I haven’t watched TV news or read newspapers in weeks. Just been too busy. I happened to catch part of Bill O’Reilly’s program tonight. He focused on the need for “bold leadership.” I recalled the day I stood in the gallery above the U.S. Senate chamber and got to see Everett Dirksen down below, and how thrilled I was to see that great legislator, who has many buildings named for him. [When I grabbed the link to a federal building named after Dirksen, I noticed a plea from Wikipedia for funding and, below, I’ll tell you why I believe it’s important to support them.]

Back in those days, we had many, many fine senators who got so much accomplished. How I wish we had senators of their calibre. (Well, some of them are, but they can’t seem to get anything done because of the nasty political atmosphere poisoning all the wells in D.C.). O’Reilly’s message explains in part why it is difficult, these days, to get the best and brightest to run for public office:

It’s too bad that Fox News doesn’t put up more videos of its shows. Following his “essay,” O’Reilly spoke with two women who also made great points. One explained that many bright people don’t want to expose their families and themselves to the intense scrutiny by the media. I immediately thought of Sarah Palin and her family. Mitt Romney’s too.

I heard that Romney is meeting with Obama today (November 29th), and then with Paul Ryan. Well, the first meeting will be a joke, but I hope that he and Paul have a good discussion.)

Earlier tonight, I followed a link that a friend of this blog sent, and noticed this terrible story. Perhaps many of you heard about this? All these people dead in Bangladesh, making clothing for Sears, Walt Disney, and Walmart. Someday (?) conditions for these workers may improve. They are so far away, we know none of them, but imagine how their families are grieving. Not only have they lost their beloved relatives and friends, can you imagine how this is hitting their pocketbooks? Probably many family members depend on those meager earnings.

I honestly don’t know what can be done for those people, but hope that a good NGO is on it. Perhaps the U.N.? (Yes, I know, they’re lousy at politics, but they try to do good works. There’s a book my child gave me years ago with a great title, “EMERGENCY SEX: AND OTHER DESPERATE MEASURES” I read it years ago, and it is a fantastic read about the sex (yes!) and frustrations a group of idealistic young people experienced in trying to help people in Cambodia, Haiti, Somalia (dicey after Blackhawk Down), and elsewhere.

This is the Wikipedia announcement asking for donations: “Dear Wikipedia readers: We are the small non-profit that runs the #5 website in the world. We have only 150 staff but serve 450 million users, and have costs like any other top site: servers, power, rent, programs, staff and legal help. To protect our independence, we’ll never run ads. We take no government funds. We run on donations. If everyone reading this gave the price of a cup of coffee, our fundraiser would be done within an hour. If Wikipedia is useful to you, take one minute to keep it online another year by donating whatever you can today. We just need .3% of readers to donate an average of about $30. We’re not there yet. Please help us forget fundraising and get back to Wikipedia. Thank you.”

Below that request is a statement from Wikipedia‘s founder:

Wikipedia is something special. It is like a library or a public park. It is like a temple for the mind. It is a place we can all go to think, to learn, to share our knowledge with others.

When I founded Wikipedia, I could have made it into a for-profit company with advertising banners, but decided to do something different.

Commerce is fine. Advertising is not evil. But it doesn’t belong here. Not in Wikipedia.

— Wikipedia Founder, Jimmy Wales

After I sent them $2, I followed their request to complete a form. And I got a chance to tell them why Wikipedia.org has been so important to me. Well, it has also been a highly valuable asset when I prepare posts for this blog. If I am uncertain how to spell a certain word, it is easy to find terms. For example, a few months ago, I couldn’t remember the spelling of some of the leaders of Iran, and I scanned the page on Iran at Wikipedia and found the correct spellings. Anyway, here is part of what I wrote to them:

I have searched and searched the Internet trying to find out why I am in so much pain throughout my body. Invariably, I turn to Wikipedia. A couple months ago, I remembered that a fine orthopedic surgeon told me in 2007 that I grew bone spurs (he replaced both my hips after years of entirely unnecessary excruciating pain, solely because the local doctor – although I told him relatives had had hip replacements — never x-rayed my hips). (By the way, every time a doctor sees an X-ray of my hips, he/she is astonished by how badly both were completely worn away (“bone on bone,” one said). I was in such agony, I couldn’t sleep and packed my legs with big frozen packages of peas from Costco, for about two years.

Since my hip surgery — and while I had NO decent health insurance (another long story) — I kept thinking and thinking. One day, a couple months ago, I decided to type “bone spurs” in Google, and your site came up. I clicked and was astounded to discover that bone spurs can grow on bones throughout our bodies.

Just three Mondays ago, I saw an orthopedic surgeon who repairs shoulders, and he showed me the x-ray. There it was: A huge bone spur from my upper arm past my collarbone. Now I know that the excruciating pain I feel in my neck, both shoulders, my entire back, arms (?), hands (?), legs (?) and my hips are probably all caused by bone spurs. How I wish a doctor — just once — had had the curiosity to take x-rays. Then, perhaps, I could have gone to a surgeon earlier in my life… I am afraid there isn’t a lot they can do — so many operations? What can they do for me?

All the local doctors have ever done is write prescriptions. I get lots of medication [and have a list of — get this — 25 prescriptions]. I am so bent over that I can only see the ground in front of me — several people came to help me move and organize today, and I never saw their faces. I find light switches by gliding my fingers across walls.

Oh god, I wish I had found a site like yours 20-30 years ago. I have used a computer since 1983 but it wasn’t until 1995 that I knew about the World Wide Web. I don’t know when you began your site, but I am so very grateful.

I just want you to know that, but for you, I may have never found that information. Most medical sites are full of jargon I can scarcely comprehend. Mayo Clinic’s site is excellent, but rather brief. Finally, thanks to you, I am moving to be near better doctors. Yes, that’s 90% of the reason I am moving. I am nearly flat broke, but I am very frugal and hope I can manage the rent, moving, etc. — as long as 4 more checks arrive. I wish I could donate more. I promise I will when can earn more money.

But I always passively let doctors say or do whatever they suggested. No more. I am the boss of my body now — and the doctors will advise me. I will try to find some ways to ease the pain but I can’t have operations in all of the above-mentioned areas. It is too late for me. So I am on a small campaign to let others know what happened to me, to warn them. I hope they read my blog reports and do as I suggest.

Bless you, and whoever wrote the report on “bone spurs.” If you can, please let them know how grateful I am. I don’t particularly like publicity but if my story can help other people, I will gladly help you. After all, more people will find out about what happened to me. This is a shortened link to the orthopedic surgeon who has the x-rays of my right shoulder and neck. I will sign any consent forms you require, if you wish to see the xrays. [link removed]

— In closing, there may be typos here, but that is due to old hand injuries, which I hope a hand surgeon can correct (I mistakenly went to a local hand surgeon who moved my ulnar nerve in my right arm, but the procedure failed and, two and a half years later, two fingers and my palm are still numb).

The other hand was injured decades ago. I hope they can make it easier for me to use my hands — the two most important instruments I have with which to earn some extra money. Without those hands, I’d be flat broke and unable to communicate with people like you.

I hope some of you who have benefited from Wikipedia will donate too. And I hope you will share my story with others so that, no matter what kind of ailments or pain they may have, they know that they can search through Wikipedia or simply go to the very best physicians they can.

If I were wealthy, I suppose I could fly to New York City or the Mayo Clinic. But, I am very happy with my choice. For one thing, all of the physicians are under one big roof, which means that I can get to any floor easily. Additionally, some very smart people have redesigned the clinic since I was there in 2007. Now, almost all of the surgeons are in one large corner on the same floor — Rheumatology, all of the orthopedic surgeons, x-ray equipment, and hematologists. So I will hopefully be there in a couple months, sitting in one of the chairs I sat in a few weeks ago.

Someone put out a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle, which I enjoyed working on while I waited and waited to see the ortho surgeon. (I didn’t know that all the other appointments had been canceled before I arrived because I kept hesitating to buy an answering machine. Such is life.)

A couple weeks ago, my 14-year-old TV “died.” Then my telehone “died.” I tell you, nothing else had better “die.” I am laughing. Everything should go just fine. Thanks to an elderly relative, I was able to get my 2002 Dodge car fixed last May, and it is in great shape. Heck, it only has 66,000 miles on it … that tells you a lot about my life, doesn’t it. I haven’t bought a single tire since 2005, and was told by my favorite mechanic that they are all in good shape. Hope so! I think that the original tires that came with the car were cheap tires (which ticks me off), and I got them replaced, one by one, as they blew out, with better tires from Les Schwab. Perhaps that company’s tires are more expensive. I don’t care. I know that I will find good tires if I need them again right there, or at Costco — the prices are about the same.

It’s 1 a.m. and I’m going to hit the sack, and perhaps finish watching an old movie with Jon Voight called “The Fixer.” He is a fine actor. And, yeah, he worked hard for Mitt Romney too, didn’t he.