems to be more productive than wallowing in despair or anger.
You can’t un-hear a conversation. Or at least, I can’t. So I will move forward with the full undeniable knowledge that I have cancer. The important part of that last sentence isn’t that I have cancer. No, the most important words are that I will move forward.
Friday was supposed to be a day of celebration. I rang the bell at University Hospital at noon. That was the official end of my radiation treatments. Nine weeks, five times per week. Sally and I went to lunch on Coventry and then we visited a local business that will remain nameless. Let me be clear, I have never experienced worse customer service. I didn’t even know that it was possible to make some of the mistakes and service blunders I endured over a three hour period. I am not a victim and I normally expect and receive good, often great, service. This was more than an exception. At one point I wondered if this was one of those awful practical joke shows and I started to look for the hidden cameras. We were aggravated for the rest of the day.
I received an email from the business on Monday morning. I was expecting an apology. What I got was their customer survey. I didn’t answer it till later in the evening when I had yet to receive any other correspondence from them. I wasn’t overly dramatic. I didn’t reply in all caps. I did detail 5 major errors. I received an email the next day. This is a portion of the note:
I have received your survey and spoken to _____ that you worked with and I am embarrassed. Not only do you deserve a huge apology from all of us, but so much more. I don’t want to make any excuses for what happened on Friday. And an explanation of what was going on behind the scenes doesn’t fix anything. It sounds like it started out bad and snowballed into a complete debacle. Usually, we are much better than that and strive for perfection with every customer that visits our store. But for whatever reason, everything that could go wrong in the ______ industry, happened to you… on that day. I am very sympathetic for the time you’ve lost and the fact that what should have been a celebration, turned into a day you wanted to forget.
Although I can’t take back what happened on your last visit, I can try and make it right the best I can. First, I want to sincerely apologize for everything that went wrong. That level of service is not our standard…
Notice that the first thing the manager did was to sincerely apologize. He said that they were wrong and that they were sorry. No excuses. No shared responsibility. Having acknowledged the errors, he then made a generous offer to prove that he understood the full implications of their failure. Will I do business with them again? Sure. Not because of his offer, but because of the sincerity of the apology and his understanding of their failure.
An apology, a sincere unequivocal apology, is so rare that it must be noted, even celebrated. If you confront someone for saying something inappropriate, you might get the weak, “I’m sorry you feel that way”. No ownership. No real contrition. The worst offenders are our current batch of politicians.
Neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump will ever issue an honest, heartfelt apology. The reasons may be different, but the results are the same.
Mrs. Clinton has been fighting with the Republicans and the press for 25 years. Many of her most egregious errors seem to have been made in an effort to avoid dealing with her antagonists. Certainly the private server appears to have been designed with that in mind. Can she apologize? I guess not. Any apology, any admission of error, will be replayed on TV, ad nauseam, for the balance of her political career. There is an old joke that just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean that there really isn’t someone hiding behind the door. That may actually apply to Hillary Clinton. Still, there is always the possibility that an apology for her missteps might allow us to move on.
Mr. Trump is different. He appears to believe that an apology or any admission of error is a sign of weakness. We have witnessed countless gaffes, misstatements, errors, and “confusions” in the last year. Fact Checkers view the daily onslaught of Trump pronouncements and Tweets much the way Sisyphus viewed the mountain. His failure to acknowledge his errors and uncontrollable need to double down on his attacks makes him the very opposite of the kind of leader we would want our children to emulate.
We are about to choose between two people incapable of admitting error. In other words, an epic fail.
I was a little kid. The technicians led me into a dimly lit room and had me lie down on a table. They put a pillow under my head, covered my waist and legs with a sheet, and asked me to be very still. I was handed a name tag, not to put on my wrist, but to hold while I tried not to move. The three technicians continued to talk to me as they moved around the room and checked their machines. Someone pushed a button and my table and I were now high in the air, even with the shoulders of the shortest tech. It was hard to say whether they were interested in a conversation or just wanted to make sure that I wasn’t nervous. They asked me what kind of music they should have on in the background. I named a couple of groups. They didn’t appear to recognize the names and offered to play one of their favorites. OK. And with that they all walked out of the room.
A heavy door slid shut and I was now alone. Trying not to move, I surveyed the room. There were two red lights, one above and one on the far wall. The ceiling had a fake skylight. There were panels of low light and a picture of trees. I closed my eyes as the music started to come through the speakers. Moments later I reopened my eyes to the sound of CLICK, CLICK, CLICK. I almost sat up. My table was actually a platform and I was a part of a huge machine. It began to buzz and whirl. And then it started to move. I was stationary. Four massive arms rotated around me. Two were flat panels. Two looked to be left over parts from a spaceship. The music was barely audible over the sound of the machine. It wouldn’t have mattered what they had played.
One full rotation. Now the four arms have reversed direction and are rotating the other way. I tried to close my eyes. When that failed I looked up and focused on the fake trees. I thought about the park and being outside. Two full rotations. The arms reversed again. There was more buzzing and clicks. And then it lurched to a stop in the middle of a round. The biggest, heaviest, scariest piece was hovering right over me. I would have been squished if it fell on me. And it just stayed there, hovering over me. I became aware of the music. I could tell that it may have seemed like I had been in peril for hours, it was really only a minute or so. I was relieved when the clicking began. The machine came back to life and finished the third and final rotation. The door reopened moments after the machine stopped and the technicians came in to get me.
I was a little kid, yesterday.
Last week was painful and exhausting. We experienced a variety of low points as a country. And when I say “We”, I mean all of us. We are all impacted by the shootings in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Dallas. Not one or the other, all of them. Joe Jackson came to Cleveland and I had a two hour reprieve Saturday evening. Sunday I visited the Cain Park Art Show. Saw a guy holding a Bernie sign. Always good to be in Cleveland Hts!
Cherries have been both particularly good and cheap this year. I have been experimenting with a Cherry Pie Recipe and tried again yesterday. I still get a lot of requests for my low carb recipes. Here is how I turned off all of the noise yesterday.
2 Pounds fresh cherries (+ / – a little)
¼ Cup Splenda
1 Teaspoon potato starch
1/8 Teaspoon vanilla
2 Cups pecan pieces
5 Tablespoons melted butter / margarine
2 Tablespoons liquid sweetener
1 Teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 Teaspoon vanilla
Margarine to for the glass pie pan
½ Cup almond meal
2 Tablespoons potato starch
2 Packets of Splenda
½ Teaspoon cinnamon
1 Teaspoon Diet V-8 Splash
1 Teaspoon vegetable oil
- Pre-heat oven to 375
- Butter standard glass pie pan
- Wash and pit the cherries. It took me less than 15 minutes to pit the cherries and get them into a 3 Qt. saucepan.
- Cook the cherries on a low heat for 30+ minutes to release liquid. Stir occasionally.
- Now you can turn your attention to the crust while the cherries are on the stove.
- This works best if the pecans were kept in the freezer until you are ready to make the crust. Pulse them in a food processor or grind them in a coffee mill. Keep them chunky. You don’t want powder.
- In a medium sized bowl add the margarine, vanilla, cinnamon, and fake sugar. I like Joseph’s liquid or a couple of Splenda packets. Mix the five ingredients thoroughly.
- Dump into the pie pan and spread the crust with your fingers. There really is enough.
- Check on the cherries. Continue to draw out the juice.
- Once a large amount of liquid has been released, take the pot off of the heat and stir in the potato starch, Splenda, and vanilla. Place back on the burner for 2 minutes.
- If the filling appears too thick, add a little water.
- Cool 10 minutes.
- Make the topping as the filling cools.
- Combine the topping dry ingredients into a medium size bowl.
- Add the liquid ingredients and mix with your fingers.
- Filling on to the crust
- Topping on to the pie
Bake 45 – 50 minutes
This is certainly not a solution to the country’s problems, but it will give you an hour or two without pundits or bullets.
1968. It was in Chicago, at the chaotic Democratic Party’s convention, that Vice-president Hubert H. Humphrey won his party’s nomination. It was in Miami, at the Republican convention, that former Vice-president Richard M. Nixon was nominated to be president of the United States. And it was in Montgomery, Alabama’s capital, that Governor George C. Wallace nominated himself. Three men, all wanting to be president. All willing to do anything to be president. Humphrey came out and said that Nixon and Wallace were incompetent. Then Nixon announced that Humphrey and Wallace were incompetent. And Wallace shouted through his bullhorn that Nixon and Humphrey were incompetent. And for the first time in all three men’s political careers, they had told the truth.
From The Legend of Ma Cohen
It is only July 8, 2016. The election is four months away and I already have Clinton fatigue. I’m so tired and Hillary Clinton is still a candidate. What is it going to be like if she is elected?
This is an excerpt from my December 1993 annual letter to my clients:
“1993 was the first year of the Clinton Crisis Administration. Every issue, the budget, NAFTA, etc…, will supposedly make or break the presidency. So far he has won each fight, so thank G-d, the United States continues. But, either these people like to walk on the edge of cliffs or someone is crying wolf.”
What followed was seven years of stress and prosperity. And after a government shut-down and it seemed that things couldn’t get worse, we experienced an attempted bloodless coup masked as impeachment. There were no angels in that debacle. Our innocence the only victim.
Yesterday I listened to FBI Director James Comey testify before Congress. I could have written the script. It was all so predictable. The Republican Congressmen, outraged that a Clinton had AGAIN escaped their clutches, asked highly political questions of a witness in hopes of eliciting a soundbite for a future campaign commercial. The witness swatted away the questions. FOX and MSNBC cherry-pick the video and replay, ad nauseam, portions that prove that their side carried the day.
But why was Director Comey there? Because Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had, again, explored the lines dividing legal and illegal, right and wrong. This problem is entirely self-inflicted.
And Trump? Seriously? I wonder how many of my Republican friends would be voting for The Donald if he was running as a Democrat. My guess is none. I watched him speak at a rally in Cincinnati Wednesday evening. He spent an hour spreading his invective to cover just about anyone who fails to agree with him. He insulted Democrats, Republicans and the news media (specifically and generally). But what he truly insulted was our intelligence. His defense of retweets of memes from neo-Nazi websites was a low point in American politics. Hillary Clinton doesn’t need to waste money on ads. She could just run his Wednesday night speech on a constant loop till November. She would win by 30%.
So let’s all be honest for a moment. The TV news, the papers, and the internet have countless negative stories about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. What if 75% of this stuff was true? 50%? Do you really believe that less than 50% of the reports about either of these candidates are true? Please review the charges and get back to the rest of us.
So what do we do? I don’t know. Mrs. Clinton’s email debacle frustrates the Hell out of me. And I’d vote for a potted plant before I’d vote for Donald Trump. There is a chance, a very small chance, that the Republicans will find a way to nominate a more qualified candidate when they meet here in Cleveland. There is a chance, a very small chance, that Mrs. Clinton’s legal issues (Perjury?) could sideline her presidential bid.
But please don’t tell me that your candidate, Trump or Clinton, is flawless and that the other one is awful. Thank G-d America is great, great enough that we will survive either one of them being president.
Country. Some homes had a few pieces. We were totally committed. It was the mid to late 1980’s and we had the ducks, the geese, and the Pfaltzgraff. I have to admit that I loved the country blue Pfaltzgraff dishes that were discontinued a week after we bought service for 12. Still, my taste is a touch eclectic and having the whole house, every room, dedicated to one style, any style, was too much for me. Especially one that embraced ducks and geese.
But life is filled with little negotiations. Who amongst us can say that they have always been gracious in both victory and defeat?
My Favorite Nurse (MFN) LOVED country. Her father’s hobby was woodworking. He was very good and we received shelves and other pieces. We also visited any number of craft shows to supplement our collection.
We were at the Yankee Peddler Festival, about 28 years ago, and MFN saw a napkin holder. It had a simple design of wood and blue cloth. It was $25. I don’t remember the conversation, but I do recall that I was less than enthusiastic. I didn’t want it and I didn’t want to spend 25 bucks for it. I wasn’t a total asshole. There were no lines drawn in the sand. I paid the vendor and it came home with us.
Once the napkin holder was on a counter, filled with napkins, it appeared to have always been there. It was OK. And one day, about three years later, the ducks, the geese, and MFN were gone. But the napkin holder remained.
I still have the napkin holder twenty-five years and three homes later. Until today. Today I retire the napkin holder. It is tired and has given its all. My friends at Zeber-Martell made a special dish for me to hold napkins. This beautiful piece, and a few others with the same glaze, now sit on a cabinet.
I just hope this new piece realizes that it is replacing a really great napkin holder.
I bet a dime on Muhammad Ail. Not ten dollars. Not ten thousand. A dime. And he wasn’t Muhammad Ali at the time. He was Cassius Clay and he was fighting Sonny Liston. The big fight was a major topic of discussion on the bus ride to Hebrew School each afternoon. One of the older boys, a fifth grader, was the boxing maven and he declared Liston the winner weeks before the fight. He offered to cover any bet. I knew nothing about boxing, but I recognized intelligence and bravado. Clay amazed me. What the hell. I had a dime. I bet it. And the following week I had two dimes.
The sixties were a time of fear. The older generation was so afraid of nuclear war that they built bomb shelters, talked about it incessantly, and even had us hiding under our desks during drills. They were afraid of racial unrest. They were afraid that the war in Southeast Asia might not be so good an idea. But what they were really afraid of was change.
Muhammad Ali epitomized change. He was loud. He was Black, very Black with no interest in pretending to be White. He abandoned Christianity and embraced Islam. And in the end, he rejected the war and the values that war represented.
As a kid I wanted to understand why the adults were afraid of Ali, The Beatles, and anti-war protestors. I watched Hugh Downs, host of the Today Show, look into the camera and warn America about the new Beatles album. So I found it and listened. The police riot at the 1968 Democratic Convention energized me. And then THEY arrested Ali.
The adults played the game differently. Sure there were real patriots, like my dad and baseball great Bob Feller, who actually enlisted in the military and fought in World War II. But by the mid-sixties it was pretty much forgotten that the super patriots of the day never really served, they just played the parts of soldiers in the movies. Even Elvis did his two years in uniform. Ali’s refusal to be cannon fodder in Vietnam divided the country. You were either with him or against him. I was already with him. This sealed the deal.
We lost Ali last night. We lost the Champ.
“How are you?”
How many times are you asked that question each day? They are meaningless words thoughtlessly tumbling from someone’s mouth as you meet them in public or talk with them on the phone. I have always responded in kind. “Fine. Thanks. How you doin’?”
But that all changed this year. There are people who really are inquiring about my health. They know that I have had some medical issues this year and they want to know my status. To them I answer truthfully that I am feeling stronger every day. Here is the challenge – how do can you tell the difference? Who is being polite and who is concerned? Who knows about this year’s adventure and who doesn’t, but should?
I was talking with Rachel on Tuesday. She works for a brokerage house that services a few of my clients. She asked me how I was and I replied, “Fine”. She then asked again. “No, how are YOU?” I got it. We actually talked for a few minutes before we got back to business. Sadly that is the exception, not the rule.
Frank, my rep with a well-known insurer, personally invited me to a lunch presentation in mid-May. The email invite arrived at the end of April. I let him know that I hoped to attend. “I will have to play it by ear. I’m up to ½ days now. The blog post dealing with this is Shedding Pounds By Shedding Organs.” A few weeks later, I made it to his meeting. He asked me how I was. I said, “Stronger every day”. And he said, “Why? Have you been sick?”
I just looked at him and said, “You didn’t read the blog”.
I don’t expect everyone in the world to read Health Insurance Issues With Dave. I am shocked and gratified that hundreds of people do read these posts (thank you Google Analytics!). And I’m also aware that my readers come and go. But, if I personally email you a link to a post about shedding organs, I would think you might find a couple of minutes.
Agitated? I had someone say to me that he saw the link but didn’t feel like reading it. “I’m here. Tell me all about it.”
I went to a presentation from a 9 / 11 survivor. This is his job. Fifteen years later he is making a living by traveling around the country and retelling his story of America’s darkest hours. He gets paid to relive the pain and horror. That ain’t me!
I externalize my pain, my grief, my negatives. I get it onto paper and out of my system. And once it’s gone, it’s gone. Visiting a post is like visiting my old house in Shaker Hts. It was mine. It isn’t now. And you don’t need me to be with you when you drive past it.
I have had this prostate issue for almost two years. I kept waiting for it to turn out to be nothing. I wrote several introductions to the blog post that would detail the false alarm. But that never happened. I had more than enough time to write, edit, and re-edit this story while I was flat on my back in the darkness of that hospital room. And when I wrote it, a few days after my discharge, I had to fight the lingering fog of the general anesthetics to get that story out of my system. I couldn’t sleep. I had to get this story out of me so that I could get better.
And once the piece was written and the post was published, I was done. And I do mean DONE. I don’t want to be dragged back to that hospital room. When someone insists that I retell my adventure of April 13th to 20th, they are asking me to relive it. Blessed with an excellent memory, I can recall the claustrophobic room where I almost bled to death. I slept with earplugs but I can still hear the alarms that shattered my sleep. And I remember being alone, in the dark, connected to those machines, and willing confidence and never letting doubt enter my room. Why the Hell would I want to go through this again?
I had a successful trip to the hospital. If you get to go home in a car, it is a successful trip. My interest is strictly in the future. If someone really has a sincere interest in my health, there is a quick, comprehensive, and mildly entertaining answer. Just read the damn blog.
The beacon cut through the Cleveland gloom. There, high in the sky, in lights, was the familiar picture of a guy talking on the phone. The call had gone out for Cunix. Where the Hell is Cunix? Truth, I was M.I.A. More specifically, I was taking a nap.
A nap! I don’t nap. I don’t know that I napped when I was a little kid. Up until a month ago I viewed sleep as something you did when you ran out of good things to do. I normally went to bed after midnight and got up at 5:30 or 6 each morning. Now I drag myself out of bed sometime before 8 and try to find time to rest or nap every afternoon.
These are the adjustments one must make. There is a constant struggle between doing too little and doing too much. I need to build stamina, but if I push too far I am whipped the next day or two. So I tend to err on the side of too much. Because that’s me and because I want to get back to normal.
My favorite nurse checks in almost daily. And not just to scold me! She monitors my water intake, walking, and rest. And one day I am going to give her the right answers.
So turn off the beacon and kill the lights. If can’t find me, I’m probably taking a nap. Or trying hard not to…
I’ve had way too much time on my hands lately. This has led to way too much TV. FOX, MSNBC, and CNN kept me company in the hospital and now at home. Truth, I deserved better.
The frontrunner, the leading candidate for the Republican Party’s nomination, is imitating the pancake eating habits of one of his opponents. It looks like a Saturday Night Live skit. Does the Leader of the Free World need the bullying skills of a 10 year old? I’m shocked. And if you are reading this, you are probably shocked, too.
So before this goes any further and everyone digs in for the final fight, I have a quick question:
What if it had been the other way?
Do my Republican friends wish that Donald Trump had hijacked the Democratic Party? He could have. His positions (go ahead, detail them) could just as easily have been presented as D’s. We could have Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders fighting for the Democratic nomination. And Jeb Bush could be just about ready to eliminate Scott Walker.
In that universe my Republican friends might sleep easily with either of their potential nominees, Bush or Walker? Would they be praying for Trump to polish off Clinton and Sanders? Would either of their guys beat Trump head-to-head?
Please list the top 5 reasons why the Democrats should be ashamed of a Trump ticket. Bet it would be easy. But you are here, so what are you going to do in November?
And my Dem friends shouldn’t get too smug. It could have been us. I would not vote for Donald Trump, period. This time I will have an easy choice. What about next time?
There is no escape to a parallel universe. We, as a country, need to start now to groom the candidates of 2020 and 2024.