Friday, September 28, 2012

I think we've all seen this coming for quite some time now...

I've kept this blog going since the year 2003. That's the better part of a decade. I've been turning my soul inside-out on my best posts, and have been marking time with my not-so-good writings. I was just over 50 when this thing began; now I'm staring 60 in the face. This blog served a valid purpose for me during the first years of its existence; I was able to express frustration, anger, joy, desolation, happiness, sadness and I shared all the good and bad times here. So what's my problem? Simply put, I just don't have any reason to keep this thing going anymore. My heart's not in it. My days are just as full as they've always been; I'm still the same person I was; I still love Oregon and am glad I moved here. I'm still playing guitar, taking photos, and enjoying life as much as I can.

I'm just running out of mental energy. So why don't I just keep the blog going and post once or twice  a month?, you ask. Because it's more irritating if I place upon myself the thought that I need to put something in the blog. It nags at me. I used to feel all self-important after I posted something high and mighty; I'd read back over what I'd just written, not really believing that yes, I was this person who posted all that. I used to swing violently at issues, politics, politicians, and others who I wished would Just Go Away. I used to think I could show everyone how smart I really was by writing on all kinds of topics, and that's a by-product of my low self-esteem; I was the Paper Man inside the computer spewing forth all kinds of stuff, whether I cared about what I was writing or not. Getting out there in front of people was my objective. All of a sudden the playing field was leveled. Here I am, world, and I'm here to take you on!!!

But I'm not smart. I'm not gifted. I don't have any unique insights into anything. I've long thought that I should do a post on "Who and What am I, This Person Who Blogs?" But I've shared enough over the years, through all my old posts, and readers can come away with an educated opinion of who this person is behind the computer screen. Rather than this blog being All I Do, as it was in the first several years of its existence, nowadays it's often the last thing I think about doing, which happens by the end of the day, when I'm just too tired to care. Finally, Facebook has a lot to do with this decision. Rather than sit here, trying to "compose" for hours and hours, laboring over detailed posts and photo inclusions, when I think of something, I can zip over to Facebook, and just toss it out there. Every fully-developed blog post of roughly this size takes me at least 2 or 3 hours to complete. It's not as if I'm dashing this stuff out with reckless abandon. These blogs make me feel like I'm doing a Term Paper. Ask any of my former teachers...I never EVER did a good term paper.

But Facebook is getting old, too. It's like a big cyber-billboard for the entire human race, and I weary of the religious and political issues that people seem to plaster all over their Facebook Walls. I'm really tired of all the bible verses and new-age homilies I see posted everywhere on Facebook. But there's enough happening with people I know, former colleagues and classmates as well as current friends, to keep me coming back. I'm not saying Facebook is a wonderful be-all, end-all, but it is a convenient way for people to communicate. I used to wonder if anyone at all read my blog; I do know for a fact people read what I write on Facebook. And I hardly ever read anyone else's blogs, but it's refreshing to know what's happening in a capsule-sized Facebook tidbit. It just fits my limited attention span better at this point in my life.

I'll close out this last post with a development that happened to me not long ago. As I've blogged about on occasion, I did not have a good relationship with my Dad and I never really did. But I loved him, although he was hard to feel close to. The thought of him has always brought turmoil to my life. He could cut me down to size and make me hate myself, and he often did. Imagine my reaction when I saw his name in the topic line of an e-mail I was sent last month. This person had information on my Dad. Turns out his Dad and mine were on the same Bomber Crew in World War II. He never spoke of his Wartime Service, other than he was a "bomber pilot over Germany". And so he was...

Third from the left in the back row is My Dad, with his crew. Dad and one other guy in this photo survived the war. Flying one of these huge B-17's was hazardous. I am told of one mission where the Germans made swiss cheese out of the plane, the bullets ripping through the plane, which began a tailspin headlong toward Earth. 500 feet off the ground, Dad managed to pull out of the tailspin and get his crew back to safety in England.

Here is my Dad's airplane in flight. It was originally named "Gypsies", but was renamed "Blood N' Guts". He flew at least 35 missions, bombing various encampments and industrial sites in Germany. There are some videos on YouTube which feature the B-17 in all its glory, and as I watched young men readying their planes, assembling for duty, or attending pre-bombing meetings to discuss strategy, I found myself looking for Dad.

I was literally stunned and the old feelings of uneasiness returned when I'd first received these e-mails about my dad. Those feelings turned inward, chewing me up, and all of a sudden I felt like a 5-year old kid who was being punished for something. Over the last couple of weeks, I find myself coming to a sort of peace about all of this, now that I know a little more about him. The above crew photo was taken in 1944. I was born ten years later. I'd never seen Dad this young before. I'm sure that all his life he was trying to deal with bad wartime memories in addition to dealing with everyday life. My Dad was Strong. And he always was. And when Mom died, he didn't feel as strong anymore. I think that's part of it.

So, folks, that's about it. It's a fitting way for me to close out the blog, by including something important and definitive. I'm sure I'll see you on Facebook, as well as some of you on "Huckleberries", the blog maintained all these years by D.F. Oliveria of the Spokesman-Review newspaper. It's an interactive blog, and it's absorbing and thought-provoking. It'll be a couple of weeks before I delete this blog; for those of you who live in Coeur d'Alene, you might want to comb back thru my old posts where I used to pass along a whole lot of area history. Take care, everyone...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


To this very day, I am in amazement and awe of those whose lives were sacrificed on 9/11/2001. Let none of us ever forget that day. And let the world know that sooner or later, we will "get" those who perpetrate unjustified violence against this country.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

...the saga of Kathi Goertzen and the price she paid...
Have you ever heard a news story that absolutely left you blind-sided? I had just returned home from my 40th Class Reunion in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho and everything went so well, and I'm glad I went because I have some new good memories that I'll have forever. I was expecting to spend the next week operating at a slower pace and just ease back into "livin' Coos Bay style". I was watching Mariners' baseball that Monday night, and one of the sportspeople said something about the death of "mgmmxxph of KOMO-TV news"...I didn't pay any attention to the name. I hooked up with the Mariners' blog-site to comment on the game, and on the news page (the blog is run by The Seattle Times), was an article about Kathi Goertzen, a news anchor who passed away that morning. For quite a few years, things went exceedingly well for her during her news career; right out of college, she secured a news position with KOMO, was a well-known anchor/reporter in the Seattle Area, and she and her co-anchor were the longest-running Anchor Team west of the Mississippi, and as you know, that's rare in TV news, where many hirees are here-today, gone-yesterday.

Beginning in the late 1990's, though, she began having problems. She lost the hearing in her right ear, and parts of her face began feeling numb. It was found that she had a non-malignant meningioma, just below the right side of her skull, and needed surgery right away. Doctors removed most of the tumor, and she bounced back and continued anchoring the news for another few years before the tumor had once again grown, and once again she underwent surgery. Throughout the late 1990's and beyond, she had surgery six different times for the same tumor. Why "six"? Because not all of the tumor was removed until it was much, much too late. Removing all of the tumor could have resulted in damage to the nerves that controlled swallowing, the ability to smile , and speech. The tumor had wrapped itself around those nerves and just kept growing until the next surgery, because the decision was made not to take out the entire tumor. She'd emerge, recover for a while, go back to her news anchor position, but all the while the tumor was growing...
Then the process would be repeated; get most of the tumor, control the rest with radiation, hope for the best. Except, the radiation treatments and experimental drugs used on her just weren't effective. Her last surgery involved dealing with not only the original tumor, but an offshoot of that tumor which was growing behind her eye. Her first Surgery was back in 1997. Her second was in 2005. And after that, it was operation after operation, in which the surgeons were able to remove most of, but not all, of the tumor, which eventually spread out to other parts of her brain. Technically she succumbed to pneumonia, which came about due to the harsh effects of all those surgeries and experimental treatments. In 1997,when she was diagnosed, she already had been a news anchor for close to 17 years. And if Surgeons had removed ALL of the tumor back then, perhaps she'd still be alive today. After yet another surgery (in 2010), she was left disfigured and couldn't appear on the air anymore. But she still went to work, doing what she could, landing interviews and helping out in general. One such interview was with sportscaster Keith Jackson. Her speech was easily understandable; Jackson gave a great interview, and cameras pictured Kathi from the back, so viewers wouldn't be shocked by the effects of surgery on her face. (Which didn't look all that bad to me.)
Kathi in better times.
I can't help but think that if she'd had all of the tumor taken out when it was first diagnosed, she'd still be here today. She could've taken pride in the fact she'd been a successful news anchor for so long, and she could still be "in the biz" as far as writing, producing, interviewing, etc. Did the fact that she was a News Anchor, whose facial characteristics are transmitted nightly, influence the choices made NOT to remove the Entire Tumor? Is this, perhaps, a fatal case of putting one's job before everything else? Clearly, she loved anchoring the news, and everyone loved her and were praying for her. Maybe she couldn't face life as Not Being An Anchor. In a way, the job might have killed her. Gotta look good for the cameras, after all. From what I can tell, Kathi was a dear, sweet, genuine and gracious lady. The world can't afford to lose people like her. I'm sure people would've understood if she couldn't appear on camera anymore; indeed, she was gone for long periods of time after some of her more recent surgeries. In 2009 she had surgery, recuperated, came back to her Anchor position, and then had to leave again two weeks later because doctors said the Tumor had Grown Again.
My major in College was Radio/TV Broadcasting with a Journalism minor, and I've always paid special attention to the world of broadcasting, and the people in that world. It's my sense that Kathi was not ego-driven to a fatal degree, but somehow the relentlessness of the news factored into the decisions made regarding her surgeries, most of all the decisions not to "get it all" because it could potentially be harmful to her career. Indeed, she knew people wouldn't want to see her face, the way it was after her final surgeries. She said in an interview that it would be "unfair to the viewers" to comprehend the news with her looking like she did. She knew she couldn't be an anchor anymore. If she'd come to that realization years earlier, maybe she'd still be alive today. Anchoring isn't everything. Maybe she didn't want to adopt that outlook. But it's just a job. As such it's not worth dying for. No matter how you look at it, her death is a tragedy. My heart goes out to her family, her co-workers, and her viewers.
This post has been bouncing around in my head for the last week and a half, and it's been driving me nuts. Everything I've seen regarding Kathi, over the internet, television or newspapers has been nice and very sweet and supportive and complimentary. Maybe I can't help but see the other side. I've never lived in the Seattle Area, never saw Seattle TV, and knew nothing of Kathi until the day she died. But I do remember a TV station in Spokane, Washington, that I used to watch; they had a great weatherman, Peter Colford, who succumbed to cancer in the mid-1990s. Very, very sad. This post is the by-product of several weeks' analyzation of internet writings and all the video I could find. And I've come away thinking, "what a sad story". A tragedy indeed.
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