Tuesday, August 29, 2006


My friend Sheila Chung got married on Sunday. Sheila and I met six years ago when we were in a jury pool and then on a jury together for a 5-week trial.

Sheila is the kind of person I would have hired without a second thought when I was running the Breakthrough Foundation. I wouldn’t have cared what she’d done before, where she’d gone to school, any of that. I would have wanted her to work with us because of her intelligence, her ability to communicate and her commitment to making the world a better place. We’d train her in the specific skills she’d need. She already had the most important qualities.

Sheila has a Korean father and an Argentine mother. For the past several years she has worked as the head of an immigrant rights organization. Over the years we saw each other every couple of months, usually for lunch. I coached her, mentored her, listened to her. She was doing well in all aspects of her life save one – she didn’t have a partner yet.

About a year ago she met Paul. When she talked about him it was clear that he satisfied both her Asian need for rationality and brains and her Latina need for passion. Paul was ‘the one’ for her, and it didn’t take long before they decided to get married.

Sheila did more than invite me to be a guest. She asked if I’d be a member of her wedding party. Turns out she wanted three women as bridesmaids and two guys as ‘others’ in her party. I was surprised and honored to be asked. She then asked if I would be willing to make one of the four toasts after the ceremony and dinner. Again, I was honored to be asked and pleased to accept.

The wedding was very well done. The civil ceremony melded various traditions together. There was tango dancing (a passion of Sheila’s), singing, dancing, and great food. But particularly impressive for me was the composition of the guests. It was the most authentically and naturally multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-racial group I’ve ever seen. Sheila and Paul’s friends and family perfectly represented them and their approach to life.

I’m not a big fan of occasions like weddings and other such celebrations, especially when I don’t know many of the people who are there. But this one was special. Memorable. Extraordinary. I was proud to be a part of it.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Mind at Work

Yesterday I did something that I’d thought about for some time but had been hesitant to do. I told many of my friends that I had a blog site up and running and suggested they check it out. Since I went public I’ve noticed something about how my mind works and, perhaps, why I hadn’t told people about it sooner.

When I assumed I was writing mostly to myself I was aware that I really enjoyed the freedom to say whatever I wanted, be as outrageous or provocative as I liked, be the Curmudgeon who resides at the site. I didn’t need to be concerned about what anyone would think about my ideas. Agreement, disagreement, being amused, being pissed off, none of it mattered. I wasn’t trying to gain approval for anything; I was just expressing myself.

Then, when I thought that now others would be reading my words, I began to have second thoughts, even some concern for how my blog would be received. I noticed an old pattern at work. I noticed how self-censorship, a quiet and insidious enemy that often masquerades as a friend, had eaten away at my powers of self-expression. I noticed it and I didn’t like what I saw.

So this is a declaration of independence. I’m not writing to get anything. I’m not writing to impress anyone. I like it when my ideas provoke thinking, and if they don’t, that’s OK too. Let’s just get it on and see what happens.

Onward . . .

Thursday, August 24, 2006


I haven’t written a blog in more than a week. I thought about writing most days. Even had various subjects in mind. I thought about:
- Following up on getting rid of the Porsche and buying a new car. (We did both)
- Getting my bladder fixed (I go to the hospital to do it on Monday)
- Tiger the Amazing (I followed the PGA tournament avidly and continue to be amazed at the skill of Tiger Woods)
- The beginning of the footie season in England (My fantasy team did lousy the first weekend but is improving)
- The state of the world (ain’t improving)
- The wedding in which I am playing a part (not as the bride or groom) this weekend.
- Etc., etc.

Seems I’d get distracted with something or other before I’d sit down to express myself. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say I wasn’t inspired to express myself.
Or maybe it would be even more accurate to say nothing seemed worth writing about.
Or maybe none of that is true and the fact is I didn’t write because I didn’t write.
All the reasons and excuses are bullshit.
Writing because I think I should is the wrong way to go. I shouldn’t (see how hard they are to avoid) do what my mind tells me I should do. Shoulds are a waste of time.

So welcome back, Luigi – for no reason whatsoever.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Bummer Redux

Today was the day to have my fifth bladder ‘procedure.’ It was the third time he was to do the ‘procedure’ in his office with a local anesthetic, saving me the hassle of a general anesthetic hospital ‘procedure.’ So I went in to get it done.

Turns out he couldn’t do it. He uses a rigid scope to go up my dick (you’re excused if you want to stop here) and cut it out rather than the flexible scope he uses for the exam that discovers the little buggers. Trouble this time was the location was such that the scope couldn’t get to it.

So after all the stuff that precedes the cutting and which, cutting aside, leaves one violated and hurting, no payoff this time. I have to go to the hospital to have it done. Shit! I’m definitely not happy about it. My first two ‘procedures’ were in the hospital and the process was a pain in the ass. Well, not exactly the ass, but in an area nearby. I was left with a catheter for several days and much more of a recovery period that with the office ‘procedures.’

Did I say I’m not happy about it? I’ll get my head straightened around soon, and get back to my context-creating philosophical self, but not likely today. Today I’ll indulge in feeling sorry for myself. And having a sore dick.

P.S. I think it’s fair to wonder why Larry (Dr.) wouldn’t have figured out in advance that he wouldn’t be able to get to it with a rigid scope, but blaming him won’t change anything.

Monday, August 14, 2006


I saw a TV story about a Pentecostal preacher who lost a large congregation, a fancy church and the support of his peers because he had a realization about hell – and had the courage to tell people about it.

The existence of hell was a fundamental tenet of his religion. You behave badly, you do bad things, you fail to take Jesus into your heart and you’re going to end up in hell. Not very complicated. Kind of an eternal carrot and stick.

One night watching TV on his big screen in his big house with his well-fed family he saw Rwandan refugees returning home. They were living dead people, mostly women and children. Emaciated, without hope, no light in their eyes – just walking slowly or lying or sitting. They were Muslims, and since they hadn’t taken Jesus into their heart it was inevitable that they would go to hell.

He realized that his reading of the scriptures had been all-wrong. They were already in hell. There was no place worse for them to go. This couldn’t be the way God meant it to be. The way it would be, he decided, is that there is redemption for everyone after death, no matter how bad or misguided they had been. There is no hell to go to. And that’s what he began to preach.

The religious establishment of which he was a part couldn’t handle his new point of view. Not only was he wrong, he was preaching heresy. They tried to get him to change his mind. He refused. He would pay the price for his apostasy. And he did.

Some time later, in a visit to a church in San Francisco that was home to the downtrodden and rejected of our society, led by a Lesbian preacher, he preached. They heard him and accepted him. To show their love for him they brought in some water, had him take off his shoes, and washed his feet. He was cleansed of all that he had endured since he took his stand in opposition to hell.

He returned to his home in Tulsa, was offered an unused church in which to preach and began building his congregation anew. He has hundreds of people attending his services now. Not the thousands he used to have. But he goes on – happy in his new calling and surrounded by people whose lives are better because of him.

He’s right of course. Hell is a figment of the imagination of people who require such a threat to keep people in line, to keep them believing as their ‘leaders’ think they should believe.

Saturday, August 12, 2006


I had a great realization regarding my favorite baseball team last night. I’ve pretty much given up on anything good happening this year. They’ve lost 14 of their last 17 and are sinking fast in the Division – last place and counting (down.)

So why am I feeling good? I’ve lost my attachment to keeping Barry Bonds around next year. It’s OK with me if he retires. It’s OK with me if he goes to another team. I don’t think he’ll ever reach Aaron’s home run record and if he does – well, that’s OK but basically I don’t care.

My attitude doesn’t have to do with whether he did or didn’t use steroids. I think he did use but that doesn’t diminish his records in my eyes. I think it was a dumb thing to do, but I also think he was one of a large crowd of players that did it in days when a steroid user wasn’t a pariah.

My epiphany was that it will be possible for the Giants to build a whole new team beginning next year because without Bonds and others who should leave, there will be plenty of money to spend. Bonds salary is 25% of the payroll. Then, if you add what we pay Moises Alou (who will not get better with age,) Armando Benitez (who is an expensive disaster,) Mike Matheny (who I doubt will play any more even after spending the rest of this season recovering from concussions,) and a few others who have been overtaken by age, for the first time in a long time the Giants will be able to start anew rather than tinker around the edges.

I would keep the core starters and relievers; they’re not bad. Keep Schmidt, Cain, Lowry and Morris. Get one more good starter and a closer. And then pick up some great free agents and the young guys coming through the farm system. If the team is good and exciting, even without the draw of Bonds, fans will come to games.

Take me out to the ballgame.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


I’m fascinated and frustrated by what I remember and don’t remember. Something enables me to recall in great detail certain events from the past. And something disenables me to remember other things. I can’t find a consistent key to this phenomenon.

For quite a while now I’ve been writing a memoir. There’s a whole story about why I’m doing this (which I won’t go into at the moment) but suffice to say I’m putting down the story as it happened. So far I’m up to the 1970’s, when I turned 40.

Old notes and papers help me remember. The Internet is useful for digging out information I’ve forgotten. But most of the time I rely on my memory. I’ve just recounted some dramatic events that involved my work. For this my recall was quite good. Now, as I think about the next phase covering about two years I find I can hardly remember anything.

The easy explanation is that I remember the dramatic stuff and forget the rest. Or I remember what pleased me and suppress what was negative or neutral. The trouble is that while this may be true sometimes, it is a long way from being true all the time. So I’m still left wondering what’s going on with this remembering thing.

Later I’m going over to have lunch with my Dear Old Mum, who turned 95 last month. With her remembering is a different issue. Her long-term memory is great. She can tell me what happened 70 years ago with no problem. But her short-term memory is close to nonexistent. She doesn’t remember what she said two minutes ago – so she says it again – and again. There’s no point in telling her this is going on. It just frustrates her. So I quietly play a game and see if I can keep count of how often this or that is going to come up in the conversation.

Like I say, this remembering business is a mystery.