mm498: In her own words

September 16, 2008
© Constantin Opris | Dreamstime.com

© Constantin Opris | Dreamstime.com

So, on a beautiful, late summer afternoon, supported by family and some old friends, we buried her.

She was 81 years old, with four unique children, and lived long enough to see her nine surviving grandchildren grow into accomplished adults (the last three graduated college this past spring); and meet and get to know three great-grandchildren, the youngest of whom, born this past February, my lovely niece named for our long-deceased father.

Though made hollow by a disease whose terminal nature she was only slowly coming to grips with, she refused to give in to it, staying active and alert to the end, an end that was mercifully sudden.

She always told us that she would have to be carried out of that amazing lakefront home; and that’s exactly what occurred.

Yesterday, in the course of going through some old papers, my brother found an envelope from December, 1983, when she was a healthy 56 years old, marked “To my family.”

Once he read the handwritten letter to us, we realized that there was nothing more to do than to have him read it as her eulogy at the graveside service.

Turns out that there was more than one writer in the family.

“An unexamined life is not worth living.” Plato’s Apologia

Having reached the age and stage where one begins to think about how I would hope to be remembered, I write these words:

A very private person with a strong sense of self, I have always been inner directed. Yet because I’ve known what is most important to me, I have been a participant in a viable loving marriage and as my supreme accomplishment have raised children I am proud to know as friends. They will attest that, as they were growing up their mother frequently said, ‘it isn’t what one does that is important, but what one is’—and this I do believe! Core values—integrity, honesty, commitment have been a way of life for all of us. And in a world so readily torn asunder, the extended ties of family have been valued. Our differences perceived and accepted but a sense of loyalty extended. And it gives me pleasure to see my children’s good marriages and the transmission of an Ethical Code to their children.

Philosophically, I have never believed in a single answer, a single truth, a single solution, (nor, if pressed, a single God). Nor have I been paralyzed by crisis or confusion. That always has perhaps been my greatest strength: a quick assessment of the changed situation and an ability to decide upon a plan of action. I could make a decision. Between crises I have been content to retreat—perhaps to heal.

The recipient of a good education—I graduated from the University of Chicago at 18—provided by loving parents, I grew up as a person as opposed to merely a member of my sex. And without the need to advertise I have been comfortable with my Jewish identity. I have believed in understanding the world as I’ve found it, not only in the political sense but in more basic terms. Through a lifetime of extensive reading I acquired what one professional called “a gift of analysis”! This was sometimes helpful to my husband, but more satisfying to me.

We are all paradoxes; I’ve been no exception. I’ve liked stage center on my terms—and have always been happier leading a class than attending one. Yet, I’m equally content beachcombing and being alone with my books and garden.

‘Authorities’ have had little appeal in my life, as you might guess. I’ve always questioned. And I have always reserved the right to decide for myself what I do. That isn’t always noted by the world at large because I’ve never needed to lead the parade.

What I’ve had little patience for is the mediocre—in me or in others. Fine music (but well played), dynamic theatre and dance (not the second rate), good movies, exciting painting—all please. Above all, I love well-written books. However, I think I myself stopped painting when I realized that mine was third-rate stuff; the mere doing wasn’t enough.

I’ve had a good life. A warm relationship with parents and grandparents. Happily an extended period with my Mother. S___ has provided a stimulating life for us, filled more dramatically than most, plus such beauties as greenhouses in our home on the Lake and extended foreign travel—and such terrors as brain tumors and open heart surgery. I have come through a smashed hip and can walk (and indeed dance) again.

We have had special friends who have been valued because they have been equally ready to participate in our lives whether the days be good ones or horrid. And they have not kept us at arms length in their lives.

And it has been a distinct pleasure to know my grandchildren. There’s nothing I value more. With good luck I will see them grow and mature.

As I read what I’ve written, I’m not really sure I’ve scratched the proverbial surface. I’ll have to return to this later. How can one really explain one’s life?

And, remarkably, she wrote her own eulogy. In control to the end.

Goodbye, Mother.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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mm497: Gone

September 13, 2008
© Amy Dunn | Dreamstime.com

© Amy Dunn | Dreamstime.com

My dear mother, Natalie, died today.

She was not a religious woman, certainly not a Roman Catholic, but loved Mozart, a love she faithfully passed on to me.

I think she would approve of this as an appropriate way to start to say good-bye.

update: if video is missing (WordPress.com, help!), click on the following link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqkMbk8eX6Y

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE

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mm496: Blast from the Past! No. 52 – Women at work

September 12, 2008
© Richard Hoffkins | Dreamstime.com

© Richard Hoffkins | Dreamstime.com

I am beginning to be concerned about the lack of blogging motivation I’m feeling this week; you’ve seen my excuse — does it buy me some slack?

Nevertheless, we’re all about doing the right thing here at Left-Handed Complement, and in that spirit we’re recycling some of yr (justifiably) humble svt‘s favorite electrons. And, with nearly 470 fresh daily posts in the past 16+ months, the recycling process has an exceptionally rich vein to mine.

I hereby stop apologizing for observing the prime directive of blogging: Thou Shalt Blog Daily!

And, I’m guessing that most of you weren’t here nine months ago. As one of my favorite paper publications used to say as they flogged unsold back issues: “If you haven’t read it yet, it’s new for you!”

lhc76019043_thumb24_thumb2_thumb2_th

Blast from the Past!

A post we really, really loved to write, and read, and re-read…

From last fall, originally posted November 12, 2007, and with a woman vice presidential candidate, more germane than ever, titled “mm192: Women at work: A level playing field at last?”

MUDGE’S Musings

We’re still playing catch up with a bulging ideas folder here at L-HC. A recent NYTimes column updates us on the ever-intriguing topic: women in corporate America.

One might ask: why are we still confounded by this? After all, U.S. women began to flood the workplace after the economic shocks of the 1970’s put single income families on the endangered species list. Why would a fact of work life for more than 30 years be cause for comment?

nytimes

By LISA BELKIN  | November 1, 2007 | Life’s Work

DON’T get angry. But do take charge. Be nice. But not too nice. Speak up. But don’t seem like you talk too much. Never, ever dress sexy. Make sure to inspire your colleagues — unless you work in Norway, in which case, focus on delegating instead.

Writing about life and work means receiving a steady stream of research on how women in the workplace are viewed differently from men. These are academic and professional studies, not whimsical online polls, and each time I read one I feel deflated. What are women supposed to do with this information? Transform overnight? And if so, into what? How are we supposed to be assertive, but not, at the same time?

“It’s enough to make you dizzy,” said Ilene H. Lang, the president of Catalyst, an organization that studies women in the workplace. “Women are dizzy, men are dizzy, and we still don’t have a simple straightforward answer as to why there just aren’t enough women in positions of leadership.”

Catalyst’s research is often an exploration of why, 30 years after women entered the work force in large numbers, the default mental image of a leader is still male. Most recent is the report titled “Damned if You Do, Doomed if You Don’t,” which surveyed 1,231 senior executives from the United States and Europe. It found that women who act in ways that are consistent with gender stereotypes — defined as focusing “on work relationships” and expressing “concern for other people’s perspectives” — are considered less competent. But if they act in ways that are seen as more “male” — like “act assertively, focus on work task, display ambition” — they are seen as “too tough” and “unfeminine.”

Women can’t win.

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mm495: Family and politics

September 11, 2008
© Susy56 | Dreamstime.com

© Susy56 | Dreamstime.com

Once again, it’s nearly 9:00pm as I begin to figure out what to say tonight, pretty late for a guy whose alarm goes off at 5:10am, and who lived a full day’s worth already.

The pace and obligations at work are picking up, heading for a crunch. Admittedly, I’ve been coasting a bit, working best, I’ve found after 42 years and counting in the workforce, with do or die deadlines. Well, it’s that time.

Meanwhile, the home front is typically turbulent. Our L.A. daughter is finally (after more than two weeks) home from a hospitalization caused by her continuing battle with Crohn’s disease, a devastating intestinal condition that I have underlying guilt about since it seems to be inherited from my side of the family.

Our youngest, who himself was hospitalized the same day and released two days later, has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, for which, thankfully, there is effective pharmaceutical treatment; unlike, we’ve all been dismayed to learn, my daughter’s Crohn’s; very serious surgery is going to have to be her relief. And, guess what? MUDGElet No. 3’s bipolar disorder? Also from yr (justifiably) humble svt‘s side of the family tree. Oy, the guilt!

He is living here with us (unable as yet to support himself while he recovers from his breakdown), which is a disconcerting alteration in Mrs. MUDGE‘s and my reasonably comfortable empty nest routine, as well as a financial, and emotional burden.

And, speaking of routine, our middle son, and his wife, and our granddog, greet us every day around 6:00am, as their nearby condominium’s one and only bathroom is being rehabbed, and showers before work, for the humans — I do draw the line! — are necessary.

And my dear mother continues to battle her dread disease, acute myeloid leukemia; still living on her own at age 81, but lately causing her family increased anxiety after taking a fall last weekend. That black eye at the top of this post doesn’t do justice to hers.

So that’s why Faithful Reader has seen more than a few of our recycled posts over the past several weeks.

Not for lack of material, however, as the election circus goes into its final stage.

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mmSpecial: Blast from the Past! No. 911

September 10, 2008
© Kandasamy M  | Dreamstime.com

© Kandasamy M | Dreamstime.com

There’s most read, and then there’s favorite. This is a post which yr (justifiably) humble svt is, regrettably, but not regretfully, not at all humble about.

lhc250x46_thumb2

Blast from the Past!

A post commemorating THE blast. It hasn’t scarred over yet.

From our early days, originally posted well, you know… and it was titled: “No, I didn’t forget…”

MUDGE’S Musings

I never have, and probably never will.

No, I did not know anyone directly affected by the events of 11-September-2001, but nearly 300million of we U.S. citizens were hit hard that day, and have not yet recovered.

Here’s an image that I found in Entertainment Weekly, oddly enough, in the first issue that NYC based magazine published after Black Tuesday.

I suspect that it’s a composite; even in its earliest days in the Seventies, my recollection is that the WTC was surrounded by buildings, so I infer that the superimposition of Lady Liberty is only (only!) artistic rather than real.

This image makes up the wallpaper on every computer I work with: this one I work with daily (and nightly) at home; and the three (3!) I use every day, or occasionally, at work.

elegy391558_thumb

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mm494: Blast from the Past! No. 50 — Health care excuses

September 9, 2008
© Kandasamy M  | Dreamstime.com

© Kandasamy M | Dreamstime.com

A very long day today (the alarm went off at 3:10am!), but hey, recycling is IN, right?

We’re all about doing the right thing here at Left-Handed Complement, and in that spirit we’re recycling some of yr (justifiably) humble svt‘s favorite electrons. And, with nearly 470 fresh daily posts in the past 16+ months, the recycling process has an exceptionally rich vein to mine.

I hereby stop apologizing for observing the prime directive of blogging: Thou Shalt Blog Daily!

And, I’m guessing that most of you weren’t here nine months ago. As one of my favorite paper publications used to say as they flogged unsold back issues: “If you haven’t read it yet, it’s new for you!”

lhc76019043_thumb24_thumb2_thumb2_th[2]

Blast from the Past!

A post we really, really loved to write, and read, and re-read…

From last fall, originally posted November 11, 2007, and truer now than ever, titled “mm190: U. S. Health Care – Excuses, not facts.”

MUDGE’S Musings

Access to affordable health care. Five words. Easy to write. Rolls off the keyboard fluidly even. Simple phrase; political cesspool. Can universal access to affordable health care ever happen in the U.S.?

Paul Krugman, the economist whose columns appear in the Opinion section of the NYTimes, this week reminds us that the failings of our health care system are manifest: we spend more, but get less – fewer covered and lower life expectancy than in any other western economy.

Moreover, the usual suspects (our lifestyle) and the usual bugbears (socialized medicine!) are distortions and outright lies.

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mm493: Superficialities or substance — the 2008 choice

September 8, 2008
© Ian O hanlon | Dreamstime.com

© Ian O hanlon | Dreamstime.com

As some observers have noted after the two conventions, there were lots of distractions, lots of words, but not much in the way of substance.

Especially regarding this nation’s number one concern.

Iraq, you ask?

That’s so 2007.

No, it’s the economy — rather, the very dangerous state of the economy.

Our Republican friends, plutocrats, or plutocrat wannabe’s, don’t believe we have a problem. McCain is and has always been insulated from the real world by, first, years as a Naval officer, where the pay might not be royal but subsidized expenses are low; then years as a prisoner of war, where the cost of living takes on an entirely ugly but non-financial meaning; then many more years as a Senator, married to wealth, a combination as isolated from the real world as it gets. He relies on his good buddy and close advisor on topics economic, former colleague Phil Gramm of Texas, who believes we’re all whiners.

The Democrats talked a spectacularly good ball game, but had little substantive to offer us.

Even so, based on their track record, one has to believe that the Democrats are more likely to get it than the Republicans, who have spent the last eight years aiding and abetting the liars and thieves on Wall Street and beyond.

Meanwhile, the news, and its import, is grim and becoming even more so.

nytimes

The Power of De

Op-Ed Columnist | By PAUL KRUGMAN | Published: September 7, 2008

Save the home lenders, save the world? If only it were that simple.

The just-announced federal takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the giant mortgage lenders, was certainly the right thing to do — and it was done fairly well, too. The plan will sustain institutions that play a crucial role in the economy, while holding down taxpayer costs by more or less cleaning out the stockholders.

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mm492: Blast from the Past! No. 49 – Blogging – NSFW?

September 7, 2008
© Carbouval | Dreamstime.com

© Carbouval | Dreamstime.com

In a serious creative slump here folks, battered by events as we are, but hey, recycling is IN, right?

We’re all about doing the right thing here at Left-Handed Complement, and in that spirit we’re recycling some of yr (justifiably) humble svt‘s favorite electrons. And, with nearly 470 fresh daily posts in the past 16+ months, the recycling process has an exceptionally rich vein to mine.

I hereby stop apologizing for observing the prime directive of blogging: Thou Shalt Blog Daily!

And, I’m guessing that most of you weren’t here nine months ago. As one of my favorite paper publications used to say as they flogged unsold back issues: “If you haven’t read it yet, it’s new for you!”

lhc76019043_thumb24_thumb2_thumb2_th

Blast from the Past!

A post we really, really loved to write, and read, and re-read…

From last fall, originally posted in two sections, November 7-8, 2007, and titled “mm187-8: Blogging — NSFW?”

MUDGE’S Musings

From the first, hesitant attempts at this newfangled hobby-thing called blogging, MUDGE has been very concerned about how any employee’s blog would be received by his specific employer.

We’ve tried to err on the side of… circumspection. Thus, the pseudonym, both for this writer, and for the occasional references to that employer in basically general, not to speak of generic terms: HCA, the Heart of Corporate America.

There’s bad and good to pseudonomity [did we just coin a new term? or just misspell an old one?].

The bad: as MUDGE, I lack a certain amount of credibility, especially when I write on the topic of web conferencing, one that I would like to be perceived as owning some expertise.

The good: as of this writing, I still have a job at HCA.

Which brings us to the cautionary tale of John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods. You might remember the story: during a turbulent acquisition of Whole Foods competitor Wild Oats, Mackey was exposed as having blogged anonymously, denigrating Wild Oats management and talking up his own company’s stock.

So one guesses that Mackey violated protocol: one supposes that it’s okay to do the above as a third party, unaffiliated with either entity, but it’s entirely too self-serving to do so when one is the CEO of one of the principals in the transaction.

And of course, Mackey violated the first rule of miscreancy [did we just coin a new term? or just misspell an old one?]: don’t get caught.

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mm491: Blast from the Past! No. 48 – War with Iran?

September 6, 2008
© Kandasamy M  | Dreamstime.com

© Kandasamy M | Dreamstime.com

Events, continue to conspire, making it unacceptably late to start a fresh project, but hey, recycling is IN, right? We’re all about doing the right thing here at Left-Handed Complement, and in that spirit we’re recycling some of yr (justifiably) humble svt‘s favorite electrons.

I hereby stop apologizing for observing the prime directive of blogging: Thou Shalt Blog Daily!

And, I’m guessing that most of you weren’t here nine months ago. As one of my favorite paper publications used to say as they flogged unsold back issues: “If you haven’t read it yet, it’s new for you!”

lhc76019043_thumb24_thumb2_thumb2_th[1]

Blast from the Past!

A post we really, really loved to write, and read, and re-read…

From last fall, and, unfortunately, still all too timely, originally posted November 6, 2007, and titled “mm186: War with Iran: Inevitable?”

MUDGE’S Musings

The potential catastrophe of Iran just keeps scaling up. William Arkin, the Washington Post‘s excellent commentator on military affairs updated us Nov. 2 in his Early Warning blog:

arkinearlywarning

The presidential campaigns can’t get enough of talk about Iran’s nuclear ambitions and the Bush administration’s eagerness to go to war. Thirty U.S. senators, including Hillary Clinton, sent a letter to President Bush yesterday, reminding him that “no congressional authority exists for unilateral military action in Iran.” Meanwhile, Barack Obama submitted a Senate resolution, also emphasizing that congress must explicitly authorize military action, and that, in regards to Iran, it hasn’t done that so far.

Let me say now, based on my discussions with Pentagon insiders and observers and more than 30 years following the military: We are not going to war with Iran. At least we are not going to start a war now or any time soon. At least not intentionally [emphasis MUDGE].

Can’t help but land hard on that sentence. How much tragedy has the present administration caused, both intentionally and not, over the past nearly seven years?

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mm490: Blast from the Past! No. 47 – Classical music, redux

September 5, 2008
© Kandasamy M  | Dreamstime.com

© Kandasamy M | Dreamstime.com

MUDGE’S Musings

Events, continue to conspire, making it unacceptably late to start a fresh project, but hey, recycling is IN, right? We’re all about doing the right thing here at Left-Handed Complement, and in that spirit we’re recycling some of yr (justifiably) humble svt‘s favorite electrons.

I hereby stop apologizing for observing the prime directive of blogging: Thou Shalt Blog Daily!

And, I’m guessing that most of you weren’t here nine months ago. As one of my favorite paper publications used to say as they flogged unsold back issues: “If you haven’t read it yet, it’s new for you!”

lhc76019043_thumb24_thumb2_thumb2_th[1]

Blast from the Past!

A post we really, really loved to write, and read, and re-read…

From last fall, and always in season, especially since it’s back to school time for millions, originally posted November 5, 2007, and titled “mm185: Time for a classical music post.”

MUDGE’S Musings

We’ll do this a bit differently today. Slate.com has an interesting dialog going on jazz and classical music, and what people listen to.

So, go read it (perhaps even taking in some of the Fray) and come back for MUDGE’s take.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Alex Ross and Ben Ratliff discuss jazz, classical and pop – Slate.com

I grew up in a house where classical music was heard everywhere, on the radio, on records, on the piano in the living room. We were taken to concerts in the rarified atmosphere of a cathedral of the arts.

So I listen to classical music most of the time. Not all of the time: Constant reader will recall the frequent references to Pandora.

In the home my children grew up with, the radio that I controlled always had classical music playing, but, of course, there was more than one radio in the house by this generation, television was much more pervasive, and the piano in the living room (the same one, appropriated rather embarrassingly one remembers ruefully) was largely silent. Piano lessons were attempted, and dropped. Live concerts were usually way beyond the budget.

So those children listen (so far as I can determine; they’ve long since established households of their own) mainly to pop. Indeed, MUDGElet No. 3 is a musician of growing accomplishment, in the modern pop vernacular of drum machines and Pro-Tools.

And so the slice of the cultural pie populated by classical music grows smaller with each generation.

But.

As alluded to in the Slate dialog, there’s more going on here than generational taste.

And as mentioned in at least one of the comments, perhaps our definition of classical music has been allowed to become too narrow.

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