Friday, September 16, 2016

Mayo Clinic wants me dead

"...who would these fardels bear...?" - Wm Shakespeare

Mayo Clinic wants me dead.

As you might imagine that is quite the thing to have Mayo Clinic want of you. But there it is. And, yes I have proof. Documentation on our kitchen table that leaves no room for doubt. I would not make so bold a claim were it not true. Nor would I do so had I not the proof. Mayo Clinic wants me dead and therein too lies a great regret of things unsaid. The undone of my undoing. Who bears this fardel? I, of course, for it is my death they want.

Why does Mayo Clinic want me dead? Because I am not dead yet. Truly they do not mind so much I am alive, but their keen interest comes from me not yet being dead. Even more so that I have not yet been dead for all my life - so far and this far. It makes them curious. What’s up with that? They wonder. What could he be thinking after a lifetime of not yet being dead? Or even capable of thinking?

And so it begins. Doing my bit for Mayo Clinic's Alzheimer's Disease research starting with a series of humiliations of cruel design. Playing out on an I Pad, images from a deck of cards appear. If you have not seen that card before, hit this key. If it is a card you have seen before, hit that key. Again. Again. Faster this time and more cards. Faster and more cards. The I Pad beeps when I hit the wrong key. It knows what I have seen even if I don’t. “It’s OK,” she says, “ it’s supposed to be hard.” But, she should have asked if I had ceased to care. Because: I had ceased to care. I got your beep right here, I’m thinking. Besides I get grumpy when I am hungry and you know Mayo Clinic, they never want to see you fed.

As you might expect, next they draw blood. Lots of it. Drained into little vials. More vials than I had ever seen - even when dire surgery loomed I had not seen so may little vials. The final one she kneels to fill. Really? "This one goes to Atlanta," she offers by way of explanation sensing that a kneeling phlebotomist might be unnerving. "They need it drawn below the plane of the needle." Why? "Something about the blood cells." she shrugs. I can only conclude she is probably right. I'm sure she knows much more. I'm sure it's complicated. It is going to Atlanta.

Then the snack. An assortment of juices or water or coffee. Fruit and breakfast bars. I feast. I am in a better mood. It won't last. Down the hall there are more tests.

No I Pad here. Pieces of paper. Dog-eared and stained little flip books of images. Bits of cardboard cut-outs - circles and triangles. Puzzle pieces. All very low tech. All will be deployed in the next thirty minutes to gauge what I can gauge of words and shapes and small, simple pictures of this and that. Then this:

I had been identifying objects. Common objects. Everyday objects. Well, everyday for me. When I asked how the study accounted for cultural bias - well, let's just say the kneeling phlebotomist was more helpful. I'd think being shown a picture of something and being asked what's missing assumes a lot about what you've been seeing all those not dead yet years you've accumulated. But hey, it's not my rodeo. Anyway among the series of everyday objects these two turn up. A protractor and a compass or is it a compass and a protractor. I tell the guy - it's a guy now - I know the two words associated with these two things but you know what: All my life. All those not dead yet years, honestly, I could never keep the names straight. Dunno why. One of those things. Never could. Can't today. Even with the juice and the breakfast bar I got nothin'. "I can't write that down," he says. "Guess." How about this one's either a protractor or a compass and the other is what the first one isn't? "Guess." Well,  it seems to me you want to know what I know and I'm telling you what I know. That's a protractor or a compass and that's a compass or a protractor. "How about you just guess."

I believe in science. I have some appreciation for the scientific method, experimental protocols and such. But there in that room, on that day, science was letting us down. At Mayo Clinic. Millions in grant money. Blood heading to Atlanta. The fella says, "Guess." So, I do. I guess. Did I get it right? Can't recall. See. Told you.

Is this what I regret? Guessing. No. Not my data. Besides I am no scientist. I am a rhetorician. I have a rhetorician's regrets. Such regrets are rarely about data per se. Well, at any rate, it depends. Besides, at this point I have yet to learn that Mayo Clinic wants me dead. That comes next when I am ushered in to see: the doctor.

I figure right quick that this is a doctor who sees subjects not patients. He has been practicing "interacting" but it's clearly new to him. Nice enough guy, just not in his element. First thing he asks me is "how's your blood pressure?" I don't know you all took it this morning when I got here. How was it? "No, I want to know how you think your blood pressure is." Well, the best I can do is say you folks have me taking pills for it, so there's that. Not much otherwise. So....awkwardly.... We move on. He explains how he's now going to be doing things to me. Bit of an examination. I stand and he puts his hands on my shoulders and moves me just a little to the left, then back a step or two. Not sure why. Next it is mostly tapping me here and there with metal objects. Reflexes. Muscle tone. No turning my head and coughing. No gloves. So, not bad and he's done.

Back down we sit. He pauses. Looks at me. Rolls his chair back a bit. Smiles and says, "Well, you know, we're with you to all the way now." Now, I pause. Not sure yet what he means. With me all the way? Oh. Ooooohhh. You mean, to the end? "Yes," he says relieved that I got it. Ok. " So. You're going to die, right?" Yeah. "Well, can we do an autopsy?" he asks. Cupping his hands, he offers them up in a gesture as if cradling something "Because we're going to want to look at your brain." He's now miming holding my brain in his hands. Showing it to me. Then he offers me instead some forms and a brochure.

You want me to tell you now? "No, no. You think it over. Talk it over. Your wife will need to sign this. I mean she really needs to agree to do this because, well, you know...." Right. I won't be around. "Yes, right." How soon do you need to know? "Well, you're one of our younger, there's time. Yesterday I was talking with a man 102 years old." Right, so you need to know from him much sooner probably. "Yeah" he nods pleased that I seemed to have connected the right dots.

So, Mayo Clinic wants me dead. And, if my wife wouldn't mind, enrolled in their Alzheimer's Disease Research Autopsy Program. And herein lies my great regret. A regret not born of some somber thanatopsis contemplating wrapping the drapery of my couch about me or raging against the dying of the light. No, it is a rhetorician's sort of regret.

It might help to read this:
The dictum of the sophists is strange and beautiful: Say the right thing at the right time. What is so odd is that it at once proffers an absolute (the right thing) and a locality (the right time). While rhetoric is often accused of being without standards: the opposite is true. It has as many standards as there are circumstances. For the rhetor it is not that there is no propriety, it's that propriety can never be known for sure beforehand. Propriety emerges - here, there, and everywhere, all the time. 
Whenever a rhetor is asked about what's right, his response is usually the same: it depends. Circumstance is local and so is propriety. And, to make things even stranger there is no propriety to a circumstance per se as the circumstance itself is a network of circumstance and perspectives. And each perspective is a network of trajectories of history, memory, desire, need. Nothing is more mysterious and difficult than doing the right thing at the right time.*
A rhetorician's regret comes with not saying the right thing at the right time. Not seeing the opportunity. The greater the opportunity missed, the greater the regret.

I get home. I toss the brochure and "Permission for Postmortem Examination" form on the kitchen table. And too late it comes to me.

"Well, can we do an autopsy?"

Over my dead body. Why didn't I say: Over my dead body.

Some fardel that.


* Daniel Coffeen, Reading the Way of Things: Towards a New Technology of Making Sense

Monday, September 5, 2016

The Armory arts and culture re-use proposal: How much? Who agrees? Now what?

To the ACI Armory re-use proposal

How much?

The ACI proposal budget includes ongoing costs to the city of $83,901 in year one (2017) with modest increases in the out years. Out year costs remain below $90,000. The expense projections are based on audited financials or actual costs of the Senior Center.

The ACI proposal requested support for one time start-up costs of $30,000 divided evenly between operational and capital expenses. ACI has since revisited this request and intends to pursue private start-up dollars as an alternative to the request to the city.

Who agrees?

Over 100 organizations, groups, and individuals

The proposal submission includes commitments from 103 arts and cultural organizations, groups, and individuals to monthly rental of ACI Armory facilities; periodic use of the ACI Armory facilities; and, other support for the ACI Armory facilities project. The arts and culture organizations included among others: the Rochester Art Center, Rochester Symphony Orchestra and Chorale, Rochester Choral Arts Ensemble, Rochester Civic Music, Alliance of Chicanos, Hispanics and Latin Americans, and the Cambodian Association of Rochester Minnesota.  Dozens of letters of support were provided for review with the proposal submission.

Rochester Art Center

In a letter included in the March 2016 ACI proposal submission, the Rochester Art Center (RAC) shared its own intentions to “guide and encourage thoughtful re-alignment between arts and cultural organizations in Rochester” and shared its believe that the ACI proposal was “a strong move to solidify an artists-led space.” RAC committed in its letter to provide “professional advice and support” to ACI as needed; rent space as for artists working with RAC; serve as “a foundational organization along with other arts organizations, museums and community groups“; and, provide “concrete professional art administrative support via governance, finance, grants, collaborative projects, etc…”

Greater Rochester Arts and Cultural Trust

Subsequent to the ACI proposal submission, and based on an update it received regarding that proposal, the Board of the Greater Rochester Arts and Cultural Trust at its quarterly meeting in April 2016 passed a resolution on “The Re-use of the Rochester Armory Building”. Citing the “a longstanding desire within the arts and cultural community of a multi-use facility” and the benefits to the general public “from the potential for new educational, retail, and social artistic-related offerings,” the Trust recommended that the city of Rochester strongly consider “the arts, culture, and humanities re-use” of the Armory.

Chateau Theatre Re-use Study

Last month, August 2016, the Chateau Theatre Re-use Study commissioned from Webb Management Services, Inc by the Chateau Re-use Task Force included in its report references to the ACI Armory re-use proposal.  The study found “multiple arts groups, artists, and ethnic cultural communities, all struggling for funds and space (but mostly space).” The study noted that space was not only needed as places to “to work and produce,” but also “crucial” to receive grant dollars. The study also observed the city has “a very large cultural community that has significant need for affordable gathering space.” For both groups the study noted that rising property values resulting from DMC have resulted in “rents that many can no longer afford.”  The study found “many art and cultural community representatives feel that, if the ACI’s proposal is unsuccessful, Rochester’s independent arts and culture community will be completely displaced”

Based on these and other findings, the study included this recommendation:

“In addition to making it the heart of the ‘Heart of the City’, make the Chateau the anchor facility of an arts and culture district or trail, one that includes the Armory as a home for Rochester’s small arts and cultural groups and independent artists. There is an acute need for small organization support in Rochester. The Chateau will be able to meet the needs of some of the community’s arts groups, but not all of them. We would recommend that the City give RACC’s Armory proposal significant thought, particularly within context of developing an arts and cultural district in downtown Rochester and the DMC.”

Now what?

The action that will come before the council at its September 7 meeting will relate to the appraisal and possible sale of the Armory property. As a recent Post-Bulletin editorial observed, there are serious concerns about the whether or not the site could ultimately be protected in private ownership.

If the Amory Re-use RFP is reopened, could it be expected to produce a higher or better use of the Armory than that presented and broadly supported in the ACI proposal? Though other uses may emerge, ones that are higher or better will be a challenge to realize. Apart from those council members who have wanted all along to sell the property, the nature and substance of the concerns raised about the ACI proposal suggest it is very close to providing for the "highest and best use" of the Armory. This proposal should be provided the opportunity to succeed.

Approval of the ACI Armory re-use proposal to be reviewed in 5 years deserves a vote from the city council.

If you agree, let them know:


Saturday, September 3, 2016

Dreaming bold the big dream in the "Heart of the City"... meh

Creative Districts Characteristics
• Are unique to the character, community, and resources available locally.
• Have a significant economic impact on cities—attracting businesses, tourists, and local residents to a central part of the city.
• Can help revitalize neighborhoods and increase the quality of life for its residents.
• Act as a vehicle to assist in the support and marketing of local nonprofit cultural organizations.
• Serve as a focal point to brand a city’s unique cultural identity and embrace its historic significance. - Destination Medical Center Arts, Culture, and Humanities Site Visits Overview*

So, imagine - er, do some visioning - if you will about what happens if the Armory becomes a home for local arts and a hub for the many cultural groups that comprise our city (and note what happens if it does not). Let's check out who cares - surprisingly not who you'd think.

The City's CEO, Patron of the Arts, Champion of Inclusivity, DMCC Board member

The mayor will stand at the Armory's front door cutting a ribbon and reminding us of the local arts award that bears his name and call out the city of compassion we are. He may remind us of the task force under his leadership whose very own study recommended that the Armory might best be used for this very thing.

And if there's no Armory, there are plenty of places for the mayor to say the same things and plenty of times he'll say them. Either way, he's got it covered.

DMC - They put the "Heart of the City" on the map. No, literally, they did.

The DMC Economic Development Agency will hold a function on the Armory's third floor weeks before the center opens sharing their excitement for how this new center brings vibrancy to the "Heart of the City" and testifies to the importance of the arts and how vital the center will be in sustaining an inclusive community for the diverse work force upon which our economic future depends. In it's next report before the DMCC Board, the new center will get a PowerPoint slide and that slide will become a common fixture in subsequent EDA presentations - everywhere. 

To be fair, no matter what happens at the Armory site, the EDA will share their excitement for how this new whatever brings vibrancy to the "Heart of the City" and testifies to the importance of whatever it is and then put it on a PowerPoint slide. So, whatever.

A medical business entity employing more than 30,000 employees at the time of the passage of the DMC legislation making it the only such medical business entity in the State of Minnesota for which a "destination medical center" might be created in the city of Rochester.

Mayo Clinic will begin to include the new center in its Mayo Employee Resource Group messaging as further evidence of how "Rochester embraces the multicultural nature of its residents and celebrates its ethnic diversity...[C]reating a welcoming and inclusive environment." 

Either way they're good.

So, who cares?

The mayor currently opposes this re-use of the Armory and didn't bother to share the task force study recommendation supporting it.

The DMC EDA has taken no position on the re-use of the Armory.

Mayo Clinic has taken no position on the re-use of the Armory.

So, you know, meh.

Now who does that leave who does care? If that includes you, then get your body down to the Council Chambers at the Government Center on Wednesday September 7 at 7pm. Or join the council members for their "dinner meeting" beforehand at the new Bleu Duck Kitchen at 14 4th St. SW at 5pm. Or both.

Sometimes, if you care, you just gotta show up.


* DMC trips to Portland, Seattle, Bellevue, Cleveland, and Indianapolis to no apparent effect. Note this recommendation from the Chateau Theatre Re-use Study:
In addition to making it the heart of the ‘Heart of the City’, make the Chateau the anchor facility of an arts and culture district or trail, one that includes the Armory as a home for Rochester’s small arts and cultural groups and independent artists. There is an acute need for small organization support in Rochester. The Chateau will be able to meet the needs of some of the community’s arts groups, but not all of them. We would recommend that the City give RACC’s Armory proposal significant thought, particularly within context of developing an arts and cultural district in downtown Rochester and the DMC. [ page 90 ]