Tuesday, December 29, 2009
My surgery caused me to lose blood and delayed my recovery a day while I had a blood transfusion on Wednesday. Then on Thursday after I started drinking clear liquids again, I had another setback when my bowel refused to cooperate and pass the gas through. Instead I belched and ultimately vomited on Christmas Eve. I started shaking and asked the nurse for some help in an inartful way --asking if perhaps some of the meds were interacting badly with each other. The nurse got real huffy and said essentially that I just had surgery that was all that was wrong and to just deal with it. She stormed off and left me alone, scared and shaking. The next day the resident took my complaint more seriously and prescribed some wonderful medication that helped with "motility" (great word) and allowed me to sleep soundly. My sleep had been marred with nightmares the first few nights, touching on every fear I have from being fired (by the CEO himself), to attacks by insects, to violence and mayhem. So the nightmare free sleep was quite welcome.
With the exception of the nurse on Christmas Eve, I had very nice nurses at the hospital. Unfortunately the level of competence varied quite a bit and sometimes I got doses of meds too early or too late. One of the nurse assistants did not know how to take blood pressure properly and thus recorded much lower BP levels for me than other nurses did when they took it properly. As a result I did not take my BP meds in the hospital even though at the end they were probably warranted.
Even the doctors were not the best communicators. CSMC is a teaching hospital so I was treated to residents, Grey's Anatomy style. One of the attendings who was subbing for my doctor, showed up with an entourage of 5 residents on Christmas day to discuss my problems from the night before. Words of wisdom from the attending: "Once you pass gas, the angels will sing and the heavens will open". She was, of course, correct if not obvious.
One of the doctors, a young man who was assigned to my doctor and whose status was between resident and attending, was always referred to as "The Fellow". Never by name. "I will discuss this with The Fellow." "The Fellow will need to approve." I started thinking of calling him "Jolly Good" or "JG" for short. On the day after Christmas, I asked him his name and said I only knew him as The Fellow. He showed me his name card which, of course, I could not see without my glasses. So I asked again, explaining my vision limitations and he finally said his name out loud and brought his name tag closer. It turned out he had an Arab surname, which one might speculate you would not want to shout out loud much in a Jewish hospital. Or perhaps, as one of the residents explained, it was not an easy name to pronounce correctly and no one wanted to give offense. I of course said thank you to him repeating his name out loud. He smiled and seemed more human for the first time-- something all of these young doctors need to remember that their patients need and crave as much as the medical skill.
So now I am home and have had a proper turkey dinner. We have opened presents. Christmas 2.0 may have been interruptus but still was a pleasure to have at home after being in the hospital.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Interestingly, Paul said that almost all of his conversation yesterday with this doctor concerned me (Paul's wife). What a role reversal! We decided that whoever has the more serious illness at the time gets to be the focus of this doctor's attention and for a change, it's me and Monster Mass. We decided that doctors are most interested in the illnesses and not in the healthy patients (oh, so boring, nothing in your labs). Illness is their sweet spot.
Friday, December 18, 2009
The "C" word. Automatic IQ dropper.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Of course, I would never get that call since it admits I am not merely crazy.
In the call I did get, Paul's doctor (and mine) said that it looks like I am under good care. Nothing for him to do. At least he called . . .
Monday, December 14, 2009
Now I have to have surgery but have hit the first roadblock. The doctors my GI MD recommended would not even schedule an appointment until he sends them the CT scan and a referral. Then I have to go see someone who will tell me the same thing presumably my GI MD said (you need surgery STAT) and then we will try to get an OR booked at Cedars Sinai. I had my last surgery at St. Johns in Santa Monica but the practice to which I was referred supposedly specializes in removing these types of growths, which can get tricky depending on where the tentacles of the growth have gone. So I will succumb to the recommendation of a specialist even if I have to go to the huge hospital farther away from home. Both my son and husband have recently done time in Cedars and both thought it was a good hospital. Of course, my friend with cancer has spent some time there too in the last few years.
Odds are the monster is benign. But until they do the surgery and the biopsy I will not know. So more anxiety in store for me during this holiday season.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
My granddaughter was celebrating her first Christmas and was fascinated by the lights and ornaments. In one of those unfortunate turn of events, we wound up having many more gifts for her than for my grandson. He noticed and became a bit testy. As we were still opening Lely's gifts, he said "Oh we should look but I think there are no more gifts for Pauly." In typical sociopathy of the child (see Onion article ), he rejected the lovely and too advanced skateboard he had received and the overtures from his Dad to try it out when they got back from Micronesia. He also refused at first to play with the fire truck he had coveted, having convinced himself that it was Legos and thus not what he had wanted. And he observed that he already had one of the Scooby Doo DVDs we got him, even though it is lost. Eventually he came around and started to play with various toys. Lely, who is crawling and pulling to stand, used many of the gifts as leverage to get on her feet.
At some point, my son got the "New Year's beers" he had been saving to share with his Dad--one each for the guys as we counted down to the hypothetical 2010 three weeks early and shouted "Happy New Year". So we went through all the holiday celebrations we would miss this year with my son and his family. It was great, notwithstanding the crabby kid who kept sneaking out to grab another Christmas cookie (He had 6 total). When my son was that age, he would negotiate how many cookies he would get. I would offer one and he would ask for 3. My grandson agrees to eat only one and then sneaks more and more. His excuse: "I just love cookies!"
So my guys are gone on their way to Hawaii for the first leg of their journey--18 hours total on planes and a layover in Oahu of about 22 hours. I hope they enjoy their island Christmas as much as we enjoyed having Christmas 1.0 with them.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Typically I do not decorate the house or put up the tree until the weekend before Christmas. I am a bit neurotic about having a tree with lights in the house for a long time and I try to have the tree as fresh as possible for Christmas and the week after. Most of the time it works out fine to leave getting the tree until that late. One year, however, Paul and I drove all over the South Bay because all the trees (including artificial ones) were sold out in the usual haunts. Other years when my work schedule has been busy, I have left the trimming of the tree until as late as Christmas eve and rushed to get it done at the last minute. Some years I have had help trimming and others I have done it alone. There is no question that the holidays increase my work load and stress levels.
My goal every year is to simplify, simplify, simplify. If I do not have time, holiday cards get dropped from the agenda. We took pictures of our kids for years and I wrote a one page, sometimes funny, update of what had happened that year. Our children had challenging teen years so the funny update was not so funny during that time and thus got shelved. Resurrecting it has been hit and miss.
I now buy most of my gifts online because the stores have become unmanageable. I did however this week venture out to Target at lunch time to pick up a few last minute gifts for tonight's celebration. Target did not appear to be all that crowded. I found a parking spot relatively easily and managed to get into the store without bumping into too many other shoppers. Inside it was more crowded than the parking lot revealed but I was able to get what I needed relatively quickly and only with a few nudges to other shoppers to move out of the way. However, as I was trying to get to the checkout stand, a child ran in front of my cart which forced me to stop until his mother grabbed him and then, of course, someone else sprinted in and cut ahead of me. Grrr. Out in the parking lot with my cart filled with large items I was well into the crosswalk when a car drove right through the stop sign and just missed me. Double grrrr. Shopping at malls brings out the best in us, n'est-ce pas?
So in my quest to simplify I also buy fewer gifts for those with whom I do exchange, and exchange with fewer people. I typically give books to my colleagues at the office but I might even skip that this year since I am taking the week off before Christmas ostensibly to spend time with my daughter but probably mostly to read unless I need to have a medical procedure which is still up in the air. (My doctor knows. He has the results of the CT scan but I won't find out until Monday, which is not helping my stress levels either.)
So it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas and I am trying my best to find some holiday cheer in all of this. My guys have just delivered the decorations and are off to get wrapping paper so my jobs can begin. Once the work is done, perhaps the spirit will come.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Today I went to see a specialist for my ongoing stomach problems. He is fairly conservative about ordering tests but decided my symptoms warranted a CT scan. I called to get an appointment and luckily can have the scan done tomorrow (keep your fingers crossed). The person at the diagnostics center took my insurance information and said she would call back if there were a coverage problem. I did not hear back from her so I have to believe that the test will be covered. Indeed I believe my policy even makes special provisions for cancer screening even if I did not have the symptoms to justify the test. Lucky me.
Is some form of health care legislation better than nothing? I hope so because we are not even close to pulling away from the domination of big Insurance and big Pharma.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
While you might think this is my mere restating of Hegel, levels theory is not a thesis, antithesis, synthesis process. It is thesis, antithesis, thesis+, antithesis+ and so on. It looks at truth as more of a wave that increases amplitude with each iteration. Yes, I understand it is a bit nutty.
However, I saw another example of it the other day when I started reading Barbara Ehrenreich's new book, Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America. As a psychology PhD I am well steeped in notions of human behavior based on negativity--psychopathology, Skinnerian psychology (where you can shape through appropriate rewards) and even motivational psychology based on drives and fear of failure etc. Martin Seligman tried to take a new look at psychology when he rejected these negative forms of explanations and started to look at what ultimately was called Positive Psychology or the Psychology of Happiness. So there you have examples of levels 1 and 2. Ehrenreich seems to be rejecting Positive Psychology, particularly in the context of disease, because it is based on the incorrect assumption that positive thoughts will cure you. My friends with cancer agree. They have enough to handle with their disease. They don't want to be responsible for its course if it takes a bad turn because somehow they were not positive enough! And recently there were news reports that research shows "grumpy is good" as least as far as it seems to promote clearer thinking. It would seem to me that this rejection of positive thinking and happiness as the source of all that is good must be a level 3 idea. I am not seeing synthesis, just a reaction to the level 2 phenomenon of deifying positive psychology.
For me the jury is still out. I am interested in what Ehrenreich has to say but keep thinking that she is more of Eeyore saying "Thanks for noticing." But then again Randy Pausch was a self described Tigger until the end and the end did indeed come. As I recall from the Last Lecture, Pausch did not think positive thinking would change his survival outcome since he had a particularly virulent terminal cancer. He maintained that positivity changed the quality of his last days with his family and did indeed give him opportunities and experiences he might not have otherwise had. Maybe that's all any of us should expect from focussing on the positive.
But then again, even without all the psychological explanations, I simply dislike halibut. I remember that my mother made a creamed halibut dish frequently on Fridays when I was a child, back in the pre-Vatican 2 days when good Catholics did not eat meat on Fridays. One day she sent me to the fish market (remember those?) to buy the halibut and my 7 or 8 year old memory could not recall the fish that started with "H" that she had asked me to buy. So I told the fishmonger that I wanted haddock and proudly trotted home to find out my mistake. Luckily my mother used the haddock anyway in the dish. We decided the dish tasted better with haddock and thereafter never had the creamed halibut again. Perhaps my lack of memory was in fact a sign that my distaste for halibut (chewy and dry even in a cream sauce) needed to be addressed.
My disdain for that fish has only gotten worse over the years. Occasionally at a restaurant I have thought that I would try it in a different presentation and it never fails to disappoint. So I resolve to eat halibut no more and to do my best to get it out of my house. Otherwise I will need to buy stock in scented candles and Febreze.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
In the past 27 years I have so much for which to be thankful. I have a wonderful husband, two great children, fantastic in-laws (daughter-in-law and mother-in-law) and most heart tuggingly, two wonderful grandchildren. We live in a nice and safe community where the weather is lovely most of the time. Today, for example, it is in the 70s, sunny and clear. The beach was exceptionally pretty this morning with clear views of Palos Verdes and Catalina.
I am grateful to have my health. I had a small scare about skin cancer in the past few weeks but learned yesterday that the mole I feared was harmless. I also now know that I do have a few moles of concern which I have to watch but so far nothing that requires any other action but vigilance.
I am thankful for my friends and particularly for my friend Ann who continues to beat the odds of her life threatening cancer.
My work is stimulating and cutting edge in its own peculiar way. Although I, like everyone else, complains about work and the work environment, particularly that of a large corporation, what I do on a day to day basis is about as good as it gets for work. And I get paid pretty well for doing what I like. Not too shabby. (Please do not hold this against me, perfect masters, when I ask for a pay raise in the future since we all know I am paid below market value for what I do! :) )
I am grateful to be able to read and write as much as I do now that my children have grown up. I am also grateful to be able to walk on the beach regularly which invigorates my body and my soul.
I am sure there are many more things for which I should be thankful. But Chef William needs my help with the turkey and as usual we are missing some necessary ingredients so a trip to the store is required.
Happy Thanksgiving to all.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
With this history, I find the new book SuperFreakonomics fascinating. I was reading the chapter yesterday about large statistical analysis of the efficacy of medical treatment and thought how timely given this week's announcements of proposed changes to the screening for breast cancer and cervical cancer. It made sense to me that if the risk of harm from false positives in ages 40-50 outweighs numerically the likelihood of finding true positives, as a society we may be better off not screening women from ages 40-50. As Karen Kaplan wrote yesterday in the LA Times:
After decades of focus on the upside of cancer screening, public health experts are increasingly reevaluating the wisdom of administering routine cancer screening tests to millions of asymptomatic people.
Though screening certainly saves lives, recent studies make it clear that it also leads to biopsies, surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation -- even some deaths -- that otherwise would not have occurred.
That screening has a downside is not easy to accept, as evidenced by the furor over this week's recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force that most women wait until age 50 to start routine mammograms, and then get them only every other year.
One of the reasons people are in an uproar over the proposed changes is the notion that we should be able to control our health by proactive measures such as visits to doctors and screening tests. But again, SuperFreakonomics' analysis of data involving doctor strikes show that death rates are negatively correlated with doctor visits, i.e. the death rates went down when the doctors were on strike.
And another reason for uproar is the notion that decisions about healthcare would be made taking into account the good for all as opposed the good for each individual. Interestingly, I do not have a problem with using this rationale to limit screenings for otherwise asymptomatic people. I do however get the chills, as I did last night, when the rationale is extended to providing chemotherapy to stage 4 cancer victims. SuperFreakonomics argues that the numbers show that outcomes for such cancer patients on average are not positive but the cost is astronomical. They report that a treatment for non-small cell lung cancer costs $40,000 but only extends survival by two months on average. Should society bear the cost of this treatment if it does not change length of survival in any significant amount?
My very close friend was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in early January 2008. The average survival time after such a diagnosis is 8 months. My friend has beaten that average and then some. In the past two years she has had, she told me at lunch the other day, seven protocol of chemotherapy and her last scan showed shrinkage of the tumors. Every additional month she has lived over the average expectancy is a blessing to her family and friends, like me. Every day that we get to be in her presence is special. She has pain but it appears to be manageable. She is now in a wheelchair all the time due to the tumors' effect on her left leg and the possibility that it has destroyed bone in other places. She needs to be hypervigilant about getting sick. But she still is able to go out to restaurants and other people's houses. She is living her life one day at a time and I feel privileged whenever I can share time with her.
There is a wonderful article about Hillary Clinton by Jonathan Van Meter in the December Vogue and a frightening article about Sarah Palin by Frank Rich in today's NYT. The Rich article discusses Palin's book, Going Rogue, as instructive about why we cannot count out Palin in the public arena even though in a recent CNN poll , 71% say she is unqualified to be president. That same poll, however, shows that 42% see Palin in a favorable light, with 51 % viewing her unfavorably. That second set of numbers is what is frightening and reflected in the Rich article. Notwithstanding all the hoopla over her resignation as Alaska governor, her frequent inability to get out a coherent statement and her poor performance with Katie Couric during the election, (or maybe as Rich suggests, because of it) a large number of people like Palin, and her infatuation with the limelight and celebrity. They think she is plain spoken and like the average American, although most average American women do not run for VP with a new Downs Syndrome baby and other children at home, including a pregnant teenager. Why are people so willing to overlook Palin's lack of even the most rudimentary knowledge about world affairs?
Contrast Hillary Clinton who, according to the Vogue article, blew away Katie Couric with her command of the facts in a recent interview about Afghanistan. The Vogue article also shows how sociable and charming Hillary really is despite her characterization over the years as a "ballbuster" (remember the tasteless Hillary nutcrackers during the 2008 campaign?) And she was overwhelmingly adored by the people of Africa on her recent trip there, although as usual the most reported incident of that trip was her unflattering clash with a Congolese student over a question about what her husband thought about the issues.
Hillary is not only smart but she is effective and creative as SOS. Her approach in Africa and other developing countries is to look at the "soft issues"-- including the role of women in the countries (a subject also addressed by Kristof and WuDunn's Half the Sky). As Van Meter says about Clinton's view:
[T]he micro-economies of the poor are deeply important, and when the so-called soft issues—violence against women, food safety and agriculture, sustainable development—are not tended to, the result is chaos, instability, conflict, and war.Why is such an intelligent approach not given more its due by MSM? Why instead is the MSM so intrigued by the Sarah Palin phenomenon? To me, it shows a view of the American public as fundamentally ignorant and uninterested in anything but flash. I hope for all our sake that view is merely a cynical one and not true.
I don't know whether it was my being in the kitchen or the music that beckoned, but suddenly my husband and mother in law decided they too had to make food in the kitchen. Our kitchen is not that big and does not have that much counter space so having others take up counter space and get in my way looking for their own utensils got my heart racing so much that I suddenly stopped and left the room in the middle of the recipe to calm down. Deep breathing does work--for a moment. When I returned to make the filling, having finished the crust, my mother in law was heating up already cooked salmon in the microwave. I heard the "pop" (she didn't) but hoped it was nothing much. Unfortunately, when she opened the microwave we discovered the salmon had exploded everywhere and had filled the ceiling and crevices of the microwave with smelly salmon pieces.
My mother in law, uncharacteristically, cursed and then changed the curse to a more ladylike "shoot" while she spent a few minutes cleaning up. After she finished, I went to check the damage and continued cleaning for a few more minutes. Man, that salmon was everywhere! I took the innards of the microwave apart (a revolving tray assembly) and scrubbed it top and bottom. My mother in law felt bad but these things happen--and apparently must happen during my occasional forays into baking. Hmmm pumpkin and salmon. Yum.
So back I went to finishing the pie. I got it into the oven while hearing only twice the story of how the music reminded my mother in law of her aunt who taught piano when she was a child in England. After the prescribed cooking time I checked the pie which did not seem done enough to me so I made an executive decision to cook it 15 minutes more and then hope for the best. I let it cool and refrigerated it as instructed. It smelled good and gave the house that holiday air in conjunction with the holiday music.
This morning I tried a slice for breakfast. The first bite tasted good but as I proceeded I got a bit of an aftertaste not typical for pumpkin pie. I do not know if it had too much pumpkin pie spice or it was the artificial sweeteners. Typically artificial sweeteners do not bother me so I am thinking I may have put in more spice than I should have. Hopefully someone else will try it and let me know how it is. Calling something low cal in front of my beefy boys is a sure fire way to keep them from eating it!
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
I do not have any memory of my high school chemistry teacher or any other high school teacher, except for my Trig and Calculus teacher who I had for 2 years. And I do not remember her name. I did not even remember that the high school chemistry teacher was a man (unusual at my Catholic girls' school) and that he was very young when he taught us--same age as my next older sister. I learned all these facts by doing some research on him. He became a renowned neuroscientist with major finds in the area of adult stem cell and Alzheimer's research. He was chair of the medical faculty and neuroscience faculty at UCI, which means he has lived 50 miles away from me while doing all these amazing things in science for the past almost 40 years. (I took hs chemistry in 1969-70). And he is going to be playing himself (!) on Criminal Minds tonight for what I understand is a theory he developed about violence running in families that have experienced extreme trauma . I set my Tivo to record the show, in part because I am wondering if I will recognize his voice and that will bring back memories of his teaching me.
This matter of memory is fascinating and frightening at the same time. I live with a parent whose memory is clearly deteriorating, much to her own sadness as well as ours. I have talked to others about their experiences with their parents' memories declining. Everyone talks about the problems of what I call the "loops" which are a sign of working memory problems. The loop is the person asking a question, getting an answer and then a few minutes later asking the same question again--rinse and repeat many times. My problem is not a working memory issue. It is a complete loss of memory of certain aspects of certain periods of my life. I remember my friends and classmates for the most part from high school. Why do I not remember the teachers? I vaguely recall the social science teacher with whom I took history for a few years and did an independent study my senior year. No name, just an image. As I said, I also recall my math teacher--but again no name. Oddly enough I remember two nuns-- my 8th grade teacher who I rudely called (privately of course) "Bowser" and the infamous Sister Charles at my high school who taught latin and typing, neither of which I took. I cannot recall the real name of the 8th grade nun. But then I remember my kindergarten and first grade teachers, Sr. Irene and Sr. Eileen as well as my 4th grade teacher Mrs. Gavigan.
Memories are a funny thing. I think my working memory is still pretty good but these gaps in longer term memory are mystifying. I see my mother in law also not remembering longer term events but then at times she had very good memories, or so she claims, of events from her childhood. Maybe my old chemistry teacher--now famous neuroscientist-- can explain it to me. Hopefully I will remember the explanation.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
We arrived Thursday night and immediately went to meet our daughter and her beau at the Santa Cruz Diner where I was able for the first time in my life to order from the senior menu! I had a typical senior type meal--french toast and scrambled eggs-- nice and soft for those old teeth! I enjoyed tucking my napkin in at my collar and tucking into a dinner special for a measly $3.49!
Friday we ran some errands--car repair, book return etc. with our college students and then headed out with g-ma to see the UCSC campus. UCSC has a residential college system similar to but a little different from the one at Yale. Students join a college upon matriculation and stay with that college through graduation. The college is mostly for housing and dining but it also has faculty members who are affiliated with it (and thus have offices in the college) and offers a core course for freshmen. I gather there are themes to the colleges. I was told, for example, that Porter College is a liberal arts college. See here for more information about the college system at UCSC.
UCSC also has a beautiful hilly campus with fabulous views at times of the Pacific Ocean. Students have historically been more counterculture at this UC than other campuses (except Berkeley, of course). Looking around at the throngs of students going to class I felt transported a bit to my own college experience in the early 70s.
We also drove to Cabrillo College which has its own fantastic views of the ocean. However, Cabrillo was empty on that Friday. Apparently few students take classes on Friday. Classes are offered on MW and TTh with the Friday classes consisting of the dreaded 3 hour challenges to attention and sanity so most Cabrillo students show their smarts by avoiding Friday classes. It was also the Friday before a holiday Monday which may have decreased the already small group of people who attend on Friday. I had a parking lot almost all to myself which apparently is in stark contrast to parking problems at the school during the rest of the week. (Although nowhere as bad as the parking at Santa Monica College which "drove" both of my children to seek other education options when they could not attend class because they could never find any parking, not even in the satellite lots).
Community colleges in California are experiencing huge enrollments and significant budget cuts right now, making it difficult to attend a public college in CA. The UC and Cal State universities have raised tuition and cut budgets forcing more students into the community college system. Most of the schools have wait lists a full month before the classes starts and lines of students out around the building to get into courses on from a wait list. At CCSF someone put up signs saying a course was closed, even though it wasn't, to get an advantage of getting in from the wait list. CCSF reportedly now has over 100,000 students, up from 70,000 last year and making it by far the largest college in the state. Hats off to the students who navigate the CA community college system.
But I digress. Back to the Santa Cruz trip. Friday night we had dinner at Kianti's , a pizza/pasta place in downtown Cruz. Last time I tried to go there on a weekend evening, the wait was over an hour, but this time we walked right in. The fun part of that dinner was the show put on by the wait staff. It turned out our waiter was the star of the show, twirling rubber pizzas while dancing to "Footloose" and jumping on a ledge between tables. The rest of the staff had choreographed steps to three or four songs-- e.g. "Dancing Queen" and something from Grease.
Santa Cruz has a very nice independent bookstore, Bookshop Santa Cruz . We went there twice although I spent most of my time there on my iPhone reading an e-book. We also went to Walnut Avenue Cafe twice because g-ma loved the blueberry pancakes beyond measure and the rest of us thought our food was good too. This restaurant was the only one where we had to wait. On Sunday morning we had a 40 minute wait but luckily there was a Starbucks around the corner where we drank coffee outside with a screaming female schizophrenic ("What are you looking at you rich dick!!" insert more unmentionable invective) while waiting for our table. Santa Cruz downtown is a showcase for the state of mental health care in our state. Many of the homeless seem to be schizophrenic and paranoid, which raises the age old question of how to deal with the homeless mentally ill. Like the subject of the Soloist, these people do not always want to come inside where it can get crowded with the presence of all their demons. I leave that subject for another day.
Saturday we left the Cruz and spent a lovely day in San Francisco. We lunched in Sausalito and enjoyed a perfect sunny view of the city and the water. Pelicans entertained. During the evening we went to a reception at a Peruvian restaurant where Paul was honored for his work in settling the Wiwa case in NY.
The CHP gave us a parting gift on the way back to Santa Cruz that evening-- a fix it ticket for not having a current registration sticker on the car. Santa Cruz police also noticed that problem and gave us a ticket the next day for parking without a current registration sticker. What cities will do for money!
Sunday we headed home on El Camino Real for most of the way. I found a wonderful Lebanese restaurant on Yelp in Santa Barbara called Cafe Zaytoon. I had chicken shwarma of magnificent taste and quantities. The atmosphere was quite lovely too with firepit tables throughout the courtyard. My friend David told me zaytoon is a variant of the arabic word "zaytun" which means olive. Interestingly in the trivia contest of the night I bested my husband who believed Lebanese spoke Arabic when in fact as I said they spoke Lebanese, which is derived from Arabic and Aramaic but its own separate language.
Eventually we got home after being in gridlock on the 405 as the result of a 5 car pileup. Although the delay was annoying, I was grateful we were in the gridlock and not in the cars that were part of the pileup.
Monday, November 9, 2009
"At the River" is a wonderful hymn which I had the pleasure of learning a few years ago when I sang with the LMU Community Chorus, although the version we did combined that hymn with another song, "Deep River." At the funeral, the hymn was sung by a baritone with tenor overtones. Here is a young baritone I found on Youtube singing the Aaron Copland version. It gives me the chills.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
I always feel a bit bad when I do not vote. I can only count a few times over the years when I have not. One time I voted with almost no information about a local candidate and helped elect someone who I later discovered had very different views of the world than I. Luckily there is not much harm that can come from what these local council people can do, as far as I can tell. Conservative or liberal council members- the city seems to run about the same . . .until the next construction project to beautify Pier Avenue, which I understand starts in January.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Yesterday at the Grand Canyon, my husband took the above picture and sent to a friend with the title "Perspective". Traveling through the American Southwest with its geological wonders does tend to make you think about perspective. We stopped in a dinosaur museum in Blanding, Utah run by archeologists who have found, in the triangle area near the Four Corners, evidence of life hundreds of millions years old. One petrified tree we saw was 275 million years old. When you realize how long the rocks we see and even life has been on this planet, you understand that human history is de minimus in comparison. All those problems we have in our lives should be put in perspective.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
A bad day on vacation is better than a good day at the office.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Obama is developing a reputation as a middle of the roader. See e.g. the Washington Post article by Rajiv Chandrasekaran. Obama's last choice for Supreme Court supports that reputation, as far as I can tell. However, he must break with this proclivity and appoint someone like Ginsburg to the next open seat. Obama needs to be more like W and appoint people with more definite values (this time left leaning) just as W appointed two (!) highly conservative justices during his administration.
Otherwise we will continue to suffer the fallout of the Bush administration. A May 2009 article in the New Yorker by Jeffrey Toobin demonstrates why. As Toobin wrote:
After four years on the Court, however, Roberts’s record is not that of a humble moderate but, rather, that of a doctrinaire conservative. The kind of humility that Roberts favors reflects a view that the Court should almost always defer to the existing power relationships in society. In every major case since he became the nation’s seventeenth Chief Justice, Roberts has sided with the prosecution over the defendant, the state over the condemned, the executive branch over the legislative, and the corporate defendant over the individual plaintiff. Even more than Scalia, who has embodied judicial conservatism during a generation of service on the Supreme Court, Roberts has served the interests, and reflected the values, of the contemporary Republican Party.
What that means for us is the potential loss of civil rights to which we have become accustomed. A Roberts dominated court could eliminate the following:
- rights of African- Americans-Roberts already signaled his intentions to cut protections to African- Americans in last term's case involving section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which the Court ultimately upheld but narrowed such that local governments now have the option not to obtain Justice Department approval before making changes to their election laws or rules. As Toobin points out, these rules include "from the location of polling places to the boundaries of congressional districts." Roberts also supported the overturning of the Seattle School District integration plan in 2007 and found that the rights of white New haven firefighters were violated under Title VII of the civil rights act.
- abortion- six of the current nine justices are Catholic, in comparison to under 25% of the American population. Roberts already supported the upholding of the federal Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act in 2007.
- women's rights in employment- Roberts supported the decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear which imposed virtually impossible standards on those suing for discrimination. In that case the woman plaintiff was seeking equal pay for equal work.
- rights to pursue torturers- Roberts dissented in Boumediene v. Bush, which upheld rights of those held in Guantanamo to a "prompt hearing" on challenges to detention. If the AG ever decides to pursue those who justified and allowed torture in the Bush Adminstration, we can safely predict where a Roberts led court would come out.
So, if Obama must name another justice in the coming year or so, I hope he recognizes what is at stake and takes pains to find someone who is ideologically like Ginsburg. Otherwise Bush's legacy of conservatism will rear its ugly head for a very long time in the Supreme Court.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
The member countries are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey and the United States. The European Union is also a member, represented by the rotating council presidency and the European Central Bank.
It makes sense to have this group meet rather than the traditional big industrial countries of the G7, United States, Britain, France, Canada, Italy, Germany and Japan. We need to adjust to the reality that growth of economies throughout the world affects us all.