Monthly Archives: December 2014

See ya 2014

Time to say good-bye to 2014. Almost everything that could have happened did happen. Well yes that’s an exaggeration, but it was a roller coaster ride of a year. The year started with an escape from frigid Wisconsin, as we arrived back in the desert warmth in February. Valentine’s Day was a familial disaster of epic proportions; so be it.

Spring provided me with the incentive to get my health back to optimal and after losing some 30 pounds I got off “Big Pharm” meds for Type II diabetes and high blood pressure. Never again will I let myself go like that. Summer was great for grad school preparation and immersing myself in studying Che Guevara and other topics which resonated with me. It was damn hot, but a damn good summer.

Autumn may be on the calendar but in Phoenix its not really a season. Its more about us Phoenicians praying for the summer to die already. It wasn’t until November when temps started to drop into a comfortable range again. I made my first ever entire traditional Thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings; turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes (topped with marshmallows), green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, gravy and hot rolls. Apple and pumpkin pie with whipped cream for dessert (Costco bought). It was a great day to eat and watch football.

December came with a 4.0 GPA from my first grad school semester and even more significant, a paradigm shift in my outlook on life and my future.

2015 is looking very good.

From somewhere colder than the brochure said it would be,


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You & Me

Ya, it’s like this….

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Good Riddance

For a song with a rude title, the sentimentality is palpable. Life is continuously slamming some doors in our face and cracking opening others for a peek. Some we try to jam with a foot, others we push on with all our might. And sometimes all we can do is just keep walking down the hallway…. as long as you have the time of your life…

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fictional influences

For one reason or another, these fictional characters made significant impacts on my life, beginning in 1971 when I was 13….


Tom Corbett 1971 (“Eddie’s Father”)

Jeremiah Johson 1972

Josey Wales 1976

Richard Collier 1980

Terry Brogan 1984

Larry Darrell 1986

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usa-cuba-handshake-flagsToday it finally happened. Lame duck presidencies can do wonders for progress. And it was sure time for this move. Re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba is just the start. But it’s huge. Removing Cuba from the “States of Terror” list will be even bigger (remember that Nelson Mandela was listed as a terrorist by the US well into this century).

It’s time we grew up a little bit as a nation. It’s time that we erase one more piece of hypocrisy from our ideals- as in, China? oh we watch ’em, but we love ’em. This 50 year embargo of Cuba, while initially perhaps a sound strategy, became so obviously political as to be embarrassing. I mean seriously, Canadians travel there en masse.

But politicians had votes to secure in battle-ground Florida, and as 70% of Cuban-Americans live there, politicians cow-towed to them. But I get it. Most of those folks do not take kindly to diplomatic relations with the current Cuban government. They or their families were likely forced from their homes and lives in Cuba when the “26th of July Movement” overthrew our friendly neighborhood puppet-dictator Fulgencio Batista and took control in 1959. Property and wealth was confiscated and many were lucky to flee with their lives.

But sad to say, that happens around the world all too regularly, and we do not respond with 50 year embargoes. And this particular embargo failed, period. Thank you to President Obama for moving forward.

So forward we go. There are “regular-Joe” victories for many. My BOTLs (Brothers of the Leaf), cigar aficionados look forward to easier access to Cuban cigars- not like we weren’t getting them already. Travel restrictions will undoubtedly loosen. As a “Che Guevara” researcher I look forward to traveling there myself. In the long run, the student exchange, cultural exchange, artists touring, academics engaging will result in benefits for all. By osmosis we will rub off on each other. Just like the Cold War when our irrational fear of Russians promoted hate and vilification, and we came to find out that Russian people have the same concerns and life goals as we do. Politics be damned.

If anyone thinks Capitalism or Communism are perfect, they are living in the fog of rhetoric and hyperbole. No system has proven itself to be perfect, or even lasting. In today’s light-speed world, engaging with others is the only way we are going to work things out.

Do I have concerns? Heck yes. This agreement between Cuba and the USA isn’t some panacea. But it is a rational step to eliminate what did not work at all, and replace it with a policy that fits today’s world. I am of course wary of the collateral issues which will come up soon. Those include backlash from neo-cons who drive fear and stagnation to gain votes (Marco Rubio), and Wall Street which will lick it’s chops imagining profit. National corporations who seek to reinvigorate the touristy Havana of the past by catering to wealthy American tourists at the expense of cheap labor. There are a lot of people who see this strictly in terms of nefarious “opportunity”. To them I wish failure.

The bottom line for me is Human Rights. Those ideals which we in the USA want to believe we represent and promote (but don’t turn on the light in the closet- untold skeletons are there). But again, this is a start. I love Cuba for its tenacity. I love Cubans for their pride, for their contributions to global health and welfare. Cuba has ideals! Believe it. This Cuba was founded on principles of equality and social welfare. Did they swing and miss? Sure, in many ways. LGBT rights is but one area of significant concern. But how sterling is our record in the USA when it comes to minority rights, as well as available healthcare for all?

I will go out on a limb here. I contend, albeit provocatively, that if Ernesto “Che” Guevara were still alive and had stayed in Cuba as statesman and national icon, he would have evolved considerably. Che hated the USA because of what he saw in Latin America. Corporate greed, abuse of indigenous peoples, destruction of resources and cultures, etc. That was his beef. He wasn’t a religious fanatic. He wasn’t a terrorist. He was a man of the people. He also looked up to Fidel and Raul Castro, and respected their ideals and disdain for the American-back dictators who disallowed sovereign destiny in favor of corrupt involvement. As they “softened” he would also. But undoudtedy he walked his talk, without concern for his own benefit whatsoever. He was willing to die for his ideals. And he did.

029I believe that Che himself would have eventually understood that there are gray areas. There was room for diplomatic agreements. There was room for trust. There is evidence of that when he met secretly on more than one occasion with representatives of President Kennedy, exchanging dialogue toward mutually respected coexistence between nations. It could be said that external forces put the pressure on Cuba to pursue a relationship with the Soviet Union.

Yes, Che was a socialist (a filthy word in our culture). But socialism is not necessarily communism. We have socialist programs in the USA, but most won’t concede that.

I could go on…and of course I will in other posts, but today is a day to relish. A day to when it’s okay to get a little choked-up in the emotional realization that we might make new friends. That the family of humanity might have some hope.

In the last few days, we signed a climate agreement with China and a diplomatic agreement with Cuba. There’s a hell of a long way to go, but dammit we have to start somewhere.

*** addendum: while POTUS can establish diplomatic relations, only congress can lift the actual embargo, so stay tuned.

From somewhere chilly,

Michael Mufasa


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Rough Road

profile (1 of 1)-3

How is it that a “bug” that seems to be going around be considered “atypical”? Seems to me that if a lot of folks are getting it, i’s more “typical”. But who am I, as an amateur hypochondriac, to second guess my doctor who I’ve been going to for 17 years? The guy knows me…maybe too much, but I suppose the doc-patient relationship should be wide-open. Sure he cringes at some of the things I’ve shared in our time together, and he knows those secrets die with me. After that, a team from Geneva can compile the records and have at it.

Tuesday, November 18th: I went to the doc with some symptoms I knew didn’t bode well. Swollen lymph nodes under my chin, and a very weird feeling centered at the bottom front of my throat that I would say I would “normally” feel in my sinuses as the nascent stirrings of a full-blown something-or-other coming on. But in my lower throat? Rx’d me round one of antibiotics…Augmenten for 5 days. That didn’t help and by Thanksgiving I was fairly miserable. Sore throat, cold symptoms, deep ear pain, neck pain, but no fever. So what would any one do about that? Self-diagnose off the internet of course. And what’s one of the dumbest things a hypochondriac can do? Self-diagnose off the internet. Sigh.

Tuesday, December 2nd: The symptoms had ratcheted up even worse. Add to that, my self-diagnoses of throat cancer, brain cancer, Squammus cell carcinoma, and at the very least strep. But yes, I was missing some symptoms for all of those too. Like lack of appetite. Crap, I put on 10 pounds from end of October right up to December 2nd. That was depressing but with me feeling sick, my son sick (flu turning into pneumonia), and Thanksgiving pigging out (oh, is that pumpkin pie and whip cream all mine?), I could not say I was withering away. Back to the doctor and it was round two of antibiotics. This time Amoxicillian and some nasal spray.

Thursday, December 4th: 4:45pm (yes I can pin it down that precisely), my sore throat went from a 4 on the 1-10 pain scale to a full-blown 9. What the hell? And it wasn’t the typical scratchy sore throat that’s supposed to go away in 2-3 days. This sucker felt like my throat was tightening up from getting karate-chopped. Kept plugging along with the meds.

Monday, December 8th: I decided to stop my “walking big pharm” strategy of NyQuil, DayQuil, Mucinex, Tylenol and Motrin, because I figured those chems in my system were doing more harm than good.

Wednesday, December 10th: nothing had changed with the existing symptoms except now I added knife-piercing migraines, chest pain and assorted aches in my body. So back to the doc. He tossed the Amoxicillian and ordered a CT scan of my head, along with me convincing him to order a full blood panel on me so I could either start chemo or sigh in relief.

Thursday, December 11th: Things got better the next day, and I figured I had finally hit bottom and was trending upward again. I wanted so badly to get back to my routine so I did 30min of cardio and 300 crunches- half my normal MWF workout. Not killing it, but no migraine either.

Friday, December 12th: I tried to hit the weights. Bad idea. A huge knife-pain in my head. And the sore throat was not improving at all. I mean, come on! So I went straight to the doctor’s office and waited for him to see me without an appointment. I love my doc.

He was in a huge rush but saw me right away. He had had it also. He checked me out, no signs of anything but an “atypical” bug. So he Rx’d the “magic bullet” of antibiotics; the Z-pack. He said I would probably get better in a couple days at most. But the great news was that I wrangled my blood-work results from the front desk even though he hadn’t seen them yet. But I was not going to wait more days for more results. I even looked at them before he did. While I know what I am looking at and looking for, I waited until he pronounced them “excellent” before breathing a huge sigh of relief. No “Big C” as far as we can tell. Just a damn atypical bug I guess.

Saturday, December 13th: Sore throat still about a 5-6 but that’s a helluvalot better than the 9 I was enduring. I just want it to end. Sore throats are not supposed to last a month. Other symptoms have dissipated. I’m not quite back 100% but I finally think I am going to beat this thing.

Addendum: I am not a fan of “Big Pharm” scourging inside me, and the dreaded super antibiotics, while effective now, will soon be useless against the super-antibiotic-resistant bugs that have been evolving since antibiotics were invented. It’s nature. These things will evolve and eventually (I just read) kill 10 million people a year. So we have to stay a step ahead somehow. We need to evolve too. Maybe washing our hands more is a start. Mitigate the spread. And we have to have drug companies who are willing to do the R & D. It sucks, all of it. We have a lot of much bigger health issues in this world, but looking past those bugs will come back to bite us.

From somewhere not as hot as it should be,


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I just wanted this video where I could get to it. Hallelujah, by the poet who wrote it, the great Leonard Cohen…

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La meme Histoire

Life’s a dance we all have to do

 why does the music quiet…

People are moving together

close as the flames in the fire…

feel the beat, music and rhyme

while there is time…

We all go ’round and ’round

partners are lost and found…

looking for one. more. chance.

All I know is…

We’re all in the dance…..

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USA Goddam

eric-garner-police-brutality-ramsey-ortaMaybe this is all too typical of how we (have to) deal with events in our world which drive us crazy. If I write that I want to balance my extraordinary frustration (emblematic of Jon Stewart in my previous post) with another post that will make me feel better, does that belittle the tragedy, even only as far as I feel it? Does it allow me to shrug it off and move on, ignoring the fact that real men (women and children) are suffering such obscene injustice?

Trayvon and DadI’m never going to get all “the good thing to come of this…”, but I will do what many much more qualified social commentators are doing…. continuing to connect the dots, between history and today, and critiquing what has changed, where we’ve progressed, and where we are dreadfully still lacking. Discourse on human relations needs to be put to use for potential solutions that may start to shift the paradigms that form our current cultural consciousness.

HT_michael_brown_sk_140813_16x9_992I recently saw this video of Nina Simone’s civil rights anthem, “Mississippi Goddam”, being resurrected and applied to the events in Ferguson. This was Simone’s “…response to the murder of Medgar Evers..”.

141124-tamir-rice-625a_562596cd83002de8713a37f42e24b0beIt seems, sadly, quite appropriate still. Bigots continue to blame Black Americans for the injustice that is thrust upon them, and deny the institutionalized oppression that permeates in this country like a cancer. Now along with Trayvon Martin, we have Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice… and on and on.

USA Goddam.

“Mississippi Goddam”


Alabama’s gotten me so upset

Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi GoddamAlabama’s gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi GoddamCan’t you see it
Can’t you feel it
It’s all in the air
I can’t stand the pressure much longer
Somebody say a prayerAlabama’s gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi GoddamThis is a show tune
But the show hasn’t been written for it, yetHound dogs on my trail
School children sitting in jail
Black cat cross my path
I think every day’s gonna be my lastLord have mercy on this land of mine
We all gonna get it in due time
I don’t belong here
I don’t belong there
I’ve even stopped believing in prayerDon’t tell me
I tell you
Me and my people just about due
I’ve been there so I know
They keep on saying “Go slow!”

But that’s just the trouble
“do it slow”
Washing the windows
“do it slow”
Picking the cotton
“do it slow”
You’re just plain rotten
“do it slow”
You’re too damn lazy
“do it slow”
The thinking’s crazy
“do it slow”
Where am I going
What am I doing
I don’t know
I don’t know

Just try to do your very best
Stand up be counted with all the rest
For everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

I made you thought I was kiddin’

Picket lines
School boy cots
They try to say it’s a communist plot
All I want is equality
for my sister my brother my people and me

Yes you lied to me all these years
You told me to wash and clean my ears
And talk real fine just like a lady
And you’d stop calling me Sister Sadie

Oh but this whole country is full of lies
You’re all gonna die and die like flies
I don’t trust you any more
You keep on saying “Go slow!”
“Go slow!”

But that’s just the trouble
“do it slow”
“do it slow”
Mass participation
“do it slow”
“do it slow”
Do things gradually
“do it slow”
But bring more tragedy
“do it slow”
Why don’t you see it
Why don’t you feel it
I don’t know
I don’t know

You don’t have to live next to me
Just give me my equality
Everybody knows about Mississippi
Everybody knows about Alabama
Everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

That’s it!


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