Monday, March 21, 2005

Terri Schiavo

Here's a lesson for all you folks out there. If in the event that you become incapacitated or injured beyond the point where you are able to care for yourself and you have special wishes, make a living will so that whatever it is that you require will be taken care of for you.

Sadly, Terri had no such will.

Who is going to decide what happens to her now? Her husband has asserted his view which is allegedly Terri's view. Terri's family wishes to keep her alive and give her therapy.

The video I've seen of her was surprising in alot of ways. From the descriptions of a vegetative state I expected to see a lifeless body connected to tons of life support equipment. But instead she just appears to be a heavily brain damaged person that moves and responds to stimulus. Her only life support is a feeding tube; something that is used frequently for stroke patients that have long lost their ability to swallow.

I'll admit that I know precious little about her health. There are tons of doctors that have chimed in and have said that she has no hope of recovery and a few others that say her condition could improve with therapy. All of the doctors agree that without the feeding tube, she will die. (This tube was ordered removed by a judge in Florida)

Now the Federal Congress has tried to intervene with a bill that would prevent her from dying as a result of starvation/dehydration. This bill is addressed to Terri specifically. I have a huge problem with this.

***Warning - the next paragraph mentions the constitution...if this bores you or you don't care about the constitution then please skip down two paragraphs.***

Let me bore you now with a little bit of talk about the US Constituion. The constitution states that no bills of attainder shall be passed. This kind of bill was usually used in the British parliament where lawmakers would decide the guilt of a person without the benefit of a trial. The founders of our nation did not want our federal government dealing with matters that involved a single person, but instead these decisions were to be handled by the courts. This was to ensure the separation of powers.

***This ends the talk of the constitution -- begin reading below***

The big problem here is that our federal congress wishes to pass a bill that will impact only one person, therefore overriding the courts. Republicans often complain about "activist judges" that make laws from the bench, but apparently they have no problem making judicial rulings in congress. Of course both practices are wrong. Hopefully the Supreme Court will declare this bill unconstitutional. At the very least this should be decided at the state level.

Personally, I want Terri to live, yet I understand that my wants mean nothing here. All of the doctors agree she is not terminal and there are no legal documents declaring her wishes to die. This is not assisted suicide. To remove her feeding tube is to let her die of starvation and dehydration.

This would be anything but "death with dignity."

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Observations from lunch

I just returned from my midday meal break with many observations.

First, the closest shopping area from where I work is in what would normally be considered a low-income neighborhood. I could be wrong, but there is evidence that fits this demographic:

  • Neighborhood treats shopping carts as community property
  • Lots of gray-haired, fixed income citizens
  • Lots of broken down cars in parking lots
  • Tons of payday loan establishments
  • I pass by three "cheap smokes" places in less than one mile

Today the lines at the store were longer than normal so I figured the state must have mailed out the food stamps recently. (actually at this very store I learned that our state distributes debit cards with certain amounts available on them instead of stamps) Along with the long lines the pop and candy aisle was more packed than usual.

After getting a couple of corn dogs from the deli (which was also too busy to ring up my item there) I walked to the front to pay for my items and leave. This store (Fred Meyer) has four U-Scan stations where you can check yourself out acting as your own cashier. I figured my best bet to fight the crowd was to duck into one of these stations, work my debit card skills and get out.

There was already a long line to use the U-Scans and the four who were at each station didn't appear to be moving anywhere soon. One woman had a coupon for ice cream that was expired or for a different brand, another woman needed her ID checked for the case of beer she was buying, one other lady was trying to enter the code for onions to no avail and then there was this one guy.

This guy I imagine was in his early 60's and was dutifully obeying every command that the U-Scan was telling him to do. The problem began when the machine was mixed up and wasn't able to finish the transaction. Here is how the next four minutes went. (yes, I timed it.)

U-Scan Machine: Please place the item in the bag

Gentleman: (places item in bag)

U-Scan Machine: Please take the last item out of the bag

Gentleman: (lifts item out of bag)

U-Scan Machine: Please place the item in the bag

Gentleman: (places item in bag)

U-Scan Machine: Please take the last item out of the bag

Gentleman: (lifts item out of bag)

U-Scan Machine: Please take the last item out of the bag

Repeat this scenario eleven more times

Finally this guy threw the item on the floor and yelled, "I don't want it anymore!"

Most people turned their heads away to not look at the man or to disguise their smirks to preserve the man's dignity. Not me, I just stood there laughing. I picked up the bag for the gentleman and asked the attendent to help the man who was frustrated beyond words. To be honest, I didn't pity him. That could've been me in his shoes. He just needed some help.

No one was at fault here. The attendent had her hands full, the U-Scan's can be confusing, the gentleman just wanted to be able to buy his items and leave, and well...I laughed. I did my best to help but the damage was already done.

I bought my corn dogs five minutes later.

Monday, March 14, 2005

St. Patrick's Day

I'm one-quarter Irish. I don't wear green on St. Patrick's Day.

I've been told that wearing Orange on St. Patrick's Day is upsetting to the fragile sensibilities of Irish Catholics...Even though a third of their own flag is orange. To them I say, "boo hoo! not all Irish are Greensmen...therefore we celebrate our Irish heritage in our own way."

But get this...

Orangemen have been invited to march in a parade in County Cork this year. That's a true sign of peace in Ireland. Some in Northern Ireland have protested the Orangemen marching in the south, but I don't understand why. St. Patrick's Day should be a celebration of heritage whether green or orange. Those in the north could learn to lighten up a bit.

I realize a fair amount of you don't know what I'm talking about because you had a fine public education but when you see someone wearing orange on St. Patty's day...don't dare pinch them for not wearing green. Unless of course you want a shamrock shoved up your arse.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Red State Stupidity

I live in a blue state, but it's not exactly a state that is firmly blue. Aside from Seattle, Olympia, and parts of Bellingham the rest of the state is 50/50 or heavily red. (about 4% of Washington voters are Libertarian --hooray for us!)

My state's superior court is hearing arguments regarding same sex marriage. Many red staters want the superior court to rule that marriage is between a man and a woman and support the "defense of marriage act." Even more red-state nut jobs support President Bush's suggestion to amend the US Constitution on the matter. Almost universally do red-staters declare their opposition to gay marriage on religious terms...and rightfully so.

My question to you red-staters is simply this:

Why do you want the government to weigh-in on anything you see in religious terms? Why in God's name do you want the government to be put in a position to have an opinion about anything that resembles a religious opinion?

It is because of my own beliefs about gay marriage that I want the government to issue no opinion on it whatsoever. In fact, I'm still not sure why it is the government has a position on marriage of any kind.

For a long time, I've felt very uneasy about marriage certficates being used as official documents or baptismal certificates being used as a piece of identification. What I practice and perform as a matter of faith is really no one's business and is certainly not the business of Washington DC or Olympia.

If you go to a judge or a ship's captain and get married, that's fine too. It shouldn't be a matter for the state to worry about. Also if you're gay and want/need the type of paperwork that says you can visit your "partner" in the hospital or should be able to do that too.

The role of government should be to enforce contracts, not disqualify them on religious terms.

When it boils right down to it, the only reason the state wants to be involved in your marital status is so they know how to tax you. And that should disgust both blue and red staters.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Run to the border!!!

For those "blue staters" out there that worship Canada as an example of the kind of country you'd like to live in, you should see how that country pollutes water in my state. Your model for peace and eco-topian living not only dumps harmful heavy metals into the lakes of my state, but also dumps raw sewage into our waterways.

The city of Victoria, British Columbia (the capital city of BC) still discharges all of its raw sewage and though the United States has pleaded with them to stop, their crap still washes up on the shores of the Olympic Peninsula in Western Washington.

The Associate Press reports:
SPOKANE, Wash. - Most of the lead, cadmium and other heavy metals pollution sampled from Lake Roosevelt, the reservoir behind the Grand Coulee Dam, came from a smelter in Trail, British Columbia, according to a new report from the U.S. Geological Survey.

Will any of these things be cleaned up in any hurry? Not as long as no one in Canada has an incentive to do so. Not as long as it gets harder and harder to make any money in Canada. Surely their wonderful, progressive, peaceful, tolerant and loving government will solve the problem soon, right?

Do you realize we have huge companies in the United States that make lots of money coming up with unique ways to clean up environmental problems? I hate to inform you further that one of these companies is Halliburton.

So why you blue-staters still know everything, please head to Canada and help them stop dumping their crap into our waters. Do something useful at least.

Monday, March 07, 2005

The things you do in a new house...

...when you don't have a computer or television hooked up yet.
  • Talk to your neighbors
  • Talk to the cats
  • Talk to yourself
  • Wash dishes
  • Clean things
  • Hang things up on walls
  • Walk around in the house forgetting what you're looking for
  • Call Verizon to ask why the DSL isn't hooked up yet

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

My old apartment

Some places you live become attached to you. In a number of important ways the apartment I just moved out of will have bound itself to my life forever.

I moved into the place under bad circumstances. A family that my then wife and I lived with began having uncontrollable problems with their two teenage sons. It became a matter of safety to move out.

While just starting college and working any job I could find to bring in money we barely had enough money to move in. I hated the place instantly. It was too small, it was cramped, it seemed noisy and you could hear the neighbor's plumbing. By that I mean when the neighbor took a shower or flushed the toilet it sounded as if it was all taking place in my living room.

As much as I hated the place it was pretty cheap, and had mostly mature neighbors. No cabana, club house or workout room that usually brings in younger couples or high school buds moving out on their own for the first time. While not an ideal place to live, it was time to use this place as a spring board to saving money for a home.

After about three years of living there and beginning to get ahead financially, I was suddenly forced to lose all of the ground I had made. Without getting into a great amount of detail my then-wife decided that she would be happier with another guy, another place, another short, she left. While she insisted that she was wanting to "work it out" and "waiting to see how she felt" I painfully left the door open for her to come back and we'd work through the trust and adultery issues. As a result, I came home one day and found the apartment cleaned out and I was later served with divorce papers. Apparently her "working it out" meant just finding enough helpers to help take everything. Needless to say I found myself without any furniture and without any money overnight.

While I was working through this whole thing my father was battling cancer, and losing. I remember being with him the night he slipped into a coma. We were talking about my situation, not his. He told me it was time to just take care of myself and move on. Good advice. He did finally pass away on my birthday a few days later.

I sat in my apartment pretty stunned. As someone who can, at times, resist change I was finding myself being confronted with more than I could handle. My aunt had just purchased new furniture and agreed to give me everything I needed. Her old furnishings (were about two years old and included a leather couch) were made available to me. My brother gave me a bed. A month hadn't gone by and I was sitting in a furnished apartment again...this time with better quality furnishings than of those that walked out the month before.

So now that I've bummed you out I should let you know that a hand full of incredible friends and supportive people, and of course a merciful God brought me through the time with some mental renewal. While getting the bank account to a point where having a house became possible, it did take about six more years...six more years in that little apartment.

So when I moved out I wondered what type of feelings I would have when I closed the front door for the last time. I guess like painful and challenging times in your life you sort of look back on them with some level of strength but wouldn't be willing to go through it again.

To sum it all up, I won't lie to you. I don't miss it at all.