Monday, October 25, 2021

Meanwhile On The Home Front

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As landmarks go, being home from the hospital for a full week may not sound like much, but it's cause for celebration here in the Jarlsberg household. Because that's how long it's been since Kathy was discharged and put into the care of a very, very nervous guy.

Happily, things have been running pretty smoothly. As of today, Kathy has completely given up use of her walker for getting around, though still has to pace herself as she continues to rebuild muscle, energy, and blood cells. Her hair is thinning, but she's not worried about it - perhaps because I've made being bald look so good over the years. Or not.

The elephant in the room, of course, is figuring out just where we are in all of this and what comes next? Theoretically, we'll find out a bit more on Tuesday when there will be a fresh blood draw and analysis, followed by what will hopefully be an enlightening discussion with the experts.

In the meanwhile, I've recently taken receipt of every relevant publication from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (available free, for which I'm greatly appreciative) and so have plenty of anxiety-producing and hope-inspiring reading material to work through. I'll note, though, that all of the many booklets are a bit on the dry side and could really benefit from a little humor...

If anyone from the LLS happens to be reading this, I'm ready to provide services free of charge! Or to write you a personal letter of apology!

Seriously, we're grateful for each normal-ish day and hope to enjoy many, many more. And we're also grateful for the support, insight, positive thoughts, and prayers we've been getting from family, friends, and YOU. They make a real difference, so please keep them up!

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

There's No Place Like Home, There's No Place Like Home...

stilton’s place, stilton, political, humor, conservative, cartoons, jokes, hope n’ change, Kathy, leukemia, home, platelets, tickles the clown, wizard of oz
You DO read Johnny Optimism, right...?

I'm delighted to say that Kathy has returned home! It turned out that all she needed to do was click her ruby IV bags together and, oh yeah, be put through weeks of Technicolor hell.

But after a month in the hospital being treated for Acute Myeloid Leukemia, she was allowed to come back home where, rather than being treated by a team of medical experts 24/7, she is being treated by a sleep-deprived idiot who may not be altogether sober after 5 o'clock.

The very idea of taking on this responsibility terrified me, because it's not like Kathy had suddenly achieved robust good health and a penchant for doing Olympic-level calisthenics. A point best illustrated by the following interactive experiment...

Right now, wherever you are, clench your butt cheeks together. Do it good and hard, like you're trying to crack a walnut in there. Hold for a count of five.

Did you do it? Surprise - you just killed yourself!

At least, that was Kathy's situation three days before her release. Her platelets (which clot blood) were so low that she wasn't even allowed to do the few exercises in bed which she'd previously been assigned. Including clenching her butt for five seconds - because it could cause her to bleed to death.

Since that time, she's received multiple bags of blood and platelets (thanks, nameless blood donors!) and so should be fine until her next doctor appointment in a week. And at that visit we'll hopefully learn where we are and what comes next. The greatest likelihood is a repeating cycle of in-patient chemo for a few days, followed by several weeks off.

Or not. Of the many things leukemia is, "predictable" is not one of them.

But Kathy is home and coping well with the indignities of using a walker and (at night) a bedside commode. It's my job to clean the thundermug, but it turns out to be less offensive than watching the news, so I'm doing fine.

We literally don't know what tomorrow will bring so we're appreciative of days like today which were relatively normal. Well, our new normal.

And as always, I'm at a loss for words for how much your ongoing support, comments, good wishes and prayers mean to us. Whatever you've been doing, you have my very sincere thanks - and please, keep it up!

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Homeward Bound?

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"Honest, Sweety, the Amazon reviews say this is JUST as good as the expensive hospital machine!"

The very good news is that Mrs. Jarlsberg may be able to come home from the hospital in a few days! 

That being said, she's not cured, not particularly healthy, not comfortable at all, not nearly over the effects of chemo, and not necessarily ready to be cared for by an aging doofus instead of a 24/7 staff of medical experts. But it will mean a lot to all our spirits to get her home again (restoring the heart and soul of our home) as she continues chemo treatments on an outpatient basis. I think.

I say "I think" because we continue to fail to get useful information from anyone. I've been carrying a list of unanswered questions as basic as these:

• Where are we in the grand scheme of things?
• Is she doing well?
• What happens now?
• What challenges should we expect or prepare for?
• How does one care for a leukemia patient at home?
• What medicines is she on and why?
• After having her immune system wiped out, is she no long vaccinated against ANYthing?

And much, much, much more. Like learning new dietary restrictions, because there are certain foods that are hazardous to people with compromised immune systems. As God is my witness, one list of forbidden foods warns of the perils of any "blue-veined cheese" - specifically Stilton.  Although I don't know if the parts of me that aren't blue-veined are as risky.

It's a pity that I don't have the energy to do justice to the many amusing anecdotes I could share about recent days.  Like when your wife really, really needs a bag of platelets but we're told "the blood bank is out of platelets." Or when a crusty nurse's aide insists on wearing her plain-paper Covid mask two inches below her nose while breathing directly on a woman with a thoroughly compromised immune system. 

And remember that emergency root canal I had? I had to pay $3200 up front and then the temporary fell out within 24 hours. Today I had to return to the clinic (stealing time away from Kathy after a tense and sleepless night) because the exposed tooth shards were slicing up the inside of my cheek.  And someday, a long time from now, if everything goes well, I'll share the story of the Horrible Thing I saw on the Seventh Floor. Even now my blood runs cold, and I'm not kidding.

We're a long, long way from being in the clear...and that's fine. A long and rough road ahead looks a lot better than the "dead end" sign we were originally presented with. We're grateful for each day, and even more grateful that there is growing cause for hope.

For the time being, you can pretty much expect that health updates will be the subject of this blog. In part because this is my whole world right now, but also - importantly - because the support you've been giving us is still needed, appreciated, and making a difference.  I don't know how we'll ever put together a proper in-person gathering, but when it happens the drinks are on me - and I'm not talking about Clan MacGregor.

Thank you for continuing on this journey with my family. And for being part of my family. Keep those positive thoughts, good wishes, and prayers coming!  -Stilton

Friday, October 8, 2021

A Marrow Margin of Error

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I couldn't include Kathy in the picture because it would be a Hippo violation

As usual, I’m way too pooped to write very much, but want to keep everyone in the loop.

All in all, today (Thursday) was a good day for Kathy, although “good” is a lot more complicated than it used to be a few weeks ago. Most importantly, her bone marrow biopsy results came in and were good. Maybe they were great. Conceivably almost perfect. 

I’m vague because it’s damn near impossible to get straight information out of the doctors. So here’s the deal: what we ideally want is all of the cancer cells in the blood and marrow to be 100% wiped out, after which Kathy will receive a drug which will get her body building white cells and bone marrow again - only healthy (we hope). But Kathy’s result showed that she still had 0.1% cancer cells. Almost none, but not quite none. 

Which is where the doctor had to make an “educated guess” based on his expertise and experience. That 0.1% might represent cancer cells that are still in the process of dying…so maybe she DID get ‘em all (or is about to). The problem is that if too many are still viable, the same drug that gets everything cranked up to high speed again will also stimulate the growth of those cancerous cells. 

But the other option is another round of tough chemo, and that’s not a fight anyone walks away from unscathed. Those toxic chemicals are designed to do damage and they're good at their job. Kathy is doing well, but she’s fighting fevers (which can be quite dangerous) and has a variety of other challenging and risky side effects which are all being handled, but which we certainly don’t want to make worse. So the doctor, taking all of this into consideration and without ever using the “remission” word (although that might just be an oversight), has decided to move ahead as if Kathy is in remission and see where it goes from there.

So this was probably really good news, but it’s unsettling too - like having a front-row seat to watch a guy juggling nitro-glycerine.

Outside of sleeplessness, an uncomfortable skin condition (chemo effect), a continuing barrage of fevers (treated with Tylenol and ice bags), endless IV bags of blood and platelets, etc, Kathy is doing well and keeping her mood up. She exercises daily (confined to a chair for the time being), is doing a great job of eating, and our conversations are very normal and punctuated with laughter…when we can think of things to talk about. It turns out that the only thing in our heads is hospital stuff, and that’s what we DON’T want to talk about. Oh, we occasionally drop four-letter commentary on the current state of affairs, but our hearts aren't in it.

Daughter J and I regroup each evening to take comfort in each other’s company (I'm the only visitor allowed) and look forward to getting Kathy home where she belongs. And hopefully that will happen soon, but right now we’re very much taking things a day at a time. Which, believe me, is all we can handle.

As always, thanks to all of you for the amazing display of support, good wishes, and prayers. They all make a difference. We never really knew how many of you were family until now.


Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Day By Day

Yes, that's the Southpark version of the Jarlsberg family

I'm overdue in sharing an update, mostly because of my new habit of falling into a coma about an hour after coming home from the hospital every day.  So I've given myself seven minutes (really) to write what I can.

Progress continues in the right direction, which isn't necessarily the same as an easy direction. Kathy completed her first week of chemo, then a week of recovery (trust me, it's no spa vacation - it's still pretty bad), then on Monday had an all-important bone marrow biopsy to measure progress.

Taking a bone marrow sample is insanely painful, which is why they sedate the patient whenever possible. When you're in the hospital recovering from chemo and leukemia, that sedation isn't possible. Instead, you're told to take two deep breaths immediately before experiencing pain that makes you see colors with no names. Kathy came through this quite well (albeit understandably shaken for a while) but is in no hurry to repeat the process.

The results will likely be ready on Thursday, Oct 7. In a perfect world, we'll be told that she's in remission and can start a new drug regimen to start rebuilding her bone marrow and immune system. In a slightly less perfect world, her system won't be ready for the drug "jump start" of things, and she'll need to add another week or so to her expected stay so that her systems can do some recovering on their own. And the third possibility is that we've made progress...but not enough yet, and will have to start a new round of differently-targeted chemo.

Waiting for those results isn't easy; Kathy has been fighting fevers for the past few days. Which really isn't what you want when your immune system is in the dumper. But she's getting IV antibiotics and medicines galore, and she's being well looked after. Although she was inflicted with a too-nervous husband today who added an unneeded note of panic to the medical goings-on. Just doing my job, folks.

To help make sure that I'm not personally a disease vector, Wednesday afternoon I'm visiting a drive-thru Covid testing place to see if they can touch the back of my skull (from the inside) with a Q-tip. I can't say I'm looking forward to it, but I'm sure not going to complain about it to a brave woman who just had bone marrow sucked out of her with a massive syringe.

The ongoing support we've gotten from all of you means more than I can say - especially now that I've more than filled that 7 minutes I was going to devote to this update. But please know it all counts.

Since Thursday is likely going to be important, I ask that if you're so inclined you double-down on your good wishes, positive thoughts, and prayers for Kathy's test results. And I thank you from the bottom of my exhausted heart.    -Stilton

Friday, October 1, 2021

What's Update

 Hello everyone,

This will be a short one as I’m beyond exhausted. Happily, the medical news (Thursday night as I write this) is pretty good - Kathy’s various indicators are all indicating what they’re supposed to, although she has some detectable bacteria in her blood (not what you want with no immune system) and so she’s being pumped with a lot of antibiotics to prevent any infections. She has no fever, which is a good and important sign.

Her energy was a bit less today, and her mood a bit down - both attributable to the long hospital stay, the constant interruptions, the inability to sleep, and more. She isn’t really hungry but has continued eating, and she has none of the chemo side effects one might expect like nausea, vomiting, or hair loss. So all of THAT goes on our gratitude list for today.

Upbeat letters and anecdotes about pretty much anything can help provide a good distraction for Kathy, as I’m running desperately low on conversational fodder. She’s really not into movies, books, or other such distractions right now, and the idea of Alexa-assisted karaoke even seems dumb to ME now, and that's saying something.

And on that note, I have some chores to do before an early (I hope) bedtime - then back to the hospital tomorrow to hopefully find Kathy having a better day.

As always, your prayers and good wishes mean a lot to all of us!


Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Let Me Sleep Into Something More Comfortable

stilton’s place, stilton, political, humor, conservative, cartoons, jokes, hope n’ change, kathy, leukemia, aml, love, stress, friendship, prayer

My good friends- This is just an update on the ongoing health situation with my beloved wife, Kathy. She's doing well, and has already completed her first week of chemo without any major bad side effects. Which isn't to say that it was fun, but she still has a full head of hair and a nearly intact sense of humor. She also has virtually no white blood cells, which is both exactly what we want and, oh yeah, terrifying.

This is a "rest week" to let her body recover from the inital chemo beating, then early next week she'll get another bone marrow test to see where we go from here. Also today, I was given a big notebook with information about bone marrow transplants, but I'll be damned if I'm reading it tonight. I'm exhausted and am targeting 9 pm as my bedtime. Way early for me usually, but a tough goal to reach tonight. 

So as not to exaggerate things, I actually only get to spend about 6 hours with Mrs. J in the hospital, and another two (or hopefully less) cursing at other drivers here in Texas. The time I'm physically with her is pretty much the only time of day that I'm not sick to my stomach from worry. Her comforting presence also brings my blood pressure and heart rate down to levels which my cardiologist considers survivable, after a brief dalliance with an EKG and a new prescription .

And it turns out that I really, really don't like hospitals even though I'm insanely grateful that they exist and are doing everything they can for Kathy. It's all so surreal: odd machines, tubes, wires, dripping things, people invading the room at all hours, bags of fluids to swell a body up, and other meds to make you pee like crazy to try to get rid of those same fluids. 

"Doctor's rounds" consist of a daily 3-minute visit from the doctor, and if he seems reasonably happy then we're happy. Well, happy-ish. We've adopted a day-by-day attitude which means we're focused only on what's happening right now, and not asking detailed questions about what's next. Although a few pleasant surprises would certainly be welcome about now.

Bottom line: "So far, so good" - so whatever you've been doing on our behalf, please keep doing it.

Meanwhile, I only hear jots and tittles of news here and there, and it sure sounds like the whole shooting match has gone completely to hell. Racist horses? No one caring about Hunter & Joe Biden's corruption? Generals calling Biden a liar for claiming that they unanimously told him to surrender to the Taliban and run like a scalded dog? Continuing confusion and misinformation about Covid ("The Best World-Altering Plague Your Tax Money Could Buy!"). An attempt to defund support for Israel's "Iron Dome" defense while spending trillions on every frigging wet dream the Progressive Marxist Lunatics can come up with? Entitlements for the upper middle class? A possible re-design of the American flag? And so much more.

Only a real asshole would steal powerful and addictive opioids from his wife during a health crisis, right? Right...? Well then, Clan MacGregor and I will just have to continue to fight the world on our own. But seriously, is it just my admittedly slapped-silly perspective or has everything hit the fan at once?

And that's all the steam I have at the moment. I'm going to stumble 6 feet to my trusty recliner and knock off for the night. Thank you so much for your friendship, your support, and your prayers. They all count and are all more appreciated than you can possibly know!


Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Riding the Tilt-a-World

stilton’s place, stilton, political, humor, conservative, cartoons, jokes, hope n’ change, kathy, leukemia, aml, updates, prayers
Trust me, you don't want to be under this ride without an umbrella

This is a personal post today, although to maintain the integrity of this blog I'll pause to say that everyone in politics can go f**k themselves.

Not that I'm paying attention to news; the only thing happening in my world right now is seeing my wife, Kathy, through to a successful outcome for her acute leukemia treatment. And between you, me, and the NSA, I'm not handling things as stoically as I might wish. This is rough going, folks.

That being said, Kathy is doing well in the hospital (albeit very fatigued, which is a regular part of leukemia) and responding well to the chemo so far.  The upper limit on a normal white cell count is 11,000.  For some years she was edging her way up to the low 40 thousands. Then, over about a week's time, things went crazy.  Her count was up to 167,000 when we got that terrifying "two to three weeks to live without treatment" prognosis. I'm no math whiz, but that's WAY the hell more than 11,000. Plus the numbers were doubling and tripling in record time. 

Happily, with some chemo pills to get her through the weekend, that number dropped to 40,000 again on Monday, and today - on chemo - it's down to 13,000. Nearly normal! Unfortunately, this only tells a teeny bit of a complicated story, but as a first step on the thousand-mile journey, we'll take it.

Considering she's going to be in the hospital for a month, I'd hoped the room would be vaguely inviting. Foolishly, it turns out. It's a very hospitally hospital room, which means it has all the important stuff and no real luxuries or calming elements. There's a big TV, but we're a TIVO family who has been fast-forwarding through commercials for years. For Kathy to actually have to watch commercials in real time is torture. I've tried to come up with workarounds, but Kathy is reluctant to learn new technologies at the best of times, and this ain't the best of times. 

In fact, she called me as I was on my way to the hospital today - a very rare thing since she despises her cellphone and doesn't know how to use it. I, on the other hand, also despise my cellphone and don't even know how to ANSWER the sumbitch. So we had a brief and confusing call (while I was driving) after which I tried to hang up the damn phone. Later, at her bedside, I realized that both of us were still connected, and had each burned up about 30 minutes of Tracfone time. And don't even TALK to us about texting. If picture postcards were good enough for our grandparents, they're good enough for us!

According to the postcard, this Texas bank was never successfully robbed by anything with horns.

Still, I'm not a complete technical nincompoop, so Wednesday I'm going to try setting up an Amazon device (yes, they're spying bastards but I needed Prime delivery) which will let her listen to any kind of music she likes, play radio stations, listen to podcasts (Scott Adams' is great), or even audiobooks - controlling everything with her voice, which is handy when you're hooked up to various lines, wires, and sensors. 

Kathy was in good spirits today, actually eating a bit (despite no appetite) knowing that a storm is coming soon in which solid food won't stay down. Which is much the same effect people experience when watching a Biden speech.

I'll give further updates when I'm able, but in the interim, my whole family thanks you for your supportive comments, thoughts, and prayers. I honestly didn't know how much they'd mean to me until this very moment.    -Stilton

Friday, September 17, 2021

Treason's Greetings

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In what we fervently wish was only a rhetorical question, if military deserter Bowe Bergdahl (swapped by Obama for five of the Taliban's most dangerous chiefs) can be said to have served with "honor and distinction" (as Barry did), then is it possible that our nation's highest-ranked military officer, General Mark Milley, can actually be praised by a president for committing out-and-out treason against our nation?

Of course! And it's happening right now, because that's the slap-happy Hell we're all living in these days. For anyone who doesn't know, in the waning days of President Trump's term of office, General Milley made an urgent, foam-flecked emergency phone call to China to tell them that Trump was thinking of launching a preemptive nuclear strike on them...but not to worry, because if Trump actually did it, General Milley would call the Chinese first. Presumably so they could duck and cover, or quickly release the lethal contents of everything still mutating in the Wuhan Apocalypse Lab & Grill.

For this act, the media and even president Biden are praising Milley (the same military genius whose plan for exiting Afghanistan was apparently based on the self-defense strategies used by Ned Beatty in Deliverance). "Wow!" they say, "Milley averted a nuclear war that Trump, the evil bastard, probably would have started for no reason!"

Except Trump had no intention of starting a war or igniting a worldwide nuclear holocaust. But ask yourself this: did Milley's traitorous phone call really make nuclear annihilation less likely...or did it take us dangerously close to the brink of disaster? After all, wouldn't China's most logical action to prevent their destruction be to fire every missile they had first? Especially when assured by our nation's highest-ranked officer that Trump had gone violently insane, apparently concerned that Chinese communists were adding flouride to our water in order to sap mens' virility and contaminate our Precious Bodily Fluids?

So from where WE sit (technically an underground bunker), it looks like General Milley's severe case of Trump Derangement Syndrome not only caused him to betray our country, but also raised the world's nuclear threat level to very near the point of no return. 

An accomplishment for which the already over-decorated officer should definitely receive special recognition.  Perhaps in an outdoor ceremony with his back to a brick wall, puffing a cigarette before receiving what he so richly deserves.

=======(PLEASE READ BELOW)=======

Per the cartoon at the top of this page, I really am going to make my already sporadic posting schedule even more sporadic for a while.  A medical situation has popped up for Mrs. J which is going to take time and attention to deal with, and which will make it hard to stick to any schedules. 

Oh, I'll still try to drop by once a week or so to wave and create a fresh forum for comments, but other than that I just can't make any promises. And of course, if you're on my mailing list (and why wouldn't you be?!) I'll shoot you a note to let you know that there's something to see over here. Hey, if inspiration hits or I can recycle an old post, I'll do it!

I can't really share any details about what's going on yet (and the situation is still coming into focus), but for now I'll just say that positive thoughts, prayers, and good vibes directed toward the Jarlsberg family will be much appreciated.

And I won't even wait to say "thank you" for your friendship and support. I already know they're out there, and I hope YOU know how much that means to me!    - Stilton

Monday, September 13, 2021

Field Trip

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On Saturday, September 11th, Joe Biden very publicly visited the sites where terrorists used American aircraft for devastating attacks on the innocent, clearly hoping that all the ceremony would distract the news media from the fact that the 20th-anniversary gift he gave those terrorists was...more American aircraft.

But giving the bad guys exactly what they want is nothing new for Biden, in part because of what he learned at the hem of Barack Obama's perfectly-creased pants. Because it was Barry who freed five top Taliban terrorists, four of whom are now part of Afghanistan's new Taliban government. Which is, of course, exactly what B. Hussein wanted.

To refresh memories, we've gone back in the vault to show what we had to say at the time Obama made his infamous "prisoner swap"...


According to news reports (denied by the Pentagon), US Army Sergeant Bowe Berghdahl, who was swapped for five (count 'em!) high-value Taliban terrorists in a prisoner exchange last year, is soon going to go on trial as a deserter. Of course, when Barack Obama secretly made the deal for Bergdahl's release - without consulting the military - there was absolutely no way he could have known this.

Only kidding! Everybody knew it! But Barry made the deal anyway because he mostly just wanted an excuse to put terrorists back on the battlefield, and also to show that he'd leave "no man in uniform behind" in the midst of his VA scandal.

Here are some samples of what Hope n' Change had to say at the time...

June 2, 2014 - Another Big Effing Deal

obama, obama jokes, political, humor, cartoon, conservative, hope n' change, hope and change, stilton jarlsberg, bowe bergdahl, taliban, gitmo five

(Excerpt) the POW, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, may actually have been a military deserter at the time he was captured (or conscripted) by the enemy - and at the very least was a man who held a singularly low opinion of the United States even before his alleged capture.  According to Bergdahl, our nation is "the most conceited country in the world" and "I am ashamed to be an American. And the title of US soldier is just the lie of fools. I am sorry for everything. The horror that is America is disgusting.”

Sentiments which, of course, match those of his commander in chief - the Great Liberator of Guantanamo Bay.

June 4, 2014 - Let's Fake A Deal

obama, obama jokes, political, humor, cartoon, conservative, hope n' change, hope and change, stilton jarlsberg, bowe bergdahl, taliban, gitmo five
Bowe Bergdahl's father offers Islamic victory prayer in Rose Garden

 (Excerpt) Susan "I'll Say Anything" Rice made the rounds of news shows claiming that Sgt. Bergdahl served "with honor and distinction," which doesn't seem to quite square with the impression given by every other soldier who served with him. Then again, perhaps Ms. Rice has simply been misinformed by a Youtube video.

Meanwhile, James Clapper, then director of National Intelligence, said in 2012 that the "Gitmo Five" were unquestionably too dangerous to ever release...

June 6, 2014 - Suit First, Ask Questions Later

obama, obama jokes, political, humor, cartoon, conservative, hope n' change, hope and change, stilton jarlsberg, bowe bergdahl, taliban, gitmo five, susan rice, jay carney

(Excerpt) The White House is now asserting that anyone who voluntarily puts on the uniform of the United States has accomplished all that is necessary to be given the "served with honor and distinction" label to wear a lifetime, no matter what circumstances occur later.

And Hope n' Change can't help but wonder: will Nidal Hassan continue to rot in jail here in the United States, or will his service with "honor and distinction" allow him to be bundled with the Blind Sheikh, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, and other jihadists for Barry's next prisoner swap?

Friday, September 10, 2021

9/11 - 20 Years Later

Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of the fateful 9/11 attacks on our nation. For most Americans, it will be a day of mourning and contemplation. But not for all Americans; it seems likely that for Joe Biden and members of his administration the date is simply an annoyance on the calendar to be given lip service and then forgotten.

Unlike in Afghanistan, where 9/11 will mark the seating of a new government comprised of Taliban war chiefs and the Al Qaeda terrorists who, 20 years after their initial attack, brought the US to its knees (and got an $85 billion windfall in weaponry from Joe Biden with which to renew terror attacks on the world).

So what was already a dark day has gotten considerably darker.

Truthfully, recent developments have left us so slack-jawed that we can't really conjure any words which would be adequate for the situation. Which is why we've gone to the vault to bring back these commemorative columns related to the 10th and 15th anniversaries of 9/11...

(10 Year Anniversary)


We are only a few days away from the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks. An event so huge and horrific that it is nearly inconceivable that anyone could have forgotten the nightmarish visions, the passions, the lessons learned, or the injury to the heart of our nation. 

Unless they wanted to. Or unless they're being lead to think of those attacks in a different way. Which is why Hope n' Change finds it so appalling that the White House has just issued talking points and guidelines to make sure that government officials all stick to the narrative that Barack Obama wants for the anniversary of 9/11

Did you think the events of 9/11 were an attack on America? Don't be foolish; it was equally about "New York or Nairobi, Bali or Belfast, Mumbai or Manila, or Lahore or London." In other words, it wasn't about was about alliteration

And as 9/11 approaches, are you filled with anger towards Al-Qaeda? Geez, let it go already - after all, the Whitehouse assures us "Al Qaeda and its adherents have become increasingly irrelevant." 

Moreover, Americans should avoid making a big deal out of 9/11 because we've subsequently annoyed the civilized (ie, Muslim) world with our policies "on detention, on interrogation, and the decision to invade Iraq." Damn, maybe 9/11 was just our chickens coming home to roost, right B. Hussein? 

In all grave seriousness...this White House should not be telling any of us how to think or feel about the attacks of 9/11. The exploding jets, the falling towers, the smoke and flames billowing from the Pentagon, the innocents leaping to their deaths, and the scores of lost heroes were not part of a Hollywood movie. Which is why it is an obscenity of the most despicable kind for Barack Obama's White House to create and promote a script to reinvent those events in a way more to their liking... and political benefit. ----

(15 Year Anniversary)

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I can't believe the events of 9/11 happened 15 years ago. It feels no longer than a heartbeat. And despite the admonition to "never forget," too many have. They've forgotten the spirit of unity which Americans shared for a brief time. A spirit that transcended race, class, or political parties.

I apologize for even briefly mentioning politics today, but I believe that the beginning of the end of that unity occurred when newly-elected Senator Hillary Clinton took to the floor of the Senate, held up a tabloid newspaper headline, and declared "BUSH KNEW" an attack was likely and didn't stop it.

Years later as Secretary of State, for purely political reasons Hillary Clinton claimed not to have been aware that September 11th was a day of special meaning to terrorists, and a day when security should be at its very highest level. And four Americans serving in Benghazi paid the ultimate price for her recklessness and folly. This detestable woman must not become our next president.

But enough about that. This should be a day of reflection and contemplation. And to that end, I want to remind readers of heroic firefighter David M. Weiss, the brother-in-law of Jim Hlavac, a frequent commenter here on Hope n' Change.

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Here's how the New York Times described him:

David Martin Weiss, a New York City firefighter, was built like a fireplug. He stood 5-foot-9 and weighed 225 pounds. He was all muscle, with biceps as big as the thigh of a medium-build woman.

He was bulldozer strong. He looked as tough as he sounded. His head was shaved and his body was covered in tattoos. He drove Harleys.

He was an ironworker before he became a firefighter 13 years ago. He blended both experiences to become a member of the Fire Department's elite force. He joined Rescue Company 1 in Times Square about six years ago after receiving a medal for a rescue attempt: a man's car careened off Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive and plunged into the East River. Mr. Weiss, off duty, stopped his car, climbed down the iron trestles of the elevated highway and jumped into the river to rescue the driver, whose heart had given out.

"He just jumped, knowing that he was the person's only hope," said Thor Johannessen, a firefighter.

Mr. Weiss, 41, of Maybrook, N.Y., had a mean sense of humor. "If he saw a thread, he knew how to pull it to unravel the whole shirt," said Joel Kanasky, another firefighter. "He was the king of that."  

On 9/11, along with other members of the elite "Rescue 1" group, David raced into a burning tower of the World Trade Center to help as many people as possible. He was last seen on the 31st floor of Tower Two, climbing stairs and rushing towards the danger when the building fell.

The image below is from a commemorative t-shirt which is a prized possession of mine. A remembrance of both the tragedy and remarkable heroism seen on that day.

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Let today be a day when we step back from the petty distractions and noise of the media, and think about more important things. About what this country is. About who we are. About what we've lost, and what we each need to do every day to live up to a legacy forged by our best and bravest.

Above all, let's remember the many heroes - living and dead - who have made this a country worth celebrating and defending.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021


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Oops! I actually didn't mean to make a Stilton's Place post today, but accidentally screwed up and posted today's Johnny Optimism cartoon. And since there are already a couple of comments here, I'll just leave it up - what the heck!

Comments and conversation are welcome, and no need to confine yourself to opinions about werewolves or puppet shows (unless you mean the one in Washington DC).

Monday, September 6, 2021

From The Vault: Labor Day Memories

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Today is Labor Day, a national holiday on which we celebrate the labor unions which have improved working conditions and pay so dramatically that the actual jobs now go to illegal aliens, because that's the only way for many manufacturers to keep from going out of business.

Not that it's my intention to bash unions today! Over the years, they've accomplished many positive things and put an end to some horrific working conditions. If you doubt us, try looking up some vintage photos of 8-year old coal miners and then try to get their eyes and faces out of your nightmares.

That being said, my personal experience of working in a union shop left me with a highly negative attitude. It was in the early 1970's, and I had to join the United Auto Workers to work at a Ford factory in Indianapolis, Indiana. It was a summer job to earn college money, and I was moved around from position to position in the factory to cover for vacationing employees.

My first position was a night shift driving a forklift. The work was simple enough - transporting pallets of materials from one place to another. The problem was that there wasn't nearly enough work to fill the hours. When I asked the foreman what I should be doing to put in 8 hours of productivity, I was A) glared at for being a college-boy asshole and B) told that I should find a place to hide and sleep through the shift like everyone else did.

It seems the other forklift drivers did all of their work in the first hour, then retreated to hideaways inside stacks of boxes where there were makeshift beds, Playboy pinups, and the all-important alarm clocks which told my fellow workers that it was time to wake up and go home. My Protestant work ethic wouldn't allow me to do this (not to mention my fear of being crushed by falling stacks of crates "accidentally" tipped by my coworkers) so I was soon moved to daytime work on the assembly line.

This particular assembly line was for building steering columns. Every nine seconds, a unit would roll slowly by and I'd perform one quick operation on it...then move on to the next and the next and the next. There was nothing challenging about getting my contribution done in nine seconds (the union had established that this was exactly the maximum amount of work a laborer could do)...but I soon learned there was a complication.

Every man on the line not only knew how to do his own job, but also his neighbor's job within that nine second window (and without breaking a sweat). And so one man would come in every morning, punch in for himself and the second worker (who was still at home in bed) and do both jobs until lunchtime. Then the second man came in and the first man left for the day - with both time cards punched out at the end of the shift. Management knew this, but didn't dare challenge the union.

The "half day, full pay" scam eventually reached its logical conclusion when two geniuses sharing job duties figured out that neither of them would have to come in if they simply had a third guy punching their time cards in and out. And that's what they did for a long time.

And it worked out great until people driving Fords started dying because their cars suddenly veered out of control owing to the missing part in the steering column.

A massive recall followed, millions of dollars were paid in liability settlements and, of course, the two workers who were to blame were fired.


Yes, the UAW got them their jobs back. So fire up your grills, have a great Labor Day and  for the love of all that's holy drive carefully.


Friday, September 3, 2021


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Covid variants, including the new and improved "Mu" strain, continue to burn through the Greek alphabet when acquiring names. Which seems appropriate, considering we're all taking the pandemic Greek-style, if you catch our drift.

Fortunately, Mu isn't really prevalent yet because its much-more-popular cousin Delta is pretty much infecting the world right now. It's so infectious that virtually all serious scientists have agreed on the conclusion that we're all going to get it. Fortunately, vaccination seems to make it much less likely that you'll be hospitalized or have serious symptoms, but Covid has been added to the "Death and Taxes" list as something that will now always be with us.

As manmade achievements go, that's pretty damn impressive and is worthy of commemoration. Specifically, we're fatasizing about something that "escapes from a lab" and is accidentally dropped on the Wuhan Institute of Infectious Bat Viruses and Screen Doors. Nothing flashy, really - just something big enough to make the residents of Hiroshima say "Holy crap, I'm glad they didn't drop that on us."


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Today we observe Labor Day, a celebration of the unions which gave new freedoms, wealth, and dignity to peons who previously suffered under the cruel oppression of capitalist bastards. Nowhere is this more the case than in the editorial cartooning industry, which has come so far in the past century.

Once considered a "job that Americans won't do," 100 years ago editorial cartoons were farmed out to Irish immigrants and Chinese coolies who were functionally little more than slaves, working at crude drawing tables in return for a weekly ration of potato peels or fish heads.

Later, when the Irish turned to police work and the Chinese turned to ruining SAT scores for everyone else, the greedy editorial cartoon barons put women and children (as young as four years old) into forced servitude, penning cartoons in dingy, airless factories. Their work shifts were 24 hours long, every day except Sunday - when they got 15 minutes off to pee and whimper.

Some died of ink poisoning, others died violently in the process of collecting the ink by milking octopuses, while many simply lost the will to live after being forced to look at grim news items every day.

But then the unions entered the scene and changed everything. The sweatshops were closed, women went back to prostitution, and children were again free to be beggars and pickpockets. But actual editorial cartoonists, now holding the reins of collective bargaining, became the masters of their own fate.

Today, editorial cartoonists are among the most highly paid and respected professionals in our nation, loved by all, desired by beautiful women, and universally sought after for their wit, intelligence, and dashing good looks.

Not to mention their vivid imaginations...

Wednesday, September 1, 2021


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Joe Biden took to the microphones yesterday to announce to the American public that the demonstrably disastrous pullout from Afghanistan was really a whiz-bang success of historic proportions! Everything went perfectly smoothly and according to plan, with every single goal being met. Seriously, this is the approach he decided to take (along with barking forcefully because someone told him to) and I just couldn't watch the whole speech. Especially knowing how successful "The Big Lie" can be.

Because if Joe Biden's rush for the exits was a "success," what in blithering blue Hell does a "failure" look like? Jihad Joe just gifted the Taliban with $85 billion in state-of-the-art weaponry and munitions, making them one of the best-equipped armies in the world. And that same world watched as Biden showed that America's promises no longer mean anything and we can't be trusted as allies. Moreover, hundreds of Americans and thousands of our military's Afghani partners were simply left behind despite being promised, repeatedly and recently by Biden himself, that we wouldn't pull out until he'd personally rescued each and every one of them. 

Not that these unlucky wretches will be suffering long: Joe's crack team gave the Taliban the names of all of the Americans and anti-Taliban allies left behind, seemingly not caring that this would quickly become a "kill list."

There's a lot more to be said, but I don't think I can continue without breaking into an Internet-melting stream of obscenities about Biden, his handlers and unindicted co-conspirators, the media, and every blankety-blank moron who cast a vote for this blood-drenched buffoon of a Marxist president.

So instead, I'm presenting this cartoon and commentary about Afghanistan (and Biden) from the vault, to show - sadly - how very little has changed in the past decade.,,

FROM THE VAULT (June 24, 2011)

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Today's cartoon isn't subtle...but neither is war. You fight or run. You win or lose. You tell the truth or you lie like a rug. Which brings us to Barack Hussein Obama, the commander-in-chief of the United States military...God help us all. 

After recently overruling his top Whitehouse lawyers on the definition of "war" and "hostilities" in Libya (and giving the finger to Congress), Mr. Obama is now overruling his top generals and withdrawing troops from Afghanistan not when it's militarily wise, but when it will do the most good for his reelection campaign.  And it was important to announce the actual withdrawal dates right now to give our enemies time to plan for their big victory parties. 

The president and his trusty teleprompter explained all of this to the American people in flowery language that would have seemed more appropriate coming from a Poet Laureate than a president. A drunken Poet Laureate. 

"The tide of war is receding," quoth surfing aficionado Obama, indicating that he thinks military success is likely based on the gravitational pull of the moon. "Even as there will be dark days ahead in Afghanistan, the light of a secure peace can be seen in the distance," he continued over a background of soothing new-age harp music. 

And Obama loves using those light/dark, future/past rhetorical juxtapositions when he speaks, because they sound great but when you put them together they mean absolutely nothing; things will be bad and things will be good? Wow, thanks for the insights, genius. 

And just where is Obama getting the military advice to take this action and likely lose a war? Not from General David Petraeus, but from his reelection campaign planners and Joe Biden, who hasn't been correct on a single foreign policy matter in his entire inexplicable career. 

Finally, Barack Obama is basically giving Afghanistan to the Taliban because, in his words, "it is time to focus on nation-building at home." Funny, we thought that a pretty good nation had already been built here... but it's obvious that this despicable little political worm of a man is intent on building something else. -

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Numbered Daze

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We're still not in the proper headspace for editorializing or, according to the warning labels, operating heavy machinery. But the unfolding disaster in Afghanistan demands commentary. Fortunately, William McGurn wrote a great piece for the Wall Street Journal that we're sharing here in its entirety.


A TALIBAN 9/11 - Joe Biden rushed the Afghanistan pullout for a political speech he wanted to give

William McGurn, Wall Street Journal, 8/23/21

What on earth will Joe Biden say this Sept. 11?

We know what he planned to say. He hoped to use the 20th anniversary to proclaim himself the president who had succeeded in doing what none of his predecessors— George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump —could: end the “endless war” in Afghanistan. The purpose of the artificial deadline was to provide Mr. Biden a dramatic backdrop for the speech he wanted to give.

The bungled exit has scuttled that plan. Worse, it has forever surrendered 9/11 to the Islamist fundamentalists. It is now what they meant it to be in 2001: their day of victory.

Part of this victory belongs to al Qaeda, which seared the date 9/11 into America’s memory. Today al Qaeda’s leaders have regained the haven that they used to plan and carry out the 9/11 attacks, under the same Taliban hosts who refused to give them up even after President Bush declared the U.S. wouldn’t distinguish between the terrorists who attacked us and those who harbored them.

The Taliban victory is bigger still. Over the weekend, propaganda attributed to the Taliban’s Badri 313 unit featured a photo of its fighters, clad in captured American gear, raising the Taliban flag in a parody of the iconic World War II image of Marines raising the Stars and Stripes on Iwo Jima’s Mount Suribachi. They intend to rub it in.

And why not? They won.

Back on the home front, some are arguing that it is only the botched execution, not the decision to retreat itself, that is at issue. Some further accuse President Biden of eliding responsibility by deliberately conflating the two, which he did again Sunday by emphasizing how “absolutely correct” he was in making the call to bug out.

But there is a cheaper argument about what went wrong, embedded in throwaway lines like “20 years of failure.” U.S. mistakes in Afghanistan were real, numerous, and often costly. But to write off the entire enterprise as a failure because Afghanistan didn’t transform itself into Belgium in 20 years is not serious.

Yes, there was too much optimism about remaking Afghanistan as a liberal democracy. But a more modest measure of success might yet acknowledge there is something to be said for staving off the worst—a Taliban victory. Just as we have managed in Korea, where we have 28,500 U.S. troops and there is still officially a “forever war” going on between North and South.

For as corrupt and incapable as the Afghan government was, it was a significant improvement over its predecessor—and now its successor. Not to mention Afghan women and girls whose lives are about to return to pre-medieval times. Whatever the waste and foolishness on America’s part, it’s doubtful those desperate Afghans climbing the walls at Kabul airport would be as quick to dismiss it all as 20 years of failure.

Not to mention the hit to U.S. credibility. Our most important military alliance—NATO—stands broken and discredited by the man who campaigned as the seasoned expert in diplomatic affairs. Armin Laschet, who is favored to become the new German chancellor, called the pullout a “debacle.” In the U.K., a House of Commons debate featured adjectives like “shameful” and “cruel and humiliating.” This from our friends.

On Sunday the president absurdly claimed that Moscow and Beijing read our graceless exit from Afghanistan as somehow enhancing U.S. capabilities and resolve elsewhere. To the contrary, Xi Jinping is quickly moving to replace U.S. influence in Afghanistan with China’s. And Vladimir Putin is acknowledging what he thinks of Mr. Biden’s resolve by telling the U.S. not even to think of relocating some of our forces in neighboring countries that he considers part of Russia’s sphere of influence.

So a question for those who still believe Mr. Biden was right to pull us out: Do they also believe his assurances that our loss of on-the-ground intelligence, an air base in a strategic part of the world, and an ally instead of an enemy in Kabul will all be compensated for with “over the horizon” capabilities?

No doubt most Americans have always wanted our men and women in uniform to come home. But the American people aren’t children.

It’s a pity that so few of our political leaders have been willing to make the hard argument that a continued presence in a highly strategic area might pay the kind of dividends our continued presence in, say, Germany, Japan and South Korea have. Especially given that U.S. combat responsibilities in Afghanistan had largely ended and the residual force would have been a fraction of the more than 100,000 troops we had there a decade ago (the Afghanistan Study Group suggested 4,500).

In three weeks we will mark the 20th anniversary of the deadliest attack on America’s home soil. Those who gave shelter to the terrorists who pulled it off will be whooping it up in Kabul. What on earth can Joe Biden’s speechwriters come up with now that won’t make it worse?

Friday, August 20, 2021

A Penny For Your Thoughts

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In the past, I have promised daughter Jarlsberg that nothing bad will ever, ever, ever happen to Lance. Which is why today I envy Johnny so very, very much.

Cancer struck Penny so subtly that no one could quite figure out what it was. But within the space of a couple of weeks, it manifested itself in multiple ways and the rapid progression couldn't be stopped.

A very hard day for the Jarlsberg family. Hug 'em if you got 'em.

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Rest in Peace, Penny (The Official Dog of Hope n' Change) 2013-2021

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Point Well Taken

 If we "follow the science" of statistics, even a man who gets everything wrong will at some point say something that turns out right...

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Monday, August 16, 2021


To the surprise of no one except the entire Biden administration, our alleged intelligence agencies, our wokest-ever military, and the mainstream media, Afghanistan has quickly been taken over by the Taliban while remaining Americans and betrayed allies scramble for survival and escape.

This is a devastating military disaster which will likely be viewed historically as the event which marked the end of America as a credible world superpower.

Not that this was difficult to see coming, especially with Clueless Joe as a figurehead for foreign policy decisions being made by the resurrected (from Hell) Obama administration.

So with no pleasure at all, we're presenting some posts from the vault to remind people that this disaster was long in the making and that current attempts to blame Trump are not only disingenuous but disgusting.

(DEC 1, 2009)

Tonight, the president will make a speech from West Point in which he reveals his (not very) top secret new strategy for Afghanistan: sending 30,000 additional troops while sulking about it, and promising Al Qaeda and the Taliban that we'll pull all of our troops out again as soon as humanly possible. 

The president is hoping that committing troops will be seen as actual commitment...but unfortunately, he isn't fooling anyone except his former far-left supporters like Michael Moore, who are accusing Obama of becoming a bloodsucking, imperialist warmonger who will break the hearts of young, idealistic voters and discourage them from ever returning to the polls. One can only hope...

(November 21, 2010)


Not long ago, Barack Obama informed the world that the United States was embracing a new humility, because "there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive."

Which is why the Whitehouse must be groaning over Joe Biden's arrogant, dismissive, and derisive comment on the Larry King show that "Daddy is going to start taking the training wheels off" in the Afghan war, so the locals had "better practice riding." Yep, there's nothing patronizing about a statement like that! 

Or a statement like "Daddy is going to spank you like the bad, bad girl you've been," which Biden didn't actually say aloud but which he may have been thinking...if we assume that he actually was thinking. Which we frequently don't. Of course, apart from Biden's statement being patently offensive to our allies, it's also a bit outdated; because when it comes to this administration, the wheels fell off their foreign policy a long time ago.

(December 3, 2009)

After thinking longer and more slowly than Rodin's statue of the same name, Barack Obama finally decided that the best way to handle the war in Afghanistan is to reluctantly commit more troops...but only for 18 months, after which we'll get the hell out of Dodge

Of course, this strategy will only work if the Taliban and Al Qaeda don't know we're going to give up in July of 2011. So please, help keep the president's big secret and don't tell the bad guys!

(December 5, 2010)

Barack Hussein Obama unexpectedly flew to Afghanistan this week for three reasons: to raise the morale of American troops, to be photographed wearing a masculinity-enhancing flight jacket, and - most importantly - to give him a chance to say "Tollybon." Tollybon, tollybon, tollybon! 

There are some sounds which have almost unbelievable power to shred nerves and annoy. Fingernails on a chalkboard. The cries of a baby in a movie theater. President Bush saying "nook-you-ler." But topping the list, for us anyway, is Mr. Obama's aggressively nuanced styling of the word "Taliban." When he says "Tollybon," the word is clipped and distinct, vowels are reshaped, and the sound is redolent with exotic spices from the Far if to deliberately remind us that the president deserves special credibility because he was raised in a Muslim culture in Indonesia.

He spits the word out like an insult to plainspoken, unworldly Americans who lack his multi-cultural roots. And with that one word, Barack Obama reminds us that the conversation is really, and always, about him. Not the troops. Not the war. Not our country. Not even, truly, about the Taliban - even when speaking to the American men and women whose lives are on the line in a distant land.

(August 18, 2014)

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Last Thursday, 2-star Major General Harold Greene, the highest ranking officer to be killed in Afghanistan, was buried at Arlington Cemetery.

Notice that we say "buried" and not "Barryed" - because the president didn't bother to attend the funeral and instead went golfing.

Of course, the vacationing president made a point of sending veep Joe Biden and...wait. What's that? Oh, we stand corrected. Obama didn't bother to send Biden either.

But he did send a remarkably clear message to members of our military: your lives, service, and deaths deserve only a 99¢ condolence card signed by the presidential auto-pen.