Getting Into College

When I turned 18 in 1968, the first thing I remember doing was reporting to the local office of the Selective Service System and registering for the DRAFT. Because I was in high school I was given a deferment until I graduated. After that, it was go to college or risk being drafted.

This was rather important as hundreds of American young men were being killed and wounded each week in the 30-year war being fought throughout Indo-China. I did not want to be one of them. Being killed didn’t unduly bother me — it was the fear of being wounded and permanently disabled or being captured and tortured that weighed on my mind.

If I had been drafted, I would have gone — that wasn’t an option. 4-F? No, I was healthy; no bone spurs, just fat. I suspect the DIs would have taken care of that without a second thought. It was, therefore, in my best interests to stay in school and go to college.

USC, UCLA, Harvard, Yale, . . . No, these kinds of schools weren’t in the cards. I was not an athlete; I was not an outstanding scholar; I was not a minority or hardship case — just an average student with a hard-working father and a stay-at-home mother doing their best to raise two boys in the turbulent sixties.

Use bribery to get John or me into a name school? What a laughable concept. My parents’ ethics would not have permitted it and our finances . . . well, we could afford Catholic high school tuition, but not much else.

For college there were two choices for me — Pasadena City College (our local 2-year junior college) or Cal-State Los Angeles (CSCLA), a commuter 4-year school. I chose Cal-State and the next year my brother chose PCC.

My high school diploma would have been enough to get into PCC but Cal-State required a minimum score based on high school GPA and SAT scores. I had no trouble getting in.

In our junior year we took the PSAT — no choice, we all did it — and my score was in the low 1200s (600+ in both Math and Language). I took the SAT in my senior year and, for practical purposes, duplicated my PSAT results. This score, combined with my 2.8 high school GPA gained me entry to Cal-State — and a continuing student deferment (assuming I stayed in school and kept my grades up).

Compared with my high school, Cal-State was easy. I could schedule my classes so I didn’t have to attend five days a week; there was plenty of time to study and do research in the library and I got a job in the Industrial Arts Department.

In a bit of irony it turned out that my high school Architecture (junior year) instructor was teaching architecture at Cal-State. Although I’d skipped the freshman drafting classes (upper class students had filled the spaces), I still needed to take them to fulfill the requirements for a minor in Industrial Arts (my major was History). He nixed the whole thing.

You already know this stuff and it would be a waste of your time and mine, he told me. I’d already come to that conclusion but requirements were requirements and an “Easy A” was an “Easy A” and good grades helped with my deferment. So, I ended up with an “A” in both classes but what I really did was draw his class examples and help out the other students. He was right; I really did know all the material, but repetition and helping others learn the material reinforced the knowledge.

December 1969 rolled around and the Vietnam War Selective Service Lottery came into being. It would assign a random number for one’s order of being drafted into the military for those of us born 1944-1950. To say that this was important was understating things. It was a matter of life and death. Have a low number and get drafted; have a high number no worries (short of a land war with China).

My best friend drew with a low number, finished his quarter at Cal-State and enlisted in the Army rather than be drafted and ended up, after training, being stationed in California for the remainder of his enlistment.

I ended up with an absurdly high number and dropped my deferment — eventually being placed in, if I remember correctly, the 1-H holding category.

– – – – –

The next year my brother was also assigned an absurdly high lottery number but he didn’t like going to school as much as I did and enlisted in the Air Force. (He was one of those evacuated from Saigon on April 30, 1975.)

I graduated from Cal-State in 3 years. (Not because I was brilliant, but my high school taught me to work hard. I took “too many units” at times and did not take off the summer quarters.) When my classmates graduated, I received my “5th-year” teaching credential.

– – – – –

I would like to know how President Bush (2) got into college. What was his high school GPA and what were his scores on his entrance exams, and college grades. Or, was it just a case of dad’s (Bush 1) connections and money that got, and kept, him in school. And, how he really got out of being drafted. (His Lottery number would have been 327 in 1970.)

I’d like to know the same about President Trump. By the way his Lottery number in 1970 would have been 356.

– – – – –

President Trump must be impeached. — Carthago delanda est.


Smoke and Mist "assisting" my one-handed typing of this post.
Smoke and Mist “assisting” my one-handed typing of this post.

Morality, a Personal View and the Death Penalty

Morality, in a large sense is being able to distinguish between what is the right, or correct, thing to do and what is the wrong, or incorrect, thing to do and then actually acting on the situation.

A moral person chooses the good thing.

An immoral person chooses the bad thing.

And the amoral person does what he, or she, desires without knowing or caring about how the outcome affects others.

Where does Morality come from?

Some morality comes from a person’s (society’s) beliefs as taught by his God or gods. Some comes from our parents. Some from our peers, teachers, political leaders, and the writings and works of those we come in contact with during the course of our lives.

You don’t have to have a belief in God, a god or gods, to have a sense of morality. There are moral agnostics and atheists, as well as immoral people who profess a belief in a deity.

Judaism, Islam, Christianity — Morality?

Followers of all three major monotheistic (belief in one god) religions have engaged in wars, persecutions and massacres which they believe (or believed) were sanctioned by their god. The followers of Moses and Joshua attacked, killed and enslaved those who lived in Canaan because they believed it was their “promised land,” promised them by their god. (No matter someone else was already there.)

Islam sanctions jihad, holy war, against those who are not believers, including other Muslims who are not the “right” kind of Muslims.

Christians engaged in crusades, holy wars, in what we call the Middle East for two centuries (1095 – 1291) in an effort to take control from its Muslim rulers. Deus Vult, God wills it, was the battle cry of the Crusaders and resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of Jews, Muslims and Christians. And there have, of course, been crusades against Christians who have been the wrong kinds of Christians over the centuries.

Today

Some people today may pooh-pooh the idea that we are like those people, but we are. Europeans of the 18th and 19th centuries believed it was their duty to civilize and help their “brown brothers” in Africa and Asia, even though some of their civilizations pre-dated those of Europe by millennia. And us? How about Manifest Destiny? America from the Atlantic to the Pacific — ignoring the peoples who had lived here since the last Ice Age. Of course, we also wanted to help civilize those “brown” peoples in areas we could wrest from them and the Europeans.

Vietnam — More than a million people died during that 30-year war and its aftermath.

Afghanistan, et al (the Forever War) — the total isn’t finished.

One of the major problems with morality is, I believe, that no matter the basic teaching, we twist it to benefit ourselves. For example, assuming I remember correctly, Jesus said: “turn the other cheek.” When someone wrongs us, do we turn the other cheek? Or do we fight back? If it’s a slap, do we ignore it? Or if it’s a plane flying into a building, do we unleash a decades long war?

Is God Moral?

I was raised in the Catholic Church and attended Catholic elementary and high schools. I learned doctrine, catechism, prayers and rituals in two languages — and I can still pull them from my memory — but lost any real faith sometime in the eighth grade. We were learning about Noah and the Flood. I thought: because people don’t bow and pray to him God kills everyone? Parents? Children? Babies?

This is moral? To my mind this is only moral from the standpoint of might makes right. God can do what He wants and, by definition, it is moral.

A plane crashes and three people survive. It’s a miracle! Thank God! And God purposely killed 173 other people? Run this by any disaster, accident, or “Act of God” you desire.

God works in mysterious ways. Bull—t! Rationalization. Use your brain (God-given though it may be).

Heaven — Hell

You live a decent life. You don’t kill or steal. You love your spouse and children and raise them to the best of your ability. Your life does no harm to anyone, but by the same token you’ve never gone out of your way to help anyone. Should you go to Heaven — forever?

Should a murderer go to Hell — forever? How about BTK, Genghis Khan, Hitler, Mao?

When the concepts of Heaven, Hell and forever originated, people counted on their finger and toes. Some of them knew of numbers in the hundreds and thousands and, some, understood the concept of much larger numbers. Forever was a limited concept.

Today, however, that has changed. The human concept of numbers has changed — radically.

I live in a city of some 200,000, a country of 330,000,000+, a world 7,000,000,000+. We have a national debt of $22,000,000,000,000.

A Googol is 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.

A googolplex is the number 10googol, or equivalently, 10(10100). Written out in ordinary decimal notation, it is 1 followed by 10100 zeroes, that is, a 1 followed by a googol zeroes.

These numbers represent only an infinitesimal fraction of an infinite forever.

Should a person, no matter the crime, be punished with infinite pain for this amount of time, again, and again, and again — ad infinitum? Is this what your church/religion teaches? What kind of being (God) would do this? What is the nature of this being?

I cannot answer that, but it is not the God/god I believe in.

The Death Penalty

Which brings me to the death penalty. For millennia, and maybe longer, people have executed those who have transgressed against their laws, civil, religious and otherwise. Steal a loaf of bread — hang him. Treason — shoot him. Decapitation, drowning, burning, crucifixion, draw-and-quarter. The list goes on and on. What does this say about us?

I used to believe that a person who murdered another deserved the death penalty; he or she had forfeited their right to life by unjustly taking the life of another. Why waste money keeping that person alive in a cell when the money could be better spent on housing, schooling and medical care?

I no longer believe this, but it has nothing to do with the murderer’s right to life. It is both the moral and practical thing to do.

If “God” does torture and punish a person for an infinite time, I want to keep that person out of God’s hands for as along as I can.

If otherwise? Well, I’d like to see us change. Let us distance ourselves from the beliefs of our ancestors. Let us not practice state-sanctioned murder of other human beings — even if we can justify it. Let us not seek justice or vengeance by engaging in a never-ending series of wars which kills tens of thousands as collateral damage.

Let us write a new moral code of which we can point to and say, “This is us; this is me.”

Perhaps, then, if we really appear before St. Peter and God, we can proudly say: “Sir, I’ve done my best.”


I wrote this after a week of considering California Governor Newsom’s, at least temporarily, ending of the death penalty in the state.


Trump must be impeached! — Carthago delanda est!

911 — Another Update

Well, I survived the week but the congestion did not disappear. I had an awful cough and saw my (new) doctor again Tuesday. He decided to double my Advair dosage — new dispenser, not use original one twice as often. The pharmacy didn’t have any in stock so I had to pick up the new one yesterday afternoon.

Don’t know if it worked quickly but my coughing is down and I was able to get some uninterrupted sleep last night. Also using Mucinex at his direction.

Got a nebulizer treatment during the Tuesday visit and again on Wednesday when I went in for my Medicare “Wellness” exam.

So, results: prostate is OK; lungs are clear and BP and heart rate are normal — but he’ll keep me on the BP meds for at least six months or so (high normal readings) and may give me another steroid series for inflammation if the new Advair isn’t working well enough by Friday afternoon. Also, blood tests and Cologuard . . .

And, . . . I need a cardiologist (yes, I’ve already scheduled an appointment). I have an aortic aneurysm (ascending). While in Emergency last week, I had both a chest X-ray and a CT scan, and it was discovered there. It’s big enough to be checked at least twice a year but not yet large enough to be operated on. No history of heart disease in my family.

And, both Di and I had our stitches taken out today from the skin surgery of two weeks ago. Di now wants (and we’ve scheduled) a complete skin exam as the mole that was removed was first spotted by her PCP. I have my basal cell removed at the end of the month.

–  –  –  –

Commentary: I’ve got our appointment calendar next to me and, if one discounts the two days I was in the hospital, we have a total of fifteen (15) visits to various doctors scheduled for the month. I don’t know that you have to be tough to grow old but it sure helps. I do know you need good insurance.

Stay healthy everyone and    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ClQcUyhoxTg

. . . and Smoke wants my lap, bye.

911 — Health Update

After a day-and-a-half in the hospital I’ve been home a week now. Seen the doctor, taken my meds and have done little but rest. Been shopping and to the library, taken care of Charlie — tea, meals, meds, back and forth to the loo — laundry, cats and the litter boxes and little else.

Exercise

Took two walks yesterday, a two-mile in the morning and a three-mile in the afternoon — no ill effects and it felt good to get outside.

Read the papers this morning and had a couple of cups of coffee. Took a shot from my “rescue inhaler” (which I was told to do before attempting any exercise), and sat on the exercise bike for my usual 100 minutes. I wasn’t going to do more than half-an-hour, but I felt good and Arsenal was ahead of Man-U, I was reading an interesting book, so on I went. Felt good.

Pulse

In the hospital my heart rate was in the 90s – 100s. On the exercise bike it stayed in the 80s, or in the low 90s when I upped the resistance for a few minutes a couple of times, just where it was before 911. In bed last night and early this morning it was in the 60s and just now, it’s in the 70s.

My breathing is good. The only issue is a cough. I’ve got some congestion and a tickle in the back of my throat, but I see the doctor on Wednesday. Thursday, Di and I get our stitches taken out from the moles we had removed two weeks ago — test results show the areas on both of us are clear. The basal-cell on the lower-right of my back comes off at the end of the month.

Thank you

David, Di’s brother, stopped by during the week to sit with Charlie while I went and did a bit of shopping and brought a bottle of wine for Mike and Sandy to thank them for helping us.

While Sandy was staying with Charlie, and I was in Emergency, the street sweepers came by and ticketed her car (dirty word, dirty word) and Mike paid for my meds when we stopped at the pharmacy after leaving the hospital, so I wrote them a check for both and dropped off the wine Friday. Mike’s going to hold the bottle until Charlie and I come over for dinner some time.

Never really thought too much about that old saying about March: “In like a lion, . . . ” but it roared for me.

Arsenal beat Manchester United — 2 – 0.

Best wishes everyone.


Smoke, on my "coffee" arm, and Mist earlier this morning.
Smoke, on my “coffee” arm, and Mist earlier this morning.
Smoke and Mist assisting with this posting.
Smoke and Mist assisting with this posting.

 

911 — Know What’s Scary?

Signs

I’d had the sign before: shortness of breath. Always cured with decongestants and Benadryl — hay fever.

Only this time it wasn’t.

And another sign: sitting on my recumbent exercise bike my exercising heart rate for the last few days was not 84 or so but 100+. HUH?

March 1st — woke up because I was having difficulty breathing, took the usual pills, which didn’t help. Charlie woke up and I took her to the bathroom and then to her sunroom — I was out of breath. Over the next few minutes it got worse. For practical purposes I couldn’t breathe.

911

Not being completely clueless, that is, if you beat me up the side of the head with a clue-stick, I called 911.

You know what’s scary? Trying to tell the 911 Operator what’s wrong when you can’t breathe and talk. But a few minutes later the paramedics showed up at the door and I let them in. They quickly clued in on what was wrong and I was on my way to the hospital. The initial treatment they gave me was helping — I didn’t feel good, but I was no longer scared spitless.

Emergency Room

Emergency wasn’t busy — a lull between spates of overflow beds in the hallways — and I had a room with nurse, doctor and treatment. (This was 5 am on Saturday morning.)

Charlie called Mike and Sandy and Sandy came to spend time with and help her and Mike stayed with me most of the day, until I was finally admitted and given a bed in the main hospital.

X-Ray machine brought into the room — hmmmm . . . possible congestive heart failure.

Later a CAT scan.

At any rate, there is too much fluid in my lungs and I don’t get enough oxygen. I get steroids to reduce inflammation and bronchial dilators. They work and I feel better.

Admittance

About 2:00 pm a bed opens up in the main hospital and I get admitted upstairs. It’s a nice double room and I’ve got the window bed — a view of the parking lot and other hospital buildings. I’m feeling better but going from the wheelchair two steps to the bathroom and toilet and then to the bed convince me that ten steps is more than I’m ready for.

Nice bed and get fitted with monitor connections, etc. Nurses and aides come by and introduce themselves and doctor tells what drugs I’m going to get by this rather large catheter in my left arm and other treatments via face-mask and pill — all explained again when the nurses actually give me the stuff.

I get a roommate who came into Emergency about the same time as I, some of the same symptoms but with a different problem — blood clots in the lungs. When I checked out, they had just told him that he was staying at least one more day under observation. (He’s 6′ – 7″ a coach and former basketball player and the bed isn’t quite long enough. And, yes, every new nurse and aide at shift changes asked if he played basketball.)

Mike returned with a couple of books and my cellphone and charger and earbuds — ahhh, music and I can “read” the e-editions of my newspapers.

The hospital social worker got Charlie in touch with a homecare service to stay with her and her brother, David, also came over to spend some time and help out.

Without going through the minutia of things (and I got a vaccination for pneumonia) my condition gradually improved, although I still got no more than a few minutes of sleep in short bursts during the night — better than my four-day stay at this hospital a dozen years earlier when I got no sleep at all and left feeling worse than when I’d come in but for a different reason.

They were going to release me at noon today, but ran into problems with our insurance, meds and the pharmacy. That took a couple of hours to clear up. Then I was released, Mike and Sandy picked me up, we went to the pharmacy and got my drugs. (Which Mike paid for as he’d taken my wallet back to my house rather than leave it in the hospital after they’d photocopied my insurance, Medicare and ID cards.)

Ah, home at last. My wife and cats were happy to see me, but not, I think, as happy as was I to see them.

Sunday — March 3rd

Do you know what I appreciate? Waking up in a warm bed next to a sleeping loved one and her cats curled up around my legs. Then rising and, after feeding the cats, having a delicious and hot cup of coffee. My stay in the hospital would have much closer to pleasant if they’d allowed me coffee.

Monday — March 4th

Woke up this morning feeling better. Fed the cats, had a cup of coffee and read the papers. Di woke up and I got her going. Ate a banana and took my vitamins and drugs with a glass of vegetable juice. Went to the med center and got an appointment with a new doctor (my GP retired a few years ago) for tomorrow morning. Came home and printed the test results from my hospital stay (I doubt my new doctor will have them from the hospital before I get there tomorrow.) from their on-line access. Breakfast, another coffee and I’m ready to, slowly, continue with my day, which includes taking Di to the dentist this afternoon. Thanks for your concern folks, but it seems I’ll be around for a bit longer.

Tuesday — March 5th

911 Update: I’m still doing OK. I’ve a tickle in my throat which leads to some coughing but no breathing issues. Saw a new PCP today, my first younger doctor. He says my lungs sound good with very little congestion. I’m to keep using the Advair inhaler for the next several months and also the BP pills I was given at the hospital – high normal readings. Full physical next Wednesday. Thanks for all the good wishes.

3s

Remember that things come in threes? Well, we have Di’s tooth, my ARDS 911 and now — wait for it — the water heater doesn’t heat water. Called the plumber and he’ll be out early tomorrow. Hope it isn’t serious or take too long as Di has a dentist and two doctor appointments Wednesday. Ghads, retirement can be exciting.


Mist on my lap as I type this post.
Mist on my lap as I type this post.