Thursday, October 20

Matthew KO's Kayaks

Matthew KO’s Kayaks

Like the heavyweight it was, Hurricane Matthew tore through Georgia, South and North Carolina in early October leaving havoc and misery for many residents in its path. Downed trees, collapsed roofs, flooded streets and homes, water and sewer lines broken, caskets disinterred, debris everywhere. Emergency services and first responders taxed to the max. There was a report of a man who called a pizza delivery service to take a pie to his grandmother and tell her to call him. They did, she did. 

At my house there was no serious damage. One limb from a neighbor’s tree fell across the edge of the roof but it was harmless. My cleanup was easier than for thousands of others. 

All around Moss Creek, the last gated community before reaching Hilton Head Island, the affects of the storm can still be seen. It will be weeks before all the debris is carried away and restoration can begin. The golf courses haven’t re-opened yet. Horrors. Psychiatrists are on hand. (Just kidding.)

Lesser known damage sites include this kayak storage area at Moss Creek. This is at the marina where at least two boats left in the water to ride out the storm capsized. 


Sunday, October 2

Gratitude in Life

Why I am grateful

When I woke this morning, October 2, 2016, it was the first day of my life I was 85. I am a guy who has had a good life; one who studied, worked, laughed and cried, and loved and lost.  During the past week I looked back on the many people and life events I have to be truly thankful for. My attention is with specific individuals and cohorts of people whose place in my life is deeply personal to me. By listing them here I hope to pay homage to them and let it be known publicly how truly grateful I am to:

  • a loving God for the blessings of life and overlooking my failures and foibles.
  • my country - the USA - for the privilege to live in freedom and opportunity to dream, to fail, to succeed. 
  • my parents, Francis C. and Anne C. (Wynn) Archibald for giving me life.
  • my siblings, children and extended family members who make life interesting and fun.  
  • the public school teachers and Xaverian Brothers who instructed me through high school.
  • my higher education professors and teachers who opened wide the doors to knowledge.
  • Ed Cavanaugh who helped me get my first job as a teen-ager.
  • Ed Quigley, part-time employer and kind friend who urged me to join the U.S. Air Force.
  • Lt. Col. John A. Brock, USAF, mentor and career facilitator.
  • the men and women who made my working life challenging, successful and pleasurable.
  • Carl Meynardie, publisher of The Hanahan News, who gave me a column and expanded a voice.
  • the friends and allies who supported my political and elected service. 
  • the medical practitioners who take care of me.
  • my late wife, Mary Frances Cooper, who married me, loved me, and gave me five children.
  • my children who each developed in a different way and make me proud to be their father.
  • my late second wife, Joyce L. Wahlrab, who loved me unconditionally.
  • the innumerable men and women who touched my life, and I theirs, during these 85 years.

The timeline of a life is uncertain, but I look forward to the years ahead. I pray for long life, that I might love and serve My Lord, My God, and assist those in need in some small way.

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Friday, September 23

So many books, so little time

About six years ago Google counted the books in the world and come up with 129 million plus. This figure has been updated by others, not entirely scientifically, to more than 134 million and counting.

An average person reads 200-300 words per minute. At this rate, someone (with math skills greater than mine) has calculated it would take 60,000 years to read every book currently catalogued in the Library of Congress.

Nobody has that kind of time. Certainly not me. I have other things to do. So I compensate. 

I read book reviews and familiarize myself with at least what the editors of The New York Review of Books, The London Review of Books and the The New York Times Sunday Book Review section, think is worth reviewing and possibly reading. Also ads in these publications are often a good source of of information for new books. 

In 2013, more than 300,000 books were published in the United States. Assuming that number remained steady in the ensuing years, selecting those to be reviewed is a formidable, awesome and challenging task.

During the 1980’s and 1990’s, I reviewed books for the Sunday edition of The State in Columbia, S.C. The office of the editor over-flowed with books stacked in open bookcases, on the floor and still in unopened packages. I can only imagine what a corresponding office must look like in New York and London. 

At this point in my life I prefer to devote my reading to non-fiction works, concentrating on memoirs, and books on world affairs and international issues. I do make one exception: Alan Furst, an American author of fifteen historical spy novels dealing with the period 1938 to the late forties. His is the last book I could not put down. 

What do you like to read? I would be interested in hearing from you. Send comments to:

Monday, August 29

Remembering a day of my youth

When I was in high school (Keith Academy, Lowell, MA., 1946-1949) I clerked after school in a Kennedy’s Butter and Egg Store, one of many such stores in a large New England chain. I don’t know if the store belonged to “those Kennedy’s” but that was it’s name. The store was on Central Street in downtown Lowell and did a crisp business every week as hundreds of people walked by and came in for butter cut from large tubs, eggs collected from baskets, bulk cheese of many kinds, fresh ground coffee (three choices), bulk tea, and a few shelves of tinned goods, crackers and cookies. Usually three of us were at work:  the store manager, another full-time clerk and myself; an after school helper who stocked shelves, cleaned windows, swept floors and waited on customers. 

In the fall and winter it got dark early and many’s the night I walked home in darkness and cold. I had this job to help out at home. At the end of the week I would turn my pay envelope over to my mother and I would keep a small amount for myself. An older sister did the same and eventually my younger brother would also fall into line. My father had disappeared years earlier and did not support his wife and five children so when we became of the working permit age, 14 it was, we got work permits and found jobs.

When the store closed at six in the evening the manager and the full-time clerk headed their ways and I went mine. I walked down Central Street past another ten or so stores and then turned left on Market Street. A long walk up this street past mills that still employed hundreds, across the canal and past the Lowell Boys Club and a series of Greek coffee shops and stores would take me to the entrance to the housing project where we lived. Shortly after turning onto Market Street I walked past the Lowell Police Station. It was a long red brick building, two stories high. On the ground level past the main entrance there was a series of cells. In the warm weather open windows afforded people passing by a glimpse of them. 

On one early Autumn night as I walked on in the twilight I was passing the police station and I heard a commotion. At the end of the building a window was open for ventilation and I stopped to listen and look. I was a teenager, I was curious. Police were cutting a man down from the bars. He had hanged himself. A policeman saw me looking through the window and yelled at me to “Go on. Get out of here.” I did as I was told and hurried on home.  

When I arrived home a neighbor lady was in our house talking with my mother. My sisters and brothers were there as well. I told them what I had seen at the police station and my story was dismissed as exaggeration. I was disappointed that no one believed me and felt deflated. I had seen an important thing and wanted to share it. We had supper and nothing more was said.

Later that evening, probably around nine, the neighbor who had been in my house came to our door and told my mother she had a phone call on the neighbor’s phone. We did not have phone in our house at the time. My mother went next door and when she returned she was obviously shaken. An aunt had called. The aunt’s brother, a veteran of the recently concluded World War II had committed suicide in the local jail a few hours earlier. He was a veteran seared by war who had a massive drinking problem and was known to the local police. They occasionally locked him up until he sobered and then they turned him loose. He was not a criminal they had to keep an eye on. He was just a man scarred by his war experiences and they tried to help him.

Tuesday, August 23

Two women and the MRSA infection, Post 2

Last week I put up a post (below) about two women and a life-threatening MRSA infection. I told the second woman, who had scheduled elective hip replacement surgery, about the first contracting the MRSA infection following necessary hip replacement surgery; this brought back her own experience some years earlier. She cancelled the elective surgery.

The post generated several comments from women and men I believe are worth sharing. None of the following is medical advice and readers must make their own decisions.

###“I think it is clear to say God used you in this.”

###“Thank you for reminding all of us that medical procedure involves danger that must be very seriously considered.”

###“Thanks for the warning. It is something I didn’t think about when I had elective surgery 1 1/2 years ago, I will definitely keep this in mind should I be so foolish to ever consider elective surgery again.”

###“This is very sad indeed. With all our advances in science and technology why can't we deal with these infections before they begin!!! I  have a dear friend who went through this twice and was on antibiotics for more than a year. It took her a full two years to recover and she still can't walk.”

###“I am so sorry for these two ladies. I just had a hip replacement in May and thankfully I did not have those experiences. I did delay my surgery so that I could have it done at New England Baptist Hospital, they are an orthopedic hospital only. They also have the lowest rate for MRSA infection. They test you for the infection 2 weeks before your surgery and if you have it in your system they treat you before you enter the hospital. You also use a special soap for a few days before the surgery to cut down on skin infections. I am so glad I picked them.”

###”Medical mistakes are the third leading cause of deaths in the US, only cancer and heart attacks kill more. Medical errors cause an estimated 250,000 deaths per year. I've had eleven surgeries, some minor, some very major so I've beaten the odds.... so far. With some exceptions it pays to live in New England with access to Boston.”

###“Interesting and frightening story.  But we know that technology has advanced significantly since, and yes, I’m aware of MRSA, but I have to say that I have had two (2) hips, two (2)  knees, and a (1) shoulder, totally replaced and they all work beautifully, thanks to the good Orthopedists down here in SW Florida. So to the ‘M” sisters, come down to SW Florida to have your procedures done, They probably do more replacements here, than in most other places in America, due to the demographics of the area.”

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Saturday, August 20

Two women and a frightening tale

This is a story about two women, both born before the outbreak of World War II, who are connected only through me but who shared a medical event that is downright scary, and can be life threatening,

The first woman I will call BM grew up on the East coast, became a professional woman and moved to California. Decades later she has returned to New England to live among family. 

The second woman is a very private person who lives in New York City, and whom I will call JM. She had a fine career in the medical field, and is active in public life. She recently confided to me she had scheduled elective surgery to have a hip replaced later this year.

BM had an absolutely necessary hip replacement in California several weeks ago. The procedure, including a week in physical rehab went well. She was extremely pleased. 

Shortly after BM got out of the hospital she developed an MRSA infection and was re-admitted to hospital. The Mayo Clinic website says, “Most MRSA infections occur in people who've been in hospitals or other health care settings, such as nursing homes and dialysis centers…MRSA infections typically are associated with invasive procedures or devices, such as surgeries, intravenous tubing or artificial joints.” 

In the hospital ICU, BM was given three injections of powerful  drugs every day for seven days to fight the disease. 

After discussing this with BM, I emailed JM and urged her to include MRSA infections in discussions with her doctor and his staff to be on the safe side. This is a summary of her reply:

“Your MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) caution brought me back to reality - and earth. I had so wanted to believe that this one procedure would make me perfect again that I chose to forget the horrible (surgical) past and my vow 'never, ever, to go for elective surgery for anything....unless blood is issuing from every bodily cavity!’ "

Well, dear Arch, JM continued, here is what I repressed to myself. I contracted “a very serious, life-threatening case of MRSA from a first hip surgery 3 years ago and I was in intensive care for 17 days while they shot me full of mega drugs, and after months of daily continued drug injections at home, I (obviously) survived - but was told that I would be 'forever immune' to the life-saving properties of those same mega drugs”

JM concluded in sadness: “God works in mysterious ways and so, minutes ago, I received a call notifying me of the funeral of (name deleted), an old friend, and former co-worker,” who died Wednesday from MRSA after having hip replacement surgery.

JM was going to the funeral. 

Thursday, August 4

I don't believe it

I don’t believe the news that Donald Trump’s campaign raised $82 million in “small donations” from his supporters in July. No one raises that kind of money in a month. 

The names of donors who give less than $200 need not be disclosed to the Federal Election Commission in otherwise public filings by the presidential candidates. They can claim any number that comes to their head and say it came from hundreds or thousands of supporter. Would the Trump campaign do this?

In my opinion, in a heartbeat. Trump could pump his own money into the campaign and label it “small donations” to give his campaign an aura of  authenticity. He has refused to make his taxes public and has a record of overstating his personal wealth in business dealings. 

The more important story about money, however, is the debt Donald Trump will carry into the White House should he (God help us) somehow be elected. The man is in debt more than $100 million to banks (e.g. Deutsche Bank of Germany and its subsidiaries) that clash with U.S. bank regulators like clockwork. No other presidential candidate in the history of America has carried such a potential conflict of interest burden into the Oval Office. 

The news about the alleged $82 million naturally struck fear into the beating hearts of the Hillary Clinton campaign. The Trump claim raised Hillary’s fund raising effort to a new pitch. It is like morning following the night. One candidate makes a claim and the other capitalizes on it. I got an email today from Hillary’s campaign manager asking for a $75 donation to help compete with the (alleged - my word) Trump success in July. 

I’ve already sent my contribution to Hillary for August. If I believed Trump’s claims I would do more but I don’t believe it…

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