Thank you to the State College Community, Penn State’s Department of Architectural Engineering and to the Jewish people

On this Sunday night, I am sitting in my apartment four blocks away by scooter to Penn State’s iconic Old Main. ¬†You have seen it on television.

Penn_state_old_main_summerContemplating my forthcoming cancer surgery, I cannot help but express my gratitude.

My gratitude extends the length and breadth of the Borough of State College under the inspiration of our dynamo Mayor Elizabeth Goreham.

The Borough of State College includes all Downtown, which is at economic risk, suburban State College (but not suburban enough to collect the large revenues). and Penn State University.

We are all Penn State here.

First and foremost, I want to thank Elaine Meder-Wilgus.Next year, Webster’s proprietor Elaine Meder-Wilgus will be reading the role of the sensuous Molly Bloom whom Joyce deliberately paralleled to Homer’s Penelope.

Webster’s Bookstore and Cafe has immeasurably improved the quality of my life here. Book Store Duchess Anne and I contemplate Webster’s related activity, such as promoting the bookstore with a recreation of the Battle of Trafalgar. We require three floats such as are featured at the Rose Bowl, each retailing for $120,000.One ship on the converted float would be the one where Lord Nelson dies; there would be a French and Spanish ship as well. Of course, the helicopter with Elaine playing Lady Hamilton. Funding has been a problem.

Thank you employees and patrons of Webster’s Bookstore and Cafe. Thank you.

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I thank my neighbors, friends, Cathy Fisher, Bryan and the excellent maintenance staff, and the owners and managers of my apartment building.

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Other than names already mentioned, I will not use this space to express my appreciation of my family and friends–except when I get the urge.

This posting is intended to express appreciation for the environment where I reside. So, herein is the way I have arranged my thank you’s, including my thanks to:

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I thank, of course, my dear friend Fire Chief Steve Bair.

I also thank Police Chief Tom Kane, who has been thoughtfully responsive to my emails–long as they are.

I also thank my assemblyman Scott Conklin. I especially like Scott–period. I am glad that he is a real union man.

I also thank my REPUBLICAN Congressman Glenn (“GT”) Thompson [Republican,. Fifth Congressional District of PA]. GT was a physical therapist before he was elected to Congress despite my active campaign against him on behalf of his Democratic challenger Mark McCracken.

GT met his wife while they were changing bedpans at the nursing home I will enter by default if anything happens to me. Since his election to ¬†Congress, GT has displayed an admirable record regarding medical oxygen, wheel chairs, scooters, and power chairs–equipment that is indispensable to paraplegics such as myself and to others in the disability community. President Obama, despite his rhetoric–holding my nose voting for him this time around–having voted for candidate Obama in the PA primary and then worked for his first election insisting that Democratic headquarters pour new concrete for its broken down wheel chair access ramp.

Excuse the rant. The point is GT has been an inspiration to the durable medical equipment community even if he is a Republican.

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Regarding health care gratitude, I do not know where to start. When I had pneumonia in November right before Thanksgiving, I felt like hell. I called 911. The ambulance was here in no time. I breezed through the Emergency Room and would up in a room with a view and I had a really great doctor–right down the road at Mt. Nittany Hospital where the food is good.

Let us start with Sapana Minali, my primary care physician at Geisinger Medical Center. When the excellent and gracious urologist Jennifer Simmons diagnosed that I had cancer, Dr. Simmons referred me to Sloan Kettering in New York for a surgical consultation….

When that happened, my primary care physician was informed that I was discharged from the hospital but with a kidney cancer diagnosis. Dr. Minali then directed her staff to call me and when that did not work after many un-returned calls, Dr. Minali called me herself.

Meanwhile, she directed that I receive social services available to someone in my situation, and the wonderful Doreen Moronski found me the Bob Perks Fund, which provides grants to individuals who have to travel for medical reasons. My grant pays my monthly rent every four months for a year, plus provides a $160 grocery store card every quarter.

Thank you Bob Perks.

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Regarding the Jewish people: Words cannot describe my gratitude to Rabbi David Ostrich, who performed the State College memorial service for my mother Dr. Miriam P. Schmerler at my apartment building–where we had a minyan.

My attachment to the Jewish people is based on my strong belief in Zionism, my great love for the Hebrew language (the Bible is great stuff in the original), and my attachment to things Jewish. My spirituality has not been invoked by traditional Jewish practice. I have been strongly spiritual for as long as I can remember. I am very fond of the Wisdom of the East. Confucius’ Analects and the teachings of the Buddha have provided me with understanding. Rabbi Ostrich has been demonstrating to me the compatibility of Eastern teachings with an understanding of The Torah.

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Congregation Brit Shalom and the Jewish Federation of Pennsylvania have provided me with the funding that made it possible to receive cancer treatment in New York City, 250 miles away from State College. For my June trip to Sloan Kettering, where Dr.Russo decided to operate, I received $1,500. It is astonishing how expensive is New York. After shopping around, I found a cheap garage that would let me park the car for $400 for the week I was there for tests and consultation.

Last week, Rabbi Ostrich met me at the PNC bank on College Avenue and provided me with an additional $1500 for this trip to New York for surgery and two weeks of recovery. This total of $3,000 exhausts the extent of generosity from a small congregation. Thank you, landsmen of my Congregation including the Bagel Boys.

Thanks to the Jewish people: I was raised by a single mother in the 1950s when that was no picnic. My mother supported us on her salary as a teacher of Hebrew school teacher, a Hebrew school principal, and an Educator. She liked it when people called her a theologian.

I remember first hearing the words of the Bible in Hebrew when I was five. From grades 1-8, the day began at the Hebrew Academy of Greater Miami with a pledge of allegiance to the U.S. flag and a singing of the anthem of the State of Israel–both flags displayed.

During those years, I read the Five Books of Moses in the original Hebrew in the mornings and studied English subjects in the afternoon. There was a lot to praying.

While I have rejected much, my love of the Hebrew language remains. My support for Israel as a safe, peaceful, Jewish entity is strong. “If I forget Jerusalem, let me forget how to use my right hand….”

What I have always found to my surprise and relief is the availability of Jewish Family Services and similar organizations to be there for me because that is what our people do. We care for each other.

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Regarding work:

I may get emotional here, so forgive me in advance.

I have a strong feeling about my work.

I have spent years learning how to write.

Now, I know what to write about.

I write about how to overcome the limitations of a disability and live life to the full.

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For the past four years, I have been working as a research assistant at Penn State’s Department of Architectural Engineering. Dr. John Messner hired me.

John is in charge of the Computer Integrated Construction (CIC group) and runs the Immersive Construction (ICon) Lab. Shown here is the ICon lab’s mascot:

Costa Rican Frog

Given the still recovering construction industry’s state, the building of hospitals and medical facilities–taking place at a rapid pace–has proven to be a great relief. The images projected on John’s three screens viewed with 3-D glasses are intended to help architects, engineers, and construction personnel conceptualize design and then make changes before construction begins.

John assigned me to work with now Dr. Sonali Kumar’s whose graduation I attended in May, one week before my daughter Joanna graduated with her usual honors from nursing school.

ChimayJoelSonaliMessner

Sonali’s thesis is entitled, Experience-based design review of healthcare facilities using interactive virtual prototypes.¬†

Yes, I am in Sonali’s thesis. See below.

I was the model for her avatar for the independent living virtual reality module designed in Autodesk’s BIM-compliant Revit and imported into a Unity gaming engine.

Somewhere in my appreciation from the virtual reality lab, I became obsessed with McKeesport, a Pennsylvania Rust Belt town with high poverty, a lot of crime, and two gifted men the brilliant Robert Walters and the capable and enabling John Bertoty who created a Blueroof Research Experimental Cottage.

BobWasltersandJohnBertoty

The cottage was constructed in a factory where sensors were placed in the walls. With digging the foundation, it took 3 days to assemble the structure. The cottage contains a living room, kitchen, bathroom, and  two bedrooms.

Closeup3-Davatarinkitchen

Cameras are available at the client’s option for monitoring. Motion detectors can tell whether a resident has fallen in the shower and communicate that information by voice simulation to 911 as a call for help. This is off the shelf technology.

This kind of low-cost housing for low-income individuals represents an understanding of how to design a residence for elderly and disabled individuals that helps them live their lives.

During a period when the largest generation in U.S. history is retiring–Baby Boomers retiring at the rate of 10,000 a day…. There is no way the housing stock in our country can support the demand.

Over 90 percent of U.S. housing is NOT wheel chair accessible.

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Then, along came Dr. Richard Behr, Chair of the Center for Aging in Place at the Department of Architectural Engineering. (Why at the Department of Architectural Engineering? you may ask. Ask.)

IMG_0300

Richard and I became planners. A Pittsburgh foundation had paid $50,000 to design a plan for downtown McKeesport. Richard and I wrote a grant proposal to the Ford Foundation for the funding to execute the plan. I plan to go back to the Ford Foundation for reconsideration.

Then, there would follow useful studies Penn State could perform, especially for my boss Dr. Ali Memari, Chair of the Pennsylvania Housing Research Center.

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Dr. Memari and I are coauthoring a report entitled

Renovating Existing Housing to Provide Individuals with Mobility Disabilities the Opportunity to Live Independently

The book contains a lot of photographs of independent living facilities where design modifications should have been required. I will be submitting my work thus far to Dr. Memari by close of business on Thursday.

LiftonSecondFloor

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Gratitude is hard to express. Syrup often accompanies it. More of the gratitude I feel will be expressed as time goes by.

–30–

Joel Solkoff

Noisy Thanksgiving November 22, 2012

Copyright © 2013 by Joel Solkoff. All rights reserved. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Driving to surgery

THE GOAL. Surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital where I probably will be cured of kidney cancer on Thursday, August 8th first thing in the morning.

The Hospital is located at 125 York Avenue, New York, New York 10065.

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[Readers: Start at the bottom and work your way up to here as I shall riding (not driving this trip to the Big Apple) in a car carrying one rear wheel drive scooter, one travel scooter thin enough to get to the bathroom in the hospital, one 12 pound wheel chair (just in case I want to go on my own power), knee pads (same reason), clothes, books and this and that for nearly 3 weeks while I go to New York to prepare for major surgery, have the surgery, recover and return to State College without a cancerous tumor. Meanwhile, of course, I will be seeing my daughters Joanna and Amelia and writing about the Morgan Museum and Library and Renzo Piano–for diversion with a purpose.]

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Waiting room for extensive imagry, Me orial Sloan Cancer Center, NYC

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bathroom I shared with my hospital room mate. My first room mate died in the bed next to me.
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The route concludes: While taking exit¬†2¬†for¬†Harlem River Dr¬†toward¬†FDR Dr/Manhattan…
 Keep left at the fork, follow signs for FDR Drive/Harlem River Drive and merge onto Harlem River Dr
 3.5 mi
Continue onto FDR Drive
 3.1 mi
Take exit 12 for E 63 St toward Roosevelt Island/New York/Queensboro Bridge
 0.1 mi

Turn right onto York Ave

 Destination on the left 
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maproute

THE ROUTE :Starts from A,  The Corner Room Restaurant, State College, PA  to B Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital in New York City.

Continuation from directions below: From the entrance to I-91 in PA:

Merge onto I-99 N
 10.1 mi
Continue onto PA-26 N/US-220 N
 0.4 mi

Turn left to merge onto I-80 E/US-220 N toward Williamsport

 Continue to follow I-80 E
 Entering New Jersey
 213 mi
Keep left to continue on Interstate 80 Express E
 6.0 mi
Merge onto Interstate 95 Express N
 2.6 mi

Continue onto Interstate 95 Upper Level N

 Partial toll road
 Entering New York
 2.4 mi
Take exit 2 for Harlem River Dr toward FDR Dr/Manhattan
 0.1 mi
For concluding directions see above.

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StateCollegeWinter

STARTING POINT. The heart of DOWNTOWN State College, at the corner of College and Allen Avenues. Yes, I know an August drive does not involve snow (yet). The car leaves from the Corner Room Restaurant directly ahead in this photograph.

100 W College Ave
State College, PA 16801

.

The drive is 246 miles;  3 hours,  54 minutes. [Thank you Google Maps.]

Head southwest on W College Ave toward S Fraser St
 0.2 mi
Turn right onto N Atherton St
 0.5 mi
Turn right onto W Park Ave
 2.3 mi

Continue onto Park Ave/Park Ave Exd

 Continue to follow Park Ave
 0.8 mi
Take the ramp onto I-99 N [continued above].
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‚ÄĒ30‚Äď

Joel Solkoff

Copyright © 2013 by Joel Solkoff. All rights reserved.

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Contribution opportunity to help defray the costs of going to New York, recovering there, and returning home:

russo-paul

The surgery will be performed by an expert in the field of kidney surgery which my physician here in State College) advises me cannot be reliably perfumed in the greater region where I live. My State College urologist referred me to Sloan Kettering in New York where Dr. Paul Russo will perform the surgery.

Art as cancer therapy

I guess this all starts at the Morgan Museum and Library,¬†Renzo Piano‘s 2006 major expansion, his first commissioned work in New York City.

MySiteMorganFinalRams

This is a good time to refer you to:¬†http://www.e-architect.co.uk/¬†published daily from Scotland by Adrian Welch and Isabelle Lomholt (who is a beauty). The site receives 960,000 hits a day–a lot more hits a day than I receive here at www.joelsolkoff.com.

The future of architecture as the ‚Äúbaby boom‚ÄĚ generation retires¬†was my first publication for the site on February 22nd.¬†See¬†http://www.e-architect.co.uk/articles/disability_access_design.htm.

I am currently a regular guest editor at e-architect specializing primarily in disability-related issues that should be of concern to today’s architects.

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This story begins in April of this year, one week after I was diagnosed with kidney cancer. It was then that I discovered the intensely therapeutic effect of art to one undergoing cancer treatment.

My description of this discovery Adrian Welch published this May. See link: http://www.e-architect.co.uk/articles/morgan_library_museum_access.htm

Mozart

Since then my obsession continues with the dazzlingly new Renzo Piano extension of the Morgan incorporating the McKim Meade and White Beaux Art ¬†library/palace completed in 1906–one hundred years after Piano’s extension completion.

My astonishingly long appreciation of Piano’s Morgan appeared this month on e-architect at the following link:¬†http://www.e-architect.co.uk/articles/j_p_morgan_library_museum_building.htm

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The article concludes:

Personal note: I will be returning to New York on August 8 for an operation at Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. I have good feelings about the outcome. My skilled surgeon will remove the tumor surrounding my right kidney while saving the kidney. The outcome is likely to be that kidney cancer will not kill me.

“I live in State College, PA. Since I am a paraplegic, it is especially difficult for me to travel the 250 miles to New York City, but very easy for me to get around the City. After the operation, I will remain in New York for two weeks to recover. While in New York, I will be posting for¬†e-architect¬†from the Atrium of Piano‚Äôs Morgan.

“August will be my third trip to New York since I was diagnosed with cancer in April. During this time, I have visited the Morgan four times. Each time, I felt the Morgan was a refuge and a blessing including the blessing of being contained in an environment designed by Renzo Piano.”

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The obsession with the Morgan and Renzo Piano continues.

IMG_0717

—30–

Joel Solkoff

Copyright © 2013 by Joel Solkoff. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The First Psalm of David ◊™◊Ē◊ú◊ě◊ô◊Ě ◊ź

 Psalm 1 

“Why is there so much praising of God,‚ÄĚ I emailed Rabbi David Ostrich, ‚Äúdoes not God know how wonderful God is? Why is it necessary to praise God so much?‚ÄĚ Rabbi Ostrich replied: ‚Äú

“While there are some thinkers who maintain that God “requires” lavish praise, this is not universal. Indeed, much of the Psalmist’s need to praise comes as a kind of automatic response to the wondrous presence of God as he/she becomes aware of it.”

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I first started recording Psalm 1 on June 4th the day before kidney cancer imaging. [Note: the kidney surgery that followed was astonishingly successful and Dr. Russo’s skill was so great he saved my right kidney during the operation.]

The recording (not reproduced here) had the fewest number of mistakes. I can hear my mother correcting me whenever I make a mistake as Mother always did when she was alive. My mother had a passion for correcting my Hebrew which still is in need of correction.

GuestWheel

At the time, I was staying in a guest room too narrow for my portable wheel chair (12 pounds) [shown above] , but narrow enough that my skinny Amigo travel scooter got me in and out.

This is the King James Version:

1 Blessed is the man

Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,

Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
3 He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.

4 The ungodly are not so,
But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

6 For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the ungodly shall perish.

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The following is my informal translation:

Blessed is the person who does not follow the path of people who are evil, who do not:

  • Follow in the footsteps of sinners
  • Sit in the path of evil¬†
  • Behave as a¬†sinner

One¬†obtain’s one’s desire in the Bible

the Old Testament, God gave the Jewish people.

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When one studies the Bible intensely–

day and night. 

one becomes like a tree planted by streams of water

that yields its fruit in its season and does not wither.

In all one does, one will succeed. 

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The wicked are merely chaff.

The wind drives the chaff away.

God disapproves of the wicked–

sinners inside the congregation of the righteous.

God appreciates the path the righteous have chosen.

The wicked will perish

–30–

Copyright © 2013 by Joel Solkoff. All rights reserved.

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The next day I took the following photograph of the kidney imaging machine that told my surgeon Dr. Paul Russo where to cut when he operates on me August 8th.

KidneyPsalm

 

 

July 24 Update: Joanna’s wedding in N. C. horse barn –Volume I, Issue 2.5

Jade andJoanna

On a personal note: I was diagnosed as having kidney cancer in April. Three weeks from today I have an operation to remove the risk at Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

The Big Apple.

PIANO 2000-2007.The New York Times Building web“The New York¬†Times¬†Building”,¬†2000-2007, as:¬†‚Äú¬©¬†Renzo Piano Building Workshop. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery.¬†Photography¬†by Denanc√© Michel.”

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Then, I have to recover from the surgery. Then, it is off to Equestrian North Carolina to give away the bride. Here she is after she first arrived and cleaned up. Now I have to give her away? Where did the time go?

InfantJMS_DB_me

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Updates

  • Joanna became a registered nurse last week after passing the exam. She is now eligible for employment in the Washington, D.C. area where is looking for a position as a nurse, preferably in an environment where all hell is breaking loose and Joanna is the only clear-thinker in the room.
  • In May Joanna graduated from The School of Nursing, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

joannagraduates

You may note that two of the tassels around Joanna’s neck are for honors achievements. The tassels became trapped in the portable chair mechanism and my daughter–as Jade calls her the “Study Nazi–had difficulty standing up until she became untangled.

Honeymoon scoop. The presumably happy couple will leave the wedding exhausted and board a plane to South Africa where the flight is so long you do not need to ask.

Finally, Capetown.

Capetown

 

Father of the bride, State College, PA, July 24, 2014

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How else to feel other than I am, 
often thinking Flash Gordon soap‚Äst
O how terrible it must be for a young man 
seated before a family and the family thinking 
We never saw him before! He wants our Mary Lou! 
After tea and homemade cookies they ask What do you do for a living? 
Should I tell them? Would they like me then? 
Say All right get married, we’re losing a daughter 
but we‚Äôre gaining a son‚Äst
And should I then ask Where‚Äôs the bathroom?‚Äďfrom¬†Marriage¬†by¬†Gregory Corso

This Joanna’s Wedding Posting will be very much like plans for the ceremony itself–very jangly.

First, there was the engagement.

Then, impertinent questions for months:

When are you going to get married?

Where are you going to get married?

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Speaking generically, of course, if one were asked Will you marry me? Then, the likely next scenario appears with answers. I am writing this on July 13, 2013 at 10:12 PM at my apartment in State College, PA miles away from where the action is, so the information provided should be subjected to verification if I were you.

One fiance or the other might express the reality of this contract by answering, We are getting married on October 5. Why it took Joanna and Jade over a year to come up with that answer is a subject for another time.

A formal engagement is a legally binding contract. If for example Jade were to break off the engagement [you cad], Joanna could sue him in court and collect justice or a facsimile. At least that is the way it was before World War I–my standard for proper behavior.

Joanna and Jade for some reason did not realize that when they announced their intention to marry each other that the announcement was not good enough. Their mutually expressed position: Who said anything about ceremonies, we just want to appreciate having agreed on a mutually acceptable contract.

Jade was the first to break. When asked, he said about the prospective wedding date, “I don’t know. I have not thought about it.” Of course, Joanna had not thought about it either, but she had the good sense not to say so.

The wedding will take place on October fifth. The ceremony will be performed in a different North Carolina horse barn than originally planed. Save the date postcards have been sent with a photograph of their cat dressed in a tuxedo. For recipients of the postcard, an official Joanna and Jade Wedding site URL  was provided.

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This is the unofficial site. Save this URL on your browser for wedding updates and whiffs of scandal whenever they appear.https://joelsolkoff.com/joannas-wedding-in-horse-barn-update/

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What follows is the account of Joanna and Jade’s Engagement Party in September. This must satisfy you for the time being. Right now there are so many details to keep track of that I have yet to recover from a lengthy description on the acceptably of plaid table cloths. I know I have tied the knot myself, but sometimes I have to ask: Why does anyone ever get married?

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Does the Party ever end?

Thirty minutes before the Party begins at the patio of the Weathervane at Chapel Hill's famous Southern Seasons

Thirty minutes before the Party begins at the patio of the Weathervane at Chapel Hill’s famous Southern Seasons I am waiting patiently for the Jade and Joanna engagement party.

Weathervane

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Informal press release

The scheduled Engagement Party began last night, September 29th; although the bar closed at 11, the Party still continues.

The following is not correct. Pat is going to be the guest at another North Carolina horse barn in an adjacent county:

Joanna Solkoff and Jade Phillips plan to marry at Pat DeAngeles’ Baywood Farm Equestrian Center, 4263 NC Highway 751, Apex, NC at a date yet to be selected.

 

 

 

Having 11 children is likely to wear a woman out

“There is some debate as to the year of Hooker’s birth¬†in¬†Coahoma County, Mississippi,¬†the youngest of the eleven children of William Hooker a¬†sharecropper¬†and Baptist preacher, and Minnie Ramsey (born 1875, date of death unknown [but, I bet, she was all wore out at the time {(My suggestion to Wikipedia)};according to his official website, he was born on August 22, 1917.”

Above is my editorial suggestion for ¬†revising the first paragraph of Wikipedia’s biography of John Lee Hooker.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Lee_Hooker

JohnLeeHooker1997

From Wikipedia [I love Wikipedia–Diderot is drinking champagne in heaven, celebrating Wikipedia] comes this description of how Joe Lee Hooker came to write his most popular song Boom! Boom!]:

“According to Hooker, he wrote the song during an extended engagement at the Apex Bar in Detroit. ‘I would never be on time; I always would be late comin’ in. And she [the bartender Willa] kept saying, ‘Boom boom‚ÄĒyou late again’. Every night: ‘Boom, boom‚ÄĒyou late again’. I said ‘Hmm, that’s a song!'”

Thanks to the miracle of YouTube you can watch here Joe Lee Hooker’s performance of Boom! Boom! in 1962:

At the same time, you can sneak a peek at the lyrics for Boom! Boom! by John Lee Hooker:

Boom boom boom boom
I’m gonna shoot you right down,
right offa your feet
Take you home with me,
put you in my house
Boom boom boom boom
A-haw haw haw haw
Hmmm hmmm hmmm hmmm
Hmmm hmmm hmmm hmmm

I love to see you strut,
up and down the floor
When you talking to me,
that baby talk
I like it like that
Whoa, yeah!
Talk that talk, walk that walk

When she walk that walk,
and talk that talk,
and whisper in my ear,
tell me that you love me
I love that talk
When you talk like that,
you knocks me out,
right off of my feet
Hoo hoo hoo
Talk that talk, and walk that walk

[Editorial note: Thank you: http://www.stlyrics.com/lyrics/martinscorsesebestoftheblues/boomboom.htm]

In conclusion:

When she walk that walk,
and talk that talk,
and whisper in my ear,
tell me that you love me
I love that talk

I could not have said it better myself.

–30–

–Joel Solkoff

Copyright © 2013 by Joel Solkoff. All rights reserved.

Getting to my kidney operation on August 8th‚ÄĒPart 1

Getting out of bed (and eventually into an automobile)

To travel the 257 miles from State College, PA to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (known to New Yorkers as Memorial) less than two blocks from the East River in New York City, I have to get out of bed.

What follows is a photographic recreation of my getting out of bed on June first, for my most recent expedition to Memorial where I went for tests and more tests and the surprising news that Dr. Paul Russo had decided an operation would be a good idea.

The decision was a surprise because it was in effect a reversal of his position in April. The reversal can be explained, I suppose, because in June Dr. Russo had the opportunity to review extremely detailed sonic imaging of my kidney and heart:

  • The kidneys to see whether he could remove the tumor and save two-thirds of the kidney and not incidentally remove the threat that I will die of kidney cancer
  • The heart to determine whether I would survive the operation and recover
  • Keep in mind: Cure the cancer; kill the patient is not a good idea

Here I am in bed.

Photograph by Benjamin Carlson
Photograph by Benjamin Carlsen

Because I am a paraplegic, getting out of bed requires some effort. Paraplegic, the dictionary explains, is an individual who has ‚Äúparalysis of the lower half of the body with involvement of both legs.‚ÄĚ

I cannot stand without holding on to something. That does not mean I cannot dance, if I am careful and have a partner who understands, I CAN dance.

I cannot walk, but there are a wide variety of devices that can help me get from here to there.

Plus, my feet work well enough that I can drive a car.

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To get out of bed, I need to transfer to a mobility device.

The following photograph shows me transferring from the bed to a scooter. First invented in 1968 by my friend Al Thieme, CEO of Amigo Mobility, the device is formally called a Power Operated Vehicle (POV) scooter.

Photograph by Benjamin Carlsen

 

Photograph by Benjamin Carlsen

In the following photograph, the transfer is complete and I am now ready to:

  • drive to the bathroom
  • the kitchen to make breakfast
  • to various parts of my apartment to get dressed and pack for the trip to New York

It is essential to keep the battery charger in mind at all times and to make sure it is positioned in the right place. Before going to sleep, have a plugged in battery charger with a fan inside sitting on the bed table preparing for the period after sleep. Hearing the hum of the fan reassures that the charger plugged in next to my bed will provide me in the morning 25 miles worth of power–25 miles (to repeat) for one full charge.

Photograph by Benjamin Carlsen
Photograph by Benjamin Carlsen

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Finally, after considerable effort and stops for this and that (including, of course, getting lost), here is a photograph I took of myself driving a mini-van through the streets of New York City in June‚ÄĒthe scooter having been taken apart and put in the rear. As one born and college educated in New York, I like the thrill of driving in insane cross-town traffic where there are no rules of the road except aggression. This is what it is like to be en route to appointments to test my kidney and heart and to learn of the operation I had not anticipated.

Joel Solkof was at a complete stop in the MIDDLE of a crosswalk (where sang froid pedestrians pushing baby strollers had to climb over cars) when he took this photograph.
Joel Solkof was at a complete stop in the MIDDLE of a crosswalk (where sang froid pedestrians pushing baby strollers had to climb over cars) when he took this photograph.

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Today is Monday, July 8th. I am in State College planning the logistics of getting to New York for the operation in August at a hospital in New York City where the word MEMORIAL is chiseled ghoulishly in large stone letters above the entrance.

Now I am planning and planning– wondering which of my disability devices to take with me. I am planning on how to position my mobility devices in New York so they are there when I need them:

  • before the surgeon cuts
  • in the hospital immediately after the operation
  • wherever I will be staying in New York for the two-week recovery period

–Joel Solkoff

Fashion note: The beautiful 100% cotton yellow pajamas I am wearing in bed are part of a generous sartorial gift from the family of the late David Forer, a man of impeccable taste.

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Copyright © 2013 by Joel Solkoff. All rights reserved.

This posting is a portion of the fifth part of the ongoing story of my third cancer‚Äďkidney cancer, a story that follows this expanding outline:

1. https://joelsolkoff.com/who-i-used-to-be/

2. https://joelsolkoff.com/my-personal-experience-with-cancer-cancer-iii-ii-i/

3. https://joelsolkoff.com/my-fear-of-the-future/

4. https://joelsolkoff.com/my-man-mozart/

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Disability Cancer Surgery Donation

In 30 days (the actual date is Thursday, August 8th), I am scheduled for major surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC). The surgery will be performed by an expert in the field of kidney surgery which my physician here in State College (250 miles from New York City) advises me cannot be reliably perfumed in the greater region where I live. My State College urologist referred me to Sloan Kettering in New York where Dr. Paul Russo will perform the surgery. The surgery, if successful. and it is highly likely to be, will remove the large tumor that surrounds my right kidney. The surgery will also remove one-third of my right kidney–in effect saving the kidney. Since imaging indicates the cancer has not spread, the operation is likely to eliminate the threat of my dying of kidney disease. Period. That is a big load off my mind. I hope you are able to donate money to help defray the travel expenses to surgery and during the two-week estimated recovery period.and of course the journey back home. My estimate is that $3,000 would be amount required and when I achieve that amount I will tell you and take down the donation button. Begging for money is difficult enough. Begging for money after I have raised the requested amount is tasteless.

Cancer surgery over–bills arriving

The following update is no longer true:

Update 1. Today is July 12th Saturday. In two weeks I leave for New York for surgery on Thursday August 8th at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan. Thanks to many kind readers I have received $1,000 to my trip to New York City to have surgery and recover before returning to State College. My estimate is that $3,000 would be amount required and when I achieve that amount I will tell you and take down the donation button at the very bottom of this page.

The truth

Today is Saturday, August 24th. I have been home from the hospital for three days. My friend Benjamin Carlsen drove 250 miles to the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge near Penn Station to pick me up and bring me back.

ben

At Hope Lodge, I lived for nearly two weeks with my caregiver Amelia, my younger daughter.

AmeliabeshidemyhospitalbedAmelia, above, sitting by my hospital bed.

My elder daughter Joanna come by here in State College to spend some time and drive me to New York

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My mind seems to be working well–although you are the best judge.

I just published this morning my column on disability architecture.

 

Constructing TheVault

 

 

 

 

 

Photo © Renzo Piano Building Workshop. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

See: http://www.e-architect.co.uk/articles/morgan_library_museum_disability_architecture.htm

When I was in New York for surgery on August 8th, I had the opportunity to see the Gagosian Gallery’s show on The Architect Renzo Piano. Although the exhibit had closed, Sarah Duzyk of the Gallery’s site at West Chelsea, wrote me an email saying I could have a special tour of the Exhibit on the day of its deinstallation.

My column describes the visit to the Gagosian. Also,¬†my column evokes my call to my readers: ”

‚ÄúThe future of architecture is rapidly requiring you to redesign the world to meet the requirements of the largest generation in world history. Ours is an aging population in the process of developing disabilities–but a generation with the determination, education, political clout, and for many the wealth to live independently none-the-less.‚ÄĚ

The article hints at my passion for virtual reality serving to help design facilities that are disability friendly.

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I am embarrased that I have yet to submit the draft of the report for the Pennsylvania Housing Research Center that I had promised Dr. Memari.

I seem to have the energy to do the writing I feel required to do and am spitting out accomplishments very quickly. Don’t ask me why this is happening

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For two weeks following the surgery, I felt as if I were a crazy man. The pain was intense. The discomfort, humiliation and the like made it hard for me to appreciate that this operation has saved my life. Now, two weeks later, the pain is not beyond endurance. Meanwhile, I have lost endurance and am regaining it slowly. I do not want to see people. I want to be alone. When I want to see you, you will be the first to know.

Money

I still need money. The figure is $1,600.

In launching this campaign to help subsidize my trip to New York and back for surgery and recovery, I wrote: “My estimate is that $3,000 would be amount required and when I achieve that amount I will tell you and take down the donation button.

To date, I have received $1,400 in donations. Thank you. This leaves $1600 yet to be raised. Thank you.

https://joelsolkoff.com/posts/links/

Official campaign song Joel’s surgery and recovery. The official song IS “I take my chances” by Mary Chapin Carpenter.” Hear the sing by clicking on this link:¬†https://www.dropbox.com/s/biquzm93h6n746r/04%20I%20Take%20My%20Chances.m4a

Note: If this link does not work I will figure out another way to let you hear the song.

Here are the lyrics:

I took a walk in the rain one day on the wrong side of the tracks
I stood on the rails till I saw that train
Just to see how my heart would react
Now some people say that you shouldn’t tempt fate
And for them I would not disagree
But I never learned nothing from playing it safe
I say fate should not tempt me

I take my chances, I don’t mind working without a net
I take my chances, I take my chances every chance I get

I sat alone in the dark one night, tuning in by remote
I found a preacher who spoke of the light but there was brimstone in his throat
He’d show me the way according to him in return for my personal check
I flipped my channel back to CNN and I lit another cigarette

I take my chances, forgiveness doesn’t come with a debt
I take my chances, I take my chances every chance I get

I’ve crossed lines of words and wire and both have cut me deep
I’ve been frozen out and I’ve been on fire and the tears are mine to weep
Now I can cry until I laugh and laugh until I cry
So cut the deck right in half, I’ll play from either side

I take my chances, I pay my dollar and I place my bet
I take my chances, I take my chances every chance I get
I take my chances, I don’t cling to remorse or regret
I take my chances, I take my chances every chance I get
I take my chances

I take my chances

[Thank you:http://www.cowboylyrics.com/lyrics/carpenter-mary-chapin/i-take-my-chances-5183.html]

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russo-paul

The surgery will be performed by an expert in the field of kidney surgery which my physician here in State College (250 miles from New York City) advises me cannot be reliably perfumed in the greater region where I live. My State College urologist referred me to Sloan Kettering in New York where Dr. Paul Russo will perform the surgery. The surgery, if successful. and it is highly likely to be, will remove the large tumor that surrounds my right kidney. The surgery will also remove one-third of my right kidney–in effect saving the kidney. Since imaging indicates the cancer has not spread, the operation is likely to eliminate the threat of my dying of kidney disease. Period. That is a big load off my mind. I hope you are able to donate money to help defray the travel expenses to surgery and during the two-week estimated recovery period.and of course the journey back home. My estimate is that $3,000 would be amount required and when I achieve that amount I will tell you and take down the donation button. Begging for money is difficult enough. Begging for money after I have raised the requested amount is tasteless.