Sunday, December 6, 2015

It's more EZ at home

Well, here I am at home. Prostateless post-surgery and wearing a catheter. while I have been prescribed some pain killer, the pain is not really bad. The catheter is uncomfortable, but it should go away in about 10 days.  I have a long list of do and don't items. Get lots of rest. Walk a lot. Avoid stairs, etc.  I may be back later for a bit more discussion, but now that I've walked a bit, I feel the need for some rest.

Friday, November 27, 2015

The saga of an EZ life

For much of my life, I have felt as though my existence was charmed, and I often wondered why, even feeling, perhaps, a bit of survivor's guilt knowing that I had done nothing especially worthy of the gifts with which I had been blessed. I've not been notably good nor notably bad, either. In fact, I have noted that I'm not very good at being bad, but I am pretty bad at being good.

I lived a comfortable life - so many worked so much harder and not been so blessed.
I achieved a fair rank - so many served with so much more distinction and did not progress as far.
My health problems were always minor - so many took much better care of their health and yet suffered.

And it goes on this way in every aspect of life. I am, at age 65, married to my childhood (literally) sweetheart. We recently celebrated our 47th anniversary. We raised a relatively large family and have been blessed with healthy and honorable children and now grandchildren. We lost none to accident, violence, disease, drugs, or prison.  Unfortunately, I know many parents who cannot say the same thing. We have a supportive community and many good friends.

I was born late in my parents' lives, so never knew my grandparents. My mother's father died when I was about 2 years old -- the others all gone long before that. I have lost my own parents, one sibling (who passed at about age 72), and now my wife has bid final farewells to both of her parents. This would seem to be just the normal course of life, events to be expected in any life.

The fall of 2015, though, seems to be different, with a variety of things coming to a head sort of all at once.

First, I'm having my first real health challenge (at least not of my own making) with a diagnosis of prostate cancer. I have earlier written about this.

My beloved wife has had a series of health challenges, but the most bothersome has been a condition called orthostatic hypotension. When she stands, her blood pressure drops and the body does not react to compensate. She has had several severe falls from blacking out. We've had every known medical test performed and cannot find the cause. Doctors say, "learn to live with it."

We are blessed that we have good health insurance to offset the costs -- many are not so blessed.

One week ago, my eldest brother called and he was very agitated, going on loudly about things that had him upset. Things that just could not be true. Now he is resident in a mental care facility as he's just lost touch with reality, apparently through dementia, and was judged to be a threat to himself and others. Just two weeks ago, this noble and robust warrior celebrated his 81st birthday.

During that same week, I received news that my eldest sister, born in 1932, has been diagnosed with uterine cancer.

Later that same night came the call summoning my wife to return to Idaho for her father's funeral.

The change to Social Security rules signed into effect by law in early November impacts our pending retirement plans as it effectively reduces our income for next year by over $7,000.00 due to the elimination of a program that we had planned on as an integral part of our retirement program. The program called "file and suspend," ends the day before I would have been eligible to enroll.

Having so many stressors all at once, I have to say, has been hard for me to deal with. There have been recent days that I have lost my temper needlessly and I have struck out at inanimate objects. There have been days I've not been able to concentrate, nor relax, nor work. There have been nights without sleep. So much all at once after such a long life of minimal trouble reminds me of a recurring nightmare that I had throughout my teen years: In my dream, after a lifetime of pushing a huge rounded boulder up a steep hill, just as I reached the apex of the summit, where the rock could with one more push, tumble freely over the other side, my sandal-shod foot slipped and I fell face down to be crushed by the boulder rolling back onto me. After my teen years, the dream left me with only very rare occasional replays.

At the time, I did not know of the myth of Sisyphus--the exact story of which I was dreaming. But I know the story now, and as I reach the entry to my "golden years" and retirement, after a lifetime of work, am I to be Sisyphus?

Sunday, November 22, 2015

My politics are EZ - do no harm and mind your own business.

How I became a Libertarian:

As a child in the 1950s, Senators Josiah Bailey, Robert Byrd, J. William Fulbright, Al Gore Sr., and Representative Howard W. Smith (among many others) taught me to not be a Democrat because the racial segregation they so strongly supported just seemed wrong to me even as a child.

Later, President John Kennedy and his brother Robert taught me to dream big dreams and that there may be powerful good in either party (and how we mourned, and still do, their deaths, recalled on this 22nd of November).

Presidents Johnson and Nixon taught me that leaders of both parties will lie, cheat, and steal for power and may not be worthy of trust.

President Carter taught me that a good heart may not be enough to qualify a person for the highest office of our land; and that it is not wise to beat a swimming rabbit while there are photographers present.

In the 1990s and early years of this century, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld taught me that patriotism can be twisted for evil purposes and that we should be cautious with government power overseas while John Ashcroft taught me to fear government power at home.

Both Presidents Bush taught me that you can't trust the Republicans to control spending and government bloat.

Recently President Obama has taught me that any opposition to the policies and actions of those in power can be dismissed and marginalized simply by ad hominem attacks on anyone who disagrees.

Then I took this very short quiz:
      http://www.theadvocates.org/quiz/quiz.php

Bingo. I'm a Libertarian.

My original intention with this rant was a short Facebook post, but in writing it I decided I'm simply not up to the fights that such a post would generate.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Do not go EZ into that good night (with apologies to Dylan Thomas)

We lost my father in law, Glenn Elwood Baum, this morning at about 2:00 AM MST. He passed while sleeping at his home in Twin Falls, Idaho. His wife, Netta, and daughter, Carolyn, were at this bedside. His daughter, Laurie, said, "He was home, and that's where he wanted to be."

Glenda will travel from our home in San Antonio, TX, to Twin Falls to be with family.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Sometimes breakfast is not EZ over the morning news.

My favorite breakfast cereal has been a Saturday morning treat for me since I was about five years old. This morning, I noted that I had only one serving left in the house. Time to plan some shopping. Then, the milk that I poured onto that cereal came out in lumps. I hate it when that happens. Then, I realized, if that's my biggest problem, I am truly blessed. Je Suis Paris!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Modern does not mean EZ.

I want 1999 back. This is NOT the twenty-first century I expected to live in.

Friday, November 6, 2015

The unexamined life might be more EZ.

"I have had to examine myself, from that day to this, and watch my faith, and carefully meditate, lest I should be found desiring the grave more than I ought to do." Brigham Young, upon his reaction to first hearing a church doctrine that he found hard to accept (plural marriage, in his case.)

EZ there...

This morning finds me emotionally unstable. I have kicked a table and *nearly* swept its contents to the floor. I have *almost* slugged a defenseless microwave oven. I am questioning everything I have thought I knew. Except my family, my friends, my love. Sigh. Who am I to be upset?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Positively EZ or easily positive?

October 20, 2015

My biopsy was collected on the afternoon of September 24, 2015, by Dr. Duffey in the urology clinic at the Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) within the San Antonio Military Medical Center (SAMMC). As I dressed afterward, Dr. Duffey said, "Make an appointment to come back in two weeks. I don't share results over the telephone -- good or bad, I do it face to face."

My appointment for receiving the results was made for the afternoon of October 8th. It was a convenient time, as I already had an appointment scheduled at the ophthalmology clinic on the morning of that same day. For at least 10 days prior to my appointment I found that I was unable to accomplish anything and could not concentrate for 10 minutes. I couldn't read, I couldn't write, I couldn't watch TV or a movie. I did not know why until I realized that at some level I was frightened. Upon that realization, I went and talked to a friend, really opening up. That helped.

I checked into the urology clinic after lunch on the 8th and was directed to the waiting area to see Dr. Duffey. As I sat on the slippery vinyl I tried to anticipate my appointment and receiving the feedback that the biopsy was negative. I mean, after all, I'm not sick, I have no pain, must be no problem, right? What, exactly, would I tell my family? Would I write about it in my blog? Would the doctor ask me to repeat the biopsy at some future date? With these thoughts in my head, I drifted into a light sleep.

"MR. MOYES!" Oh. My name. My appointment. Shaking my head to awaken, I stood and received my direction to Dr. Duffey's office, where I was greeted and seated.

Dr. Duffey did not mince words: "Your biopsy was positive."

There was more; a lot more, and I think I actually recall most of it, but I don't need to write about it here. The summary: of fourteen needle biopsy samples two were negative for cancer, four were questionable, and eight were positive. Of the eight positive samples, some had as much as 60% of the cells cancerous. This cancer, prostate cancer, is rated for risk using something called the Gleason Scale rated from 2 - 10. I recall that Dr. Duffey was professional, positive, and kind. He had earlier, before the biopsy, explained carefully that prostate cancer is not a death sentence -- it is generally not aggressive and most men of my advanced years that are diagnosed with prostate cancer die with the disease, not of the disease. And it is common: nearly half of the men who reach their mid-60s will have prostate cancer. With a Gleason score of 7, I am a patient of "Intermediate Risk." Dr. Duffey outlined my options: (1) Watchful waiting; (2) Prostatectomy by surgery; (3) External radiation therapy; (4) Implanted radiation "seeds." I, the patient, must decide which course to follow.

  • Option 1, watchful waiting is not a good choice for a Gleason 7, Dr. Duffey says.
  • Option 2, surgery is Dr. Duffey's choice, but he is a surgeon and admits to prejudice here.
  • Option 3, external radiation is, he says, also a good choice and tells me I'll consult with a radiation oncologist before I make my decision.
  • Option 4 is not done at BAMC.

So that leaves options 2, surgery, or 3, external radiation. Dr. Duffey assures me that I don't need to make the decision right away but again stresses that I will have to make the decision. He explained that I (and my wife) would be enrolled in their comprehensive prostate cancer clinic whereby we would receive broad counseling from every medical and helping specialty known to man. I was introduced to Janet, who runs the comprehensive cancer clinic and she enrolled me (us) and gave me a verbal overview. In addition to the counseling, we will meet with survivors and current patients and have group sessions. Our first appointment for the comprehensive clinic is scheduled for the 28th of this month. Only after meeting with and being briefed by surgeons, radiation oncologists, nutritionists, psychologists, financial counselors, and the kitchen sink will I have to decide on a course of treatment. I left the clinic on the eighth of October with a bagful of reading assignments: books, leaflets, pamphlets, sheets, and a long list of internet links.

So, I have cancer. Cancer that is common and is not normally considered to be aggressive, not normally considered to be fatal. But my particular cancer is on the more aggressive side of the scale for prostate cancer, hence the Gleason score of 7. I have cancer. It does not have me.

I will have to make a treatment choice. Right now I'm leaning toward the surgery, but I won't make a final decision until after I speak to the range of counselors. Modern surgery is much less invasive than in recent past years. They use an orthoscopic technique with robotic assistance. The doctor says convalescence is normally comparatively short and most men are back to full function within about three months. Some men experience a loss of sexual function with the prostatectomy. Some don't. There will be other side effects with surgery and with radiation therapy. We will deal with those as needed. This is so new to me, because, you see, at age 65, I've never had any invasive surgery; never been hospitalized, and rarely ill beyond a head cold, so I've been blessed up until now. I did have a small skin cancer removed from my upper back a couple years ago, but that was outpatient, quick, and painless.

Now I'm reading the book, "What helped me get through" written by and about cancer survivors. I have shared the news with close friends and family. I don't see any reason for this to be a secret, but I don't think the world needs to know, either. But I need to clarify my thoughts, and writing is one way I do that, so I'm writing. I'm working. I'm scheduling and attending events with my family. I'm enjoying things that I want to enjoy.  I've also told my three sons that they are at increased risk of prostate cancer (their uncle, my eldest brother, is a prostate cancer survivor, so the tendency is definitely in the family) and advised them to ensure they talk to their doctors and get their checkups.

Over the next weeks (months?) we will be busy with appointments and procedures. We will deal with it and do what needs to be done. I thank our Father in Heaven for the good years I have had and for the good days I am having now. My last two blog posts are about family and friends time. It seems sweeter now than ever before and I am thankful. Friends and I are working on an idea for founding a nonprofit organization that should do a lot of good. I am thankful for the opportunity to contribute in a small way. I think I'll take the initiative to do my home teaching, visiting the few families in our ward congregation that I've been called to minister to. I am thankful for that opportunity.

And with this, and for now, I wish you all well. Guys: Talk to your doctor. Have your exam!!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Saturday in the park

Even after nearly six years of drought, there is still some water flowing.
I think it was the 17th of October. My apologies to Chicago, and to the 4th of July.

A couple weeks ago, my better half said, "We should go away for the weekend. It doesn't have to be far." Now this was a surprise, as she has, for more than 47 years, been adamant that we had to be home and in church on Sundays (and on the rare occasions we have been on travel, we have, at her urging, sought out an LDS congregation to attend church with). Planning relaxing and fun away-type events has been difficult as normal weekends are really short and Sunday falls smack in the middle of most three-day-weekends. I'm less devout and would gladly skip the meetings occasionally, but when Momma's not happy, nobody's happy.

So, with some trepidation, I began to plan a mini-vacation not far from our San Antonio, Texas home. In the fall, Lost Maples State Natural Area near Vanderpool, Texas can be beautiful. As the state's website (http://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/lost-maples/nature) tells us:

The park is an outstanding example of Edwards Plateau flora and fauna. It is a combination of steep, rugged limestone canyons; springs; plateau grasslands; wooded slopes; and clear streams. It features a large, isolated stand of uncommon Uvalde bigtooth maple, whose fall foliage can be spectacular. Generally, the foliage changes the last two weeks of October through the first two weeks of November...


Rare species of birds, such as the green kingfisher, can be seen year-round. The endangered black-capped vireo and golden-cheeked warbler nest and feed in the park in spring and early summer. Wild animals include gray fox, white-tailed deer, armadillo, raccoon, bobcat, rock squirrel and javelina.

Picnic and play area; river behind photographer.
The park also boasts a great tree-covered grassy picnic and play area with shaded picnic tables. Now I don't have a positive history when it comes to planning outdoor events. At MY outdoor events, the weather generally does not cooperate, and has, in the past, ranged from July snowstorms to January thaws and includes at least one family picnic event interrupted by a small Tornado that claimed our picnic and gear, lit charcoal grill and all, which is a rare event in San Antonio. Nevertheless, I invited family members in the San Antonio area to join us for a Saturday picnic and lawn games and just pretended that all would be well. 

Our original plan was to rent a cabin in the nearby Garner State Park, and do some civilized camping, but when I learned that the cabins cost $160 per night, I decided that "camping" in a reasonably priced hotel in the town of Kerrville would be just as much in the pioneer spirit for folks our age.  So two nights in a hotel less than 100 miles from home. That counts as a vacation doesn't it?

We met our son, his wife, and our grandson at the Cracker Barrel near our hotel at 9:00 AM on Saturday and after a hearty breakfast, we picked up some prepared chicken and salad then traveled south, with my eldest son at the wheel, on the famously twisty two-lane Texas Highway 16 (http://www.hillcountrycruising.com/highway16.html) to the town of Medina, where we turned West on the slightly more civilized route 337, thence to the park.

Most of the trail is shaded.
We were in the park just long enough to claim and set up a shaded table when our youngest daughter arrived with a friend. The picnic party was complete! It turns out the weather was fabulous, the food was tasty, we had great fun playing horseshoes, throwing a frisbee, hiking the park's trails, and just lazing in the shade while socializing. A few of us even got in a short nap on blankets spread on the lawn. A little after 4:00 PM we packed up and headed home (or headed hotel, as appropriate). Great family time, beautiful natural setting, and cooperative weather, sunny but not hot, fluffy clouds to excite the imagination. Everyone's travels home were safe and timely. My better half was in good spirits and happy, even knowing we would not be home Sunday morning for church. And, as it turns out, an old friend happened to be traveling through the area and we were able to meet for a great reunion brunch on Sunday morning. A truly blessed Saturday and Sunday. The motel was my kind of camping, clean and safe with running hot water, and for so very much, I give thanks!

The color change is slow this year due to warm weather, but it has begun!

Close counts in horseshoes!

Grandson at pirate play.



EZ Sunday brunch


My eternal companion and I enjoyed a great brunch with a dear friend of many years and her husband this Sunday at the Sunset Grill in Fredricksburg, Texas. They are in Texas from their Colorado home for the wedding of a niece and brought along a sister-in-law and brother-in-law (not a couple) to join us. Conversation ranged from ancient war stories to current concerns of aging families and medical concerns to the little-known German, Hungarian, Polish, and Italian history of the Texas Hill Country and much joyous laughter and heartfelt empathy occurred. The food and service were great and the early fall weather was pleasant. Sometimes simple things really are the best. We passed up church attendance for the opportunity to meet and eat with these special friends, and I am NOT sorry!

Friday, October 2, 2015

This is not an easy discussion, but it is one we need to have.


The mass shootings are horrible, and I believe that we, as a society, have a moral responsibility to take preventative action. Now, what we need is to define a meaningful course of action. 

Help me out here: considering recent history which includes mass shootings where the law forbids firearms, what do we do? 

Help me to define a law or an action that would have prevented this most recent shooting, or one of the earlier ones. *How* do we make sure the crazy, sick, angry and lost people don't get a gun (or a knife, or a bat, or a rock -- FBI statistics show that more people are murdered with a knife in the U.S. than with a gun)? 

Norway has some of the world's most strict firearm laws, yet Anders Behring Breivik was able to bypass them all, obtain weapons, and kill many youngsters. There have been mass shootings in Finland and other non-U.S. lands. In fact, when corrected for population density, The top 5 countries for mass shootings per capita all have “restrictive” gun policies--the U.S. is seventh in that list when corrected for population density. 

Perhaps it is a culture of violence (movies, games, music) and a lack of respect for human life (capital punishment, easy abortions) that is to blame?

Saturday, May 23, 2015

I am very frustrated and angry this morning and I need to vent somewhere, so here it is - ignore if you wish:

I have had a habit of starting my morning with some simple yoga-like stretches and exercises. To help with motivation and avoid distraction, I've played a yoga-meditation music video from YouTube through my Apple TV device through the TV in my den. As of this morning, I can't do that. Why? Because YouTube has changed their API interface and Apple is not going to support the new standard unless you have a NEW Apple device. My Apple TV device is a couple of years old. While it can still play Netflix and a bunch of other free and pay stuff, the only regular use this one got was my Yoga music video. Here is the downside to the "Cloud." The vendors can change the rules, remove functionality, at any time they choose to do so, and we, the paying consumer are....well, let me just say helpless. I am perfectly happy to buy new devices when I NEED to upgrade or choose to add new functionality. I'm not happy to have functionality taken away from a device I paid for because of the calculated decision of the vendor. Imagine Google saying, "Oh, that self-driving car you paid $50,000 for--it will no longer drive on county highways. State and Federal roads only. I think I'm done with new technology. I'm definitely done with You Tube (Google) and Apple. The next devices I buy, if any, won't have any relationship to either company. Google has had a lot of my life--including this Blogspot. Apple has gotten a lot of my money. I'll respect my current contracts, but I won't be renewing any Apple or Google contracts. I'll do without Email or pay someone for the service before I'll continue my association with them.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

TL;DR: Money ain't everything

I wish we had a truly fair and equitable way to fund public education in Texas and all states -- a good (and safe) educational opportunity should be available to all -- and high completion rates should be a goal we can all support. Having said that, I don't think that funding is the only issue to address. The U.S. outspends nearly all countries of the world on education per student (only Luxembourg, Switzerland, and Norway spend more per student). TEXAS, for Pete's sake, outspends Sweden, UK, Netherlands, Belgium, Japan, France and most of the other countries. Yet in Texas and most of the US our educational outcomes are comparatively dismal. Some of the states with better results spend less per student, some of the highest-spending states have poor results. (SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2014). The Condition of Education 2014 (NCES 2014-083), Public School Expenditures.) 

Dare I say that some of the responsibility must lie at the feet of the family (or, more accurately, at the lack of familial support and guidance)? The U.S. Office of Special Education Programs says, " “When parents become involved, children do better in school, and they go to better schools." 

I think this is key. We need social policy that promotes family involvement (and the ability to be involved) in the raising of children. And "family" can be very broadly and liberally defined. Maybe the ONLY place I fully agree with Ms. Hillary Clinton is in the statement that, "It takes a village." We need parents who will (and are allowed to) hold our schools (public or private) to high standards. And, on a side note, I believe that standardized testing should only be an indicator of where work is needed and certainly not the be-all and end-all of school and student evaluation. 

Well, that's my essay for the day.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The circle of life

Today, in church, the funeral schedule was announced for the remembrance of a dear older sister who recently passed after a decades-long struggle with cancer. The birth of a new baby to another family was announced, and another baby girl, the grand-daughter of the sister who passed, was blessed. Her grandfather, husband of the recently departed, stood in the blessing circle. Life, with its pain and joy, is affirmed, the rituals strengthen and comfort, the hand of friendship is offered, and life goes on.

Monday, January 12, 2015

I am. And that's not even easy!

Note the power in the phrase, “I am.” As in Je suis Charlie.

A friend who is a practitioner of Wicca tells me that, in her opinion, all incantations and spells should begin with the phrase, “I am,” as the intent is to work change on and within the spell-caster and not others.

The Bible tells us that Christ was the great “I am.” John 8:24 (KJV)

Over the past week, I’ve been watching the Netflix series Cosmos narrated by Neil DeGrasse Tyson. In the most recent episode I viewed, he stated that a great differentiating factor between human intelligence and that of other life forms is our advanced capability to recognize patterns and connect those patterns to other (possibly) related patterns or events.

Je suis Charlie.

Jesus. I am.

I don’t know the linguistic connection between the modern French Je suis and the American English name for the Biblical Son of God, Jesus, but it does appear that there is a pattern there!