Stephen Kahn

Archive for July, 2012|Monthly archive page

How I almost became a Kenyan millionaire (Part 3)

In Humor on July 26, 2012 at 9:09 pm

In fact, while I am sure the Aga Khan is a very spiritual man, he makes me think of Mitt Romney, who also is a very spiritual man who belongs to a religious group that is very big on tithing, and finds no contradiction between his spirituality and his interest in making lots of money.

(But then Osama bin Laden was a very rich religious leader, and he could hardly think of anything more fun to do than spreading Islam by sword, bomb, crashing airplane, suicide vest, and anything else he and his buddies could think of, so you never know what will float (or sink) someone’s boat.)

Hasan explained to us that while he was a Muslim from India, he belonged to a family of people who had lived in Kenya for three generations, and owned many business enterprises in Kenya. Hasan had moved to the United States at some point (so he could study in an American university). He earnestly assured us that he was a very peaceful Muslim. He also made appointments to interview each of us personally. In my interview, apparently recognizing my last name (Kahn) as a Jewish one, he asked me about my religious beliefs. When I explained that my ancestors were Jews, I was not a religious believer. He seemed perfectly happy with this answer. I consider it quite compatible with his religious approach to money (let’s make lots of money). I dimly grasped at the time, and feel more certain now, that he was only interested in 1) my desire to make a lot of money and 2) my willingness to subordinate myself to his ego.

As he spoke to the group, Hasan indicated that his ties to Kenya indicated that there were great business possibilities in promoting trade between Kenya and the United States. The main Kenyan products I remember him mentioning were tea and tropical hard woods (which are probably now considered as coming from endangered species of hardwood trees).

Hardwoods endangered

Hassan assured us that he had a lot of successful business experience, in part because his family were all successful business owners in Kenya and because he had a lot of successful business experience as a salesman in the United States, working for a large pharmaceutical company, selling what are called“ethical drugs,”an oxymoron similar to “military intelligence.”As soon as I realized he was a salesman, the hairs on the back of my neck stirred, just as the neck hairs on a vampire hunter stir when he notices a person in a coffee shop who casts no shadow.

After assuring us he was not a dangerous Muslim [only a greedy one], Hasan felt obligated to reassure us about Africa and Kenya.

How I almost became a Kenyan Millionaire. (Last story, Part 2)

In Humor, Uncategorized on July 20, 2012 at 12:06 am

This would be more likely to apply to my brother, who actually lived in Senegal for three years, and actually became fluent in Wolof, and who actually learned how to be a silversmith, though it didn’t make him a millionaire (or he wouldn’t whine about money so much and would offer to pay our train fare on our trip from Whidbey to Portland, ME via Canadian rail this fall.) Though to be fair, he did offer to help pay for part of our fare from Halifax. If we figure out how to get from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Portland, Maine Though given all the difficulty we are having making connections, I do not know how people ever manage to travel in darkest France or Eastest India or even More Easterly China, where my cousin became an actual millionaire. And, I should add, my brother became lead guitar for a Senegalese rock and roll band, as I guess he failed to convince them to become a bluegrass band, which he much prefers to rock and roll, even Senegalese variety.

Anyway, in my last year teaching computer classes for the library system, an Indian man from East India took a class, and then asked me if I could do some consulting work for him. When I went to a meeting with – Hasan, I will call him, which is something like his real name and typical of his religious group, I found myself in a room with about a dozen people. One of whom was a man who taught fifth grade and ran a small business on the side. Another one was an attractive woman in her 30s who ran a small limousine service with one vehicle. There were about twenty or so other people who ran very small and very marginal part-time or full-time businesses.

This was a time, not that distant from the attack on the WorldTradeTowers, when America was nervous about Muslims. (Now, of course, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, etc. all live in peace and harmony in America.) So Hasan cut right to the chase, explaining that he was a Muslim from India, a member of the sect headed by the Aga Khan. If you go to Wikipedia you can learn everything you want to know (and probably a great deal more than you want to know) about the Aga Khan. I’ll boil it down to: he is one of the richest religious leaders in the world. Millions of followers pay him tithes. He is too busy occupying himself with important religious enterprises such as breeding and racing horses to indulge in silly activities such as spreading Islam by bomb, sword, firearm, or crashing airplane.

Last story. Part 1.

In Hard to tell on July 18, 2012 at 12:04 am

Old people talking about their illnesses is tedious (even, or perhaps especially) to each other in the hospital. It’s time for a story. It may be the last one I have, because I live on peaceful Whidbey Island, even though the local newspaper rumors that NBC Dateline will cover one of our big murder trials.

Or the exciting news may be the integration of our chicken coop. The black “sex-link” pullets (teenagers) are trying to sleep with the Dominique hens (doesn’t that sound racy)? (The Dominiques are a mixture of black and white, rather like Barak).

Except Lucy, the bottom of the adult hen pecking order (and a very belligerent hen with a very bad attitude) says, “No pullets on my perch and no pullets on the nice new perch next to mine Grandma installed.” Then Lucy pecked the pullets’ tail feathers in a very nasty way. The pullets fled and hid in their closet. But then Grandma talked to all the hens and sternly told them they had to sleep together like good little hens, and in the morning there were no feathers or bloody spots to be found. So peace reigns in the hen house, sort of.

Instead I will tell about the time I almost became a Kenyan millionaire, just before I retired.

First the chickens, then us.

In Bad news on July 12, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Real life has a habit of intruding on story-telling. Last night, after I spent the morning at at a CPR/First Aid class at the church, my wife went out to putter among the chickens. She came back to the house and broke into tears and sobs.

“One of the pullets is sick,” she told me between sobs. “I put her in the closet.” [The store room where the pullets lived before we integrated them with the hens.] My wife, even in the midst of sorrow and turmoil, is pragmatic. She is getting the sick pullet away from the others so the young hen won’t infect the others. This morning she (or I) will go out and see if the teenage is still alive. This provides us with practice as we get old and eventually ill, for dealing with each other, just as my wife skillfully nursed me as I lay ill with an infected leg.

Tip to younger people. When you choose a mate when young for sex appeal and other entertainment values, choose someone who will be a good nurse when you get old. And start developing your own nursing skills. Or make enough money to hire good nurses. Romney’s wife has a serious illness. I presume she has good nursing care, one way or another.

Is there a placebo practioner in the house?

In Uncategorized on July 9, 2012 at 3:04 am

It has been said that” The less the people know about how sausages and laws are made, the better they sleep in the night.” The same thought may apply to medical care.

My HMO is considered to be one of the best in the United States – or so they often tell me – and as I am still alive, and my infected leg seems to be getting better – I will go along with this assertion. In truth, the medical staff who cared for me were careful and kind.

Even so, I got a much closer examination of medical care from the “inside” than I have ever needed before, and various aspects left me uneasy. Doctors are spread very thin, rotating quickly from one venue to another; one day at the hospital; another day at the clinic; another day on a different shift. On several occasions, I met a new doctor unfamiliar with my case so I had to brief him or her on everything that had occurred before. I could see the wheels turning in the doctor’s head as he sized me up and made a diagnosis. Also, I was treated with a complicated witch’s brew of medications, with an almost infinite possibility of interactions and side effects. I had a variety of side effects; trying to isolate what medication caused which particular side effect – such as the incredible itching I experienced – was almost impossible to isolate.

One of the medications listed as side effects the possibility of rupturing a tendon. My wife says she knows someone who took this medication and ruptured a tendon (which never really recovered). Several doctors were dubious – “We have used this medication – cipro – and we haven’t observed any cases of tendon rupture” was a typical response, making me feel as if I was at casino with very high stakes and dubious odds.

David, whose opinion I value highly, said

Here’s my weirdo suggestion: if you are at all open to strange alternative shit — and even if you’re not — it might be worthwhile to try Reiki, which is unusual in that it tends to be beneficial even if the person receiving it thinks it’s complete crap. Luckily we live in a part of the world where energy workers are pretty common. Even if it doesn’t help the infection or the itching, it can “purge” side effects of drugs, which may be useful since you’ve been on several strong ones recently. Usually for stuff like this, one session is enough, or at least causes a measurable improvement.

Also, don’t die. That would be bad.

I mentioned this to the last doctor I encountered, a handsome, pleasant young man, who tactfully expressed doubt about Reiki, but indicated as he has an aunt who is into it, he wasn’t going to say anything negative about it. My wife has used acupuncture, and thinks it may  have helped her, and the doctor expressed a little more confidence in it than Reiki.

My gymnasium has a Reiki practitioner. My wife (who is also dubious) thinks she knows a couple, but she can’t remember their names. None of this is free. Is one better than another? How do I tell?

I am tempted to see if there is a Placebo practitioner who works for free. Or at least in exchange for very fresh eggs from very happy chickens.

Is there a placebo practioner in the house?

In Uncategorized on July 9, 2012 at 3:04 am

It has been said that” The less the people know about how sausages and laws are made, the better they sleep in the night.” The same thought may apply to medical care.

 

My HMO is considered to be one of the best in the United States – or so they often tell me – and as I am still alive, and my infected leg seems to be getting better – I will go along with this assertion. In truth, the medical staff who cared for me were careful and kind.

 

Even so, I got a much closer examination of medical care from the “inside” than I have ever needed before, and various aspects left me uneasy. Doctors are spread very thin, rotating quickly from one venue to another; one day at the hospital; another day at the clinic; another day on a different shift. On several occasions, I met a new doctor unfamiliar with my case so I had to brief him or her on everything that had occurred before. I could see the wheels turning in the doctor’s head as he sized me up and made a diagnosis. Also, I was treated with a complicated witch’s brew of medications, with an almost infinite possibility of interactions and side effects. I had a variety of side effects; trying to isolate what medication caused which particular side effect – such as the incredible itching I experienced – was almost impossible to isolate.

 

One of the medications listed as side effects the possibility of rupturing a tendon. My wife says she knows someone who took this medication and ruptured a tendon (which never really recovered). Several doctors were dubious – “We have used this medication – cipro – and we haven’t observed any cases of tendon rupture” was a typical response, making me feel as if I was at casino with very high stakes and dubious odds.

 

David, whose opinion I value highly, said

 

Here’s my weirdo suggestion: if you are at all open to strange alternative shit — and even if you’re not — it might be worthwhile to try Reiki, which is unusual in that it tends to be beneficial even if the person receiving it thinks it’s complete crap. Luckily we live in a part of the world where energy workers are pretty common. Even if it doesn’t help the infection or the itching, it can “purge” side effects of drugs, which may be useful since you’ve been on several strong ones recently. Usually for stuff like this, one session is enough, or at least causes a measurable improvement.

 

Also, don’t die. That would be bad.

 

I mentioned this to the last doctor I encountered, a handsome, pleasant young man, who tactfully expressed doubt about Reiki, but indicated as he has an aunt who is into it, he wasn’t going to say anything negative about it. My wife has used acupuncture, and thinks it may  have helped her, and the doctor expressed a little more confidence in it than Reiki.

 

My gymnasium has a Reiki practitioner. My wife (who is also dubious) thinks she knows a couple, but she can’t remember their names. None of this is free. Is one better than another? How do I tell?

 

I am tempted to see if there is a Placebo practitioner who works for free. Or at least in exchange for very fresh eggs from very happy chickens.

 

Founding an atheist church?

In Good news, Humor on July 4, 2012 at 7:43 pm

I belong to what is supposed to be one of the best Health Maintenance Organizations in the United States, but like the making of sausage and legislation, close examination of medical care can be dispiriting. I have encountered about a dozen doctors, about a dozen nurses, and more medications than I can keep track of in the course of treating my illness. The health care workers have all been kind and considerate, but they do not all agree with each other (though being tactful, they do not criticize each other). The different medications do not all agree with each other. They are less tactful, and seem to argue with each other as they course through my bloodstream and digestive system.

However, despite setbacks and frets, I am making progress. I took off some bandages, took a shower, engaged in some exercise, trimming weeds on the edge of our property.

My irreligious efforts have not gone all that well, either. I set out yesterday to attend an atheist/free thinker/secular humanist/agnostic (etc.) picnic in Seattle yesterday, but the directions were vague (and my comprehension dim) and I never found the other people and missed the picnic. A I get older, it is getting too difficult for me to attend these groups in Seattle any more. My project is to found a non-believer church on Whidbey Island. I am about to head over to Craig and Sharon’s house where they are hosting a picnic for my wife and myself. Perhaps their pastor and parish leader can provide assistance to me in helping start a Whidbey atheist church. Such a project would test their tolerance to the limit, I fear.

Oxymoron Stephen about to head out to a picnic with the friendly neighbors.