1342

Several readers have suggested seeing a doctor, "see your GP". But I don't have a "GP" and haven't the faintest idea how to get one. The rather obscure letter I got from the social workers told me I could see any doctor who accepts Medicaid patients. Well, how I am supposed to find such a creature? Take the phone book and spend fifty cents calling each one to ask?

Can't afford it. June was the first troublesome x equals time this year, had to roll my own cigarettes for three days, but July is going to be even worse. I've had the sense to stagger mailbox rent and LavaNet payments but in June there is the mailbox rent and the Sleeptalker's birthday. Oh well, I should do the roll-your-own routine all the time, would save lots of money and smoke less because I'd be too lazy to roll as many as the ready-to-smoke version.

I'm convinced the key to this internal plumbing routine is diet. Fish seems to cause no problems (wonderful ... I'm not really that fond of the things). Angelo would be amazed to know how often I'm resorting to his beloved raw tuna. The price of ahi poke fluctuates, at the moment is about $5.50 for a half-pound, enough to satisfy me for a day. But at that price, $66 in foodstamps doesn't last that long and this will be the first time in many months when the foodstamp balance runs out before the renewed funds arrive. Maybe I'll have to investigate, see if the Krishna people still give out free lunch at the beach park, even though I'd only be able to eat about a quarter of what they provide.

I am trying some nonprescription drug called Equalactin. Haven't noticed much improvement thus far. I even tried reducing beer intake by one-third and the only difference was that it was harder to get to sleep and harder to return to sleep after waking during the night.

Enough about bodily shortcomings ...

Another rather dull bout of weekend radio. There was a broadcast of a nineteenth century Spanish opera which I've never heard of, much less heard, and I only lasted about half an hour. Prairie Home Companion was a bit better than it had been the previous week, but again not worth listening to twice. And Lasser's hour was devoted to ragtime which has never really touched me (if I never hear "Alexander's Ragtime Band" again, I won't complain).

So lots of time smoking, drinking beer, reading. Then I decided to take a break from the 21st century books which have dominated the past few weeks and bought a collection of twenty-two Sherlock Holmes stories. I'm sure I've read them all before, but remember none of them. Clever and charming tales.

Can't say the same thing about these, this year.

1343

I really admire what Arianna is doing with The Huffington Post, think it's the most important website in America at this time.

A reader wrote: Hope you're feeling better soon - it's the shits to have the shits. Quite true, although I think if one must suffer these ailments, I'd choose diarrhea over vomiting even if it is more convenient to barf in the nearest trash can than to drop one's pants. Of course, the trash can routine gets you lots of dirty looks from people who assume you're just drunk.

But actually, "the shits" isn't really the major problem. It seems to me the body has lost its ability to store waste, liquid or solid, and has to be frequently emptied even if there's very little to empty. A damned nuisance.

One amusingly bright note: I discover that IBS is a condition which can be eligible for medical marijuana. Now that would make it worth suffering!

After finishing the tales of the noble Mister Holmes, I went on to read Jane Eyre. It is certainly thirty years, perhaps forty, since I last read it. I think it definitely qualifies for the label "extraordinary". Since the dollar shelves were empty of more classics, it's now back to humdrum murder mysteries of more recent vintage.

Summertime and the livin' is easy ... Well, almost.

1344

Although it was pleasant to have the campus mostly to myself, the main advantage of the three-day holiday weekend was having mornings when I could sleep longer without having to repeatedly check my watch to see what time it was. The main disadvantage was actually not being deprived of computer access but the dreary weekend/holiday bus service which meant spending an awful lot of time sitting at bus stops.

I've been declining invitations for meals in recent weeks but decided to get brave and joined Helen R for lunch on the Glorious Fourth. Hot roast beef sandwich, mashed potatoes, yummy brown gravy. Delicious, but I could only eat a bit more than half of it.

I gave up on that Equalactin stuff which didn't seem to help at all, went back to the old reliable Immodium AD. Much more helpful, even if it does seem to promote vomiting. (Not cause it, just promotes it, sometimes.)

Researched as much as possible on the Web about the plumbing problems and the question of this Medicaid "pay for services" "benefit" I am eligible for, decided the Medicaid wasn't worth the nonsense of filling out the form. A more responsible person than I, or someone who has greater tolerance for bureaucratic nonsense, would opt for what seems the only benefit old-age Medicaid provides: one can choose a more comprehensive version of Medicare and Medicaid would pay for the monthly premiums. What a nonsensical system. So even though I wasn't crazy enough to give up $66 in foodstamps each month, I said to hell with it about Medicaid. The social worker, another one new to me, was the most intelligent one I've yet encountered. When I complained about the absurdity of the foodstamps application, she laughed and said, "it used to be worse, was forty pages." Never would have gotten foodstamps at all in those days. As it is, I've assured receipt for another year.

No opera on Saturday. One of the few instances where Felix and I disagree culturally is about the music of Shostakovich, and I didn't even take the radio out of the bag for his Lady Macbeth. But Prairie Home Companion was delightful. Perhaps broadcasting from the venerable Tanglewood inspires them. I listened to it twice, on Saturday and Sunday. "Tanglewood, Tanglewood" is one of my favorite phrases from the Thomson/Stein Four Saints in Three Acts.

The Sleeptalker made a surprise visit to campus on Thursday after the holiday weekend. He is apparently leaning more toward Angelo's methods of "making a living", seems to have been something of a one-man crime wave recently. (I told him to tell Angelo hello for me when he ends up in jail.) He had expensive-looking new shorts, a fancy CD player, an elegant small backpack ... and a bicycle. [!] Actually rather a ratty bicycle but he was determined he was going to clean it up, get rid of the rust. I said he'd never have the patience to do it. "You wouldn't, but I will," he said. I very much doubt it. He eventually said he had to go to a store because he needed fifteen dollars. That wretched pipe again.

Speaking of which, the Tweakers were missing from the Dark Corner for two weeks. I hoped they'd found a new love nest. Alas, they returned. Well, one of them returned, but he has switched lady friends. A couple of months ago, the Tweakers arrived with another couple, the female of which had quite a distinctive manner of speaking. And it was she who was with the male for the return. They only stayed about forty-five minutes, but left quite a mess behind which I dutifully cleaned up before leaving in the morning.

Those Arab terrorists are such wimps. Why kill or injure scores of ordinary working people when a short distance to the north were the heads of the G8?!

1345

Clip-clop, clip-clop ...
How can women bear to wear shoes that make such a noise at every step they take?

Harvesting ashtrays, keeping an eye open for abandoned food ... it's like old times. At least I, fortunately, don't have to prowl through beer gardens in the early morning hours, having had just enough sense to hold back enough cash for the daily supply (albeit smaller than usual). I adore people who drop an unlit cigarette and won't pick it up from the sidewalk and smoke it, found two of those at the mall on my way to the Dark Corner. And I do wish more people would smoke regular tobacco rather than the menthol kind.

I don't know how I survived that time before Crazy Money, even before foodstamps, with nothing but the Fabled Pension Check each month. Ah, but I was younger then.

What a drag it is getting old ...
The Rolling Stones surely did get that right. Hard to believe they are undertaking another tour.

Hard to believe, too, that the London bombers were born in England! How could someone, no matter what their religion or political ideals, born in England, get so twisted they would kill innocent people with bombs? And for what purpose? All they accomplished was to make their ethnic community subject to increased prejudice and make it more difficult for people trying legitimately to enter the UK and work. Stupid is hardly sufficient.

I've mentioned before my fondness for first novels. And I found two-in-a-row. Christopher Reich's Numbered Account was totally engrossing. And Katherine Neville's The Eighth Day was perhaps even moreso. God created everything in six days, rested on the seventh, and on the eighth decided he was bored with the whole thing and left it to Lucifer to look after. I can believe it (see previous paragraph).

And bookstores are going to open at midnight on Friday to sell the new Harry Potter book. Madness. I fear the hardcover edition is going to be too large for my bag, so I'll either have to wait for the paperback (and hope it won't be so long a wait as with the Da Vinci Code), buy a new bag, or carry the book in a supplementary plastic bag until I finish it. We'll resolve that problem after Third Wednesday.

Even so, come quickly ...

1346

The kindness of strangers ... the even greater kindness of readers.

The weekend before Third Wednesday was not at all what I had been anticipating (and dreading).

A long-time reader in California has now and then for years sent a "research grant", always much appreciated and rather uncannily often arriving at a very crucial time. Never moreso than this time, since I was down to little cash and less than ten dollars of foodstamps. I was envisioning having lunch at soup kitchens.

Then Mitchell Dwyer, author of the much-admired Chalkdust came to look for me in the sunset area on Friday, bearing gifts, including a card which enabled me to visit the mall's bookstore and acquire a copy of the new Harry Potter book. Unlike Mitchell, I didn't stick around for the party which began at nine and continued until midnight when they could actually begin to sell the book, but waited until Saturday morning when the store opened much earlier than usual. Big and heavy volume in hand, I waited impatiently for the bus to UH-Manoa, then immersed myself in the book, resenting about halfway through when I had to take a short break to restock my supply of beer and tobacco. The radio stayed in the bag. No way Tristan und Isolde could compete with Harry.

Considering what Mitchell has written about "first encounters", I think he was very brave to undertake that expedition and I was delighted to meet him and grateful for his kindness.

Then, not yet knowing what had gone before, my French Reader weighed in with another Harry Potter grant. We need new Harry books more often! (But then, I'd say that even if there were no benefits to me except the extreme pleasure of reading.)

I think when this one is published in paperback, I'll re-read the entire series again.

I can't, of course, say much about the actual content of the Half-Blood Prince because it would be criminal to rob anyone the joy of anticipating, awaiting the plot developments, but I, like Harry, was a bit unable to believe a certain death, wonder if somehow it isn't true. Well, there are plenty of other tantalizing possible paths leading to the next book. I hope what must be one of the world's most wealthy writers won't abandon her word-processor. Or does she use a quill?

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the tales