Wednesday, June 30, 2010

KMF in 28th summer of music education

My son recently introduced a short video program about the Killington Music Festival, featured by the Rutland Herald on its website. The 3-minute program includes some great string music.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Rix's limerix

Jingle Jangle's author has penned a couple of limerix1 himself:
The Snaggletooth Killer did the crime
But my cousin Ray Krone did the time.
    The cops did the frame
    So friends did the same.
Now Ray's sipping tequila and lime.
The author's cousin did the time.
But who did the horrible crime?
    If you read 'tween the lines
    You'll discover the signs
To solve this mysterious rhyme.
_______________
  1. The author chooses the plural form limerix (like "one deer"/"many deer") over limerixes [or limerices!—see comment from Brendan, for which thanks]. Plural limerix enjoys the advantage of sounding like plural limericks (while suffering the misfortune of not looking plural).

Monday, June 28, 2010

Jingle Jangle going into Costco

Jim Rix's 2007 book, Jingle Jangle: The Perfect Crime Turned Inside Out, will be going into three Nevada Costco stores on July 5, followed by book-signing engagements by the author.
    Anticipation has inspired me to write a limerix:
The author's cousin did not do the crime,
But the police saw his teeth & made him their prime,
    An expert agreed that Snaggletooth bit her
    And must have been the one that slit her,
So the jury said that he had to do the time.
_______________
Earlier draft:
  1. The author's cousin didn't do the crime,
    But Police lined him up as the prime,
        Expert said Snaggletooth killed her
        (Though someone else had chilled her)
    And Jury made Jim's cousin do the time.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

So, where am I four days later?

On Saturday I clumped a whole lot of stuff into one post and, rather than feel embarrassed, I felt perhaps unjustifiably proud of having captured the topsy-turvy, chaotic quality of our life here on earth, forgetting that when it comes to blogs, readers usually prefer calm and focus.
    I've broken out the various topics of that post into separate ones, which I've published in the last few minutes: "World War II films recently viewed," "The man who mistook...," and "The Cove, in its own right."

As Saturday's post started, I began [last] week a sort of rodeo bull out of the chute, but by hot Thursday of a warmer week than usual I had slowed down to barely a trot.
    Had I overdone the exultant long walks in the growing heat of day? Or has the vision factor proven an inadequate explanation for my recent almost chronic fatigue?
    I still [at that time had] no results from the sleep study; my doctor is on vacation and she won't be back for another week. She had looked tired herself when I saw her the week before my night in the sleep lab.
    "There's always so much to do," she'd said. "I try to concentrate on each patient when I'm with them, but all of the time stuff is coming in and piling up. And my children need a mother, too."
    "Life is hard for all of us," I said, and touched her lightly on the shoulder as she left the exam room.

Yesterday, though, I got word from a nurse in my doctor's practice that the sleep study did seem to find a "mild" sleep disturbance, and the clinic recommends further study to see (apparently) whether the use of a mask providing continuous positive airway pressure would significantly improve the quality of my sleep.
    I have an appointment with my doctor to discuss the suggestion. I trust that the report from the lab is more informative than what what the nurse was seeing yesterday. For example, what kind of sleep disturbance do I seem to be suffering?
    In the meantime, I continue to feel fairly energetic, if not exactly like a bull out of the chute.

World War II films recently viewed

In Hitler's Berlin bunker, early on the morning of April 29, 1945, der Führer and Eva Braun were wed. At about 3:30 in the afternoon the next day, each of them bit into thin glass vials of cyanide, and Adolph also shot himself in the head, just to make sure. Their bodies were wrapped in a blanket and carried into the garden of the chancellery, doused with gasoline, and burned.
    Goings-on in the bunker during the final ten days of the Nazi regime are dramatically portrayed in the extraordinary 2004 German film, Der Untergang (Downfall). Its factual basis includes the published memoir of Hitler's 22-year-old secretary, Traudl Junge, who was in the bunker throughout these days until a day or two after her boss's suicide, when she finally left and wended her way through the invading Soviet troops.
    For its excellence as cinema, including Bruno Ganz's masterful performance as Hitler, and its credible (if still unbelievable) look into the bunker in those final days, I recommend this film, too, as must-see.
    The day after Hitler's suicide, his propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, and his wife Magda had morphine administered to their six children and (as the movie makers chose to portray it) Magda herself pressed each sleeping child's jaw to crush an ampoule of cyanide between its teeth. (This action is shown in heart-stopping deliberation for each of the six children.) Then the parents walked out into the garden and silently faced each other. He was dressed in his official regalia, she wore one of her fine dresses. Joseph raised his pistol and shot Magda in the heart, then shot himself in the right temple. Underlings burned their bodies too, but perhaps not so well as Hitler and Eva's bodies had been burned....
    At any rate, the equally excellent 2005 documentary, Das Goebbels-Experiment (whose narration consists almost entirely of Kenneth Branagh's reading from Goebbels's diaries), ends with photographs of the burned bodies of the entire family laid out on adjoining tables. You can see on Goebbels's right leg the charred brace he wore for a deformity, the result either of club foot or osteomyelitis. In this film, Branagh narrates a statement of Magda's that she didn't want her children to survive into a world in which National Socialism would no longer exist. (I have subsequently learned of testimony that she'd indicated as early as a month before the end that she didn't want her children to live to hear that their father had been a mass murderer, and she hoped they would have a better life through reincarnation.)

The 2006 German TV miniseries, Dresden, had a week before reminded us of the fire-bombing of that German city by the British and American air forces in February 1945. Perhaps 135,000 people died there in those three nights of Allied bombing, which was done as a strategic favor for Josef Stalin, an even greater mass murderer than Hitler.
    Dresden is the locale of Kurt Vonnegut's 1969 novel, Slaughterhouse-Five.
    The bonus material for Der Untergang pointed out that a million people had starved to death in Leningrad during the Nazis' siege of that city in 1941-42.
    Die Fälscher [The Counterfeiters] is a 2007 German film based on the true story of master counterfeiter Salomon Smolianoff's being allowed to live, and live relatively plushly, in concentration camps in return for helping the Nazis "create" millions of pounds of British currency for their war effort. When his camp was liberated, its general population at first assumed Smolianoff and his cohorts must be Nazis and almost killed them, but they were offered food and drink and relented. An excellent film in its writing, editing, acting.
    The very next night we watched the oddly romantic 2006 film Zwartboek [Black Book], which centers around the expropriation of wealth from Dutch Jews by members of the Dutch establishment (including the Dutch resistance movement). The Jews were decoyed to a place they had been told they could flee the country, then machine-gunned, their bodies looted then buried in mass graves.
    And (as we learned Friday night from the 2007 documentary, "Nanking") in December 1937, Japanese soldiers had committed tens of thousands of rapes (often followed by the victim's being butchered by bayonet) in Nanking during the first weeks of their occupation of that Chinese city. About 200,000 civilians and 90,000 prisoners of war died there as well.
    When it comes to numbers, there's those six million Jews who were shamed, robbed, beaten, slashed, shot, lynched, starved, gassed, "medically" experimented on...murdered.

And let's not forget that we have treated black folks similarly here, as my recent reading of Timothy B. Tyson's 2004 autobiographical book, Blood Done Sign My Name, reminded me. White supremacy has been American as well as Nazi. And the election of Barack Obama doesn't prove that we're not still infected by it.

The man who mistook...

"You have a fleck of pastry on your lip. Do you want me to flick it off, or kiss it off?"
    This question occurred to me as I washed my sticky hands in the men's room at the local bakery Saturday morning. I could see in the mirror that I had a fleck of glazed blueberry turnover on my parafiltrum.
    The possibility of asking a woman a question like that (whether she had a fleck on her lip or not) might have been suggested by the image of the strawberry-blond young woman (twenty-two or so) who had served me the turnover. Her eyes were big and blue, her face freckled and tan, her bones and muscles good. Maybe I fantasized her lips applying the proposed remedy?
    I had eaten the pastry and drunk coffee in a little alcove whose entrance through the wall from the main part of the bakery I had at first taken for a mirror. But the trio sitting in front of it weren't being reflected, and neither was I. How often had I been in this bakery and not noticed the alcove?

Question: If a woman proposes the flick or kiss alternative to a man, how likely is it he'll opt for the kiss? And if a man proposes it to a woman...?
    And how would the likelihood be affected by factors such as the perceived attractiveness of the proposer, the proposer's smile or tone of voice, the time of day, the light?
    I left the bakery and went back to the auto spa, where they were washing and inspecting my wife's car. I asked the even prettier, dark-haired woman behind the counter there (eighteen to twenty-two, I guessed) if she would give me some paper and lend me a pen.
    There was only one unoccupied chair inside, at a tall round table at which a blond-haired woman of about thirty-five was already sitting and reading a magazine. "Is this chair available?"
    She said it was, so I sat down and started writing. I quickly filled the front and back of a sheet, and stopped to relax. The magazine was now lying on the table, and I could see on its cover the up-side-down photograph of two shapely young women in skimpy bathing suits.
    "Do you mind if I look at the magazine." I pointed at the figures on the cover. "I've got to check this out."
    "Ha, it's not real," she said.
    "The photo's been touched up, you mean?" I said.
    "I'm sure it has. Blemishes removed. Even pounds taken off. The swimsuit section is discouraging. They shouldn't publish something like that just as we real people who have children and no time to work out anymore are about to start going swimming ourselves....No," she said, nodding at the cover of the magazine, which still lay where she'd left it, "real people aren't like that."
    I stood up and pointed across the road. "Say, have you ever been to that bakery over there?"
    She didn't even know there was one.
    "Straight across, the first shop with an awning."
    I told her about the fleck of pastry I'd seen on my face.
    "Anyway," I said, "it got me to thinking...Could I read you something?"
    She listened, then observed, "A man asked the question by a woman would be much more likely to choose a kiss than would a woman asked it by a man. But you never know...."

My wife's car was ready first, and as I was leaving I touched my table companion on the back with the tips of two fingers. She turned around, smiled, and said, "Nice talking to you...."
    I thought I heard her say, "...honey."

The Cove, in its own right

Since watching this year's Oscar-winning documentary, The Cove, I've meant to write it up and recommend it as must-see for its exposure of the atrocity of Japan's annual deliberate slaughter of thousands of dolphins, whose extremely highly mercury-contaminated flesh is sold to unsuspecting consumers.
    The reason for the high level of mercury contamination is that dolphins eat at a very high level on the oceanic food chain, and humans have put a lot of mercury into the oceans. Very few people in Japan know what's happening in the hidden cove. The men engaged in the enterprise, though they claim to think it's okay, have gone to great lengths to try to keep observers (especially observers with cameras) out of the area. The film crew's accomplishment in producing The Cove is astonishing. The story is riveting. The Cove was directed by Louie Psihoyos, and features Ric O'Barry, who trained the dolphins in the TV series, Flipper, and rues the outcome.
    But the film shocked me, and I'm still shocked, apparently to the point (until last Saturday) of not being able to say anything, or knowing what to say. The stupid, wanton destruction of even one (let alone thousands annually) of nature's intelligent creatures....

I'm still morally stunned, by The Cove more than by the films about World War II that I mentioned on Saturday. I've become desensitized to what happens in a war, but the intentional slaughter of friendly, well-loved dolphins for monetary gain is beyond me.
    The wanton destruction of even one (let alone thousands and millions and tens of millions) of nature's intelligent creatures (from dolphins and other intelligent non-human creatures to other humans) is brutal because the perpetrators are (at least in theory) capable of morality.
    That is, though "brute" originally referred to a beast, or non-human, it has come to refer to a savage or "inhuman" human, which is a nice paradox, come to think of it. Humans are (in theory) capable of being human, but we're so often [morally] inhuman.
    As for the original, non-human brutes, can we fault them for devouring the animals lower than they on the food chain? I don't think so. The food chain (below the human level) is amoral and therefore not itself [morally] brutal, but if "God" created it, then isn't God Himself brutal—that is, a brute? Absent God, the brutes of nature are the human ones who exercise their inhumanity.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

So, where am I now?

I began the week a sort of rodeo bull out of the chute, but by hot Thursday of a warmer week than usual I had slowed down to barely a trot.
    Had I overdone the exultant long walks in the growing heat of day? Or has the vision factor proven an inadequate explanation for my recent almost chronic fatigue?
    I still have no results from the sleep study; my doctor is on vacation and she won't be back for another week. She had looked tired herself when I saw her the week before my night in the sleep lab.
    "There's always so much to do," she'd said. "I try to concentrate on each patient when I'm with them, but all of the time stuff is coming in and piling up. And my children need a mother, too."
    "Life is hard for all of us," I said, and touched her lightly on the shoulder as she left the exam room.

Since watching this year's Oscar-winning documentary, The Cove, I've meant to write it up and recommend it as must-see for its exposure of the atrocity of Japan's annual deliberate slaughter of thousands of dolphins, whose extremely highly mercury-contaminated flesh is sold to unsuspecting consumers.
    The reason for the high level of mercury contamination is that dolphins eat at a very high level on the oceanic food chain, and humans have put a lot of mercury into the oceans. Very few people in Japan know what's happening in the hidden cove. The men engaged in the enterprise, though they claim to think it's okay, have gone to great lengths to try to keep observers (especially observers with cameras) out of the area. The film crew's accomplishment in producing The Cove is astonishing. The story is riveting.
    But the film shocked me, and I'm still shocked, apparently to the point (until today) of not being able to say anything, or knowing what to say. The stupid, wanton destruction of even one (let alone thousands annually) of nature's intelligent creatures....

In Hitler's Berlin bunker, early on the morning of April 29, 1945, der Führer and Eva Braun were wed. At about 3:30 in the afternoon the next day, each of them bit into thin glass vials of cyanide, and Adolph also shot himself in the head, just to make sure. Their bodies were wrapped in a blanket and carried into the garden of the chancellery, doused with gasoline, and burned.
    Goings-on in the bunker during the final ten days of the Nazi regime are dramatically portrayed in the extraordinary 2004 German film, Der Untergang (Downfall). Its factual basis includes the published memoir of Hitler's 22-year-old secretary, Traudl Junge, who was in the bunker throughout these days until a day or two after her boss's suicide, when she finally left and wended her way through the invading Soviet troops.
    For its excellence as cinema, including Bruno Ganz's masterful performance as Hitler, and its credible (if still unbelievable) look into the bunker in those final days, I recommend this film, too, as must-see.
    The day after Hitler's suicide, his propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, and his wife Magda had morphine administered to their six children and (as the movie makers chose to portray it) Magda herself pressed each sleeping child's jaw to crush an ampoule of cyanide between its teeth. (This action is shown in heart-stopping deliberation for each of the six children.) Then the parents walked out into the garden and silently faced each other. He was dressed in his official regalia, she wore one of her fine dresses. Joseph raised his pistol and shot Magda in the heart, then shot himself in the right temple. Underlings burned their bodies too, but perhaps not so well as Hitler and Eva's bodies had been burned....
    At any rate, the equally excellent 2005 documentary, Das Goebbels-Experiment (whose narration consists almost entirely of Kenneth Branagh's reading from Goebbels's diaries), ends with photographs of the burned bodies of the entire family laid out on adjoining tables. You can see on Goebbels's right leg the charred brace he wore for a deformity, the result either of club foot or osteomyelitis. In this film, Branagh narrates a statement of Magda's that she didn't want her children to survive into a world in which National Socialism would no longer exist. (I have subsequently learned of testimony that she'd indicated as early as a month before the end that she didn't want her children to live to hear that their father had been a mass murderer, and she hoped they would have a better life through reincarnation.)

The 2006 German TV miniseries, Dresden, had a week before reminded us of the fire-bombing of that German city by the British and American air forces in February 1945. Perhaps 135,000 people died there in those three nights of Allied bombing, which was done as a strategic favor for Josef Stalin, an even greater mass murderer than Hitler.
    Dresden is the locale of Kurt Vonnegut's 1969 novel, Slaughterhouse-Five.
    The bonus material for Der Untergang pointed out that a million people had starved to death in Leningrad during the Nazis' siege of that city in 1941-42.
    Die Fälscher [The Counterfeiters] is a 2007 German film based on the true story of master counterfeiter Salomon Smolianoff's being allowed to live, and live relatively plushly, in concentration camps in return for helping the Nazis "create" millions of pounds of British currency for their war effort. When his camp was liberated, its general population at first assumed Smolianoff and his cohorts must be Nazis and almost killed them, but they were offered food and drink and relented. An excellent film in its writing, editing, acting.
    The very next night we watched the oddly romantic 2006 film Zwartboek [Black Book], which centers around the expropriation of wealth from Dutch Jews by members of the Dutch establishment (including the Dutch resistance movement). The Jews were decoyed to a place they had been told they could flee the country, then machine-gunned, their bodies looted then buried in mass graves.
    And (as we learned last night from the 2007 documentary, "Nanking") in December 1937, Japanese soldiers had committed tens of thousands of rapes (often followed by the victim's being butchered by bayonet) in Nanking during the first weeks of their occupation of that Chinese city. About 200,000 civilians and 90,000 prisoners of war died there as well.
    When it comes to numbers, there's those six million Jews who were shamed, robbed, beaten, slashed, shot, lynched, starved, gassed, "medically" experimented on...murdered. (And let's not forget that we have treated black folks similarly here, as my recent reading of Timothy B. Tyson's 2004 autobiographical book, Blood Done Sign My Name, reminded me. White supremacy has been American as well as Nazi. And the election of Barack Obama doesn't prove that we're not still infected by it.)

"You have a fleck of pastry on your lip. Do you want me to flick it off, or kiss it off?"
    This question occurred to me as I washed my sticky hands in the men's room at the local bakery this morning. I could see in the mirror that I had a fleck of glazed blueberry turnover on my parafiltrum.
    The possibility of asking a woman a question like that (whether she had a fleck on her lip or not) might have been suggested by the image of the strawberry-blond, say 24-year-old woman in the bakery shop who had served me the turnover. Her eyes were big and blue, her face freckled and tan, good bones and muscles. Maybe I fantasized her shapely lips applying the proposed remedy?
    I had eaten the pastry in a little alcove whose entrance through the wall from the main part of the bakery had looked to me like a mirror as I approached it. I had remarked to the trio sitting at a table in front of it, "Hey, is that a mirror you're sitting by? I guess not, for I don't see you guys in it. Or me either!"
    Question: If a woman proposes the flick or kiss alternative to a man, how likely is it he'll opt for the kiss? And if a man proposes it to a woman...?
    And how would the likelihood be affected by factors such as the perceived attractiveness of the proposer, the proposer's smile or tone of voice, the time of day, the light?
    I left the bakery and went back to the auto spa, where they were washing and inspecting my wife's car. I asked the even prettier, dark-haired, say 22-year-old woman behind the counter there if she could give me some paper and lend me a pen.
    There was only one chair to sit on inside, at a tall round table at which a nice-looking, blond-haired woman of about thirty-five was already sitting and reading a magazine. "Is this chair available?"
    She said it was, so I sat down and started writing. I quickly filled the front and back of a sheet, and stopped to relax. The magazine was now lying on the table, and I could see on its cover the upside-down-photograph of two shapely young women in skimpy bathing suits.
    "Do you mind if I look at the magazine." I pointed at the figures on the cover. "I've got to check this out."
    "Ha, it's not real," she said.
    "The photo's been touched up, you mean?" I said.
    "I'm sure it has. Blemishes removed. Even pounds taken off. The swimsuit section is discouraging. They shouldn't publish something like that just as we real people who have children and don't have time to work out anymore are about to start going swimming ourselves....No," she said, nodding at the cover of the magazine, which still lay where she'd left it, "real people aren't like that."
    "Yeah," I said, "I'm old enough to have discovered that a few times."
    I stood up and pointed across the road. "Say, have you ever been to that bakery over there?"
    She didn't even know there was one.
    "Straight across, the first shop with the awning."
    I told her about the fleck of pastry I'd seen on my face.
    "Anyway," I said, "it got me to thinking...Could I read you something?"
    She listened, then observed, "A man asked the question by a woman would be much more likely to choose a kiss than would a woman asked it by a man. But you never know...."
    We went back to waiting for our cars to be ready, and I started drafting what I might say about my recent immersion in dark movies, The Goebbels Experiment, The Cove, Dresden, The Counterfeiters, Black Book, Downfall, and Nanking.

I'm still morally stunned, by The Cove more than by the other films. I've become desensitized to what happens in a war, but the intentional slaughter of friendly, well-loved dolphins for monetary gain is beyond me.
    The wanton destruction of even one (let alone thousands and millions and tens of millions) of nature's intelligent creatures (from dolphins and other intelligent non-human creatures to other humans) is brutal because the perpetrators are (at least in theory) capable of morality.
    That is, though "brute" originally referred to a beast, or non-human, it has come to refer to a savage or "inhuman" human, which is a nice paradox, come to think of it. Humans are (in theory) capable of being human, but we're so often [morally] inhuman.
    As for the original, non-human brutes, can we fault them for devouring the animals lower than they on the food chain? I don't think so. The food chain (below the human level) is amoral and therefore not itself [morally] brutal, but if "God" created it, then isn't God Himself brutal—that is, a brute? Absent God, the brutes of nature are the human ones who exercise their inhumanity.

My wife's car was ready first, and as I was leaving I touched my table companion on the back with the tips of two fingers. She turned around, smiled, and said, "Nice talking to you...."
    I thought I heard her say, "...honey."

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sweet iced tea

Energy to unload my camera

For my renewed energy I credit the therapy of not trying to use both eyes for computer work (for about 48 hours now). This seems to have made all the difference—or at least that part of the difference that doesn't derive simply from renewed hope, a factor very hard to account for in both introspection and scientific investigation.
    Hope, of course, also plays a role in the matter of religious belief, and might even generally account for the persistence of religious belief. Religious beliefs may not be true, but they do provide hope. Hope that injustice will be righted, that those who died young or horribly will rise again and their oppressors punished appropriately (if not inappropriately by all of them being tortured equally forever and forever), that our old, sagging bodies will be restored to their youthful, sexy (erect) versions, that, alas, we will see our beloved mama and papa again (or that the bastard will have the opportunity to burn in hell),....

Early morning sunlight on dining room wall

Friday, June 4, 2010

Brain drain

Discovering a significant truth is energizing. Rather, not discovering the truth, per se, but discovering something true or false that you think is true—like the experience of people (of whom I was once one) who "discover God" on a lonely road (or in a tent revival meeting) and walk on with delight at having "seen the light." Never mind that "God" doesn't exist and their discovery is, in that sense, a sham. They think (as I once did) that God exists (and, more pertinently, is watching over them personally).

Since a bleeding pineal tumor left me with diplopia (double vision, in my case owing to a neurological injury in the alignment of my eyes) in January 1996, I've hoped that one day I would be able to use both eyes again to fuse my right and left images into one. For over ten years of nothing happening in that direction, I put tape over my right spectacle lens and used only my left eye for focused seeing, though a cataract was beginning to cloud the light. After surgery to remove the cataract (and install a lens that all but removed the left eye's near-sightedness), I didn't have to use tape anymore; my right image was so fuzzy (through spectacles with the same thin, left-eye prescription in both lenses) that my brain pretty much ignored it anyway.
    But then, last year, my new neuro-ophthalmologist proposed that a prism in one of my spectacle lenses could render my two images close enough for the brain to fuse them. His professional enthusiasm for the project matched my personal hope. He proposed an experiment to try to prove this. I'd be fitted for a soft contact lens for my right eye that would approximately equalize its image in size with my left eye's image, and I'd wear a temporary prism patch on one of my spectacle lens for a month. It worked; I was able to fuse.
    The next step, then, was to have cataract surgery in the right eye too. It happened that the optimum lens the surgeon installed resulted not only in unrefracted 20-20 vision in that eye, but also in the complete removal of that eye's astigmatism. (The earlier cataract surgery has reduced the left eye's astigmatism, but not entirely removed it; its astigmatism must have been caused by a combination of surface imperfections, some in the original, natural lens and some in the cornea, which hadn't been affected by the surgery. Apparently the right eye's astigmatism had been owing entirely to the imperfection of its original lens.)
    I "adjusted" to the cataract surgery for a month or so, still using the temporary prism patch, then a permanent prism was ground into the right lens of my glasses (both the ones for long distance and the ones for reading). I could now use both eyes for fused-image driving, movie watching, and so on, as well as for reading and "office work" (most of it involving a computer screen).

Not quite. I soon noticed that I couldn't read a book for more than a few minutes before my eyes seemed to rebel, and I begin to see two lines of text, one more or less horizontal, the other slanting in at about five degrees from the upper right. Fusing was just too much of a strain to do for long. (I already knew this from a pin-hole experiment of my own I had conducted in the years right after the brain surgery. I must have wanted so badly lately to fuse again—regularly, day in and day out—that I wouldn't let myself remember how much of a strain it had been and might continue to be.)
    Working at a computer with both eyes was proving even less successful than reading a book or magazine. I could fuse, with considerable effort, for a few seconds only, before the two images flew apart and I had to favor one eye (virtually always my preferred, left eye) for looking at words or pictures. Making only the mightiest effort, could I get the eyes back together for a few more seconds of fusing. Without realizing it (or putting two and two together), I ended days at the office exhausted and was falling asleep on the commute ride home virtually every evening.
    My eye doctor suggested that I do some "pencil push-ups" to strengthen the eye muscles that "crossed" the eyes for close-up. Bring the pencil end towards my eyes slowly, then take it away, and again and again, thirty times or more a day for a month. The push-ups did make a difference. I could now read a book for much longer before noticing the rebellion, but I saw hardly any improvement at the computer. We tried the exercises for another month. No more improvement.
    Okay, my doctor said, the prism you have aids fusing in the vertical dimension. We could put a horizontal prism into the other lens of your reading spectacles. It needs to be slightly under-strength, so that you don't become dependent on it and your eye muscles lazy.

I've had my new reading glasses for a week. Reading a book is great, but in some ways computer work has become even worse. The horizontal prism makes it possible for me to fuse longer looking at the screen. The fact that I can do it more readily now encourages me to try harder (a conscious effort) to achieve it. The attempt is painful, and I can make it for only a little while before I want to scream.
    So. The "truth" that I think I have discovered today (through the suggestion of my wife, who proposed it and pointed out that I myself hadn't given a thought to this possibility) is that my recent almost chronic fatigue could be owing entirely (if it turns out I have no sleep apnea whatsoever) to "brain drain."
    I went to my primary care physician last November with my first complaints of being continually tired. Only today did it occur to me that that was but a few weeks after the experiment described above, my second cataract surgery, the vertical prism, my new glasses...and the apparently regained world of image-fusing....

Whether this "theory" is true or not, and whether the sleep study results will identify a sleep disorder or not, I believe, right now, that my wife may have discovered to me the primary reason I have been so tired lately. Curiously, this "truth" (whether it be true or not) gives me hope, even energizes me—I don't feel so tired right now. I don't need for my physician to call me today; I can wait until next week to be told the results of the sleep study.

Before sitting down to write this, I stuck a piece of tape over my right spectacle lens, as of old.
    The hope that I will use both eyes fully again might have been dashed, but the hope that my energy level will rise again is revived.

Third day of 3-5

I was told Tuesday night, before retiring to bed in the sleep laboratory, that I might have the results of the study in three to five business days. It is just possible, then, that I might learn today whether and to what extent I might have a sleep disorder to explain my recent almost chronic fatigue. I hope I'm told; I don't envy a weekend still wondering.
    Contrary to my apprehension, sleeping with all of the electrodes taped or pasted to my body wasn't a problem. I could sleep on either side, as usual, and probably slept about as well (or ill) as I would have at home. Fortunately, there was no one there to take a photograph of me.
    There are four beds at the lab I used. The one other subject (or patient) who had been scheduled canceled, so the place was quiet and the technician told me more about the science and therapy of sleep than he might otherwise have done. I've doubtless forgotten more of the many things he told me than I remember. I wouldn't summarize everything anyway.

Sleep apnea is only one of many "sleep disorders." Wearing a CPAP mask (continuous positive airway pressure) is the most-used, because most effective remedy for sleep apnea. Other sufferers have been helped by one of several possible surgeries. The technician didn't mention singing lessons (that I remember).
    He told me that I am 150 pounds lighter than most of his subjects. It is almost a given that an obese person suffers from sleep apnea.
    In the morning I observed that the four bedroom doors are very close together. "Do your sleep subjects ever party?"
    "No. The only thing that goes on here is what can be billed to Medicare or other medical insurance."

Going out to a sleep lab is now my idea of the ideal evening activity. Unlike going to a party, the theater, or a concert, you aren't expected to stay awake.