Daily Update: January 12, 2010

01-12 - Cryogenic Tank

Again, a day with no Saints. On this date in 1967 Dr. James Bedford became the first person to be cryogenically preserved with the intent of future resuscitation. Benjamin Franklin suggested in a 1773 letter that it might be possible to preserve human life in a suspended state for centuries.  However, the modern era of cryonics began in 1962 when Michigan college physics teacher Robert Ettinger proposed in a privately published book, The Prospect of Immortality, that freezing people might be a way to reach future medical technology. Even though freezing a person is apparently fatal, Ettinger argued that what appears to be fatal today may be reversible in the future. He applied the same argument to the process of dying itself, saying that the early stages of clinical death may be reversible in the future. Combining these two ideas, he suggested that freezing recently deceased people may be a way to save lives. The case of Dr. James Bedford being cryogenically preserved made the cover of a limited print run of Life Magazine before the presses were stopped to report the death of three astronauts in the Apollo 1 fire instead. Bedford is still frozen, and his body is now at Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Scottsdale, Arizona. And today is the birthday of my good friend Christine, who is also one of my co-workers at the casino (1960).

Last night, before I went to sleep, I replaced the trackball and chrome ring (which keeps the trackball in place) on my BlackBerry; I had not planned to do this yet, but when once again my trackball refused to go in a particular direction (again), I figured it was time. When I woke up this morning for work, I really considered calling in; the only reason I did not do so is that we had a Mandatory Survey meeting set up for 11:00 am. So, I peeled my breakfast hard-boiled eggs for today, then we headed to work.

On my Three-Card Poker table, I had trouble maintaining myself, so to speak; my guests were playing oddly (hey, guys, it’s not Rocket Science, it’s three-card poker; you look at your cards, then either bet, or get out of the hand), and on my first break, I took some Extra-Strength Tylenol© and one of my Xanax©. Taking the Xanax was a mistake; while it got me out from under the rock of my low-grade depression, it also made me sleepy, which is not a good thing. About 7:00 am my mood improved, and I became more awake. Just before my 8:00 am break, a pair of our usual guests arrived at our Three-Card Poker table. They had been at the table yesterday, and just the thought that they might arrived again today was one of the reasons I had considered calling in. While on my break in the break room, I was bemoaning the fact that these guests had arrived on my table (they do not like me; they always complain, no matter what cards I give them, that I personally am giving them bad cards, and I have to admit that I do not like guests who think that the proper response to losing at table games is to take it out on the dealer) when one of my friends suggested that I ask another dealer to switch with me. The other dealer was also on break, a table or two away; it turns out that he likes this particular couple (and they like him), and that he was very tired of being on a dead Pai-Gow table, so we cleared it with the pit bosses, then switched tables, and and I spent the rest of my day dealing Pai-Gow Poker.

So, I made it through the (working) day, and made my eight hours. Richard and I then went to the Mandatory Survey Meeting, which was some 15 minutes worth of sitting in a room with a #2 pencil filling out a computer form on what we felt about the casino’s policies. (I suppose, with some 3,000 employees, they really couldn’t have room for us to do essay answers; this way, they just run it through the grading software.) On our way home, we stopped and got me some Crawfish Pies and gas for the car, and paid a few in-town bills. Upon getting home at 12:30 pm, I read the morning paper. Our snail mail brought me a rather late Christmas card from my Aunt Diane in Connecticut (I am pretty sure she went back to being Jewish, after she and my uncle (the one who later became a monk) split up and she got remarried), containing my cousin’s new address (I will send Debbie’s new address to you, Liz Ellen, in an Email) and a fat envelope from the psychiatrist I am trying to get an appointment with; it looks like said envelope contains a questionnaire I need to fill out and return before getting an appointment. I then took some more Extra-Strength Tylenol© and one of my Xanax©, and went to bed, letting the rest of the day proceed without me. 

Tonight’s Parting Quote comes to us from Cyrus Vance, American politician. Born in Clarksburg, West Virginia, he received a bachelor’s degree in 1939 from Yale University, where he was a member of the secret society Scroll and Key. He also earned three letters in ice hockey at Yale, and graduated from Yale Law School in 1942. He served in the United States Navy as a gunnery officer on the destroyer USS Hale until 1946, and then joined the law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in New York City before entering government services. Vance was the Secretary of the Army in the John F. Kennedy administration. He was Secretary when Army units were sent to northern Mississippi in 1962 to protect James Meredith and ensure that the court-ordered integration of the University of Mississippi took place. As Deputy Secretary of Defense under President Lyndon Johnson, he first supported the Vietnam War but by the late 1960s changed his views and resigned from office advising the president to pull out of South Vietnam. In 1968 he served as a delegate to peace talks in Paris. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1969. He was a professor at Georgetown University afterwards. As Secretary of State in the Jimmy Carter administration, Vance pushed for negotiations and economic ties with the Soviet Union, and clashed frequently with the more hawkish National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski. Vance tried to advance arms limitations by working on the SALT II agreement with the Soviet Union, which he saw as the central diplomatic issue of the time. He was heavily instrumental in Carter’s decision to return the Canal Zone to Panama, and in the Camp David Accords agreement between Israel and Egypt. After the Camp David Accords, Vance’s influence in the administration began to wane as Brzezinski’s rose. His role in talks with People’s Republic of China was marginalized, and his advice for a response to the Shah of Iran’s collapsing regime was ignored. Shortly thereafter, when 53 American hostages were held in Iran, he worked actively in negotiations but to no avail. Finally, when Carter ordered a secret military rescue – Operation Eagle Claw – Vance resigned in opposition after the rescue attempt failed. He had doubts that the rescue would work and thought it would undermine diplomacy, but he waited to announce his resignation until after the first rescue was attempted. The second rescue was planned but never carried out. Vance returned to his law practice at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in 1980, but was repeatedly called back to public service throughout the 1980s and 1990s, participating in diplomatic missions to Bosnia, Croatia, and South Africa. In 1991 he was named Special Envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations for Croatia and proposed a plan for solution of conflict in Croatia. Authorities of Croatia and Serbia agreed to Vance’s plan, but the leaders of SAO Krajina rejected it, even though it offered Serbs quite a large degree of autonomy by the rest of the world’s standards, as it did not include full independence for Krajina. In January 1993, as the United Nations Special Envoy to Bosnia, Vance and Lord David Owen, the EU representative, began negotiating a peace plan for the ending the War in Bosnia. Their plan was criticised as conceding too much to Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžić and for treating him as a diplomatic equal to the leaders of Bosnia and Croatia, when others regarded him as a war criminal. Nevertheless, it was Bosnian Serbs that first rejected the plan, and Vance announced his resignation as Special Envoy to the UN Secretary-General. He was replaced by Norwegian Foreign Minister Thorvald Stoltenberg. In 1993, he was awarded the United States Military Academy’s Sylvanus Thayer Award. In 1995, Vance again acted as Special Envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations and signed the interim accord as witness in the negotiations between the Republic of Macedonia and Greece(died 2002): “You have to listen to adversaries and keep looking for that point beyond which it’s against their interests to keep on disagreeing or fighting.”

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