Thursday, February 28, 2008

Yoi and Double Yoi

I am now convinced that God has a great sense of humor, after He welcomed Myron Cope and William F. Buckley Jr. into His kingdom on the same day. Some would say that Buckley, true to form, headed in the other direction, but that's a discussion for another time.

It's seemingly unbelievable that two men who seemed so different, and died on the same day, had so much in common. Both made their mark in the world as writers before becoming famous in radio and television.

Both were seen as icons in their chosen areas of expertise. Both received praise for creating a singular icon of a major social movement; Buckley the National Review, Cope the Terrible Towel.

Both men were so unique in their manner of speech and vocabulary that they were instantly recognizable on radio or TV. The videos below illustrate this well.

Growing up in Pittsburgh gives me a little bit of a cultural bias toward beloved broadcasters like Cope, the late Bob Prince, and Mike Lange, who after 34 years is still calling Penguins games.

In my imagination I'm seeing Myron Cope as the first guest on an Almighty-sponsored edition of Firing Line. It might not last long...
Buckley: "It's symptomatic of a sociological archetype that undermines the fabric of esoteric intellectual criticism all around the world.."

Cope: Mm-Hah, what is zat ya dumkopf, Yoi and Double Yoi! Go Big Ben!
The differences were stark, the men unique, so much so that they will likely remain in our memories long after their passing yesterday.

Agree with them or not, love 'em or hate 'em, we will certainly miss 'em. Here's a blast from the past:





Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Greetings from HP Land..

..and I don't mean Hewlett-Packard.

I've lived within a golf shot of Hawthorne Park for the last 9 years. In that time we've had our bikes stolen once (we recovered them both), we put up with the noise and human intrusions of living near a nuisance bar, and there is one small spot of green spray paint on the alley side of my fence.

I do not believe that any of this is the work of a gang.

They busted a meth lab inside an RV parked at what was a rental house across the alley from me a few years back. Someone bought that house and is now the owner-occupant. Problem solved.

Like I've said before, I like living Downtown.

The Sentinel article that clarified the misuse of the moniker 'HP' by those who had nothing but chaos on their minds was a pretty good idea, I thought. It certainly generated a firestorm of discussion in the form of comments on the paper's website, some negative, some positive, and some incomprehensible.

The original members of HP claim to be long-standing neighbors and friends, as well as recording artists. I think it's very plausible that the moniker got hijacked by those who are bent more on wanton destruction fueled by boredom, combined with some ill-advised and almost comical posturing.

That's not saying that the 'real' HP guys are ready to be invited into your home and introduced to your teenage daughter; some of the music put forth by these guys illustrates that point quite well. There's definitely some creativity going on there, but a good portion of hip-hop and the culture that fuels it is lost on me. I was tapping along to the beat but largely tuned out the lyrics. I think I'll stick with the old standards, like LL Cool J and Busta Rhymes.

Reading the comments to the Sentinel's article felt like being in the crossfire of an entrenched firefight in the culture wars. Some people don't understand, and that lack of understanding creates fear. Some are repulsed by the posturing and foul language.

One of the commenters invoked the motivational writer and speaker Wayne Dyer when he quoted him as saying "
Judgment prevents us from seeing the good that lies beyond appearances". I can identify with that, but I feel there is a more appropriate quote from Mr. Dyer that fits these boys, their story, the reaction of some in our community, and how all of us view our respective pockets of existence:
Loving people live in a loving world. Hostile people live in a hostile world. Same world.
And one final citation:
"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"
Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself." All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

Matthew 22:36-40

Have a safe and pleasant week ahead.


Monday, February 25, 2008

Hope in the Dark

I enjoy watching the Oscars every year, not as much for who is going to win, but more for the production values, interesting history, and spontaneous behavior of the participants.

This year's edition had been labeled by the media as a somewhat under-anticipated affair, given that a lot of the nominated films were considered "dark" and had not enjoyed mainstream success. I got to see three of them, and of the ones I saw the best one took the prize.

No Country For Old Men ranks up there with Reservoir Dogs as one of those films where it felt like you were seeing the conjured manifestation of evil right up there on the screen. Combine this with a very unconventional ending (at least in comparison to the stereotypical good guy/bad guy film), and you had something that really stuck to you after you left the theater. Even as good as I know this movie is, I was still rooting for Juno.

One thing that struck me last night that Reuters picked up on this morning was the fact that all of the acting award winners were foreigners, two from the UK, one from France, and one from Spain. This is the first time in 44 years that this has happened. The media types were all atwitter over Marion Cotillard, who channeled Edith Piaf so memorably.

Even though Michael Moore didn't win for Sicko, he made his point early on. After the furor over his acceptance speech after winning for Bowling for Columbine in 2003, he said last week something to the effect of "what got me booed off the stage five years ago is today the subject of three of the five nominated documentaries". Earthly vindication (if that's what you're into) doesn't come in a sound bite; sometimes it takes a very long time.

My favorite moments of the show surrounded the Best Original Song winner, from the low-budget independent film Once, which will be on my next-to-rent list. The classiest moment from the Oscar Show was after the commercial break, when Jon Stewart had Marketa Irglova come out and finish her acceptance speech, which had been interrupted by the orchestra wanting to speed the winners along. Nicely done and well deserved.

Theirs was a beautiful performance of a touching song of hope and love. Something to remember and gather solace from, in my estimation, so much so that I found the video and lyric and felt it necessary to share.


I don't know you
But I want you
All the more for that
Words fall through me
And always fool me
And I can't react

And games that never amount
To more than they're meant
Will play themselves out

Take this sinking boat and point it home
We've still got time
Raise your hopeful voice you have a choice
You've made it now

Falling slowly, eyes that know me
And I can't go back
Moods that take me and erase me
And I'm painted black

You have suffered enough
And warred with yourself
It's time that you won

Take this sinking boat and point it home
We've still got time
Raise your hopeful voice you had a choice
You've made it now

Take this sinking boat and point it home
We've still got time
Raise your hopeful voice you had a choice
You've made it now

Falling slowly sing your melody
I'll sing along


I hope that everyone has as good a week as you can. In keeping with a theme of memorable movie moments, and as a reminder to myself and others, I found one of my favorites. Enjoy.
video

Sunday, February 24, 2008

An Up and Down Week

I normally don't get too pessimistic after a work week has concluded. I generally try to calmly understand that a lot of what impacts my life is really outside my ability to control, even if I have contributed to some of it.

Nonetheless, this week has been tough. All of this is not that big a deal to me, as I know that I am alive, reasonably healthy, and loved. I know that I need to be strong for my boy and for myself, with compassion and caring for others who are close to me. Still, there's been some tough stuff among a few nuggets of good this week:


*************

Michaela is back home, after surgery to explore the tumor in her chest resulted in the removal of the tumor. Pathology reports show it to be another neuroblastoma. It's likely that chemotherapy will start in the next couple of weeks.

Leslie is holding up well, but there are financial pressures that are beginning to take their toll. She had a contract to begin a job at an existing veterinary practice, but that is all on hold until Michaela is through chemo, which will likely inhibit her ability to attend school regularly, or attend a day care center.

I'm helping out in whatever way I can, save for being there, which I feel would likely be the best thing I could do. I have my own child who has seen more than his share of bad times, and being there for him is just as important, if not more so. I appreciate those who have read about this in the past and have offered support and prayer for all concerned. I will update Michaela's story as I can.

*************

Work is tough. It's a tough job to begin with, but as someone very wise once said, if you love what you do it's not really work. Jan's illness and passing have helped to show me that there is more to life than I would otherwise let myself see.

Lately I've felt inadequate to the tasks at hand, and my work has suffered as a result. In recognizing this I've tried to find something a little less stressful, and without the shift work component. No luck so far, but I remain optimistic that something that meets these criteria and still presents a challenge (and, of course, pays the bills) will come my way. When that day comes, it will be bittersweet.

*************

Many local bloggers took time to comment on the most recent criminal lapse in judgment by an employee of School District 51. It's an unfortunate situation for all involved, particularly with the amount of media attention these incidents receive.

To be sure, this is a clear case of an alleged abuse of the public trust and of the relationship between teacher and student. While a measure of media coverage is certainly warranted, I would caution the local media about the dangers of over-exposure or over-commitment of resources. There is a line between informing the public and sensationalism, and that demarcation is being encroached upon ever more closely with each occurrence.

One commenter on the above story stated that this is a much more commonplace occurrence than you would think, and offered some evidence to that effect. It's indeed a shame, but perhaps future media coverage could focus on the reasons, and perhaps give parents some tools to help stay involved in what their child is doing, and recognize the signs of potential trouble. So far the reporting has been fair and informative, with the Free Press going so far as to let the Sheriff's Office arrest affidavit tell most of the story.

I continue to have difficulty understanding the district's public "information" strategy, which was eloquently summarized by Gene Kinsey as;
The fact is, there is no downside for stonewalling. What can happen? Will any supervisor get fired? Will voters remember or care come election time? Will people take their money and their business elsewhere? (Whoops - that's not an option.)
For me, the stonewalling is getting old, and I don't forget. I've attended church with both the Superintendent and Public Information Officer, and they are both honorable men with their hearts in the right place. That being said, the lack of candor and comprehensiveness in the district's public information releases continues to be a matter of concern.

As a GJHS parent, I'm still waiting for a more detailed accounting of the circumstances surrounding the valve failure and subsequent flood that closed the school for two weeks last Thanksgiving, and what corrective measures have been taken to make sure that any future failures of a similar nature will not go undetected for such a lengthy time period. The technology to support that has been in the marketplace for a long time.

Let's hope that the spirit of openness and effective dialogue become more prevalent in our school administration.

*************

My economic stimulus check, if/when it shows up, will go to help pay for the plumber who will be installing a sump pump and some new piping in my basement next week. This will hopefully resolve the backups when I run my washer or drain one of the bathtubs. This is part of the challenge of living in an old house, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I might have to deal with (ugh) covenants. I like living Downtown.

*************

Speaking of Downtown, there were some good things about this week too. I participated in one of the two workshops held jointly by the city and the DDA to try and secure community input about what kinds of land uses would be appropriate for the Downtown of the future, and where those uses should be placed or concentrated.

The exercise was interesting and informative, and the planners involved seemed genuinely interested in what citizens had to say about what kind of development should occur, and where it is most appropriate to happen. I'll have more about this later.

*************

Last but certainly not least, it seems that Powderhorn now has cell phone service to most of the mountain and resort buildings. It's about time.


*************

I'll start the coming week with church, and with continued prayers for patience, healing, perseverance, and love. God willing it will be a bit better for all concerned.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Burgeoning Community

I've been spending a little bit of time roaming around the new Community Page on the Sentinel's website. It's a site within the site that is initially serving as a clearinghouse for opinion. I think it has a lot more potential than that. It's another example of the power of Internet Media being made available to the Grand Junction area that will add value to both the individuals and communities that make use of it, and to the Sentinel for hosting it.

I hope that the Community site will eventually morph into a sort of YourHub for the Western Slope. I can imagine eventually a forum or category for individual towns and areas (sort of like a "YourHub Orchard Mesa", for example), with places for stories, comments, blogs, pictures, and more within that town or neighborhood's page.

This has tremendous potential to more deeply specialize the Sentinel's coverage of a particular area, and this could eventually extend into print, much as the Post and Rocky do with YourHub editions inserted into home delivered
papers every Thursday.

I hope this site catches on, and heads in that direction. Congrats to Todd Powell and the rest of the web wizards at GJSentinel.com for getting this off of the drawing table and into practical use.

Monday, February 18, 2008

More from Tony Benn

I picked up the DVD of Michael Moore's Sicko last week. There are over 80 minutes of additional material on the DVD, including about 15 minutes of additional interview footage with British politician Tony Benn. I linked to Mr. Benn's contribution to the film in a previous post.

I found an excerpt of about 5 minutes of this interview where Mr. Benn is introduced, and talks about representation and voting.

video

Now it's pretty obvious to me that a good portion of Mr. Benn's assertions will not play well in this country, but I believe that they are interesting nonetheless.

Given the issues with administering elections in Colorado and elsewhere, one wonders what would happen if people were "queueing for miles" to vote in an American election. What a concept.

Happy President's Day.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Remembering, Not Regressing

Today was a wistful Valentine's Day; I found myself at work this morning reading Jan's obituary in the Pittsburgh paper from last April, and most of the day passed by uneventfully while I waited to hear from Leslie about Michaela.

Late this afternoon, Leslie called to say that Michaela's surgery went well; they removed as much of the tumor as they could. Pathology reports are still pending. She is hurting but otherwise in good spirits.

Talking with Leslie the night before Michaela went into the hospital, I was reminded of how much work went into coordinating multiple specialties of doctors from the time of Jan's diagnosis until she came home for the last time.

We were in Pittsburgh when Jan was admitted to the hospital; I went to Staples and bought a lime green binder (she was fond of green) and two graph paper notebooks. I am a compulsive note-taker and doodler, and these notebooks quickly filled up with notes from every visit from a physician or social worker. This progressed to every doctor's appointment, chemotherapy session, home health visit, et cetera.

One of the hardest things to deal with after she passed away was the realization that a lot of that work was over; being able to document Jan's illness effectively in those notebooks, and later in this blog and the Yahoo Group that chronicled her struggle, was part of my coping mechanism, and after she was gone I had nothing more to scribble down in haste, with breaks only to doodle in the margins.

Now I type instead of scribble most of the time, but there's still lots of that going on, and I struggle at times to maintain an inner sense of balance and peace in the wake of someone I care very deeply about experiencing the same thing I did not so long ago.

Leslie is a much stronger person in terms of faith and fear; she has lots of the former and displays precious little of the latter except that which she has for her God. Her children have benefited from this greatly, and I hope and pray that the youngest is healed and holds on to the love that her mother and her God bestow upon her during this ordeal.

I miss Leslie very much. I hope to see her next month. I miss Evan too; He's in Winter Park with a friend and his parents for the long weekend, so it'll be a fairly quiet time here. I'll get some Words produced, which is always fun, but there will also be the need to clean out more stuff, and maybe catch up on some paperwork if I get the chance.

Give someone you love a big hug tonight, and remember those you love who are gone, and those who are distant. May God's love and grace be with you and them, and may we all learn to cherish the time we have, and not allow fear or other earthly concerns to displace the importance of that love.

I was playing a CD I made for Leslie in my car tonight. It includes a song that I used for Words last month. It keeps popping up in my head...a lot. I found a good video of it.




Have a good night.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Another Important Day

As I write this, my girlfriend's daughter Michaela is in surgery at Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh. She is having exploratory surgery to attempt to biopsy and possibly remove the tumor that was found in her chest late last month. This operation has the potential to develop into a full open chest procedure, depending on what they find.

I spoke with Leslie this morning, and she is doing pretty well under the circumstances. Leslie is a veterinarian, and her innate understanding of the processes of medicine and science has served her well as a parent and advocate. I wish I was there to help.

Thanks to those of you who have offered prayers and words of support thus far.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

On another somewhat important note, the Grand Junction City Council and Mesa County Commissioners will be meeting this evening at a public hearing to discuss and possibly vote on expansion of the Persigo Sewer District boundary by 26 square miles to the Northwest and Southeast. This equates to expanding the urban growth boundary by 44 percent over its current size.

The meeting starts at 6:00 PM at Two Rivers Convention Center. It will hopefully be a well-attended meeting, as any decision made at the meeting will carry with it significant implications for growth and development in what is now largely agricultural or desert land.

I'm wondering out loud if the meeting will be carried on Channel 12, especially given the need for a larger venue and the potentially controversial subject matter. If not, I would certainly ask why not.

The potential decisions made tonight will have a much more significant impact on the quality of life in our valley than the decision made by City Council last week on one development application in the Redlands. Theoretically, if this addition is approved it could subject a huge portion of the Grand Valley to the same patchwork, seemingly haphazard annexation that currently exists in other areas currently in what is also known as the 201 District, under the requirements of the Persigo Agreement between the City and Mesa County.

If this is a matter of concern to you, then a ride down to Two Rivers might be in order this evening. I'll be thinking about it as I monitor my teenager's activities and await word from back east.

Have a good evening.



Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Happy 125th, Mesa County

Grand Junction Free Press Photo

Two of the three current Mesa County Commissioners, along with several former ones, graced the Commissioners' Hearing Room at 544 Rood yesterday, accompanied by the sounds of the Hallelujah Band, to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Mesa County being carved out of Gunnison County.

No mention was made in either newspaper this morning regarding the whereabouts of Steve Acquafresca. I hope he's OK. Former commishes Maxine Albers, Tillie Bishop, Kathy Hall, and Jim Spehar were reported to be among the notables in attendance.

Of particular interest was the finery sported by incumbents Janet Rowland and Craig Meis.

Imaginary sources reported the following conversation being overheard just prior to the end of the event, at about the time the above photo was taken:
Janet Rowland: "Do you know the difference between you and I, Craig? I make this look good."

Craig Meis: "Aren't we lucky that the Clerk and Recorder found these in the archives, right next to our current energy policy? Who knows, maybe the first draft of the Energy Master Plan will be in the next level down in the sub-basement."

Janet Rowland: "Speaking of energy policy, Kathy Hall invited us out to the Regal Cinema. Seems that COGA is sponsoring an afternoon presentation of their position paper on energy master planning. Kathy thought it might help us with our upcoming process."

Craig Meis: "Great! Let's head out. Afterward we can go straight up to Redlands Mesa for another session of 'Craig and Cordilleran host Conspicuously-Consuming Constituents for Cocktails'". (author's apologies for ample alliteration)

Janet Rowland: "Let's party like it's 1899!"

Danny Agajanian (to the Hallelujah Band) : "OK, guys, last one back to Main Street Bagels pays for the Chai".
Enjoy the celebration.

Monday, February 11, 2008

One Card to Rule Them All

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
- The Constitution of the United States, Tenth Amendment
Rick Wagner used this tagline last week to talk about another topic, so he deserves at least a little credit for the idea development today. The concerns expressed here bear little resemblance otherwise.

Three months from today, the first phases of the federal
Real ID Act of 2005 will kick in. Citizens of most states will not see any substantive change, as most states have requested, and been granted, extensions to implement the act's provisions. This includes Colorado.

Residents of Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Oklahoma may see their ability to access federal facilities, or facilities where access is federally controlled, i.e. airports, restricted or denied until their states have a compliance plan in place.

A total of 39 states raised questions, objections, or in the case of the "Real ID 5", have rejected the act altogether. The Governor of Montana has
displayed particular fervor regarding the issue, writing the governors of several states urging them to reject Real ID as well. I called Gov. Ritter's office today, and a staff member stated that to his knowledge the Governor has not replied to Gov. Schweitzer as yet.

There are lots of information sources, with varying perspectives and approaches, that provide answers to questions about Real ID:

The Dept. of Homeland Security information page provides the "official" answers.

There is excellent coverage from CNet News as it relates to the effect on individual states and the issues surrounding the act from many perspectives.

I'll repeat the Wikipedia link from above.

From the opposition side, the ACLU's
dedicated site to the Real ID issue is also informative.

In fact, opposition to Real ID and/or its' implementation appears to be bipartisan in nature, as well as across idealogical lines. According to Information Week:

More than 600 groups oppose the Real ID Act, which was inserted into a military spending bill two years ago. They include the National Governors Association, the American Bar Association, the American Conservative Union, the Council of State Governments, Gun Owners of America, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Even certain evangelical groups have weighed in on this, some equating Real ID with the "mark of the beast" as depicted in the "End of Days" section of the Book of Revelation.

Finally, when The American Spectator is on the same page as the ACLU about an issue, and fans of Sean Hannity are weighing in on the same side as well, then something is definitely out of joint.

From this corner it appears that the Real ID initiative is an attempt at federal intrusion into areas that are outside its' constitutional purview. The act intrudes excessively on civil liberties and individual privacy, will be overly costly to implement, and even costlier to administer. It is a largely unfunded mandate, and as such the administration feels it necessary to resort to coercion to get it implemented before 1/20/09.

It is an unwelcome attempt by a lame-duck administration to foist its' will on a nation that appears to have long rejected continued attempts by this same administration to move us ever closer toward a surveillance society.

One wonders why the Bush administration would attempt to force the issue on a law so unpopular so late in the administration's lifetime. If John McCain becomes the Republican nominee, his support for Real ID, if elected, would seemingly guarantee the continued implementation of the act.

Other presidential candidates appear to have either reversed their voting stance, have reaffirmed it, or have stated their opposition from the start. With this hasty and heavy-handed action, what's this Republican administration saying about their ability to hold the White House?

I'm hopeful that there are more governors and legislatures that will show the courage to stand up to this, as well as advocacy groups who can help to muster the grassroots support needed to put this not-so-sacred cow out to pasture.

Looking forward to hearing back from Gov. Ritter on the issue. Maybe he'll hear from you too.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Watershed Week in Review

Last week was certainly an interesting week, but (as one would expect?) not in the way we expected.

I found an excellent chronicle of it in an AP article that the Sentinel even picked up part of today.

Even with the local developments, it was a week that may go on to shape the nation and the world in ways we have yet to see or even think about. Click on the link above, and reflect on those things that happened. Astonishing.

May your week be safe, happy, fruitful, and blessed.


Friday, February 08, 2008

Compassion and Justice

John 8:1-11

But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"

"No one, sir," she said.
"Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."

Working within the Criminal Justice System, or even being involved in an adjunct profession that interacts with the system, can't be an easy job. Having worked in public safety for the last 24 1/2 years, I can attest to the difficulties involved in dispatching, responding to and mitigating all kinds of problems and immediate threats. My experience has shown me that the best solutions are those that address the fundamental cause of the problem. These solutions are sometimes difficult or impossible to come by, for all manner of reasons, and that includes the lack of institutional or political will, or cooperation to achieve consensus between stakeholders.

Two stories in the local papers this morning greatly illustrate to me a need for balance, creative thinking, and compassion with some people who have been branded with what is turning out to be the 21st century's version of The Scarlet Letter; "Offender".

The first involves a woman who admittedly did a terrible thing; after the apparent exercise of some measure of grace and mercy by certain components of the justice system, she additionally had her sentence suspended, reportedly because of the effects of Huntington's Disease.

She apparently violated her probation last month by assaulting someone in the nursing home she had been living in, and by being evicted from this facility and not reporting her change of address. According to the Sentinel article, she was arrested in Boulder, transported back to Grand Junction, and jailed. Her failure to comply with the terms of her probation apparently justified the issuance of a warrant, her transport across the state, and incarceration, all at taxpayer expense.

To be sure, she brought this upon herself, even after a considerable amount of grace from the judicial system to keep her out of jail. Her disease process may be getting the best of her, for all we know or should know. The concern here is not with the justice system as much as the media.

How was the public interest served by today's story?

Are we any safer from the knowledge that this woman continues to suffer at the hands of her own heredity, as well as her own choices? Is that knowledge, and subsequent public scrutiny, perhaps being exploited to bring attention to the taxpayer dollars being spent to transport her from the Front Range and incarcerate her? Or at an even more basic level, is the last sentence in the article the most important one? This could be one of those rare news stories where the lead appears at the end:
Buescher is not related to state Rep. Bernie Buescher, D-Grand Junction.
Perhaps Mike Wiggins and his editors would like to expand on why they felt it was necessary to parade this unfortunate soul in front of the community again. Looking forward to reading more about this, but preferably not in the newspaper.

There's one other unfortunate soul with whom I'm much more familiar with, and whose misdeeds have been chronicled by several local media outlets, most recently in today's Free Press. I've spoken with this gentleman on numerous occasions in the course of my work. He is clearly frustrated by the circumstances of his life, many of which can be sourced to the destructive forces of aging and/or poor lifestyle choices. Several times he's chosen to call my work and vent some of his frustrations. That's inappropriate and can be illegal (as he is finding out..repeatedly), but he doesn't seem capable of learning this lesson anymore, if he ever did.

As the story reported, myself and several of my colleagues have been listed as victims and/or witnesses in the various criminal proceedings against this person. I recently completed and returned a Victim Impact Statement to the District Attorney's office, with roughly the following included:
This gentleman's problems would be more appropriately addressed by the Human Services infrastructure of government, instead of the Criminal Justice system. The court would best serve the needs of society and the defendant by assuring that this occurs.
I would hope that Judge Flynn makes sure that the Adult Protective Services division of the county Department of Human Services is directly involved in the gentleman's placement in a living arrangement that addresses his basic needs, and assures that his communication with the outside world is appropriate to those needs.

These people are God's children as well. While those of us involved in these systems of man are scurrying about to make sure that earthly justice is served, we as a society need to make sure that in the larger scheme of things, we are emulating something much more basic to our survival as a civilization.

Addendum 1/9/08 1245: In the interest of fairness, Paul Shockley and his editors at the Free Press are equally culpable here, if not more so because their story was on Page 1 above the fold and continued into the inside pages. I didn't see the paper until Saturday morning; this is a side effect of printing the paper out of town, I guess. I should have looked online, though.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Watershed Week 2008

Watershed Week is a term used in Michael Crichton's 1972 novel The Terminal Man, which I read in one sitting shortly after it came out. The "Watershed" described in the book is a week in 1969 when the theoretical storage and processing capacity of all of the world's computers exceeded the same theoretical capacity of all human brains. This from a work of fiction that has been praised as prophetic in its' depiction of the role of computers in our lives, and particularly in medicine.

I'm unable to find a citation online regarding this other than the novel itself, but there is a definition that fits its' usage in the novel, and the context with which I refer to this week:
An event marking a unique or important historical change of course or one on which important developments depend.
This week's potential events have been preceded by both local and national events that provide an interesting prelude. The Super Bowl was certainly a testament to the adage "that's why they play the games". The Giants played dominant defense, and as a Pittsburgh native I fully understand and agree with another adage, that being "defense wins championships". Those who make a living from analyzing these kind of events ad nauseum were having a field day today.

On the local end, the extensive coverage provided by the Sentinel in their Sunday edition regarding the effects of growth also served as a prelude to a critical meeting of City Council this evening. I get the feeling that the information, assertions, and decisions made tonight will play a large role in what the Grand Valley will look like in the years to come, not in terms of any actual law or code, but how much our elected leaders really listen to the citizens that make up their constituency, and even more how those elected officials work together with each other to make sure that we as one county can sustain a community we can all be proud of. If I can get a glimpse at Channel 12 tonight, I will. It should make for riveting television.

On the national side of things, tomorrow is Super Tuesday, and those who make a living analyzing these things ad nauseum are working overtime trying to predict outcomes and get the pulse of the electorate in advance of the primaries and caucuses that may largely establish who will be running for President from here on into November.

I personally don't have an expert take on what might happen, and as you can probably tell I don't place a great deal of stock in professional analysis and prognostication, whether it be ESPN or the Gallup Poll. I stayed an unaffiliated voter, so I'm not participating in the caucuses here tomorrow. Some may say that is irresponsible of me, but I don't feel that way. I'll take the time to get behind a candidate once I get a handle on what they are standing for, but I'm much more interested in what the legislative branch is doing.

Invariably, my perspective on all of this is largely shaped by how much of my life is influenced by God's presence. I fear that it isn't enough. Kirk Yamaguchi at Canyon View Vineyard Church brought that point home this past weekend with an excellent sermon that referenced several key points in scripture, one of which is highly pertinent to me as I mull over the events in what could be a watershed week for our region and our country.
Mark 4:18-19

Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.
Enjoy the rest of your week.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Prayers for Michaela

I was trying to finish a post this morning about Groundhog Day, but I ran out of time. Thankfully, Gene Kinsey took care of what I wanted to say anyway. This is a good thing because life has taken my focus in another direction that is a good deal more urgent and potentially serious than some party in Punxsutawney.

I was out with Evan at the mall today when Leslie called me from Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh. She had taken her 6 year old daughter Michaela there this morning. Michaela is a cancer survivor; she had a neuroblastoma removed from the area of her stomach and liver, and since the beginning of 2006 has endured chemotherapy, radiation, and a stem cell transplant, along with the usual blood work, scans, and trips to the hospital. Along with Leslie and her older sister Gianna, Michaela got to visit here last August, and in November she got to go to Las Vegas to see the PBR World Finals, which was her wish through the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

This morning Leslie called me and said that Michaela had been having increasing pain in her chest, so she took her to Children's. X-Rays and CT Scans showed a new mass in the area of her mediastinum, and enlarged lymph nodes in her abdomen, near her liver. Leslie brought her home tonight, with a planned return to the hospital on Monday for a likely biopsy and additional evaluation.

I'm not sure what else to say right now, except that I feel very much like I did when Jan's cancer started to progress again after nine months of holding it at bay, and when she had her stroke last March. I'm quietly hopeful for strength and healing, but also respectful of God's plan for this lovely little girl and her family.

I'll go to church tomorrow morning and ask for these these things, while reminding myself that acceptance of God's will is part of the path. Right now I'm going to bed. I'm very tired. Below I have included a somewhat familiar verse that feels appropriate.

Please keep Michaela in your prayers as well. Thanks.

Isaiah 40:28-31 (New International Version)

28 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.

29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.

30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;

31 but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.