August 29, 2008

Episode #003 "Goodbye, good luck, now get out!"

I said a goodbye last week to my son, Booth Boy (this is his podcast name referring to his producing the podcast episodes in the beginning before he taught me everything I needed to know). He is our youngest and we sent him away to further his education. It was a glimpse of an American ritual, teen age son goes off to college. It was emotional – he balled like a baby, I teared up, although less than usual for events like this. (See ‘Dad balling like a baby’ the day my daughter graduated from college and moved to an apartment 5 hours away from home.) I think it was less emotional because I have been gearing up for this moment for a while. Anyway, he will be home at Thanksgiving and Christmas and in the spring. I’ve heard rumors of some sort of Crew practice during spring break, but we shall see. Still, as I hugged him before he departed, my mind started to wander, as it often does…

When I was that age, I headed off to the Seminary to study for the priesthood. I never made it that far but that is another story. If you wanted to see the great goodbye ritual in action, this was the place. It happened so very often. My class started at about 90 young men and we graduated only about 20 or so. A group that small, with common goals like that gets pretty close. About 20 went on to Theology Training and 3 years later maybe 5 were ordained priests. Ninety to five. That is a lot of goodbyes. So many in fact that we had a name for the process of saying goodbye to someone who was leaving – “Goodbye, good luck, now get out!” This was the reminder that goodbye is not necessarily an end. You also needed to move on with your life.

This goodbye ritual is the same one going on all over the country, all over the world really. It is most certainly not only related to kids going off to college either. I’m sure that in some places, the great goodbye is given as the child leaves the little town or village and heads to the big city. Maybe it’s a move related to a new job or first job or relocated job. I am sure that in some places, sometimes, it is related to a youngster going off to war. The great goodbye ritual is marked by tears, promises, more tears, oaths to return and good luck wishes. It is characterized by crumpled tissues, red, swollen eyes, throat clearing and longing glances. It means it is time to move on.

Contrast this with Mrs. Penguin’s family goodbyes. She comes from a large family, spread out mostly around the northeast. There is that pesky family in Korea or is it Italy now… This whole family group rarely gets together save weddings and funerals and has its own goodbye ritual, “The Lawrence family goodbye.” In it there are all of the same elements, just strung out longer. For a 4 pm departure, the grand goodbye starts around noon. There are tears and hugs and the herding of the little children, the promises, the sworn oaths, the swears. All of it, spread out over several hours. It is time to move on.

The grand goodbye is an expression that heralds the sorrow, the social convention and the reminder that life goes on. Booth Boy’s departure reminded me of all of these things too. Just as it is an ending of one relationship, it is the start of another. He is becoming an adult; he is no longer a child. He will do well, probably better than any of us. It is time for him to move on. Goodbye, good luck, now get out.

(Check out Booth Boy's video blog "It's 1 am, do you know where your college student is" Link provided in the right column...)

August 28, 2008

Episode #002 "Where, oh where, did my little toe go..."

I am a double amputee. That sort of sounds worse than it really is for me. Let me explain. I lost my left leg to a below knee amputation, related to a bone infection, related to an ulcer on the bottom of my foot. I have diabetes, I didn’t take care of it or the foot and the foot got infected. The infection got into the bone and I had to have my leg removed. That was in August 2005. I have a prosthesis now and usually can get along pretty good. Two weeks ago I had to have the pinky toe on my good foot amputated. Good foot-that’s an oxymoron for my circumstances. Hence I am a double amputee, one left foot less, one right toe less.

I was awake for the surgery. I didn’t watch it, but I was aware of what was going on. During the final few minutes, I heard the surgeon say “OH shoot” As my friend Maqz says, we all know what oh shoot means. However in this case it was not bad. He simply was making a request to the nurse assisting him to shoot a little saline in the wound to clean it out. Later the surgeon remarked that that was why they like to have people put under for their surgeries. Since the surgery I have been recovering without problems.

While recovering (and I feel guilty saying that. It was a 22 minute surgery and he wanted me to stay off the foot for a couple of days…), I was listening to Michael Crichton’s book “Next”. In it, there’s a lot of talk about human tissue and genetics. That got me wondering. Whatever happened to my little toe? I mean it didn’t have any value to anyone except me. It’s not like they could use it for a transplant. It’s not like they could use it for research I don’t think. It was just a little toe, squished and red and somewhat swollen.

In an old episode of M.A.S.H., Hawkeye does unnecessary surgery to remove an officer’s appendix, in order to prevent the officer from going back to the front and doing reckless things that would end up killing soldiers in his platoon. In a scene where he explains why he did it, he says “It was pink and healthy and I tossed it in the can”. That makes me wonder if that’s something similar to what my surgeon said. Was it “It was pink, not quite healthy and I tossed it in the can.” Or, is there another side of this story. I doubt I will ever find out more details. To be honest, I don’t miss it either.

August 27, 2008

Episode #001 "Why a blog?"

I just started reading “Freakonomics” (for the purposes of truth in blogging, I am actually listening to it on CD…). In it, one of the authors, who is reading the book for the CD, was discussing why this audio version is “revised and expanded.”

He says that when you write a book, the material becomes static right away; you finish it, wait for it to be published after editing and revisions, put it out there and there it remains as is, despite changes in the world around it. Hence these authors have corrected, revised and added material for this audio edition. These new things were based on the blog they had created as a platform for making additions, updates, and commentary to the book. This was a new edition on CD with fresh new ideas recorded for it. That sounded like a good idea.

That is also what it is like with a podcast. As I sit writing this, my podcast cohost (cohort) and I have some 50+ editions of Countless Screaming Argonauts, the Podcast of Record, recorded and posted. This is great but those thoughts and ideas are now static too.

We have changed over the last 10 months. We have learned over the last 10 months. We have new ideas about old topics from 10 months ago. But unless we are willing to update all the old topics and ideas as previously discussed, we cannot change it, That that would be a daunting task to undertake too.

Just finding a specific section in a specific podcast is difficult. We do not have the time for this. Sure sometimes we do on air updates but not for every story or issue we have discussed. It is hoped that this update or new idea is the sort of thing that might go into this blog. Plus, if we spend all that time updating stuff, when will we have time to talk about new topics, new ideas, new funny quips and stories?

Additionally, there are personal thoughts too, Ideas, thoughts and situations come up that are not appropriate for our podcast, or we do not have enough time to deal with.

Certainly the ideas of a podcast have a shelf life, and the shelf life can be short. Well, this will be a place for them too. I hope you enjoy it.