1. Eye strain. My eyes aren’t getting worse, the doc tells me. My prescription hasn’t changed now in three years. In response to my complaint about not being able to read deep into the night like I used to, “Your eyes are just getting old,” he says with a grin and the hint of a chuckle. Apparently looking at a computer all day and trying to read all night, is just straining the hell out of them, which is what’s making the world go all blurry after 8 PM every night. The fix, maybe, is to add a set of reading glasses to my current bifocal order. Theoretically, that will mean when I’m reading in the evenings, I won’t have to keep looking down through the bottom third of my lenses. If that doesn’t do it, we’ll order a set that really magnifies instead of just adjusting the focus for my crummy vision. I’d pretend to be indignant, but at this point I’m willing to try most anything to get the situation corrected or even just improved.
2. Autumn. We’ll see the first few hours of autumn today. I don’t particularly mind the onset of cooler weather, but I resent the hell out of the days getting shorter. If feels like losing a lot more than we’re gaining for the trouble. This time of year always comes along with a certain nagging black dog. History tells me he’ll be around for the next 10 or 12 weeks. I’ll perk up a bit at the solstice, when we’ve gone over the hump and days lengthen instead of grow shorter – with its promise of gaining something rather than losing it. Until then, I’ll simply go through the day with a slightly increased baseline level of aggravation. It’s probably not so much that anyone would notice, but I’ll damned well know it.
3. People. Donald Trump is easy to mock. He’s a twice impeached reality television star-in-chief who spent his final days in office plotting the undoing of our republican form of government and when caught red handed begged his followers not to believe the evidence seen by their own lying eyes. As we’ve learned over the last seven years of his candidacy, his term of office, and his post-presidential career, that’s just Donald being Donald. The really troublesome bit is the people, who despite all evidence – or perhaps because of it – still rally to the call of this disgraced carnival barker. Make no mistake, there’s still enough of them, added to critical mass of those who are simply ambivalent, that it’s entirely possible he’ll be on the ballot two years from now. You can’t blame the former host of The Celebrity Apprentice for that part. It’s only a possibility because people are gullible, too invested in the narrative to be open to new information, or too stuck on their pride to admit they’ve been misled and find another way ahead.
I’ve worn glasses since I was in 7th grade – meaning I’ve had them now far longer than I ever lived without them. They feel like a natural extension of my face at this point.
My prescription has changed over the years, but for the last decade or so has been fairly stable. That’s why it was painfully obvious early this year that I was struggling to keep the small print in focus. What’s worse, after long sessions with the book of the day, I’m regularly finding the words blurring together and my eyes just too tired to focus on anything that’s not halfway across the room.
It hasn’t been debilitating, but has been thoroughly annoying and disheartening from day-to-day as it sets limits on how many pages I can get through in a sitting. I don’t make a habit of living in fear, but if there’s anything in life that causes me an unreasonable amount of dread, it’s the idea of losing my vision. It’s precisely the kind of perverse plot twist the Olympians would devise for me.
I took a few hours of sick leave this morning and schlepped over for my annual eye exam and diagnostic for this new issue. This appointment has been on the schedule for months and given the sum of other circumstances in this plague summer it’s one I would have probably cancelled… but since current situation is standing between me and fully enjoying the books, I’m 100% willing to risk painful, suffocating death to get it resolved.
As it turns out, Doc assures me I’m not, in fact, going blind… but it’s yet another instance of bodily succumbing to the ravages of middle age. My fancy new transition lenses should be here in about two weeks.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go find some tennis balls to put on the legs of my walker.
From the Pentagon today, POTUS commented that “Ideologies are not defeated with guns but better ideas and more attracting and more compelling vision.” It’s a nice sound bite. It also has, at it’s core, at least a kernel of truth. The United States and her allies rolled back fascism and communism in the 20th century in part because democracy tends to be a far more appealing rule set for most people.
That being said, though, we should probably note that it took one hell of a lot of guns to make that vision a reality and shove the Wehrmacht off the Norman beaches and chase them back across the Rhine to destroy their ability to carry on the war in the German heartland. It took a massive stockpile of nuclear weapons to just barely keep the peace in the second half of the past century. It took a vast (and extraordinarily well-armed) navy to maintain the sea lanes for global trade.
Democracy may not take root from the tip of a bayonet, but bloody history has proven that it virtually never gets carried forward in any other way. We’ve certainly got a more compelling and attractive vision than some wannabe throwback to the 8th century, but if we’re afraid to crush that ideology into tiny bits and then salt the earth from which it sprung, we’d might as well send off a note to the enemy and ask if they’re ready to just hug it out.
The wellspring of modern civilization is under daily assault and if we continue to do nothing other than talk a good game, well, I’m not sure we even has such a compelling national vision these days. Without a real vision for what the world should look like and the firepower and willingness to back that vision up, we’re just whistling past the graveyard of fallen world powers. As for me, that’s company I’d prefer not to be in since we can avoid it.
1. Paying cash. There’s a time and a place for cash. I carry it myself. However, the toll plaza at rush hour is neither the time nor the place. That’s the time and place where you should suck it up and order an E-ZPass so you can keep moving through the booth while the toll is automatically deducted from your account. I’m sure you have some very good reason like it being a privacy violation or you’re too lazy to use the internet, but no one has the time to wait around behind you while you try to scrape together $8 in loose change.
2. Strategy. Time was in this country when the chief executive said he had a strategy that meant he had a grand vision for the role the country should play in world affairs. Monroe, Lincoln, Truman, Reagan, and even Bush (43) were able to clearly articulate how they wanted to use American power. Apparently now the grand vision is to tiptoe around the hard issues, not try too hard, and for God’s sake avoid offending the international community in any way. It might be an approach, but it’s not what I’d call strategy.
3. Ray Rice and Mrs. Ray Rice. He’s a dirtbag and she’s dumb enough to not just stay with him, but publicly defend him too. News reported. Could we now please move on to paying attention to something that matters?
I’ve been wearing glasses since 7th grade. It’s been so long that I don’t even think of them as equipment so much as they are just another appendage like arms and legs. They’re like eyes on the outside of your head. On second thought, scratch that last part. The imagery there is a little off-putting.
Up until Friday, I thought my corrected vision was just fine. I legitimately hadn’t noticed anything change and have even commented that I didn’t think I needed anything aside from a new set of frames. Then of course there’s the moment of truth when the doc gave me the side by side comparison of the glasses I’m wearing now to my new prescription. Ouch. That would be a definite fail for the Mk 1 Eyeball, even with its upgraded external hardware kit.
Admittedly, it’s been two years since my last exam, so I shouldn’t be surprised that things had changed a bit. I just hate how they sneak up on you like that. It’s a bit like being the frog who just noticed his pot of water is getting uncomfortably warm. I’ve got a bad feeling it’s like the lady said… getting old ain’t for sissies.