Random Musings

Still here…

Posted in Random Musings on February 26th, 2011 by Victor Grey – Comments Off

It’s not that often that I can come up with a triple-entendre. So first, it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted to this blog, but I’m still here.

Secondly, I’ve just had an interesting experience. I woke up last Monday morning feeling fine. I worked for an hour or so on MetaConnectors, tracking down the cause of a failing test and writing a few more.

Then Carol and I did our morning meditation, and I showered, did my morning exercises, and went downstairs to eat breakfast. With the first few bites of breakfast I started feeling intense stomach pain. I couldn’t eat any more. So I went back upstairs to lie down, thinking it would pass in a little while.

It didn’t pass. By afternoon it was only getting worse. Finally around 5pm I called our health plan advice nurse, and after asking a bunch of questions she sternly ordered me to report to the hospital emergency room to be evaluated.

Carol drove me to the ER, I walked in and stood in line to be seen, and was brought into an exam room for an EKG and blood tests. I was quite surprised when the doctor came in and informed me that I was having a heart attack. Mind you, I was not weak or dizzy, had no trouble breathing, no “elephant sitting on my chest” or any of the symptoms I’d read about. Just intense pain in my lower chest in the area of my stomach, radiating up my esophagus into my jaw and into my left arm.

But, I was told, there is a very specific enzyme that the heart releases when it is in trouble, that never comes from anything else, and I had a high level of it in my blood. And although my first EKG had looked pretty normal to them, they did another and were now seeing changes.

So it was off to the cardiac catheter laboratory with me. When you’re lying flat on your back on a wheeled bed being pushed through the halls of a hospital, all you can see is the ceiling passing by. I recognized the movie cliché right away — I’ve seen this view of the corridor ceiling lights passing by in more than one movie.

Entering the “cath lab” as they called it was a different movie — the one where you’ve been abducted by aliens or robots and you’re in a room with an array of techno-medieval devices hanging off the ceiling.

There were a lot of people around me being very busy — I don’t know how many since all I could see was the impressive ceiling. At the time all this was happening I didn’t feel the least bit scared, just alert (I thought) and rather detached. But then, who knows what kind of drugs they were pumping into me through the three iv’s they had started. There was an electronically amplified voice (perhaps someone in another room?) commenting on the proceedings. There was a doctor who began describing what he was doing in truly impenetrable jargon, and the voice would repeat what he said and sometimes ask a question. I couldn’t feel what they were doing to me at all. Every now and then someone would ask me how I was doing, and not knowing what else to say (I’m in an alien abduction movie and my stomach hurts like hell) I would say “OK.”

After what seemed like 10 or 15 minutes had passed (it was really more than an hour), someone asked me if my pain was any better. At that very moment it was worse, a lot worse. “It should be better” one of the doctors said rather querulously. Then there ensued a bunch more jargon, and then lo, it was getting better.

With the release of the pain I must have drifted off, because the next thing I remember is seeing Carol’s face looking down at me. And the next thing after that was a sweet-natured young ICU nurse introducing herself to me as my nurse for the rest of the evening. It was 1:30am.

I’m told that one of my coronary arteries had been 100% blocked, and another one 80% blocked. I am now the proud possessor of two PROMUS Everolimus Eluting Coronary Stents, and the paperwork to prove it should you doubt me.

What to say about all this? For the 3 days that I was in the hospital afterwards, I was in good spirits and cheerfully demanding that they let me out now — I’m fine! Once I got home, I started on a roller coaster of emotion. Something like this changes who you think you are. It’s a new phase of life, a new archetype. My previous method for dealing with any physical pain was to first try to push through it, and if that didn’t work go lie down until it went away. For the first time in my life that modus operandi didn’t work for me. I’m no longer invincible.

Ah, well. There’s still an anti-social network generator to launch, several books to write, a wife to be devoted to, a daughter to admire, grandchildren to adore, friends to have intellectual jousts with. A life that I’m very far from done with.

Which brings me to my third entendre. In the very first post to this blog, I quoted the mathematician G. Spencer Brown1:

“Those of us who have gone back and remembered our births, remembered what we knew,and remembered the covenant we then made with those standing around our cradle, the realization that we now have to forget everything and live a life…”

There’s an ellipsis at the end of that quote that carries a lot of meaning. The only way I know of to embrace it is to …be still, …be here.

1 http://www.lawsofform.org/aum/

The Tyranny of Structurelessness

Posted in Random Musings on September 24th, 2008 by Victor Grey – Comments Off

I stumbled across this article years ago, and then lost track of where I had found it. I just rediscovered the original on the author’s website

It’s written about the Women’s Liberation Movement of the sixties (something about which I am not completely unaware, having been in a former life married to one of the founders of the local Women’s Liberation Organization in New Haven, Connecticut, a role referenced in the article), but it is a generalizable and brilliant analysis.

Try reading it while mentally substituting IIW/Identity Commons/Data Portability/etc for the women’s groups the author discusses.

TATWD? WTF?

Posted in Random Musings on January 3rd, 2007 by Victor Grey – Comments Off

“The world rests on the back of a giant turtle.” What does the turtle stand on? “Another turtle.” What does that turtle stand on? “It’s just turtles all the way down!”

If you Google the phrase, you get a lot of references to Stephen Hawking and Bertrand Russell. Great men these may be, but I find the setting up of a straw man by reasoning from a literal interpretation of a mystical concept a bit silly, and strangely akin to the claim some folks make to a belief in a “literal” interpretation of the (old English translation of the Latin translation of the Greek/Hebrew/Aramaic) bible. But then, science as an intolerant religion, and what it means to be truly rational…that’s a whole ‘nother post.

Dig a bit deeper, and you’ll find references to John Grinder and Gregory Bateson. Now you’re getting closer to what I mean. There is something deeply moving in the contemplation of infinite recursion. It is one way to come face to face with a mystery, that everything is a construct of my consciousness except right here, right now. That I don’t know where my consciousness came from, that it seems to stand on the back of the previous moment’s consciousness, which stands on the back…

“This statement is false.” Suppose that the preceeding statement is true, then it can’t be true because it says that it is false. OK then, supposing it is false, then it must be true because it says that it is false. While you’re thinking about that, someone kicks you in the shins.

Here’s a couple of quotes1 from the truly mystical mathematician G. Spencer Brown (image added by me):

“A mystic, if there is such a person, is not a person to whom everything is mysterious. He is a person to whom everything is perfectly plain.”

“Those of us who have gone back and remembered our births, remembered what we knew,and remembered the covenant we then made with those standing around our cradle, the realization that we now have to forget everything and live a life…”

1 http://www.lawsofform.org/aum/