Archive for the ‘Rants and Raves’ Category

Above the Fold

Sunday, April 21st, 2019

April 17l 2019

Traditionally, the most important news of the day (or in some cases, of the week) is featured on the front page of the newspaper and, of those, the stories considered most serious or notable go above the fold.  That’s where they are the most eye-catching in usual newspaper displays in which the paper is folded so that only the top half is visible.

There were three stories above the fold in the latest issue of the Observer, and each caused me to wonder a bit at the underlying message.  Not that there was necessarily a hidden message by intent – it was more a matter of my own interpretation.  Bottom line in all three stories:  money!  Though we often omit its importance, it is usually the driving force behind most of our decision-making.

Pacific County Prosecuting Attorney Mark McClain

Headline:  Guilty pleas end Peninsula rape case  According to the story:  McClain said the victim agreed with the plea bargain agreements.  “In any case like this, the most important thing we can do is work with the survivor of this attack, and ensure we listen to her wishes as she is the one who has to live it again when we go to trial and for that reason we value their settlement desire above others when deciding how to resolve these cases.”

Unstated is how much money the County saves by offering plea bargains to  alleged perpetrators rather than taking the case to trial. I doubt that all of plea-bargaining agreements are in the interests of “the survivor.”  It would be interesting to see a few statistics.  How many times does the County offer plea bargains and how much money is saved in the process?  What was the original intent of plea bargaining?  What happened to the good-old fashioned idea of you do the crime, you do the time?

Beach Clean-up July 5. 2015

Headline: LB Oks fireworks after all   In this story, the subhead says it all:  Last-minute 20K boost saves popular tradition. It was the Long Beach Merchants Association to the rescue.  The article did not include reference to the many meetings and discussions by citizens the greater Peninsula area concerning safety issues, cleanup costs etc. Nor was there any reference to the projected bottom line for merchants as a result of the fireworks extravaganza.  It must be considerable to warrant a $20,000 investment.

Chinook Observer Photo

Headline:  Cold War marvel decays on Columbia riverbank This story pulls no punches in the role money plays in this potential environmental disaster. Commercial fisherman Lowell Stambaugh purchased the USS Plainview in 1978 with hopes of turning the former Navy vessel into a fish processing and freezer ship.  When loan interest rates rose, he decided to scrap the aluminum-laden vessel instead. A decade later, the Washington Department of Natural Resources is concerned about pollutants that may leach through the corroding hull into the Columbia River.  Solving the problem is just a matter of… money!

They say it’s the love of money that is the root of all evil.  I’m more inclined to believe it’s  a question of how we choose to use it…

When Past, Present, and Future Collide

Tuesday, April 16th, 2019

Notre Dame Burns

What happened to me today could probably be called an epiphany of sorts.  But I think it was something much less grand.  Something like getting a dose of reality.  Or putting things in proper perspective.  Or just plain being bummed out.

It actually began yesterday afternoon with a picture of Notre Dame on fire.  Eight hundred years of art and culture going up in flames!  I might well have been in the path of the smoke right here in Oysterville.  My eyes burned and the tears coursed down my cheeks.  But it wasn’t just the objects, themselves – it was that tangible grasp of history that the cathedral had provided to all of us – all thirteen million of us – who paid homage to our past each year by visiting Our Lady of Paris.

I first went in 1958 and then many, many more times.  I’ve taken guided tours, climbed the 422 steps or, sometimes, have gone to simply sit and look.  I’ve been there with loved ones who are no longer with us; I’ve been there on my own on a snowy winter night long ago.  Notre Dame is part of my history, too.

Published 4/16/2019

Today, I listened to environmentalist Bill McKibben talk on the radio about his new (just out today) book, Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?  He pulls no punches when he talks about where we are here and now in the matter of climate change.  The book begins: “I think we’re uniquely ill prepared to cope with the emerging challenges. So far, we’re not coping with them. Still, there is one sense in which I am less grim than in my younger days. This book ends with the conviction that resistance to these dangers is at least possible.”

And I began to think – to seriously think – about living at sea level as the polar ice caps melt at ever increasing rates.  If, as I heard a “reliable source” say not long ago, the seas rise 30 feet in the next 80 years, that’s fewer years than I am old.  It is happening now!  In the present!

So… what of the future?  Perhaps my dream of making this place of ours into a small house museum so that future visitors might get a glimpse into our past… perhaps that is an unrealistic notion.  Perhaps we should sell while we still can and take the money for a whirlwind trip to see all the world’s historic landmarks while there is yet time?  But… to what end?  Change is inevitable and even memories fade…

The Quality of Mercy

Saturday, April 13th, 2019

STC 22296, title page

The rain fell gently (but persistently) this morning.  It wasn’t especially cold and there was no wind – not even a zephyr.  As I walked down to the chicken coop, Portia’s words from “The Merchant of Venice” came to mind:  The quality of mercy is not strained; It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven, upon the place beneath. But it wasn’t Portia’s image I visualized.  It was Jenny A. Durkin, Mayor of Seattle.  Nor was a courtroom in sixteenth century Venice the setting that came to mind.  No, it was yesterday’s edition of the Washington Post featuring Mayor Durkin’s extraordinary article headlined, Seattle isn’t afraid of Immigrants, Mr. Trump.  It begins:

Here’s a message to President Trump: Seattle is not afraid of immigrants and refugees. In fact, we have always welcomed people who have faced tremendous hardships around the world. Immigrants and refugees are part of Seattle’s heritage, and they will continue to make us the city of the future.

What does scare us? A president and federal government that would seek to weaponize a law enforcement agency to punish perceived political enemies. A would-be despot who thinks the rule of law does not apply to him.

I read the article several times and commend it to others who are aghast at Trump’s recent threats against sanctuary cities. Not only do I hope the other hundreds of sanctuary locations stay firm in their resolve, I hope that Mayor Durkin’s words are inspirational to other cities, counties, and states, as well.   I commend the article to everyone and anyone who is alarmed by Trump’s twitter twaddle.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/seattle-isnt-afraid-of-immigrants-mr-trump/2019/04/12/f26c370e-5d5e-11e9-9625-01d48d50ef75_story.html

I spent a bit of extra time out in that gentle rain this morning.  “Portia,” I thought to myself, “thy name is Jenny.”  (Or should that be the other way around?)

Time to Pony Up

Friday, April 5th, 2019

When I was growing up, our various houses never included anything as grand as a den or an office for my father.  The term “man cave” hadn’t been invented and I’m sure he would have been both amazed and amused at the concept.  No, if he had “paperwork” to do, it was spread out on the dining room table or on a card table in the living room.

Usually, the “set up” occurred shortly after my February 28th birthday and his nightly labors lasted until shortly before mail time on March 15th.  In those days that was when the dreaded income tax was due.  It wasn’t until my first year away at college that the date was changed to the (now) all too familiar April 15th.  As I recall, the card table began to be set up in early February.  Presumably, the rules and regulations were becoming more complicated by then.

We, too, use the dining room table method to sort things out and get them ready for our CPA – a luxury we’ve afforded ourselves since we owned the bookstore and since my writing began to generate a bit of income.  This year, out of curiosity about the new tax regulations, we began early so we could ask our Tax Lady to figure our taxes two ways – by using the new standard deduction and, also, by itemizing as we have done for the past thirty years.  We did slightly better using the standard deduction.  Go figure!

With A Little Help From A Friend

Even so, we had to pay a whole helluva lot more than in any previous year.  So much for the promise by President Tweeter that “Our framework ensures that the benefits of tax reform go to the middle class, not to the highest earners.”  But wait!  Perhaps we are too much below the middle of the middle class? We seem to be in that no man’s land of making too much money to qualify as “below the poverty line” and not quite enough to pay for unexpected expenses – like income tax!

I gave about a nanosecond to all of these thoughts yesterday when I visited a friend and found her dining room table covered with neatly sorted piles of paper.  “Tax time!” she said ruefully.  Yep.  Time to pony up

What would Charley Parkhurst say about it?

Thursday, March 28th, 2019

On a day-to-day basis, I don’t think much about feminism or gender equality.  Certainly, I clapped and cheered for the “Me Too” movement and am proud of all the women who have recently taken office at the national, state, and local levels of government.

And, I’m cognizant of those “five main issues” as described in a 2013 article in the New Statesman Magazine – “The Division of Domestic Labor,” “The Media,” “The Glass Ceiling,” “Social Inequality,” and “Violence Against Women.”  (If you need a quick refresher course, check out https://www.newstatesman.com/v-spot/2013/05/five-main-issues-facing-modern-feminism.)

So, I’m always gobsmacked when I hear a reference to the ERA – the Equal Rights Amendment designed to guarantee equal legal rights for all American citizens regardless of sex – and the fact that it never received ratification by the required three-fourths (38) of our 50 states.  Only 35 approved it and in later years, four of those 35 have attempted to rescind their approval.  Since 1972 – for 47 years – we’ve been stuck with a non-ratified proposal.  No equal rights for women under our U.S. constitution.  Hard to believe!

Charley Parkhurst

I wonder what Charley Parkhurst would think if s/he were still around. According to Wikipedia, Charley Darkey Parkhurst, born Charlotte Darkey Parkhurst (1812–1879), also known as One Eyed Charley or Six-Horse Charley, was an American stagecoach driver, farmer and rancher in California. Born and reared as a girl in New England, mostly in an orphanage, Parkhurst ran away as a youth, taking the name Charley and living as a male. He started work as a stable hand and learned to handle horses, including to drive coaches drawn by multiple horses. He worked in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, traveling to Georgia for associated work.

In his late 30s, Parkhurst sailed to California following the Gold Rush in 1849; there he became a noted stagecoach driver. In 1868, he may have been the first anatomically female individual to vote in a presidential election in California. At his death, it was discovered that he was anatomically female, as was the fact that he had given birth at an earlier time.

Would Charley think that we are on the right track?  Or would s/he expect more of us?  What advice would s/he have for us?  In 20 more years, we will have been working on this equality-for-women-under-the-Constitution concept for as many years as Charlotte/Charley lived.  It’s probably one of those apples and oranges things, but I can’t help but wonder if we’ve accomplished as much for ourselves as s/he did.  Food for thought…

 

 

 

The Stove Saga Continues

Tuesday, March 19th, 2019

Let’s hear it for the new stove!

The good news is that at last we have a bright, new, working stove in our kitchen.  The semi-bad news is that a little cosmetic surgery is needed to make it fit perfectly.  But… not to worry.

It’s just a matter of moving the power outlet to the north so it will snug itself into the stove’s recessed area at the back allowing the range to fit flat against the wall.  As it is, there is a two-inch gap between stove and wall — easily camouflaged except that the drawers and cupboards adjacent to the stove’s front cannot fully open right now.  Never mind.  The electrician will come and fix us right up – this week or next.  When they have time.

Whoops!

Meanwhile, I’m experimenting with burners – which of the six will I use for this?  Or that?  How about the griddle?  Will it work any better than the one on the dreaded Samsung (now on its way to Samsung Hell)?  But it is the two ovens I’m most eager to try.  (OK, English critics — It “are” the two ovens????)  First, just the upper one.  Then just the lower one.  Then both at the same time at different temperatures.  The combinations seem endless!

Ready for Breakfast?

My only regret is that Chef Nyel isn’t here for the stove’s maiden voyage.  I thought about waiting for him to get home but we don’t really know how long that will be.  And, truth to tell, I’m kinda tired of cooking on a hot plate.  Besides which, so far, Nyel has very little appetite.  Right now, I’m blaming hospital food, but I’m not eager to find that he’d feel the same way about my cooking – even if I can master all those burners and ovens.

Otherwise?  For the first time since October 2017, we have a fully-functioning dual-fuel, double oven stove!  It’s beautiful!  (It’s a GE with and can be repaired right here in Oysterville, WA, America!  Fancy that!)   Hurry home, Nyel!  Playing French Chef is really a game for two or more, no matter how spiffy the stove!

Onward? Upward? Hard to say…

Thursday, March 14th, 2019

Yesterday, shortly before dinner, Nurse Mario came into Nyel’s hospital room and announced that they were transferring him up to the 8th floor where they could monitor his heart more closely.  Yay!  Finally, the hospital gods were paying attention to Nyel’s needs and a positive step forward would be taken!  Or would it?

When Mario arrived with this latest news, we were still expecting the promised conference with Nyel’s “Care Team.”  They had not been able to pull it together on Tuesday when I had requested it as a “next step” up the steep slope of hospital protocol when one is not satisfied with patient care.  The meeting had been postponed to yesterday morning.  Then to yesterday afternoon.  Then, before we could say WTF, he was being transported up to the eighth floor.  Apparently, the care conference was off the table.

New Room

Initially, we were pleased.  The explanation Mario gave us led us to believe that this was so Nyel would now have better access to the cardiologists who would be taking the lead in his care.  His progress with the orthopedic part of the team had been sufficient so that, under other circumstances he would be sent home.  (And, by the way, one of the “Case Managers” dropped in to say, Ocean Beach Hospital has changed their mind; he is not a candidate for their swing bed facility.  Because of his congestive heart failure.)

We were feeling a bit blind-sided (but in a good way) about the move to this eighth-floor room until Nyel’s new nurse explained that this is not a cardio unit, as we had been led to believe.  The same hospitalist(s) will be overseeing Nyel’s care and the same physical and occupational therapists will be working with him.  The major difference in locations?  This room is on a newly renovated floor and has telemetry capabilities.  He is now hooked up to a heart monitor and someone “down the hall” can keep an eye on his heart rate and rhythms.  Otherwise… same old, same old.

3/13/19 – Another Step Toward Home

Who made the decision to move Nyel?  Why was it made?  Is it something that we are in agreement with?  All moot questions, apparently.  At least this hospital remains consistent in its determination not to involve the patient with regard to his care.  As it happens, we had a visitor all afternoon who witnessed the transfer process – from Nurse Mario’s announcement to helping schlep Nyel’s “stuff” from Floor 3 to Floor 8.  She didn’t happen to stay long enough to learn that not much has changed.  I’m eager hear what she thought had transpired.

Even though I strongly suspect that we have somehow gone through the looking glass, I am continuing to ask for a Care Team Conference.  As far as we can find out, it is the only option still available to us with regard to having a say in Nyel’s care.  Or to registering our uncertainties about what is being done for him.  The odds of it happening? Probably slim to none.

Sleeping on Chairs and Other Indignities

Monday, March 11th, 2019

Sleeping Sydney 2-11-19

Well, it ain’t the life of Riley, this hospital living.  For me it’s a bit of a combination between camping and being homeless.  For Nyel is it’s a lot like being in an institution run by the deaf and dumb.  (Forget politically correct.  All that terminology and, especially the HIPPA stuff. does nothing but impede progress we have found.)

So, the/camping/homeless thing is my bailiwick.  I did a lot of camping back in the day when that was our only choice for a vacation.   We could never afford a tent so, when rainstorms caught us in the middle of the night, it was often sleep on the cement floor of the john or curl up in the back seat of our VW bug.  Here at St. Vincent’s my choices, by comparison, are quite luxurious – the primitive (“makes-my hips-hurt-to-look-at-it” according to Pat Thomas) recliner chair, or the extra wide chair with arms or the plain old institutional armless chair.  I’ve made do with each.

I’m the one, also, dealing with “all” my personal possessions – my purse, my toiletries kit, my meds, my laptop, my cell phone (never mind that I have to go to the lobby for service) and my change of clothes.  I’m not concerned that anyone will take this meager collection, but meager is definitely the operable road.  I grabbed what I could think of for the projected three- day stay.  It’s now been seven (for me; ten for Nyel) and anyway, why was it I thought one pair of sox would do??? I should have thought to bring a grocery cart.

Nyel, of course, is given everything he needs – except water which is restricted.  His difficulties are more serious than keeping track of his worldly goods It’s more like trying to hold the hospital staff responsible for his lack of progress.

“Everyone is different” is their mantra, on the one hand.  “Most people respond to…” is their conflicting excuse.  So… they keep him on meds that work for “everyone else” but obviously don’t work for Nyel – the same meds his doctors took him off long ago because (here’s the deaf part) THEY DON’T WORK FOR NYEL

The dumb part is how they make Nyel feel for trying to explain “their” job to them.  Like Nyel hasn’t been paying attention during the fifteen years he’s been dealing with these issues?  So far, not one of the eight doctors who have seen him (about evenly divided between orthopedic and cardiology) have paid attention to what Nyel has told him about his reactions to certain drugs, which regimen has been successful, etc.  They have chosen to “start from the very beginning” and Nyel, consequently, has regressed.

All I can say is… it’s a good thing I learned long ago to sleep wherever I need to and that Nyel is basically a non-violent person.  Otherwise, this “Monday Report” might be coming to you from a different kind of institution – a homeless shelter for me or jail for Nyel.

On a scale of one to ten…

Saturday, March 9th, 2019

Daytime: Nyel’s Chair at St. V’s

Hospitals are, at once, busy and boring places to be.  At times, usually from four to six in the morning, there is a regular parade coming in to poke, prod, and otherwise check on patient progress.  The phlebotomist is usually first, taking precious vials of blood back to the lab so various tests can be made and “the numbers” can be sent to the doctor in time for him/her to give updated orders for the day. Then comes the nurse’s aide to weigh the patient, followed by the nurse who takes “the vitals” – blood pressure and temperature and, sometimes, a measurement of urine output.

All the weights and measures along with various comments and notes are dutifully put into the computer for the care team’s reference.  Sometimes the doctor actually appears in person to talk over the plan of action for the day but, usually, “doctor’s orders” are delivered electronically and the patient is informed of treatment adjustments by the nurse. Questions are fielded back to the doctor and may or may not be answered in a timely manner.

In our experience, which unfortunately is considerable, breakfast arrives around seven in most hospitals – unless they are holding all food intake for an upcoming “procedure.”  The food and the processes surrounding it – the ordering, the delivery, the tray collection – are probably the least standardized of all the routines.  In this hospital, someone comes in person around ten in the morning to take the patient’s food order for lunch, for dinner, and for the next day’s breakfast.  There is no food service for guests.

The day continues with various procedures, bedside consultations, exercises, medication deliveries, measurements of vital signs etc.  During the down times, which are few, Nyel dozes and I go off to one of the hospital cafeterias to get grab a meal or coffee to bring back and eat in the room.  (In this hospital, I feel the need to be present and accounted for as much as possible.)

Nighttime: Sydney’s Bed at St. V’s

This is the seventh hospital Nyel has been in during the last ten years.  We find ourselves staving off the boredom between spates of activity by playing the Compare and Contrast Game – from the way the hospital organizes its staff to the quality of the meals and the attitudes of the workers.  And, of course, to their treatment of family members and patient advocates.  “On a scale of one to ten…” our conversations often begin.

Mostly we compare the amenities for patients – which, after all, should be hospital’s major focus.  But in this day and age when it seems universally recognized that family members and loved ones play an important role in a patient’s recovery, Nyel and I also discuss accommodations made for the non-patient team member (that would be me).

For overnight stays in the patient’s room, some hospitals offer cots and, in some, the nurses even make them up with sheets and blankets.  Usually, though, this is a do-it-yourself operation, which is fine and understandable. In other facilities, it might be a window seat that is offered for guest-sleeping or, here at St. V’s, a chair that (sort of) makes into a bed. Here, there is also the option of a motel-like facility across the street (if space is available), but then you can’t be on hand when things might be happening.  On a scale of one to ten…

We’ve toyed with the idea of writing a Patient’s Guide – sort of the hospital equivalent to Consumer’s Report.  Unfortunately, though, when you need a hospital, you aren’t often in a position to pick and choose.

Conflicted & Confused about Kid Safety

Thursday, February 28th, 2019

Keeping its children safe is one of the paramount responsibilities of a society.  No sane person would argue that belief.  But it’s the how question that is usually the sticking point.

When I read of the Ocean Beach School District’s proposed two-point-five-million-dollar bond in yesterday’s Chinook Observer, I was aghast at my own reaction.  Total conflict!  How, I wondered to myself, can our community agree to pay for all the safety measures outlined in the article when our own recently elected sheriff is hedging on the gun control initiative just passed by the state?  (And, make no mistake about it, the proposed school bond and our attitudes concerning gun control are  inexplicably related.)

To be clear:  I voted for Sheriff Robin Souvenir.  And I voted in favor of gun control Initiative 1639.  The initiative is now being challenged in court and our sheriff, along with many others in the state, is not willing to enforce its provisions until it works its way through the courts.  It confuses me when the very people we elect to oversee enforcement of the laws that keep us safe decide, instead, to interpret them or to “wait” for further clarification.

I am conflicted, too, by the “safety” measures that are being proposed to protect our children.  One entry point into our school buildings, a full-time ‘resource officer,’ security cameras, improved lighting and fencing, etc. etc.?  Sounds a lot like a prison to me.  So… until we can come to grips with the root cause of our school safety problems, we plan to imprison our children?

Frankly, that’s not how I want to spend my money and it’s not how I want the next generations of children to grow up. And, yes, I’ve heard all the arguments put out by the NRA and their followers.  Not one of those self-serving reasons answers my concerns about locking our children up to keep them safe.  Not one.