Thursday, March 29, 2007

Busy at Home

My wife came home from the hospital on Tuesday. The Hospice folks have been very helpful and professional. I'm hoping that Jan will be comfortable and at peace, and I'm doing what I can to facilitate that. It's been a busy couple of days, but a routine is emerging and I'm hopeful for a better feeling of organization here soon.

In the meantime, I couldn't resist posting this, a brief commentary
on the emerging dialogue
between proponents and opponents of the Iraq War. This was actually published in November 2005, but it got me thinking about some trends I've seen in business and elsewhere, that being where blind loyalty to the vision of the leadership is valued higher by leaders than constructive criticism and open dialogue.

Best wishes to everyone.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Everybody Hurts

Many thanks to Ralph D'Andrea for cluing me in to the Crooks and Liars Late Night Music Club.
I found something there that I had forgotten about, and it was very helpful. Hopefully you'll find it helpful in some way too.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

SB 83 Follies

My wife is slowly improving at St. Mary's, and yesterday took a big step forward by gaining enough control over her swallowing to be able to start eating again. Very soft, pureed food (and not badly prepared at that), but eating on her own nonetheless. She has also started to become more aware and communicative, and is starting to try to talk in sentences. She is currently awaiting a bed in the hospital's Rehab unit, and will hopefully come home after that. Lots of work to do on several fronts before then.

In the meantime I couldn't help but notice all of the hubris and concern over an amendment to Senate Bill 83 that would extend voting rights to parolees. Many bloggers and media outlets, including the Sentinel, have come out in opposition to the amendment and in favor of Senator Josh Penry for trying to block its' passage. Senator Penry has succeeded in sending the bill back to committee for additional deliberation with the parolee provision included.

I belong to the ACLU, mainly to support their involvement in First Amendment cases. They've done some great work, but were sort of deserving of some of the local media criticism they received for their somewhat ham-handed involvement in the public display area controversy at the Mesa County Public Library. I'm not sure about this parolee thing, but because I belong to the ACLU I received several e-mails about an Action Alert by the ACLU of Colorado, pertaining to supporting the parolee voting amendment that was eventually attached to SB 83.

With all of the local media and blogger activity regarding the parolee voting amendment, and a local legislator spearheading the opposition effort, you'd think that the Sentinel and local bloggers would see this as another opportunity to skewer the ACLU over their support for and lobbying attempts on behalf of the parolee voting amendment. This hasn't been the case, though. I wonder why.

Criticism of the ACLU's motives and actions in these two local examples is not entirely without merit, although there are two valid schools of thought hard at work here. It seems that the ACLU has a hard time establishing itself on the Western Slope because it picks the wrong battles, or attempts to interject itself into places where it isn't welcome. They were interested in getting involved in the Bass Lake sign controversy from last year, but the residents involved apparently weren't interested. That case, combined with the City Hall Ten Commandments issue from 2001, show that partnerships and creative thinking can sometimes trump litigation, or the threat thereof.

I still would love one of those Bass Lake bumper stickers. I can see many of them creatively placed on the next batch of election signs bearing Janet Rowland's name.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Sick Rose

O rose, thou art sick!
The invisible worm
That flies in the night,
In the howling storm,

Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy,
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.

My wife Jan is currently hospitalized at St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Junction. She is in the 4 Center Medical / Surgical wing after suffering what has been described so far as a moderate stroke.

This past Wednesday Jan was visited by a home health nurse, who when listening to Jan's lung sounds noticed they were very diminished on her right side, where her tumors are. She felt strongly enough about the situation to schedule a chest x-ray and appointment with Jan's medical oncologist, Dr. Donna McFadden, at the Advanced Medicine Pavilion at St. Mary's. This x-ray along with an ultrasound showed an almost complete collapse of Jan's right lung due to fluid buildup in the posterior chest wall (pleural effusion). It was decided to schedule Jan for a needle thoracentesis on Friday to drain some of this fluid off. She was also in need of another blood transfusion due to anemia.

Both of these occurred on Friday. The tap of her chest produced a little over a liter of fluid. Additional chest x-rays and a CT Scan were required to attempt to verify that there was no additional fluid. Jan was tired and sore when I brought her home, and had difficulty climbing the small stairs to our front door.

On Saturday Jan was moving with a little more ease, walking with a bit more energy than in previous days. Later that evening I heard her moaning. I asked her what was wrong; she did not answer. I went to her and saw that she had raised her left hand in a strange way, was looking at me with a look of bewilderment, and her right arm was hanging off of the bed. I tried to ask her what my name was, what day it was, and then called 9-1-1.

After being evaluated in the ER, Jan was admitted to St. Mary's early Sunday morning after a CT scan showed an ischemic stroke on the left side of her brain that affected her speech and her entire right side. I left the hospital at about 4:00 AM with Jan settled in to sleep the remainder of what was a very hectic night for all of us.

Sunday morning Jan had an MRI which showed additional brain metastases not seen on previous scans. There is no indication as to the cause of her stroke, which is a blockage as opposed to bleeding in her brain. Jan remained asleep for the entire day, opening her eyes only briefly in response to touching or being moved.

We were visited by a neurologist, Dr. Joel Dean, who said that typically in people Jan's age who have a stroke, the first 3 to 7 days are crucial, and where slow restoration of some functions may occur as the brain will sometimes route these functions to another non-damaged area. Along with watching for these improvements, Jan's ability to swallow will be tested to assure that if/when she does become more alert she can ingest food and liquids without an increased risk of aspiration.

I will be meeting with representatives of Hospice and Palliative Care of Western Colorado to begin planning the next phase of Jan's treatment course.

Our son Evan has been holding his own through these last couple of days. He seems to find some stability in his regular activities and friends, but is also willing to talk things out and ask questions. I am trying to make sure he has something positive and active to do each day of this spring break, and many friends have agreed to try to help with this.

Early this morning I put on one of Jan's favorite movies and began writing this, perhaps in an attempt to hold on to something of a loving, gentle, independent spirit that I was blessed to cross paths with, and who is now approaching the end of a very brave and valiant struggle.

I won't be posting much of anything except updates to Jan's
Yahoo Group for immediate family and friends. Thanks in advance for any thoughts and prayers you may be able to muster our way.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Random Directions

It's been a couple of weeks since my last post, and since I haven't had time to think about something long and drawn out (much to the relief of some, I'm sure), I thought about a few things that I'll spend a little bit of time on.

Ralph D'Andrea hit the nail on the head with his post today about the expansion of Daylight Saving Time and its' effect on various devices that up to now automatically changed the time. Some are going as far as calling it a "mini-Y2K", and while I don't think it the angst that accompanied that day will be duplicated, it will be annoying for many. Both of my machines run Windows XP, so the automatic updates should kick in. I think they've got a handle on it at work, but my guess is we'll be double checking all of the system times, and the GPS-based master clock that updates all of them. Should make for an interesting weekend.


This was the first year that I managed to see a majority of the films nominated for the Best Picture Oscar, and for me both the show and the honor are becoming something of an anachronism. Sure it's valuable to those involved in the industry, but the Internet has empowered the average citizen with the ability to research, obtain, and develop opinions on films that are somewhat to significantly out of the mainstream. What's coming on DVD in the next couple of weeks will be enough to fill more than a few more weekends worth of video time. If you get a chance, check out Fast Food Nation, Children of Men, Casino Royale, the first season of Hawaii Five-O (Contains the first known reference to public safety interoperability, "Patch me through to McGarrett"), and for more adult fare, Shortbus and Borat.

I personally thought that Babel was the best movie out of the nominated ones I had seen, although Letters from Iwo Jima (the only one I missed) looked extremely interesting. I would have liked The Departed better had it not incorporated the annoying trend of so many movies today, using the wireless phone as a device to advance the plot. Since the movie is based on another movie made in Hong Kong that I haven't seen, maybe that's the way it was originally written. Babel even had some of this going on, but seemed to do it right, as an illustration of the role of these devices in everyday life, and especially how they empower the differently abled. The deaf girl who gets video email from her friends in sign language, for example.

We watched Man of the Year a couple of nights ago, which is basically a movie written around the debate over paperless electronic voting and the comedy of Robin Williams. As a result, lots of cell phone use. Barry Levinson needs to go back to Baltimore for material; as the grandchild of immigrants, Avalon struck a chord with me, and along with Rain Man represents his best work. He is also largely responsible for the TV drama Homicide: Life on the Street, which sticks out for me as one of the best cop shows ever done.

There are two other films not coming out on video very soon that are definitely worth checking out in the theaters. These are The Painted Veil and Little Children, which is currently at the Avalon Theatre along with The Last King of Scotland. Hopefully time to check these out later this week. Maybe a birthday present before work. I turn 47 on Wednesday. Maybe I'll have more to say about that later, maybe not.


Canyon View Vineyard Church has had an excellent sermon series the last two weeks dealing with the topic of relationships. Youth Pastor Jake Wilkinson did an excellent job conveying ideas for "Rediscovering Romance" two weeks ago, and Senior Pastor Dan Cox followed up this past weekend with several points addressing the issues of the differences between us. He gave five considerations regarding these differences that are critical to maintaining relationships and not isolating ourselves from each other. I have linked the related scripture. These are:

1. Realize that we are uniquely created.

2. Listen to people who come from another point of view.

3. Communicate with an appropriate attitude when there are differences.

4. Focus on reconciliation and not resolving every issue.

5. Remember that relationships are eternal.

Hopefully the audio and notes from these sermons will be available on the sermons page of the Vineyard website soon. I'll have to see if there is anything I can do to help them update it.


The work on Seventh Street in Downtown GJ is in progress, and while it's a temporary inconvenience for me, I'm working around it. I hope to start riding my bicycle to work again when I change to day shift in April, so the available routes to work will increase. In the meantime, the amount of vitriol and venom expressed over the current project has been considerable, and not all entirely inappropriate.

Most of the complaints center around roundabouts, which to me are not a big deal so long as they are designed correctly. If you want examples, check out 24 Road at I-70 or 24 1/2 and G Roads for a good design, and 12th and Horizon for not so good.

I believe that the focus on roundabouts is misdirected in comparison to the underlying purpose of the entire project, of which the two main proponents are the Grand Junction Downtown Partnership and those who own property in the Seventh Street Historic District. The first group wants the Downtown area to continue to develop as a magnet for cultural, trendy commercial, and upscale residential development, or gentrification for short. The pros and cons of that are a lengthy and diverse list, better saved for another time.

The second group wants Seventh Street to be as unattractive a north-south traffic artery as possible, so as to reduce or maintain traffic levels through their neighborhood. It will also be interesting to see how the project affects speed limits all the way to North Avenue. Even though no construction will take place north of the Grand Avenue intersection, I wouldn't be surprised at an attempt by the gentry along that corridor to further attempt to calm and reduce traffic levels through the "historic district".

I am fighting sarcasm here, but even though the completed Riverside Parkway will also reduce traffic through Downtown, anyone who needs to travel to and/or through the Downtown area will likely turn their attention to Fourth Street and Fifth Street to accomplish that end. These one-way international dragways will likely see the bulk of increases in traffic in and out of the Downtown, as well as traffic to the High School and St. Mary's Hospital. This is largely by design save for the drag strip component, and because I live between the two it can be annoying at times. Because I choose to live here and my house has no seeming "historic significance", it's on me to live with it. We'll see how this plays down the road.

Speaking of St. Mary's, the part of Seventh that goes through their campus could be the next future battleground over traffic through the area. The hospital's Century Project is slated to drastically alter the complexion of the hospital campus and surrounding area over the next several years, and the safety of pedestrians, including employees, has become an issue there.

It became so much of an issue, specifically regarding the intersection of Seventh and Wellington, that St. Mary's CEO Robert Ladenburger addressed this in one of his periodic "Letters from Ladenburger" that are posted for hospital employees, and that I happened upon last month while Jan was in the ER. In short, he stated that pedestrian safety was of paramount concern to the hospital and it's administration, but that a pedestrian bridge over Seventh Street was cost-prohibitive.

To its' credit, St. Mary's has initiated a public awareness campaign on pedestrian safety, but this is too little and has the potential to be too late. As the hospital continues to formulate its' vision for facilities and capabilities for the foreseeable future, now is the time to integrate a comprehensive solution for getting foot traffic safely over Seventh Street into the existing new construction, as well as the future components of the Century Project.

Plan for, design, and build the bridge now, so that perhaps future growth across major city thoroughfares can follow the forethought and prescience of an effort of this type. Are you listening, Mesa State? There's a good use for a cool million that you might have lying around.


On a concluding note, kudos to the Daily Sentinel and reporter Ann Winterholter for the excellent article on controlled burning in the Grand Valley that appeared in Sunday's paper.
As I write this, the scanner is chattering with traffic about at least two controlled burns that have gotten away from those managing them. Ah, the first sign of Spring in the Grand Valley.
Perhaps I should be thankful; It used to be Speedo Man on roller skates.

Have a great week.