Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Picture a Day Voting!

Oh Yeah!

There are pictures to see and vote on over at the Picture a Day Challenge! Head on over and choose your favorites. We had a good turnout of voters last month, but I would love even more.

Choose your favorite five and let your voice be heard! There are some really good shots over there.


More Later

End of the Month

Where on earth did September go? Here it is, the end of the month, and the days seemed to slip by so very quickly.

The leaves are turning from green to yellow and gold and orange and red. Beautiful and a little meloncholy.

Not much to say tonight. Enjoy the fall.

More Later

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Rendezvous

The Wife had to work today, but the kiddos and I headed out to meet Mom and Dad and my sisters family for a little Rendezvous fun!

It was pretty neat seeing all of the period costumes and gear, and walking around to look at all the trader stuff. A good time was had by all, and we even ran into my Aunt and Uncle and one of their sons and daughter-in-law. It was very good to see them again!

The Boyo was enchanted by all of the neat stuff available, and (much like his father) had a hard time deciding on just a few things to take home to show Mommy.

The Boyo brought home a frog necklace from his Grammy, and a genuine white rabbit skin. (It was either that or a toy bow and arrow, and The Wife and I are against weapons for the four year old!)

I brought home a neat blue bottle with old fashioned root beer in it. I looked at knives, tomahawks, other blacksmithed things, and a great many other things. But I kept thinking that once I start blacksmithing again, I can make most of what I wanted.

Turns out, I probably would have thrived back in the 1800's. Ah well. We still had a good time.

More Later

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Typical Post Three Night Entry

As usual after a three night shift, I spent most of yesterday asleep. I woke up to spend a few hours with The Wife and kiddos, which was wonderful, and even planned to stay awake with Sweet Pea so The Wife could get some sleep. That didn't work so well. I remember sitting on the couch with the Pea, snuggling up. I remember handing her over to The Wife and headinng down the hallway for the bed. Then I remember The Wife waking me up to drive her to work this morning. Uff da.

But the day has been delightful so far, playing with trains and stuff with the Boyo, watching Sweet Pea dance in her little jumperoo contraption. Later I'm going to take some pictures for my business site and watch last nights debates, which I missed entirely. Did McCain show up? Guess I'll find out!

More Later

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Catch Up

Third night shift in a row. I'm a bit weary in the muscles but they are loosening up nicely. I've been playing catch up on the Picture a Day Challenge blog too, and there are many new photos there to see.

I am pretty exhausted tonight, so this will be short.

Have a nice day.

How's that!

More Later

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Tonight our hospital grounds were visited by a little black and white critter. While he remained in the shadows and was not actually spotted by anyone, we were all made aware of it's presence in the olfactory department.

It started in the ambulance garage after a run, while restocking the rig. The odor got so foul that we were forced inside. Soon the little bugger had found the air intake for our ED, and the entire area began to have the pungent smell of skunk.

We work in an emergency department, so we smell some pretty funky stuff anyway. But skunky still has most of the human stinks beat in my opinion.

More Later

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Contractor Visits

The aches continue, almost unchecked. HUGE buildup of lactic acids from overuse of my muscles. Takes the phrase "Feel the Burn" to a whole new and uncomfortable level!

We had a contractor by today. I was on my way to work, so the Wife showed him the yard. He did say that it wasn't bad for a DIY'er, but pointed out a few errors in my grand design. He also said that he's seen worse, so that pacifies me a great deal. He did mention that they would probably tear out what we'd already built, liability and all that. Ah well. It is disappointing, but not unexpected.

Don't know what the estimate yet will be, but I am getting a little giddy at having someone else do the work. Sad that it will cost more than if I were able to do it. But I think it is important to know one's limits. I dove in over my head on this one, and if not for the stones being so stinking huge, I think I might have done OK. But it was not meant to be.

The Wife said he was a very pleasant and knowledgeable fellow, which is good. So I think if we get a decent estimate in and get some references and such, I'd be OK with them. I did check them out through the Better Business Bureau too, just to be on the safe side, and they passed with flying colors.

The Wife said at one point as she was rehydrating me with lemonade and water that she thought it would be nice for me to wake up from sleeping after a night shift and be able to say "Wow! Look how far they've come on that wall!"

I'm starting to see it more and more from her point of view. That would be lovely indeed!

More Later

Monday, September 22, 2008

Oh Me Achin' Bones

I have not had ache like this since boot camp. It brings into sharp focus the fact that after I heal up from this I need to either start exercising more regularly, or give it up all together.

I need to work on the Picture a Day Challenge too. I've been so preoccupied with the wall, that I've neglected the Internet things a lot.

The good news is I have a three night run starting tomorrow night, and hopefully I'll have time to update everything and get life back in order.

Until then,

More Later

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Day of Rest

Seems like forever since I last typed on this keyboard. Here's an update.

The Wall has kicked my rear end in a big bad way. Oh sure, the tearing out was fun and quick. I remember seeing some of those huge stones I was taking out and thinking that they must weigh a bunch, but I wasn't worried, as I am still relatively young and somewhat strong.

Oh what a fool I was! The larger stones are at least 200lbs. Not a single stone is shaped close to square, so it's like a really heavy jigsaw puzzle. I have to try two or three different stones before finding a good fit. It has not been fun. In the past two days we've managed to get this far...

and I had been naively optimistic that I could get at least one side of the wall done by the end of today. That's about ten to twelve feet of wall in the picture, along with the recessed area for firewood. Reality has set in though, and there is no way for me to continue as I have been.

The workday has started at sun-up, usually around six or seven. Meals are brought out by the Wife, as I am too grubby to enter the house. When I do come in, usually after dark, I hit the showers and wash off layers of dirt. Then nearly fall asleep in my food. When I sit still for more than five minutes I am either asleep, or my muscles tighten up to the point where I really don't want to move. The Wife has been awesome at keeping me hydrated with home made lemonade and ice water, and still I am sweating so much that I've lost about 12 pounds in the last three days.

Right now, the only part of my body that does not ache, burn or otherwise protest when I move is my nose and my right earlobe. All other parts relating in any way to bone, muscle or connective tissue have been worked until mandatory strike was called because they just can't keep going. Even my fingers are protesting the pounding I'm doing on these keys. I've managed to smush every digit on my hands except my left thumb at least once, and one time I got all four on the left hand with one shot! I'd raise a celebratory fist at that accomplishment if it didn't hurt so much to make a fist.

So tomorrow we are calling in reinforcements in the form of one of the contractors that we liked, and we're going to see what it takes to have some professionals do the rest.

To say I am frustrated by this development is an understatement. As a former Marine, I have the unfortunate mind set that one either succeeds in completing the mission, or fails the mission. It's very Yoda-esqe. "Do, or do not. There is no try." So I am feeling a bit of a failure at calling in help. But I'll get over it. Probably when the whole backyard is done and I'm sitting out back around the fire pit and enjoying time with my family.

I'm hoping for the following things.

A) It won't cost too much to have a crew in to build the wall.

B) Said crew won't giggle at my amature attempts at stone masonry.

C) The boss of said crew won't come in and say that it all needs to be torn out and redone.

We've got a yard full of building supplies; 10 tons of stone blocks, many tons of 1 1/2" clean aggregate, and a few tons left of the class 5 road that I put in as a base under the wall. The machinery goes back tomorrow and Tuesday, and we're calling the contractor tomorrow.

On the up side, I am getting quite good with the excavator. I'm comfortable enough with the controls now that I can usually pick up the big rocks in a try or two, and last night I moved the 200lb plate tamper up onto the wall by grabbing the lift point with the tines of the scoop. The Wife was impressed, as was I! I even 'high-fived' the Boyo with it, much to the Wife's chagrin.

I also learned how to run a skid loader, which is not nearly as hard as the excavator, but still fun. And I have discovered something that I have no desire to ever make a career out of, that being building walls with 2-300lb irregularly shaped stones.

I'll try to keep these positives in mind in the next few frustrating weeks.

I'm going to stop now, as my hands and arms are nearly asleep and burning a little at the effort of typing. Ibuprofen here I come!

More Later

Thursday, September 18, 2008

More Power

So the wall this morning was gone! It was just a little shocking to wake up to, even though I did it myself! Today I was going to dig the trench below ground level to put the first couple of rows in, but I realized that all the dirt I had pulled off the wall raised the back yard about three feet. I was having a very tough time figuring out where 'ground level' was!

So I decided to just move the dirt to one side of the yard. Easier though than done. I started moving it with the excavator, but I soon realized I could spend two days picking up dirt and moving it across the yard one shovel at a time. So I ran inside and made a few calls. First to the aggregate place to check on my order. Lots of little rocks coming tomorrow morning around 7am!

Next I called the rental place. They just happened to have this...

sitting in the yard. So this afternoon, I learned a new machine! It made the clearing of the dirt sooo much faster. Of course, I had a little trouble finding a place for all of that dirt, so I built a mountain in the side yard. It is quite large.

After a few trips with dirt up this monster, I made the rule forbidding me to back down the hill. Turns out that when you go quickly backwards downhill in a skid loader and stop suddenly for some reason (like you can't see where you are going) the thing has a tendency to want to roll over! I didn't roll it, but I came awfully close. So no more going backwards down the hills!

The digging out went so well, that I had time to climb back on the excavator and dig the trench for the class 5 road aggregate... did I mention that the class 5 is coming tomorrow morning! I'm so excited!

So tomorrow I'm filling in the trench, using a motorized plate tamper to pack it all in (also delivered this afternoon) and moving all of the rocks back over closer to where the wall will be with the excavator. I think I have enough skill with it now to actually sort the rocks a little and put them right where I need them.
Then I'll spend the weekend stacking blocks!

My bro is right, it is more fun than any video game!

More pictures tomorrow, I worked into the night tonight finishing the trench!

More Later

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Great Wall has Begun!

I'm getting a little behind on posting. Here's why.

Yesterday I started the Great Wall project. You remember the one. The plan was to do a third of it now, a third of it in the spring, and a third either now or in the spring. I rented an excavator and it was delivered yesterday as promised.

Driving the thing was pretty simple. That is making it go forward and turning. So I hopped on and trundled it tank like over my yard and to a short section of wall and dirt that is going to be forever gone anyway and started learning how to move the scooper bucket. Here are the simple directions provided to me by the very nice driver who delivered it. Along with the picture again, just for some clarification... There are two fighter pilot looking joysticks on either side of the seat. The left hand controls the closest to the cab forearm part of the boom, making it go up when you pull back and down when you push forward. Pushing right causes the whole contraption (from the red up, not the treads) spin to the right. Left has a similar effect in the opposite direction. The right hand controls the rest of the arm. Pulling back causes the arm to bend and pulls the bucket towards you. Pushing forward pushes it away. Left makes the bucket scoop come up, and right makes it dump. Then there's a little green handled lever on the right that raises and lowers the plow blade.

Well, I drove right up to my practice part of the wall and spent the next half hour working on the simple skill of scooping something up. I managed to smack down some weeds, put some pretty good claw marks in the dirt, and knock some rocks off the short wall. Imagine trying to juggle while doing soft shoe on a high wire, and that should give you a good sense of running an excavator. I've heard more than one contractor say that the guys who run these things for a living would be able to sweep up a stone from the wall and stack it neatly wherever I wanted. After pushing a few rocks around for a while, I would have been happy with just picking one up!

Now, the controls of this little toy are pretty sensitive too. Move them to far, too fast and the whole thing looks like an early form of the Disney anamatronics, back in the day when the arms of the Presidents would move, and then sway to and fro when they tried to stop. Now imagine riding one of those arms. It was the closest yet I got to bull riding.

After an hour I decided to go ahead and get started on the wall. I had finally managed to scoop up a rock, albeit with a copious amount of ground underneath it. So I drove my little machine across the back yard, said a brief, but rather intense prayer, and dug in.

It was slow going at first. Two hours in to the project saw about ten feet of wall torn down, with most of those stones still lying pretty much where they fell. I finally climbed down from the machine and hauled them off to the side by hand. When I climbed back on, heart pounding from moving the few huge stones, I decided that if I had it rented for the week, I might as well practice with it and save myself the heart attack.

Pretty soon though, as muscle memory started kicking in, I improved! By the time the sun went down I had turned this...

into this...

So much for the plan of thirds. The new plan is to just do the wall. Today I'll be digging out the foundation space for the new wall and hopefully getting some aggregate delivered for the project.

Work to do now though, as the sun is coming up. Back to the Wall!

More Later

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Yesterday Sleeping

Once again, as happens after a three night shift, I slept yesterday away pretty much.

The really unfortunate part is I didn't take a picture for the Picture a Day Challenge. Oh well, such is life.

I'll be spending today getting ready for the big digger to be delivered tomorrow. I've got a few more things to acquire before the actual rebuilding begins, but I can do those errands this week.

This morning I awoke at 5:30 and couldn't get back to sleep, so went out and cleared some more brush from the wall. I think it's pretty well ready to be unstacked.

Before pictures to come

More Later

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Large Hadron Collider

It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine...

So, my sister is not alone in her concerns about the LHC in Switzerland/France. There are indeed quite a few people worried that it might just end our universe.

(Maybe that's how our universe sprang into being, some other civilization made a LHC and destroyed theirs.)

I've been doing some research into it, and while there have been some concerns about black holes and such, the LHC is just a bigger version of the RHIC, or Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider. Google that yourself for more info. But essentially it has been running for seven or eight years without destroying the universe. The LHC will be doing the same thing on a larger scale. It can even do some things the LHC can't.

The thousand plus scientists who have been working on the LHC for the past twenty years are pretty confident that they aren't going to blow us up. Good enough for me. Here's a report on the black hole issues. Very technical, but essentially saying "no worries".


And if they do blow us up, well, it will all be over before we are even really aware of it. So why worry? I'm going to be more concerned about wet soil as I start to dig out my wall this week.

More Later

Addendum: 9/16/08
This post is not meant to be patronizing to anyone, as I had some concerns about the LHC myself when I first heard about it. My apologies if anyone's feelings were hurt by what I wrote. If anyone is still offended by this post, please let me know what it is that is offending and I will consider removing it. Thanks

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Growing Old

Had a few runs lately with ancient patients.

Here's an interesting thing about being a paramedic, unique in most of the medical field in fact. We are routinely invited into peoples homes.
Doctors and nurses most often see patients "at work". But we go out and pick them up with whatever malady or injury they have. Medics also are trained to pay attention to detail. The first thing on our mental checklist is scene safety, because if we get hurt, who helps the patients and us? So we take note of our surroundings, pay attention to things that a casual observer might miss. (although when PD is on scene, we may not look as closely, because they do it for us!)

Still, you can tell buckets about a person within the first few steps onto their property. Is the house in good condition? Yard tidy or unkempt? First thing through the door we are noticing not only appearance, but smell and temperature as well. You'd be amazed what we can learn from someone by the smells we get.

Do they live alone or with others? Are there animals we need to be aware of? (this becomes very important after you've had an overprotective Chihuahua furiously attacking your boots as you try not to squish it while moving their master.

The elderly population that we serve are for the most part delightful, and remarkably around here they mostly call when they are actually sick or injured. I did some ride time on other places where even in my short time I got to know a few of the "frequent fliers" who really needed just an ear to hear them every once and awhile.

But the more I serve, the more I learn, and the more I am shaped by my experiences. We have a few nursing homes in our community. I have not had many good experiences in nursing homes. Now, in their defense, they are usually understaffed and overworked, and I would work almost anyplace else before I worked there, so I give the staff credit, especially the good ones.

But time after time when we pick someone up, there is a bad or sad story behind the patient. We get their 'papers' when we leave, with health and social histories and such. So reading through them gives us an idea of what life is like in there. One patient plays cards about every day, but is also incontinent most every day. Another spends the day in a wheelchair, being moved around from time to time before being put back in bed for the night. Yet another might wander the halls aimlessly, trying doors and seeing where they can get. Escape attempts? The staff is overwhelmed with baths, medications, feedings, cleaning up messes and such that they seem to have little time to just sit and hear the stories that must invariably come. Families visit rarely if at all. Not that they do not care, but they are busy living their lives as well. Some families visit weekly for an hour or two. Rare is the daily visitor that spends much of the day.

And since the rooms are their "homes" We get a Readers Digest picture of their lives. Pictures and trinkets most valuable after a lifetime lived. Pictures of kids and grand kids, old pictures of their time in the military, or college days or on the farm, etc. etc. Lifetimes of stories and memories. And then we come and pick them up off the bed or the floor, covered in blood, feces, urine and whatnot. Get them on the cot and in the rig and check them over. Carefully and tenderly, as they are mostly quite fragile and/or quite hurt. IV access is limited most often to spidery, narrow veins that burst like water balloons sometimes at the pressure of the advancing catheter. Or veins that twist and turn and bifurcate and are valvey, unsuitable for IV's really, but we take what we can get.

Once and a while they are lucid and mostly pleasant. But some cannot communicate with anything but their eyes. And the eyes are usually haunted or vacant. Devoid of hope, will, life, whatever the spark is that makes us human.

One recently looked at me pleadingly. Could not speak. Was barely able to focus. But the eyes, when they did focus were asking me to do something. The trouble was, I did not know what he wanted. "Help Me" is a very gray area sometimes with people.

When I first found Shoba, here eyes said "Help Me", and I knew she meant "help me live" Ive had other animals doing wildlife rehabilitation whose eyes clearly said "help me, put me out of my pain and suffering"

And I've seen both looks in the eyes of patients as well. Of course, my profession is to sustain life when possible and comfort when it's not, and euthanizing people is not legal. But I wonder, if near the end of my life I am lifted from my bed in the morning, washed up by someone else, moved around by someone else, fed, cleaned, and put to bed by someone else, what sort of quality my life has at that point.

Our society is so scared of and distanced from death that we seem to deny the inevitable to the point of forced suffering. I know that part of the reason I went into emergency medicine was to face my own fears about death, wage my own personal battle with it. For I was once scared silly by it as well. But in my experiences, I have learned that there are indeed things worse than death. Suffering and pain. Despair and hopelessness. It brings into focus the ways I do NOT want to die. And there are times when I hear about the death of a patient I had last week or last month when I think that maybe it wasn't such a bad thing that they died. Life is a blessing. No doubt. But a dignified death is too. None of us gets out of here alive. Or at least alive as we now experience it. So what needs to be done to provide a little dignity for the end of a life well lived?

More Later

Rocks and Patients

(Picture removed at request of hospital. Apparently we are the only hospital where patients have rectal bleeds, abdominal pain, or broken bones, and thus might be identified by such symptoms. An obvious HIPAA violation)

We got kind of slammed at work tonight, and I now I finally have some time to write. But really I want lunch...dinner? What do you call a 12 o'clock meal when the 12 o'clock is midnight but still the middle of your day?

I think lunch.

The Wife and I went to look at stone today to bulk up our on hand supply for the great wall rebuild. The kiddos came along. Sweet Pea took it all in with wide eyes and fist chewing, and the Boyo was a HOOT! He played hide and seek with us from behind displays, he flirted shamelessly with the pretty gal who first came out to help us, telling her all about his broken leg and how he was no longer going to be breaking his leg, and at one point while walking through the back lot of many rocks, he found a hand sized stone and started making calls on it. A Bedrock cell phone.

Well, we narrowed our choices down to two types of stone, and will have it all in place by the time the old wall starts to fall. I also got a line on aggregates for under and behind the wall and was pleasantly surprised at the cost. Once all is said and done with this project, we should be saving about 13-15,ooo dollars by doing it ourselves. I've got a couple friends from work that might come up for the fun, so that will help. And I am somehow extremely motivated and excited about tackling this project!

I think I've come a long way in my striving to 'Do It Right The First Time' so although I have a little trepidation (mainly because it's the biggest project I've ever taken on) I also know that I can do it. It's a lesson I've learned many times, in the Marines, on the river trip. Set your mind to it, do the research and studying, get your ducks in a row, and charge!

I'll get before pictures to post, and progress pictures as we go. Wish us Luck!

More Later

Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11th

Seven years since the towers fell. Like those who were alive during the Kennedy years, I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing.

I flew the flag proudly today, as I have most every day since that day. As I have for years before that day. In a way, the tragedy of that day brought us closer together as a nation. Unfortunately our leaders did not capitalize on that very well, as we have seen.

I remember not long after that event, a country song came out wondering "have you forgotten". I remember thinking that it could have been a really good song. Instead it seemed to have been meant to rile people up again. Ah well.

I felt grief all those years ago for the lives lost and the families affected. Since then I've felt more sadness for the military personnel killed and maimed in action, and their families. Dying for the wrong war is never good.

So here's to those who fight for no very good reason. May they stay safe and either come home soon or get redeployed to fight the actual terrorists in Afghanistan/Pakistan and go after the group that hit us that day.

In other news, I rented this today...

It gets delivered next week and work on The Wall begins! That's a pretty big toy!

Sweet Pea needs some attention, and she's more important than this.. so

More Later

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Follow Up from Jeff

My friend Jeff wrote me back and said that the GOP did screw up when they finally got control of congress and the big house. He explained a few other things that make pretty good sense too.

I suppose what it comes down to, for each and every one of us, is the decision on who we think can best run the country for the next little bit.

In the long run, it may not really matter. The sun will come up, life will go on. Things will get better or they won't, and we'll all just keep doing the best we can.

I'd love a good political debate with a far lefter and a far righter, as I think I'm pretty much a centerist. But I'm growing tired of politics. My vote will go to Obama this November, as I like his plans and his style better than McCain. If he wins it, great. I'll support him and hope he can do what he says. If he does not, that's ok too. I'll give McCain support where I can and hope he can do some of the things he says he wants to do. If he only does a little Republican stuff like lower taxes, shrink the government and strengthen the military, that'll be fine. But if either of them go after my rights the way King George II has, I'm putting a fence around my property and seceding from the Union.

Until the election, I think I'm done blogging about the race, because

A) My mind is made up

B) I don't think I'll change anyone else's mind about their vote

C) Life is too short to worry about it.

Either way, it will be an historic win for somebody.

Thanks again to Jeff for explaining some things for me. Although I disagree with him on some stuff, I still respect him, his opinions, and his willingness to share.

More Later

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

McCain/Palin 08!


As promised, I listened to McCain's speech. Then I read the transcript. Then I revisited Palin's speech.

McCain's speech wasn't bad. He had some great points. We are all Americans when it comes down to it. He's right about that. I love that he says he wants to get the research for alternative energy going. Right on. But I still am hesitant. He just doesn't seem like the old maverick McCain. He seemed a little too 'party line McCain'. He isn't the speaker Obama is, but he did a good job.

I sent out a query to my Facebook friends for someone to explain the Republicans to me. My old high school chum Jeff wrote me back and told me about some of the GOP platforms. He's a GOPer, and was one of the smartest guys I knew back then. And he made some very good points.

Here's an excerpt from his message...

"I think Republicans want to keep the founders' hope for our country. We are a federal republic, not a democracy.The gov't is here to protect us (big military) and to stay out of our lives. Work hard and keep your earnings. Conservatives think we can take care of ourselves better than the gov't can.Liberals: if you work hard and make too much, we'll take it and give it to those who don't. Socialism never works and stifles advancement. Big government and unions will bankrupt this country.Big gov't bad: small gov't good. High tax bad: low tax good. Big military good: small military bad."

He's right that we are indeed a republic. And I would agree that I can run my life better than the government. I can see his point that the far left does look a lot like socialism. And I do agree completely with the last sentence there. The problem as I see it is that when the Republicans controlled the White House and the Congress back at the start of the reign of George the second, they expanded government, raised taxes on the working Americans while giving tax breaks to folks like big oil and other 'wealthy' needy entities, and cut the military down a bit. My old artillery unit was phased out completely and no longer exists. This happened during the Bush administration. So I guess if the Republicans would act more like Republicans, they might have my vote.

Unfortunately, we live in a land where taxation is getting out of hand, because the government - on both sides of the aisle - are more concerned with keeping their jobs than doing their jobs. Where a nurse and a paramedic with two kids DO work hard, and DON'T earn enough to really pack anything away for the future. Where people I see are not insured, not because it's their choice, but because they can't afford it. Where Republicans state that government should be smaller because you can run your life better, but then want to pass a bunch of laws restricting your ability to do so, ie: abortion, gay rights, values and such. If they really wanted to let us run our own lives, I would think they would embrace legislation to let people live their lives as they see fit.

But they don't. And that's the problem with Republican leadership. I think the Republican masses like my friend Jeff really do believe in "Big gov't bad: small gov't good. High tax bad: low tax good. Big military good: small military bad". If it were that simple, I'd be a Republican too. But the Republican leadership understands that Big Military costs money, so low taxes aren't possible. And if they shrunk government, many of them would be out of jobs. And nobody will vote themselves out of office. And fair taxes would require more from those who make more money. You can't get blood from a stone.

I also wonder about the 'conservative' mindset that seems to be 'every person for themself'. If I work hard, I should get to keep my money. Makes sense. But what about programs that benefit the society we live in? How do those get paid for? How do we justify crippling taxes on blue collar workers when oil company execs are posting their highest profits ever? How do we justify salaries for some executives that equal the salaries of 10-15 employees combined? I'm sure dressing in a suit every day and sitting at a desk making decisions is taxing. And lord knows some of those meetings I've been to are about as fun as watching paint dry. But come on! When a hospital 'consultant' (not a doc, a former administrator) makes in a month what I make in a year, that is not fiscal responsibility.

Many, many 'conservatives' also tout biblical teachings as ways to live your life. (see: Traditional Values) Yet they seem to ignore the passage where God says "To whom much is given, much is required." Luke 12:48. And I'm not really sure, but I remember reading somewhere in my bible that God actually does want us to help those less fortunate than ourselves. It would seem then, that anyone with Traditional Values would not mind ponying up for helping others who are homeless or disabled, or who just aren't smart enough or connected enough to be doctors, administrators and oil execs. Somebody has to be teachers and janitors and paramedics and military personnel after all.

I suppose if I were making $150k a year, I'd be put out if 25% of it went to the government. That's only leaving me with about $110k for the year after all. How would I survive on that?

Is there a middle ground someplace? Where conservatives and liberals could meet and agree on a few things, like not being hypocritical. (It astounds me that some Republicans are Pro-Life and also for the death penalty.)

Unfortunately both sides are divisive. I really hope Obama gets the chance to try and cross party lines and make some changes, because that's what we need. But he's going to need a bunch of new people in Congress for that to happen, and I doubt that will change. I hope that if McCain wins, he goes back to being the old McCain that I respected. The 'Straight Talker' who was more open than he is now.

For the Veeps, I think Biden would do fine in case of emergency. He'd serve out the remainder of Obama's term and that would be it. I fear greatly for Palin. I have more foreign policy experience than her. I've got more contacts in other countries than she does, and that's not many. She's been governor of a state (that is flush with oil revenues) for barely longer than Obama has been running for president. And she has ready made scandals that go directly against what she claims to fight for. Anti-cronyism? Pro-Life platform? It's great that she's a woman who knows how to handle a rifle. But is the only requirement for VP someone who won't shoot their pals in the face while hunting?

For a time I was torn between McCain and Obama. I really was. But as the campaigns have progressed, and seeing the baffling choices McCain has made, I don't think he has the judgement to lead our country anymore. At least, I don't trust his judgement.

Thanks Jeff for the short note, but it brought up more questions than it answered. So if you read this, please e-mail me with more information on why the GOP's in charge seem anti-GOP. That goes for all you dyed in the wool elephants out there. Make your case! PLEASE! I'm waiting for someone to make sense of it all!

This post is too long.

More Later (but maybe not on politics)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Thoughts on Monday

Life is an enigma. It rushes by so slowly, is enjoyed and loathed. People otherwise healthy take their own lives while others stricken with incurable disease fight for every last day. Every last breath. While young one has little responsibility and lots of free time, but no money to do anything. While old one has money to do things but not the health. In between we struggle to accumulate money to live.

Politicians don't really seem to help much. Speeches and meetings and laws and such, and life goes on pretty much as it has for centuries.

I suppose it is all easier after we're dead, but that doesn't help much in the here and now.

I spent the day with the kiddos, watching them sponge up the world around and thinking about how different the world is now than when I was growing up.

The Boyo wants to learn boxing. We had a little spar, filed with many giggles and mostly wrestling. He's too young yet to really get the point of boxing. So I told him to keep working on paying attention, following instructions and being a good boy, as Boyo's who do that grow up to be the best boxers.

Much to the Wife's chagrin, I will be teaching my son and daughter how to defend themselves, using the skills I learned in the Marines. I'm hoping it will be tempered by their civility and morals that we impart on them as they grow, so we aren't raising bullies. It's the old Spider Man thing... with great power comes great responsibility. Before I teach them to fight though, they'll have to know how to use their brains first. Fighting, it will be GREATLY emphasized, is only a last resort. I learned that in Boot Camp too, surprisingly enough. They taught us to avoid it if possible, but if we had to fight make it quick, non-stop and lethal. The kiddos have quite a while until my mini boot camp.

So yeah, wondering what life holds for my children, my grandchildren, and so on. Hoping it gets better for them, and praying to not outlive my children.

More Later

Sunday, September 7, 2008


Life happening now. Will write tomorrow.
More Later

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Lazy day at home with the kiddos. Still recovering from all the awake time and all the sleep time mashed all over the wrong times for the last many days.

Something I like best out of nearly everything is hanging out with the Boyo. He's a kick in the pants sometimes. Today he has been feeling just a little neglected because of my attention to the needs of the ever pooping Sweet Pea. He's been serenading us on the piano, a toy drum, a toy flute, and his guitar. Some of his songs are wonderful.

He was singing of the joys that are blueberry muffins, and how if he is a good by then we'll all have ice cream for supper, except his sister, who just gets milk!

I'm going to finally watch McCains speech tonight. I've heard some good things about it, so I'm looking forward to hearing it.

I made the mistake of reading Palins speech before listening to it. It was very well written, and having been a public speaker before, I could well imagine the effect it would have on its intended audience. Then I heard her. I was less than impressed with her delivery. It seemed obvious where breaks should be, where one would wait for crowd response, where emphasis would be best used. But she seemed to be muddling through the the teleprompter as if reading it for the first time. It was unfortunate because it really was a well written speech. It just didn't sound like she knew it very well.

I haven't read McCains transcript yet. I want to hear it first so I don't have the Palin effect.

Wish me luck!

More Later

Friday, September 5, 2008

Apple Picking Day


I slept for 18 hours, interrupted only a couple times by the Boyo who wanted to say hi, and my stomach, which wanted a little food.

I feel much better now. We went apple picking today, which was great fun! The weather is beautiful, the orchard scenic, and the company second to none. We now have enough apples to last the year. Better get to canning before they go bad. I'm thinking apple butter!

More Later

Thursday, September 4, 2008


Whew, I do get on a rant when I'm tired, huh.

Not only did I work three nights in a row, but The Wife worked two of those days, so I was up with the kiddos for those.

Going to bed now, cause I'm exhausted.

More Later

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

My Soapbox (or "Maybe I shouldn't Watch the RNC")

I've been watching and reading about the RNC. So far I have yet to be inspired.

Is political affiliation nature or nurture? My folks lean pretty heavily to the Dems, although my Dad has a brother who is pretty far to the right. Mom has a sister also pretty firmly on the Elephant side.

I'm pretty sure my sibs and I are at least close to the same page politically. But I know we all have different views about stuff. So where does the label come from?

Perhaps as we grow, we are shaped by the opinions of our parents... to a point. Then we base our beliefs on our experiences. In my life, I've seen and done a great many things that lead me to believe that Government should spend more time and money educating our youth, rather than training them for war. Lord knows I love my Marine Corps, but military service is, and ever ought to be, voluntary. Education should not be. That leans me to the left.

But I am also all for the death penalty. But only in slam dunk cases. And whether folks want to admit it or not, some of those cases are quite open and shut. I think I got that belief from seeing the scrudge of human meanness. That leans me to the right.

On the other hand, I am very much Pro-Choice. Would I or my wife ever abort a child? Not if it is one we have conceived. Would I force my beliefs onto every other woman in the country? Not a chance. This is not China. This country that is such a proponent of Freedom sure does a lot to try and harness that in. If we do take away the choice, then we should also limit the number of children a couple can have to avoid overpopulation. We should pass laws supporting adoption of the unwanted children to the people who vote pro-life. And if we are telling a woman what to do with her body regarding pregnancy, then we really ought to take away the man's ability to reproduce if he fathers an unwanted child. Snip. If we want to protect the lives of the unborn, then we need to attempt to stop the conception in the first place. That means education about how that all works, getting condoms and contraceptives into the hands of sexually active people who don't want kids. So again, I go left.

(As an aside, my jaw dropped at the Palin statement about their daughters pregnancy. Not that she was pregnant. It happens. But this quote from the statement.
"We're proud of Bristol's decision to have her baby and even prouder to become grandparents."
If it was "Bristol's decision" to have the child, then she... chose...right? She made a choice? They are proud of her choice? "Proud" meaning "for" the choice, or Pro-Choice? Sarah Palin, you are an enigma. Give your daughter the respect she deserves and let her choose. But take away that right from my daughter. Do you think I won't teach my daughter about my respect for life? That I would tell her all unwanted pregnancies have no other option than abortion? Or that I will raise her with so little control, maturity and self-awareness that she gets herself in that mess in the first place?)

I'd really like a smaller government, decidedly a GOP view, but I still want a government by, for and of the people. I think we could shift some federal things to state, but they are still required one way or the other.

I'm also not too hip on the whole Universal Health Care push. I know the Pros and Cons, I work in health care. I'm for insurance reform and more responsible administration...or at least accountable. Universal is just not realistic for spoiled Americans.

I believe in the concealed carry permits, but only for prior service or law enforcement who know how to handle them and are re-trained and re-qualified on the weapon every year. In pistol qualifications I watched a bunch of Marines who could hit a quarter at a hundred yards with a rifle go 50% - 60 % with a pistol at 20 yards. It's remarkably hard to hit something with a handgun, even when nobody is shooting back. A bunch of wanna be cowboys will just make things worse.

I believe in the second amendment "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." If somebody wants to own a hundred guns and hang on to their assault weapons and claim 2nd amendment rights, then they sign on to the militia, which can then be called up for service in case of a threat to the country... like Iraq. They can head over with the other gun owners as a unit. Think of the money we would save! They already have their own weapons and ammunition! All we need to get them is a plane ticket! GO SURGE! If you can't kill a deer (or any other animal) with a one shot rifle, then you shouldn't be hunting in the first place.

I believe that the economy of this country should not depend on loans from other countries. And that our government should play by the rules every household in America should be playing by. If you don't have the money, don't spend the money. Americans have followed the example of their government and borrowed billions. How do we pay that off?

I believe that before we get all worried that gay marriage will destroy "traditional" marriage, we should take a look at how successful "traditional" marriage is. 50% divorce rate? Maybe if we allow more loving couples to marry, regardless of gender, we can get those stats up and actually be proud of "traditional" marriage. As for "traditional" values. Going back to the beginning of our country we did not have a consensus on "traditional" values. Only that we wanted to be treated fairly by the Crown. Values are dependent on the person. While groups of people can share values, that doesn't make them correct. For reference, check out the white supremacists values. Those are traditional to them. How 'bout Amish values? Those are remarkably good to follow for lots of people. But I don't see the far right trading in their Escalade's for horse and wagons. I would define marriage as a union between two people and their god. If the government wants to make a little money on the side, and they do, then so be it. But if the government regulates it, then outlaw divorce. Jails will quickly fill with ex-spouses. 10 year mandatory sentence. Plus one year for every month the couple has been married. And if the Government wants to up the marriage stats, how about rewarding couples who stay together through better or worse. Give them tax breaks for each five years. Maybe a cash bonus, or a vacation package. Lord knows The Wife and I would LOVE to take the kiddos to Disney World!

I believe it is immensely hypocritical for a nation of immigrants to try and kick out other immigrants. Having just a trace of Lakota blood in me, I'm all for kicking out the immigrants...GO BACK TO EUROPE WHITE MAN! But then, I'm mostly European Mutt. Can I kick myself off of my land? Hmm...

If they break our laws, send them home. But if they want to work, let them! Then we can collect taxes from them, shore up Social Security, add a little more flavor to the melting pot. And if you truly believe that they are taking jobs from Americans, then get out in those fields and pick the tomatoes yourself. Get into that chicken butchering factory, go work some of those jobs the "illegals" have stolen. Let them stay and make them ours. Or get all of the "illegals" out. Mexican, German, Irish, Norwegian, British, French, etc. etc. Leave this land to the original caretakers. They were doing better with it anyway.

... OK, so I guess this proves I'm probably not a Republican. I'm not too much of a Democrat either. Give me a President, regardless of race, gender, orientation, party or otherwise, who can lead the country. Who has the best interests of the entire country at heart. Who will try and stay true to the tenants of the Declaration of Independence. Who for the love of all that is holy can form a complete sentence without creating new words. Where's Abe when you need him? (He was a Republican, buy the way. And he would have had my vote. He also surrounded himself with people who opposed him as well as agreed, so he could hear all sides of the issue before deciding.) Give me a government filled with leaders like that.

Now that would be a change.

God Bless America, and may the good Lord take a liking to you.

More Later

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Emergency Department Chatting

Unlike the very dramatic show 'ER', life around here is pretty mellow. Oh sure, we have our Drama, like anywhere. Office politics, drama between co-workers, that sort of thing. But mostly it's pretty fun.

Tonight the conversation flowed from weddings to rednecks. Gardening to child-rearing. Politics and Salsa. We talk about patients, of course, not just their medical problems, but our thoughts on what the person is like outside of the ED. Sometimes these chats are very interesting!

I do like a good majority of the folks I work with. There are a few, of course, I could do without. But for the most part I don't work with them much if at all. But 99% are really good people who are REALLY good at their jobs.

And I love some of the discussions we have!

Ah, life in the ER!

PS, voting ends at midnight tomorrow over at www.pictureadaychallenge.blogspot.com

More Later

Monday, September 1, 2008

Labor Day

Happy September.

For me, Autumn has begun. I categorize seasons a little differently than the ancient Celts/modern weather folks. Where they all seem to go by the solstice, I go by the feel of the wind. To me, Autumn starts today and runs through October and November. Winter is December, January and February. Spring starts for me on March 1st and goes through the end of May, and the Summer months are June, July and August.

The weather often follows this pattern where I live as well, so I can at least justify it that way. Trees are starting to change their colors, sumac are turning that beautiful vermilion shade, there is a smell in the wind that can only mean Fall. By December, it is most obviously Wintertime whether we wait for the 21st or not.

I don't get too sentimental about the changing of the seasons. A little melancholy perhaps, as the kiddos grow too quickly as do the pains and aches in my aging body. I enjoy each season in turn, and am learning to enjoy them more each passing year.

I thought I'd be pleased to see 2007 over, since that's when my Aunt died. She was the artist who I never did ask enough questions. I still mourn her passing. Now 2008 has seen the deaths of two of my favorite dogs ever, and I'm ready for it to be done too.

Not that some really fun things didn't happen this year. Sweet Pea joined us on the planet and has been entertaining us since. I've made some excellent friends at my job. And how 'bout them Cubs!?! OK, Cubs aside, it hasn't been all bad. So Fall is here, Winter is coming, and fun will be had for the rest of '08.

By the way, it's voting time over at http://www.pictureadaychallenge.blogspot.com/ . There's a link there somewhere to the Picasa photo albums. Just click on August Pictures, pick your favorite five, and send them (in order) to the web address listed over on the right about a dozen times...or three. I'd like very much to hear from all who read this blog, as I do believe that if you've been here for awhile you have discriminating taste in online entertainment. Or you are friend or family to me, and read just 'cause you like to humor me. Thanks either way.

OK, gotta run. Happy September everyone. Stay safe and happy.

More Later