1) The personal updates.
Laurie is quite slammed with allergies. Last night she couldn't breathe at one point. I have allergies, but hesitate to even mention it in light of what Laurie is going through. She is taking medicine that looks toward the long term. We have researched and are deciding which trees must go before next Spring.
Laurie wonders if we didn't have the swine 'flu. Turns out the symptoms are exactly like the stomach 'flu we had about a month ago. And we did lay around like swine for several days. Essentially this is a meaningless observation as we survive and neither of us can see a doctor in the foreseeable future.
I remain unemployed, but I have been far from idle. We have some income in Laurie's job and unemployment and we have savings. The wolf is not at the door. Also I have put in many applications to jobs that I am qualified for. I don't know. It's hard to desperately want to work and keep your house and have the rug pulled out from under you. But in spite of these predicaments we forge ahead. One does one's best to be joyful and grateful for the blessings one has. As Wagner wrote, "Joy is not in things. It is in us."
2) The Radio
Laurie and I are avid NPR listeners. We love our local station although when I was in Orange County I was so envious of KUSC. When I lived down there, I would listen to Jim Svejda constantly. His show was like a music appreciation class. He would say that the best way to learn about music is to listen to a lot of it. One could gain a rich education from his show, The Record Shelf, alone although the rest of the station was excellent as well. It was a 24 hour classical station. In Chico we have classical in the afternoon however the DJs seem to play 1) the major canon, pieces I knew when I was in high school (Beethoven's 5th, the 1812 Overture, Air on the G String, ect.) and 2) (shudder) film soundtracks. Okay, that may be overstating my case slightly, but that is the atmosphere. The station removed all but a 1/2 hour opera show from Saturday's schedule. They used to play the weekly Metropolitan Opera in its entirety. Apparently the good people of Chico felt that cut too much into Car Talk. Okay. I'm getting catty.
But don't get me wrong, there are wonderful things about our station. We have Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me, This American Life, Talk of the Nation, Radiolab, The Opera Attic (which I used to think was The Opera Addict to which I would heartily amen), Garrison Keillor in several of whatever it is he does, BBC News as well as Morning Edition. It's a fine station. I am not slamming our station. It just reminds me a bit of when I went to a church with no teaching whatsoever and found that I would supplement my spiritual life by downloading good preaching. Now I download good music as well. And there is a wealth out there. I highly recommend everyone subscribe to WGBH's Classical Performance Podcast.
I avoided Twitter for a long time. I'd heard the jokes about how it is vapid and how it undermines meaningful discourse. Which I bought wholesale.
I finally signed up on a lark (http://twitter.com/paulmathers for those of you on Twitter) when my friend Turi posted a livejournal entry listing celebrities on Twitter and I went to check out Stephen Fry, Russell Brand, John Cleese, Neil Gaiman, Amanda Palmer, Eddie Izzard, Weird Al, Penn Jillette and so on (The other day I opened my email to find "You have a direct message from Yoko Ono.") So, yeah, I was dazzled with the celebrities that I happen to like.
Then I started Tweeting and it was a fun diversion. A way of micro-journaling and, for one who has a very poor memory, a good, simple way to remember what I've been doing and when. But then I found myself within 48 hours being laid off and travelling hundreds of miles to be with my Mom who was very close to death in the hospital. Suddenly the ability to connect with my loved ones around the world and update them on what is going on with me from a device I always have in my pocket became something I could not place a value on. As well as the emotional tether it provided.
I am a convert. My conclusion is that, like all technology, it is as good or evil (or vapid) as those who wield it. As for me, I see it as a wonderful tool of modern life.