Wednesday, December 26, 2012

NOW: 12/26/2012 CANARIES IN THE MINE

CANARIES IN THE MINE
Each of these entries draws from a place of struggle as well as from attitudes of defiance and hopefulness and optimism, a strong rebel strain. Eileen calls me the "Bad Boy." I smile at that.
I awake early usually, this morning at 2:30 a.m., concerned about the pending winter storm, worried about a potential power failure in subfreezing temperatures, now at 15 degrees Fahrenheit. I felt a hives attack coming on, too, so took an antihistamine.
The hives attacks have been radically frequent since this round of Lupron injections, and I noted this to my urologist during the testy exchange we had when I questioned the need to continue these since my latest PSA reading showed the decrease mentioned earlier, from a rising 2.3 to a low 0.17, considered a level that indicates remission from prostate cancer.
Other things on my mind include at the moment the intermittent flow of well water that comes through our new plumbing to the sink and toilet I just installed and the previously installed shower and hot water heater in our rustic rural cabin. I understand the possible causes from this erratic flow but fixing them involves help from the contractor who installed the plumbing itself as well as the hot water heater.
We get by with this problem, though. It's a matter of patience, of waiting for the flow to fill what needs to be filled. Our first shower here with the new plumbing came in spurts of fortunately hot water. We understand the luxury, too, both from our own lives and our human-rights humanitarian travels. The same is true with the pending storm. The cabin is protection from the storm, whatever the plumbing problem.
What lacks though in this industrialized and technologically astute culture is adequate protection from the toxins and contaminants in our environment and food supply, some that have a causal or an associated relationship with cancer. And speaking of water and plumbing, the natural gas pipelines that run through this region transmit shale gas, the subterranean supply broken loose by horizontal hydraulic fracturing whose drills need a high-volume supply of toxins and truck-transported water that are later left in supposedly safely lined ponds. Yet this "fracking" blasts through water tables too.
There's no question the contaminants filter into these supplies. Where's the protection?
The points for me are these: What is the relationship between the contaminants injected and spewed into our habitats and prostate cancer?
Are we who have been afflicted by this cancer and others the canaries in the mine?

(draft version)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

NOW: CHRISTMAS DAY 2012 - 'CANCER HOLE'

NOW: Christmas Day at our upstate New York cabin: 2012
Snow in a small field, winter storm warning for this area along the northeastern border with Pennsylvania, animal tracks and trees with light snow on their limbs, Eileen and our two rescued dogs and cats temporarily inhabiting a cabin we hope to be living in regularly, when is not certain, probably still a few years off.
Our cabin is a healing place for both of us, the land too, which has been ours to tend for 23 years. The cabin is the latest iteration of dwellings here, itself now in its second stage, a 16-foot by 16-foot extension with a sleeping loft added to a 12-foot by 24-foot converted Amish built shed. At first, it was a tent, then an ancient immobile camper trailer followed by an equally ancient and virtually immobile motor home, both towed away when they became uninhabitable.
Then we put in the shed/cabin and this past year the extension which at last for us here in this space has a sink with running water and a toilet that flushes, both I installed in the last two days.
We've never lived here full time. Jobs drew us increasingly further away over the last 23 years, initially in upstate New York, then to Michigan and Tennessee, where we currently "live" and Eileen works. But this space, terrain, five-acre woodland bluestone-shaled mountaintop place, is the "Heartland."
And when I write of healing, it is about heart, and mind, spirit, soul and body, about love. As a goal to rid me of cancer (not the treatment goal of remission but mine), our cabin is a guide. It is closer, much closer to family, to the land where we have a rootedness unlike any other. All the aspects of what I can imagine this self to be, have found their home here, home with Eileen, and home at last in a single space after a lifetime of unrootedness and uprootedness.
For a short time this year, the Williams Constitution natural gas pipeline corporation threatened to tear into our Heartland with a swath of ripped and blasted 160-foot right-of-way for a pipeline. I wrote the Federal Energy Commission overseeing the proposed pipeline that the blasting and burrowing for its route would certainly destroy our 250-foot deep water well and the soon-built septic system. I enclosed engineer's maps enclosed, to show the scale and proximity. I'm not sure whether this became a factor, but the pipeline company rerouted its path to an alternate map line over apparently receptive larger spacious tracts to the east.
But why not equally expensive efforts for alternative energy sources - the sun, the wind? Too much reconfiguration of the energy-industrial complex; of the profit machine; of the so-called national goal to become energy-independent, to in fact be an exporter of energy. I need to explore that more. And shall.
Still, here is Heartand. Place and goal of healing and being healed. Definitely worth striving for. Even awaiting the results of the National Weather Service's winter storm warning.

(draft version, to be built on)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A MONTAGE I PUT TOGETHER - HEMINGWAY AND A FAREWELL

Writer's facts ... and a farewell


PERSPECTIVE ...

Facebook is said to be populated now by a billion users.
The Earth's human cargo is estimated at seven billion people as it speeds around the Sun ...
Hello, vast universe, can you hear us? No ...?

Monday, December 17, 2012

EXCERPT - THE CANCER HOLE - 12/16/12


NOW 12/16/12 Reflection
I'm feeling positive that I'll survive this bout with cancer. It's a sense that comes partly from the knowledge that I'm proactively engaged through diet, exercise, research and attitude. I'm not passively awaiting the next step from the medical community nor giving unquestioning credence to its methods.
There's also an intangible sense about the positive feeling, maybe akin to a "knowing," like a conversation with the body and its immune system, the efforts I've worked on to enhance it through exercise, diet, spinal column improvement and a mental and spiritual effort.
With that said, today is also the grieving and terribly sad day's aftermath from the massacre of 20 schoolchildren, six elementary school staff and the mother of the young mentally ill man who murdered them in Newtown, Connecticut with a semiautomatic assault rifle and killed himself with a pistol.
It seems incongruous to have a positive feeling about my situation following that. Hopefully responsible leaders will again ban the kind of assault weapon the young man used and as well take substantial and rapid steps to provide a far broader mental health care system and insurance coverage needed for such care.
That seems a faint hope given the polarization in government and among the people in this country. It seems faint, too, given what I've grown to understand from my years in journalism and the research I'm undertaking now.
Another twist in this day helped me to engage what I'm going through positively as well. Occasionally I've helped convene a group of churchgoers called "The Seekers" who question the mythology in Christian scripture yet want to yet find something meaningful in its language and faith expressions. To me, the recovery of the language of faith through the language of scripture is difficult because of the near impossibly of verifying the authenticity of what the person Jesus was reported to have said and accomplished. Yet Seeker members are not willing to give up on their faith in a divine presence that is beyond understanding but yet is applicable in creation and their lives. If this is so, then the question is how and to what extent.
I offered several books written by liberation theologians who speak of a God and a Christ who offers a special option for the oppressed, downtrodden, poor, disenfranchised, broken-hearted, who lives in them because of the special option. It is a way they recover the language of scripture to give them hope in their struggle.
We also spoke of what is considered the misuse of this language by preachers, churchgoers and politicians who absurdly claim the murder of the 20 children resulted from the banning of prayer in schools. In fact, it's not banned. What is prohibited are school-sponsored rites to prevent partiality toward one religion over another.
The conversation with this group energized my positive sense about my situation as well.
An afterthought:
The mystery is enigmatic ... an inscrutable that theologians try to name, offer attributes and dogmas for, and claim as their unique religious province ...
Said one theologian to me once: "You cannot appeal to mystery." Me, a theologian, thought: "You cannot name the unnamable." It's a matter of respect for the limits of human understanding.
Yet, I want to assume it has something to do with the grace of the humanitarian impulse that guides human-rights and social-justice efforts, a within that is also beyond.

The Cancer Hole - An Asymmetric Journey

(A draft excerpt)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

WRITING AND THE LOGIC MODEL

I have to create. Simple to understand. It's the way I am. I’ve explored this across a range of artistic disciplines for awhile but now I’m down to two, one more accessible and difficult: writing. The other, easier, is photography, but I like to do that casually, as a diversion. Preceding these two I worked eight years in independent film and experimental video. Still, writing is where it’s at essentially and existentially, as it had been professionally in the past.
My output is prolific. But a key outcome is poor. My work hasn't caught on, though I have had a couple of short stories and poems published and self-published short novels since I started again this year. It may never. How does that affect me? If I think of a work in terms of the outcome of catching on, I'm dismayed and often feel the labor isn't worth it. Yet, I'm drawn back to it. Like now, even this way.
Rationally, I'm looking at this at the moment in the context of the logic model: input, activity, output, outcome. I want to explore each of these as they are in their distinctiveness and as they interplay synergistically. Maybe I'll write in an explorative way about this too, likely piecemeal at first: like, what research approaches help a work and how not to avoid due diligence.
Eileen introduced to me to the logic model a few years ago as a method of program evaluation she first encountered at Cornell University which has gained broad use in the nonprofit, academic and for-profit world. It is a praxis model, cyclical, involving resources and needs or goals in one sense, and how to evaluate the effectiveness of what a program sets out to do and what can be put into play to increase its effectiveness, or to decide the program isn’t capable of reaching the intended goal.
In this way, I can look at writing as a program and how I work it. I fully understand there are a multitude of intangibles in terms of outcomes - the publication of a work, the sale of books and so forth - especially given the limited possibilities for publication and a broad acceptance of a work and a writer. But given that, the value in the logic-model approach appears to me to lie also in its three other components: inputs, activities and outputs and how these interplay. In the creative process itself.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

CANCER TREATMENT SUSPICIONS

NOW 12/13/12 CANCER TREATMENT SUSPICION (Draft for manuscript)
Each day the suspicion is similar. The hormone treatment I'm receiving via the drug Lupron for cancer is in part a scam. This is not an unreasonable thought. Research noted previously supports it [noted both in my blog and the manuscript I'm writing].
Particularly disturbing are four things: miserable side effects can become long-term effects; the drug doesn't kill prostate cancer but only puts it temporarily into remission; its drug maker has been levied penalties of almost a billion dollars by the US Department of Justice for illegal practices to foster its use by physicians; the cancer cells can thrive and spread again without the testosterone Lupron blocks to put them into remission, a point in which there is no presumed cure.
Yet another deep concern nags at me. Lupron and its alternative Zoladex are huge moneymakers for their two pharmaceutical companies. They have to be given the companies' willingness to consent to enormous DOJ penalties. Why should the companies foster remedies to kill prostate cancer when they can mindlessly profit from extended treatments to put it into remission?
Further, in the medical community, hundreds of urologists and other practitioners have been brought to court for profiting illegally in their use of the drug on patients. Physician, heal thyself, please.
And now I wonder as well what part Lupron really has played in the so-called test indication that cancer cells in me have apparently returned to a remission state. Was a radical change in diet and an increased exercise regimen a key factor?
And I also wonder why my physician insisted on continued 4-month injections with the explanation that they would keep the cancer in remission.
[To be continued] ...

Friday, December 07, 2012

SIFTING THE SHADOWS - THE CANCER HOLE

Draft beginning of a new chapter for "Cancer Hole" -- Sifting the Shadows

Sifting …
I do not like waking up each morning knowing that cancer cells are still in me that have shown they're capable of warding off the current treatment I'm undergoing. Even though the pharmaceutical poison, excuse me, the "remedy" injected into my body, has seemed to reverse their aggression, appearing to put the cancer cells back into remission again.
I do not like waking up each morning knowing that huge profits and illegal practices have been associated with the stuff injected into me at my urologist's office — at a billed cost of almost $3,000 a 4-month shot I should add, for which I shell out a $208 copay. Not to suggest that my urologist is implicated in these practices. The stuff, medically considered to be hormone therapy, is called Lupron. It is designed to shut down testosterone production. Call it “chemical castration.” As mentioned, prostate cancer cells will feed on testosterone.
I do not like knowing, too, that at some point this type treatment could fail, that the cancer cells can become resistant to the hormone therapy and then have their way with me. Technically, the cells become “hormone refractory.” They can grow and spread without testosterone and other androgens. 
What if some of the hundreds of millions in illicit profits mentioned previously had been aimed at cures — is that a legitimate question? Why not kill prostate cancer cells instead of offering “hormone therapy” by testosterone interrupters like Lupron and its competitor Zoladex that allow the cells to still inhabit me? Some natural ingredients like sulphoraphane in broccoli and carvacrol in oregano are undergoing a little bit of research this way.
That's just my personal body. There's the Earth's body and the worldwide human body as well, and the profoundly enormous amount of illicit profits reaped at their expense. 
[Draft interrupted at his point…]

Thursday, December 06, 2012

EXCERPT - THE CANCER HOLE - NOW 12/6/12

A draft segment ...

NOW 12/6/12
Early morning, age, stiffness and left hip pain, eyes ache, sinus. Thinking about posture, the day ahead, writing, internet research, cottage cheese and flax seed meal, my coffee, one dog on the rug alongside my chair. The amplification of healing with nutrition and exercise. Big Pharma and its corrupt stake in treating symptoms rather than developing cures, its billion dollar Department of Justice penalties for illegal practices.
Eileen's off to work in the early darkness to United Way to do a 6 a.m. fund-raising campaign presentation, a bit part added to her usual role as director of data, strategic development and 211, roles that include her skill with geographic information systems. Always on overload it appears to me.
With this manuscript, prostate cancer is on my mind too. Even without it. So, the day begins.
I write across platforms, this time starting out in landscape mode in an older Galaxy Tab on the ColorNote app because it's easy to see, then pasting it into Evernote. Later, I'll open it in the Evernote app on my iPhone, copy and paste it in Simplenote, which is integrated with Scrivener, the authoring software on my old MacBook Pro, where this ends up.
I could write it right on the laptop, and do, but I like the feel and slow pace of doing it this way, the Tab in my hands, my thumbs moving across the Thumbs 4 split internal keypad, the Tab resting on a crossed leg. I'm always intrigued by the next best thing in devices, but money is a genuine concern. Modus operandi.
My relationship this way? It's complicated. 
Okay. Dogs out to the yard, back inside, then exercise.
I'm avoiding scouring around to do critical research.
I have no idea whether any of this is interesting.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

BIG PHARMA NAILED IN DOJ ANTI-FRAUD PROBE

This is part of my continuing pursuit of material for a manuscript I'm trying to develop about my 11-year experience so far with prostate cancer -- from the U.S. Department of Justice web site -- Other investigations also turned up fraud involving prostate cancer hormone treatment drugs Lupron and Zoladex ...

Huge billion dollar penalties levied under U.S. anti-fraud law enforced by the Department of Justice:

Quote from story:

"Enforcement actions involving the pharmaceutical and medical device industry were the source of some of the largest recoveries this year. The department recovered nearly $2 billion in cases alleging false claims for drugs and medical devices under federally insured health programs and, in addition, returned $745 million to state Medicaid programs. These cases include recoveries from GlaxoSmithKline LLC (GSK) and Merck, Sharp & Dohme (Merck) – two of the three top settlements this year. These recoveries do not include a $561 million False Claims Act settlement with Abbott Laboratories Inc., part of a $1.5 billion global resolution (which will be reflected in FY 2013 numbers)"


Tuesday, December 04, 2012

PROSTATE CANCER RATE COMPARED TO BREAST CANCER


PROSTATE CANCER RATE COMPARED TO BREAST CANCER:
   Though men face similar fates from prostate cancer as women do from breast cancer, public awareness and publicity about this similarity appears low. Still, one in six men in the U.S. are expected to be afflicted by prostate cancer in their lifetimes while one in eight women face a similar outcome with breast cancer. 
   The number of annual deaths from each cancer also bear comparison. The American Cancer Society estimated that 33,720 men would die from prostate cancer in 2011. Breast Cancer.org reported that 39,520 women were expected to die from breast cancer the same year. I couldn't find actual statistics for those years. Women have roughly outnumbered men 51 to 49 over the last decade.
   Another point to consider is that men are reported to die at a later age than women from their respective cancers, many of the recent deaths said to be of men born in the 1930s when their birth rate was low. I was born in 1936.
   One intriguing question is why there appears to be less publicity about prostate cancer. One answer, I think, could lie in the relationship between prostate cancer and sexual dysfunction.
   Links below lead to more details regarding this post.

Prostate cancer link:
http://prostatecancerinfolink.net/2011/06/17/acs-projects-33000-prostate-cancer-deaths-in-us-in-2011/

Breast cancer link:
http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/understand_bc/statistics

(Draft background segment for a book I'm working on)

Monday, December 03, 2012

FRAUD AND CANCER TREATMENT


FRAUD AND CANCER TREATMENT:
As I investigate medications used for my cancer treatment, I turn up stories of fraudulent drug pricing practices that implicate pharmaceutical companies and physicians, practices that resulted in huge multimillion dollar  fines.
*** (1)From a federal lawsuit about cancer treatment fraud, dated 2001:
TAP Pharmaceutical Products Inc. ("TAP"), a major American pharmaceutical manufacturer, has agreed to pay $875,000,000 to resolve criminal charges and civil liabilities in connection with its fraudulent drug pricing and marketing conduct with regard to Lupron, a drug sold by TAP primarily for treatment of advanced prostate cancer in men. 
*** (2) From a NY Times article June 21, 2003
AstraZeneca Pleads Guilty in Cancer Medicine Scheme
By MELODY PETERSEN
WILMINGTON, Del., June 20 — AstraZeneca , the large pharmaceutical company, pleaded guilty today to a felony charge of health care fraud and agreed to pay $355 million to settle criminal and civil accusations that it engaged in a nationwide scheme to illegally market a prostate cancer drug.
The government said the company's employees had given illegal financial inducements to as many as 400 doctors across the country to persuade them to prescribe the drug, Zoladex. Those inducements included thousands of free samples of Zoladex, worth hundreds of dollars each, which the physicians then billed to Medicare and other federal health care programs, prosecutors said. The company also gave doctors financial grants, paid them as consultants and provided free travel and entertainment, the government said.
The $355 million that AstraZeneca, a British company, agreed to pay is among the largest settlements in a heath care fraud case. Of that amount, about $64 million is a criminal fine. The company will pay about $266 million to the federal government to settle most of the civil accusations. An additional $25 million will go to settle accusations that it defrauded the Medicaid programs, which are partly financed by the states.

(The story develops ...)

Saturday, December 01, 2012

CANCER TREATMENT HOLE

   Each day, in the background below ground level, is the hole I repeatedly launch from. Within it, I insist to myself that I want to be a full partner, to write, to learn, to research, to create, to workout, to cook, to maintain what needs to be maintained, to be the activist I am.
   I call it the cancer treatment hole, my struggle to be whole, to climb out once again in the face of physical and emotional fatigue. I defy it, just as I defy the aged state of my 76 years.
   I went through this once before, between 2001 and 2003, so this is the second round, now much more aware, as some caregivers have become also, of wholistic approaches rather than solely those of the medical-industrial complex.
   I'm so reluctant to write about this. But, as I write about other things, I need to write about this as well.


The way I’m setting out to do this is in three modes: (1) telling something about the “Then” of the first round of my interaction with prostate cancer; (2) the “Now,” which will include research I’m pursuing as well as my current interaction; and (3) “Reflection,” more expressive of my thoughts and state of mind while dealing with the understandings of the “Then” and the “Now.”



   (What I'll add from here on in the blog about my cancer will be a draft of what may become a larger work ...)

Friday, November 30, 2012

HENRY MILLER & MARY GAUTHIER -- PATHS


“Understanding is not a piercing of the mystery, but an acceptance of it, a living blissfully with it, in it, through and by it.”
"Writing, like life itself, is a voyage of discovery. The adventure is a metaphysical one: it is a way of approaching life indirectly, of acquiring a total rather than a partial view of the universe. The writer lives between the upper and lower worlds: he takes the path in order eventually to become the path himself."
-- Henry Miller

"Souls ain't born, souls don't die
Soul ain't made of earth, ain't made of water, ain't made of sky
So, ride the flaming circle, wind the golden reel
And roll on, brother, in the wheel inside the wheel"
-- Mary Gauthier, song "The Wheel Inside the Wheel"


Thursday, November 29, 2012

RELIGION AND QUASARS


RELIGION AND QUASARS -- An estimated 200,000 of these inconceivably enormous cosmic phenomena are present in space-time -- Meanwhile, humans on a minuscule planet argue, fight, kill, persecute and dominate others from religious perspectives, with themselves, to be sure, at the center of the mystery of creation. And of course, there's a book that tells them they're right. Really absurd.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

PURSUING THE STORY


   I think, for all the experience, I'm always looking for the story. Like the journalist I was, and still am, really. Even with fiction. Whether it's another's work or one I pursue and create. 
   There's a moral side to it, as well, that precludes the pseudo-objectivism that some mainstream news media allege they represent. The point of view, the "gaze," is either implicit or explicit. 
   My advanced age doesn't change the desire to pursue the story and a way to tell it either. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

TAPPING INTO MODULATIONS

This time, this night I witness: I feel the plosives and vowels and throaty "h" of a genetic history I imagine to be authentic. Sing-songing while strolling, I let the sounds be undrawn into a modulation and pronunciation that is fluid.
My ear suggests it resembles a Hebrew or Palestinian voice. I'm lured into a sense that it is both mythic and mystic. A historical call that may be Eastern European or out of the Caucasus or Byzantium, nomadic along the Southeastern Mediterranean rim, perhaps crossing from Babylon into a ravaged Jerusalem. A call that speaks of a journey, maybe inaugurated before the birth of the planet, the universe, finding its voice among nomadic wanderings through the eons until that voice found ways to form words.
My modulated plosive vowelish throaty "h" sing-song sounds I might wish to claim as pre-words or proto-words that would eventually connect with meaning. I can't presume any of this, though.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

VIETNAM, PALESTINE: GIL STEPHENS REFLECTS - IN 'DISPLACED'

Vietnam, Palestine: Gil Stephens reflects, in a draft of a scene in "Displaced" ...

“Alicia, look at what Penelope’s companion wrote on Facebook,” Stephens called as night darkened their cabin. “Don, about Vietnam. His time there. He shared the post of a friend in Tennessee. Says it offers what he’d like to say.”
Lys sat next to Stephens on their couch. He was reading from his digital tablet. He handed it to her. The post, she saw, was written by a carpenter friend and a Vietnam war veteran with PTSD, like Don Richter:
“To be honest folks, none of the people I killed in Vietnam had a damn thing to do with our ‘freedoms.’ In fact very little to none of the killing done since dispatching Hitler have had anything to do with American or anyone else’s freedoms. 
“The killing, the trauma of the troops and victims have overwhelmingly been done in the name of empire and cheap resources and cheaper puppets installed for their useful lives … Saddam, Taliban, Marcos, etc.
“Serving has little to do with national honor, but everything to do with the personal honor of watching one another's back when sent to be pawns for the empire and doing the best you can do in untenable situations. If you want to honor the service of us pawns of the empire, demand Veterans care and rights for screwing up a lifetime for the empire …”
Lys looked at Stephens. “I’m stunned.”
“The unspoken, from Don, spoken in a public forum by his friend,” Stephens said. He moved his finger across the tablet’s screen to the “like” button and depressed it. “Powerful, Don,” he wrote in the comment window. 
All this now, Stephens thought, my story about Tina in Nicaragua, Don's post of a Vietnam vet’s compelling Facebook post about his own killings, the ongoing onslaughts worldwide - I'm so drawn to those times in my past when I was engaged with fervor and strong commitment, either by being present at the scene as a social-justice advocate or as part of the collective voice who helped communicate the injustices. 
But... 
But what? Though other human-rights efforts were more substantial and in-depth, the one that sticks out the most, that hits my soul and heart the most, involves the trips to Palestine about a decade ago. 
Why? I can't say why, it's there. Every inch and moment of it. Never entered Gaza, only the West Bank, not to say that the brutality doesn't play out in the West Bank from what I saw, know to be true, as I continue to follow what's going on. I've got to explore this more, I can't shunt it aside.
He turned in his tablet to a photo he took of school children in Beit Jala, in the Bethlehem District of the West Bank. “God, they’re grown up now.”


                                                             Photo © 2001 Wes Rehberg ...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

ALICIA'S 'SIGHTINGS & DISCOVERIES' IN "DISPLACED"


ALICIA'S 'SIGHTINGS & DISCOVERIES' IN "DISPLACED" (novel in progress - draft scene) ...

Alicia Lys looked at her keyboard, listening to Stephens typing across from her at their cabin’s dining bar. Maybe a blog, she thought, mine, my thoughts about the hopes and aspirations and needs of others. Is that too overarching, too presumptuous? I want to go back to doing small-scale social-justice work, local, but remain informed of the broader issues, in touch with the global. And I want to talk about it. A blog. What can I call it?
She looked out the window into the field. A blue jay swooped past. In the distance she could see a grazing doe, nuzzling the ground, the underbrush. In the sky, clearing to a vibrant blue, a contrail formed from a high-flying jet plane. “I wonder how ‘Sightings & Discoveries’ plays?” she asked herself.
“What?” Stephens asked.
“Talking to myself,” Lys said. Stephens nodded.
Oh, I know there’s a glut of blogs, Lys thought. Gil has one he occasionally posts in, so few viewers, so little attention, and that most likely will be true of mine. But is it futile?
Lys typed these thoughts as a note to launch her blog. She continued.
He thinks it’s his age, too, that age limits the reception. I’m now 58, he’s 73. Is there an audience for our concerns? It matters, to me, to him. And since I’ve rediscovered writing, I’m inspired, knowing how almost impossible it is to gain “traction,” as Gil calls it. To find and develop my own voice.
I know, too, that I want to start a small enterprise, maybe with Jack Hoffman and the church he’ll inherit. It’s not far from here. I’d like to bring meals to the homebound again who don’t get enough to eat, whose nutritional needs aren’t met. This is what brought us together, Gil and me, though little did we understand it at the time and through all the confusion that ensued afterward, the mix of relationships, the separations and rearrangements of lifestyles, of sexual identities and preferences, of the work we’ve undertaken, the risks, the threats, the attacks.
That time in Spain, when we found ourselves together in Madrid, when I confronted him with the reality we had both been experiencing, the reality of each other as partners. But I digress.
The meals effort, those who received them, their struggles, their living conditions. I’ll detail a couple we wrote about.
* An aged woman who was left to live in a shed, from Pennsylvania, whose son set up the dwelling before he went into prison, arranged with a rural roughneck who quarried for bluestone shale. This son a twin whose brother also was in prison as a result of a tavern brawl in which the brother killed their father by hitting him on the head with a bar stool. The first brother refused to testify against the second brother, skipped a court hearing, and was imprisoned awhile for contempt of court. I imagine the second brother is still behind bars. I brought the woman food and helped expose her plight. The result: She was granted comfortable lodging in a senior-citizens home.
* Another aged woman who lived in a decrepit camper, who couldn’t see well, thoughts mixed up at times, heating the camper with her propane stove, stuffed toilet that Gil unplugged so she wouldn’t have to walk into woods behind her place to relieve herself, the stepmother of a man who was on the Village of Roosevelt planning board, almost completely disenfranchised. We exposed her conditions and those of others like hers in a series of articles in the weekly Roosevelt Courier when it was operated by Todd Redding, reluctant journalist, now retired. “The Hidden Elderly.” Not so hidden, but there are more.
Maybe I can persuade Prudence to be part of this. She’s been so quiet and subdued since Willard’s accident and death. Still manages the goat dairy and chickens’ egg production as well as keeps her commitment to counseling at the juvenile detention center.
My sociology and social practices background plays into all this. I feel I need to make some money, too, several of us are jobless in a way, Cecilia and Marcia both out of work and heading to New Jersey to help in the superstorm relief, Gil on Social Security and his small pensions from journalism and church work. Prudence, too, though she has some money from Willard’s life insurance.. Penelope’s husband is a carpenter, has a steady income even though he freelances, he’s an exception. Helen Rice works at SUNY-Oquaga, as will Sandra, with Gasson as an adjunct, while Helen’s partner Anna pots. Exceptions, then, too. This odd extended family, maybe I can call it that. But I need to find some work. Maybe in a community college setting.
“Now can I post this?” Lys asked aloud.
“You want me to proof it,” Stephens smiled.
“Thanks, Gil. But I think I’ll post it raw.”

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

CATCHING UP ON MOBILE APPS

Digging deeper into mobile app development, learning how to compile app source codes into apps via Xcode (Apple) and Eclipse (Android) -- but not how to write the source codes themselves (yet). 
Backing in, in other words ... Via Buzztouch U tutorials ... this will take a few days for sure ...

Saturday, November 10, 2012

THE REALITY IS OTHERWISE STILL … BUT WHY STOP?

THE REALITY IS OTHERWISE STILL … BUT WHY STOP?

 I understand the difficulties, the obstacles, there's such a deluge now with the opportunity for self-publishing. On the other hand, I know the writings have an impact enough to be published in literary magazines. And those who have read what I've written have expressed that they like what they've experienced. Very favorable responses have also come from those who've heard me read publicly. 

 Still I grieve. Blog entries. Social media entries. Public readings. Video readings. Synopses. Advertisements. It's so hard to find traction.

 My protagonists, the characters I shape and fashion with respect for what they represent and undergo - they are older but have so many dimensions, so many perspectives, undergo the struggles and experiences that are unique to them, incidents drawn from the broad range of experience I've had, from social justice activism, to betrayals, to my own failings, joys, humor, clowning, frowning, agonies, injuries, afflictions, spiritual soarings, insights, befuddlement, ignorance, challenges, fears, tears, accidents, illnesses, leaps of hope and ecstasy, and it goes on.

 So I write and publish and post here. I don't know what you think, nor do I know what to think about how it all works, how something catches on and reaches an appreciative audience, how it suddenly clicks.

 Funny, though, as I write this, the words come, seem to represent what I'm feeling at the moment. I'm not sure I want to publish this, to put this up in this blog -- "blog," what it's called, an odd term to my ears.

 But it can't be otherwise, even in the face of the possibility that it all remains in obscurity. I love to read and I love to write. And my sensibility sees a value in what's written. So why stop, I ask? It's an adventure of the mind, even if grief comes along with it.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

READING 'THE FOG' FROM "OPENING THE GATE" - VIDEO

In this video I read the short story "The Fog," from "Opening the Gate," a collection of five short stories and five poems, some which include fictionalized biographical elements and as well draw from my experience as a print journalist and social justice activist. Titles of the short stories are "The Enduring," "The Fog," "Scooter," "Tina's Nicaragua Story," and "Jail Birds." Two poems and a short story have appeared in literary magazines. -- 16 minutes --

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

READING FROM MY NOVEL 'TURNED LOOSE' - VIDEO

Reading an excerpt from "TURNED LOOSE"--

PYSCH CENTER'S DOWNSIZING, INTIMATE ENCOUNTERS, VIOLENT THREATS TRANSFORM LIVES OF ACTIVISTS ..

TURNED LOOSE is a stand-alone sequel to "Stringer" in which the aged characters are appalled by the impact of a psychiatric center's downsizing that leaves mental patients on the streets without care. In their news investigation they face eruptions from the past, violent threats, and peel layers away of their own relationships, illusions, sexuality, and their understandings of reality.
These understandings are deepened as characters travel to Morocco, Spain, the Netherlands and hostile Chiapas in southern Mexico, trips that transform directions of their lives.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

READING FROM MY NOVEL "TILT" - VIDEO

I read a passage from my novel TILT - six minutes -- In TILT, in one major plot theme, the characters fend of their unwanted roles in a macabre reality play directed by a felon seeking hateful revenge while behind bars. In the midst of his drama, the characters encounter deadly violence, transform and deepen relationships, and develop their own creative relationship. The story brings the characters through upstate New York and Tennessee in the USA; to Amsterdam,The Netherlands; to Madrid and Granada in Spain; and to Tangier, Morocco -- 
Web page for TILT is http://www.wildclearing.com/tilt.html -- available in paperback and ebook editions.

  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UkpI5Nf-hv4&feature=youtu.be




Wednesday, October 31, 2012

"HALLOWEEN EVE 1945" NOW PUBLISHED - SHORT, SHORT STORY

"Halloween Eve 1945," my short, short story, is now published online in The Faircloth Review ...


Friday, October 26, 2012

CHARACTERS CLAIM MY CONSCIOUSNESS

Characters claim my consciousness -
"We await our lives, the way you dream us, the words you speak for us. We ask you to be sensitive," they say, "to understand our subtlety, no matter how we are cast. Fashion us with care and authenticity."

So I struggle with that.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

PUBLISHED IN LITERARY MAGAZINES 2012


Published in literary magazines since I began writing fiction and poetry this year, 2012:

In the Rusty Nail:
... "Alien Bones," "Tick Tock" - two poems
In Efiction Magazine:
... "Scooter" - short story, fiction
In The New Writer Vol 3.1
... "Fidel's Gift" - short nonfiction
... "Orbits" - poem
In The Faircloth Review:
... "Halloween Eve 1945" - short story, fiction (upcoming)

Awaiting response for a submitted nonfiction piece: "Tina's Nicaragua Story."

Now working on "Elrod and Raphool," a short story about two homeless friends affected by a predator bent on killing the homeless. 
Also on a novel, "Displaced."

RECKONING WITH THE INTANGIBLES ...


Reckoning with the intangibles -
Like · 



Monday, October 22, 2012

DEEP ECOLOGY - A DEVELOPING THEME IN 'DISPLACED'

   I wasn't fully aware of this when I started writing and wrestling with the novel "Displaced," but it's become so apparent now. The question for me is how to make Deep Ecology a prevailing theme without using the characters and their stories as a soapbox for this understanding and its movement.
 
   Still, there's the awareness that the  Earth Garden for humans and other life is not flourishing because of the poisons and injustices afflicted or allowed by people in power. The interrelatedness of life seems so obvious. So odd how this fundamental is absent in the foreground of human discourse.
 
    A quote from the Foundation for Deep Ecology:
   "The conversion of Nature to commodity form, the emphasis upon economic growth as a panacea, the industrialization of all activity, from forestry to farming to fishing, even to education and culture; the rush to economic globalization, cultural homogenization, commodity accumulation, urbanization, and human alienation. All of these are fundamentally incompatible with ecological sustainability on a finite Earth..."


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

TWO QUESTIONS FOR PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE WATCHERS


Two questions for presidential debate watchers:

1) Did you demystify your gaze before and while tuning in?
2) Which candidate is a "weak-sense critical thinker" and which is a "strong-sense critical thinker"?

* Weak-sense critical thinkers are skilled but put themselves and their agendas ahead of ethical considerations and consequences.
* Strong-sense critical thinkers tend to look into the logic of a problem aware of the perils of their egocentric or socio-centric bias as they consider ethical implications.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

NONFICTION GUIDING FICTION

I'm reading nonfiction work by Joan Didion and Hannah Arendt while writing fiction - first draft of my novel "Displaced." The directness of nonfiction feels like a ballast that helps guide me to write the characters and story as if they are real, as if it all really happened.

Monday, October 15, 2012

OPENING PARAGRAPHS TO 'HALLOWEEN EVE 1945' - SHORT STORY

Opening paragraphs to my short story "Halloween Eve 1945" ...

I grew up in New York City, spent a lot of time on the streets. This was during the war, World War II - me a small kid really, 9 years old at the end of the war. Yeah, there was a park nearby, Corporal O’Conner, and we’d go there, but mostly it was the streets where we hung out.
At night sometimes we’d hear the sirens, turn out the lights or pull down the dark shades. an air raid warning test. The air raid wardens would go out on the streets to make sure nobody had house lights on, things like that.
We played stickball, roller hockey, punchball, hopscotch, hide-and-seek, stoop ball, and knock rummy on the streets and sidewalks, girls and boys. And when things like Halloween came around we had a pretty good idea of what we could get away with. Halloween eve was goosey night, when we threw eggs and other stuff, after ringing door bells. Stones at street lights. Running like hell. Everybody knew who did it. This was in Bayside West, the rougher and poorer part, working class, pretty close to the other neighborhoods though of what would you would call the middle class. Most of the narrow homes had no driveways. I lived in the upstairs of a two family house, three rooms - my grandfather and grandmother slept in one, the place’s real bedroom; my brother, mother and I slept in the other, the living room. Then we shared a small kitchen and bathroom. Next door lived Joe the garbageman, tall, lanky, funny. He always had a good word for me.
Hard to have things, keep things though, our place was so small. Downstairs the landlord didn’t like noise either. So it was the streets I hung out in.
We also knew a lot about the war, we kids. You’d go to school even in third grade and the teacher would open the Daily News, NY’s picture newspaper, during current events part of class -- yeah, we had current events in third grade under the progressive education system that was in place at the time. The newspaper’s main stories usually focused on the war -- atrocities, campaigns, photos of soldiers and sailors and marines and airmen in combat, explosions, air battles, all the stuff -- this was our TV.
Then, you could walk down a street sometimes and there, in some house’s window, would be another little war flag. If it had a purple heart, that would mean someone in that house had been wounded in the war. If it had a gold star, that would mean someone in that house had been killed in combat - sailor, soldier, marine, airman. We’d see that now and then, even across the street, or two doors down ...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

CHARACTERS RANT ABOUT VIOLENCE THEY FACED IN MEXICO, HONDURAS

Alicia and Marcia rant about violent encounters they faced in Mexico and Honduras - in draft of "Displaced":



ANALOGY

Its seriousness can only be expressed by analogy ...

Monday, October 08, 2012

POLITICAL GRACE: THE GIFT OF RESISTANCE - EBOOK FORMATS

POLITICAL GRACE: THE GIFT OF RESISTANCE is now downloadable for Apple, Kindle, Nook and Epub devices at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/243322


Brief synopsis: 
Philosophy and theology have increasingly turned to the problem of the rising numbers of people who live in severe conditions of oppression, people who are surplus to global economic and political orders which the oppressed define as "neoliberal" and "neocolonial." This work, Political Grace: The Gift of Resistance, is part of that turning.

Friday, October 05, 2012

THE WRITE STUFF ... THE LOVE OF WORDCRAFT

THE WRITE STUFF: The switch to writing from recent video work to me is a way of returning to the wordcraft I’ve been working with all my adult professional life -- 24 years as a print journalist; -- 4.5 years for the Ph.D. in philosophy; -- 10 years preaching from sketchy notes spontaneously. What’s new is experimentation in fiction. I’ve always been prolific and continue to be. I love books and stories and now I love writing them. 

Then I become uncertain ... is this just a delusion? 

Delusions, illusions, I need a transfusion to dispel the confusion, an infusion of ... oh, pardon me, is this the rocking chair I'm supposed to use ...?

THE BOOKS ... IMAGE AND OPPORTUNITIES

... (so far)

V I E W  THE BOOKS: in paperback Kindle, Nook, iBooks & Epub devices:


Thursday, October 04, 2012

VISITING VIOLENT WARD IN "TURNED LOOSE"

Scene involves Alicia Stewart (later Alicia Lys) and Gil Stephens -- both working on news stories about a psychiatric center's downsizing -- and William "Bill" Barnes, head of the psych center board of visitors, a downsizing opponent.


They exited the elevator and walked down a hall, dimly lit, to a door labeled “9.” Barnes opened it, led them inside, and spoke with two male attendants who appeared to cast clinical looks at his two guests. They introduced themselves.
“This way, please,” the shorter attendant said. “We’re in art therapy right now. They do have visitors occasionally during this period, but I ask that you be reserved and polite. Respectful.”
 Inside a bright spacious room, Stewart and Stephens stood in the background as several men looked at them initially. Three began to chatter and walk slowly in different directions, others stood stationary, and another ambled over to Stewart and gestured to her to follow him to a large pastel that displayed a swirl of orange, yellow and red, with a black profiled figure in the center that glanced sidelong at the viewer. An attendant nodded it was okay.
“This is my mind and my emotions,” the man said, pointing to the swirl of colors. “And this in the center is the Devil. He wants to turn all these colors black. He wants to do that in all of us. Did you know that?”
“It’s a powerful drawing,” Stewart said.
“You’re evading the question,” the man said. He shook his head, looked at the taller attendant, and walked to a corner of the room, sat down and smiled.
“You know that it’s true,” he called to her. “He’s insidious and full of disguises. Look around. What disguise is he wearing now?”



Wednesday, October 03, 2012

EPUB READERS FOR ANDROID, iPAD & iPHONE

ALDIKO is a good Epub reader for Android, and iBOOKS can import Epub digital books on iPad and iPhone -- FYI -- photo below is Aldiko's bookshelf.


Plenty of other Android choices. For MACs, I like CALIBRE ... also good for Windows

OFFERING EBOOKS DIRECTLY AT DISCOUNTS

Setting up so I can offer Epub versions of my books directly at discounted prices - viewable in iBooks and other Ebook readers such as Calibre, shown in photo ... skirting the popular middlemen ...


The setup is complete -- you may visit Wild Clearing's books home page to visit a title to find the discounted price ...

Monday, October 01, 2012

REDUCING MYSELF TO A QR CODE

SCAN THIS ...

Did you sample anything -- ? Even a glimpse ...?

Friday, September 28, 2012

'DISPLACED' DRAFT - 'COURAGE OR MADNESS'

From DISPLACED ... novel in progress.

What was that again?, Stephens thought. The creative impulse is unique to each of us?
Yes, and expressing that uniqueness authentically takes courage. And for me often, it is a lonely pursuit.
Still …
Still, what?
I rise. I put on the coffee. It is morning, the day after the tragedy of Willard Comstock. There’s a police car down at the Comstocks goat dairy. Or should I say, down at Prudence’s. Alicia is with her. Cecilia has returned to her apartment.
Turn it around. 
The destructive impulse is unique to each of us. T.S. Eliot spoke of removing the inhibition that lets the creative flow. Willard removed an inhibition. Snapped, Prudence said. Had enough. Let the self-destructive flow.
Courage or madness? Or maybe he felt remorse after he left the tavern and tried to return home, but lost control of his truck. Deliberate? An accident?
Is negating the inhibition for self-destructiveness a double negative that does not become a positive?
The mystery.
Why did he snap? Alicia may find out.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

ANNA WRITES IN 'DISPLACED' - NOVEL-IN-PROGRESS

Anna Pietersen writes in DISPLACED - from chapter 3 draft just written of my novel-in-progress:

This is Anna writing. Heed me. I traipse and stretch across an ocean.
I of Amsterdam, once married to Jan Hoekstra, wildly comic sculptor of assemblages, scattered across a yard on the flattened outskirts of my city, afflicted by multiple sclerosis, grappled with a walker, vast sexual appetite in his prime, shorter than I, so strong, wanderer through canals, tipsy cyclist, crashing often, once off a bridge into water, the bicycle recovered amid his bold laughter, later struggles with his walker to attempt once more to sculpt a weightless form, defying his own incapacity. Falls.
Helen Rice and I hoist him up to a futon, we a dalliance then, sexy crones to creative crones, sweet Jan dead hours later, grieving him still.
And I of upstate New York, they call it here, grief that spans an ocean, spouse now of Helen, in a triple wedding among Jan’s sculptures, imagining him in his do-rag and beard laughing as we six or eight or then ten, it was, of us, dance like Bojangles, jump so high, then lightly touch down. The electric stand=up bass and classical guitar of Eindeloze Tijd, Endless Time, we Moroccans, Dutch, Americans, lightly touch down, yes, and in one grand leap, jeté, I cross an ocean to a land of mountains and winding rivers and slate outcroppings and hardpan, fierce winters now disturbingly warm. An alien. Displaced.
Though less perturbed, breaking outward, like the dancer, the potter, the roamer of Amsterdam streets, picking up men, women in my youth, then transformed to sedate, a pose I matched for awhile with behavior, usually, often, then Helen and I meet. We make love. She tarries, we marry. Breaking outward in a new land. How it must be.