Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year !

Special greetings to all with the hope the sentiments expressed in my previous post prevail in 2008.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Holiday Greetings '07-'08

Compassion, Tolerance, Peace On Earth

December is a time of year when various religious and other special celebrations occur. Events of most importance for some may have already been celebrated. Others have special holidays yet to be experienced.

Shared by all, usually, is a gathering of loved ones, family and friends on these occasions. Phone calls, emails, greeting cards and holiday letters across the miles may necessarily provide other individuals this feeling of connectedness we treasure especially during this winter season.

I have experienced these varied means of togetherness with those for whom I care and who care about me, just as each of you probably have, also. I've been present in family groups varying in size from large to very small, with even occasional holidays away from relatives during my lifetime. This year I am with a very few family, as our member numbers have been slowly diminishing for some years, as has been our ability to all travel and meet in one location.

Whatever the number of our individual family members and friends, I've come to believe those of us who are bloggers are able to experience a feeling of connectedness with each other, too. I think we realize we can come to feel we know and genuinely care about one another, so we exchange special greetings. We even have the opportunity to extend our good wishes in this unique written manner to others who simply read what we write, whether or not they leave a comment.

So warm sentiments are especially reserved for each and everyone who visits this blog. You are invited to take as much as you need of joy, happiness and love. Most importantly, please share these feelings with those with whom you have contact.

My special wish for you and the whole world is compassion, tolerance and peace on earth.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Disharmony Relieved by Music/Book

I've been sputtering and spewing in my mind over so many issues, as I think about the State of the Union and what is being wrought upon our country.

I'm upset that media falls more and more under the control of increasingly fewer large corporations.

I'm really distressed that one really major corporate owner has a grip on communications distribution all over this world now, with his final take over of a prominent publication here in the U.S.A.

I'm really angry at the high-handedness of the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) who blatantly disregards congressional and citizen wishes.

I don't want to get into providing links and quotes to these issues above. I would have to read even more about those topics in order to do so. That would only serve to provoke additional distress.

I'll just assume anyone reading this will know of what I speak, and if some don't, feel free to ask questions that can be answered later.

Instead, I find the music and lyrics of "Salala" I first heard earlier tonight at Tamarika's "Mining Nuggets"" playing over and over in my my mind, warming my soul.

Also, I'm remembering reading an uncomplicated activity I came across on another blog some time ago. For some strange reason the post attracted me -- must have been the simplicity. Sorry I can't recall on what blog I read it, but I do recall the blogger stating they credited the idea to Winston at "Nobody Asked," but that he had credited some other blogger, and who knows where else the credit lay.

It's pretty simple, just select a book, then complete the following. Here are the results from the current book at my fingertips:

Title and Author:

Musicophilia - Tales of Music and the Brain

by Oliver Sacks

Is the book dedicated to anyone? If so, whom?

For Orrin Devinsky, Ralph Siegel, and Connie Tomaino

What is the first sentence?


"What an odd thing it is to see an entire species -- billions of people -- playing with, listening to, meaningless tonal patterns, occupied and preoccupied for much of their time by what they call 'music.' "

Turn to page 47. Please share the first sentence of the first full paragraph.

"It is this fidelity--this almost defenseless engraving of music on the brain--which plays a crucial part to predisposing us to certain excesses, or pathologies, of musical imagery and memory, excesses that may even occur in relatively unmusical people."

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

"Mind Trips" and Other Blogs

I'm long overdue to write about some more blogs I enjoy visiting. There is no particular significance to their listing sequence here. Yes, there are more blogs about which I want to write and will in the future.

"Mind Trips" is such an intriguing blog title that I was attracted for my first visit a few months ago. Pam, who writes there captured my attention with colorful Vermont fall photos. These stimulated a "mind trip" of my own from past visits there.

Pam writes from a thoughtful perspective, often threading some humorous events through more serious commentary. Read her 9/28/07 post titled 'Politics, Survival and Exploding Eggs.'

Another post will be of interest to anyone who might wonder what blogging can be all about, why time might be spent writing posts and to other bloggers -- questions I'm asked often by non-bloggers. Pam's personal perspective will be appreciated. She shares her reaction and feelings with photos of meeting in person someone she first met through blogging.

I keep returning there to read about some serious topics, as with some of her more recent ones, including issues associated with spanking children, government intrusion into our lives, and privacy.

The artistic endeavors of this successful artist are especially interesting. Most recently I've been fascinated with a visual pictured there of a "fractal" -- a new term to me. I find "Mind Trips" to be well-written, delightful, enjoyable, informative, humorous, and emotionally stimulating.

Pam is a very active lady judging by family photos, and her accounts. We all encounter challenges throughout our lives and Pam has not been an exception in that regard. She's youthful as elders go -- anyone younger than me is youthful. You'll definitely want to read her profile where she describes some of the physical activities in which she has participated. I wouldn't be at all surprised if she's just being modest with her artist background description, as she continues to engage her skills and honor her talent.

"Ageless Marketing" written by David Wolfe, a marketing consultant, is a blog I began visiting long before I ever started my blog. He's very interested in the consumer and what truly is of interest to us. What fascinates me is how he integrates his knowledge from his child-rearing days to his perspective these many years later.

He continually introduces stimulating books and writings that prompt thought about the world in which we live today, such as his current post titled 'Lessons for Prospering When the Economy Isn't.' He writes in depth about issues of interest not only in our country but world-wide which sometimes requires multi-part series. A recent series is titled 'A Look At The Likely State of the Economy Over the Next Several Years.'

He associates psychological and philosophical thought to business today. He certainly has pinpointed the reasons for my lack of receptiveness to much of present day advertising. The people writing too many of today's ads lack a knowledge of how to communicate with elders such as myself. David has noted part of the problem may be the failure of older more mature individuals being utilized in the marketing world. He has noted ageism continues to be much too prevalent in the advertising and marketing world. I certainly agree.

"Elusive Abstractions" written by Canadian, Roberta, is truly a word-lovers delight to read. She devises such a word potpourri in phrases and sentences describing her perspective on daily events. Somehow these events and her activities lend themselves well to expanding into thoughts about much broader issues in a delightful humorous manner.

Most recently I was pleased to become acquainted with her friend, Matador through one post she wrote. She suggested what necessarily followed was considering Asimov's three laws of robotics. These laws may have increasing significance in many of our lives in the future, but will have in mine beginning this year.

Another of her writing topics reminded me of so many instances in my own life when her term, silly-happiness, prevailed. Such a special liberating feeling exists during those times. Of course, I am mindful of the precautions one must sometimes take then for the self-preservation of decorum in certain places.

As if those posts weren't enough to intrigue interest, consider reading 'Presence Rather Than Presents' for holiday gift-giving this year. Keep in mind there is more than one way in which to be present. The most recent post there clearly demonstrates you don't have to have children to enjoy the commentary on discipline as associated with new age approaches versus the old fashioned way.

"Eclectic World" is written by Bob Frank. He is also involved with activities described in two other blogs, "Home Baking" and "Citizens for Peace." His most current blog post is of interest as he provides information about a very special way to celebrate gift-giving these holidays. What he suggests is an idea that can benefit children -- our own and those less fortunate in other countries.

He's referring to the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) program. This program has been described on CBS-TV's "60 Minutes" with action video of children using these especially designed inexpensive computers. The man on the TV program who created this computer, Nicholas Negroponte, continues on leave from his work at MIT to promote the distribution of this tool designed to educate children in other worlds.

You can obtain the details in Bob's 'Give One, Get One' blog post along with links to a site where you can see this computer's features.

"Fried Okra Productions" -- Kokopelliwoman Speaks through the voice of Claudia Snowden.
Now this is a blog I can really get my teeth into. This writer doesn't mince any words. One post I'm lulled along by her expounding on music, her love of the classics, and a fascinating article about singer Beverly Sills. The next post is bah! humbug! on Christmas and the rampant consumerism in our capitalist society. She relates this debacle to some much more complex issues about which we're all concerned, coupled with a related source link.

Earlier commentary on her site has included sharing informative family history, events with a humorous edge. Then, there is that article she wrote about 'The Dark Side of Austin.' She carefully related a radio host's programming that perfectly expressed the tragic non-ecumenical climate that has been fostered to develop in our country today, to a degree I haven't known in years, except for isolated pockets.

Anyone reading this blog is destined for an unexpected treat on a wide variety of topics that will surely include deep thought mixed with humor, a chuckle or two, and some hard laughter.

Friday, December 07, 2007

The Devil is in the Language


More Than "Just Words"

...words that could be used to take rights from American citizens.

"Thought Crime" bill S1959 Could Steal Citizens Rights

I wrote my Congressman, David Dreier, in the House of Representatives expressing my distress that he had voted for this bill that has the potential for violating individual citizen's rights (mine and yours) at the whim of our government and asked him why he did so. This was the crux of his reply:

"As you know, H.R. 1955 amends the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to add provisions concerning the prevention of homegrown terrorism. This legislation directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish a grant program to prevent radicalization and homegrown terrorism in the United States. H.R. 1955 also directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish or designate a university-based Center of Excellence for the Study of Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism in the United States. On October 23, H.R. 1955 passed the House by a vote of 404 to 6, and now awaits its consideration in the Senate."

I already knew what the bill does when I wrote him. Does he know what all it does? How do I interpret his reply? He read the bill, and didn't mind there was wording that could take away my rights? Or, maybe he just skimmed the bill, got the gist of it, and didn't bother reading a lot of those pesky incidental little words? Or, perhaps he didn't even read the bill, so didn't really know what it said other than those four sentences he wrote that I quoted above.

Well, words matter! Some of the words in the "Thought Crime Bill" were recently the center of focus in comment dialogues at the "Time Goes By" blog. You can access these various references listed in Ronni Bennett's post there titled "Thought Crime Bill Index" HERE.

One reader, Brian, commented, citing the following as being a safeguard written in the bill to protect our rights:

"Any measure taken to prevent violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence and homegrown terrorism in the United States should not violate the constitutional rights, civil rights, or civil liberties of United States citizens or lawful permanent residents." (From HR1955/S1959)

Another reader, Pamela, responded:

"Note use of the word "should" instead of "shall". I worked for years in a highly regulated industry, and the difference between these two words is significant, in the world of regulatory verbiage. I'm sure the words were carefully chosen. SHOULD means preferable but not mandatory. SHALL is the word used when nothing less is ever acceptable."

So, reads to me like our rights are protected if our government wants to, but they don't have to do so. That's not good enough for me.

Then, Brian's comment later was:

"this act _creates a commission_. Admittedly, I'd be more comfortable if the clause I cited use the word "shall" instead of "should," (as Pamela notes) but I see nothing so worrying here."

Commission? Commission?? Does anyone remember the instances of "Commissions" of this proposed type and the damage they can do? What immediately comes to my mind are memories of The McCarthy Era and the witch hunts that ruined so many lives. Read one such story HERE.

The "Thought Crime Bill Index" lists "Thought Crime Bill Video." I quote Ronni Bennett from her post there:

"This is the first terrorism-related legislation that specifically targets U.S. citizens and the vagueness of the wording is a dangerous threat to the First Amendment and to each of us in ways that have not been attempted before in the United States. The definitions in the bill hold the frightening keys to the undermining of our most basic liberty - to speak freely [bolding is mine]:

“VIOLENT RADICALIZATION - The term ‘violent radicalization' means process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change."

"The difficulties here are that “extremist belief system” means anything the government wants it to mean as does the word “facilitating.”

“HOMEGROWN TERRORISM - The term 'homegrown terrorism' means the use, planned use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual born, raised, or based and operating primarily within the United States or any possession of the United States to intimidate or coerce the United States government, the civilian population of the United States, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.”

"Again, this refers not just to violence, but to thought and speech for any undefined “political or social objectives”. In other words, it could mean universal healthcare, equal rights, abortion or anything at all about which you or I might want to make our views known that the government objects to. And, it establishes U.S. citizens as the targets of this legislation.

“IDEOLOGICALLY BASED VIOLENCE- The term ‘ideologically based violence' means the use, planned use, or threatened use of force or violence by a group or individual to promote the group or individual's political, religious, or social beliefs.

"This repeats legislative intolerance of speech and thought.(bolding is mine)

"The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism and Prevention Act does not establish penalties for these thought crimes; it “only” establishes a commission to study them. But it tells us where the thinking in Washington is heading.

"The Commission is required to send a report about its findings to the Congress and president every six months for a year and a half. As disturbing as the bill itself is, so is the additional requirement that there be a “a public version” of the reports – that is, something different from what Congress sees." She adds, "Even with only a commission at this point, there is no way to understand the bill except as a warning of what is to come..."

"Please read the entire bill. It is not lengthy and there is more in it to be concerned about.." as Ronni urges.

What mainstream media sources have you seen mention this bill? Shouldn't they be bringing this to the attention of the American people? Isn't that the job of the press to help protect our rights, or at least acquaint us to the possibility these rights could be under assault? I sent a letter to the Editor of the Los Angeles Times because I haven't seen mention of the bill in their paper and they haven't printed my letter, either. Someone please write and tell me there was an article in the Times and I just overlooked it.

My Senator Barbara Boxer responded to a letter I sent her, but didn't indicate how she would vote. I have yet to hear anything from my Senator Diane Feinstein. My Representative, David Dreier, has already voted against my interests and yours. How are your Senators going to vote? Have you told them how you want them to vote on your behalf?

The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007, S1959, awaits a vote in the U.S. Senate very soon this month. Passage means the next step is for the President's signature. There is no reason to believe he won't sign the amendment.

Again, I urge everyone to read this bill HERE.

The devil is in the wording and we should be very concerned about the rights that all those Senators who vote for this bill could be taking from each American citizen. All but six of our House Representatives have already betrayed us.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

"Thought Crime Bill" Update -- TGB/RB Musing

Thought Crime Bill -- S1959 The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism and Prevention Act of 2007 (Read the Bill HERE)

Here's an update on my efforts to bring the "Thought Crime Bill" S1959 to my Legislators' attention. The present early result is one email response. Sen. Barbara Boxer's email to me actually addresses the subject matter about which I wrote. Many of us have commented previously that most of the time the responses we receive from our Congresspersons have little or no relation to our questions or comments. (See my "Politicians Communication Shortcomings" post November 7, 2007 in archives.)

Sen. Boxer writes words to the effect my point of view will be considered if the issue about which I wrote comes before her according to this paraphrase of her standard form response. There is no indication of what her stance will be when the vote is called. I'm awaiting a response from one more Senator and accountability from my House Representative as to why he voted for this Bill. Yet to be seen is if there will be any reader comments to these letters. I wonder if others are receiving any responses from their efforts?

The Bill is in the Senate now, but the expected vote will likely be soon this month. For new readers and others, I believe it's important we each contact our Senators and make our views known that this bill's wording has the potential for taking away our rights, that we are AGAINST passage of S1959. Read the Bill and other related posts in the "S1959 'Thought Crime Bill Index' " at links still available at "Time Goes By" written by Ronni Bennett.

Two of three newspapers to whom I sent letters, printed the information. (See my previous post.) We have very important reasons to express our views on this and other issues -- as citizens, to help preserve our freedom -- as elders, to help shape our country for our children and generations to come.

I continue to believe one person can make a difference with their actions, especially when that one person becomes many.

Musing About...
"Time Goes By" - Ronni Bennett

For anyone experiencing absence pains from Ronni Bennett's sudden "cold turkey" word and idea withdrawal, and for newcomers, you might enjoy reading Parts I and II of a recent interview Ronni gave at "Boomer 411." She provides a link to both parts of that interview in the "Time Goes By" introduction of today's story at "The Elder Storytelling Place."

I'm still in a state of disbelief that Ronni Bennett has "shut down" her blog permanently. I believe her writings to be unique -- intelligent, humorous, and so many other adjectives which I could use. Perhaps I've taken her and the blog for granted, believing she and the community that formed around her would always be here throughout the rest of my life since I'm older. At my age, given the losses in my life, as probably many others have experienced, I should know better than to allow myself to adopt that attitude.

Somehow I like to believe she will re-surface, sharing her words and talents in some way, somewhere. If she doesn't, most important to me is that whatever she does, wherever she goes, that her life is filled with pleasure and happiness. I also hope Crabby Old Lady continues to express her views somewhere. Already, I miss "Time Goes By" and I miss Ronni Bennett.

Monday, December 03, 2007

"...A Stand Against S1959" -- Thought Crime

(Update: Another newspaper has printed in their Opinion section today, 12/03/07, a variation of a different letter I sent the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin they titled "Thought Police.")

I'm pleased to share with you that my local news media has provided a forum to inform citizens about "Thought Crime Bill" S1959 concerns. I hope even more media outlets across our country will respond to efforts others are initiating for that same purpose. Perhaps my experience described below will provide encouragement letter writing efforts can be productive.

The "Thought Crime Bill" S1959 is being brought to the attention of our local residents by my local newspaper, the Claremont Courier. This community has been extremely fortunate that this award-winning California publication has a long-standing history of presenting pertinent local, national and international issues, including controversial ones, to the attention of readers.

The Claremont Courier Opinion Section of the Saturday, December 1st bi-weekly edition headlined a letter I sent to the Editor, "Take a stand against S1959," giving me a byline. This issue does not yet appear on their website as I write this, so I'll print it here as suggested by Ronni Bennett at
"Time Goes By."

Thank you to Ronni for so effectively researching and writing about the "thought crime bill" concerns, then providing organized informative timely links to the most current information about the bill. We clearly need to continue our efforts to bring this bill to the attention of our fellow citizens through all the means at our disposal.

One individual can make a difference in our democracy/republic – especially when we are many, is my belief.

Letter to Claremont Courier:

"I strongly urge voters to contact our Senators Feinstein and Boxer to VOTE AGAINST S1959 The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism and Prevention Act of 2007.
"This bill's wording is couched in terms that can take away our First Amendment rights. The "thought crime" potential of this bill in the name of so-called security does as much to destroy our democracy as anything the terrorists are doing. My letter to this newspaper could be regarded as suspect should this amendment be passed. There is no reason to believe our President would veto the bill.

"I am not willing to give up any of my rights which have already been undermined by legislation. We should also ask our House Representative, David Drier, why he voted for the House Bill version 1955. In fact, only 6 Representatives from both political parties had the insight and courage to vote against the House Bill, or maybe they were the only ones who actually read it.

"I recommend you read this bill with a direct link at: and additional posts catalogued under this "thought crime bill." The blog writer was the first Managing Editor of one of the major television network Internet news organizations. She brings the highest journalism standards to her writing. Current media has failed to bring this pertinent issue to the attention of the American public.

"I am strongly opposed also to any sort of legislation that would limit and curtail my right to express my and others views and opinions on my blog and the Internet. This Senate bill's current wording creates that possibility, too. I embrace Jay Rosen's statement that 'Blogs are Little First Amendment Machines.' "(Bold Print Added.)

(My apologies to all Readers who are unable to leave a comment on my blog because they don't have a Google Blogger Account. You can only send me an email, then I will have to reprint each one on my blog. This makes our having a dialogue incredibly complicated and serves only to stifle communication.)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Communication Challenges

Locked-In Syndrome

"Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
Movie Theater Release - 11/30/07

Health Care System Weaknesses

Imagine what life would be like if we were unable to talk, make sounds, gesture with our hands, but we hear, see and understand people. We know what is happening to us, perceive circumstances and activities around us. Basically, we're just "locked-in" our mind, without voice, presumed to be unable to communicate and maybe thought of as a mental vegetable.

This sudden circumstance presents the communication challenge which has faced a New Jersey, U.S.A. husband and father, Steve Chiappa, since 2001
and a New Zealand Rugby player, Nick Chisholm, since 2000.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
describes this Locked-in Syndrome as "...a rare neurological disorder characterized by complete paralysis of voluntary muscles in all parts of the body except for those that control eye movement. It may result from traumatic brain injury, diseases of the circulatory system, diseases that destroy the myelin sheath surrounding nerve cells, or medication overdose. Individuals with locked-in syndrome are conscious and can think and reason, but are unable to speak or move. The disorder leaves individuals completely mute and paralyzed. Communication may be possible with blinking eye movements..."

You can refer to The Association for Locked-In Syndrome - French which is written in English, too, for additional information.
This locked-in syndrome is also the focus of a book I read shortly after publication years ago. It's written by a man who actually lived the experience which he describes in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, also known as "Le Scaphandre et le Papillon."

The years since my reading, I've followed the evolution of the book to film. Finally this true story is scheduled to be released into motion picture theaters November 30, 2007.

I experience trepidation about viewing any movie based on a book I view as exceptionally unique in writing and content as I do this one. All too often there is little resemblance between the book and film. I hope this film's translation depicts the author's experience realistically, effectively describes the arduous, tedious acquisition of his communication skills, though he was unable to speak or gesture, and conveys the narrative power of his words.

Australia's Radio National host Robyn Williams, a science journalist, on his broadcast transcript of "ockham's razor"
says "'The Diving Bell and the Butterfly' must be one of the most extraordinary books ever written - if written is the right word. Jean-Dominique Bauby was trapped in his paralysed body - the diving bell - in which his mind flew like a butterfly. He was locked in." (Italics and bold print added)

From the book cover:
"In 1995, Jean-Dominique Bauby was the editor-in-chief of French Elle, the father of two young childen, a 44-year-old man known and loved for his wit, his style, and his impassioned approach to life. By the end of the year he was also the victim of a rare kind of stroke to the brainstem. After 20 days in a coma, Bauby awoke into a body which had all but stopped working: only his left eye functioned, allowing him to see and, by blinking it, to make clear that his mind was unimpaired. Almost miraculously, he was soon able to express himself in the richest detail: dictating a word at a time, blinking to select each letter as the alphabet was recited to him slowly, over and over again. In the same way, he was able eventually to compose this extraordinary book.

"By turns wistful, mischievous, angry, and witty, Bauby bears witness to his determination to live as fully in his mind as he had been able to do in his body. He explains the joy, and deep sadness, of seeing his children and of hearing his aged father's voice on the phone. In magical sequences, he imagines traveling to other places and times and of lying next to the woman he loves. Fed only intravenously, he imagines preparing and tasting the full flavor of delectable dishes. Again and again he returns to an "inexhaustible reservoir of sensations," keeping in touch with himself and the life around him.

"Jean-Dominique Bauby died two days after the French publication of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. This book is a lasting testament to his life."

An extract of the book is provided with this link.

Assoc. Prof. Roger Rees, Director, Institute for the Study of Learning Difficulties, Flinders University of South Australia, Adelaide is quoted in the Robyn Williams broadcast transcript noted above, reading this excerpt from Bauby's writing:

"I am fading away, slowly, but surely. Like the sailor who watches his home shore gradually disappear, I watch my past recede. My own life still burns within me, but more of it is reduced to the ashes of memory. Since taking up life in my cocoon, I have made two brief trips to the world of Paris medicine to hear the verdict pronounced on me from medical heights. I shed a few tears as we passed the corner cafe where I used to drop in for a bite. I can weep discreetly, yet the professionals think my eye is watering."

Rees also asks a question we might ask: how many people are there in hospital beds who receive no stimulation, are not recognized as individuals with intact minds, who might still be able to contribute if only their talents were recognized?

Here is a link to an extensive account of then 23 year old New Zealand rugby player, Nick Chisholm's experience in 2000 with locked-in syndrome. His journey, living with the syndrome is described in much more detail along with ethical issues involved.

Steve Chiappa describes on his web site being able to fight his way back into the communicating world having been given a Locked-In Syndrome diagnosis, due largely to the efforts of his family as he reports on his web site.

This New Jersey, U.S.A. husband and father of four grown children has written that at 52 years of age "On Christmas eve 2001 {I} received an early Christmas present, a severe brainstem stroke which left me with a condition known as Locked In Syndrome. At first I was completely unresponsive and unable to breathe on my own." He continues by describing becoming more alert, but he experienced a lack of recognition and acceptance by medical staff that a mentally functioning person resided in his body. What a nightmare of frustration that must have presented him as it would anyone.

Steve Chiappa states the reason for starting his web site is to provide information and hope for those who have received the locked-in syndrome diagnosis he received. Perhaps family, friends and loved ones searching the Internet for information will find him. He provides an email address for contact.

He also says:

"We often think that we are living in a society that provides the best, most advanced medical care available. Get ready for some pretty grim realities.

"Our healthcare system is ill-equipped to handle anything that requires long term treatment."

I know this to be all too true for individuals experiencing any of the large spectrum of communication problems and/or also cognitive deficits. Rehabilitation therapy services in all disciplines have been and continue to be reduced in our U.S. health care system. Most people are unaware of this situation until such time as they personally need the service(s) or have a friend or loved one who does.

Changes in our present health care system, or formulation of a new system, will require careful monitoring of any plan devised to insure further cuts are not surreptitiously incorporated in the final draft. Then there's the fine print that slides by unnoticed by most, as happened with Medicare Part B services some years ago.

Each of three therapy disciplines (Physical, Occupational, Speech) was intended to have a funding cap. The cap itself presents another whole issue relative to long term care needs of some. However, the final adopted criteria with the new limits deviated from the intended funding for each of the three disciplines to have separate caps. Instead, a shared cap between two of them was interpreted (Physical and Speech Therapy.) Efforts to correct this error and inequity have since been repeatedly rejected by legislators.

The fact of this disregard of original intent confirms to me that any health care system plan adopted, better be written carefully and exactly as intended before passage, as the likelihood of corrective adjustment afterword may be quite remote. Such fine print also needs to include the requirement for timely delivery of all medical services, as I have written about previously.

Assessment by a certified Speech-Language Pathologist is highly recommended for any infant, child or adult at any age for whom there is a communication problem, including those who have a locked-in syndrome diagnosis. In the U.S.A. contact the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) for referral to an ASHA certified professional. Solely in the interest of disclosure I should acknowledge this is my profession. All opinions and views expressed here are personal and my own.

Following are the links repeated from above:

Accounts of Individuals Living With Locked-In Syndrome
Steve Chiappa, New Jersey, U.S.A. Husband and Father

Nick Chisholm, New Zealand Rugby Player

"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"

Movie Theater Release 11/30/07
Web site:

Association for Locked-In Syndrome - French (also in English)

Elle Magazine

Friday, November 23, 2007

H.R.1955 - Thought Crime Assault Bill

Read at "Time Goes By" about why passage of this bill, now having been forwarded to the Senate, is of such concern and must be prevented with its present wording. But it is that wording that should alarm every citizen. The possibility of setting up a commission that can police thought is an assault on our personal liberties. The bill's potential is that if we disagree with government policies, we could be subject to this law as it is written, despite wording supposedly giving assurance otherwise.

This amendment to the Homeland Security Act of 2002 titled the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism and Prevention Act of 2007, designated H.R.1955 was overwhelming approved by the House of Representatives 23 October by a 404 to 6 vote. Rep. Jane Harmon {Dem-CA} sponsored this bill. Only six members of the House of Representatives voted against the bill. I still have not read anything in the mainstream press about the issues this bill presents which elicits concerns, also.

The degree of my concern is such that I mention this issue again to urge everyone to contact their Congress persons to determine why they voted for this bill and protest their having done so. Most important now is to contact our Senators to protest the passage of this bill, since they are the final legislative group to consider it. The Bill, if passed by the Senate would then require only the President's signature to become law, and there is no reason to believe he would not do so.

I strongly urge everyone who is not familiar with this issue to follow this link to Ronni Bennett's "Time Goes By" blog feature - H.R. 1955 Thought Crime Index. She has objectively and succinctly assessed the bill, and why we citizens should all make every effort to prevent this amendments passage and enactment into law. Pros and cons are discussed in comments there. A direct link to the bill is provided so you can read the actual written language that is of concern.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving !

This 2007 holiday season has arrived much more quickly than I could have imagined. I am sure many are scurrying around making preparations for Thursday's feast -- turkey, ham, prime rib, pork roast, roast beef, filet mignon, tamales ... whatever your favorite. By the way, what is your favorite?

I visualize scenes on Thanksgiving Day that conjure many happy memories of times spent with family and friends, hope you do the same. Make some new memories this year.

T h a n k s g i v i n g H o l i d a y

B e s t
w i s h e s
t o
e v e r y o n e !

Monday, November 19, 2007

Wait Until Next Year

Rivalry Continues

Special Orchestral Music Score
Samples - Film and Television

You'll have to read the previous post to fully appreciate this, but thought I'd best give an update. The Ohio State University Buckeyes football team did win the game! I know the celebration behind those pearly gates for my husband and his sister must be spectacular. Guess they must have finally coordinated their coaching techniques so the team could do their best. They've probably resumed fussin' though, about the fact the Buc's hedged on the offer for them to play in this season's January '08 Rose Bowl -- once the Big Ten Conference college football Holy Grail of Bowl games. Now there's a Bowl game for the national championship even grander to which college football teams aspire.

I can't really gloat about this Buc's win, because I hear from my Michigan side-of-the-family source (who's feeling quite glum) that the Wolverines didn't come even close to playing their best. The team is not hiding behind the fact the weather was lousy in Ann Arbor either, 'cause this time of year such weather, and even worse, is always a possibility, whether this game is played in Michigan or the Buckeye's home, Columbus, Ohio. What I'm hearing is "Wait until next year!" in true rivalry fashion.

Now, I have a confession to make about the night/wee morning hours when I finished writing that previous blog. I heard the sound of the morning papers smacking the concrete driveway as they were tossed from the black SUV which barely slowed as it passed my house. I thought I might as well bring in the papers, so I put my robe on over my warm flannel P.J.'s I had put on earlier in the evening when I readied for bed before writing that previous blog post. I grabbed my car keys that have the panic button, as I always do when I go out in the wee hours, though there are lights on the house entrance and street. The panic button is just precautionary as we have had various wildlife visit during those hours.

I fantasize should I encounter any unfriendly wildlife, the sudden noise of my car alarm might serve to deter any aggressive creature actions, at least long enough for me to get back inside the house. I don't mind encountering raccoons, opossums, the occasional house cat, but I've seen skunks, coyotes and know mountain lions, bobcats, even bears are potential rare visitors. Should the unwanted two legged human creature variety suddenly appear I figure my panic alarm would arouse help since our neighborhood is not over-exposed to the sounds of security and car alarms.

The brisk night air had an awakening effect as I walked through the welcomed creatureless slightly lighted dark, gathering the papers, then returning to the house's warmer interior. Feeling very alert, I decided to fix an early breakfast, a glass of pulpy orange juice, a microwave poached egg with soft yolk, whole wheat toast with a dab of blackberry jam on one slice, a bowl of fresh mixed fruit, and I brewed a pot of green tea. Quite awake after eating my special breakfast (usually it's oatmeal topped with just strawberries, blueberries, or some other single fruit,) I began leisurely reading the papers.

The next thing I knew it was only an hour or so before game time. I didn't dare go to sleep then, or I'd never wake up. So I poured myself some more tea, lamenting the fact I had allowed myself to pull this all nighter. I also felt sort of excited about doing so, as I always do whenever I stay up all night, like I'm doing something I shouldn't, but smug in the knowledge I can do as I please 'cause the next day's schedule is mine to change anyway I want.

I watched the first half of the game, no "Script Ohio" with the band at the beginning. Perhaps the statistic spewing talking heads at half-time would be silenced long enough to air some performance of either University band, but that was not to be -- at least while I was watching. By this time I was reclining on the sofa with a cozy warm blanket over me. Somehow, probably during a commercial, my eyelids drooped, closed and got stuck in that position.

The next thing I knew when they re-opened, two entirely different teams were playing football. Furthermore, I had to wait quite some time before I learned the final score of the game I had stayed up all night to watch. Expect my husband was too busy coaching his Bucs from on high to have noticed I had fallen asleep. Had he known, he would have arranged for bolts of lightening, or at least rolling waves of thunder to hover over our home to visually and auditorily express his shock and disbelief my adrenalin was at such a low level I could possibly sleep.

You might want to go to the previous post just to visit those YouTube marching band links. I don't have a musical link for John Tategenhorst's arrangement of OSU's "Hang On Sloopy" rally song, though you can read the lyrics. I'm confident if I had heard the bands I would have aroused to see the game's second half. Wonder if I'll feel compelled to watch this game again next year?

I just discovered and listened to excerpts from some of John's music. Included are some film and television scores, arrangements he's done for John Williams and Erich Kunzel. You can listen to John's music samples at his web site by clicking here: "John Tatgenhorst Music, Inc."

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Rivalry at the 50 Yard Line

Affected by Siblings
in Heaven ?

Who in their right mind wants to crawl out of bed at nine o'clock on a Saturday morning just to watch a football game on television? For reasons beyond my ken, I'm likely going to do just that a little later this morning. So what if it's a long time rivalry between two famous teams, the Ohio State University Buckeyes and the University of Michigan Wolverines. I think viewing a football game at that early morning hour seems a bit strange, but due to the three hour time difference between many Big Ten Conference Team locales and West Coast time, that's when the game starts. Starting that early can make for a really long day of football in many households as it once did here, for my husband, but he thrived on what would have been sports overload for me.

These football teams are each others arch enemy. They can be counted on to upset the other's winning streaks in any given year, so it should be an exciting game. For the second year since my husband's death, I find myself drawn to watching this game on television on his behalf, I guess, for reasons I do not understand. I just cannot excise this game from my thoughts since learning the action is to be televised locally. The last time we saw Ohio State play was in San Diego some years ago at the Fiesta Bowl. Their appearance triggered so many memories for me at that time, I actually got a bit weepy-eyed when Ohio State's famous marching band took the field forming their unique "Script Ohio" (see a YouTube video) -- an old friend, Merv Durea, had once earned the honor of "dotting" the "i" in Ohio. Later during the game the band launched into John Tatgenhorst's popular arrangement of "Hang On Sloopy" -- more memories for me of our flying days when that OSU alumnus and his young wife joined us on a flying trip to the Sandusky /Lake Erie area of the Great Lakes.

You see, the Buckeye's were my husband's favorite team, as might be expected of an OSU alumnus who spent so many years living in the Buckeye's home town. He likely might have had an Ohio State football scholarship the fall after he graduated from high school, had it not been for two significant factors. World War II caused OSU's athletic program to be placed on hold and he was diagnosed with a serious medical problem requiring his lengthy hospitalization. Many years later when we met and married, the team's horseshoe shaped football stadium sometimes accommodated us in the stands. We watched as their fabled coach, Woody Hayes, repeatedly guided the team to victory through primarily ground play -- a running game characterized as "ten yards and a cloud of dust."

A few years later when we moved to the West, one of the great disappointments my husband experienced was his inability to regularly view his Big Ten Conference OSU Buckeyes on TV. Even the local Los Angeles Times newspaper sports pages relegated news of his team to very little commentary, if any at all. For reasons he did not want to accept, the college and university teams of the area in which we lived always took priority gaining press attention over his Buckeyes. His sister, commiserating with his plight, sent him a game program after attending each year's opening home game, clipped all sorts of newspaper clippings regarding the team and sent them to him. National networks often televised Ohio State's games, but they were not aired in our region, again catering to local preferences, much to his displeasure. So, when such a game was actually available to view here, my husband's plans revolved around the start time schedule for the event. Perhaps I'm conditioned now to do the same, at least this year again, I guess.

Ohio State's undefeated season last year was one my husband had longed for them to experience for many years. When that finally happened, I couldn't help wondering if somehow where he resides now, behind those pearly gates, he was able to exercise some ethereal influence that enabled the team's success. Unfortunately, he must have been distracted when they later played that bowl game that didn't turn out quite right. But that was last season.

A few weeks ago, his sister, an equally or even more avid Ohio State fan joined him. She was in her eighties, attended home games religiously with their season tickets even after her husband died. I think she and her brother (my husband) are putting their heads together in an effort to enable this team to have another winning season. The Buckeye team has had an unexpectedly spectacular season until being upset in their most recent game. I have to tell you I think that loss happened because he and his sister are butting heads as siblings sometimes do. They're still trying to agree on what various individual players need to do to improve their game. More importantly, I suspect their individual views are quite divergent on how best to coach this team to another winning season. I surely do hope they've gotten their differences worked out, 'because game time is fast approaching as I write this.

I must get to bed now, because I want to see the very opening of the game's televised coverage, just in case that's when the Ohio State Marching Band plays, and performs(see YouTube Video) the "Script Ohio" formation.(See YouTube Video.) I'd prefer to see all the bands at half-time, but corporate greed dictates the television network programs video clips of other games that viewers could easily wait to see later and talking heads spew their replay analysis with statistics during that time. (See YouTube Video University of Michigan Marching Band at a half time Rose Bowl performance.)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Healthcare for All

with Timely Service Delivery

Veterans Care Idea

(This note added after post was published: Thanks to Nancy for providing this link to Kevin Ferris' 11/10/07 Philadelphia Inquirer article titled "A son's pain leads a father to call for help for the VA" documenting the idea source below. This article very effectively describes what too many of our veterans experience in their efforts to seek needed care.)

My Veterans Day post elicited some interesting comments deserving of further thought. Here are some matters which have been on my mind for some time.

A comment from Nancy from Pennsylvania (blog not known, or she may not have one) noted:

"Some of our young men and women are waiting months for appointments at the VA hospitals around the country. While they wait, they often suffer."

This "waiting" is a critical issue for me, as is the "suffer" from the delay. This is true not just for our veterans, but for all our current health care services, and for whatever system we may adopt in the future. Timely delivery of medical services is vital to optimize recovery and minimize deterioration.

Veterans definitely require timely deliver of medical care. Also, any consideration we give to modifying our current health care system, and certainly all plans for a national health care system, must ensure timely delivery of services, whether or not the ailment is life threatening.

My information gathering for several recent years about universal health care systems in other countries (Great Britain, Canada) is on a first person anecdotal level -- from young to elder adults. The one consistent criticism with their systems is with the care delay in many non-life threatening situations. The reports are of long waits "a year or more" for medical care/service for what is considered "elective surgery" i.e. joint, hip replacement surgery and many other non-cosmetic services that can seriously deteriorate with time from a bad situation to worse or more. A few months ago one individual I met reported, in reference to undue service delays, "...not just one year, but two!" This young woman added, "I should know, because I work for the NHS." (National Healthcare System in Great Britain)

I am not writing this in opposition to adopting a national healthcare system in the USA. The lack of healthcare for too many people in this country is a blight on our nation, sad commentary on our society, and heart-breakingly tragic for those parents, children, families, friends, neighbors, others, when they have need. I know of several individuals, in their midlife years, who are only a step away from losing their home, being forced into bankruptcy, should a medical problem require hospitalization and surgeries. The job they hold to pay what insurance they currently can afford would possibly be lost. Or, they might not even be able to perform their previous work if they are able to return following recovery.

I simply want to clearly define at least one of the features I consider essential to any healthcare system we adopt in this country -- timely delivery of services and not just for life-threatening medical problems. I wonder what features are considered vital by others?

Incidentally, (and this is hardly an incidental matter since I'm in this group,) those with what they believe currently to be good insurance coverage and medical service from their doctors, (my primary coverage is Medicare supported by a private supplemental plan,) would be well-advised to recognize we are not immune from possible less desirable health care changes in the years ahead as rising health care costs continue unabated.

I have read numerous reliably documented reports that an increasing number of physicians are refusing to accept Medicare insurance-covered patients. In fact, I have reason to believe I experienced this denial in one instance when I had to seek a specialist a few months ago. I was accepted at another specialist's office, but never saw him, only his nurse practitioner.

The question might be, to what extent does the fact that Medicare reimbursement rates for physicians are being decreased influence these physician actions? The rate decrease is noted in this American Medical Association's Patients Action Network report.

The issues I've mentioned here are only a few threads extracted from the healthcare coverage cloak in which we all want to wrap ourselves, so that we each can have the care we desire and deserve in this wealthy nation of ours. We certainly do need to continue to dialogue about these topics and others which readers might suggest.

One of those threads, Nancy mentioned in her comment, was a possible way to ensure our veterans receive the healthcare to which they are entitled. Here's what she wrote:

"A local activist here in Pennsylvania has a suggestion that he hopes will be put into action in relief of these veterans.

"His plan is for every Doctor in the country to "Adopt" a veteran to take care of. Just think, the young man or woman who needs help would be treated locally by a Doctor who would have a sincere interest in him/her.No long waits for appointments with a hassled Doctor at the VA who has hundreds of others to take care of at the same time. The local Doctor would become a friend, healer and champion of the vet who needs him .

"What do you think? Would it work?"

My response, Nancy, is anything is possible, but probable is another question. I'm not a Doctor, so I will not presume to surmise what the medical profession's reaction to this idea might be. I believe the local activist would be wise to consult with some doctors as to the viability of such an undertaking, to understand the pros and cons of the matter, if the activist has not already done so. If this idea has any realistic expectation of being adopted, I would think the local activist's best chance for successful implementation will be by obtaining the physicians' support. If the activist gains a Doctor(s) support, then perhaps the plan could be undertaken on a small scale. The idea seems simple and workable enough on the surface, but I think the layers in making it function are more complex.

I would certainly welcome others ideas on Nancy's question and on other healthcare issues, whether or not mentioned here.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Veterans Deserve Quality Medical Care and for Citizens to Vote

Thank You, Veterans !

Veteran's Day is the annual occasion when we honor our U.S.A. armed forces for their dedication to preserving our freedoms, sometimes risking their lives. Some other countries recognize their veterans with the Nov. 11th date named Armistice Day, as originally designated at the conclusion of World War I. (See archives for the Nov. 11, 2006 post.)

Many Americans, including some of my family members, were veterans of WWI which was centered in Europe. The horrific consequences of the weapons used, including destructive bombs and effects of chemicals/gas led many people to believe war would never again occur.

Then years later, the unthinkable happened when the U.S.A.'s military troops were directly assaulted in Hawaii. World War II escalated until most people everywhere were eventually embroiled in some way. Many in our country had family members who volunteered to serve as did mine. Everyone was convinced at the climax of this nightmarish conflagration and holocaust, that this was the war that ended all wars, that genocide would never again happen. How mistaken we were.

I do believe that the sacrifices made by our armed forces during WWII are directly responsible for the fact our country continued to exist as the free democracy/republic our constitution's creators intended. For this reason I accord special tribute to those WWII surviving veterans whose numbers diminish daily, as well as to those who live only in spirit now.

The wars did not end, though we sometimes sidestep use of the word, "war." So it was that we engaged in a "Police Action" in Korea. Those who died, the maimed, the survivors might well attest that the actions during that confrontation seemed quite identical to those of war.

The next major bloody action in which lives were forever altered occurred in Viet Nam. So many lives were lost, others survived with many becoming "walking wounded." Our servicemen and women have been asked to serve in various locations around the world in peace-keeping efforts since then. They have exposed themselves to death's potential and some have made that final sacrifice representing our nation.

Even now, as I write this, our country has increased veterans numbers by embroiling them in war in Afghanistan and Iraq with all the tragedy that entails. Whatever is each individuals view of this latest war, I honor those who have had to fulfill their military commitment in the manner of veterans before them.

All veterans, in the U.S.A. and around the world, have made sacrifices in the name of their country. Some have given their lives, others have survived, some with remaining injuries of outward physical and/or mental change, some with inner wounds invisible to the eye.

I believe as a nation our people should be insistent that our veterans receive not only initial optimum timely medical care, but continued long term therapeutic interventions needed to maximize their quality of life. I am greatly distressed whenever I become aware veterans have not received the highest level of care as media and government reports have revealed this past year.

I fervently urge our legislators and government to ensure all our veterans receive the medical care promised them and of which they are so deserving. The very least each of us can do is to lobby our government on our veterans behalf, insisting on this medical care and the immediate correction of any problems associated with its provision.

We also honor our veterans when we acquaint ourselves with local, state, national and international issues that affect all our lives, then express our views by voting on election days. Our veterans have offered their lives so that we can enjoy freedom. In return, our responsibility is to vote in elections, a small act compared to the actions we've required of our veterans.

Thank you, again, veterans !

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Legislation Assaults Personal Liberties

"Thought Crime Bill Passes House"

is the title of Ronni Bennett's Tuesday, 06 November 2007 post at

"Time Goes By."

She reports this bill is:

"Designated H.R.1955 and titled the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism and Prevention Act of 2007, it is an amendment to the Homeland Security Act of 2002"

I strongly urge anyone who has not read the alarm she sounds to do so by connecting to her blog on the link highlighted above.

Please contact your congresspersons to prevent the bill's becoming law if you care about our personal freedoms, preserving our democracy and constitution.

Coincidentally, without having read her post I had just written in my previous post here about prior unsatisfactory communication experiences with my congressperson. I will make my views known in the hopes this time they will receive serious consideration.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Politicians Communication Shortcomings

Have you communicated lately via letter, phone, email with some entity you didn't know regarding business, eliciting a request for information, or expressing an opinion on important social and political issues?

I have infrequently done all of the above through the years, but probably not often enough to any one person that they would remember me from one time to the next. I would estimate that anywhere from eighty to ninety percent of the time, the responses I receive are generally timely and satisfactory. But then, there are those others.

I've been thinking about writing my congressperson, even though I'm pretty confident he is going to toe his political party line on behalf of big business on the matter about which I'm interested. I just can't help thinking, maybe -- just maybe -- he really did perceive the message voters sent that the policies he has been promoting these past seven years have quite fallen out of favor with many more of his supporters, and my views just might be worth paying more attention to now. I suppose his giving credence to my views is just too much to hope for, but hope springs eternal for me. Actually, hope seems to be about all with which I'm left on so many issues today.

The reason I'm hesitating about contacting him is my past experience of doing so has been very frustrating and confusing. This once quite powerful U.S. House Representative, when his political party was in control, I guess has been ill-served by his aides, at least in how they've communicated with me on his behalf. Yes, I do receive replicated hand-written form responses from him, but I don't quite know what to make of them. The content is often very non-specific, and all too often even unrelated to the subject matter of my query.

The first time this happened, I thought it must be a mistake, confusing my message with another's. Then, after such instances repeated through the years, on a variety of different topics, I decided differently. I could only conclude there was no real interest in my issue and wondered what statistical category and pile for form letters my message got tossed into. I wondered what information his aides were really giving him about constituents' communiques. Apparently, all I really accomplished was giving his office an excuse to send me whatever written agenda he was promoting at the time, for that is all I received, along with his thanks for my having contacted him in the first place.

I don't know what you think, but I would rather have no response, than an obviously mechanized one that couldn't even be considered utilitarian since the subject matter was unrelated to my query. I do wonder, if others perceive they are more successful having their views and opinions given serious consideration by those who profess to represent their interests?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Living In Place Complications

Technology is carefully interrelated in such a manner today that I find once I succumb to using one tech item, sooner or later I must adopt another, ad infinitum. Frankly, I think I can hear conversations exchanged between all these communication devices. Today, I think I heard a cell phone I was using chuckling with the ATM which had tricked me, over what a fool I'd been made of, and now the borrowed cell phone (since I didn't yet have one of my own) was going to rescue me from my dilemma, thus proving how we humans cannot survive without any of them.

My day began innocently enough as I awakened to the sound of grass being mowed, hedges being trimmed and power blowers chasing leaves, all manned by those hired to aid those less able to do all that themselves. I remember as a young girl the days before all this power equipment and having to use an old-fashioned push mower -- I was the power. I have no nostalgia to return to those days. Once I had a home of my own, my husband and I (mostly my husband) prided ourselves in performing our own yard care as did our neighbors.

Then, something happened in our neighborhood. We all became older or health changes occurred. Next thing we knew the better part of wisdom dictated letting someone else perform those yard care tasks. Gone are the days when the neighborhood boys wanted to earn a few extra dollars, so we could hire them to assist with yard care to supplement their newspaper delivery route income. Boys don't even deliver newspapers anymore, adults deliver the papers now from their cars. Even teenage girls are rarely available for babysitting, for by the time they're old enough and mature enough for that responsibility as sophomore to senior high school students, they no longer are interested in such employment. I'm told babysitters today are often Jr. High School age girls from sixth grade through ninth. I would never have allowed a child that young to sit with my babies and young children.

But I digress as I am prone to do. I retrieved the morning papers from the drive, noticing this was a lovely warm Southern California Fall day. The sky was blue, now, streaked with white clouds, a delight to the eye, compared to the dirty tan and ashy gray we had seen with the recent Southern California fires. The atmosphere appeared clear, but I knew invisible particles and respiratory irritants were still present in the outdoor air, since my voice continues to acquire an every so slight raspy quality daily with much exposure to outdoor air. The fires east of here are still not quite contained.

As I readied for my day, I took personal pleasure in the fact I had planned and executed well some routine periodic tasks the day before, involved in caring for my auto, such as the regular oil change, tires rotated, a cleansing wash and wax to rid the exterior of damaging ashes plus any other residue from recent fires, along with having the auto interior cleaned. They also washed all the little round yellow drops off the surface of my car. Just as a side note, I've been wondering for weeks what the round yellow drops were. I just read in the L. A. Times that research had confirmed they were from bees and were pollen associated, but not as everyone had thought. They were in fact: bee "poop" processed pollen. Who knew.

I decided on breakfast out, taking along my usual newspaper to read, which was my plan following performing a number of errands before going to work around the lunch time hours. Prior to leaving the house I had completed my regular end of the month reports and paperwork which I would copy at the nearby printer, then drop off at our local office. With some errands completed, I cheerfully arrived at the ATM, inserted my card, entered the requested information as usual, then inserted the check I definitely wanted credited to my account that day. I also needed to withdraw some cash from my account.

On the screen, up jumped the little flashing dots that raced one after the other horizontally in front of me, then started over again, while the printed message above said "Processing..." Nothing more happened after that, the "processing" continued with those increasingly maddening little flashing dots repetitively racing nowhere. Finally, striking the "Cancel" key in an attempt to retrieve my card and check, I discovered, nothing changed -- "Processing" and those now irritating flashing dots continued as before.

What to do? I wasn't about to leave the machine with my card and check inside, my account open, should the ATM suddenly finish processing and spit them all back out, leaving my account exposed for whoever might appear there next. Several people came by, but beat a hasty retreat as soon as I explained there appeared to be a cash machine malfunction. They turned a deaf ear to my queries about how to get to a phone to report this dilemma to the bank while safeguarding my ATM card and check lost inside the machine. Privately, I dreaded making the phone call, as I knew it meant reaching a recorded message offering me umpteen different choices from which to select and then after a likely interminably long wait, to actually talk with a human being (probably on the other side of this continent, but, hopefully, not outside the country.)

Finally, some good hearted soul came by, was sympathetic to my plight, offered me her cell phone without my asking. Later I learned she was a nurse on her lunch hour which I inadvertently caused her to spend with me. Who says health care workers are insensitive to other people any more? As expected, the bank person I reached with the cell phone was located elsewhere and was quite unfamiliar with my community. I carefully made certain he didn't mix up the name of my city with another pronounced the same but spelled differently, as I had long ago learned the hard way was a mistake often made by others with undesired results.

This bank representative elicited needed personal information, so I'm spewing out my most private security data to which the cell phone lender was privy. (There is no privacy any more as someone keeps telling me, and I keep getting convinced regularly.) The Rep then gave me assurance my deposited official bank check would be credited to my account at the end of the day when they closed out the machine, thus covering checks previously written for which I did not want to be overdrawn. My card having been devoured by the ATM would be cancelled and I would receive a new one within days in the mail.

I repeated what an earlier party who had stopped by the ATM to commiserate with me (but could offer no further assistance,) advised me to do, simply because I liked the way what he said sounded and it made me feel more in control. I told the bank official I would hold the bank personally responsible for any charges that might occur against my account as a consequence of this if all he promised didn't happen and I incurred financial loss.

Then, just when I thought the matter was finished, the bank person transferred me to another employee, to which I had the joy and pleasure (I am being sarcastic) of going through much of this again -- their "Loss and Claims Dept." or some such title. Whatever happened to the days when one employee could take care of everything? I normally would have been writing employee names and promises down, but was unable to do so, and by this time the poor nurse is telling me, "I have to go back to work now," so she needed her phone returned. As she quickly departed, I didn't even get her name or where she worked to offer more than the verbal "thanks" I gave her. I sure hope she had lunch before she came to do her banking which she obviously didn't get to complete.

This is about the third new ATM model installed in this location as they keep "improving"(?) them. Well, I haven't liked this latest model from the beginning, partially because there's much less privacy since it takes any checks that are being deposited, then displays them on the big screen, anyone around could easily see. After this little event today off I went to complete more of my errands, including a newly added stop at my bricks and mortar bank to which that ATM belongs. Also, by going there, I increased my comfort level by double checking to see if I needed to advise my "real" bank directly, as I think of the "bricks and mortar" one, to insure no problem (there was no need to do so, I learned.) I finally got that extra cash I needed. I decided to provide my assessment of this new ATM -- a not very pleasant appraisal -- to my friendly local banker while I was there.

Imagine my surprise when he commiserated with me, saying he had managed to keep that new ATM model from replacing the several directly outside the bank because he had learned the new model had entirely too many unresolved problems. He said he hopes by stalling, that within the next few months they'll get the problems with this new model resolved, because he knows that model will ultimately be installed everywhere. Whatever happened to working out technical machine problems BEFORE putting them into use? They seem to do a lot of that premature releasing of tech equipment -- letting customers work out the bugs.

My banker advised me not to use that ATM any more that I used today, or others placed out like that (it's in the front of what was my deli in a solid connected series of store fronts in a small shopping center.) He also said to avoid the lone standing ATMs in stores or elsewhere, instead to transact ATM business through my grocery store check out clerk. Or, come directly to his and other brick and mortar buildings using their ATMs, or the tellers inside the bank.

I said having to drive myself now for banking, defeated my carefully laid plans for later life independence. First the bank did away with my brick and mortar branch, then they finally put in this ATM 'cause so many people complained. Now, I learn it's best to avoid that ATM. I told him I had discovered not long ago, my residence was positioned so that I was located within walking distance of just about every service I might need, should I ever reach a point where driving a car was no longer possible, and that I liked the idea of living in place as I aged.

I added, I thought it was quite likely that a number of increasingly aging adults were also interested in aging in place. Therefore, we need nearby good safe reliable places whereby we can transact our banking business. I didn't mention my bank wasn't the first to thwart my goal, since a few years ago my local deli closed, which is where they put this ATM and gave the rest of the building to the last thing we needed -- a nail salon and tanning booth.

He suggested I should consider banking on line, and he would like to teach me how to do so securely. Maybe the time has come to check into that, too. Not all checks can be deposited automatically though, nor can I retrieve cash from my computer,so guess I still will need to get to my bank sometimes. I expect to be able to do so for a lot of years to come, but you never know what can happen. Can't plan too far ahead these days, so who knows what will develop with my expectation to live in place here in my home, or how the neighborhood will evolve.

I don't like the idea of banking in my supermarket, but... I guess I'd better consider investigating banking online, but ... I think before this year ends I'll get a cell phone, but... I don't really need it that much and I still want to keep my land line. Did I mention right after the ATM fiasco I walked two doors down and picked up a cell phone catalog at my local Verizon store, co-incidentally re-opened today, and listened to the salesman's pitch? I'll consult with my kids for the real scoop.

I'm not going to use that ATM anymore, but... do you think it knew that I didn't like it? Was there some sort of conspiracy in the airwaves between the cell phones in the re-opened store and the ATM? Then, I remembered the date 10/31/07 -- that the day was Halloween. Those darn goblins! The way things were going, I decided not to go out to the pumpkin patch last night to watch for "The Great Pumpkin," just in case the goblins might turn up there. Maybe next year.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Recap So. Cal Fires

Our Southern California fires are coming under control based on a variety of reports gathered from the traditional radio, TV and newspaper news sources. I haven't had time to search much on the Internet which I'm sure provides some excellent detailed fire reports. My activities have been such it works for me to catch all-news radio stations when I am busy around the house, or listen to the car radio when I'm out. Also, today I spontaneously treated myself to breakfast out and drug along the Sunday paper to read. I enjoyed being waited upon.

I know my friends would advise me if events were not looking more promising for their family members, so I have employed my mother's philosophy that works quite well in some situations, "no news, is good news."

Sat. the sky was full of that light brown tannish discoloration, completely blocking from view the mountains only a few miles north. I was delighted, only temporarily, when about seventeen big raindrop splotches spattered on my car windshield, I thought this was the beginning of much needed moisture -- it was the begnning and the end. When I arrived home, just as I stepped from the car, more drops almost moistened the entire driveway, but that, too, ended.

From time to time these days the sky's color has transitioned from that light brown to becoming grayish in appearance. This morning we finally had blue sky, accompanied by actual white curdled clouds. Even the mountains were quite visible.

I know the areas east of us in San Bernardino County where Lake Arrowhead, Running Springs and other communities are, continue to demand much concentration from firefighters. For all the remaining fires everywhere I tend to be a bit cautious lest the winds change and come in from the east out of the dessert at what can be at very high velocity -- they're referred to as Santa Ana winds whatever their speed. Dormant fires can suddenly come to life again when those winds emerge. I hope that's not the case this time.

South of here in San Diego County, the San Diego Zoo Wild Animal Park actually had to close for a few days, but is now reopened. Only a very few animals reportedly died and other damage was also minimal. Avocado trees west of there around Escondio, were unfortunately affected, with one report indicating one third of the crop might be lost, possibly resulting in increased costs at the store for consumers. Sadly many homes were lost around Escondido.

North of that area is an Indian reservation, also the famed Palomar Observatory. TV pictures indicate dark smoke roiling in the sky in that vicinity, but lives are not reported to be in danger. I hope they continue to gain increased control there.

Events such as this should give us all pause to reassess what our disaster plans are. There are various events, in addition to fire, that are unique to each persons' own geographic area which could necessitate a hasty departure from home. I've been guilty, as probably others are, of needing to reassess my preparations for the unknown. We saw in New Orleans, and some have probably learned the hard way here in Southern California, about some of the complications that can prevail -- the value of self-reliance -- how unpredictable life can be.

I'm delighted to start this day hearing there's a possibility we may be able to look forward to some rain in the days ahead, that the winds are cooperatively laying low, and a high percentage of fire control prevails in most all fire areas.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Fires Overshadow Blog First Year Anniversary Celebration

Southern California fires overshadow "Along The Way" blog's first year anniversary celebration. I may share my reflective observations on this first year of blogging sometime in the future.

But my thoughts are continuing to be pre-occupied with the devastating Southern California fires. I am so familiar with many of these areas that are being ravaged. Irvine was subjected to loss, though not the Amphitheatre where I enjoyed summer concerts about which I wrote here in earlier posts. The news mention of almost every Southern California community affected by fire arouses recent or past memories of just driving through there, sometimes of time spent there, often when my husband was still living, or my children younger.

Only a few weeks ago I travelled on Interstate 15 to a class at the Escondido hospital in San Diego County, near where my long favorite Bates Brothers Nut Farm is located. Some years ago our children walked through the pumpkin patch, each finally choosing and picking their own Halloween pumpkin. Another favorite site of ours there is the nearby San Diego Zoo Wild Animal Park. Hills all around Escondido are covered with avocado trees. I've heard no news reports to the contrary so trust those locations are spared. The first days of the fires this week, the traffic had come to a complete halt on that same I15 freeway and I could well imagine the discomfort of those stuck out there.

That morning going out my front door looking north toward the mountains the sky was a brightly colored blue. Then, as I drove southward in my car, I noticed the sky had an ever so slight tannish color, much like the sky I remembered when we lived in Arizona and a dust storm was headed our way. Here in California the next morning when I left the house the northern sky remained blue as before, but the southern sky was a darker brown. The following morning, the northern sky was blue as usual, but the southern sky a darker dirty-looking brown. My voice became raspy walking a short distance from a parking lot to inside my building destination. In the afternoon, as I walked north toward my car I saw only a brownish glaze over the once blue sky as far as my eye could see in any direction. I wonder what this next day's sky will be?

Another less recent memory was four years ago when we had driven to San Diego and were grateful to have had reservations to spend the night there, when news revealed fires had arisen in the area. The flames were moving rapidly, until at one point the TV announcement was made that all routes in and out of the City were closed due to fires. We ventured to dinner at the motel's restaurant, but after returning to our room, stayed inside as cautioned, due to the the smoke-filled unhealthy air, especially debilitating for those with respiratory problems as my husband experienced. Shortly, we were startled to hear named on TV our home city in the northeast corner of Los Angeles County, accompanied by horrifying pictures of destructive fires, houses burning. Our home was not endangered, though I phoned a local friend just for reassurance. We were subjected to restricted exit routes driving home from San Diego the next day, passing burned-out blackened areas along both roadsides. We encountered a driveway full of ashes, spread about like snow, when we arrived home.

As I write this, news media focuses audio and video on mountains east of us where fires are raging in the San Bernardino County area which is -- was ? -- the location of a mountain cabin owned by a relative of dear family friends. This cabin was available to individual family group relatives to provide an opportunity for their togetherness. I felt honored to be allowed to stay there. The cabin was spared during a severe fire in the Running Springs area a few years ago, but family members think it is highly unlikely a similar survival has occurred this time. How grateful we can all be that no family members were present there, so no lives were at risk. Another nearby mountain community, called Lake Arrowhead, has experienced the loss of several hundred homes, many likely the residences of elders, but at least their lives were spared.

Then, there's a popular resort area called Big Bear that's battling fires and is the residence of a friend's sister. I haven't heard about the nearby Idyllwild community with homes scattered through a wooded area that's home to more hummingbirds than I've every seen in one location other than the San Diego Zoo bird sanctuary. I wonder what has happened to those delicate little birds up in those mountain areas? Perhaps they had gone south. Last year, I sold my husband's station wagon to a gentleman who told me they had a second home there and he planned to take it up there to be housed in a garage, especially through the winters. I think he and his wife are safe, but I find it strange that I wonder about the welfare of that vehicle, but I do.

Rehabilitation facilities such as where I provide services are receiving inquiries as to how many beds they have available. Whether or not they will actually need to be utilized is presently unknown. How that may impact the amount of time I will need to make available remains to be seen. I'm just glad my earlier medical issues which side-lined me those weeks beginning around the end of August are resolved and I'm back at work.

Almost everyone I've encountered, old and new acquaintances, neighbors, co-workers, friends, has had reason for concern about these fires. For some the issue was whether or not they could drive home after work. For others, their anxiety has been about their friends and family, or they have related stories that someone they knew had probably lost their home. At least, so far, no one I have encountered has had to experience anything beyond material loss, but that is heart-breaking, too. I feel sadness for them. My heart goes out to all who have experienced loss, including those professional workers, but especially to those injured or who have lost loved ones. The fires are not yet contained, so we don't know what may lie ahead with the capricious winds. You can be updated on the most current reports through your local media and a multitude of computer news sites.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

100 Years -- Who? Me?

People over 100 years of age seem to be gradually increasing in number as our world's population ages. While I have more than a quarter of a century to go, I wonder, will I reach that centennial marker? Will I be healthy? How will my body continue to change in these years ahead? I've been physically changing all my life, so change is nothing new. What degree of mental changes, if any, will I experience? These are exciting interesting years, just as all my earlier ones have been. I expect these years to come to be the same -- exciting and interesting -- always in differing and unique ways.

Some information on aging issues recently came to my attention which I believe others may find of interest, too. The Los Angeles Times October 15, 2007 Health section has a "Special Issue: Aging Well" covering a variety of topics. One such article, "100 or older? There's a pattern" by Elena Conis, examines getting older around the world. Read this article by scrolling down to that title at the above link.

Friday, October 19, 2007


Three Centuries of Living
(Added U.S.A. 10/20/07)

Krystyna: Even though it's the 21st in Australia, it's still the 20th in the U.S.A., so we can keep celebrating Olive's birthday here. Just happens to be my birthday, too, so I can continue celebrating for her as well as myself. Coincidentally, my mother was born the same year as Olive in 1899. Boggles my mind when I stop to think these ladies lived in the nineteenth century AND twentieth century AND NOW Olive is living in the twenty-first century! We can all only hope we continue to have as much fun as she appears to be having as we travel through these elder years. I'll bet Olive will even appreciate belated birthday wishes.

OCTOBER 20th 2007

Birthday Greetings to you, Olive --
Congratulations on being the oldest blogger

***Visit Olive in Australia through the magic of Internet blogging and wish her a happy birthday at "The Life of Riley."

My special message to Olive:

Olive, I've been enjoying reading your stories, seeing your pictures, soon after your first blog, or "blob" post, as you say. Thanks to your helper, Mike, for assisting you with creating such an interesting blog.

Your blog and DVD has been an additional inspiration for at least one Los Angeles area, California, USA, retirement community skilled nursing facility. Some individuals are temporarily there for rehabilitation and may leave for a higher level of care such as Assisted Living, or to Independent Living in the retirement community. Some return to their own homes. Others remain as permanent residents. All the individuals are usually Elders - age 50 years to 100, or older. One particular facility is preparing to explore providing a blogging opportunity for residents. Many will need a helper as you have.

There have been many smiles on the faces of residents who have seen your DVD movie. The movie will continue to be shared with other local groups.

I'll look forward to future accounts of your experiences, observations on life.

I wish you many more birthdays and posts to your "blob."