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Showing posts from May, 2010

Benjamin Franklin Riding Shotgun

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Because what happens always amazes and flummoxes me, when driving around I sometimes pretend that Benjamin Franklin has mysteriously been whisked from his own time and deposited on the seat next to me. I greet him courteously and explain what has happened to him, and that he is now riding in a vehicle traveling at 70 miles an hour on a road in the middle of Ohio in the year 2010. Ben, being Ben, takes this in stride and, characteristically curious about everything, begins to look around him. That’s when the complications start.

“How does this vehicle work? What propels it?” the good doctor asks. I explain that the “automobile” is fuelled by gasoline, but of course he has questions about what that means. Hmm. Well, these dinosaurs died, you see, and (“What are dinosaurs?”). It gets complicated fast. Then, annoyed at my ability to explain something so basic, he wants to know how the automobile is powered by the fuel. Well, another hmm, there was a day when I could have given a rudimen…

How to Take a (or Many) Pills Easily

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In September of 2009, as a way to steadily infuse medicine into my body, I was fitted with a PICC Line, which pumped the medicine once a minute into my system via a permanently-attached tube in my arm. It was a nightmare to keep myself clean with this device on (and sleeping was no picnic either), but I eventually figured out a method that worked. I was so proud of this invention (inventions are not usually the sort of thing I’m good at, but I spent many an hour thinking about this one), that I published “How To Shower With a PICC Line” on the advice website eHow. I also published some other efforts on eHow: “How To Place Smart Bets at Craps,” How to Speak in Public Without Making a Fool of Yourself,” and “How To Make Ethical Decisions.” Authors get paid small amounts for these things (so far I’ve earned the stupefying amount of almost $10.00), but the pleasure comes from thinking about how much you may have helped others. As of this writing the PICC Line article has been viewed 1,6…

Elena Kagan and Me

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One of the things I do for fun is to gather friends together for a playreading, which means we sit around and read a play aloud, typically with no one but me having seen it before. This is not high art, and alcohol is frequently involved so that some people get noticeably freer with their reading of the text as the evening progresses. These gatherings, which have been going on since I was in high school, have come to be known as the “Whaley Players.” Some of my friends, and particularly those in my chosen family, have done dozens (hundreds?) of these readings (and are fine actors to boot).

In the 1980s at the University of Texas, my good friend Jay Westbrook (see “How I Became a Law Professor” Jan. 27) teamed up with Professor Elizabeth Warren, also on the Texas faculty, for a series of projects, including a number of books about bankruptcy law, including their collaboration on the leading casebook used in this country to teach that subject. They also sponsored a yearly conference in …

Mama, Biopsies, and My iPad

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1. Mama.
On the heart transplant front things are going very well indeed, and the Infectious Diseases doctor, Stanley Martin, finally cleared me for getting a cat. You may remember from prior posts (see “Parakeets and Me” Feb. 5) that he had told me to get rid of my parakeets because they convey too many diseases to humans. Barbara (see “The Woman Who Runs My Life” May 5) kindly took them home with her while I was still in the hospital. My lung infection (see “New Year’s Eve Party Without the Host” Jan. 7) has scaled down to the point where Dr. Martin finally said I could get a pet as long as I didn’t have to deal with the feces. Try doing that with a dog. But a cat is allowed, though the good doctor had rules (not a kitten, litter box must be changed once a week, etc.). It had been very lonely coming home to a lifeless condo, so it was important to me to come home to a living creature that would, I hoped, be glad to see me.

One of the members of my chosen family is Pamela, who at on…

How To Become an Atheist

Scary title, right? For most people, yes. Science now believes there is a genetic component to being religious, more dominant in some folks than others. If you’re a deeply religious person, I have no doubt the thought of becoming an atheist is very disturbing—hell, downright impossible. But don’t stop reading.

Consider this for a moment: if there truly are no gods and death means death and nothing more, is it smart to ignore that possibility? Believing in something that doesn’t exist and—even worse—building much of your life around that assumption is surely a major mistake. If there are no gods aren’t you wasting a good deal of your life servicing a myth? A Victorian philosopher/mathematician put it this way: “It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.” Of course that appeals to the lawyer in me, but it’s sound advice for everyone.

Okay, let’s say you’re open-minded enough to at least consider exploring atheism, how do you do it? In…

The Sayings of Robert Whaley

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Dad had memorable ways of expressing things, and I thought I might expose you to some (but certainly not all) of them. Here goes:

1. “Budget the Luxuries First”
Dad taught me that it’s important to enjoy life now while it’s still going on. Think about it. You don’t want to be lying on your death bed and slap your forehead while moaning over all the things you should have done but never got around to actually doing. In making financial plans he suggested that (when possible) we should all remember that the luxuries of life are themselves worthy of serious attention, lest we never garner our share. Of course, one can carry this idea too far (which is true of almost everything), but done sensibly it is good advice. Looking back on the times I’ve applied it, I don’t regret a single one (well, that night in Chicago—but never mind).

Having said that, a story:
Two of the members of my chosen family are Art and Lorri, who I’ve loved dearly since 1980 when we first met and bonded. Somewhere …

Straight Talk

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The far right is always fretting about the dreaded HOMOSEXUAL AGENDA, which in their worst nightmares has gays taking over the world and imposing their perverse lifestyle on (to use my father’s word) “normal” people. In reality, it turns out that the homosexual agenda has no goal more grand than being treated like everyone else. Plus, given that all modern research shows homosexuality to be biological in origin and comprising around ten percent of the population, it's impossible that homosexuals could flip a sufficient number of straights to gain control of the planet. Damn.


But for you heterosexuals reading this, I want you to imagine what would be your lot in such a gay-dominated world. Take a deep breath.


From a very early age—and certainly by puberty—you’d be aware of a strong attraction to the opposite sex. Think back to your earliest sexual stirrings and remember how that felt. Now think about what it would be like to hide that attraction all the rest of your life.


You’d be…

The Woman Who Runs My Life

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I first met Barbara in 1977, when she came into my life as a friend of my first partner, David. The two of them had met in a pottery class, and hit it off right away. She is a short, beautiful woman, with a great laugh, much good common sense, and more affection for those she loves (including her Buddy, see photo) than seems possible. Even after David and I broke up in 1981, she and I remained close friends.

In the 1982-83 school year I was a Visiting Professor at the University of California Hastings Law School in downtown San Francisco. [Hmm. Gay single man in San Francisco? Good times that year—another post, perhaps.] During my absence, my home in Columbus was rented out to another professor visiting at OSU and his family. They took fairly good care of it, but nonetheless when I returned, I was depressed thinking how much there was to do (carpets to be cleaned, things to be repaired, walls to be painted, etc.), and how little I wanted to do it, particularly given all the p…

A Toast to Andrew

As you may know from prior posts [“About That Heart Transplant” 1/24/10, “My Heart Belonged to Andrew” 2/17/10, and “Another Letter to Andrew’s Parents” 3/9/10] Barbara and Byron (the mother and stepfather of Andrew, my 27 year old heart donor) and I have been working our way closer to one another for months. My last letter that Lifeline of Ohio forwarded to them contained my email address, but Jenny Hoover of Lifeline said that such identification needed to be omitted until both parties had signed waivers stating they wished to communicate directly. With that emendation, the above “Another Letter” was sent. But the letter identified me by name and mentioned the fact that I’m a retired OSU law professor, from which Barbara tracked me down via the internet and, to my surprise, sent me an email. I was particularly startled when she mentioned she had been reading my blog since it contains more about me than I usually share with strangers I am just meeting. Our subsequent email exchanges …