Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Dear Gay People

I am not typical. Isn't THAT an understatement. Those that have known me for all or most of my life know that I have taken several roads seldom traveled. I like it that way. I am willing to look beyond what is accepted to what I believe to be right. Even when that goes against all or most of society. That said, I have a few principles that are in fact, principles.

I believe we have the right to live our life in ways that makes us happy. As long as the actions do not harm or interfere with the rights of others. That means I can choose who I want to spend my life with, live where I want to, have a vocation that fulfills my needs. It also means that everyone else has the same right and freedom.

It appears that many gays - especially those that claim to be liberal - would agree with all but the last statement above. How vile is that? People claim to be for freedom for themselves but not for others. And when pointed out, they claim, it's the law. Bullshit.

Bad law should be ignored and fought against. Even when the 'law' is simply a societal taboo, such as 'races should not mingle'. I am not suggesting everyone should break laws - there are costs associated with every choice and each person should weigh those costs to themselves and their families.

Forcing people to be your friend doesn't work. Forcing people to accept you for who you are doesn't work. It creates animosity, anger, loathing, and hatred. It results in exactly the opposite of the intention. Want to be accepted? Be accepting. Want to be friends? Be friendly.

If I am not liked, respected or accepted by someone, I can't imagine doing anything that would force that person to engage with me further. Why, it would be like forcing a woman raped by a man to marry him. It would be like forcing a homeowner to rent a room to the person that broke in to their home.

I want to be treated like an adult, so I act like an adult. I don't act like a 12 yr old whining to a teacher that no one will play with me....


I have opposed gay couples forcing bakers, photographers and printers to provide services when it is clear those proprietors don't want to. I have noted that the law requires those proprietors to in fact serve the gay couples. I oppose anti-discrimination laws - I think people should have the freedom to refuse service, refuse to associate with anyone they choose. However, failing to follow the law has consequences. Straight people that believe Christian businesspeople should have the freedom to refuse service should stand up against anti-discrimination laws. It works both ways....

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Term Limits

I have often been told that while opposing term limits is a principle of liberty - we should be able to vote for whomever we want and not be prevented by a law (I have a slightly different take on President) - the system is too corrupt to allow that principle to remain. Folks, a principle is not something that is useful only when it works in your favor. Even when it works against you, the foundation of PRINCIPLE is that it doesn't change to suit you. for all the hand-wringing about corruption and 97% re-election rates, I oppose term limits because I think people should be allowed to vote for whomever they want - and it is clear, corrupt and vile politicians are the preferred kind...

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Anti-Religion

I have noticed in my writings that a little anti-religion has crept in and that I was spending more time arguing against religion than for something else. Not that I oppose religion on any grounds except for myself. I support people's faith and involvement in religion. What they do from that point on is their issue - unless it gets into my liberty. So, I've gone back into the current work and eliminated about 40% of the effort to make it more about my point of view and less about what others are doing. Hmmm...maybe if we did more of that in our personal lives...

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Normal: any system or organism that functions without modification within the environment for which it was created.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Tower of Babble

How many lies can be told before truth is no longer expected?

I'm baaaaaaack...

Wow...it's been almost 2 years since I posted anything. Well, no one pays attention, but I am going to post here every day (or almost everyday) instead of posting to facebook or anywhere else. My first purpose of this blog was to have a place to put mt writing/thoughts. I fell away with twitter, then with facebook, but really, neither satisfy - too much hoping for others to notice I think. So, I am going back to posting here, content that no one is going to notice, but that I will.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

September 11, 2001, In memoriam: Barbara (Bobbi) Arestegui

Posted annually on 9/11 since 2006

September 11, 2001, 7:59am, United Flight 11 leaves Boston's Logan airport.

In just a few short minutes, Barbara (Bobbi) Arestegui, 38, of Marstons Mills, Massachusetts would be one of the first casualties of that day. Assigned to the First Class cabin, Bobbi and fellow attendant Karen Martin were attacked shortly after takeoff.


In less than 40 minutes, the rest of the crew and passengers of Flight 11 died in the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

There are no public posts from friends or family on Bobbi. Two stories were published about her and her boyfriend Wayne. From them, the information below is shared.


"The first thing I noticed, of course, was that she is absolutely beautiful," he said. "We had a nice talk, probably for about 15 minutes. I asked her if it would be possible to get her phone number."

She told him sternly: "No, I don't give out my home number."

Wayne shrugged his shoulders and walked away, thinking: I gave it my best shot. She stopped him with one word.

"But," she said.
He turned.
"I'll give it to you."

She was living in Washington, D.C., the middle of five girls from a California family with Spanish Basque roots. Two of the girls would join the tight-knit community of flight attendants.

Her typical schedule was three or four days on followed by three or four days home.

She turned their house into a cozy retreat with a garden out back. They made a habit of walking the cranberry bogs, picking blueberries and having breakfast at the Mills Restaurant. She loved to cook - she dreamed of attending culinary school.

Bobbi picked up three stray and abused cats: Olive, Bruiser and Pumpkin. She'd loved animals since she was a kid in Hawthorne, a suburb of Los Angeles.

"She was a gentle person, yet tough when she needed to be," said Rosie Arestegui, who gave her daughter Barbara the nickname Bobbi. "She knew her job so well. She could do two or three people's work, plus hers, and it would be done perfectly."

Colleagues of Bobbi repeated that praise when Wayne met them in Boston on Friday. He talked with more than 50 people who knew his girlfriend through work. They remembered her as energetic; a huge heart in a 5-foot-3-inch frame.

Bobbi was not scheduled to work Flight 11 that day. But she had accepted extra flights; she was saving up her earned vacation to take a trip with Wayne at the end of September.

She got up about 2:30 that morning and within a few hours was out the door.

"Usually she wakes me up when she leaves. She didn't wake me up this time," he said.

But she did keep another of their rituals: At 6:45 a.m., he got a phone call from the airport.

"She told me that she was just about to board. She was waiting for them to finish cleaning the plane," he said. "She was in a wonderful mood, better than normal."


To view other sites honoring those that died on 9/11

Links:
http://www.september11victims.com/september11Victims/VictimInfo.asp?ID=3
http://www.flightattendants.org/Memorials/AA_FA_Barbara_Arestegui.htm
http://www.inmemoriamonline.net/Profiles/Folders/A_Folder/Arestegui_Barbara-(AA11).html
http://www.capecodonline.com/special/terror/changessubtle11.htm

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Economics

When I first was introduced to economics (Micro 101) in college, my basic understanding of the economy cause me no end of trouble in class. What the professor was discussing was so far from my experience I had to wonder if economics actually had anything to do with the economy. It took years for me to understand that in fact, the two had very little in common. Like a photographer evaluating the finest detail of a picture of an elephant, the economist sees only the surface appearance.

But the human brain is an amazing machine that can take just that appearance and determine a great deal about the 'elephant'. As long as you understand the limitations of the attempt, the economist can tell you a great deal about the economy. What they can NOT do is predict, 'what the elephant will do'.

The economy is made up of every actor that participates in it. My purchases, yours, our work, our choices, each create a part of the economy and drive it. Seven billion actors, each independently, and each as a group, from family to community, to state to nation, each a separate and independent actor combine minute by minute (in our digital age -billionth of a second by billionth of a second) to create the economy.

I once described the economy as the wind. You can measure it, you can determine it's direction, force and temperature. You can even, with those measurements, predict it's future direction. But you can not turn it, stop it, move it or entice it. Like light, the wind is both wave and particle. The economy is the wind, with trees and mountains, buildings and shade and water all impacting the flow. We can catch parts in cul-de-sacs or by opening a door and make precise measurements as it flows by, but the farther from a point of measurement, the less we know about it's behavior and future.

Take 100 people from very similar soc-economic situations (income, family, education, geographic location) and give each $5000 per month to spend on all expenses. Keep careful track of the expenditures over a year, Patterns will emerge, large scale consistencies. The edges will vary but the overall picture of those 100 economic units will be fairly clearly established. Now, take a new 100 people from the same soc-economic situation and predict how they will spend $4000 or $6000 over the next year. Many of the same broad categories will emerge, but 'centers of gravity' or 'attractors' will shift.

Further, if you take 1/3 of the group from a pool of people whose income the previous years was significantly less than $5000, 1/3 whose income was significantly more than $5000 and those that have earned $5000 over several years, the ranges within categories will vary broadly. Each person, each economic unit has a different starting point, a different center of gravity.

If it seems as if I am suggesting Chaos Theory, I am.

Many Economists hate to be lumped into social science departments - their attempt to mathematically model economic behavior (they say) is a hard science, steeped in the bowels of mathematics. However, each economic unit, each individual in the experiment above will NOT spend their $5000 each month exactly the same as the previous month. Use a mathematical equation to model their behavior and the error will be all over the map. The Economist will SAY, using math to prove it, that the error is distributed in a way that is measurable. Spending will fall into clear categories but the 'error' will be 'disposable income', a catchall that will encompass so much variety that attempts to minimize it will fail any real world explanation.

Economists will bring probabilities into the calculations. Of course an economic unit will be unable to purchase a jet plane and will probably not buy a single piece of gum so the range of potential purchases will be a probability problem. As a descriptor, it works well, but not as a predictor. This is the fallacy of economics: prediction of the behavior of an economic unit is NOT the sum of the probabilities.

"Adjusting one variable and keeping all the others the same" will predict one possible outcome out of an infinite range of possibilities. A useless result.

"Past experience is not a predictor of future behavior" is exactly the only possible result of economic analysis.

Does this mean we should toss our hands up and say, can't predict future economic behavior of economic units? No. There are some specific 'rules' that economists have been able to glean from their work. Like weathermen knowing that air flows from areas of high pressure to areas of low pressure, economic activity is greater in areas of higher monetary aggregates. Where abundance of resources exist, their value/cost is lower than in areas where the resources are scarce. Greater cost reduces usage. For our 100 people, increasing the income increases the range of possible purchases as reducing the income reduces the range of possible purchases.

These basic rules are often ignored by economists tasked with determining policies for government. What happens when economists ignore the rules and think they know how the wind blows?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A response to #occupy

Survey Reveals Occupiers’Values
by Joshua Sager


A recent survey found that Boston’s occupiers share a number of common values and support several major issues, despite having a lack of centralized demands. The “Occupy Boston Issue Survey” received responses from just over 260 occupiers. The survey posed sixty questions to determine the views of occupiers on a wide variety of issues, ranging from tax policy to defense, in order to determine the aggregate opinions of the occupiers. It reached participants via email lists, Google Groups, Facebook, and Twitter. A frequent criticism of the Occupy movement is that the occupiers have expressed no central set of demands. Some critics have concluded that the lack of defined demands signifies that the protesters are not protesting anything at all. However, the survey finds that ten issues and beliefs have near-universal support among occupiers. They are:

1. Revoke corporate personhood so that corporations have no ability to interfere in elections.

Agreed. Most people associated with the Tea Party and most Conservatives agree that corporations are ‘people’ with limited lifespans, or they are not. Can’t be both. However, as long as donations are transparent, corporations have the right to be involved in their governance also.

2. Remove the “revolving doors” that contribute to the corruption of the regulatory process.

Restrictions concerning jobs people may take after government services already exist. Further, arguments that the most experienced in private sector being banned from gov work deprives gov of the best minds. In general, the Tea Party and Conservatives agree on this - however, less government also results in less opportunity for regulatory manipulation.

3. Institute a progressive tax code which both removes loopholes as well as makes the rich and corporations pay their “fair share”.

A. We already have a progressive tax code; B. Corporations pass taxes onto consumers so increasing their taxes just increases how much consumers ‘contribute’ to gov via secondary and less transparent means. Also, define ‘fair share’. The top 1% pay 45% of all income taxes now - how much more should they pay? 50%, 70%, 99%? When a top tax payer has to pay 70 or 99% of every new dollar earned, why bother earning any more?

4. Re-institute the Glass-Steagall Act and place stricter regulations on capital leveraging.

Agreed. However leveraging is only part of the problem. Derivatives were/are used to ‘hedge’ risk and attempts to regulate them as insurance failed. Further attempts to do so have met with stiff opposition in Congress by DEMOCRATS. Although Republicans also prevented meaningful reform in this area.


5. Increase the transparency and accountability of the Federal Reserve.

Agreed. Candidate and Congressman Ron Paul has made several efforts in this regard and has been prevented by both parties.


6. Institute election reform so that money can no longer be used to buy elections.

Either corporations are people or they are not. If not, then there are other alternatives to preventing them from influencing elections - HOWEVER, the right to petition the gov for redress of grievances applies to all entities and people governed.

7. End the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Iraq is all but over and Afghanistan would resemble Cambodia’s killing fields if we left abruptly. Most conservatives are having a hard time continuing support for Afghanistan given how the effort is being mismanaged at this point by Washington. If the plan isn’t changed, bring them home.

8. Invest in clean energy development and increase environmental regulations.

The EPA now regulates our breathing. How far do you want it to go? Regulating our shit? Clean energy costs 5 to 10x the current cost. Without gov subsidies, ‘clean’ energy would be so uneconomical as to end virtually all economic growth. ‘Investments’ by gov have been corrupt and ‘ill-advised’ - at best.

9. End the drug war and institute rehabilitation programs for non-violent offenders.

Illegal behavior is illegal behavior. Punish the criminal. As for the drug war. Gov uses it now as a revenue source. You want bad behavior to stop, make it painful. The problem is that most people think taking ‘recreational drugs’ is ok. It’s as stupid as getting drunk, but individual rights are not ‘stupid’ safe. Do the first, screw the second.


10. Protect unions and increase worker safety protections.

Unions are parasites - if people want them, let them vote for them, without card check, with right to work laws. And public worker unions - forget about it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What happened.....


For myself and CJ and everyone that knew and loved Victoria.


In December 2007, Victoria got a little pine needle from our Christmas tree stuck in her heel. She didn't notice (diabetic neuropathy) and neither did I for couple days. It spawned an infection that destroyed her left heel. (Details of that can be found here.) When the infection spread to the extent shown in the other blog, her physical and mental state began a very slow, shallow slide. As anyone with chronic illness knows (or knows someone with one), the constant battle is mentally, physically and emotionally draining. The heel caused Victoria to lose a significant amount of mobility which also contributed to her general state.

The months leading up to December 2007 had been somewhat occupied by eye doctors trying to arrest the slide of her eyesight. Again, diabetes was the main culprit here (glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy slowly rob eyesight even though numerous interventions can slow their progress). We went to a resort in the Dells for CJs birthday and that is when the warm, moist air seemed to relieve some of the pain Victoria had started feeling in her hands the previous winter. It was back with a vengeance in the winter of 2007/2008. Rheumatoid arthritis.

Throughout 2008 Victoria fought the heel infection and her declining eyesight. Yet, she continued with her Education for Ministry classes and working with clients in the office. For much of the Spring and early Summer, we were often on an emotional rollercoaster.

CJ was approaching teenager and was doing well in school, had lots of friends and was and is, a happy kid. We kept home as normal as possible.

Because of all the medical appointments and draining nature of the recovery, Victoria's practice suffered some. We didn't see as many clients and that added some stress.


In 2007 I started working for other attorneys to supplement our income. It wasn't much but it helped. As 2008 opened, I had a couple clients that were consistent in their business that helped ours.

2008 was the year of her last big case in the office. It was a custody case where the in the military father was being denied visitation by a mother that moved 20 times in 4 years and kept changing the schools of their ADHD son. Trial was a 2 day affair that meant 20 hour days leading upto, and during for both of us. Although it didn't end after 2 days, we were both exhausted. Sometime in the fall, she had a TIA (a mini-stroke). She recovered after a day or so, but it suggested that years of high blood pressure and diabetes were taking a toll not just on eyes but other things as well.

Let me give you a number: creatin is a measure of kidney function. Everyone loses some function as they get older, but when numbers fall below 40, doctors start getting concerned. Under 20 and they start planning for eventual failure. Victoria was about 21-22 in 2008 but that had fallen to about 18 by early 2009. She started being followed by nephrology (kidney docs) at a clinic we went to monthly.

2008 became 2009 and it was clear the heel was going to take much longer to heal than expected. We settled down into some routines but there was no plateau, no leveling off. Her health and business continued a very slow, but steady decline.

From February to June of 2009, my business income actually was about equal to the law office at it's average. It meant Victoria could retire. She was mentally and physically exhausted. She wanted to move to California where the warmer weather would be easier on her arthritis. I argued against it saying we couldn't just up and leave - her practice, the house, CJ just starting her freshman year in high school....we did get a realtor in and it was clear the housing bust had made it to Madison. We owed more than the house was worth. We tried to sell her practice but one deal after another fell through. Victoria was committed to moving to California and we all agreed to it come the summer. Neither I nor CJ was happy about moving during high school.

2009 saw some additional issues with Victoria's eyes and in October she had a victritomy (left eye): they take the fluid out of the eye and replace it with saline - this helps clear up a lot of debris that forms from the retinopathy. She was one of the 1% that had a bad reaction and the next couple days were very painful as they got the pressure in the eye balanced. If you have ever had a poke in the eye, think of that pain lasting for hours and hours.

Something new happened. CJ went with Sue on a camping trip. She had done so the previous year and they both enjoyed it. It was a really hot couple of days but they were going up to Devil's Lake and it would be a little cooler there. On the 2nd day they returned early because CJ had a severe allergic reaction to....the sun. CJ's carefree days in the sun were over. Even 30 minutes exposure led to hives on the exposed skin.

As we approached the 2nd anniversary of the pine needle, Victoria's emotional state was beginning to show the toll. She didn't like the constant medical appointments, the hobbling on the encased foot and she wanted to FEEL better. Business was off noticeably in part because I was not spending a lot of time marketing her practice. Between her care, and my business, I was tired. But my business was making up most of the difference. Most being the operative word. Little cracks were showing.

Into 2010: In February, Victoria was scheduled to have a victritomy in the right eye. After the issues with the first, we tried to minimize the chances of a repeat result...and failed. Although the correction was done within a day, she still experienced significant pain. In April, a new eye doctor on the scene would tell her that the damage to her optic nerves meant further surgeries to her eyes would not significantly improve her vision. She had cataracts removed and for the rest of her days, would use a high powered magnifying glass (8x, then 10x) to read basically one word at a time.

In April we took 6 days of CJs spring break and went to Califoria. CJ was terrified of being in a place where it was sunny 340 days of the year. But she had learned many precautions and was diligent about them. We left on Saturday but by Wednesday, CJ said that she loved California and she could deal with the sun issues. That Saturday we spent 3 hours on the Beach before returning home. We were all committed to moving.

We saw Victoria's team of doctors in May for final prescription refills, suggestions and tests. Victoria's creatin was 15, her eyes were stable and the heel wound, although still open was continuing to close. June was a nightmare between trying to pack, garage sales and trying to still sell the law practice. Our original plan was to leave June 30th, but that got pushed back til mid July. We met with a couple much like us, attorney and life partner that worked with him and agreed they would take over the office (but not buy). Getting them up to speed, working on my business (which was busy) and Victoria's care turned that 6 weeks of June into July into a hectic and crazy time. (I could write 100 pages of the things that were going on those few weeks and I might yet have to....)

We left on July 19th and drove down to my parents in Chicago. We left such a mess in Madison. Victoria had a bladder infection and we had to stop often and her mobility, an issue for the past couple years, started to haunt us. CJ and I had to empty the moving trailer and completely repack it at my parents house to get a better distribution. We left in the afternoon of the 20th but only averaged 90 minutes of driving before Victoria had to have a restroom break. That went on for the next 4 days as we traveled, every 90 minutes or so a bathroom break and every other stop we got gas. Fortunately, the AC worked as it was close to 100 degrees most days.

We arrived on Monday very early (Jul 26th) and slept until mid-day. We started looking for a place to live that afternoon. On Tuesday Victoria did not feel well and on Wednesday she didn't want to go out and slept most of the day. NOW, I know she had a stroke. And by Sunday, Aug 1, she was in the hospital. That story and the next 2 months can be read about here.

One of the things that started happening was Victoria's constipation (normal with people on pain meds) seemed to cause her stomach to not clear quickly. She could eat and stuff would still be in her stomach 24-36 hours later. She would usually be sick after 36 hours and it would repeat a couple weeks later. This was happening a lot during the fall and winter but had been tapering off as this year wore on.

In April, near the end of the month, Victoria was having trouble breathing and we called the paramedics. They saw a small abnormality on her EKG and took her to the trauma hospital instead of the local one near home. Tests determined she did not have a cardiac event, and that the abnormality was probably anxiety brought on by a little fluid in the lungs making it hard to breathe. She stayed in the hospital for a couple days and came home.

Throughout the last year, there were times when Victoria was very depressed. She did not like dialysis, she did not like how she had to live her life (not able to do much for herself - she hated the commode that sat next to her chair in the living room and she hated feeling sick so often). She often said she did not want to keep living her life like this. And it was hard for her, and CJ and I. Her health was a daily issue and while our expenses were lower here, my business has been slower this year than last also. It has been a struggle. Which made Victoria feel worse because she was not contributing but also costing us. We had good days and bad, but she always came back to "this is not how I want to live my life".


Friday, Sept 23rd.
Victoria was not feeling well so she did not want to go to dialysis. We didn't go.

Sunday, September 25th.
Quiet weekend, Badgers won on Saturday. Victoria developed a little cough...more like a clearing of the throat, but as the day went on, it got worse. One of her little vices was cough drops...she liked to suck on them. The doctor and pharmacist didn't see a problem as they had less sugar than hard candy. I asked if she was still using them, she said yes. By evening it was a full cough. By 11pm she said she was having trouble breathing. We tried some things (like inhaler for her asthma) but at about Midnight we called for the paramedics.

Monday, Sept 26th.
There was fluid in her lungs, not a lot, but she had a temp and doctors were concerned it might be pneumonia. But the other thing concerned them A LOT. Her potassium was 7.9 This is a dangerous, even lethal level. Potassium helps the body's electrical system/muscles operate. Too little, a serious problem also that she had last October, is bad, too much and the heart and other muscles can just stop without warning. They gave her meds to bring it down fast (which she threw up) and admitted her. Every doctor and nurse for the next two days yelled at both of us for her not doing dialysis on Friday. They did dialysis on Monday and her potassium got back down into normal range.

Tuesday, Sept 27.
Another dialysis treatment and no sign of pneumonia. Victoria wanted to go home, I wanted to take her. Doctors practically begged for her to stay one more day for another dialysis treatment. I agreed, Victoria resigned herself.

Wednesday, Sept 28.
They wanted to discharge her and have her go to the clinic for dialysis. We said no, do it in the hospital, that's what they wanted. They set dialysis for late in the evening, we said no, Victoria got discharged and we went home.

Friday, Sept 30.
At dialysis, Victoria's heart rate was around 50. This is significantly lower than usual (normally around 100). I noted it. The rest was uneventful. Badgers won on Saturday - she watched the whole game without falling asleep.

Monday, Oct 3.
Over the weekend, her heart rate stayed around 50 and again in dialysis it stayed there. Blood pressure did it's usual up/down/up/crash/up during dialysis. The crashes we tried to limit and generally they were not bad (a reading under 100/60).

Tuesday, Oct 4.
Appointment with podiatrist for the first time. He removed the callous and scab from Victoria's heel and for the first time in 3 yrs, 9 months, the heel was healed. The damage would be forever and she would need special shoe for it, but we had reached the end of that tunnel. I had CJ take pictures and emailed it to friends and family. Victoria was not happy, she wanted to be normal again.

Wednesday, Oct 5.
Dialysis. Heart rate now occasionally dipping into the 40s....48,49. I am concerned. After two years close to a 100 - and being worried about the stress that was causing, the reverse was happening and I liked it even less. Dialysis techs and nurses are also now concerned. She is scheduled to see her regular/primary doctor on Thursday, we'd bring it up with him.

Thursday, Oct 6.
Appointment with primary doctor. He listens to everything we tell him. He listens to Victoria's chest. He is concerned that she might have bacterial endocarditis. It is an infection of the heart caused by dental surgery. Yep. Victoria had two teeth pulled in July and it might have gotten into her bloodstream. The doctor wanted Victoria to have an echo-cardiogram done to check and he called a local cardiac clinic to get us in right away. We left to that appointment.

When we got there about 10 minutes later, we were told we'd have to wait about 2.5 hours. Victoria, hating every second she was in her wheelchair said no and said we were to go home. Which after a little argument from me, we did. I didn't push too much, I hoped at home she'd reconsider and I could get her in on Tuesday. Her heart rate was now consistently in the upper 40s, 46-48.

Friday, Oct 7.
Victoria woke up and said she wanted the echo. I called and the earliest they could get her in was Tuesday the 11th. She said no because we had a followup with the podiatrist on Thursday and she hated monday dialysis, tues doctor appt, wed dialysis, thur doctor appt, friday dialysis. So the echo was schedule for Oct 18th. Long delay. We went to dialysis and her nephrologist was there for his regular weekly visit. He listened to heart and said, after dialysis, he wanted her to go to the ER and have an EKG. The echo would be good, but he wanted to know what was going on in the heart. We finished dialysis and CJ was just getting out of school. So we picked her up and took her home, then went to the Urgent Care.

I thought urgent care instead of the ER because if it were just the bacterial infection, they could give her the antibiotics without all the push for doing it in-patient (getting admitted into the hospital...which of course she hates). Urgent care put her on the EKG and called for paramedics 15 seconds later. They took her next door to the hospital about 15 minutes later.

Lots of discussions, lots of sitting and waiting. Victoria wanted to go home. I said we need to wait til they decide about the pacemaker. The doctor at Urgent Care told me what they saw that concerned them:
It is called a third degree block. The top part of the heart was no longer talking to the bottom part. The two parts were running independently. The natural beat of the lower part of the heart is around 40bpm, this is why the heart was slowing down. The natural rhythm of the heart was 'disassociating', they were getting slowly out of sync. We are talking about milliseconds here. But at this point, it had apparently been over a week that the block was there. THAT was a problem. the correction was simple: a pacemaker. No open heart surgery, no general anesthesia.
Victoria was very scared of it all. I said, if there is an easy problem with the heart, this is it. Heart rate 45-47.

Saturday, Oct 8.

I got to the hospital early (8am) after leaving late(2am). Victoria said she didn't expect me til later. I said I was up and no reason not to come right away. We sat and talked about normal stuff. Couple jokes and smiles. Some seriousness when her anxiety would increase or she got quiet. Cardiologist came by and said that the pacemaker was necessary and that they were getting a team into the hospital - they didn't want to wait. The surgery would be much sooner than later. About an hour later they moved her to ICU for prep and closer monitoring. Heart rate was consistently 42-44.

ICU nurse Ed and Lisa. Ed was the primary. Nice guy. We continued much the same was as earlier. Banter, talking, holding each other's hand. It was a good day. About Noon the surgeon that was going to do the surgery came in. Okay guy. Nothing extra-ordinary. Basically gave us a rundown of what would happen. 1 1/2 to 2 hours, no complications expected except the catheter for dialysis is close to where the pacemaker will go...he didn't expect any problems. Off he went. More general talk. Ed said we made quite a pair. I said:
"We are a royal pain in the ass. She's the royal, and I'm the pain in the ass."
Victoria said, "Right, Queen Victoria."

She got a little quiet and again said she was scared. We talked for a minute and Ed interjected that the surgery would be no problem but that they had everything they needed if something went wrong. I said, "Wait a second...Victoria is a DNR."

He paused and looked at Victoria who said 'With qualifications'. That was not how they had her in the computer...they had her as full code. "Absolutely not." Victoria said.

He said he had to change it in the computer, but that he needed Victoria to talk to the doctor about it. He got the doctor on the phone and Victoria reiterated, no machines, no intubation. That is how I understood her wishes and she clearly stated them to the doctor. The conversation ended and the changes were made in the computer. About 20 minutes later, they took us to the OR. (just across the hall from the ICU. The waiting area is at the front of a long hall (50') that ends at the OR. After giving her a kiss and saying I'd be waiting, she said she wanted me to be the first person she saw after. I said I would and she was wheeled down the hall. I took a nap shortly after that.

Sometime later...don't know how long, the doctor and Lisa came out to say the surgery went well, pretty much as expected. A slight issue with one lead being near the dialysis cat but he didn't think it would be a problem long term. That she was starting to come off the local and she was anxious and upset. I said we had not had a chance to give her Xanax before surgery so he said he'd give her something to help and that they would be done in 15-20 minutes and she'd be brought out to ICU then. He and Lisa walked back down the hall.

Not 30 seconds later, over the hospital PA, "Code Blue, OR Colorado. Code Blue, OR Colorado. All teams, Code Blue" Within a minute people started coming in at a run and down the hall to the OR. About two minutes later Lisa came out of the OR at a run, with the cardiologist 10 ft behind running. As she came up I asked if it was Victoria and she just nodded. The doctor arrived and said:
"We need to intubate her now or she dies."

......

I don't want to make this decision. Please no I don't want to make it.

......

"I can't. I can't do that to her. No."
"you've got to understand we have to"
"no."
"I'll go put her on a bag and give you a minute or two, but we need to..." as he ran back down the hall, Lisa right behind.

A minute later (could have been 2 or 3) another nurse came out and said that she was not stabilizing and that I could come in if I wanted. I said yes and walked down with her to the OR.

There were like 20 people in the room and about 5 or so around her head working. The cardiologist came back to me and said he didn't know what went wrong, everything seemed to be ok, but as soon as he got back she stopped breathing. Respiratory was working with a mask and bag and trying to get air into her lungs which unexpectedly were full of fluid. They had not been at the beginning of surgery as they had a chest xray from right as they started and they were clean. Dialysis had been called and were on their way to try and get some fluid off. She had started breathing again, but she was struggling. The heart was beating (duh...it had a mechanical stimulator planted in her chest to make SURE it was beating). The cardiologist again said she needed to be on the ventilator and again, I said no. Clearly enough that everyone heard. The look they exchanged was clear, this wasn't going to work. They continued as I got on the phone and called CJ. I told her to get a ride immediately to the hospital, come to the ER and I'd get someone to meet her and bring her to the OR.

I went back into the OR and they all stopped and looked at me. The cardiologist said, "we have to put her on the machine, nothing else is going to work".
I said no.
They went back to work.

.......

I was not matter of fact. I was crying. I was beyond upset. I was offered tissue, water, consolation I took none of it. I repeated several...a lot of times, that I could not do it to her, that was not what she wanted, that I couldn't. For most of what follows, I spent crying at some level....

.......

She was breathing but they were supporting her. They were trying to rouse her. I came to her side and while they continued their efforts while I tried to talk to her. Her sats (oxygen in the blood) were fluctuating widely. Blood pressure was ok but they couldn't get enough oxygen in. They wanted to move her back to ICU and as they were getting her moved I said 'Open your eyes and look at me you bitch' to which she opened her eye and moved her head towards me. A little 'yea' from a couple people and I said 'we are going back to the room'

We got back to her room in the ICU and they put a C-PAP mask on her face to force air into her lungs. She was more aware and trying to talk. I tried to understand, but 'hurt' came through. The mask was on tight and she tried to take it off twice, I told her it was 'not a machine', it was just a mask and she had to leave it on. She said no and I ignored it. She asked why her arm wouldn't move and I said it was tied down so she didn't lift it up and disturb the pacemaker, she said no it hurt and I tried to move her a little off that side to give it a little room. At this point CJ had arrived and I told Victoria I was going to bring her in, she said no, but I ignored that too. I went out to meet her and talk to her. We talked and I said it was bad and that a lot of things were going on but that I wanted her in there. That she could stay out if she wanted, she said no and we went back in.

By this time the 'head respiratory critical care doctor dude' came in and wanted to know 'her history', why she was at the hospital.

.....

Yea, I got time for this, I need to tell you whats going on? what the hell you got these 20 OTHER PEOPLE doing???

......

I started the story with low heart rate and friday. The cardiologist chimed in with 'we don't know what caused her to crash and that surgery had gone well....'

......

Yep, by this time I was getting tired of said cardiologist with his protestations the surgery went well but the patient DIED shit....

......

I got back next to Victoria who had settled down some but was trying say something. She said 'hurts' and tried to point to her chest(?) or shoulder and said where was she, I said in the hospital room and that they were trying to get oxygen into her; she said hurt again and then she threw up. I got my arm under her and lifted her to a sitting position with my right arm while ripping the C-PAP mask off with my left. She threw up all over the pacemaker wound dressings and arm with IV connections. It was green and smelly and it had a couple peas in it. Peas? She hates peas. How could she have peas? I let her lean back and the 'head dude' said he wanted to talk to me outside the room. I had CJ come stand next to Victoria and I walked out.

He said the throwing up was confirmation of what he thought happened:

Victoria spent the entire surgery flat on her back. As they were finishing, she threw up but because of her position, instead of out, it went into her lungs. The peas said the stomach was full of Thursday and Friday. It was the most acidic, vile, rotting crap you could imagine, poured right down into her lungs. Battery acid or bleach would have done less damage. The lungs were full not of fluid but bile and stomach crap and it would have been destroying tissue from the second it got in there. She need the ventilator now but he couldn't say that even that would delay things more than a day or so. And even if they could get her stabilized, it would be months and months of hard recovery, all the time on the ventilator. Otherwise, all they could do would be to make her comfortable.

I said no. Make her comfortable. I went back into the room. I talked to her and she said 'not my life', which I understood to mean this was not the life she wanted to live. I said it was ok. No more fighting. No more fighting. It's ok. We're done. You're done, you don't have to fight anymore. No more pain. Just go to sleep and it'll be ok. She said ok, sleep and her face relaxed and she leaned back and closed her eyes.

They put a regular air mask on and everyone else left the room. CJ and I stood with her and I told her she was going to leave soon. Her breathing got slower and harder. After about 5-10(?) minutes, Victoria stopped breathing for about a minute and a half...her lips went white and I opened an eye and it didn't move or change. She started breathing again, very labored, for about 2 minutes, then stopped again. I said to CJ she was gone and we kissed her and went and sat at the foot of the bed in a large chair. Ed continued to hold her arm and said she still had a pulse. She didn't breathe but once or twice again and after about 10 minutes, he asked the dialysis tech to check for a pulse. There was none. It was about 6:40pm.

.......

Not so much then, but later...how could it have been so late. It seemed like less than an hour passed from the Code Blue to the end...

......

They let us stay. We left after about 10 minutes after I asked if CJ wanted to stay or go somewhere to just talk or be with each other. She said, the beach? We left and made it to the beach, Torrey Pines - a favorite of Victoria's that she and I had been to just a month or so ago to watch the sunset- to watch the sunset. We stayed and talked a little for about 30 minutes then went back to the hospital so I could collect Victoria's things and say goodbye.

One of the OR nurses (who kept trying to give me tissue or water) caught me in the hall - it was clear SHE'D been crying. She said they wanted to say thank you to me for standing up for Victoria. For respecting her wishes when everyone and everything demanded otherwise. I said "sometimes doing the right thing, hurts a lot...thank you" and I left.

We went home, CJ ate a little something, and then we both went to bed.

God I miss her. I have said "it was the wrong decision for CJ, it was the wrong decision for me, but it was the right decision for Victoria" and in the end, I told her it would always be her choice.

I don't second guess. Victoria made thousands, millions of decisions over many years that led up to that point on Saturday. I only made sure that the last one was listened to...by everyone...including me.

She is the love of my life. The mother to our daughter. I love her. And, I know she loved me and CJ. The pain and suffering of the last year are done and she doesn't have to face more. That is my comfort.


One day, one hour at a time....

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Burning Korans

I am tired of the 'we can't burn Korans because it will put troops in harms way' bullshit. Yes General, that includes you.

Children learn one of two things by age three - that temper tantrums work and it get's them what they want or that a tantrum brings down the wrath of god and isn't worth the effort. People might say that is fine for two year olds, but we are talking about adults. Really? Ya think?

Islam has learned that if they threaten riots, murder and mayhem if they are insulted in any way, the rest of the PLANET puts their tail between their legs and sucks their manhood deep into their bowels. So, what we have is an entire religion of hundreds of millions that have taught the rest of the planet to do whatever they say is ok or risk riots and murder. Islam has learned temper tantrums WORK.

That lesson has to be unlearned and the only way it happens is to punish Islam every time they try it. It didn't have to be this way, but the West abdicated it's responsibility to be mature adults and instead gave into the tantrums.

So General, every time a Koran is burned and Moslems in your area of control throw a temper tantrum, it is up to you to apply the punishment. And for every so called adult that just wants to keep enabling the Moslems, I hope you don't have children because your example will do them no good.

Time for humanity to grow up and inform, directly with words AND DEEDS that tantrums will not be tolerated. Islam may THINK it is the sole and future way for all humanity, but it needs to learn it is not the center of the Universe and all should bow before it.

I am tired of the enablers. Tired of the excuse makers. Tired of those that say WE must adjust our behaviors because some unhinged, fanatical "two year olds" demand it.

Friday, March 25, 2011

In Memoriam

My brother died December 14, 2005. I wrote what follows in the middle of the night two days later. It is very raw, somewhat profane. If you had ever met him, you would understand that profanity was a virtue with him. Regardless, I still have a hard time READING it...he would have been 50 today.


A Failure of Expectations

It wasn't long after Billy was born that my parents knew something was wrong, it would take years to pin it down, but even then, it wasn't right.

I remember sitting in the back of the station wagon on the street or parking lot outside Michael Reese Hospital while Mom and Dad visited Billy. I can't pin down in my mind when that was, but I think it was when Billy was 4 or 5...it might have been one year either way. But the result of that stay was the beginning of Billy failing to live up to the expectations put on him by others. The doctors said, 30 would be a miracle, and that he would spend much of his last years in a wheel chair. They had found we carried a rare genetic condition, though they didn't know they were talking about the wrong one. See, they had never met a McCallister / Coyle combination before.

Every year for vacation we went camping. God we were merciless to Billy. No excuses, get off your ass and do it. Kids can push really hard, often too hard. It would have been easy to break the spirit of a kid that just couldn't, but that damn McCallister / Coyle combination was a bitch. Around the time Billy was 10 or so, it could have been a couple years later, I don't measure time well with our family, we took a vacation and we brought a wheelchair for Billy. It was the year of the Mammoth Cave trip. I only had one short conversation with Billy about that trip, and it was soon afterwards....he HATED that damn wheelchair. Said it was the first time he ever felt like a cripple and he would be damned if he would ever use one again. It was the first time he said fuck you to expectations.

Billy was a son of a bitch. He could be such a pain in the ass. He drove everyone nuts. And, he was the first of us kids to clearly provoke another McCallister/Coyle trait. Loyalty. People defended Billy. It wasn't pity, though I thought so at the time...give me a break, I was young and stupid then. Being a friend of Billy had a cost, you couldn't look down at him, he wouldn't accept it and he was quick to point it out. I saw it played out with Susie and Patty Shaw. Don't fuck with Billy or you risked their wrath.

It didn't stop there. When Billy started working, he pissed off people. He always put down that he was disabled on applications. Somehow, it always seemed to be forgotten. He would work his ass off and people would be pissed because he was showing them up. Eventually he would hit a wall and when he said he could not do something (usually the hardest piece of crap work they could find) they would look at him like he was from another planet...then he would remind them. Usually, that was when things changed.

Billy wanted to travel. He found out that if he worked for an airline, he could do lots of traveling, cheap. It took awhile, but he got a job at the airport working for a company that worked for the airlines. McCallister / Coyle trait - perseverance. We just don't give up. It took a couple of years, but Billy finally got a job at United. They really didn't have a choice. He had the recommendation of just about every supervisor in the place. Another bunch of years saying fuck you to expectations.

He worked too hard. He got too much work done. He made friends in all the wrong places...the people that cared. He was into his 20's. He played golf, how? The doctors couldn't explain it. He bowled, how? The doctors couldn't explain it. He loved Jerry Lewis but would never be considered a poster child for MD...hell, he worked, he played...he didn't even sit in a damn wheelchair. The expectation was that he would live with Mom and Dad until the end of his days, or theirs. Fuck that.

He met a woman. Wooed her. Married her. Some people didn't get it. But I bet Susie and Patty understood. Karen certainly did. They worked, they travelled. Billy loved the holidays. Triple time at work. He would put in 48, 56 hours, work double shifts on Christmas. He brought home more in the two weeks of the holidays than most of his co-workers did in two months. Supervisors would call Billy first. He almost never turned them down. He pissed people off, but it was the type of people that had no expectations, for themselves.

Then he moved. Why was it so shocking at the time? He was 30 something, he was confounding doctors, still. He had a life and it was his.

There is something you may or may not realize. It is damn hard to kill a Coyle. Steve was hit by a car when he was 8 ??

The impact should have killed him. The landing on the curb should have killed him. The damage should have killed him. Mom probably would have killed him.

Dad's THIRD heart attack should have killed him, certainly the fourth, fifth or sixth one....hell, he drove himself to the hospital on #7.

A year or two ago the doctors said Billy's heart was twice the size of normal. DUH! Anyone could have told them that. Anyone that knew him. He was 40. Damn the expectations.

No one expected Billy to be around this year. Except, Billy....that or he just didn't give a damn what others expected. The only thing you could concretely say about Billy was that Billy's life was determined by Billy, no one or nothing else.

You know, after a while, you give up waiting for people to live down to the expectations. You give up figuring out what is next because it is all unexpected ground. I knew Billy wasn't getting out of the hospital, but damn it, that was my expectation of him....and why it hurts so much to lose him. He spent 40 years failing to live down to others expectations and setting his own way.

He was supposed to die a long time ago. He spent almost 2 months in the hospital. It's damn hard to kill a Coyle...I don't think you can do it without permission. Billy gave that permission this weekend, but I know sometime, deep down, he said

Fuck you, you mother fucking asshole, jerk. You see, there is one other McCallister / Coyle trait Billy displayed, we might not win all the time, but your not going to beat us easy. Fuck you death, you had to work for this one.

I don't know if Uncle Paul played golf. Maybe Billy will teach him. I don't know about you, your faiths, your beliefs, but Billy taught everyone around him that expectations are not truths. I fully expect to see Billy again....

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Social conservatives

Dear Socons,

Two news events this week have once again brought social conservative issues to the forefront. The brutal murders of children born alive during an abortion procedure and 2nd graders getting naked and having oral sex in the classroom - apparently with the teacher's approval.

Let me deal with the 'easy' one first. Teaching sex in school is just plain stupid. And I am talking about 'sex education' as hygiene. Children learn hygiene at home, or they don't - in either case, the school is not the place to deal with the issue. Every child is different, every home has it's own methods. Some religions require certain protocols, others have different ones. Students will have the ability to deal with issues of personal nature at different times - conformity by time (as is often the case) is too soon for some, too late for others. The teacher should be fired, but probably won't be because of union rules. The parents of the children should sue the school district, school and teacher - but probably won't get far. If they were smart, every parent in the school would remove every child for a week - give the administration time to TEACH the teachers appropriate lesson plans. The only question I have is, apparently the nakedness was the 2nd time it happened...aren't parents talking to their kids about what happened in school today?

Now, the really easy one. The murder of children born alive should carry the death penalty - too bad he can't die 8 times. Of course, many socons are noting that the doctor has murdered hundreds more by performing exactly the same 'procedure' just within the womb. That the doctor in question (and I question that he is a doctor also) has performed many late term abortions in violation of the PA laws. As I said on Tweeter, once we have convictions of the doctor, we need convictions of the 'gov' workers charged with overseeing his clinic and practices and I would prefer to see accessory to murder among the charges. If the reports are correct, this guy was a back alley butcher with government granted approval.

See...that was easy. Except we are not done. A book was recently released by a woman that formally ran a Planned Parenthood facility and how upon seeing her first abortion while on sonogram was horrified. She subsequently quit and joined the anti-abortion movement. I thought about her description and her horror and find myself equally disturbed. (Let me make a comment that is NOT intended as a moral equivalent - I find myself disturbed watching piercings and tattoos to.)

I have always felt abortion to be wrong. One of the many reasons I oppose abortions is I find it unfair to the child. But there are things that society does that makes options to the mother harder. 1) all anti-pregnancy systems (except contraceptives) are medically regulated - you need a doctor to write a prescription. While abstinence is the only guaranteed way to prevent pregnancy, reducing the cost (and therefore making it more accessible) of anti-pregnancy methods would lower unwanted pregnancies. 2) RU-486 was violently opposed - the pure stupidity of such a position is incomprehensible. If an unwanted pregnancy can be terminated within hours of conception, isn't this better than waiting months for the child to form AND THEN terminating her/him? Even if it only reduced abortions by 5%, that is thousands fewer abortions.

Twice in the last couple years, I have gone grocery shopping and left the store with merchandise unpaid for on the bottom of the cart. Both times, I went back in and paid for the items. Both times I could have been arrested for shoplifting - despite no intention of doing so. Could I have been more careful? Sure. I made a mistake and corrected it. Are these situations comparable? The anti-abortionist will quickly claim they are not - because we are talking about a life. No, we are not. We are talking about the beginning of a potential life.

I have two problems with the anti-abortion positions: once conceived, and NO ONE knows when exactly that is, the anti-abortionist holds the child has all the rights of anyone else walking around and if the mother will not take responsibility, well, the government will FORCE her to do so; second, any measure that could reduce (but not eliminate) abortions is to be fought against and denigrated - either all abortions are to be stopped, or none will be. If we could reduce abortions by 90%, anti-abortionists seem incapable of agreeing to it because it leaves 10% still occurring.

On the rights issue: 'among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness'. Among, not first among, not foremost among. But even the idea that life is first I question. What kind of life are we sanctioning if the child is born into servitude? Or born into such poverty that the odds of survival are 100s or thousands to one? What horrors are we willing to perpetrate on the child - horrors we have no will to stop or prevent - to assuage a philosophical position? Anti-abortionists are way to willing to allow a child to be born into this world addicted to drugs and a permanent ward of the state - state raised children, see how that is working with 2nd graders above...

I am all for getting the abortion issue back to the states - I am even supportive of banning third trimester abortions. (go ahead with a life of the mother exception - but it is bullshit as you are stating the mother's life is more important). I am willing to limit abortions to the first 16 weeks. But to anti-abortionists, not good enough so no deals.

The doctor in PA murdered children. Eight. Maybe lots more. But to the anti-abortionist, every abortion was murder....except the mother, not only a willing participant but initiator, did not commit murder. Why? If abortion is murder, then the mother is the proximate cause. Accuse the mother of murder also and I might buy your position that it is murder.

The social conservative wants to use government to change people's behavior. That is my problem with socons. Abortion is wrong, teach your children it is wrong. Teach your children to be responsible adults. Perfection is not possible. Sarah Palin's teenage daughter got pregnant. Does anyone think that the Palins were lax or poor parents? Neither Sarah (with a down's syndrome child) nor her daughter had an abortion despite both having common reasons to do so. Abortion is a choice, make it a bad choice, not an illegal one. Because we can ban all abortions in the United States and three things will happen: abortions, thousands of children born into abject poverty and social hell, children and mothers will die in larger numbers.

Two news stories will give socons more ammunition to call for more social engineering by government - given both stories show the terrible consequences of giving government that kind of power, their calls should be ignored. Too bad, because we could have a chance at addressing the issues but demagoguery will kill all chances of it being fruitful.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson

Chief Justice Abrahamson,

Over the last 10 years I worked for a Madison attorney helping people deal with foreclosure and bankruptcy. During that time we saw many cases of debtors that had defaulted on loans with no hope of being able to continue to make payments. We also saw many examples of mortgage lenders that had lost payments, failed to accurately report payments and in one or two cases, foreclosed despite having received the payments. In Federal Bankruptcy Court, a lender when confronted with illegal accounting of bankruptcy payments (misapplication of funds) asked, “do you expect us to change our procedures just because someone is in bankruptcy?” to which the Court responded, “Yes.” Increasingly over the last five years, we began noticing that lenders were foreclosing that were not the original mortgage lender, in many cases there were no assignments of mortgages and even more troubling, notes were not included in the documentation, either because the lender was NOT the note holder or it had become ‘lost’.

In my personal life, situations resulted in the default on our mortgage. Our original mortgage lender was Indymac Bank. It failed in 2008 and One West Bank purchased many of its assets (according to press reports). One West Bank’s foreclosure documents did not include the original note to Indymac Bank. When we brought up this deficiency with the court at our hearing (10CV00820), Dane County Court Judge C. William Foust, Branch 14, indicated the lack of the note was a technicality and that he was satisfied with the affidavit of default provided by the lender. The lender did not address the lack of note. We understand the default judgment now replaces the missing note.

In light of the recent actions by the State Attorney General, I am asking the Supreme Court to give guidance to the Municipal Courts in the state to NOT just accept foreclosure documentation that is ‘technically deficient’ in the interest of speeding up the process. We brought the issue to the attention of the Court in our case and it was ignored. Hundreds if not thousands of Wisconsin homeowners are facing foreclosure and are unable to afford legal help to defend themselves.

False affidavits, lost notes and historically bad accounting are being ignored by courts in the interest of ‘processing’ hundreds of thousands of foreclosures throughout the country and in Wisconsin. We are asking you and the Supreme Court of Wisconsin to maintain the integrity of the court system for all parties – not just those lenders hoping to take advantage of distraught homeowners to sweep all the bad acts under the foreclosure rug.

In my case, the issue might soon be over, but lenders who have foreclosed and received judgment are also failing to complete the process. We have seen lenders foreclose, homeowners leave the home and then the lender fail to hold a sheriff’s sale. The lender leaves the homeowner to maintain the empty home indefinitely, including municipal fines for failure to mow or shovel snow, insurance and minimal utilities.

The Courts expect homeowners to abide by the terms of their mortgages, it is time for the court system to make sure the lenders abide by the law.


Sincerely,


Tracy C. Coyle


CC:
Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen
114 East State Capitol
Madison, WI 53707-7857

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Motivated reasoning - a reply

This is an attempt to deal with a concept that has been discussed in Twitter and the constraints are driving me crazy. Here it is: Motivated Reasoning:

It is proposed that motivation may affect reasoning through reliance on a biased set of cognitive processes–that is, strategies for accessing, constructing, and evaluating beliefs. The motivation to be accurate enhances use of those beliefs and strategies that are considered most appropriate, whereas the motivation to arrive at particular conclusions enhances use of those that are considered most likely to yield the desired conclusion. There is considerable evidence that people are more likely to arrive at conclusions that they want to arrive at, but their ability to do so is constrained by their ability to construct seemingly reasonable justifications for these conclusions.


I bet my readers think that the above sounds reasonable but that something doesn't feel right about it. Here is my take:

Let's parse #1: "reliance on a biased set of cognitive processes"

All cognitive processes are biased. We build experience and knowledge within a framework that encompasses our lives. Your parental raising, your education, your work experience all contribute to the process. This process is biased only in the sense that it is unique to you. Shared education and experience can create similar cognitive processes. the idea that we rely on our education and experience to make decisions is one of those 'yea, duh' points of view.

#2: "strategies for accessing, constructing, and evaluating beliefs"

Ah...it is not just dealing with day to day issues, but for formulating 'belief's. This is more than just observation of natural processes, but rather an attempt to explain how people form their belief systems. As if such a process is DIFFERENT from any other cognitive process. (To be honest, it is not the formulation that is different, but the continuous evaluation that varies. Most people are willing to re-evaluate decisions in the face of new information however, beliefs seldom are subject to such re-evaluation absent some 'trama' to the system.)

#3: "motivation to be accurate enhances use of those beliefs and strategies that are considered most appropriate"

In other words, a desire to be accurate relies on beliefs. Maybe in some. When I 'desire' to be accurate, I use education and experience and systems of decision making that in the past has resulted in accurate results. The choice of words in the above comment suggest a loose approximation of the result and the desire.

#4: "the motivation to arrive at particular conclusions enhances use of those that are considered most likely to yield the desired conclusion"

Let me see if I have this right: I want a specific conclusion, so I am most likely to use 'cognitive processes utilizing experience and education' that are most likely to result the way I want to end up. Hmmm. I want to turn right in the car, so, using the turn indicator and steering wheel, I turn right and voila! ok.....

#5: "There is considerable evidence that people are more likely to arrive at conclusions that they want to arrive at"

Let me think....
Conclusion:
1: a reasoned judgment : inference
2: the last part of something: as a result
3: an act or instance of concluding

It appears that the original statement actually changes which definition is in use.

We start off in #1 considering judgments. How people make choices. But by #5 we are now talking about how they seek outcomes. How I form beliefs is subject to more than just education and experience but also by my desires and the environment I choose to be in. But how I LIVE, how I determine actions and consequences is not based on beliefs or desires - I can desire to be in LA in 10 minutes, but physics limits me to driving for 3 hours. All the motivation and beliefs in the world can't change that the 'conclusion', being in LA requires 3 hours of driving.

I can form beliefs, come to a conclusion about faith that is unique to all the parts that make up me. However, reaching a physical conclueion is based on experience and specific actions that are NOT unique to me. Everyone in San Diego that wants to go to LA, regardless of the reason are subject to the same constraints.

so...
#5: "There is considerable evidence that people are more likely to arrive at conclusions that they want to arrive at...but their ability to do so is constrained by their ability to construct seemingly reasonable justifications for these conclusion"

I arrive at a conclusion by justifying the chosen conclusion? I have desires and needs. They are fulfilled by acting in ways reasonably expected to do so. I don't need to 'justify' them. Nor are they likely to be constrained because I can't figure a good reason to need or want them.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the author ISN'T changing the definition of conclusion. Nah.

"more likely to arrive....but constrained" Which is it? We get to where we want to be but are constrained in do so?

Overall, the statement is illogical. Shifting the definition being applied is dishonest. We make decisions based on desired outcomes - that is the ONLY way reasonable people act. Those outcomes are not 'belief' dependent. A Muslim, agnostic, Jew and atheist all must act in similar ways to drive from San Diego to LA. Their beliefs have little or no bearing on the 'conclusion'. We formulate beliefs based on experience, education AND desired outcomes and 'reason' has little to do with those conclusions.

Conclusion in a reasoned judgment can apply the full range of human options and does. However, a conclusion to an event is a function of choices and their associated consequences. BOTH end points can be desired but only one is ordained.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Snowflakes

It is hard to notice because we have some of it in ourselves, but most people think that we are at a turning point in history because....welll...."we" are alive now to witness it.

I first noticed the phenom when there was a big "Rapture wait.." back in 1980: 'this generation that sees the rebirth of Israel shall not pass away before these things come to past' - these things being the END OF THE WORLD. 1948 Israel rebirth + 40 years for a generation = 1988 - 7 years of tribulation = 1981.

Anyway, we saw it again in 1999 leading up to the millennium. And now, with the election looming, people are saying we are at a tipping point. Maybe.

One of my favorite "2 minute hobby" is to wonder what the newspaper or news headlines WOULD have been if some major event had not happened. What would the headlines have been on 9/12/2001?

Ever see someone on the side of the road after an accident (people are ok, cars are wrecked)? You know that whatever they were thinking or planning to do right up to the moment of impact is gone, out the window. Their life has just taken a little jog to the right or left (not politically!) But in the big scheme of things - the impact has little overall change associated with it.

Even 9/11 in many regards (yes, despite Iraq and Afghanistan) has not had much impact on the path of humanity.

Think about when you were young (for me the 60's). We all woke up in the morning, Dad went off to work, we went to school. We used a car that is only cosmetically different than the one we use today. We have TV and radio news. We still have McDonalds and ABC/NBC/CBS.... Our lives today would be be pretty recognizable to someone that died in 1965. Yes, there have been many advancements and changes - but human society has not changed that much. There is a significant change from 1865 to today. But does October 5th, 1865 strike you as an important date in history? How about December 7th, 1941? Any different than a day in 1492 or 1066? Ok, some of those ARE important dates to remember, but Earth shattering?

Somewhere in the 80s I realized that my existence/awareness had no cosmic significance. Two things happened then. First, I stopped waiting for 'the EVENT' that I was obviously here to witness (and maybe participate in???? nahhhh). Second, I stopped taking ME quite so seriously. Do I have an impact on others, sure. CJ would not be living HERE today if I had not met Victoria. We all change history in little and unforeseeable ways. But I stopped thinking that the change SIGNIFIED something. Change happens. With or without us. My impact, YOUR impact is important to those around us, but historically, unimportant.

Some people come to a similar realization and then wonder: why am I here? what is my purpose? Stupid questions in a world or historical context. Important for themselves but not for anyone else.

It is likely that 100 years from now, with VERY few exceptions, our passing will be unnoticed and our IMPORTANT time in history will be just that, a point in history. Nothing more, nothing less.

Next time someone tells you WE have to save the planet, offer this (which I shared with two idiots in front of Walmart yesterday asking people to help save the planet) "nope, not interested. Plan on using, abusing, wasting and tossing it away when I am done." to which they replied "what about future generations". I had moved beyond earshot by that time, but I answered "let them get their own Earth. The Earth is big enough to take care of itself."

We are like snowflakes, each unique but unnoticed in a blizzard. The universe is infinite in it's possibilities, I find mirth that there is only ONE of me in all of it. But I long ago gave up the fiction that the Universe, history or even the future will note either my presence or absence. I continue to hope the rest of humanity comes to the same conclusion....eventually.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My summer vacation....

We left Tuesday, July 20th - a day later than planned. We got down to Chicago to see my parents and drop off a few things for them. We left the Madison house a disaster and worse, we left a lot of stuff we should have brought with us. Time and money worked against us - we had to leave with what we had.

The drive to Chicago showed we packed the trailer badly. On Wednesday morning, CJ and I unloaded and repacked the trailer. We still managed to leave around 3pm. We got to Des Moines. Victoria had either a bladder infection or the trip was just too much, no matter, we had to stop about every 2 hours for her to go to the bathroom. Every other stop we got gas. The trailer was very heavily loaded and when driving, we were limited to about 58-59 miles/hr. We averaged 40 miles/hr over the course of each day. Instead of a 4 day trip, it took 5 days. We made Wichita on day two, and Amarillo on day three. Day four we were in Gallup NM. Victoria was finding it increasingly difficult to get out and into the truck and make it to bathrooms. We slept, but we have one dog with us and it added to the minor issues.

Day 5 we left Gallup and I was determined to make San Diego. It took us 15 hours, almost a dozen stops, but we did pull into Escondido (about 10 miles north of Poway, our target city) early Monday morning.(2am ish). We collapsed into bed, but got up the next mornin to start looking for somewhere to live. We spent 5-6 hours looking, V slept most of the time. We got back to the hotel and crashed. V's appetite, never good, sucked. She ate little, drank less. Tuesday, the bathroom breaks averaged every 90 minutes, and V's ability to get in and out of the truck into the bathroom degraded significantly - she was no longer able to use the walker. We did bring the wheelchair but it was buried in the trailer awaiting unpacking.

Wednesday we found a place, but it was rented before we could get the paperwork and money back to them 6 hours later. Victoria only wanted to be in the hotel so we left her while looking. She did not take all of her meds Tuesday night, ate little, drank less. Bathroom, a lot. I started worrying about dehydration. She didn't take Wednesday meds. Thursday, she was not very responsive, only wanting to lay down, or go to the bathroom. We got some Ensure on Wed and she had a couple Wednesday and Thursday morning. CJ and I went back out looking for places and returned to find V on the floor unable to get up. We got her up and into the bed. But she was not very coherent. She slept, then had an Ensure and slept more. Friday we gave up on finding a house, and looked at some apartments. We needed 2-3 bedrooms, pets allowed, ground floor, under $1800. We found one finally in a slightly seedy area. I balked but CJ liked it and we took the paperwork home.

V was not lucid when we got back. She wanted to go to the bathroom and we did that, but no sooner than we got her back to the bed, she wanted to go again. We did, but back to the bed, she wanted to again. She could barely walk, her urine was not concentrated. She would not eat. She could not hold a drink. She was not aware of her general surroundings. She knew us, but could not say our names, where we were. Saturday we went out for some food and drinks and came back to find her worse. Bathroom was all that she could say. CJ and I talked about 911. By Sunday morning, 911 was not if, but when. She fell out of the bed and I picked her up but all she could say was 'we're done', 'you're out of here', 'let me go to the bathroom'. When she could no longer help me get her to the bathroom, I called 911. It was Sunday, Aug 1, 4pm.

To the EMTs she could give her name, but answer no other questions. The hospital was 7 minutes from the hotel. At the ER (CJ rode with Victoria, I followed with the dog), her blood pressure was 238/120, bloodsugar was 118, calcium was very elevated. They admitted her. For the next two days they tried to get the bloodpressure and calcium down with little luck. Meanwhile, she remained not lucid. She did tell me she wanted me gone, she was not going to forget this. I ignored it, but despite having a foley, she continued to insist on getting out of bed to go to the bathroom.

We did not get the apartment CJ wanted, it was rented by the time we got back Monday with the paperwork. We did go back to another place that did not have anything when we first went by the Wednesday before, now they did, and by the time we left, we were approved for a two bed, one bath, apartment on the first floor. Cost was lower than I hoped. We could move in on Monday the 9th

Tuesday night, they put her in restraints. That was what we came into on Wednesday, Aug 4. Blood pressure was still in the upper 180s, sugars ok, but calcium was still high. As to the 'disorientation', 5 doctors, no answer. Creatine was 3.6 - it was not the kidneys. She complained of being assaulted. She was very bruised. We have many pictures.

Thursday, bloodpressure in the 150/160s, calcium still high. Creatine 4.5. Everyone notices that she was 'drooping' on the left side of her face. Speaking was slurred. Eating/drinking difficult. They got more aggressive on both bloodpressure and calcium. Friday, bloodpressure in the 140s, early morning in the low 130s. Calcuim coming down. Victoria showing periods of lucidity, but when just waking, very disoriented. Creatine 5.3. The kidneys were failing. Saturday, creatine was 5.8. They recommended surgery to prepare for dialysis. It was scheduled for Monday, with dialysis to follow Monday night. Surgery didn't happen til Monday evening. Creatine 6.9, virtually no urine since Saturday. Dialysis on Tuesday afternoon. Sunday, Aug 8, Victoria was back. She was still not sure of things, but normal conversation was possible. For the next 5 days, therapists, doctors worked with her to determine what happened. It took a week to get an MRI. Two recent TIAs, no stroke. We think one occurred the Wednesday after getting to CA, the second, the Thursday in the hospital. First caused the disorientation, the second the slurred speech and other physical issues. Thursday, Aug 12 she was scheduled to have the PD cath installed the next day (this would allow at home dialysis after it healed in a couple of weeks). Conversations with Victoria indicate that the issue prior to and during the first days in the hospital were limited to articulation. She heard our questions, formulated answers, then garbage came out. Her memory of the events was not complete, but nearly so. She again indicated she had been assaulted by a female nurse on the first Tuesday night (the night the restraints were put on). That night, one of the few I did not have my phone on, I received an urgent call from the hospital at 12:38am. On Wednesday morning, when I got the message, I called. There was no record of the call, or any event that would have prompted one. Friday, the 13th, the PD cath was put in. Sunday, she was moved from the hospital to a skilled nursing facility (a SNF, pronounced sniff!). Care is as you would expect, not great.

Tuesday, 8/17. CJ had to register for school. We spent an hour there in the sun, 95 degrees, only to find out she had to come back on Thursday and work with a counselor because she was a new enrollee. We made it to the Dialysis clinic for Victoria's first non-hospital dialysis. Thursday, CJ and I met with the counselor and got her classes chosen. She suggested CJ be on a couple of advanced tracks: History, English, Geometry. CJ was all for it. We have to go back on Monday for ID picture. She starts school officially on Wednesday Aug 25th.

Other little details. Thursday the 5th, CJ and I were able to unload the trailer into a storage facility (near the original hotel and 15 miles north of here) UHaul gave us a free 30 day rental. The dog is settling in. I had almost no business in July. What business I did get I had to do after we got back from the hospital (11pm or so). We didn't have the buffer I wanted, and the travel to the hospital and snif (about 15 miles away twice a day) has been eating into our reserves. We were able to get the misc furniture we needed but it is going to be real tight for a while. We are slowly unloading the storage as we get furniture pieces built and into place.

Between getting CJ set for school, hospital/snif visits, moving stuff from storage, we are falling into bed after very late once a day meals. CJ is holding up pretty well but it has been hard on her. The ambulance ride, watching her mom unable to answer basic questions, the restraints, leaving her nightly....new school, new environment. She is doing better than can be expected.

Right now, CJ, Victoria and I just want to get her home. That appears to be in the plan for Wednesday.

The hits keep on rolling. Monday, Aug 23. Ollie (our dog) got hit by a car - which took off, did not stop. The damage is not life threatening, 60 stitches in his muzzle and a couple on the leg. The vet takes full payment before release. Joy. There went the little buffer we had. He is back home (got him back at 5am) and appears he will fully recover. CJ was walking him, she is not good. Afraid she almost killed her mom's dog. School starts in the morning.

CJ picked out a mat for the front door stoop, it says, Live Life Simply. That is our plan for the next couple years.

What was your summer like?

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Comments on AGW 'evidence'

A person, @AI_AGW on twitter gave me three links regarding proof of AGW in response to my comment about warming on Mars.

Regarding the Mars warming(sorry, can't find the link) a video 'debunking' the concept of warming on Mars. Only, watching it, there were a couple things. First he mentions that dust storms have changed the face of Mars that could lead to increased temperatures. Two points: what is driving the storms, higher temperatures? and second, he doesn't actually say that Mars is NOT warmer...as a matter of fact, he all but concedes it but notes 'storms may have affected temperature' and 'not enough knowledge to know IF there is warming or what it's cause may be."

So the link to 'debunk' does not. There certainly may be other links that do a better job, but as @AI_AGW appears to spend all his/her time promoting AGW, you would think s/he has the best debunking.

Moving on: article at skeptical science

Fig 1: Atmospheric co2 starts climbing BEFORE total CO2 Emissions do - that is not suggestive, but it is not supportive.

Levels 350ppm is .00385% of the atmosphere content. 4/10 of 1%

Fig 4. Ocean heating 'lag'? 1850 - 1970 little or no change, but from 1980 on ? why if CO2 has been on a parabolic rise since 1850, why has the change taken over a 100 years to have a continuous impact on the oceans? saturation?

With regard to the report on 'climategate' and the 'hacked emails', I find it interesting that ONLY the hacked emails were reviewed. the speaker in the next video wonders why the 'hacked emails' have not resulted in criminal actions against the 'hacker'. of all the emails, two interested me: the one where Jones said he would destroy the data before turning it over - and then of course, the data is no longer available; two, some decline in the current temps diverging from models unexpected?

2nd video NASA global warming facts


1st chart: 1940-1980 temp falling or stable but CO2 was increasing 1850 to present. Why is the temp stable or falling?
2nd chart: 1880 - 1920 had no temp change...so there is a 70yr lag on temp to co2?

1/3 degree per decade is not 1.5 degree change from 1880 to now. 120 yrs: 80ppm increase, 1.5 degree. to get 5 degree change, we need 250ppm change in co2. assuming that the system can convert the co2 to heat at the same rate as over the last 120 years.

The comment that we are making precise measurements is strange given we have gone from 6700 reporting stations to just about 1700 over the last 30 years. further, UHI (urban heat islands) are growing significantly and temp monitoring stations are being compromised. ignore the obvious ones that were placed badly - some of the reviews of well placed stations and their reporting over the years is clearly compromised. I am sure one station, or 3 stations will not change any opinions, but going from 6700 to 1700 seems to be a bad idea.

with regard to satellite temp readings being in good agreement with land/sea based readings, current satellite readings are showing .12 to .19 degree per decade increase - much lower than .33 of a degree and well below a 5 degree change rate.

The satellite data is not without problems, John Christy of UAH concludes:

"Previously reported discrepancies between the amount of warming near the surface and higher in the atmosphere have been used to challenge the reliability of climate models and the reality of human induced global warming. This significant discrepancy no longer exists because errors in the satellite and radiosonde data have been identified and corrected. While these data are consistent with the results from climate models at the global scale, discrepancies in the tropics remain to be resolved.

This difference between models and observations may arise from errors that are common to all models, from errors in the observational data sets, or from a combination of these factors. The second explanation is favored, but the issue is still open."


the link is to skeptical science, source of links provided to me.

the number of stations decrease has been described as non-issue due to the better quality of those that remain. conceded. however, FEWER data points seldom are better than more unless the more is compromised - which is possible.

Another issue, ocean warming would increase water vapor in the atmosphere - a significant greenhouse 'gas' and considerably higher concentrations.

while temps in the higher atmosphere are in fact increasing, the surface temperatures seem to have stalled somewhat (I won't say reduced though there may be some suggestion of it). that should not be happening. as climate can drive weather but weather is not climate POV, the number of temp and precipitation records that were set this past winter suggests weather is not following climates dictates.

3rd video Steven Schnieder of stanford

I skipped the first 40 minutes of this video to get to the meat - there may have been good reason not to - sue me.

@ approx
44:00 min. "models are good, until 1970 or so"
46:00 min all the graphs show a temp drop in the 70s. co2 has been continuously climbing since the 1850's - why is there a temp drop/stall in the 70's? some other factor?

One of his fingerprints: 'models correctly predicted that days would be warmer than nights'. REALLY!? Damn fine models they are.

IPCC was not dependent on Climategate emails or 'how wavy the hockey stick is'. Interesting because at
58:00 IPCC is dependent on the science provided - it takes the science and offers an interpretation. it does not 'catch' or verify the data. Hence we have 'small' back tracks from IPCC on claims that could not be, or were never, backed up by actual science. If the science provided is corrupt, IPCC does not, can not catch it and therefore interprets based on false information. the question is, if IPCC is not dependent upon the science - the data related to in climategate emails and MWP whitewash - what IS it dependent on?

for myself: I don't deny science fact - earth is warmer now than 40 years ago. I deny the conclusions reached based on that fact - ie, the conclusion that co2 is the primary culprit and that humans are the primary source.

continuing:
1:07:00 warming causes higher water vapor - more precipitation.
1:09:00 earth has no brakes to higher temps/ co2? there is no feedback mechanisms? huh?
1:16:00 IPCC: the Himalayan mistake got past...so did others
Congress and citizens not qualified to determine the risk? maybe, but they are the ones to determine what the response will be. Risk is a subjective conclusion, not just a scientific conclusion

1:19:00 Ice fjord affected by ocean water warming, not air warming

1:30:00 bell curve shift = less cold weather...2009/2010 winter cold extremes? yes, weather is not climate - does climate drive weather - " more Cat 5 hurricanes"

1:31:00 regarding fires in the West caused by warming being larger - that ignores the fact that smaller burns have been prevented by ecologists such that we know that the underbrush has gotten out of hand and when fires happen, they are bigger

________________________________

here is the issue.
the earth is warming. why? good question. some of the answer is humans - there are 6 billion of us, 4 billion more than in 1900. that is a lot of human activity.
co2 is going up. why? good question. some of the answer is humans - there is a lot of human activity that produces co2
is the earth warming primarily being driven by co2 increases? good question. maybe. but .12-.19 degree a decade? the average over the last 120 years appears to be about, .15 degree a decade. co2 is up 85ppm over the last 120 years (most of it in the last 30 years - depending on the charts) temps appear to be going up only in the last 30 years? overlaying temps on co2 changes does not suggest a correlation - well, maybe some but certainly not strong.

we have long ocean cycles, long solar cycles

In a vat with 1,000,000 balls at a temp of 50 degrees, adding 85 balls that are 30 degrees warmer are not likely have any significant impact on the temp of the vat.
(assuming stirring the vat is what keeps it at 50 degrees in the first place)

Our understanding of our climate has dramatically improved over the last 20 years - in the face of 4 BILLION years of climate history, I'm impressed but not convinced that we KNOW anywhere near enough to justify killing 4 billion people. Just not.

here is a post I made a while back on the issue...if you care to spend the time.

Tracy

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Three views

Sometimes a single photo captures the essence of an event so well, that further comment is unnecessary. Nature photos can have that 'WOW' characteristic, but seldom can a photo of a person capture the 'wow' of a person, or even the 'WTF' totality. But one picture of Obama has captured for me what I think of whenever I think of Obama and I will let you try to figure out which one:






Monday, June 07, 2010

37 Minutes

“Are we ready?”

“Yes Mr. President. One minute.”

He looked again around the room. All the furniture except the Resolute Desk had been removed. No paintings hung on the walls, no statutes or busts were displayed. He wondered, again, at his reasoning. Was he trying to hide from the history, the ghosts that clearly occupied this room? Or was he trying to protect them from the future, the soon to be now?

The desk had 3 pieces of paper and his phone. No pens were in view. If someone were allowed to look, they would find the desk was empty. All the drawers had been cleaned out. Despite the complaints of the camera crew, the window coverings were gone also.

“Thirty seconds sir.”

Except for the C-Span producer, the camera crew were all military personnel. Four men specifically chosen for this, event. The producer, William Porter, had decades of experience and was comfortable in the White House and Congress. He had also been cleared by Secret Service down to his first grade teacher.

“Ten seconds. Five, four…” the hand cued him….

“When I last spoke to you three days ago, I said that when I knew more, I would tell you, the American people, everything I knew, as soon as I knew it. The investigations will continue for months, probably years, but we know more, and I am going to share it with you and then tell you what I am going to do about it.”

No preamble, no ‘good evening’. The disaster, no, the attack was beyond platitudes or niceties. He was not going to start off trying to soften what was about to come. For three days fear and terror had griped the nation and tonight, it was going to erupt into violent hatred and the only one capable of stopping that was him. But to do it, he was going to have to act like everyone wanted to, and he was going to have to shock the American people and the world into ending the violence immediately. Twelve people knew what was coming and in less than 40 minutes, it will either have worked, or started the end.

He reached down and pressed a button on the phone. “Send in the Secretary.”

The door opened immediately and the Secretary of Defense walked in. William George Franklin had never served in the military but over the last year, he had earned the respect of the Joint Chiefs and the troops in harms way. He was a soldiers’ civilian. Franklin walked to the side of the Desk and turned to face both the President and the camera.

“Please report Mr. Secretary.”

“Yes sir. Estimates of the crowd prior to launch were in the area of 25,000. Photos of similar sized crowds suggest the number in that area. We will never know for sure. Teams have recovered just over 11,000 sets of remains but all of them are from 5 miles or farther away from the Launch Pad. There were just 87 survivors within 10 miles of the Launch Pad, all have since died.”

That was a shock. His briefing an hour ago said 22 were still alive. The Secretary continued.

“There are 19 hundred and forty-seven in burn units around the entire southeast. The report is that 90% of them will probably be dead within the next week. The remainder will need significant rehabilitation. We still don’t have a full count, but right now, 37 thousand, four hundred and sixty three are permanently blind, another 22 thousand are currently blind but may regain some or all of their sight. Anyone that could have seen the actual launch, is permanently blind. The people furthest away that are permanently blind were 27 miles from the Launch Pad, so far.”

“We expect that the 14 thousand survivors from 10 to 15 miles from the Pad will mostly survive but the injuries are all very serious and the doctors are refusing to give us survival estimates. Anyone 20 miles or more away from the Launch Pad will probably survive and anyone 35 miles or more should be relatively safe.”

“We are estimating the dead at 141,250. Seriously injured and not expected to survive at 17,475. Injured but expected to live at 81,900. That is just over 200,000 dead and seriously injured. In terms of property damage, the Cape is a total loss. All facilities not outright destroyed are unusable for tens or even hundreds of years. Interstate 95 and Florida Highway 1 are closed from Sebastian on the south to Oak Hill on the north. Highway 528 is closed east of State Road 520. Titusville, Cocoa and Melbourne are gone as are most of the communities in the closed zone. Department of Homeland Security and FEMA estimate the property loss will approach one trillion dollars, but that is just a guess at this point.”

“Sir that concludes the injury and damage assessment.”

The numbers were staggering but he knew they were still preliminary and whole areas were still being searched. It was the peak tourist season and no one knows how many were in the area.

“Mr. Secretary, you have informed me of the tactical situation. Please report exactly what you have told me.”

Franklin swallowed hard. He had strongly disagreed, as had most of the Cabinet with releasing the full report. Given the mood of the country and most of the civilized world, this was going to throw gas on and already dangerous situation. But the President would not back down and here he was, giving the ammunition to start the next, and probably last, world war.

“Sir.” He paused and swallowed again. During the first part of the briefing, he kept looking at the President, never glancing once at the camera that was capturing everything for more than a billion people waiting for, desperate for information.

“Analysis of the debris has found two different materials. There may have been some attempt to mix materials in an attempt to hide the sources, but it is clear that the material had two separate and distinct origins. We have shared the data with three other nations and they confirm our analysis. The device was a small rocket similar to those used in the Middle East for short range targets, 30 to 45 miles. We believe it was launched from a tanker truck that had been fitted with a launch cradle and driven to a point on or near the Turtle Creek Golf Club south of Rockledge. Travel time was less than 60 seconds from launch to detonation, which occurred approximately 300 feet above and 1000 feet from the Launch Pad. The estimated yield was 37 kilotons.”

“The source of the material Mr. Secretary,” the President interrupted.

“Iran and North Korea, sir.”

“That sounds convenient Mr. Secretary.”

“Yes sir. However, the UN confirmed the signatures on the Iranian material and the North Korean material was a match for the Syrian material found by Israel in 07 and a ship detained two months ago coming out of North Korea.”

“And how did that material and the rocket get into the United States?”

The sharp tone was much less forceful than the same question the President ask three hours ago. He should have an answer, but even Homeland Security was scrambling. “We don’t know. Sir.”

The President nodded but his clenched jaw, prominent as it was, was clear to everyone in the room and watching around the planet.

He reached for the phone again and stabbed the button hard enough to make the phone jump on the desk.
“Send them in.”

The door opened and the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Harold Holebrook led in three others. Michael Penn, National Security Advisor, William Prindle, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Karen Demitrov, Director of FEMA.

They stopped in front of the desk and faced the President.

“I have only one question for the CIA and the FBI, can you confirm the findings of the Defense Department?”

Holebrook led off. “Sir, the CIA can confirm the source materials. We are still trying to determine the method of getting the materials and equipment into the United States.” He looked over at Prindle.

“Sir, we are working on locating the people and methods used to get the weapon into place.”

“That was not my question. Can you confirm the Department of Defenses findings?”

“No sir. But we concur in their assessment.” It was just beyond the ability of the FBI to analyze nuclear material but the President was not interested in the FBI’s limitations today.

“Thank you. Please stand over there,” the President nodded towards the Secretary of Defense and the two men moved to stand behind him.

“Director Demitrov. Do you need anything you are not getting?”

A professional, never bothered by the ‘men’s club’, she was terrified for the first time in her life. She knew the others were also. The President had raged for two days and no one was spared niceties. She had given the President two private briefings and after both, she had been flooded with manpower and materials, first for the casualties, second to hand the flow of materials and equipment from the first flood.

“No sir. We have eighty crews per shift, working twenty four seven looking for survivors. Seventeen field hospitals are up and running and we have 41 morgues trying to establish identities. Hurricane season has been relatively quiet and I have been told it will continue to be so for the next 10 days or so.”

“Good.” He stared at her for a second and then nodded to his right. She stepped over to the side and suppressed as sigh.

“Mr. Penn.”

“Sir.”

“Are they here?”

“Yes sir.”

“Bring them in.”

Penn turned and walked back to the door and opened it. “Bring them in.”

A Marine in combat gear walked in followed by two men that looked miniature in comparison. Three more equally dressed Marines followed them. All four Marines carried sidearms and automatic rifles. Secret Service just about had a cow when informed of the plans and spent two days vetting the Marines but they still protested the weapons in the Oval Office. Especially when no Secret Service agent would be present.

He overruled his detail and the Director. He turned again to the camera.

“The men that have been escorted in are Ambassador to the United Nations for North Korea, Kim Yung and the Ambassador to the United Nations for Iran, Alhemed Fara-Said.” The President nodded to the detail and Yung was taken by the arm and led to the front of the desk.

“I must pro…”

“SHUT UP! I don’t give a damn.” He reached down and picked up the first of the three pieces of paper. “This document voids your diplomatic credentials.”

“You can’t do…”

“SHUT UP! Marine, if he opens his mouth again, shoot him.” The Marine escort took his sidearm, released the safety and put the gun to the Ambassador’s head. The terror was clear in his eyes and the Ambassador from Iran stirred and was quickly ‘steadied’ by two of the Marines.

“When you leave this room, you will be taken to a detention facility where you will be held indefinitely pending negotiations for your release. Step back.”

The Marine guided the man back into the middle of the detail. A nod from the President and the two Marines holding the Iranian moved him forward. When they were standing in front of the desk, the President lifted an eyebrow in question. The Iranian made no comment but continued to stare back.

“Very well.” Picking up the second piece of paper, he continued. “This document voids your diplomatic credentials and is an order for your arrest to stand charges in a military court. I have sufficient evidence to implicate you directly and I intend for everyone to see it.” If he expected a response, it was not happening. He nodded to the detail and they returned to their positions near the door with both former Ambassadors firmly in hand.

He turned to the camera. “Over the last two days, sufficient evidence has been presented to implicate the governments of Iran and North Korea, as well as several other organizations in a plan to detonate a nuclear device on American soil so as to cause significant damage and casualties. That information is being provided to the UN Security Council and our Allies right now. Mr. Penn.”

“Sir.”

“Execute scimitar.”

“Yes sir. If I may?”

The President turned the phone to the man and he pressed a button. “Execute scimitar on Presidential Orders.”

“No wait, you can’t…” came a strangled cry from the back of the room. The Iranian was looking at the North Korean with fear and, sympathy? He turned back to the President and saw the stare. “NO.”

“Captain?”

The Iranian was grabbed by both arms and stood against the wall. The Captain, took out his sidearm and placed the barrel on the Iranian’s forehead. The North Korean didn’t understand, he kept looking at the Iranian and back to the President.

“Four minutes Mr. President.”

“Very good.” The President faced the camera. “We wait for four minutes before proceeding.”

A noise came from the back of the room and the strong smell of urine filled the room. The Iranian had pissed himself. Whether it was his knowledge of Scimitar or his expectation that something similar was about to befall his country, the President didn’t care. He actually smiled.

“Every action has a consequence Mr, Ambassador.”

Minutes passed.

The phone chimed once and the President nodded. Penn picked up the phone and after 10 seconds put it back down without saying anything.

“Thirty three minutes sir.”

“Very good.” The President looked at the North Korean who was still obviously confused but the Iranian was staring straight ahead. “Execute Pesh-kabz.”

The Iranian’s eyes went wide and as his mouth formed the scream, the Marines’ gun discharged. Only the Marines and the President stayed standing. The camera jerked and everyone turned first to the Iranian who was slumping to the floor and then back to the President.
“Mr. Penn?”

“Yes, sir, sorry sir.” Penn stood up straight and reached for the phone. Depressing the button as if it were a trigger he did not want to touch, he spoke towards the phone. “Execute pesh-kabz, on Presidential orders.” He pressed the button again and turned to look at the Marines. The Captain had reholstered his sidearm and was standing in front of the North Korean.

“It will take about three minutes sir.”

Less than a minute later, the phone chimed and Penn picked up the handset. A single nod and he returned the handset. “Scimitar one has detonated sir. Pesh-kabz has crossed the border.”

The President nodded and turned to the camera.

“When I spoke to you two days ago, I promised swift retaliation against those responsible. A few minutes ago, 63 cruise missiles from ships in the Pacific launched. Each missile carries two tactical nuclear warheads and they are striking North Korean military targets all along the DMZ. Over the next 31 minutes, three cities in North Korea will also be attacked. Sunch’on, Kanggye and Namp.”

This time the North Korean’s eyes went wide and he collapsed in a heap. The President stared at him for a few seconds then nodded to the Marines. They carefully lifted the unconscious man and left the room with him, leaving the body of the Iranian against the wall.

“The towns I mentioned are locations for Presidential Palaces, but maybe the North Koreans didn’t think we knew about them. The North Koreans apparently believed that their ability to launch against the South Koreans would stay our hand indefinitely. That, or the prospect of war with China. Those threats are soon to be rendered, meaningless.”

Penn looked at his watch and nodded to the President.

“At the same time, the Iranians have spent the last several years feeling threatened, and threatening. That ends tonight also. Seventeen American bombers are over Iran, I am sure, based on expected responses, that the Iranians have begun to lock down their nuclear facilities. We will see soon if they were very good or not. In any case, Tehran and Qom will shortly cease to exist.”

“The governments of Russia and China have been politely warned to stand down from any response. If all goes as planned, this will be over in 37 minutes, or about 28 minutes from now. After which all of our forces will stand down and withdraw.”

“Over the next several days, reports will come in concerning the damage and death tolls from my orders. They will be at least a magnitude greater than we have suffered. Many innocent civilians will die, are dying. I do not ask for forgiveness nor offer an apology. For too many years we have tried to be polite neighbors to countries that consider that politeness a weakness. The attack of June 22nd will not go unanswered, nor un-avenged. We lost thousands of people but I can’t help but think of those 8 astronauts on that Launch Pad and what they represented to the world. They were the target. The hope they represented was the target.”

The door to the Oval Office opened and the Vice President stepped in. The Marines also returned and three went over and picked up the body and removed it. The Captain escorted them to the door and closed it, remaining in the room.

“Madam Vice President?”

“Sir, the Russians and Chinese have agreed and the Chief Justice is ready.”

The phone chimed and with a look, Penn picked up the handset. He nodded several times and then, “Keep us informed” he hung up the handset.

“Sir. The Norks…sorry, the North Koreans got off two missiles but both failed to detonate on impact. The South Korean military is dealing with them. All other scimitar operations are proceeding as expected. The Iranians got off three missiles, we intercepted one, the Israelis’ got the other two. All three were destroyed without detonations. Pesh-kabz one, three, four and five have already completed, two and….”

The phone chimed and Penn picked it up immediately and then realizing what he had done, looked at the President. “Ok.”

Penn hung up the phone and continued. “Two, six, seven and eight have all executed as planned.”

He made no mention of the remaining two squads and the President decided to leave the issue open for the moment. He turned to the camera.

“My first responsibility is to the protection of the people of the United States. We failed…..I failed and we have suffered for it. I take responsibility because I was one of those that thought we were stronger for working with all countries, the good and the bad, the friends and those that we wanted as friends.“

He turned to the Vice President and nodded. She turned, and nodded to the Marine Captain who opened the door and admitted the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. They both approached the desk. The President reached down and picked up the third piece of paper.

“Chief Justice Roberts, this is my resignation.” He handed the page to the Justice who read the short paragraphs. He turned to the Vice President. “Madam Vice President, do you concur with the President?”

“I do not. I think we need him now more than ever. But I understand why and I accept that.”

“Very well,” said Roberts who turned and nodded to the President. The President came out from behind the desk and headed for the door. The Captain turned and opened the door preceding the President through but just as he got to the door, his sidearm was pulled from the holster from behind, he turned quickly but the President had planned this and practiced it for hours, the gun went off with the Captain’s hand still reaching. The President fell backwards and the gun fell from his hands.

The room was silent. No one moved. The Captain finally bend down over the President and knew before trying that it was useless, the pool of blood forming behind the President’s head was enormous. But he checked and found no pulse.

Thirty seven minutes after the camera went on, it went dark.


Three months later:

“Madam President.”

“Ambassador, how good of you to come.”

“Thank you for taking the time to see me.”

“So, tell me. How did it go?

“Better than we expected. Turn out was high and Ayadi was clearly the winner. There will be no run-offs and he wants me to tell you that he is ready to work with the United States.”

“That’s great. And reconstruction?”

“It too is happening better than expected. There is a sense of …hope for the future.”

“Good, good.”

“Tell me Madam President, will you ever use the Office?”

“Nope. Haven’t been in there since the last night. Not planning on going in there. Everyone that goes in there says the President is still there. The Haunted Office is the unofficial name. The Roosevelt Room will do for me. Who knows what the next President will do.”

“So, you are not running again?”

“Everyone wants to know” she smiled. “We’ll see how things progress. We have a long way to go and I have a promise to keep. Thank you for coming by and telling me in person. Tell your President that I look forward to meeting him in person!”

“Thank you Madam President. I will tell him. Good day.”

She walked him to the door and then closed the door. She took out the piece of paper. Seven words in a barely readable scrawl “Promise to stay vigilant, keep us safe.”

Always. Rest my friend.