Wednesday, October 31, 2007

At Least He Got to Travel One Last Time

So, fittingly, my dad's brains were taken today, on Halloween. They are going to the National Prion Disease Pathology Surveillance Center (NPDPSC)
http://www.cjdsurveillance.com/

The graveside ceremony, due to cemetery rules, will be held on Friday. As he is being cremated, this will be for family and close personal friends.

The funeral will be Saturday November 3rd, 2007 at 1PM EDT at the Acworth Chapel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 5095 Holt Rd NW. Immediately following the funeral, we will celebrate Johnny Mac's life with a potluck reception at the church. All are invited to attend.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I'm Not Here; This Isn't Happening

el relojito cucu sonaba
papá besó mi frente
me dijo buenas noches hijito
y me apagó la luz

oye cucú
papá se fué
prende la luz
que tengo miedo

oye cucú
papá se fué
prende la luz
y apaga el tiempo

RIP John McLarty Williams Jr. (1950-2007)

My dad died today at 3:33 PM EDT. He was surrounded by his family; there were nine people in the room with him when he passed, peacefully. His heart slipped into asistolye (sp?) and he just went away. His brain is being donated for CJD research. Funeral details will follow when I have them.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Drivin' and Cryin'

Fly me courageous, I made it to Atlanta. Every song I listened to somehow reminded me of my dad. I cried for miles and miles.

I'm at Emory right now. My dad is having bradychardia every 3-4 mins. His pulse is a steady 46 bpm, dipping down to 43 bpm. He is waning. We laid our hands on him and released him from this life and the other blessings of healing that he had received. Since then he's stopped twitching. It shouldn't be long now.

Stick a Fork in Him

Gallows humor, I know, but I think he would've laughed at it. He's not dead yet, but it'll be any second now.........

My dad is no longer "tolerating" kidney dialysis, therefore the doctors are no longer performing the procedure on him. His heartrate is down to 40-50 bpm. He will die tonight or tomorrow. My colleagues here at Coker College have graciously offered to cover my classes for me so I can go be with my mom.

I spent the morning writing my dad's obituary, before I knew that it would be today or tomorrow. Tell me what you think.........please.

John McLarty Williams Jr., “Johnny Mac” to his family, CEO of Efolder, Inc., died October 30, 2007 at Emory Hospital of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease; he was 57. He is survived by his wife of 37 years, Laura of Acworth, GA; his children Mac of Hartsville, SC and Susanna of Moss Beach, CA; his parents John M. Williams Sr. & Norma Williams of Moreland, GA; his sister Sherry Connell of Gordon, GA; his sister Connie Craig of Moreland, GA; his grandchildren Marley Xiomara and John McLarty Williams IV, “Jack,” who will greatly miss their “Pappy Mac”; his aunts Harriet Jensen of Newnan, GA, Glenna Blair of Sacramento, CA, and Artie Blair of Somewhere, CA; his uncle Loren of Winston-Salem, NC; his father-in-law Raymond Buckner of Canton, GA; his favorite daughter-in-law Mickelle; many nieces and nephews, scores of cousins, hundreds of friends, and countless colleagues and business associates.

Johnny Mac was born in Atlanta, Georgia on August 11, 1950. He grew up on Baxter Road in Hapeville, GA, playing with his good friends Freddie Henderson of Dallas, GA and Ted Jordan of San Antonio, TX. He graduated high school from Woodward Academy in 1968. After an abortive attempt at a football career at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1969 he enlisted in the US Navy, and in December of 1969 he married his high school sweetheart Laura Ellen Buckner. He served in Vietnam, Sicily, Scotland, New Jersey, and Charleston, SC as a Naval Minesman/EOD Technician.

After receiving an honorable discharge from the Navy in 1972, he returned to Samford to pursue a degree in Accounting with a minor in Computer Science. While at Samford, he and Laura had their first child, John McLarty Williams III, in 1973. At Samford, Johnny Mac became lifelong friends with Burt Luce of Ft. Lauderdale, FL; through the years they spent innumerable days together sailing around the Bahamas and the Florida Coast.

After graduating from Samford, Johnny Mac worked in a family business as a professional apiculturist, raising honeybees and making honey. In January of 1980, he and Laura celebrated the birth of their beautiful daughter Susanna Marie. After three years of drought in the early 1980’s and the removal of tariffs against imported honey ruined the bee business, he found that his interest in computer science in college served him well in the emerging personal computer market of the 1980s. He would spend most of that decade commuting between Atlanta and California as he worked for various companies, including Vice President of Sales for Eagle Computer.

Tiring of the strain of constantly traveling, in 1990 Johnny Mac founded his own company, SafeNet, Inc., and worked in the Atlanta area during the bulk of the 1990s. In the last few years, he devoted all of his talents to the growth of his new enterprise, the now-thriving Efolder, Inc., along with his business partners Bill Gross of Sandy Springs, GA, Lyn Christensen of Kennesaw, GA, and Kevin Hoffman of West Lafayette, IN.

Johnny Mac was a member of the Allatoona Ward of the Marietta East Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, serving as the Ward Clerk up until his illness no longer allowed him to fulfill his duties. He had a personal testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, and that families can be together forever through Our Heavenly Father’s Plan.

An avid fishermen, often found sporting a cap that read “Women Love Me, Fish Fear Me,” if he could’ve, Johnny Mac would have spent every day of his life, save the Sabbath, fishing the waters of Apalachicola Bay, Florida. He enjoyed making music boxes and turning wood on a lathe with his good friend John Mitchell of Acworth, GA, playing with his grandchildren, and telling some of the most hyperbolic and wonderfully interesting stories you’ve ever heard. A true Southern storyteller, he had a knack for knowing how to spin a perfect yarn and make his audience erupt into laughter or tears.

Anytime there was a disaster, Johnny Mac would hurry to bring aid. He served as a volunteer firefighter in the Dillard, GA fire department. In 1992, he rushed to Homestead, Florida, after Hurricane Andrew struck, to help with the relief efforts. In his later years, somewhat limited physically, Johnny Mac still lent his organizational skills to relief efforts, bossing people around disaster areas from Pensacola, Florida to New Orleans, Louisiana after hurricanes Ivan and Katrina ravaged those areas. He was still planning to go back to New Orleans to help people rebuild their homes when the disease caused him to slip from consciousness. He loved working with people, being part of a team (provided he got to tell people what to do), and he had an infectious enthusiasm that motivated others to do their best.

John McLarty Williams Jr., will be laid to rest in the Georgia National Cemetery in Canton, GA. Funeral services will be held at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints chapel, 5095 Holt Rd NW Acworth, GA 30101. A wake/potluck dinner will be held for all at the LDS chapel immediately after the interment. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Coker College Endowment Fund, 300 E. College Ave., Hartsville, SC 29550.

Johnny Mac, you will be missed.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

For Susanna

ROTFLMAO!
































Oh! He's Magnificent!











It's Men Like This That Make Everyone Think All Men Are Sexual Predators

This in turn drives away men from the teaching profession:

http://www.news-gazette.com/news/courts_crime_fire/2007/10/26/parents_say_they_complained_weeks

It would not surprise me in the least if someone went A Time to Kill on his ass.

ABSOLUTE INSANITY: Animals Are Not People and Should Have No Civil Rights

This has got to stop:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21492378/

The judge should have recused himself from the trial. I know that I would be appealing this verdict immediately. Now, while I certainly think that people who demonstrate cruelty to animals are jerks, and not the kind of people I'd want to hang around, what this man did should not be criminal. It's a damned dog, not a person. The woman should be allowed to sue him for loss of property, but to go to jail for three years for killing a dog. Have we lost our minds?

Seriously? What the hell is going on? Stop anthropomorphizing your pets. Animals are not people. They will not take the place of children you're never going to make the sacrifice to have. Giving them names and dressing them in little outfits doesn't change their nature as animals. They are not Canine and Feline Americans; they are animals; they are property; they should have no rights. What if the man had thrown her pet deer off the balcony during hunting season, would this have carried the same penalty?

We spent $36.3 billion farking dollars on pet health care in 2005. This number is not inflated by veterinarian care for large herds; we're talking about health care costs for taking care of people's personal pets. To give you an idea of how much money that is, it's double the gross revenues of Hollywood and the video game industry combined. We spend this much money, and yet I have to spend almost $10k a year to get health insurance for my family, that doesn't have that great of coverage. My dad's hospital bills are now pushing $200k. People bitch about taxes to pay for socialized medicine, apparently, we could fund several programs if we taxed the hell out of pet luxury care. Pet resorts, pet massages (I saw it on Flipping Out), gourmet pet treats. OH MY GOSH. We're at war, the dichotomy between the rich and the poor is palpable, and we're worried about infernal pets' rights

ANIMALS ARE NOT PEOPLE!

Friday, October 26, 2007

One for Another: An Update on my Dad

The doctors at Emory are almost certain that my dad has Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD)—which I, a layman, suspected two farking weeks ago! You can read all about the disease here: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/cjd/detail_cjd.htm This disease is invariably fatal. We are waiting for a definitive test result from the Mayo Clinic to verify the diagnosis. If confirmed, we face a horrific choice, ultimately my Mom’s: My father is currently on a ventilator, no matter what we do he has at most 2 months to live. If we take him off it, he will most likely die within 48 hours. He is able to breathe, though not well, and the CO2 levels in his blood build when he’s not getting enough air. Without the ventilator, he will essentially become carbon dioxide-toxic; he will slowly suffocate.

His alpha brain waves on an EEG have a peculiar spiking pattern indicative of CJD. He has not spoken in a month. He does not track with his eyes or respond to anything other than basic primitive stimuli. His kidneys are not working. He is on dialysis, which involves filtering his blood for three and a half hours via a tube from his jugular vein as thick and your damned pinky finger. He has the dropsy, or edema, so badly that his ankles are as thick as my thighs.

What we thought was at first just my dad being an asshole, later clear symptoms of manic depression/bipolar disorder, followed by a psychotic break, a coma, a vegetative state, and now finally a persistent vegetative state, has been caused by simple little protein chains called prions run amok in my father’s head. All the times I got so mad at my dad over his behavior, it wasn’t his fault. He was terminally ill and not in his right mind. I feel so damned guilty.

The disease is not contagious unless you come in contact with his brain tissue or spinal fluid, meaning, most likely, that my father will have to be cremated because it wouldn’t be worth the risk to have him embalmed, etc. No one knows what causes the form my Dad has. It does not appear to hereditary as no one in family ever dies (at least in my lifetime).

When I was a missionary, from 1993-1995, my father kept a journal. He addressed his journal to me every day and he wrote to me about the trials and successes he faced during those two years I was gone. He was involved in building up a company, stressed by the responsibility of keeping it going and keeping people employed; he felt a kind of responsibility to them. My Dad was a consensus builder, and always liked involving other people in his projects. He would never go it alone. In early August, when my dad was really starting to show serious symptoms, which we believed to be an acute manic episode, I found the journal that my dad had written to me. That night, I read almost every page of it. I felt this special bond to my Dad. I know, for a fact, without a shadow of a doubt now, that I was meant to read that journal then. I knew in my heart that something was wrong, terribly wrong, with my dad. I could feel it. I wanted to reach out to him, but couldn’t say the words out loud to him, as I was really angry with him over his treatment of my mom. This is what I wrote to him:

From: Mac Williams [mailto:wuapinmon@hotmail.com] Sent: Friday, August 10, 2007 2:44 AM
To: Dad Dad DaddioSubject: One for Another

Dad,

Tonight, I was going through a box of all my stuff I got out of storage when I found the journal you kept for me during my mission. I was immediately drawn to it; now that time and forgetfulness have waged war on my memory, I couldn't put it down. I read almost all of it tonight. You were so frank with your thoughts and feelings and spiritual stuggles.

I see how often Mom and Susanna left you alone, and how you don't like being alone. I think of how the other night I really wanted you to come join us for dinner, and how you didn't. We wanted you there, I wanted you there. We weren't trying to leave you alone.

While I was honored at the time you gave it to me, admittedly I only ever gave it a cursory look. Today, I see just how difficult those two years were on you. I thank you so much for you labor of love for me. I am going to put this on my bookshelf and cherish it alongside my most highly prized books. When I finished it, it brought a tear to my eye. I love you so much Dad.

I began to think back to what I was doing on those days when you wrote how hard a day you had, and now that I'm older I can understand better the trials you went through to provide for us. I can't really tell you how much I appreciate this journal now.....more that I ever could have imagined I would that night you gave it to me so long ago. I hope I didn't seem too indifferent to it back then, that I didn't stomp all over your excitement in giving it to me. I was young and foolish at the time, so if my reaction wasn't what you had hoped for then, please know that now I am indeed grateful. I'll try and do the same thing for Jack some day.

I'm fighting back the tears right now as I write this email at 2:30 in the morning, with my babes and my babe fast asleep in the back of the house. You are an excellent father.

I love you,

Mac
...

Somehow I knew that my dad and I wouldn’t have much more time together. I fought the feeling at the time, but I now I see clearly what happened. I sent the email and went to bed. I found this response in the morning:

RE: One for Another‏
From: John Williams - SafeNET (jwilliams@safenet-usa.com)
Sent: Fri 8/10/07 3:12 AM
To: 'Mac Williams' (wuapinmon@hotmail.com)
Mac,

Now that you are a tested father, you understand why I did it. You and Susanna are so important to me. By writing down what I was doing and feeling, I left you a gift that is better than an antique.

The reason I did not meet you the other night is my health. I am having a rough time lately and my energy level is low and I am not getting any rest…as you can see from the time-stamp. The last week has been a week from hell.

I love you son.

Dad
...
You’ll notice that the time is the middle of the night. One of the symptoms of CJD is massive insomnia. Also, notice that he uses the definite article (the last week) instead of the more usual demonstrative (this last week). This was the last meaningful correspondence/conversation I had with my father, and the last normal week he ever had.

It is priceless to me.

I love you Dad,

Mac

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Why You Should Never Pick Up Hitchhikers

So, read this link first:
If you're a male transvestite hoping to score some gay fellatio, you'll probably want to make sure the hetero fellator knows you're not a woman.

To paraphrase Jasper Beardley, " Asking a straight guy to go down on you when he thinks you're a woman.....that's a stabbin'."
Doesn't this remind you of Tone Loc's "Funky Cold Medina" lyrics?
Life lesson learned here:
If a woman picks you up hitchhiking, and asks you for oral sex, it's a man. 100% of the time.




These are men

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

My Job Just Got a Lot Harder

When Google casts its gaze on something, it does it twice as good for half the price. The same holds true with their new translation service. Holy Crap. It's bad enough that my students already try and sneak by using http://babelfish.altavista.com/ to translate their work, now I've got to contend with Google's new translation service (thanks to Dr. Amy George-Hirons for the link). Holy crud, it's powerful.

As a test, I went and entered these lyrics into babelfish:

There is a house in New Orleans,
they call the rising sun,
and it's been the ruin of many a poor boy
and God! I know, I'm one

Babelfish yielded this translation:

Hay una casa en New Orleans,
llaman el sol de levantamiento,
y se es la ruina de muchos al muchacho pobre,
y dios, sé, yo soy uno

A decent translation, but it has a few errors and missing words; levantamiento means "rising" as in "yeast," etc. Also, it reads like a Luis de Góngora poem. Google, on the other hand, gave forth this:

Hay una casa en Nueva Orleans,
que ellos llaman el sol naciente;
ha sido la ruina de muchos niños pobres,
Y Dios! Sé que soy uno

For those of you not gifted with the gift of tongues, not only is the Google translation syntactically correct, it even picked up on little things like "Nueva" with Orleans, because it's modifying "la ciudad de Nueva Orleans." The only thing missing really is "de ellos" from the end of the last line, which really isn't necessary other than to clarify what kind of "one" the singer is.

This is a great tool, but it's going to allow Spanish students to cheat at a level that will virtually make them beyond reproach. Ugh! As a Spanish teacher, this makes me very sad. I'm just glad I'm not teaching high school!

Eddie Jordan: Corruption, Ineptitude, Racism, and Cronyism

New Orleans is a corrupt place. Having lived there for five years, having watched the nightly news, having seen firsthand the lackadaisical attitude towards rules and law and order, I can make that statement without reservation. Though, there's something about New Orleans that's maddening, and that's this: No matter how much the crime, corruption, poverty, ignorance, and slovenliness of the place, I love it; I miss it; I'd love to be there right now--not to live, but I'd love to be there. For those of you who have never lived in New Orleans, you may find the Katrina victims insistence on moving back insane, illogical, and flawed thinking, but I understand it. I respect it even. They are loyal to a place that is like no other place on earth. You can feel its specialness on the streets. I love New Orleans and I do miss it so.

And, I find myself still reading the local newspaper. I want New Orleans to come back from Katrina stronger and better than ever. Unfortunately, the local leadership has been ineffectual in improving things at a quick pace. You have to understand that the Big Easy has this system of patronage and cronyism that stifles progress and sometimes even staggers people in its braziness. Alberto Gonzalez lost his job for firing a few US Attorneys that were of a different political party, an ideological difference.

Orleans Parish District Attorney Eddie Jordan, an African-American, fired (almost) ALL of the white people in the district attorney's office when he took over from Harry Connick Sr. And, he replaced every single one of them with an African-American employee. Rightly so, a jury found him guilty of having violated civil rights laws against these employees. They won a relatively modest $3.7 million judgement against the D.A.'s office, that has withstood appeal, that Jordan now says his office can't pay, that the taxpayers of New Orleans will have to foot the bill.:

http://blog.nola.com/updates/2007/10/jordan_no_needs_to_bail_out_da.html

Eddie Jordan is a crony of Congressman William "Dollar Bill" Jefferson and his brother Mose Jefferson, both indicted on bribery charges. Under his watch, the conviction rate for murder has been around 10-12% vs. 80% as a national average. Part of this is because people in New Orleans refuse to "snitch." But, I find it odd that Jordan's clamoring for the city to pay the fine AGAINST HIM (essentially) is because the claimants are going to freeze payrolls to get their money. His worry is that the most "experienced prosecutors" will leave if they are not paid. Funny, Eddie, I would've thought this might have crossed your mind when you fired your most-experienced employees and hired all your cronies five years ago.

Eddie Jordan should resign now. Only in a corrupt place would a person be allowed to remain in elected office after having received a civil rights violation judgement, on the basis of race discrimination. How does this man still have a job? He should be impeached (if that's even possible).

Of course, this is the same city that re-elected William Jefferson after he was VIDEOTAPED, by the FBI, taking $100k in bribe money, and then the same money was found in his freezer.

RESIGN JORDAN RESIGN!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I Try My Hand at Short Fiction

ATTENTION:

THIS IS A WORK OF FICTION. I AM NOT THE NARRATOR. WHILE THE NAMES MIGHT BELONG TO MY RELATIVES, THIS STORY IS A CREATION OF MY MIND, AND NOT HOW THINGS ACTUALLY WENT DOWN.


...

“Forgotten”
A work of fiction!
By Vollick Meiele

I believe in God. Yeah, the Biblical God, though I must say I prefer His New Testament incarnation to His Old Testament grumpiness. Maybe sheathing Himself in the flesh made Him realize just how hard it is to be human. Of course, that line of thinking is problematic because it might mean that God wasn’t omniscient, or that He could risk, or even learn things. Anyway, it’s germane to what I want to tell you, so here goes: I think God forgot about my grandfather.

Let that sink in for a second. I really think God forgot about my grandfather. Now, you might ask, if I believe in the Biblical God, with his lists of omnis—presence, potence, cience, how can I even consider that God forgot about grandpa....well, I can’t really just say it in a few words...it needs some explaining.

My grandpa was born on September 28, 1912 in Buncombe County, North Carolina. To rob a line from H.I. McDonnough, my great-grandmother’s womb was a lush and fertile field whereupon my great-grandfather’s seed all-too-frequently found ample purchase. In spite of his otherwise feeble body, his virility enabled him to sire a slew of sons in my great-grandmother’s womb—sons (7) that he could not maintain physically or emotionally after she died giving birth to yet another son less than a year after my grandfather’s birth. So, John Agleston Buckner (1870-1928), did what any ailing widower did in that day and age, he put all of his sons that couldn’t work in the poor house...in this case, the Baptist Children’s Home in Weaverville, North Carolina.

I think it was sometime around this time, say late 1913, that God forgot about my grandpa; I can’t be sure exactly when it was, but that’s my best guess.

In the orphanage, my grandpa still had family with him—all of his brothers were there: John, Henry, Claude, and I can’t remember the rest...their names are unimportant to my readers, because God did not forget about them; they are all dead. When he turned sixteen in 1928, my great-grandfather came and got him out of the orphanage (no one ever adopted him), and they had a two hour conversation. John Agleston Buckner never visited his children in the home. In spite of his ailments, he did marry his dead wife’s sister (from photographs I’ve seen, she was so dog ugly that it’s no wonder all she could get was an invalid for a lover) because he knocked her up out-of-wedlock, though I guess he was still too ill to get his boys out of the poor house. Evidently, Mother Nature compensated my great-grandfather for his weak body by giving him some of the most agile ovum-seeking sperm in the history of Western North Carolina. When their two hour chat was over, my great-grandfather went to bed and promptly died of an aneurysm in the night. My grandpa only ever spoke to his biological father once, for two hours. He never knew his mother. Even though his step-mother was also his aunt, she would not let him live with her. Not wanting to return to the orphanage, he went to live with his aged grandfather. About two months later, 2nd Lieutenant Nineveh Taylor Buckner (1840-1928), 25th North Carolina Regiment, Infantry, CSA, died of a heart attack. Raymond’s elderly step-grandmother had only a widow’s Civil War pension to live off, so he decided to leave. So, he left the only world he had ever known, the hills of Western North Carolina, hitchhiking all the way across the country to San Diego, California. Upon arrival, he lied about his age to an army recruiter, and enlisted in the regular Army in September of 1929, a couple of weeks before the Black Friday stock market crash. He fought his way across Asia in the Philippines, China, and Burma. In spite of having served, in combat, under arms, during the duration of World War Two (he was in China when Japan attacked us), he was never wounded. He never had a scratch, in fact, you can’t find a scar on his body--save one. In 1952, while stationed in Germany, with my grandmother holding my mom and worrying about whether he was going to be sent to fight in Korea, the blood flow to grandpa’s heart was occluded and he suffered his first myocardial infarction. While this saved him from the horrors of Korea, it did consign an old soldier to the horrors of motorpool maintenance in Fort McPherson, Georgia. When he had another heart attack in 1954, the Army told Master Sgt. Raymond V. Buckner, USA-retired, that his services were no longer needed. Suddenly without a job, with a family to feed, and aged 42, he enrolled in a course to become a medical technician. He found employment with the Department of Agriculture, and spent the next 20 years criss-crossing the Southeastern United States taking soil samples from farms and telling people what kinds of fertilizer to apply to get better crop yields from their fields, slowed only by his third attack in 1967. In 1974, at age 62, a year after my birth, my grandfather retired from his government job and gained employment as the parking lot security guard at the Hadley’s store in downtown Asheville, North Carolina. He worked at this sinecure until 1981, when at age 69, he finally retired, drawing the maximum Social Security amount one can earn, along with a full military pension, and a twenty year federal government pension.

As his body aged and his health declined, it appeared to anyone who saw him that most men of his size, brawn, and stature do not live long lives—especially not men whose chests had exploded in searing pain three times before. When the Saudi irhabists crashed their planes into the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, the veteran in my grandfather became enraged. He had fought an enemy once before who had attacked his country, and he had defeated them with his own sweat and tears, but not with his own blood. As he sat stewing that night, watching the news, his old ticker decided to breathe fire into his chest yet again, fulminating into an agony that few men survive once, let alone four times. It should come as no surprise to you, my readers, that his fifth, and most recent heart attack barely caused him any turmoil when it tried to rip him from this world in early February 2003, near the second anniversary of his wife’s death.

So, to say the same thing over again, at some point in his toddler years, God forgot about little Raymond Vines Buckner. Now, before you accuse me of blasphemy, let me state how exactly God did His forgetting. If God is truly omni-potent, then He has, conceivably, the power to do whatever He wishes, inside of the laws of Physics, and the laws that He set down when He created the world. So, I think God chose to forget about my grandpa. God saw that little Vines was getting a raw deal, and chose to grant him the gift of long life by forgetting about him. By all rights, my grandfather should be dead and buried. Five heart attacks, diabetes (after age 90), vascular disease, dropsy, repeated thrombosis, a botched circumcision (his only scar) at 85, and any other number of afflictions that Mother Nature and Father Time could throw at my grandfather have all been thwarted by the simple act that God willfully and purposefully chose to forget about him. Where other men should have and would have died, the act of God leaving off thinking of my grandfather, has allowed him to remain, to persist in this world far longer than anyone else would have. The Angel of Death hasn't been sent by God to reclaim Raymond, because he doesn't appear in the Book of Life.

He now lives in an assisted living facility near my mom’s house. He sits at a table for four people for every meal. The other three people are always the same ones—they have to have assigned seats because of all the dietary restrictions the elderly have (individually)—and in his six years living there, sitting at his table is akin to a death sentence. Scores of people have dined with him and died. I used to joke that even the staff wouldn’t dare sit down to a meal with him out of mortal fear. Now, I don’t joke, because no one will sit with him. Even though the geriatric myths can’t take much root because of the constant deaths of those who know the stories, the newcomers hear the staff’s whispers. They don’t want to sit next to the man that God forgot. The mortal don’t like the immortal—no one likes to be reminded of the temporality of their own existence, that all glory is fleeting, that the world, and Raymond will go on without them.

And yet, I think now this gift of temporary immortality has morphed from a wondrous condition to a clear burden. I no longer see the light of life in my grandfather’s eyes; I can’t actually see his eyes anymore because his back is so crooked that he can’t raise his head up from the cane crook position it now rests in. I see a very very old man who wants God to remember him, to hear his prayers, to allow him to pass into the next life and be reunited with the mother that he never knew, and with the wife that he loved dearly in spite of her onerous personality and poison tongue.

The dream of immortality has no appeal to me, at least not in the flesh, because I’ve seen its consequence acted out over the body of my grandfather, and I do not like the result. Immortality is a burden, a boring odious burden. God, if You haven’t chosen to forget about me too, please hear my prayer and remember my grandfather. He loves You so much.

My Last Hope in a Politician

Louisiana has just elected Bobby Jindal as Governor. He is the only politician I have any respect for. I sincerely hope that he doesn't become like every other one. He didn't when he was a Congressman, let's see if he can do what he says he'll do. If he fails, I'll never have faith in a politician again.

See his victory speech here:

http://blog.nola.com/tpvideo/2007/10/bobby_jindals_entire_victory_s.html

Don't start watching until 4:45 into it, the first part is just him thanking people and the crowd clapping too often.

Monday, October 22, 2007

My Dad

My dad is in a vegetative state. This means that his eyes are open, he responds to basic stimuli, he does not follow commands or requests, he says nothing, he's on kidney dialysis (which is horrifying to watch by the way), and the doctors have no frigging idea what's wrong with him.

I find myself furiously angry. My basic opinion about this whole situation is that somewhere someone fucked up royally and won't admit it.

He has all the symptoms of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which would be a death sentence. But, my doctorate isn't a medical one, and the odds are against my dad having such a rare disease.

Only a lighter note, I keep having dreams that he wakes up and comes out of this.

I get no solace from my prayers right now. I gave my mom a priesthood blessing yesterday, and I'm sure I felt the Spirit then.....man I was grateful for it too, because it's been a long time. I don't feel depressed anymore. I'm just numb, and angry. My dad has received two priesthood blessings, both of which have said that he will recover. My faith is strained at the moment. What happens if he doesn't recover? I find myself stuggling spiritually with the possibility that he might die in spite of having received a blessing of healing. My testimony is fragile right now. But, yesterday when I prayed I had the distinct impression to go and read the Book of Mormon every day for 20 mins. I have been lax with this. When I read it, I never have any doubts. As we read in Alma 32, it's enough to want to believe. I want to believe. Therefore, I do believe. But damnit if it isn't hard sometimes when you feel all alone in the world.

Wake up dad.....please. We're supposed to go fishing in Apalachicola in April.


P.S. I've always been told that Emory Hospital was "the best in Georgia" and all that. My opinion after having been there is it's a total dump. It's filthy and shabby; the doctor was smarmy and didn't respect my mom the way he should've. The hospital in Provo, Utah looks better than Emory...hell, Touro in New Orleans looks better than Emory.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

It's the Smartest Money You'll Ever Spend in Your Life......OMFH!

If only this were a gag! www.the-backup.com

"Many homes are buying more than one."

Dude, if it's this bad where you live, that you need one, if not two, of these.....move!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Pray for Him


My Dad is in Emory Hospital's ICU. He's on a ventilator and hasn't been conscious for 2 weeks. He has a 103 degree fever, and they have no idea what's wrong with him.


12 weeks ago he and I were fishing out on Apalachicola Bay in Florida. My dad caught some whiting, croakers, sharks, ladyfish. He was fine. Oh God, heal him please. I have hope and faith in the resurrection, and I believe that there's more to life that just life. I just don't want to go through the rest of my life without my Dad. I'm not ready yet. He's still young. He's too young. Bless the doctors and nurses, that their memories might be prompted to find the correct course of treatment. Bless his body that it can repair the damage done to it. Bless my Mom as she struggles through this time. Bless my dad's parents that his condition will not be more than they can bear. Bless my little sister, that she will be able to focus on her studies. Bless my children that they'll not be frightened of the thought of losing their "Pappy Mac."


Thy will be done, but maybe think about heeding mine. Please.



Marley and Pappy Mac in better days, Mardi Gras 2006.

Pumpkin Hauling
















Thursday, October 11, 2007

Marleyisms

1. Yesterday at Sonic, "Mom, can I please have a Reese's Penisbutter cup shake?"

2. Today in the tub. "Mom said I had to (she makes the quotations signs with her hands) clean up my room, and I don't even know what (she makes the quotations signs with her hands) this means.

3. "I'm a good soccer goalie, except for when I was picking my nose and they scored a goal."

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Nobel Literature Prize Predictions (Revised from last year)

This year, I would like to make some general predictions. There are several people that I think are highly worthy of the prize.

1. Salman Rushdie: The Satanic Verses is my favorite book in English. It is a masterpiece of postmodern historiographic metafiction. I love that book so so much. I also understand why fundamentalist would want to kill him for writing it. In the book, an Indian voiceover actor becomes very ill after falling (thousands of feet) from a blown-up airliner to an English beach. He turns into a half-goat man, spikes a fever, and has a delusional dream wherein this kid in a cave keeps calling him "Gabriel" and asking him questions about God. Annoyed, he flippantly answers the kid, at first not believing that the kid buys the crap he's making up, all the while not realizing that he is dictating the Koran to Mohammed.

You can understand why this would piss Muslims off. People rip on Joseph Smith all the time. One South Park episode in particular tries to skewer the Mormon church (I found the episode hilarious (and doctrinally and historically inaccurate by the way). Making fun of my religion in a farcical way, hidden in a work of fiction, does not bother me. My faith is my own, and no amount of attacks against it by others will influence my beliefs. I do not want to kill Matt Stone and Trey Parker. I respect their right to make fun of anything they want, and I even laugh when they mock my faith, because I am sure of what I believe. Rushdie should have that same right, without irhabists issuing fatwas against him. Rushdie's Midnight's Children is one of my top ten books of all time, in any language. My wife thoroughly enjoyed Shalimar the Clown.

I don't think the Nobel Academy will have the political courage to ever give Rushdie the award he so very much deserves. Given the reaction to the Denmark cartoons two years ago, if anyone else in Scandinavia were to praise anything even remotely objectionable to Islam, the Middle East would erupt into rending of garments and gnashing of teeth. Also, Scandinavia exports vast quanitites of dairy products to the region. If the Academy were to give Rushdie the prize, well, think of the economic consequences to the Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian economies. Rushdie deserves the award more than anyone else I can think of. If Rushdie wins the prize, it would be an amazing declaration of free speech against the tyranny and oppression of religious intolerance. But, given the vindictiveness of most irhabists, would you, being on the Nobel Committee, vote to give him the prize? It takes a special mettle in your soul to make that kind of a stand.

2. Carlos Fuentes, he has labored for years trying to help Mexicans understand their roots. He is a tad prideful and perhaps offensive to certain types, but his work stands for itself. He is a contemporary of Octavio Paz, García Márquez, and Borges, and deserves the prize before it's too late. Second only to Rushdie in my opinion.

3. Antonio Muñoz Molina, he'll never win, but this Spanish author of detective fiction has created some of the few recent detective stories that you'll want to re-read. The solution to the crime isn't why you read them. They are noirish novels that deal with reconciling peoples' actions under Franco with their own moralities, ethics, etc. His novels such as Plenilunio, Sefarad, El invierno en Lisboa, and Beltenebros, are all classics and worth multiple readings. They have been made into movies, all badly, save Plenilunio. If they are ever translated into English, you should check them out. He is a modern master and a jazzman. He's on my list because I love his work, not necessarily because he's deserving.....yet.

4. Ricardo Piglia, another master, but one without the prestige and reknown to attract the Nobel committee's attention. The Absent City is amazing, and Respiración Artificial beggars description. I feel that Piglia will win some day, maybe not anytime soon.

5. Nicanor Parra, the anti-poet. Deserving, and at 93, probably will never get it.

6. Slavoj Zizek, the most enjoyable modern philosopher I can think of. He has his fingers on the pulse of current Western culture. He is a prolific writer and has a knack for explaining abstruse concepts in terms that everyone can understand. The estate of Jacques Lacan owes Zizek a huge hug for his tireless work in making Lacan relatively approachable to the masses. Zizek's works include The Sublime Object of Ideology, Tarrying with the Negative, Welcome to the Desert of the Real, Enjoy Your Sympton, and Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Hitchcock But Were Afraid to Ask Lacan.

7. Umberto Eco, a master in the classic form. The Name of the Rose, or "City of Robots" are very impressive and thought-provoking. If they can give the prize to Italian playwright Dario Fo they can surely give a nod to Eco (though Silviano Santiago would most definitely disagree with me).

8. Arthur C. Clarke, He has written so many good works, and is very old. He might have a chance. I especially enjoyed "The Eight Billion Names of God."

I'm sure some people expect me to put Mario Vargas Llosa on my list, and he might well get the prize, but there's just something about his writing, his politics, and himself that makes me think he's not a strong candidate. However, I must say that I thoroughly enjoy his essay "My Son the Rastafarian" ("Mi hijo el etíope") and I am teaching it in two of my classes next semester.

I'm sure there are numerous others that need mentioning. Phillip Roth, Margaret Atwood, Bob Dylan, etc. Can you imagine the difficulty in finding someone to translate works from say Somalian in to Swedish? Malawi or Togolese? so the committee can read them.... It's no wonder that English speakers have won more than any other language.

Please feel free to comment on my selections or add your own. You'll hopefully understand why my choices are Hispanic top-heavy, though please remember that no Spanish-speaking author has won since Octavio Paz way back in 1990. Also, nothing prevents the Academy from awarding the prize to multiple winners, as has been done in years past.

South Beach Diet Update #2

My weight 9-7-07 = 417 lbs.
My weight 10-9-07= 394.9 lbs.

Total weight loss = 22.1 lbs. or 6.3% of my beginning body weight.

Yes I feel better. I'd feel better if I could eat a farking pecan pie (notice I didn't say a "slice").


With my dad in the hospital and my being a stress eater, the fact that I have been able to stick to the diet is damned-near unbelievable. Really, truly!

I am so sick of fried eggs and turkey bacon, mozzarella cheesesticks, and almonds.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Che Guevara 40 Years After His Execution

In the French Quarter on St. Peter Street a sign hangs with the iconic image of Che Guevara and reads "Killer Cigars." Two capitalist proveers of expensive tobaccoes have appropriated this image as a cheeky way to draw attention to their store and to sell product.

Like him or not, Che Guevara was a brilliant man. I have no doubt that, initially, he truly believed that what he was doing was for the greater good of the world's down-trodden. However, with the Che, I don't think I can ever bring myself to feel that the ends justfied the means. Certainly his tenure over the prison in La Habana, with its summary executions of former Batista minions is what the Che's critics frequently refer to. The men he killed were evil men, brutes who used torture, rape, and death to terrify the working class into submission. Cuba was essentially a colony of the United States. Fidel Castro's revolution removed a brutal and corrupt dictator from power. The commoners had more prosperity, education, and healthcare than ever before. But, this was at the expense of their civil rights.

Certainly the Che did all sorts of dastardly deeds in the name of being a revolutionary and helping people (this in no way justifies the way he was executed/assassinated, and the photographs of his dead body, while once necessary to prove his death to his supporters, are now a morbid reminder of the Cold War fascination with eliminating the enemy). Many of our noble leaders have done similar things. Hell, George Washington led troops into battle while President, against his own citizens, because they refused to pay higher taxes on whiskey. However, my foremost objection to the Che's memory as a hero of the revolution, is due to one event, one single event that might have brought on untold misery and destruction:

In October, 1962 my twelve-year-old dad helped his father dig a fallout shelter in their backyard in Atlanta, Georgia because there were missles parked off the coast of Florida aimed at Atlanta. When Khrushchev made a deal with JFK behind the Cubans' backs, this reportedly enraged Fidel and Che. According to Sam Russell of the socialist newspaper, The Daily Worker, in an interview with the Che a few weeks after the crisis ended (dated December 4, 1962, titled "The Americans Still Want to Come Here"), the Che told Russell that if the missles had been under Cuban control they would've fired them.

This would've incinerated my parents. The world would be very different, not because of my non-existence, but because of the nuclear exchanges that might have happened between the West and the Soviets. Thankfully, the Russians never gave control to the Cubans, and civilization--and my birth--were saved. Had the Che had his way, nuclear holocaust might have been the outcome. I truly believe he would've launched those missles too. I really really do.

Before you go wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with his image on it, be sure you know exactly what you are saying. In the capitalist world, he is no longer the Che, he is cliCHE.



Monday, October 08, 2007

Walking by Faith

When I first began calling myself a Christian, at age 17, I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I was convinced (and still am) that it was the only true church upon the face of the earth, that the Lord guided it, that the Book of Mormon was true, and that we had prophets living today, leading and guiding us (as they did the weekend at the Church's General Conference).

When I first joined the church, all was not right in my life. I made great steps in correcting impure and unrighteous behavior. I was rewarded with outpourings of the Spirit, and when I returned, like a dog to his vomit, to my old behaviors, I felt, distinctly, the absence of the Spirit in my life. As time has gone by, and I've evened-out my behavior, I moderated my words, thoughts, and deeds, I find that I feel the Spirit less and less. In fact, the only time I can claim to feel the Spirit is when I've done something wrong, and I feel its absence. So, I'm wondering, does anyone else out there have this same experience? The more obedient to the Gospel and Commandments, the less I feel the promptings of the Holy Ghost.

I am reminded of Paul's 2nd epistle to the Corinthians, Chapter 5:

1 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:

3 If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.

4 For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.

5 Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.

6 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:

7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:)

8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

9 Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.

10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

Verse seven especially rams home the idea that we walk by faith. If I have constant feelings and spiritual outpourings, these might make my faith wane. It's a total spiritual Catch-22. I'm also reminded of Nephi's psalm. Here we have one of the most righteous men around, and he still calls himself "oh wretched man that I am." If the prophet is worried about his sins, how much more do I, Mac Williams, sinner extraordinaire, need to repent.

I'd love to know how others feel; of any denomination (or lack thereof).

Friday, October 05, 2007

Worried about Inflation

I take an active interest in my stock portfolio, and as such, I am always reading financial news articles. Repeatedly lately, the media has been reporting that the devalued dollar is a harbinger of a recession and inflation. My own observations of the costs of things tells me that inflation has come. Five years ago a 50 lb. bag of rice at Sam's Club cost $7.87. The price today is $12.44. Five years ago gasoline was at $1.11, today it's $2.61 here in Hartsville. Inflation is upon us. When I worked at McDonald's in the early to mid 1990's, a value meal cost $2.99, now it's around $4.27.

Benefits of a weak dollar and inflation:

1. International companies, like YUM! Brands have more business overseas than domestically. When they repatriate those earnings in dollars, they actually make money on the conversion.

2. Fixed interest mortgage. With inflation, the dollars you borrowed are worth less in actual payback terms, so it actually costs you less to repay it, provided your salary increases with annual COLAs (Cost Of Living Adjustments).

What sucks is that as Mickelle and I try to keep the prophets' counsel to have the mother stay home and raise the children, living off just my salary becomes hard to do. We live comfortably, but there is precious little discretionary money for vacations, Christmas, etc.

President Howard W. Hunter said:

You who hold the priesthood have the responsibility, unless disabled, to provide temporal support for your wife and children. No man can shift the burden of responsibility to another, not even to his wife. The Lord has commanded that women and children have claim on their husbands and fathers for their maintenance (see D&C 83; 1 Timothy 5:8). … We urge you to do all in your power to allow your wife to remain in the home, caring for the children while you provide for the family the best you can. (in Conference Report, Oct. 1994, 69; or Ensign, Nov. 1994, 51)

That's why we do ebay, and I scrounge for things to sell on Craigslist and half.com. Without those sources of income, we would either have to live a Spartan life or Mickelle would have to go and get a job to maintain our lifestyle. Right now, I'm wishing I made about $8k more a year than I do.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Jorge Luis Borges Reading Club: "Emma Zunz"

So, Dr. Idelber Avelar over at O biscoita fino e a massa is holding a Jorge Luis Borges reading club this semester. Since Idelber is one of the most brilliant people I've ever known, and one of the best readers of Borges I can imagine, I can't help but participate in the club. His posts are in Spanish. The comments are in English, Spanish, or Portuguese. This week's topic is the Borges story "Emma Zunz" from the collection El Aleph.

This story has typically been read as empowering of women. I disagree completely. Here's my post to the club's comments thread:

Rather than seeing the story as empowering Emma Zunz, I view it as making fun of her, and women in general. The narrator creates an image of Loewenthal as a greedy, fat, capitalist factory owner and miser, but nowhere is the information that he was a thief confirmed. This information forms a formidable red herring, it makes us believe that he deserved what he got, but it’s only superficial evidence. In fact, if the narrator contradicts all the information that we have been given, that “uno o dos nombres propios” are false, then couldn’t the father just as easily have been the thief (OC I 568)?

Why Loewenthal? Her father was convicted of the crime; criminals always claim innocence; they usually blame someone else.

Do we have any evidence of any particular affection for her father? She views the sex that brought about her creation as “that horrible thing that her father did to her mother,” never stopping to think that perhaps her conception was a moment of pleasure for not just her father, but also her mother. She puts sex with an ugly, short, repugnant, and foul-mouthed Scandinavian sailor on equal footing with sex with her father, somehow comparing the paternal figure with the least attractive candidate she could find, to avoid even an inkling of ternura for someone more attractive, as her mother might have had for her father (at the time). I see perhaps resentment at her father for abandoning her during his incarceration because of his crimes, or maybe even a little bit of self-loathing that she could be his progeny, especially since his name, Emanuel, signifies “God with us,” which is a misnomer for a convicted embezzler.

His suicide ends any possibility of their reuniting. In her coping with his death, much like Guy Pearce’s Leonard in Memento (2000), the victim of something terrible becomes so obsessed with “vengeance” that he/she is blinded to the truth, delving into psychosis. Her father was the criminal; Loewenthal is again a victim of the crimes of the father—victim of the crazed mind of the irrational woman “incapable of abstract thought,” as Bioy Casares quotes Borges as saying (Bioy. Borges. Destino, 2007).

I see no power here. She lets herself be used for the sailor’s pleasure, allowing things to be “done to her (que ahora a ella le hacían)” instead of doing them to someone else. Notice the plural conjugation of “hacer;” if she is copulating with the sailor, who is the other to make the plural “they” subject? It is symptomatic of a portrayal of an irrational feminine character convinced that the world (maybe substitute “man” for “world,” I’m not sure) is out to get her. While she certainly does something to Loewenthal when she shoots him, she never even manages to let him know why she kills him.

The narrator’s question, “¿Cómo hacer verosímil una acción en la que casi no creyó quien la ejecutaba, cómo recuperar ese breve caos que hoy la memoria de Emma Zunz repudia y confunde?” sounds to me like a psychologist going over Emma’s past actions and trying to help her come to terms with her insanity and her past actions, especially when the narrator mentions that she could barely believe that she was doing what she did, and that her memory today repudiates what happened (565). Emma Zunz was insane and murdered Loewenthal by reason of mental defect or disease. The cause of the defect or disease can be left up to the reader, but I do not see this story as a glowing example of female empowerment. Not at all.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

RIP Harry Lee (1932-2007)

Our country lost one of its better sheriffs this week, Jefferson Parish, Louisiana's Harry Lee.

He was controversial, made comments that were often seen as at least politically incorrect, if not racist, by the national media and the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Yet, he enjoyed tremendous popular support and was easily re-elected, having served as sheriff since 1980.

The Times-Picayune honored him with a front page obituary:
http://www.nola.com/timespic/stories/index.ssf?/base/library-133/119130738645710.xml&coll=1

I preferred the following tribute by someone who didn't agree with Lee's actions:
http://www.nola.com/timespic/stories/index.ssf?/base/News/1191392559129840.xml&coll=1

Personally, I think we need more sheriffs like Harry Lee. His swagger wasn't an act. I believe he wanted to protect all his citizens, regardless of color.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Shoney's Should Close Up Shop

Last night Mickelle and I took the kids to eat at Shoney's. We thought we could try out the salad bar and stick to our diet. Wow, the place is a dump. I remember Shoney's being a halfway decent diner when I was a kid, even in high school. Now it serves cheap food on cheap dinnerware in a tacky setting. I can't believe they are still in business, and I reckon they will all but disappear in the next ten years as most of their loyal clientele dies off.

We both got sick from the food too.