Tuesday, December 31, 2019

And Of Course...

It's only 2020 on the east coast. Here it is still 2019.

This in-between time always fascinates me as a media person, as for most Americans, New Year's is a television program.

It is for me. Lying in a hospital bed this year, it could hardly be otherwise.


Happy 2020!

This turned into a strange day after I hurt my back over-exercising. But I heard from lots of friends, which made the day ultimately.  

How have 72+ years gone so quickly?

Well, IDK, but on to the next one! I hope it is a happy one for all of you...


Year End Depression

I should have seen this coming -- in and out of medical facilities all year and straight through the holidays. I've made the best of it until now but this situation has grown old. They want me to stay another week.


What if the Earth has a Brain?

As we age, the Earth ages with us.

This thought greeted me as sunrise approaches on the last morning of the year. If it isn't too foggy, the sun should emerge in the east in a little over an hour. Here in Pacifica, it's 48 degrees. I'm in the skilled nursing facility known as Linda Mar.

A substantial portion of my career has been spent investigating environmental issues. Circle of Poison  is the best known of this work, but The Bhopal Syndrome has also had some impact. Both of these were meant to be seen as components of the cumulative and ultimate threat -- global climate change.

It's easy to overlook the fact that the earth itself is also aging -- just like us --although according to a different time continuum. We come and go so fast, relatively speaking, that it is often hard for us to perceive geologic and astronomical time.

Instead, we mourn the passing of a local cafe that had been a favorite for 25 years, or a beloved pet that dies after 18 years. These losses are real and painful and we've all had them. But they remain well within the limits of our human memory card.

In my case, I remember specific events from the early 50s -- a half-century ago.

That is a pittance compared to Earth, which is over 4.5 billion years old. That would take a hell of a lot of candles to celebrate and it would take a pretty big cake.

The best we can do is use metaphors and utilize our skills at estimation.

As we age, we gradually note the loss of functions, and the changes to what our bodies can tolerate, like temperature ranges or exercise. Here, during a physical therapy workout, I'm being asked to be able to do things a five-year-old can do and believe me, that is progress.

What if the Earth has a brain?

Could we perceive it and where would it be? What does it think about passing the 4.5 billion milestone? Is it gradually slowing down?

Perhaps these are the projections of an aging man.



2019 was...

A year of illness, retirement, and selling my 2004 Saturn Ion. It was the only car I ever bought new, in December 2003, I owned it for 15.5 years, fully 28 percent of the years I drove, at least minimally. Growing up in Michigan, the relative of many auto industry workers, the symbolic power of buying a new car was embedded in my cultural bones.


Monday, December 30, 2019

Strength is...

...a quality I took for granted until recently. I under-estimated how much our bodies change as we age,

Use it ir lose it1

That's why physical therapy becomes necessary at my age and in my condition. I have to work to get back to where I should be but am not.

A little work pays big dividends.


More Posts...

...this year than any year since 2009! I've been more able to write here without a daily job. Probably not done yet either. Lot is going on.

I did physical therapy and occupational therapy today & reportedly did well. I've grown to like this place. The exercises are helping my strength and balance issues,


Special Present

Dylan & Meghan brought me this special cake tonight!

They also brought some more of my clean clothes.

We have clear idea how long I'll be here.

But the cake will help!


Epiphanies Converge

In this excellent program at Linda Mar, I am seeing parallels between diet, exercise, mental heath, diversity, genetic testing and other technological opportunities. This also potentially adds up to a better chance to reduce the ravages of climate change.

That's because we need to address all those other fields in order to collectively as humans save an habitable planet.

It starts with each individual and their goals. For me, having grown from 140 to 156 pounds is on course to make 170 over the next 6-7 weeks.

The muscle content of that weight is also critical.

Most of my new ideas are at the early stages. Specialists already know so much more than the general  public that it is a major opportunity to close that gap -- quickly. It is necessary we do so.

For example, genetic testing of a young child showing signs of Autism can help that child through a change of diet!


Eating Right

I confess I've made it to 72 without taking seriously the importance of diet to health. This past year I've learned the consequences of that failure.

Today I met with the dietary head here at Mar Loma, a woman with years of experience in restaurants. She described her philosophy here, which is fascinating and informative.

Every meal is balanced. and there are always substitutions available. The vegetables and fruits are fresh. They do not repeat meals very often but instead run through a cycle of different protein sources, veggies, breads, and desserts.

Since they are serving an elderly population, some options, such as thicker cuts of meat, or apples may not be available. Thin cuts and berries are alternatives.


Research Papers

I was rereading my son Peter's scientific research papers this morning and was amazed again at how much information is now available via Google. I remember the thrill when I saw his first school paper on the Internet, probably 25 years ago.

What would have been laborious then to find has become trivial today.


My roommate, Hayward, had a relatively quiet night, but by 5 am, he became agitated and started calling out about things from his past or imagined events.

The PT team showed up and demonstrated how skilled they are. They got him up and in a chair much faster than the weekend team could do.

He ate a bit and we had a brief conversation.


Acting: Expressing Complex Emotions

In Casablanca, the character played by Ingrid Bergman unexpectedly encounters her ex-lover, played by Humphrey Bogart. I love what happens at one point in the sequence of scenes that follow. She uses a set of four different, progressive eye movements io express the emotional complexity of the situation, including love, which drives the plot of the movie from then on.

In The Hunger Games, the character played by Jennifer Lawrence employs a similar set of four eye movements to express a very different dry of emotions, including suspicion, as she processes something her "mentor" has said.

Where I am now I cannot access those movies, so I won't be more explicit until I can.


The Insomniac

1:30 am

Well, this sleeping medication isn't working. I did sleep two hours last night before taking the pill, but in the 1.5 hours since then I've been awake.

One problem is too many ideas swirl around in my brain as I try to go back to sleep. I've got a whopper tonight -- a new consulting company.

This one needs refinement but has the potential to be profitable.

There, I've posted to the blog. Now I'll try again.

2:30 am

Still awake and thinking, My idea has become so elaborate that it already involves dozens of people. Since I don't drink or do drugs, it is not fueled by artificial substances.

It's pure!


Sunday, December 29, 2019

The Place.4

A nurse explained to me there are two groups treated here -- the short-termers like me who mainly need physical therapy -- and the long-termers like my roommate. We are mainly grouped by category two per room. So usually there are two short-termers or two long-termers.

I gather the Maginot Line is running through the middle of our room.


Rainy Sunday Dim Sum

My friend Roger visited me in this place and the rain poured down for a while as we talked business. That is one of my passions -- launching new businesses, strategy, revenue projections, market estimation, growth potential -- all the things I've been doing since the Internet went viral via the Web in 1995.

He also brought Dim Sum -- first time I've had in years and it was delicious.

I love the different ways people's brains work. Roger not only has one of the best business minds I know, he is also strong in technology, media, and politics. He has worked in major political campaigns in the past, so he is always insightful about subjects like the 2020 Presidential election.

All in all, a delightful visit.


It seems my kids, or some of them, question whether I can live independently yet. I don't blame them, given my recent history. But it is what I want. I also want to work again. Roger and I worked together at KQED. I miss the many relationships I had there. Maybe after six more months of recovery, I can set up a small consulting project.


The Place.3

My roommate grew up in Lousiana. He clearly is experienced in call & response.

In this place every day there are three or four people yelling out. Usually they are calling "Help!"

He usually responds to their calls. I can tell it is a combination of his tradition plus his empathy because on some level he knows this isn't church and that they are in pain.

I'm in a reflective phase of my life now. Got what I need and will be patient getting back to 100%.I'll get there.


Saturday, December 28, 2019

The Place.2

Turns out having dementia doesn't mean you can't drive a wheelchair, And having 100% cognition doesn't mean you can. Some of these guys really zoom around while I twist and turn like a pretzel.

But whether you have dementia or not, everyone agrees the food sucks.

Its nice to be the youngest for a change. I'm only 72 while everyone else is approximately 100;

The nurses try to get everyone out of bed for breakfast but me. I'm already flying down the hall clocking jn at 0.0001 MPH.

Again to be clear (not exactly my intent) I am not making fun of the insane, just of the place. My kids are happy for me that I am happy here.


The Place

My adventures rhrough the American health care matrix continues. Don't ask why or how, but I/ve landed in a place where most people have severe dementia. I know this is not a joking matter but there IS something hilarious about this.

At first I was scared, I admit, but I soon realized everyone here is harmless and lovable. Well maybe not everyone. The screamers irritate me at night since I can't sleep.

I always knew this would happen. Being on Medicare is like magic.

Again, no one should misinterpret my comments as insensitive about mental illness. But the fact that every time they administer the cognition test I score 100% seems to puzzle everyone. (It doesn't hurt they ask the same questions every time. They should just skip the test and mark 100%.)

To be serious this is truly a sad place. I am doing more care-giving than care-receiving but these nurses are under-resourced. They need more resources! I'm apparently the only one with a working esophagus. Today I learned how to keep it that way.



Thursday, December 19, 2019

Congratulations Aidan!

He just passed the final test for his B.A. And he already has a job offer!


Long Cold Night -- Ugh

That was the most difficult night in a while. We lost power as of 11:30 and it got freezing here.

I couldn't sleep well -- only snatches now and then I would have nightmares.

Thankfully the power just came back on.


Tuesday, December 17, 2019


My youngest came to see me today with Aidan when he changed my bandages. She is so grown up. She enjoyed a piece of shortbread.

I am so proud of Julia. She is accomplishing great things at college.


Self Portrait

Had a rough night. Couldn't sleep Woke uo with no energy. But ate shortbread (from my sister Nancy) and drank some water.

Then a big surprise! A call from a close friend from years ago. She sounded great.

Now my energy is rejuvenating.


Monday, December 16, 2019

Good Uodate

It takes a few days for home care tu kick su Aidan came by to change my dressings. He said it looks like I have about six stitches in my forehead. He said I look good today.

I feel relieved. He is so attentive.


Qne Step Back

Saturdsy night I fell to th e floor of the kitchen cutting my forehead and nose. I couldn't get up so lay in a pool for a few hours. Every time I tried to move a new pool of blood appeared. Soon half the kitchen was covered in blood. An awful sight.

By 5 am I made it to my phone & reached Aidan.He came over and called 911. An anbulencce came and Aidan helped the EMTs as they stabilized me.

You look a mess the admitting nurse said.

It turned the cuts were superficial and I only needed stitches.

Bank home by early afternoon. Nice Brazilian couple came cleaned up the mess.


Thursday, December 12, 2019


Tried to eat a chunk for dinner. The best I can say is it's relatively palatable. But too salty and the stomach is impossible to chew. Maybe it's better with whiskey.

I'll probably throw the rest away.


Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Crummy Day But That's Okay

Aidee took me to my appointment. Apparently I'm not doing very well.

The shaking was bad. But I scored well on cognition.

Back home I got very sick -- vomiting.

Big problem is I have no appetite.

We're changing my medication.

Julia comes home Saturday!

It is holiday season.


I'm Pretty Sure...

That I am an onion. I've been thinking this for a while. Onions have thin skins that peel off easily. And boil well.

I don't want to talk to the neurologist about this feeling. But I am quite sure I am an onion, the yellow kind.


Monday, December 09, 2019

Strength Over Weakness

Up at 7. Feeling weaker than ever. But dragged the kitchen trash can outside, dumped it into the garbage bin and pulled both it and recycling bin to the curb.

These feel like accomplishments. They were wet from the rain. A jogger passed by and I said "Hi", he said "Hi."

Exerting my will over my temporary inability to stand is exhiliarating. Still, everything is exhausting now.


Sunday, December 08, 2019


Lately I have been consuming Ginger candy. I have a pouch of it but didn't know why I want it so much.

Turns out it it helps with loss of appetite and nausea, two of my major problems. So I think I'll have another one now!



Woke up at 5. More rain!

My big sister called me last night -- they are back in Arizona now. My eyes don't hurt today. I don't want to go to my neurologist appointment Tuesday but Aidan is going to make me go.

I'm in touch with friends. I'm also wrapped in blankets. Forget the blanket part.

We're all good at certain things but not others. I just plain out love people so I'm very good at forming relationships. Nothing gives me more pleasure than connecting with other people.

When it comes to breakups, in the romantic sense, I'm extremely skilled there as well, though I'm not proud about that. All the breakups feel like mainly my fault.

Relationships, romantic or not, have three elements: person one, person two, and the connection between them. If I could write about anything, it would be about that -- the connection.


Saturday, December 07, 2019

Hearing the Rain

I got up last night to listen to the rain. Then I slept in late.

It seems to be foggy here today.

Still can't figure out how to heat up the haggis.

Want to restart working on my memoir.


Thursday, December 05, 2019

Country Music

So I love the story-telling in American country music. And in the blues..I hate jazz -- it's just noise.Way too abstract.

My latest box of Scottish meat pies arrived plus haggis. I don't know how to heat up the haggis.

It's winter here now. Mostly dark most of the time.


Tuesday, December 03, 2019

As the Day Starts

Woke up by 5:30 to another wet morning here. My eyes were hurting -- a sign I didn't get quite enough sleep.

The news is riveting -- to me --as NATO and the EU jump to center stage. I remember Laila's senior thesis in college, which was about how the major European countries might merge their "constitutional" traditions. Europe remains so different from the U.S., which is delightful.

I boiled an onion yesterday and then cooked spaghetti. Lots of leftovers for today.


Monday, December 02, 2019

Nice Weather

Stormy and rainy -- very nice.

My friend Alex brought me homemade nacho casserole. In fact, he baked it here. I had three servings yesterday; will have one more today.

It makes me immensely happy when people bring food and we eat together.


I'm starting to get used to this retirement thing. It's very quiet and simple. One issue is that physical tasks are becoming more difficult. Just getting dressed can be a major challenge. I never knew buttons could be so hard to manage.

But I did manage to empty the kitchen trash into the barrel this morning and drag the bins to the curb. It makes me nervous to go outside. What if I should fall out there?

A very soft rain was falling.

Inside it is cozy and warm.


Sunday, December 01, 2019

Talking With Julia

My youngest called me back and she sounds so grown up!

Got up after 7 today. Had a shake, two tangerines and an apple sauce pouch. Now it's almost 8, I feel some energy that simply wasn't there at 7.

The  sky is cloudy and it looks like a storm is coming.


Saturday, November 30, 2019

Rainy Saturday

Yay! I could hear the rain and I can see it.

I wish I could hear my youngest child's voice. I've called her three times this weekend. No answers.

The sounds of silence. So deafening.


Friday, November 29, 2019

Dan Anderson

Word has reached me that my cousin died yesterday.

I can't begin to describe what he meant to me. He was a Vietnam vet. We disagreed about everything.

I loved him.


Thanksgiving Outing

Aidee picked me up and took me to a friend's house on Bernal, where I saw lots of long-time friends and their kids. Most of the parents are folks we first knew as members of playgroups, etc. The kids are now in their 20s.

I was having a shaky day, literally, maybe because I'd stopped taking my PD medicine.

But back home I recovered at night after taking a pill.

There's no rain but it felt like rain in the night. There is a certain portentous feel to our weather.


I've been thinking a lot about the nature of memory. It is so selective and individual. I suppose any one person's memory is as valid as any other's. Of course, as I struggle to resume my memoir, this is on my mind.

Once we get to our 70s, there are decades of memory -- seven to be precise. That amounts to thousands of memories. I'm having a technical issue with processing my memories for now, which should resolve itself soon.

It seems natural, as we àge, that we look back over our lives. That is what I am doing.

I woke up early (4:45) and feel good today. Grateful to be alive. Today is my sister Carole's birthday. She went with me to the hospital in February, the first of this year's visits.

It's odd.  Frankly, everything is odd. That I've gotten so old. That I am retired. That I don't need to be anywhere at any particular time. I do dread when I have to go out. The next thing I am dreading is my neurological appointment December 10th. I do not want to go to that.

Maybe we'll have a big rainstorm and I can delay it again.

What struck me yesterday about watching my sons and their friends is how funny and energetic they all are, After all I was that old guy stuck in a chair in the corner, just observing. I remember old people at holidays in my youth. it is really, really hard when you are young to comprehend what it is like to be old. Of course, Aidan is different -- he gets it.

But they have to deal with climate change! Maybe that's why they are the way they are. There's nothing funny about that so they have to be funny.

I know a thing or two about that.


Wednesday, November 27, 2019

The Little Man in the Window

When I was at my sickest, I was convinced there was a little man with evil intent at my hospital bed window. I saw him there for hours and hours. He was in the bottom right corner of the window.

I didn't yet know how to call nurses but they just came all the time to check on me.

I told them about the little man and asked them to make him go away. They all checked and told me there was no little man.

Finally, I could see it was an optical illusion -- a simple play on light. I had been hallucinating.


Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Rain Storm

It's raining outside but there are no wind gusts. This is our first rain of the season.

My son Dylan loves the rain. We have been texting about it.

Luckily, I don't have to go anywhere. Just stay inside warm and dry.


Monday, November 25, 2019

My Personal EMT

Aidan came by to check my BP and heart rate. All is well, he said. He's decided to take paramedic training next.

But I am hurting all over from my falls. My right leg and left hip hurt, plus my shoulders especially.


I can't believe this "Trump era." It is so sick!


Sunday, November 24, 2019

Hard Night, Hard Day

I fell twice last night.

I threw up today. Luckily for me my fried Tomoko, a trained nurse, was here to help me with that ordeal.

Now the challenge is eating something.


Saturday, November 23, 2019

Amazing Grace

Bill Moyers did a documentary on the origin of the song. Watch it.

I've gotten my latest load of Scottish meat pies. The UPS guy left it down at the basement door. Nobody lives in the basement. I had to carry it up here -- good exercise. I think I'll have one now.


Friday, November 22, 2019

Today's Visits

Ericka and Audrey came by at 8:30 and brought breakfast. They were the first two Raul Ramirez Diversity Interns.

They've long been special favorites of mine. Both of them are Filipino-Americans, brilliant young journalists, and the future should know no limits for them.

Then a former colleague called to discuss a difficult investigative story. I still love doing this kind of work. She is a terrific reporter and her story will be a blockbuster.


Thursday, November 21, 2019


Visits from a nurse, a PT, and two dear friends who brought me dinner. We watched the Democratic debate together.

I'm trying to discover what it means to be retired. So much free time! Weird.


Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Visiting Bettina!

Today I took Lyft rides to and from Peter's house to see my youngest granddaughter and her nanny, Alicia.

Bettina is walking steadily and even starting to run! She is beautiful. Her blond hair has grown out a bit, and reminds me of Peter's when he was young.

It was a delightful visit.


Monday, November 18, 2019

Good Bye Party

Today Aidan took me to KQED, where they held a retirement party for me. We had to go way downtown. I haven't been downtown in a very long time. It's changed.

Dozens of people showed up and said wonderful things about me that I am not sure I actually deserve. But I tried to let in what they said.  I'm trying to get better at that. Most special to me, I was given so many hugs from so many people, which mean more to me than words. I love hugs.

It helped me realize that the last six years of my career probably mattered. We did a lot of stories, great stories. Those reporters I worked with, especially on investigative stories, did very difficult work.

 I am just glad Aidee was there with me.


Saturday, November 16, 2019


I had trouble sleeping last night -- maybe I got three hours, total.

My nurse came at 8 am and said "Don't go anywhere without someone with you from now on. You are at too great a danger of falling again." He noted that my BP has risen again and that that is not normal so early in the day.

I hate this -- whatever is happening with my body.


A few hours later, Aidan and Dylan came to take me to brunch at Mission Rock on the waterfront of the Bay. Their two wonderful girlfriends, Kelsey and Meghan, were both there. I love them both.

Both of my legs were shaking badly at lunch and I could not concentrate on their conversations very well in the restaurant, but it was great to be with them, as it always is.

I also could not eat much of my lunch (fish and chips), which is just as well because I threw everything up this afternoon anyway. That happens now and then. I call it "Peace Corps Revenge."

Then I started feeling better and stronger and I ate up the leftovers of my lunch from the box Meg carried for me. (I'd forgotten it.)

After a nice call from an old friend, I've settled in to watch TV. On Saturdays, I love watching SNL

I've got some busy days ahead, which is good.


Friday, November 15, 2019

22 Years Ago & Now

So as I continue to review old journals, this one stood out due to my "artwork" on its cover.

In years past, I liked to make splotches of different colors on paper. I would mix the colors. One of those I apparently glued on the cover of this book. I'd probably continue doing that if I had any art supplies, which I do not.


I was looking at my new microwave (courtesy of Peter) and my new toaster tonight. Julia was here when the toaster arrived and plugged it in for me.

I said "Thank you helping me with the toaster!"

She laughed and said, "Dad, all I did was plug it in."

Sometimes that can mean a lot.


A dog barks out there somewhere. A cat cries outside my front door. I will not let it in.


Thursday, November 14, 2019


My nurse said he thinks it's going to rain. Like me, he loves the rain.

I continue to try and read old journals. Today's was from 1977, when Laila turned one. We called her "Pippi."

But nothing in there to help the memoir, which is stalled.



Today I *think* I completed as much of the process of completing my Medicare coverage as I can until forms arrive, but it look a very long phone call and was somewhat confusing for me. I don't know when it will go into effect. January?

On the plus side, I ate the first of my Scottish meat pies from the latest delivery, which arrived yesterday.

It's foggy and kind of chilly here.


Tuesday, November 12, 2019

My Julia

My incredibly lovely youngest daughter...


I've been trying to endure re-reading my journals but I'm having a hard time. It is difficult reliving all of that depression.

But there are rays of light now and then.

On February 17, 2007, in Portland, Julia said "I'm a risky person but I like to be safe." She was 8 at the time.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Acting, Part 2

When you write a screenplay, you include a lot of camera direction. It's an education the first time around, but thereafter it becomes second nature.

You write the notation POV (point of view) before each scene or sub-scene. This reflects how the camera will be positioned to capture the shot. So if it is a scene involving characters A and B, you might see the scene switching back from A to B, or you might them both from a third party angle.

I've thought a lot about POV over the years. It is a useful metaphor for how we live our lives and interact with each other. What is distinctly clear is we all see things differently, not just physically but metaphysically.

That is partially why conversations can be so illuminating. We get to share each other's POV. The potential is always there to learn something new.


Sunday, November 10, 2019


Some specialize with moving their eyes back and forth; some with forming a small smile on their lips.

But they all do something special. And for the most part what they do is subtle.

I love it and notice it all.


The One Day...

...the physical mail doesn't come is Sunday, as in today.

I don't recall when I started hating the mail, but now most communication is electronic, it's increasingly irrelevant.

For most people, Sunday is a day off. For me now, every day is a day off.

There won't be any mail today and I don't expect any visitors. On Sunday mornings, I like to watch Brian Stelter's show on the media on CNN. He asked me to come on once but I refused. I no longer do TV. I just watch it.

It's been foggy day and night here for a while, which affects our collective mood. That isn't necessarily bad for writing but rainy weather is better. I'm waiting for the rains to start.

Aidan and Kelsey went to the Boudin election victory party last night and I am so excited for them. It's fulfilling for me as a parent to experience the idealism of my children.

What we all need is a combination of idealism and pragmatism.


Saturday, November 09, 2019

Chesa Boudin Wins!

He took the lead today by over 2,000 votes, which at this point is insurmountable. His opponent conceded.

Boudin is the new D.A.


A Simplified Life

Today, two home health care workers are scheduled to come by. Next Saturday, a week from today, Dylan and Meghan are scheduled to have brunch with me.

In between, there's nothing on my schedule, except a possible Monday night visit from Peter.

I futz with my memoir but it is stuck at 25,000 words.

The college basketball season has begun. The college football season continues, as do the pro football and basketball seasons, so if I want to watch games, there are plenty of them.

But most of the time I watch the news. I feel like my life has become small. There are a few events I'm looking forward to. My "retirement" party a week from Monday at KQED and Thanksgiving at Connie's.

Otherwise I just sit and wait.


Friday, November 08, 2019

The Sound of a Train

I can't sleep tonight.

The other day I sent the money for a ticket on Amtrak for my youngest child to travel up the east coast on Thanksgiving to see her grandmother.

But I don't really know my daughter. She's 21 and I am 72.

I would like to get to know her, but that has to be her choice. For starters, I do not know what she thinks of me. Not that that matters all that much -- I'm just the jerk who married her Mom -- what I really want to know is what she thinks of herself.And I have only a few hints of what her inner life is like.

The sound of the train on the tracks carrying her north is very familiar to me, and I will imagine that for her, but that's something she's way too young to know about me. I used to ride that train all the time when she was 2. The train is both the nicest and the loneliest place to be at the same time.

It sure as hell beats flying!

I tried to sleep but could not, so now will stay awake for hours. There is so much unresolved in my life. I limp around with this cane, watch old movies and listen to music on YouTube. And wish that my daughter might call me sometime.



Impeachment Update

I go back and forth on this, but tonight I'm on the side that impeachment is not only inevitable but the right thing for the Democrats in the House to do.

Trump is a hopeless. I've lived through the Nixon and Clinton controversies but I have never seen anything approaching this.

Are all of those old white people why support Trump paying attention? Do they care?

If so, it's about time for them to turn against this jerk. For the sake of our children and grandchildren


"Girl, Disrupted"

It's hard for me to read. I can't see a book or magazine clearly enough through my glasses. But today I pushed my glasses back on my head and read the piece in the September 30th issue of  The New Yorker by Anna Wiener titled what I have titled this blog post.

I don't know Anna. But what she wrote resonated deeply with me. Granted, I am not a woman, which was the angle of her story. By contrast, I am an old white man -- the kind of person who supposedly is much more entitled than most in this world.

For years, I worked, just like her, in Silicon Valley. I had many of the same experiences. Some were sweet; some were alienating. I never made much money.

The overwhelming takeaway questions, both for her and for me, is what the hell is happening to our world? Is the technology we have embraced destroying our essential humanity?  What kind of future do we have?

I also read another piece about global warming, focusing on the young girl, Greta Thornberg, who is leading the global movement to try and save this planet. Greta says she has Asperger's Syndrome. I don't know her, but maybe that condition helps her tell the truth, straight out.



The last 24 hours have been illuminating. I've gradually realized that I am not getting stronger, but weaker.

And that I am depressed.

When the PT came, we couldn't do the arm/shoulder exercises because I was too sore from doing them two days earlier. These are very simple movements. My arms are still hurting this morning.

Yesterday the nurse told me to no longer walk anywhere -- not even the ten feet to the door, without my cane. He said I am at grave risk of falling again.

I have no appetite and very little contact with the outside world.

I'm going to try and write today but I don't know that I can.


Tuesday, November 05, 2019


My Nigerian nurse came by today. My vital signs are normal.

He used to play soccer when he was growing up in Nigeria until he injured his knee.

He'll be back on Thursday and said he might bring me a photo from his soccer days.


With my two working on a political front today, I am struck by how certain people preserve their optimism instead of falling into cynicism.

Their candidate may win; he may lose. But for today they are working on hope. And that will continue no matter the outcome.


Homelessness Everywhere

When Aidan & Dylan took me to Leif's game Sunday night, it was the first time I'd been out since coming home. I was shocked by the number of tents we passed.

As I consume the news, I see that the problem is everywhere, not just in San Francisco. But since this is the environment I live in, my direct exposure to it is here.

It simply breaks my heart.


Year of (Im)Balance

I've fallen so many times this year, I can't keep track anymore. One consequence is I am very frightened of falling again. This morning, for instance, I had a faltering moment when turning around. That scared me. Ray, the PT who came late yesterday said, "Turn slowly when you turn."


Today is election day. Aidan and Kelsey will spend it at Chesa Boudin's office, helping get out the vote. I like having politically active kids. Ray and I talked politics for a long time after my exercises. He is Filipino-American, very smart and well-informed.


Monday, November 04, 2019

Sunday Night -- Good Stuff

Leif scored a goal in his soccer team's game. It was a lovely night at the Beach Chalet.

He has his operation later this morning.

I have ordered more Scottish meat pies. Can't get enough these days. Guess that is my retirement fantasy.

Gotta get back to the memoir.


Sunday, November 03, 2019

Divided Nation

Stayed up and enjoyed SNL, which is by far the best political satire show on TV.

Then I slept 7 hours, only waking up once. So it seemed mysterious that when I got up I was shaking badly. A couple hours later, I am feeling steadier.

Nice phone calls from old friends. They make my day, along with the occasional personal visit. Home care nurses say my BP is back up to normal range.


What baffles me as a long-time journalist is what has happened to this country. How we've reached the point where a sizable portion of the population eschews fact in favor of conspiracy theories. How we've ended with an authoritative liar like Trump. How we've become a global joke. How all the good efforts of so many people have become obviated by insanity.

As a former Peace Corps Volunteer, how the efforts we made in Afghanistan half a century ago have been destroyed by war. It is the longest running war in U'S' history.

Even I, a confirmed news junkie, can barely watch the news.

What a sad era in U.S. history...


Friday, November 01, 2019

Weekend News

Eating Scottish lamb pies these days. My grandson Leif needs to have surgery removing his tonsils and adenoids on Monday. Aidan, Dylan and I will go his soccer game Sunday night.

KQED retirement party will be on Monday, November 18. Looking forward to seeing old friends.

My BP remains very low. Home health care people come by often.


Lights of My Life

The best part of growing old and being sick is when you get the chance you just tell people the truth. After all, there is nothing else to tell.

I have many lights in my life.


Thursday, October 31, 2019

Alice's Restaurant

One of the strange and wonderful things about my life was going to Alice's Restaurant in Woodside on the peninsula. Arlo Guthrie, they told me, lived just up the rode and sometimes came there.


Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Political Aches and Other Pains

Most friends I talk with think things are going to get worse in this country before they get better. That we have an obviously corrupt President is awful, but we do.

I can't imagine what retired people who don't care about politics do all day. I guess they play cards or golf -- both great activities that don't happen to appeal to me. I watch CNN and follow the news through the online editions of our greatest newspapers,

Trump will be impeached. Does anyone care?


I've become an expert on falls. What you hurt when you fall doesn't become clear until a few days later. Tonight (it's past midnight here), I realized that during my latest fall I wrenched my right shoulder. I fell asleep early and woke up due to this new pain. I can barely lift that arm.

Now I'll stay up for a while and contemplate our latest political aches. I'm trying to imagine how anyone can defend Trump based on facts. The reality that I have spent half a century discerning the difference between fact and fiction leaves me feeling powerless about my profession's impact.

Look, I get why white people feel anxious about how the country is changing demographically. But unlike many white people, I know many non-white people. There is no pattern between goodness and badness by race or color or creed.

My shoulder hurts because I fell. My head hurts because I think. My heart hurts for our fate as a nation unless we can shed our racism and come together.


Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Boring Health Stuff

I fell last night and cut my right arm.

A home nurse came today. He has three kids, two boys and a girl. They like to play soccer. He comes from Nigeria. He took my blood pressure over and over -- it kept registering too low: 80/50.

I'm not sure what to do about that. I take BP meds -- maybe I should cut back?

He said he'll come back Friday. Hopefully my BP will be better by then.


Electoral Nightmare Scenario

From the Post:


I read the Post and the Times every day. In that way, I'm sure I'm old-fashioned.

This story presents a fascinating scenario -- an electoral tie in 2020. The Supreme Court needs to rule in two cases before then to prevent this from occurring.

My sweet daughter Sarah Daisy visited my yesterday afternoon.

We cried a lot, reviewing our lives. She is divorcing her husband, Larry. She is taking her three beautiful boys to visit Laila and family in France for Thanksgiving. James (12), Leif (10) and Oliver (8) are wonderful grandchildren. So polite and well-brought-up.

The kind of boys with the potential to make great men. Thanks to their Mom.


Monday, October 28, 2019

Re-imagining a Life

The problem with trying to write a memoir is you go over everything in the past yet again, good or bad. In my case, some of this is painful. I've never fully faced the anxiety that has dogged me for decades and never discussed before except with a therapist.

Remembering can be scary because it is reliving traumas.

But then comes the good part -- imagining the life I might have had. To start, I have had a wonderful life. The big picture is beautiful: six kids, seven grandchildren, two ex-wives and lots of friends. I helped produce lots of good stories and mentored many younger people.

I could have done more -- that is the issue. I could have done more. Much more.



Sunday, October 27, 2019

Special Birthday!

My youngest, Julia, is 21 today! Now all my children are adults...I left her a v.m. and hope she has a lovely day. She has always been sweet, smart and beautiful. And very kind.

Additionally from an early age, she wouldn't let us dress her. She had her own sense of style by 3, such as mis-matching socks, which eventually caught on at school.

She also proved adept at solving disputes among her friends, such as triangles among girlfriends.

As a soccer player she had a nickname -- "Thunderfoot." Man could she launch the ball.

Julia is modest. I think she under-estimates her gifts as an artist and an athlete. Her time at Oxbow boarding school at age 16 helped cement her skills as a visual artist. I have three of her pieces in my apartment, They give me great joy.

This summer, given my illnesses, she was so sweet and helpful. She started talking with me again, after the difficult teen years. I love her voice, in all senses of that word.

I love you, Julia Matthiessen Weir!


Saturday, October 26, 2019


Power outage all night. Still shivering now. Wildfires all over California. Smoke from one over Bay Area.

I/m still having trouble eating and am very weak from that & the drug reaction. Having great difficulty walking.


Friday, October 25, 2019

Impeachment (Lack of) Drama

No matter how hard Democrats and the national media outlets try to frame the impeachment inquiry as dramatic, it simply is not. It's boring. As one with a natural interest in politics, and one tuned into CNN many hours a day, I'm not buying it.

I wish that I could. Being a retired journalist is, frankly, boring. I'd appreciate a better TV show.

Trump comes across as a disease-ridden combination of bully and victim. Hardly unique, of course. There are still lots of white people who, despite privileges they are barely cognizant of, feel they have been victimized by people of other colors.

That is pure bullshit.

Trump is a nightmare for America. He is, to date since 1776, America's worst nightmare.

But he was inevitable, given how our country is changing.

And he may well survive impeachment, given the state of partisan politics in this country, and win a second term the same way he won his first -- by stirring the pots of racist hatred in the South and Midwest.

If so, we are in big trouble.

But why should I care? I am 72, sickly, and very weak. I try to employ the methods of OT/PT every day, but the truth is I am a frail old man. Some days, I wake up expecting to die. Other days I still feel the fire to care.

Let's hope this is one of those lovely other days,



Early Friday

Today is my youngest grandson Oliver's 8th birthday. He is such a joyful kid to be around -- I miss seeing him!

My drug reaction is over finally. I am weaker than when I left the hospital, but trying to eat at least nominally.

Not enough energy to write yet; hopefully soon.

Home health-care nurse did not show up yesterday. That is weird.

I'm pleased to be home but yearn for company. I knew retirement in my case would be lonely.


Thursday, October 24, 2019

First 18 Hours: Mixed

I got a lot of The cleanup accomplished before I started to have what I believe is a bad reaction to a new drug--Naltrexone. Terrible chills and shaking. Hard sleeping.

But I am up now & it's a new day. I'm not going to take that drug again!


Wednesday, October 23, 2019


Aidan and Kelsey sprang me from the loving prison I was in. So I am home. Trying to be free again.


As I Wait...

Here on my last morning being institutionalized, my roommate has already repeated his usual litany of questions, i.e., "Do you know who Michael Jordan is? "Willie Mays?" "Babe Ruth?"

Meanwhile, I'm trying to watch CNN and assess the impeachment inquiry.

My memoir has been revised; it stays at ~25,000 words. I'm considering contacting an ex-agent I know and an agent I don't know.

Having left my place in a mess the night I called 9-1-1, I've become obsessed with cleaning it up today. I have a detailed plan for cleaning up the messes.

It may seem strange, but being retired has definitely reduced the focus of my thoughts.


Tuesday, October 22, 2019


The PT folks in particular have been stopping by to say good-bye. Some nurses too. The people who work here are good people, mostly young, mostly people of color, and educated.

They are kind and try to be patient with the people who just won't try.

They kindly say they hope they will not see me here again. Me too.


Racism From the Top

The President used the word lynching to describe the impeachment process he is facing.

Lynchings were among the most shameful acts in our nation's history.

By doing this, Trump is evoking our racist past to build political support for not being removed from office, which he obviously deserves to be.

He is beyond shame.


The Incredible Advantage

Having worked as a professional writer my entire adult life, writing my memoir feels like a natural act at this point. There will be ups and downs during the process, but I am used to that.

But in my experience, including in this facility, almost every elderly person wants to review his or her life. My roommate tells me and every care-giver the same set of simple facts of what he can remember of his life every single day.

His condition is mysterious -- one factor the medical staff rules out is alcohol or drug abuse. He is and has never been an addict.

He is very sweet and well-meaning. But he just keeps repeating himself over and over, frustrating everyone. I'm wondering whether he had an undiagnosed stroke?

He'll never write a book.


There are many obstacles to ever getting my book published; I recognize that. But I'm proceeding as if it will.

One reason is that I am writing it for me. Another is for my family. A third is for my many colleagues over the decades. Finally, the book has a clear purpose: to explain journalistic practice in the hope we can preserve its integrity.


Freedom Calls

Remember that old Kris Kristofferson line, “Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose”? 

Well maybe. Freedom is also escaping from your hospital bed when it feels like your death bed.

Today is my last day in this facility. Tomorrow I go home.

Slicing up the night worked well last night. Many hours of music; around 8 hours of sleep!

I feel optimistic this morning.

Monday, October 21, 2019


I am going home Wednesday 9 a.m.-10 a.m. Aidan will get me.

Then I'll have home health care for a while.


Communicating: Multiple Channels

As I attempt to construct my memoir, I find my thoughts and memories are separating out into multiple channels.

There is the book-writing itself. Every day I rewrite, cut and add material to the draft, which sits at 25,000 words.

There is this blog, where I explore thoughts and feelings through the lens of current experiences.

Then there are the conversations with friends-- in person, via email, or increasingly, during phone calls.

These all will eventually merge into whatever narrative form I can achieve.


Before Morning Light

It's 6 a.m. Monday and I'm counting the hours until I go home two days from now.

In a conversation with a friend over the weekend, I realized there is another aspect of my life I will need to weave into my memoir: anxiety.

Since childhood, I have invented various coping mechanisms to handle this anxiety, with varying degrees of inadequacy.


Spent the night from about 9 p.m. on in time slices (like pie slices). Sleep a bit. Listen to music a bit. As I penetrate further into the far corners of YouTube, I discover song after song I'd almost forgotten. They are still around; you just have to wait on the algorithm to find them for you...


Sunday, October 20, 2019

An Institution Like This

It needs to consider the psychological consequences of forcing someone like me to share a room with people like these. I didn't come here for mental health treatment but for physical therapy.

I'll never willingly return here. The experience is too searing.



Sometimes when I awake from a nap, I cannot believe this is really me, trapped in hell. The Chinese man in the next bed yells into his phone. He drives me crazy.

The other roommate asks me the same set of meaningless questions over and over. He drives me crazy.

I have no way to shut out this noise pollution. I feel utterly isolated -- penalized for being sick. Why does it have to be this way?


Loyalty and Betrayal

Trump's sudden withdrawal of U.S. troops from the region of Syria where our allies, the Kurds, helped us battle ISIS, is one of the most egregious actions by a Commander in Chief in U.S. history.

This blatant betrayal of a loyal ally is inexcusable. It is equally dishonorable that Trump did it to help his buddy, the Turkish dictator, who wants to seize the area and apparently will soon.

I cannot fathom any American with military experience not being outraged by these treasonous actions. He deserves to be impeached and removed from office.

He is a traitor.


Treatment Helps

The doctor on duty popped the boil and drained it. I'll go on antibiotics for a week.

The pain is gone.


I'm still scheduled to go home on Wednesday. What a relief!


Another Health Issue, etc.

I fear this has become little more than a medical journal when I'd wanted it to be so much more. For years I've had a small growth on the back of my left shoulder. My doctor said It was nothing to worry about -- it was pliable and not hard when he touched it.

In recent years it has grown somewhat and changed colors, including to red. I feel it more, whereas before I didn't feel anything there.

This weekend it has suddenly started hurting -- so much so I cannot lay on my left side. I can't sleep on my back for fear of aspiration and I've never slept on my stomach. So now there is only one position I can sleep in -- on my right side.

I'm a restless sleeper to begin with, so staying confined to one position is further disrupting my sleep. I was up before 5 and am facing another sleepy day. This saps my strength and endangers the progress I've made.


The thing that angers me about Presidential politics is when candidates make promises about things not in their control. Trump takes credit for U.S. economic growth but his actions have had nothing to do with that.

An aging population is removing many of us from the workforce. We are being replaced by younger, cheaper workers -- a good thing. As the jobless rate falls, wages slowly rise. When Americans have more money they spend more money.

What these early-stage career workers *should* be doing is saving money. That would not help exploitative politicians brag about their economic success, but it would help begin the process of building a self-sustaining retirement some day.


Saturday, October 19, 2019

Observations From My Back

It is exceedingly awkward writing from this hospital bed but I have some observations on random topics:

Trump will probably be impeached and he may even be convicted.

It is really hard to wash the middle of your back during a shower.

There's nothing like confinement to make freedom taste like ice cream.


On and On

Larry is particularly persistent today. It's like I've been sentenced to a cell with a man unable stop asking questions that have already been asked and answered numerous times. He apparently lacks all short-term memory.

As I struggle to try and perdure, good things continue too. My buddy Alex Emslie called and we got caught up.



A small tooth plus filling fell out today. It's from the left side, I think the top, of my mouth.

This has been one of my main worries -- after weeks of lying in hospital beds with little or no dental care, something bad would happen.

Now I have to turn to the remaining reservoir of hope I have left, which is similar to California's driest pools in a drought year.

After years of dental insurance, I'm within the first few weeks without any when this happens. The only hopeful thing: so far no pain. But I'll have to go to the dentist to find out whether this can be fixed.


Nervous Breakdowns and Story-Telling

Back in the years I regularly saw psychiatrists, psychologists and other counselors, I was trying to cope with massive life disruptions -- marital breakups, house sales, job losses and relentless financial pressures. I often heard the term "dual diagnosis," which described my main mental illness, a surprise to no one, and depression.

Depression was always the second diagnosis. I guess the symptoms of that were simple to analyze -- I had developed over a lifetime a series of elaborate coping mechanisms to try and ward off the disasters I feared so much.

These coping mechanisms often involved numbers and math. Since I was good at math, I would calculate the angles and arithmetic totals of the structures in a room, doing the mental calculations to turn it into a safe space.

All of this, of course, did nothing to address the underlying issues dating from my childhood around anxiety, which today would be a third, distinct diagnosis.


My story-telling has always been another way of managing anxiety. Many of my stories are funny, betraying a dark humor about the state of the world as I experience it. People love the jokes, few question why I am so driven to tell them.


My current situation is I'm being held against my will a few extra days in an institution that feels like a prison. I have roommates I would never choose on my own, who repeatedly disrupt the concentration I need to construct my memoir.

They won't let  me out of here until Wednesday, October 23. Until then I have to endure Mr. Chen's loud phone conversations in Cantonese, perhaps the most obnoxious language known to humankind. This morning, for example, I woke up at 5 a.m. and tried to settle back in for a little more sleep.But his phone went off for the first of a number of loud conversations. He is literally shouting, about what who can tell what.

What can he possibly have to shout about besides his fictitious piece of missing fish and his fictitious missing twenty-dollar bill.

Then there is Larry who asks me the same questions day after day. "Hey David, were you in the service?" "Hey David, do you know where San Francisco State is?" "What day is this?" "Do you know that John F. Kennedy was shot?"

Over and over, I have to answer, "Yes Larry I know where SF State is. As I told you. I taught there many years."


So as my body slowly regains strength -- the reason I was sent here -- my mind continues to crumble. If it weren't for the messages and calls from friends and the visits from Aidan and Dylan, I'd be in full breakdown mode by now.

And there is nothing funny about that.


Friday, October 18, 2019

Turning a Corner

The past two nights, I've convinced the nurses to let me walk alone around the floor here. Until then the only walking they'd allow was with one of them next to me.

But now I am so much steadier and so much more confident that they've relented. I just take a short walk but it feels good to do so on my own.

More Family Help

Dylan and Meghan just stopped by to drop off some clean clothes for me. It was great seeing them. A nurse who greeted me when I arrived a week ago came by; he said I look so much better.

Despite the bad health news this week I remain optimistic about my prospects.


Details, Details

Two PT sessions this morning, including walking outside with my cane.

I also called Medicare and determined that I need one more policy to have the kind of coverage I want.

Insurance is so maddening! And confusing.

In addition, confusion persists about whether I will released on Tuesday or Wednesday. This bothers me greatly.


Friday, Friday

It's a day of the week that used to have more meaning. Now it is just the day stuck between Thursday and Saturday. Nevertheless I can sense the energy from nurses who have the weekend off.

After hours of music last night, I drifted off for a few hours sleep, punctuated by trips to the bathroom.

Now, after some productive memoir-writing, I'm listening to this building come alive. A woman yells for help but can never say what she needs.

The banging of the food truck promises our breakfast soon.

I prepare for going home in a few days. Due to the new diagnoses, I will need to keep to a strict schedule of half a pill 30 minutes before each meal or 60 minutes after a meal.

That's just week one.


Thursday, October 17, 2019

Dynamic Duo Visits

It's something about the chemistry but when Aidan and Kelsey visit me, we always have a blast. They came this afternoon with food purchased nearby and ate in my room. The nurses love them too. On top of all the jokes, we've got Kelsey's involvement in local politics to talk about as well as Aidan's interest in medicine.

I call them the dynamic duo.


2020 Election

Trump is holding on to his 35 percent base of support. Given that secures most if not all red states, the large Democratic majority of voters are not distributed in the places that could swing the electoral victory, I fear.

Instead they are clustered in coastal states, which are reliably blue but do not have sufficient electoral votes to offset Trump's.

Furthermore, at this stage I do not see a Democratic who can get the job done. The party is split between an idealistic, liberal wing (OAS, who is too young tu run) and a moderate wing (Biden), who probably matches up best vis-vis Trump in the Midwest.

But he is old and prone yo gaffes.

I think the Dems have a ton of work to do to win the White House in 2020.


Walking Outside

Second PT session involved walking outside and that went well. I also performed another balance exercise that was very good.

So I'm in a better mood now.



It is most definitely humbling to go through the aging process in America. You are aware you are losing your physical and mental abilities, as is everyone else, and there's only so much you can do about it -- in a positive sense.

Many things you may feel like doing will make the process worse.

You find yourself, in the best of circumstances, like mine, in a room in a small bed with two other beds and two roommates.

One speaks Cantonese, often seems angry, and thinks the people here don't want him to be here.

The other clearly is brain-damaged and asks you the same ten questions day after day. Questions about trivial matters; never anything substantive. You try to hold your patience but it's very hard to do so.

It's hard to imagine this when you are younger, when you can walk and handle other bodily functions easily.

Now, everything is an effort -- everything is work. There is little time for pleasure.


Slow Start

In first PT exercise of the day, I failed to throw any beanbags into a bucket across the room, although the therapist said my balance remained good.

Nevertheless, it was a reminder of how far I have to go, if I even can get there.



It's 6 a.m. on a Thursday morning in October. I slept fitfully and listened to dozens of songs on YouTube.

Once Aidan reached the agreement with Pacific Heights (the name of this facility) my anger dissipated and I returned to my natural friendly disposition.

I haven't told people at KQED about the stroke or Parkinson's yet. Something feels like focusing on my health challenges is somehow inappropriate. I kept all of my relationships there strictly professional, although personal details naturally seeped into our conversations.

The truth is I see people and love them for their particular details, including what the larger world often sees as flaws. That includes me. I love myself, even my flaws.


At times I feel sorry for Trump and especially the voters who support him. Some of his foreign aid policies, especially regarding China, have merit.

The problem he can't seem to grasp is our economy is so globalized that no country, including the U.S.., can afford to go it alone. Supply chains are optimized according to cost efficiencies. What seems like a low wage in a developing country to us is sufficient there to pull a family out of poverty.

There technically are no countries anymore, except in destructive ways. Parades and marches are pointless. It is one world, like it or not.


Wednesday, October 16, 2019


Aidan got them to move up my release date to next Tuesday. I can handle that.


Rough News

They don.t want to let me out until next Friday, the 25th. I am depressed.

Hole in my Brain

Recently I had a stroke in the part of the brain that helps control bodily movements.

That explains a few things.

This news came yesterday from my neurologist.

She said I also have symptoms of Parkinson's.

So I'm basically fucked.

At this point my plan is to get out of this place -- today if possible and go home.


Election Update

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) has endorsed Bernie Sanders.

Why is this significant? AOC is the undisputed leader of the liberal revolution sweeping through the young left of the Democratic Party.

With her endorsement, Sanders may re-emerge after recently slumping in the polls and suffering a heart attack.

We're still many months away from the first Democratic primaries in the 2020 election, with no clear front-runner having emerged yet. Biden and Warren lead in the polls.

I've long felt that AOC may prove to be a Presidential candidate herself someday. She's too young and inexperienced yet but her instincts are superb.


Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Those Who Love Words

Many people love chocolate. Many love ice cream. Some like pistachios.

I love words.

Sometimes I wonder whether those do not write understand the passion writers bring our work. How much pleasure it gives us to turn an original phrase.


Taking it Slower

I'm so determined to get back home and to serious memoir work that I may be pushing too hard. Or maybe others are pushing me too hard.

Late yesterday afternoon, a new PT showed up. He has elaborate theories about how our lives have become more linear, our ways of moving have become robotic.

He means that as recently as a century ago, in order to get around and do our jobs we had to be able to move laterally, twist and side-step in unconventional ways.

Now everything in the developed world is straight, neat and predictable and we only use certain parts of our bodies to stand, sit, move.

His work routine for me started out easily enough. Just walking back and forth with the walker. Then with the cane. Then without aid of any kind.

As this was out in the open hall, I could sense people gasp as they saw me walking unaided. That turned out to be the easy part.

He then had me walk to the stairs and walk up and down them unaided. Sometimes left foot first, sometimes right. He was assessing my balance, he said.

His theories include that our sense of balance emanates not in our brain but in the core parts of our body we typically ignore. our hips, pelvic, sides, thighs and stomachs. Since we don't exercise these much our balance deteriorates with age.

He criticized body-building techniques like ever-increasing weight-lifting. None of this gets to the main issues that concern him as a PT.

After somewhat unsteadily navigating the stairs several times, I returned to my bed to end the session. I was so physically stretched that I could barely eat dinner before collapsing to sleep.

Mid-evening, I awoke. I ate the sandwich I've recently ordered to fill me up at night. (The theory here is it might help me sleep.) Well, it woke me up and made me restless instead.

As both my roommates were asleep, I tapped into YouTube and listened to hours of country music through ear buds. Aidan recently told me he knows the reason I love country music is the story-telling.

People much more sophisticated than I am eschew country music as simplistic and cliche-ridden. And I agree.

But what are our lives really like? Besides the daily bodily functions that define us as the animals we are, we choose clothes, attend meetings and harbor feelings like unspoken love, resentment, self-loathing and pure unadulterated love.

Another restless night is ended. It's 6 a.m. It is a Tuesday. The nurses are stirring. Today I have a visit with a neurologist to assess whether I have early-stage Parkinson's. Aidan will take me. I'll probably have more OT and PT.

Hopefully I'll keep paying attention and learning these new theories of movement. I already am walking around the room unaided much more often. I'm ready to go home and get to work.


Monday, October 14, 2019

Nice Outing

Aidan drove me to my doctor's appointment and then we had Mexican food. My first time outside in a long time.

I'm doing well physically but still frail compared to the people on the streets.

Aidan is just weeks away from taking the exams that could yield him his B.A. Lots of studying left; I feel guilty taking him from it.

Tomorrow we go to a neurologist,


Loss of Control

Most of my adult life, I have struggled to maintain as much control over the contours of my life as possible. I've done as much of the driving, paid as many of the bills, and generally controlled my calendar as has been feasible.

Now I'm much more reliant on others. It makes me feel guilty. Everyone has their own stuff to deal with, let alone mine.

Today was a lesson learned. My memory was I have an appointment with my PCP at 12:15 but I had no confirmation. Then the head nurse came in and said my appointment was at 11.

This panicked me.

After an exchange of calls we confirmed my memory is correct. Whew!

I'm not as much in control as before and I am slowly learning, I  hope, how to cope with that.

Six-Thirty a.m.

The nurses and staff are stirring, as are those of us patients who can't sleep. From where I lie, in the bed nearest the window, I can't really see what is going on. Two other patients and three levels of curtains block my view.

But I have been here long enough to know what goes on.

As the lights come on, there is a comfort that washes over me.

Before Dawn

Today I have a scheduled doctor appointment that Aidan will take me to. This is routine following each hospital visit.

It's a tiny life detail but I couldn't sleep -- probably because I am excited to see Aidan. I should be able to go home this week.

My appetite is robust; I am enjoying food again.

But I've become a bit of a rebel here, walking around without my walker. The nurses warn me not to do so. But I know my own body best and walking unassisted now builds confidence.


Sunday, October 13, 2019

Brushing Teeth

Toothpaste companies sell their products predicated on saving your teeth, a worthy goal. But I've learned an additional reason As we age it is easy to aspirate bits of food and get walking pneumonia.

That happened to me. So once I get home my goal is to brush regularly and since vigorously with ACT mouthwash, recommended to me by a dental surgeon.

No more pneumonia!


Coffee and Words

I've reacquired a coffee drinking habit. I've had it in the past, drinking coffee in the morning the writing. It may be a bit of a gross analogy, or a parallel observation, but the words I write while on coffee are ike the urine the coffee produces.

Both flow through me in partnership. Hopefully when they reach others the words invoke feelings, thoughts and even actions.

The urine, of course, is an unwanted byproduct. But the connection between them is undeniable.


Sunday Starters

So far it is a quiet start to one my favorite mornings of the week. Have read the Times and Post news summaries. Waiting for the activity here to ramp up. Have been thinking of new material for my memoir.

Sometimes I wonder what kind of father I have been. I know I'm very close to my kids and that they love me, but I'm sure I could have been much, much better.

I suppose we all feel the same way.

Because I am deeply into my memoir, my mind keeps moving through the past, incident by incident, face by face.

It's occurred to me recently that  I want to interview some of the keY figures for this book. After all, everyone's memory is unique.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

State of Dreams

Yesterday I made good progress on my goals with one disastrous setback. The nurses said to not sweat. it, so I will try again today.

My intention is to convince the deciders to release me and let me go home again. I believe it's a goal almost all patients here share, save for those who are giving up.

For me it's two steps forward, then one back.

If I were a pitcher in the major leagues that might earn me a Cy Young Award. Now that is a positive spin!


Friday, October 11, 2019


As a political junkie with time on my hands,
I follow the news closely.

Trump has taken a step too far in the Ukraine matter.
He's got to be afraid the GOP Senate may abandon him.

If so he's a goner.


Turning Point?

Another uncomfortable night.
But I woke up determined to make substantial progress today.
I want to go home and write my memoir.
To be allowed to do that I have to pass certain tests.

If my punctuation seems odd it's because this browser is funky.
As long as my meaning comes through it is cool.
It turns out today is Friday.
I thought it was Saturday.

The caretakers here are remarkable people.
They teach patients how to regain skills.
They show faith in us.
If we listen and try we succeed.

It must take incredible intestinal fortitude.
To do this day after day.
But most of them tell me...
...they love this work.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Hard-working Days; Hellish Nights

The PT-OT is going well. I am eating my meals. My vital signs get checked on a regular basis. Family & friends keep stoppng by -- four last night alone.

I can feel myself going stronger if not yet as confident as would be optimal.

The problem is night. I tr to listen to music. to relax but it rarely works. I nap and wake up in a violent terror. I have nightmares abut streams of germs. Of course my immune system is weak and my lungs are compromised from pneumonia.

The creative issue with my memoir is how much of my personal story to include.


Monday, October 07, 2019

Good Sfart

 I  an had my first PT nnd  OT visits today. I surprised my by standing uo three times without help  

Sunday, October 06, 2019

Past 3 Weeks

Ive fallen a few more times; in the hospital since late September until moving   into   this  nursing home last Friday,


Thursday, September 12, 2019

Wednesday Guests

My nurse Anwar came by and told me to start eating more.

My friend Holly from KQED came by and talked to me about work things and my memoir.

I realize that people have been visiting because they sense I am at a certain stage of life -- or death.

And I really appreciate that.


Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Speed Bumps

They're building them on my block. That is a good thing -- people drive too fast around here.

My own speed bump came in the mail -- a $6,000 + medical bill. I can't understand with all the insurance I have how that is possible.


Saturday, September 07, 2019

Aidan's 25th Birthday

I woke up feeling weak today. It was hard to stand up.

My friend Tomoko came by & brought me a fresh-baked apple pie.

Then I went out with Aidan and Dylan, their girlfriends and Connie to a ramen restaurant in Hayes Valley. Ramen has become the new cool food! We celebrated Aidan's birthday...


Friday, September 06, 2019


It's all official now; I signed the docs & sent them in.

You don't know what you've injured until a few days after a fall. I've hurt one arm and a hip.

For some reason my stomach muscles are hurting also -- probably from trying to stand up so many times.

It's foggy here.


Thursday, September 05, 2019

Weak Week

I fell out of bed last night; slipped actually. It took me two hours of scrooching around this apartment to find a purchase where I could hoist myself onto a place, lying, sitting and then standing.

It felt so good to stand up again.

Today my nurse, Anwar, came by. My vital signs are fine.


Monday, September 02, 2019

Labor Day Guests

Two friends stopped by today. One from my days in Ann Arbor 50 years ago; one whom I've gotten to know over the past six years at KQED.

You know what is special about relationships?

Telling each other our stories.


Sunday, September 01, 2019

Kids' Soccer

Today, Aidan drove me to Beach Chalet in GG Park and we watched Leif play soccer. He is terrific! Very fast with a great kicking ability.

Tomorrow, two friends plan to visit...


Friday, August 30, 2019


All three of my sons and I have beards. Yesterday Aidan showed me how his has been trimmed by a barber. He said he could take me there sometime.

I've never had a beard trimmed by a barber.



I hope to see my grandson Leif play soccer at Beach Chalet this weekend.

Officially, I retire on Sunday.

It's been a long career. It is time for it to end.


Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Another Special Visit

Today an old friend and co-founder of CIR, Lowell Bergman, came by for a visit.

He's working on a memoir and has terrific stories to tell.

For some reason, my home health care continues: I thought it ended Monday, but a new nurse came by and said my BP was 125/70.


Tuesday, August 27, 2019

What I Am

I order my food weekly from Safeway.

Recently, one of the people who bring my order into my kitchen saw the huge painting of "Tanya's World" in my living room and was impressed.

I gave him a copy of Rolling Stone with the story (and a photo of the painting) and he got excited  and asked me to sign it. So I did, though my signature these days is a wiggly line with dots, so really it could be anyone's.

"My sisters will love this" is what he said.

"I've met a celebrity," he also said.

"No," I corrected him. "You've met a storyteller."



On Saturday a friend came by and we had lunch. On Sunday Aidan and Kelsey took me to brunch.

Yesterday, two KQED friends visited and one made me a quesadilla.

Then I discussed my retirement with a KQED official.

For hours, I felt too weak to stand up, but after eating, I felt more the way I do inmost days.


Thursday, August 22, 2019

Lunch With a Friend

My old friend and CIR co-founder Dan Noyes came by today and brought me peaches from a tree in his garden

I ordered sandwiches from Grubhub, formerly Eat24. We had a good catchup.


Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Trump is Crazy

He considers awarding himself the Medal of Honor? I can hardly believe this guy.

We have a serious problem on our hands.

When anyone acts like this, they need help.


Sunday, August 18, 2019

Hummus Plates

I used to prepare cucumbers and carrots on a plate with hummus for Julia before she came home from school. I don't remember why I did this. But I'd open the hummus and place it in the center of her plate with the vegetables arranged around it.

I always salted the cucumber slices to bring out their taste. One time a friend of hers was here and said "Why the salt?" Julia said something like "That's the way we do it."

Now she is a grown woman I wonder if she remembers.


Friday, August 16, 2019

Trump Wants to Buy Greenland?

Sometimes the news is hard to believe but a NYT report today says he has been obsessed with this idea for weeks.

Greenland is a sovereign nation.

Money can't buy you everything. Someone needs to explain that to Trump.


Thursday, August 15, 2019

Writing and Editing

My memoir has stalled. That is a funny way to put it, since I am the author. But whenever a writer gets blocked, in my experience, (s)he is simply not ready yet.

Editing, including self-editing, is different. I continue to rework the language in my memoir. I just haven't been able to add anything.


Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Breakfast Today

Aidan, Dylan and Julia took me to breakfast this morning. I couldn't eat anything for some reason, but it was great to hear all their news.

They fly back overnight to the east coast to see the Matthiessen relatives and take Julia to her junior year of college.


Monday, August 12, 2019

This Country

Things are going seriously wrong here, politically.

I doubt Trump knows what he is doing but he is messing with history. He is a liar and a fraud -- his supporters will discover his lies when his tax returns finally get released.

Not that that will matter.

Trump voters fear people that don't look like them. They'll keep voting for him.

The rest of us need an alternative leader who represents our best values.



Saturday, August 10, 2019

Back to School

Julia returns axes the country to Goucher College soon. Today we had a family gathering and she got to play with little Bettina.

The Tiglao boys start school again this week.

The Comolli's are in France -- I don't think school starts for a while yet there.

Dylan returns to SF State classes soon.

Aidan starts paramedic training at some point and applies for ambulance driving jobs soon.

I'm stalled on my memoir and feeling weak most of the time.


Thursday, August 08, 2019

Icelandic Socks and Brunch

Dylan, Julia and Aidan took me to brunch this morning. Dylan, just back from his trip to Iceland, brought me a pair of blue Icelandic socks.

Those are my Thursday highlights.

I continue to ponder retiring.



I started working small jobs about 60 years ago. I've been working full-time for 50 years.

Currently, I am on extended medical leave for another few weeks. My recovery is slow -- the medical teams warned me it would be, but this is slow. I'm still struggling just to stand up and walk normally.

My memoir has stalled. It's about half a book. I watch TV all day long, including the same movies over and over.

It's probably unhealthy, but I follow the news closely via CNN, the NYT and the WP.


Wednesday, August 07, 2019


Some days it comes easily, naturally. Some days it doesn't.

My memoir project relies on me having more good writing days than bad days.

When I wake up, usually by 4 a.m., I can tell. The urge is either there or it isn't.

Today, so far it is not.


Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Day by Day

Yesterday started with a neighbor telling me that the attic window was flapping in the wind. Soon a worker and my landlady showed up to address that problem. I was afraid the long ladder he erected would break my kitchen window.

It did not.

A frustration these days is I seem to have lost my sense of direction. When Sarah was driving me to and from Peter's on Sunday I got us lost in both directions. Her GPS got us back on track but I felt embarrassed in front of my grandsons.


Sunday, August 04, 2019

Watching Bettina

Family get-together today and we all were fascinated by almost-ten-month old Bettina. Not shy, very active and on the verge of walking.

Baby watching is great entertainment!


The thing that bothers me these days is when I am in the middle of telling someone a story and I forget the thread. It usually comes back to me later, but too late to finish the story.


Around the Block

My friend Alex from KQED came by yesterday for a visit. He had promised previously to get me out walking and I agreed. For the first time in years, with his help, I walked all the way around the block.

I have recently developed the habit of greeting anyone I encounter in the neighborhood. Yesterday we saw a young woman carrying a bag of soil from her car to her garage. She said she will grow vegetables in her backyard with that soil.

We also greeted another woman walking her dog.

I got tired on the walk but made it back home.


Friday, August 02, 2019


As the days go by, and my extended medical leave extends, I feel bored. I'm well enough to do things but not as well as I used to. TV and movies only take me so far. Reading The New Yorker? Same -- the articles could use editing.

Time is like before -- I can still hear the clock ticking at certain moments.


It is a sunny day and I am alone.

Earlier, a physical therapist named Nelson came by and we walked to the far end of this block.

Nelson's wife died ten years ago of a heart attack. He said he doesn't want to remarry.


Thursday, August 01, 2019

Strongest Candidate?

Tulsi Gabbard emerged from the field  last night as perhaps the most intriguing candidate. She's articulate and energetic and holds distinct positions on the issues.

Harris and Booker tried too hard and duplicated each other, though Booker may get a bump in the polls soon.

Biden seemed elderly and a bit confused.

The rest were indistinguishable.

Keep an eye on Gabbard.


Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Debate Reflections

Delaney was a joke -- no one would vote for a person like him. Awful body language and facial expressions.

Warren is not likable -- she is Hillary all over again.

Bernie is probably too old.

At present, I'd say the Democrats are screwed.


Barcelona Arrival

My French-American grandchildren on a beach near Barcelona after their long flight from Oakland.


Part One of Two

The Democratic shakeout is underway. I'd say Sanders and Warren outperformed the others last night and showed why they are among the front-runners.

Biden and Harris go at it tonight.


My home health care appears to be winding down. I'll miss these visits.

In a lapse I missed the deadline to pay off my credit card this month. I've hardly ever done that before. And now when I have virtually nothing to do!


Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Democratic Debates

Tonight and tomorrow night in my birth city, Detroit.

There are so many (20) candidates, I don't see how anyone can "win."

CNN, which is hosting the debates, is in full-hype mode.

As I've indicated here, I'm less than impressed by the field. But it's a long time until next year's election. If I had to guess, someone other than Joe Biden will be the nominee, but that it is not necessarily a good thing for Democrats.

Biden would be the latest in a long list of former VPs to run for President. As a group their record is mixed.


Aidan brought me coffee this morning. He will be applying for jobs soon. Dylan and Meg are in Iceland -- he sent me a photo the other day. The Comolli's should be in France by now.


Monday, July 29, 2019

Health Care Is Expensive!

The first bills from Sutter Health Care arrived and already total over a quarter-million dollars. Thanks to my insurance, it looks like I'll just pay a thousand or two.

Still, I realize I can't afford to get sick again. My insurance will run out if I retire yet everyone seems to want me to retire.

I'm like millions of other people -- what shall I do?


Sunday, July 28, 2019

Disrupted Plans

Peter and Aidan both sick so no way to get to the East Bay today.

Being dependent on them to drive me has downsides.


Saturday, July 27, 2019

Family Events

Dylan and Meghan are on their way to Iceland today! His first trip outside of the U.S. since 8th grade.

Tomorrow we celebrate Luca's 11th and Leif's 10th birthdays.

Monday Laila, Loic & kids fly to Barcelona and then drive through rural France.

Me? It's a Saturday & I have no plans. I have eaten two bagels and am watching CNN. Will switch to a movie soon.


Friday, July 26, 2019

Political Ambitions and Fakery

Like most political junkies, I am trying to read the confusing signals this political season. That there are too many Democratic candidates is obvious.

When I assess a candidate, it is visceral. As a voter do I like or trust him/her? What ideas does the candidate have that resonate with me.

One thing I easily detect is a fake smile. Those with political ambition often adopt fake smiles, as if they are more joyful than is actually the case.

Others adopt fake gestures in order to appear forceful.

Fake ideas can be harder to discern, but there are plenty of those being propagated.

My conclusion at this point is that there is no effective Democratic candidate to run against Trump -- yet.

But there are plenty of posers.


Thursday, July 25, 2019

Pastrami on Rye, Loaded

The wonderful Dan Zoll, senior editor of Forum at KQED, brought me my favorite sandwich for lunch today. This is the last day for many of the radio folks to work out of the old Mariposa building before moving to the new Beale Street headquarters.

Soon, the occupational therapist is due. The OT determines whether you are physically capable of taking care of yourself.

I am!



My kids have emerged as my primary caretakers, plus a few friends and the home healthcare team. Having meals with people several times a week keeps me fresh and alert. I watch a lot of TV and rented movies, play fantasy baseball, communicate widely, work on my memoir, and keep this blog.

I try to post daily here now I am not going to work each day. I take my meds and get dressed, cook meals, pay bills. All the little things most people do. I do not need help showering or getting into and out of bed. But the healthcare people warn it will takes months to recover my strength.

One nurse said she is not sure I will, given that my legs, usually strong, seem to be weakening these days.

I have enough in retirement funds to last without income for a while; who knows exactly how long. I'm still consolidating my accounts. So I refuse to worry about money. Except for our meals out, I am frugal.

All in all, I feel lucky and hopeful.


Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Nice Wednesday

Went to Boogaloo's this morning with Aidan, Dylan, Julia and Kelsey. One of our favorite brunch venues. Eggs and home fries.

Then ate as lunch a goulash made by my buddy Alex Emslie. That is a dish that originated in Hungary, according to the Internet.

Don't feel like writing much today. Watching TV and movies. Boy, that Mueller hearing was boring...


Monday, July 22, 2019

A Sad Loss

Julia and Aidan told me yesterday that Brisdell Hunte passed on last month when I was ill. Brisdell was the wife of Chris Doyle and the mother of Eva and Ian. Eva played on Julia's soccer team and was a classmate at Synergy.

For one special year, Aidan was the girls' soccer coach. One girl never showed up for practice. As he had been taught by his coaches he rarely played her in games.

When the girl's father berated Aidan for this at a game, Brisdell came up afterward and told Aidan, "Don't worry about him. Keep doing what you're doing."

Brisdell, like me, was a worrier about our kids. When someone was assaulting young women and girls in the 24th Street area (near Synergy), Eva and Julia were just old enough to walk home after school.

Their family lived on one side of Bernal; Connie and our kids on the other.

Brisdell and I agreed to drive them home for a while due to the danger in the area. We also tooK turns driving them to soccer games and practices.

She was always a calm and special presence. A fellow parent and worrier. I miss her.


Yesterday's Events

Wonderful lunch with Julia, Aidan and Kelsey at Salumeria. I had a fancy grilled cheese sandwich and pickles. Julia is volunteering at an art gallery; Aidan's waiting for clearance to start work as an EMT/ambulance driver.

My home health care is now headquartered out of SF, not Concord. The nurse came by and said I need a life alert button, power of attorney, and to strengthen my legs. She said it's time for me to retire.

I need some new movies to watch. This retired schtick is getting boring. I can only write my memoir for so long.


Sunday, July 21, 2019


We sold my car (Loic did it) yesterday for $300. I bought it in 2003 for over $20,000.

I loved that car for many years but stopped driving about a year ago. It's been a second car for the Comolli's ever since.

Traffic is so congested in the Bay Area that I felt my driving had come a hazard.

So, good bye Saturn and I hope your new owner appreciates you!