Monday, July 31, 2006

Confusion is a Scary Thing

In my neighborhood, a car ran through a Salvation Army Thrift Store. So what, I know. The reason that was given for this "mistake" was that the driver confused the accelerator with the brake pedal. I just have a problem believing that. I heard a report on the radio this morning that said that the driver was middle-aged. She has obviously been driving for a while. The brake has always been the horizontal pedal on the left and the gas has always been the verticle pedal on the right. How can all of the sudden one get confused?
Check out the picture through the link. The car went through the front wall of the store, all the way through to the back wall. The store manager said that she thought the car was going to go through the rear of the store and back outside.
Don't get me wrong. People make mistakes. However, how can you make the mistake of hitting the wrong pedal (and not be able to correct it quicker than that)?
I started thinking about similar types of "confusion" that we never hear about:
"Hey Bob, how did you get a cold?"
"I confused my gloves with my shoes and didn't notice till my feet were drenched."
"Hey Stella, I heard you were in the hospital. What happened?"
"I confused a diet coke with a can of motor oil and I drank half the can before I figured it out. I thought it tasted a little funny, though."
"Hey Simon, what's with the neck brace?"
"I confused my butt with my head, and jammed it in the recliner. I would have been fine if I hadn't fallen asleep. That Lazy-Boy is so comfortable, though."
I don't know. Maybe it is the truth. Maybe she has slow reaction time. If they are that slow, it is good think she didn't make it to the street!




Friday, July 28, 2006

Hospital Fiasco

This is continued from a previous post. The prerequisite post is No More Birthdays. So go ahead there and read. I wil wait . . . . . . . .
When the doctor finally came in with a diagnosis (I told you that you should have read the prerequisite), my sisters and I were ready to pass out. He told us that my mother's sodium count was low and that she will be admitted and given an I.V. of saline solution. Her sodium count was 122 and at 120 patients can go into seizures - per the doctor. This should make her fine in a day or two.
She was put into a room on the sixth floor. We went into the room and a nurse began asking us a bunch of questions for intake. This is at 5:00 am, mind you, and we had already answered these questions about five times before to other people. However, it became quite apparent that no one ever reads any of these forms that have been previously filled out. Hospital visits are just a series of pointless paperwork for the family. The experience took me back to high school on days that there were substitute teachers. The subs always subjected (good word here) the class to meaningless busywork. Before heading home with the new rays of the sun at my back, I debriefed with the nurse concerning the care my mother was to receive.
Just before lunch and a scant 3 1/2 hours of sleep later, I walk into my mother's room. No I.V. I asked the nurse (different one) about it, and she said that there was no order from the doctor about an I.V. After going through the whole spiel again about what the emergency room doctor said, the nurse told me that once a patient is admitted, the emergency room doctor is not her doctor but the her primary physician takes over. I asked her if they ever talk (the two doctors) and her reply was, "usually not."
I started getting heated. "My mother said that she hasn't seen her doctor," I started but was interrupted.
"You have talked to her? We haven't been able to talk to her."
"If she would have had a saline I.V. we all would be having a wonderful conversation, yet, no one seems to care about that."
Quite self-righteously, the nurse responded, "We didn't know that she is usually of sound mind. See, you have an advantage of knowing things that we don't about her."
That was it, "If anyone would bother to read the stupid forms I had to fill out six times last night and this morning, you WOULD know that!" She then told me that she would just have to wait for orders from the doctor and left the room.
It wasn't long before I grabbed the doctor of the patient in the next bed and asked him about the sodium problem. I told him that I just wanted to know if I should be concerned that she has not yet been treated. He told me that she should be treated sooner rather than later. No kidding. However, he did help get a hold of my mother's doctor who STILL didn't put her on saline until three days later.
The support staff at the hospital was horrible. No one cared about anything. They didn't care if the family was up to date, or anything. They were just pre-occupied with their duties. Better take her blood pressure, pulse, and temperature every half an hour so they can write it on her chart (that no one reads). More busywork! I don't know why celebrities "check themselves into" the hospital when they are "exhausted". They can't possibly rest there. I think people get sent home FROM the hospital so they can get rest.
There was one AWESOME nurse, though (in the interest of being accurate). She went way beyond the call of duty to make sure we were in the know.
After being in the hospital for seven days (and it could have been just two), my mother is resting at home. It is going to take a lot for me to go the emergency route in the future. I think things would have been better if I would have just opted to take my mother into the doctor's office in the morning.



Thursday, July 27, 2006

Ode to My Mother (cont'd)


When I was a sophomore in high school, my mother took me to Indiana University to tour the campus. It was a special program for prospective students. My mother never even graduated high school, but she insisted that I attend this special day. I realized only later how uncomfortable she must have been touring the campus and being trained on application procedure, etc. with parents who came from a background where such programs were old hat.

I was the first in my family to go to college. My mother gave up her newer vehicle so I could travel back and forth from campus (two and half hour drive) on the weekends and be able to have reliable transportation while I was away. Because of this, she was forced to drive a beat up old pick-up truck as her transportation. Every weekend she would pack a box full of food and scraped up as much money as she could for gas and other expenses. She did this without the help of my father who died the summer of my freshman year at college.

When I was at the hospital with her this past week on my birthday, I thought about these things. It was surreal, because on my 18th birthday, I was also at the hospital. It was the day my father died. I never got to express all the things that I should have to my father when he was around, but because God gave me some more time with my mother, I will not waste it.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Ode to My Mother

The events of the last week forced me to reflect on my mother and the love she has for her kids – even me. Being in the hospital with Mom on my birthday wondering what could happen was very sobering. I decided to record these reflections over the next few posts. My rants about the hospital experience can wait. I am going to indulge my mom on these pages. After all, she indulged me her whole life. She is resting at home now (I brought her home yesterday), but her health still is a bit fragile. Thanks to all who sent warm thoughts and prayers.

Ode to My Mother

Mom worked hard all her life. When I was young, she worked two jobs (about 18 hrs per day). It was the only way we could make ends meet. She worked as a waitress/bartender for a couple of small establishments. I remember every Sunday, she would dump the contents of her purse on the kitchen table and start counting her tips for the week. It would consist almost entirely of coins. She would count and I would help her put them into rolls. Then, she would put the rolled coins in a cloth bank bag and hide it in the back of her closet.

Really, the only time my little sister and I could spend with Mom was on Sunday because of her jobs. We would generally go to a matinee and eat out at a restaurant called the “Country School” or at the “Ponderosa”. It was a treat because it was a step up from McDonalds. I remember mom getting irritated because I almost always had to go to the bathroom (the sit-down kind) before we left the restaurant. She joked that I was just flushing her money down the toilet.

Every couple of years, she took the tip money she saved and took us on a mini vacation. It was my mom who took me to see my beloved Cincinnati Reds for the first time. It was my birthday and I was nine years old. I didn’t realize it then, but it was a very unselfish act by her. She cared nothing about baseball. It didn’t matter. Her little boy cared and that was enough for her. There we were mother and child at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. I had a make-shift Reds uniform on and had my over-sized (for my hand) ball glove ready for the foul ball that never came near our seats. I couldn’t figure out why my older sister decided to stay at the hotel and swim (and stay with my younger sister). It was some time later that I realized that I was the only one that wanted to see the game. I love my mom.



Thursday, July 20, 2006

No More Birthdays

Tuesday was my birthday (thanks, TwoWriteHands for the birthday greeting). It was a typical birthday for me - horrible. Maybe some time I will explain why my birthdays have typically been bad, but I want to get THIS one out of my system now.

First, my sister found my mother on the floor of her bedroom - incoherent. So, I spent all birthday night (till 5:30 am) in the hospital emergency ward - standing on my feet. They had one "guest" chair in my mothers "room". My sister has some physical problems, so I gave it to her. No one lifted a finger to find another chair. They didn't care.
We waited in that little room for hours before a doctor made it in. No one ever gave us an explanation or assured us that we weren't forgotten. In the mean time, my elderly mother who may have a head injury just laid there waiting to see a doctor.
I am currently experiencing computer problems so this is . . .
To be continued ~

Monday, July 17, 2006

Shifting Into Gear


Now that I am finished ranting about the government and high gas prices, I guess I will get back to looking at life in general – as it creeps up and scares the bejesus out of me. I decided I had to turn up the heat on my workout program. Don’t you hate it when people talk about their workouts? I know I do, so in keeping up with the hypocritical program that I am on, I will talk about it while it is on my mind.

I now run AND weight lift everyday. The old program was one or the other. It is just that it is already July and my wedding is in October. October used to be way off. Now it is staring me in the face. I owe it to my bride, myself, and everyone that wished they married in Jamaica to look good for it.

The problem has been that I have been fudging on my eating, without actually eating fudge. I never ate desserts or junk, really, I just didn't pay too much attention to it other than that. Now, I have decided to go on a soup and salad diet as well as my extra workouts. I went to the store and bought all the least taste-tempting soups (vegetable – no meat, chicken noodle, etc.) to eat for lunch and dinner (or as they say in my neck of the woods – supper). All the soups I will eat for the next couple of months will be water-based. Yum!

My question for the both of you (I figure I get about two people to read this junk – and if one of you is a Bushie, I have probably just have one now ;) ), is do you have any tips about eating low calorie? I am eating soup, salad with low calorie dressing, and oatmeal for breakfast. I will mix it up from time to time with a low calorie TV dinner, or a grilled chicken breast. That is about it. Oh yeah, I am keeping it to small portions. I have also figured out that if I brush my teeth often or use mouthwash periodically, it takes away my boredom eating.

I was able to stick to my workouts so far. The question is, can I stick with workouts X2 and the tasteless diet? I think I can. Actors do this kind of stuff all the time to get ready for a role. That is how I see my upcoming nuptials, as some big movie. It gives me comfort to think of it as something other than real life. ;)

Friday, July 14, 2006

Bush League


Gas prices are out of control. The Iraq situation is out of hand. The Middle East is as unstable as it has been in my lifetime. Has this administration managed ANYTHING right?

Gas is about three dollars a gallon on average. It was tolerable until the Hurricane Katrina struck. The oil companies uses any piece of news as an excuse to raise gas prices. We have not recovered at the pump although New Orleans and Mississippi are seem to be improving.

The Bush administration doesn't seem to much care about it. I guess I wouldn't either if my buddies were in the oil business. If my family ran a bar and grill, I guess I wouldn't crusade for tougher policy on alcohol sales. When the country's energy task force takes its cues from the major oil companies, guess what is going to happen? I wish the president would just recuse himself from the presidency - citing conflict of interest.

The oil barrons claim their hands are tied about the supply and refinement of oil (that affects the price), but somehow they are making record profits. It is said that they aren't making the money from gasoline aspect of their business. I say that there is no such a thing as coincidence.

People claim that we are getting a better deal in the US because in England they are paying around $7.00 per gallon. Before people get excited about the oil companies here, they should know that the difference in price between the US and the UK is on taxing. The UK has a 75% tax on fuel. They actually pay less per gallon on the fuel than we do.

It is really simple. We are not Europe; we are not used to paying 200% more in fuel prices. It is taking a toll on the economy. Businesses rely on transportation of goods and services. They will pass on the additional costs to the consumer. As a result EVERYTHING goes up in price, not just the cost at the pump. The Bush Administration needs to get its head out of its arse and revamp its energy policy. The first step is to get rid of its self-serving advisors.

Since chasing our tails in Iraq, we have lost over 2500 American lives. Contrast this with the 3000 lost during the 9/11 terrorrist attacks, and it is starting to become a wash. When you factor in the estimated 40,000 Iraqi civilian lives lost, invading Iraq seems to be one of the worse decisions any president has ever made.
Here is what we know:
  • The 9/11 terrorist had little or nothing to do with Saddam Hussein and Iraq
  • NOW, Iraq is a hotbed of terrorism
  • We are losing more lives every day because of the insurgency
  • Osama bin Laden is still at large (and is not in Iraq)

I have no qualms about going into Afghanistan after 9/11. I don't even begrudge the "we thought there were WMD's in Iraq" excuse. I just don't think it warranted an invasion at the time. It seemed that we had bigger fish to fry. We certainly have bigger fish to fry now (Iran, N.Korea, and the war building between Israel and Lebanon and potentially Syria) over the Shiite-Muslim Hezbollah attacks. Yep, we could use a fresh military and the resources to help manage these situations, but our fish fry has run out of oil (no pun intendeed).









Thursday, July 13, 2006

Evansville's Finest

There is an article in my local paper about an Evansville, IN police officer getting cleared for killing a family pet. The whole story would be laughable if it were not so sad. It is especially sad for me, because I am a sucker for animals - particularly dogs (if it has gone unnoticed).
The police officer was searching for a girl that was reported to be abused by her boyfriend according the girl's father. As this officer went around to the back of the house to catch anyone trying to sneak out of the back of the house, he was confronted by the dog. To protect himself from harm, the officer shot the dog in self-defense.
The owners of the dog made a complaint with the police against the officer, but the officer was cleared of any wrong-doing. So far, anyone would agree with the ruling. At this point the story sounds sad, but not extraordinary. Examining the circumstances a bit further changed my perception.
According to her owner, the dog "Precious" was no threat. She was a 13 year-old beagle-bassett hound mixed that tipped the scales at whopping 18 pounds. Is it any wonder the officer got his service revolver out in time?
Wait, there's more. The dog was in poor health with cataracts in both eyes, was nearly deaf and was restricted by being attached to a cable. Not only that, but the city of Evansville wrote a check to the dog's owners for $17,500 to settle a civil case brought on by family. Seventeen THOUSAND, five hundred dollars for appropriately killing a dog in the line of duty! That is a lot of Milk Bones!
Precious, AKA Killer
According to the article in the Evansville Courier and Press, a national representative of the Humane Society in Washington D.C. stated that it was the largest settlement that he has heard of in a case involving a dog.
I hope that the brave officer is on less hazardous duty now. Maybe he can keep the parks cleared of the perverts in the public restrooms. Nah, that is no good, there are too many squirrels.





Tuesday, July 11, 2006

I'm a Swinger

Our arms do swing when we walk, don't they? After parking the car in the morning, it becomes necessary for me to walk through a park on the way to my office. I found out that I could technically park in the lot, but I don't want to be uppity. The lot is reserved for the "special people" - you know, the VIP's. I found out that I DO qualify because of my position, but just can't bring myself to do it. I guess one needs to live the part, to park there, and I refuse to see that I am "better" than anyone else even if I am. ;)

But I digress (which should be the name of this blog, in retrospect), I was talking about the need for our arms to swing as we walk. For some reason, it fascinated me this morning as I strolled through the park. We don't choose to swing them, they just do it on their own like our hands are just dead weights at the end of a rope. I noticed today that the hand that was holding my umbrella (folded up as it was not yet raining), swung more than the empty handed arm. Yep, the dead weight theory. I wondered if I could tell the sex of an unborn baby if I dangled that umbrella over a pregnant abdomen. I looked around for a prego, but did not see one so I continued on toward the building with one arm swing wildly and the other just with its normal movement.

An episode of "Seinfeld" came to mind. Two characters, both hostile, were non arm-swingers as they walked (or in Racquel Welch's case, danced). These characters were made fun of. "Well," I thought as my arms were swinging to beat the band, "at least I won't be ridiculed for that."



Thursday, July 06, 2006

Navigating Product

I have been in my new “get in shape” lifestyle for a number of weeks, now. I really hate the word “lifestyle.” It usually tries to make something sound more favorable than it really is. Be that as it may, working my muscles has become habit at this point since I have been able to assemble a makeshift gym in my fiancĂ©e’s garage.

Today, I decided to shower at her house after my workout. I get into the shower and there are 15 different containers in there. In a few months when we get married (Ooh! I just had a chill), I will be living there no doubt scouting places I can put my shower needs. Out of 15 containers, I found none that claimed to be soap or shampoo. I knew better than to try to expect to find a BAR of soap, but how about something called “shower gel?” Nope. I found all kinds of other stuff, though. I can’t remember all the terms, but I know that “scrub” “revitalizing” were words I came across.

I know that women have a different way to engage the world. Soap bars and washcloths do not fit into the world of the penile challenged. Instead they have some kind of liquid or gel soap that they apply to miniature wedding gowns (because women are obsessed with weddings, I guess) in order to clean themselves. Well, I couldn’t find even the gel this time, although the little wedding gown was faithfully hanging there below the showerhead.

She also had a nice place for this little gadget that I suspect was a razor. It didn’t look like any razor I have seen. It looked more like a phaser from Star Trek. A phaser, for the non-trekkies, is a hand weapon.
I guess I will be in for a culture shock when that same shower becomes my own. Fortunately, I don’t have too many things that will clutter it up. All I require are soap and shampoo. If I have to, I will bring it to the shower with me.