Sunday, April 21, 2013


I talk a good game.  It's easy to do when you are able to walk around, take nourishment and have more or less regular episodes in the bathroom.  Talk is cheap.  Adversity is the real test of  "a good game".  I talk a lot about growing older and all the interesting dimensions of that process.   What I don't talk a lot about is the end game.  Life after the TWO MINUTE WARNING.

I've been around the sick and dying off and on all my life.  The end game is played out in as many ways as there are players in the game.  That's all of us, folks, every last one of us.  I can't say I've seen it all.  Frankly, I am happy not to have seen it all.  But I've seen enough to feel qualified to say that though the end comes to us all, it does not come in the same way to us all. 

For many, there is no two minute warning.  A blinding flash, a numbing jolt in the brain, a simple last sigh in the night, or a stupid act by a stupid driver - no warning - CRASH!  St. Peter has heard it millions of times, "But I didn't hear the two minute warning!"

My partner CA is a hospice nurse.  She can talk about dying with as much focus as if she were describing a new cardinal pair at the feeders.  She is really engaged and loves the work.  It's a mission, if you will, that seems to me to have real value.  I couldn't do it five minutes.  The hospice mission is to seek to assure as little pain and discomfort at the end as possible. 

A dear friend of mine, living out west, says now and then in our many email exchanges, that she believes in rational suicide.  I guess what she means by that is that it's only for thinking people.  She asks, "Why can't I be in control of the end like I am in control in the middle?"  I can't find any fault with that. Although, for me, the "middle" often seems out of control.

I saw this enormously gripping program about assisted suicide where this middle aged man with  amyotrophic lateral sclerosis - ALS - Lou Gehrig's Disease.  In its final stages one can not even swallow, having lost all control of bodily functions.  It's a less than ideal exit I am told.  He and his wife traveled to Switzerland, where it is apparently legal to have someone who is licensed, to assist in the end of life process.  This man wanted to have control over his dying while he could still hold the cup containing his "cocktail" and swallow it.  He went to sleep listening to his favorite music and holding his wife's hand.  He heard the two minute warning and he played it out according to his own play book.  I sat there as a stone, much the same way I remember feeling when I first saw that clip of the first atomic bomb test in the desert.  I had to remember to breathe.

The other "personal" way out is what I call the Kodak method, named after the inventor of the once ubiquitous Brownie roll film camera.  George Eastman sat in his office one night in March 1932 at the age of 77 years and put a pistol to his chest and fired a bullet into his heart.  Now, a head shot would have been an instantaneous "light's out" experience - I am told.  I am convinced that there was a beat or two before the lights went all the way out that the fly on the wall might have heard something like, "My goodness, but that hurt."  But, probably not.  He was a determined man.  He left a note - "To my friends: my work is done. Why wait?" 

There is the view that claims that we should hold out as long as possible in case someone bursts through the door with the hoped for miracle cure, or just a raw miracle.   I suppose that could happen, but it sounds more like magical thinking than science.  If you live long enough the very idea of a miracle cure becomes kind of irrelevant, if not darkly humorous.

I suppose that if we are lucky we will hear the two minute warning and begin executing our end of game plan.  Things like making sure everyone knows where your last will and testament is filed, what you want to happen to your mortal remains, who gets your porno films, your old drug paraphernalia, your gun and your leftover prescription drugs which could be worth a lot of money on the street.  It would, however, seem the ultimate irony to think of luck at the time of one's death.  I mean, really.

No, incase you're wondering, I have not heard a two minute warning.  However, I do remember that impossibly boring half time program that seems like a long time ago. 

I'll see you around.

Jerry Henderson

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


My FaceBook sidebar is telling me about some of my FB friends who have several hundred FB friends. I think FB is trying to make me feel guilty for not having as many friends as I could have. I think I am friendly, but maybe I'm not. I mean, I don't even know 300 people. 500 people. I suppose if I tried, I could think of 300 people, but there is no way I could call all of them actual friends. I heard of a woman who had over 1000 FB friends. I am sure there are people who have more. Maybe there should be a button for acquaintances. People you know of, but perhaps do not actually know - you know?

I saw a most remarkable presentation at the Portland Museum of Art last year, that exhibited dozens of photographs of the artist's FaceBook friends. She went around and made very tasteful portraits of her friends and presented them in this show. I was fascinated with the whole effort. But did she send birthday greetings to them all? Send Holiday greetings to them all? Call them all and have coffee now and then? You know the answer to that.

Here's a test. In a friendship there is always mutual knowledge and understanding. It has to go both ways. There is a level of intimacy - closeness in a real friendship. That doesn't mean there is a lot of groping every time you meet, but there are some shared experiences that merit at least a gentle fist bump upon greeting. Know what I mean?

It takes more than simple recognition to make a friendship. In a country that makes so much of freedom of speech any word can be word-naped and given a new identity. FaceBook has done this with "friend". Friend has been taken from her home in the middle of the night and given a new hairdo, a facelift and new clothes and passport. A friend now is anyone who was at the same party you attended, passed you on the street, worked for the same company, served in the same battalion, or lives on the same planet as you do. "Hey, somebody who knows you and is your FB friend, also knows Joe Bliztifac. Why not be Joe Bliztifac's friend." It's not far from that. Wait a minute - that's exactly what it is.

The one thing that doesn't need watering down in our culture is friendship. But if someone comes up and says, "Hey, I want to be your friend," what do you say? "Sure, it's an honor to be your friend". Wait -
is it really? I mean you could say something like, I would love to be an acquaintance of yours and then perhaps as time goes by, we may become real friends. Get to know each other. Something like that. We don't do that, do we? And that's the little chink in our social armor that Mr. Zuckeberg exploits.

Here is test #2. The next time you get a friend request, go ahead and accept it and then send a private message and ask the person to meet you next friday at Slumgullion's or where ever for a beer. Maybe they'll pay. You never know - you may have just met your long sought soul buddy. Ya think?

Here's a disclaimer for you: I actually like FaceBook. Not the whole thing, but the bulletin board feature where we actually go back and forth on some subject or other. It is an over the backyard fence thing at heart and that is all it is for me. The games, the sidebars, the crap that wants to snare you into sharing more of your personal information is garbage. Of course, this is only one man's opinion.

I love communicating with people. It's what drives me. When something better comes along I'll go to it. Meanwhile - - - - - - - will you be my friend?

I'm Jerry Henderson

Friday, April 5, 2013


If you are one of those unfortunates who stumble upon this site and wonder what's going on, well it is under construction.  I am experimenting with a PODCASTING host, the results of which effort I would like to post here.

Those wonderfully smart people who write these programs that are touted to work miracles with the very thing you want to do can't seem to explain - at least to my dim lights - to me how these things work.  It is just near impossible for an engineer to talk down to the level of ordinary humans.

As you will note, I did manage to post an experimental audio file here but do not seem to be able to replicate the experience in the same way as before.  I am certain that there is a normal, regular and predictable path to successfully posting a podcast to this or any other site - as is clearly stated in their mission statement.  God forbid that I should want to add theme music!

Well, anyway, I need something to do.  Actually, I have plenty to do and THIS is what I do instead.  HA!

Your patience is deeply appreciated.        Thank You

Jerry Henderson