Archive - Jul 2011
I’ve written in the past about trying to live the great American Novel, or at least live out a collection of great American Short Stories. I use my blog, in part, to hone my writing skills. With that, the following is an attempt to put the past few days into more of a story for. I spent some time trying to decide whether to write in the first person or the third person. While I am writing about myself, I’ve chosen to write it in the third person.
Aldon leaned against the pile of pillows on the sleigh bed in the corner upstairs bedroom. The blinds, which were normally down to keep out the heat of the day had been raised to let in the sunlight. He felt the book he had been reading slip from his fingers and he wondered how long he had been lost in his half asleep reverie. Kim and Fiona were still at the neighbor’s house for a birthday party for one of the neighbor’s mothers. It was a women only event, so Aldon stayed home to rest up from his long week. Using a business card as a bookmark, he closed the book, folded up his reading glasses and laid down.
The conference had started on Thursday. It was on best practices in health care and took place at the local casino. The last time Aldon had been in a casino was nearly thirty years ago, when as a youth he had hitchhiked across the country. He got a ride from a guy driving from Boulder, CO to San Diego. They had stopped in Las Vegas for a couple days to visit the driver’s mother who was at the casinos for a bowling convention. Las Vegas fit well with the blur of a cross country road trip.
For some reason, the GPS had directed Aldon to the employee parking lot at the casino. He drove around a little bit and finally found the guest parking. It was shortly before eight in the morning when he walked through the casino towards the convention and it was mostly empty. Pasty white old women, looking like Pillsbury dough boys that had been left on the counter too long and had started to dry out, rode their little Medicare scooters up to various slot machines. They lit their cigarettes and started pushing buttons, hoping for their big payout. Aldon felt a wave of sadness sweep over him. The big flashy signs proclaimed, “A World at Play”, and “There are more ways to get lucky”. The later showed a thin blonde woman blowing on the dice of a well built tanned man. Neither looked like the morning patrons of the casino.
Yet the non-descript upbeat pop music pulsed on. Digital displays flashed the winnings of the day. Aldon could feel his pulse quickening as he glanced at the slot machines singing their sirens call; just a quarter, just a penny, just once. He knew that just once could turn into another and another and he looked at the grim faces of the patrons feeding coin after coin into the machines.
Focusing, Aldon conjured the song “May I suggest” into his mind. “May I suggest, May I suggest to you, May I suggest this is the best part of your life”. The image of the farm hill covered with folk music fans a week earlier and the powerful song provided a contrast, a focus, and propelled him through the labyrinth towards the convention center.
Adding to the sadness of the scene was all the Native American imagery juxtaposed against shops that had malled America. He walked over a little wooden bridge near the faux waterfall. Instead of sparking stones, there were coins at the bottom of the stream and it smelled strongly of chlorine and not a wilderness stream that it seemed to symbolize. The odor of cleaning fluids followed Aldon throughout much of his trip through the casino.
Finally, Aldon reached the safety of the convention center with its familiar hotel style chaffing dishes heated with sterno, laden with scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage, and the piles of pastries beyond. Aldon got his cup of decaf and prepared for the day. These memories drifted through his mind as he slipped into a Sunday afternoon nap.
I’ve been at a conference for the past few days, so I’m pretty wiped out. It was at Mohegan Sun; an interesting venue. Hopefully, when I have more time, I’ll capture my reactions to the place. The conference was very good. One video I found from the conference was this:
While QR codes weren’t mentioned during the conference, I’ve been running into more and more of them recently, so I’ve started posting some of them to my Twitter feed. I’d be interested in seeing what others have found for QR codes in various places.
One place where I found a QR code was at the Grand Opening celebration of Stockbridge Cheesecake in Woodbridge, CT. Kim heard about it on Facebook, so we stopped over. They have very good food, and it was great to have a few samples as well as run into some friends there. There was a magician who entertained Fiona a little bit.
Back at home, we used Spotify on my cellphone to listen to various tunes during dinner. I still find the interface a little lacking, however I’m generally finding the music I’m looking for. To make it more fun, from the cellphone, it scrobbles the tune to Last.fm, so you can see what I’ve been playing on Spotify recently. This evenings theme started off with traveling songs and ended up with tunes from Showboat, which is the musical I saw last night.
That’s about it for this evening… More tomorrow.
This week, I’ve been at a conference on best practices at community health centers. @LeeAase led the initial session talking about Bringing the Social Media Revolution to Health Care. @CHCConnecticut, where I work, is this year’s host. Other health centers that are participants in the Best Practices Forum include @Ebnhc @LutheranHC.
I’ve been tweeting aspects of the forum from the @CHCConnecticut account. There have been some interesting videos shared and other great comments. People who have retweeted this include friends in health care social media such as @HealthJusticeCT @LNReynolds @Willie_Matis
What if the Golden Rule wasn’t just an admonition, “Do on to others, as you would have others do on to you”, but was a reality of people actually being treated the way they were treating others? It is an idea that popped into my head during the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival. One of the musicians spoke about how he hoped that if aliens came to our world, he would get a chance to meet them. It struck me that this reflected an interesting view, the belief that the aliens would be beneficent. As I thought about it, I thought, perhaps that reflects the sort of person that the singer/songwriter was. My mind wandered to the idea for a short story of aliens coming to our earth who really did reflect back how they were treated. If they were treated belligerently, they would be belligerent. If they were treated kindly, they would be kind. If they were treated with curiosity, they would be curious.
My mind wandered to an old thought. What if Heaven and Hell were really the same place, a place where we were in the presence of a loving creator? Those who had longed to meet a loving creator would find this to be heaven. To those who have hated the idea of a loving creator, it could be hell. Another twist on this would be, what if the afterlife was a place where you were treated the way you’ve treated others?
Today, I experienced great kindness from a couple people. They were people that I generally consider to be very kind, but it was unexpected and came as a pleasant surprise. Can I show such kindness? I thought about discussions at work about treating patients with dignity. What if we really treated every person with great dignity? Whether it be a homeless man, or a political figure with an opposing viewpoint?
These thoughts came into greater focus as I thought about the debt debate. Are our elected officials treating their political opponents with dignity and kindness; in a way that they would want to be treated? I suspect in many cases, they are not. How thought out are the discussions about the debt ceiling? What is just rhetoric and what has substance?
Today, I read Congressman Jim Himes’ op-ed, Time to make tough decision to cut deficit, invest in future. He describes the current issue like this:
As a tool for highlighting political hypocrisy, the debt limit is unimpeachable. Members of Congress routinely vote to cut taxes or raise spending, both of which require borrowing that they then vote against. That's like running to the store, buying a flat screen TV, and then making a big show of not paying your credit card bill because of your mounting debt.
I think that sums up pretty nicely my view of the current debt ceiling issue. What if others in congress heeded Congressman Himes’ words, and simply passed a clean increase in the debt ceiling, and then really rolled up their sleeves and respectfully worked together to find ways that substantially changed our financial future for the better? That might be more unexpected than the kindness I received today, and it is probably much more needed, because the other question of what if Congress remains stuck in its disrespectful bickering and lets our country default should be too frightening to consider.