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May 29, 2009

Rabbit Holes, Brick Walls, Spelling Bees, and Dagwood's Light Bulbs!

Our country suffers from growth pangs; all the jabber-jawing we muster, though, cannot alter the survival and inevitability of the fittest policies. We shall endure and move forward to where we are meant to be; civilization evolves fluidly. Let's relax and enjoy the ride; we need only be kind to one another as we progress. "It's easy if we try", sang John Lennon; Nikolai Lenin warbled a different tune.  This is America, and we shall always prefer John to Nikolai.

Try speaking these days; vocalized ideas drift down rabbit-holes and ricochet off brick walls.  Smile, and the world...thinks you're a push-over.  Listen... to a typical person's discussion of relationships,  e.g. familial, marital, non-marital or ex-marital;  Russian novels brim with populations of fewer characters. Jumbled up human interactions compare to rush-hour traffic; linger, race, pass, merge, beep, and keep moving.  "My time is (not) your time," a revisionary Rudee Vallee ought to croon to us in the twenty-first century.

Call ANY established business, whether huge or tiny; prepare to poke numbers ad infinitum on your telephoning device's keypad to advance to your destination; problem resolution or customer service just eight or nine clicks away.  Cut to the chase by selecting an ironic ZERO to connect with a live person!  Then, call back tomorrow and revisit the following day finding yourself squatting upon square one of a diabolically imaginary chess board.  Hello, anybody there?   Check-mate's elusive when one's opponent remains a brainless, clueless prompting robot.

Harry Truman's suggestion to pass not the buck?  A distant memory.  We shuffle about avoiding responsibilities to others as well as to ourselves claiming, "Busy!"  At what stage of life would anyone fail to be pre-occupied with busy-ness, yet still quite capable of finding enough hours for satisfying our own agendas?  Realization eventually sets in, among some of us, that we shared countless moments of our days enjoying, aiding, indulging, sometimes surviving others...and the pay-back never occurs as those we "stopped everything for" seem to be quite booked-up once again.  Here's a new law of physics: Polite courtesy and graciousness assume a back seat to self-serving attitudes of entitlement.  "I'm late.  I'm late...for a very important date!  No time to say , 'Hello, good-bye...'"  My cousin Hugh recently posted a generic cocktail-napkin-type-slogan on Facebook: "Never make someone a priority when he considers you an option."  So true.

Manuals provide suggestions and directions for harmonious home lives, child-raising, bicycle-assemblage, and tax deductions. Life, however, happens AT all of us, flying by with a whooshing sound; some man-made rules succeed while others become more flexible out of necessity.  "L-a-o-d-i-c-e-a-n," haltingly replied this year's national spelling champion to the panel of judges.  Look up its definition.  An epiphany if ever there was one.  Sherlock Holmes, please return to fiddling around with your violin; step aside for Dagwood Bumstead.  Light bulb above head just lit up in the final comic strip panel!  Take your precious time to stop to smell the roses, help an old lady across the street, rescue a kitten from the high branch of a tree, and simply enjoy being alive as a Laodicean.  Brilliantly sunny light in the sky at the end of a long, long, dark tunnel.  Blessed hope for us yet!  


Susie Duncan Sexton

Columbia City


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May 20, 2009

A cancer patient's dilemma: saving a life or a life's savings

Dear Editor,

As a survivor, I know how important it is to have health insurance that covers the treatments and prescriptions I needed. Cancer patients across the country—including those with insurance—often must dig deep into their savings and risk financial ruin to pay for cancer treatment and care. No one should ever have to make the choice between saving their life or their life savings.

A new poll from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, shows that more than 40 percent of people with cancer or a history of cancer in this country say they have had trouble paying for health care costs. More than one in four is delaying necessary treatments that they just can't afford, and one in seven is carrying major medical debt. The broken health care system leaves too many patients unable to afford quality care that may save their lives.

Even one person putting off necessary screenings or cancer care is one too many – one in four having to face that choice is unacceptable.  Health care reform must focus on preventing disease and include quality coverage for all Americans.

I know that if we can fix the health care system for cancer patients, we will fix it for virtually everyone else. We need to demand action now, not later, on comprehensive health care reform in this country. Cancer patients can't afford to wait.

Deb Baresic
Fort Wayne, IN

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Of Sound Bites & Sentence Fragments

Communication cries out, "Resuscitation, please!" 

And why have (those remaining) journalists as well as essayists begun to "affect" sentence fragments?  (But such a phenomenon may annoy only this reader?)  All literature seems a casualty of word-wars and kindles by now.  Which leads me to reveal my grief regarding the demise of possibly the only viable language form remaining.  The "art" of conversation.  (Pardon my fragments!)

Recently I posted within my Facebook-rectangular-space the following "status": "PBS re-ran, for the umpteenth time, THE KENNEDYS, circa 1992.  This quasi-maligning political piece lightly touched upon the entire clan.  However, and for always, to my mind, Jack and Jackie remain above the fray--such fabulous faces, charisma, character--BEAUTIFUL!  Both continue to drive Republican-types crazy!  Now, just why is that?  This 'first-couple' will never, not ever, be duplicated either, though many have tried and will continue to do so."  No texting nor even trendy sentence fragments.  Fairly groovy.

Of course, I was conversing with no one in particular, yet hundreds at once.  I actually received only two responses because the post appeared about 6 A.M. and got lost at the very bottom of the scroll as the day wore on, or since other participants--rushing to work or waking up young families for inconceivably nutritious breakfasts or pursuing deep-sea diving off the Bahamas--may have been far too occupied to reply.   Had I written, though, at any point during the day, "Just returned from pedicure" and sent the message via black-berry tweeting, the generated stream-of-consciousness entries, though incredibly brief, would flood in and amass beneath my terse "on the run" entry.  Takes one to know one! 

This past week-end offered a twist on our "Hi--Gotta Go--Bye!" frantic society now technologized to the maximum.  I shared an ever-so-brief, properly perfunctory, almost twitter-ish, cinematic review:  "ANGELS & DEMONS?  Ha!  Can derive more pleasure figuring out a maze-game printed on the back of a cereal box.  Protesters?  Only the critics.  Good Cardinal--bad Cardinal, all around the town!  Shot in Rome?  More like Director Ron Howard's back yard in L.A.  Wanted to like it...but no go!  Statuary molded from Styrofoam.  Helicopter sequence lacked one element: overwrought, vintage Hollywood gangster Jimmy Cagney squealing, 'Top o' the world, Ma!'"  (Notice an abundance of sentence fragments?  Cool.)

In this world of swine flu epidemics, avalanching economic collapse, and all-around general upheaval, my quick take, evaluating a clueless Tom Hanks portraying the ineffectual symbologist Robert Langdon floundering about in a meandering mess of a movie plot saddled with an incomprehensible script, garnered a genuine movie reviewer's enthusiasm--in Facebook City no less.  Our lives are are so hurried lately that said critic relied on my appraisal and has yet to purchase her ticket and pop-corn!   Gotta love instant messaging!

Please, somebody somewhere?  Furnish me with a blackberry and teach me to tweet, as the less said the better and ASAP at that!  Thus, grudgingly, I shall reduce my thought processes, my desire to just talk, my writing to 146 character sound-bite sentence fragments.  Stenography returns!

Wanna re-visit the supremely necessary and fulfilling "art" of give-and-take, the land of conversing "1 with another".  Wish to enjoy the attentive reading of complete sentences within paragraphs appearing inside paper-back or cloth-bound books.  Hoping to continually sniff  that inky newsprint gracing crinkly pages "pulped" from fallen forests!  Ah, felled trees?  A possible topic for some future day and of monumental interest to wood-land creatures, such as squirrels, chipmunks and birdies...tweet, tweet!  Sorta feel sorry "4 all of us".


Susie Duncan Sexton

Columbia City

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