Tuesday, December 06, 2011


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"
"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.