Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Rowan and Martin's Laugh In Still Funny After All These Years

My brain had one of those moments. You know, a six degrees of separation moment. A leads to B which leads to C which leads to...You Tube



And the phrase that got it all started? "Very Interesting"



Big time apologies to my younger readers...but watch anyway. Not in the library though. You might, in spite of yourself, LOL.

It's a Great Mystery to Me

Would someone please explain something to me?

Why do otherwise sensible looking intelligent young people smoke cigarettes? Why, I saw two young men today, in their late teens or early 20s. These were not "working class" people but well dressed, driving $25,000 cars, talking on iPhones/smartphones/BlackBerrys (yapping on the phone while driving: a rant for another day.) with cigarettes hanging from their lips.

To me, anyone under the age of 30 has no good reason to take up smoking. Your reasons are going to sound the same as someone who took up crack, heroin, or meth. You tried an addictive drug. You got addicted. Now you can't stop.

Why try it in the first place? When all the risks of immediate addiction, early death from heart disease, stroke and chronic lung damage are well researched and well known? To look cool? To belong? To self medicate (a very high percentage of people with documented mental illness are smokers, and many say it helps their illness)?

It just doesn't seem very smart, that's all.

Anyone want to take a stab at this?

For My Friend Ann T.


Dedicated to Ann T. and her tilting at windmills during her condo board meetings. I just can't imagine. To get more ideas about what I am talking about, check this, this and this. For a gateway to the whole history, check this link out.

From the good people at www.icanhascheezburger.com.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

EMS Changes In One Month

There is just one month left for the entity called MAST to continue to operate the prehospital emergency medical service in Kansas City, MO. As of May 1, 2010, the Kansas City Fire Department will be responsible for the organization and deployment of ambulances in Kansas City, MO and the contracted cities (mostly north of the river). MAST employees will become city employees, with Fire Chief Smoky Dyer as their boss. The plan, as described at City Hall in September 2009, was to essentially avoid much change for the first year. After that--well, there was no concrete plan, at least at that time.

I've been thinking about it since the blizzard of news regarding the resignation of the current MAST leadership, which included some large amounts of money being paid out as they left. I took a minute to review my own work on this topic, as well as much of the material posted by Tony of Tony's Kansas City. I included a review of the comments to Tony's posts, as the anony remarks, frequently posted by MAST and KCFD people are reflective of the emotions, rumors, and concerns of those most immediately affected by the change.

I can tell you that we may be in for a bit of a rough patch. Many of the issues that I thought would be a problem are indeed problems. Billing--no one is clear who will be doing the billing. The residency requirement has caused some resentment in the ranks. There has been complaints about the pension plans and how they've been handled. It appears that some feel that MAST employees will be retiring with a FF like pension without putting in the years as a city employee. There is much complaining about the contracts mentioned above. Personally, I cannot believe these contracts were not backloaded to make sure the execs stayed as long as they were needed. Other city departments, being cut as we speak, with layoffs, are eyeballing the fire department wondering where their cutbacks are, and why their pensions are intact. The comments I read reflected some pretty poor morale--people seem discouraged in many ways. I haven't even touched on day-to-day operational issues, such as dynamic posting, dispatching, and shift/unit number flexibility.

The above is all about process--the question becomes how is process going to affect what happens in the field. Teamwork between the EMTSs/medics and firefighters--improved, worsened or the same? Coverage--improved, worsened or the same? Response times for a) basic life support b) advanced life support--improved, worsened or the same? Who is going to evaluate all this--will it be someone who can be objective, who can say to the Fire Chief, you know, Chief, this sucks, you need to make it better, and not be blown off?

It may work out fine, it may work out OK after a few months, or years. Hopefully, it will not cost anyone their limb or life along the way, and it will not cost too many fine EMTs, paramedics and firefighters leaving our city's service. And it will really save the city money like they said it would.

On that last item, I have my doubts. On the first, I do think it will take months. And there may be personnel casualties, people getting discouraged or annoyed. Hang on folks, it's going to be an interesting ride for EMS around here for a while.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Check It Out!

These are in the front yard of a house on my street. The back yard is also full of yellow goodness, planted in every corner by the recently moved previous owner. You can see some of them from the street but what a wonderful surprise for the family living there now. Groups of blooms gently swaying in the breeze. They are way ahead of most of the daffodil groups on the street. A few of my own minis have bloomed, but most have not.

Friday, March 26, 2010

One Bloom

When I took this photo yesterday afternoon, there was the one bloom that had opened. A few more opened today. Spring is springing!

Updates, I Have Updates

To the story about the man murdered at the 7-11: An arrest was made, of one Phillip Martin, a 19 year old man with an extensive criminal history, including 10 arrests on various charges since August 2008. He was on probation for a robbery attempt on a man right in front of police headquarters. Per the Star's reporting, he attacked a man who was going to give him change after they had both been released from jail. The arrest was facilitated by a little good old fashioned CSI--it was noted from the video that the suspect handled a can of fruit punch. The can was found, and so were Mr. Martin's finger prints. He is in custody, charged with second degree murder, robbery and two counts of armed criminal action. What this thug was doing out on the streets again, I don't know. Seems to me that he's demonstrated an inability to obtain the things that he needs by legal means, and is a person without conscience. He ought to have a nice long stay in jail. Your link here, from The Kansas City Star.

The lady involved in the train-car crash was identified as a 78 year old from Leavenworth, KS. Per one news report I saw, she was reported missing at 0400 that same day as the crash. It may never be known completely why this accident happened. She could have become confused, or committed a driver error involving pedals and gear shifts. It could have been a deliberate act. Now, questions have to be raised about her cognitive abilities and processes. We may never know exactly what caused her to put her car where she did that day. Her family and the train crew still need prayer. Your newsie link here, from KMBC.

Spring may have finally sprung around here. Snow is gone, except for north facing shadow areas that had piles, and those are getting smaller and fewer. Grass is getting green, the flowers are thinking about blooming, the sun is warm and days feature more daylight. More light makes me energetic, and the warm but not hot weather is conducive to getting things done outside.

And of course, March is Mad, completely off its rocker. I hope you sports fans looked in on the Kansas State-Xaiver men's college hoops match last night. Gutty K State effort has me wearing purple today.

Thank you every one for reading! :-)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sad Martin City Train-Car Crash

This morning, down in the Martin City area of Kansas City, a woman and her dog died after having their car struck by a train. According to the Kansas City Star's interview with a witness, the woman drove around the crossing arm, cleared the track, and then backed up so that she was in front of the locomotive. She was declared dead at the scene, as was the dog that was in the car with her.

This is extraordinarily sad, as it sounds as if this woman committed suicide by train. It serves as a reminder for everyone to look out for each other and care for each other. I wonder about this woman's friends, family and neighbors. When they realize or are notified of who this was, are they going to think about what they might have done or said? I've heard it said that suicide is a selfish act. I have never bought that idea, even though I understand where it comes from. Our strongest instinct is our instinct to save our lives. When we take our lives, something has gone seriously out of balance, whether brain chemicals, relationships with people and God, or something else. A suicide leaves a trail of hurt behind it. Often people are angry with a person for committing suicide.

A person with suicidal thoughts must seek help. I would say that when you get into this route of thinking, it is very hard to get out by yourself. You need some help from the community. Whether it's a community of one--a therapist or physician--or a community of several--family, church, therapy group, there must be reaching out. A break, a breath, some perspective, some medicine, and the lure of suicide is removed.

The woman has not yet been identified by authorities. Pray for her family and those who knew her. Pray also for the crew of the locomotive that struck her car. I have been told by retired engineers that this is one of the most difficult things that can happen in the course of their work.

Top photo: The crossing where the incident occurred. The view looks west, which is the victim's apparent direction of travel. The train was going north, from left to right in the photo. As you can see, the crossing is very well marked.
Bottom photo: A shot of an oncoming locomotive at a crossing near this area. I took this shot just because I like trains. It was hard to hang in there, looking at the loco coming closer and closer through my phone's viewfinder, even though I knew I was safely stopped behind the crossing arm. Remember, you can click on the photos to embiggen, they show in Picasa. Just use the back button to come back.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Historical Beginning or the End of the World as We Know It?

A very neutral headline greeted Kansas City Star readers this morning. What happened late yesterday evening in the House of Representatives in Washington D.C. was indeed historic. However, whether it was bad or good, or somewhere in between was definitely up for debate.

This bill, 2,000 plus pages long, full of compromises and gifts, and including some fairly unexamined language concerning the future of student loans, should have been walked to the shredder and deposited therein, after its initial failure. However, it was not, and by the barest of margins, has been forwarded to the president for signing.

Listening to the left, this is the greatest thing since sliced bread, and merely the first act. Listening to the right, this is the end of the world as we know it, the gateway to socialism or worse. I look at it as a budget buster, a bill that never addressed the problem of costs themselves, and the way to mediocrity, stagnation and lack of innovation in the fields of health care and medicine.

There are large philosophical issues standing behind all the rhetoric: is access to health care without regard to financial issues a right under the Constitution? What is the balance between allowing people to stand/fail on their own verses the government stepping in to take over? How about how much of "other people's money" do we spread around? Where are we finding that "O.P.M." anyway? This bill was a mess, too big, running in too many directions. I wish we had done better. I wish we had done smaller to start.

From The Wall Street Journal editorial page, March 22, 2010
While the passage of ObamaCare marks a liberal triumph, its impact will play out over many years. We fought this bill so vigorously because we have studied government health care in other countries, and the results include much higher taxes, slower economic growth and worse medical care. As for the politics, the first verdict arrives in November.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

House Passes Health Care Reform Bill

On this rare Sunday where I have the computer out and at a WiFi site, I can note to you all that the US House of Representatives passed the Senate's Health Reform Bill by a 219-212 margin. No Republicans voted for the bill and 34 Democrats voted against it. President Obama, it is said, will sign the bill this Tuesday.

It will be interesting this next year or so, to see what the eventual fall out will be.

Church During Lent

If you take your Christianity seriously, and study about it, and about Jesus Christ, and the church you attend does likewise, then the Lent period is a serious period. It does not make for what I have come to call "rah rah church". It moves at a slower pace, demands a different rubric, and should cause a bit more meditative response. While the Easter season ends in the victory of resurrection, the way there is more sorrowful. Tonight at the church I attend, the sermon concentrated on the punishment Jesus took before He was actually placed on the cross for execution. He was mocked and made fun of. He was disrobed, whipped and battered, and then dressed again. He was spit on--ask anyone in health care or police work how icky and nasty this is.

It's hard to explain, something of a mystery, as to how the suffering and death of Jesus redeems humankind. It's first hard to understand why this gentle man was tortured in this way. But in each person who tormented Jesus stands for you and me. The mocking and teasing? How about that nasty office gossip you passed on. The beating and physical abuse? How about when you became so angry as to threaten someone physically--or actually struck someone. We are all represented by the mob of Roman soldiers, Jewish clergy, Roman and Jewish citizens present in the various settings of Jesus' prosecution and death.

Somehow, through the grace of God, this gory death redeems fallen and sinful humanity. Whether you think of it as Christ taking our punishment, or His suffering being so awful that we look at it and vow to be like Him instead of like that ugliness, or any of a thousand other theories that attempt to describe the theology behind redemption and salvation, to borrow the last words Jesus said on the cross, it is finished, the curtain of separation between God and humanity has been torn in half from the top and we can come in a spirit of humility and sorrow and have a true relationship with the Creator.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Paper Clips and the Dentist

You would think that the only use for paper clips in the dentist's office would be to clip papers together. However, a Fall River, MA dentist, Michael Clair, was indicted on multiple counts of Medicaid fraud, including using paper clips for posts in root canals instead of the medical stainless steel he was supposed to use. He charged his regular rates, and thereby defrauded the government as the paper clips were not spec and much cheaper. This is not a good guy, as he was already was suspended from participating in Massachusetts' Medicaid plan as a provider, and was submitting billing for his work under others' names. You can read about it here.

But wait just a minute, because there is something else here, something I think has not received nearly enough attention during the Great Health Care Debate. Put aside for just a moment the "yuk" factor of paper clip bits. Put aside the fact that this Clair dude is slimy to the max, and now has been caught defrauding the government twice. Consider this: why do the regular posts cost so much? Seriously, what is the difference between the steel used in a high quality paper clip and the steel used in these posts. Yeah, the posts are sterile. But you can certainly make any metal object sterile, by throwing it in an autoclave. So why in the world do the special dental posts cost so much that the substitution of paper clips would make such a huge difference?

We really need to find out the true cost of items used in health care. Why $5 for an acetaminophen tablet in the hospital when you can get a bottle of 100 for $2.50 at Target? Where is the mark up? Is it necessary? Where and to whom is the money going? Can we find this out, before we load up the system with even more bureaucracy then it already has?

Just sayin'

Shovel Ready

Well, it started raining around 7 pm last night, a cold and nasty rain. Then around 11 p.m., little ice pellets fell from the sky. Shortly after that, it changed to snow, and snowed until early morning. Now (3 p.m.), it's doing this: snowing, diagonally.

You may have to click to embiggen to see the flakes more clearly in this view through the library window.
The snow overnight didn't stick to the paved surfaces very much, just in interesting patches like this. I did clean this up, just to provide a clean surface for the new snow to fall on.

Daffodils, like my neighbor's group here, may be protected by the 3 inches of snow that fell. Ann T., I'm jealous of your crocus picture!

Snow in the forsythia tree. Some of the buds were getting green. Hopefully, there will still be plenty of yellow flowers come warmer weather.

A review of the weather forecast has it going up to the 60s by Tuesday of next week. Winter's last hurrah? We hope so!

Friday, March 19, 2010

More Improvements at Wayside Waifs

Simba checks out the view from the new window in the cat area.
The cats got themselves a "window on the world" at Wayside Waifs this past couple weeks. Now, there is a window, complete with a little ledge for sitting for felines out for exercise to look out. This window is complemented by a window into the little office in the cat area, thus giving natural light to both man and beast.

I think the window will be a big hit all around!

A Senseless Murder; Some Dangerous Suspects

Family photo, supplied to the Kansas City Star.
This is Gurpreet "Tony" Singh, a 35 year old divorced father of two. Mr. Singh and his family came to the United States when he was in elementary school and settled in to life in Kansas City. Mr. Singh completed high school and began to work a variety of part time jobs at St. Joseph Medical Center. To supplement his income, he took a job at the 7-11 convenience store on the corner of Bannister Road and James A. Reed Road in February of 2010. He had just received word that he would be hired full time at St. Joe to work as a kitchen supervisor. He was working his last overnight shift at the 7-11.

I can't imagine taking the overnight shift in a convenience store. There's a joke: nothing good happens after midnight. Those who are out at that time, especially on week days, can be of questionable character. Robbery is a real threat. In fact, this particular 7-11 location had been robbed 7 times in 12 months. Mr. Singh, himself, experienced a robbery in February, not long after starting. That time, as he had been taught, he put all the money in a bag, gave the crook 3 packs of cigs and got through it shaken, but safe. Early Wednesday morning, March 17 a man came in to the 7-11, brandished a weapon and instructed Mr. Singh that he wanted all the money. Mr. Singh again emptied his register and gave the robber a bag of money.

Then for no reason that anyone can figure, the man shot Mr. Singh once in the abdomen. Mr. Singh was able to call 911. The call was received at 0110. Mr. Singh relayed information to the 911 call taker and police, fire and ambulance was dispatched.

Mr. Singh died on the operating table at the hospital. His two children are 7 and 9 years old.

There's a lot of talk about a serial rapist, who has raped five women in the Waldo area of Kansas City since September 2009. There's been marches and demonstrations, self defense instruction and profiling, a sketch and neighborhood watches. There's been a lot of internet chat, some pretty fiery at times. Rape is a nasty crime, a crime of power, intimidation and control. It leaves its victims shaken to the core. Rapists, for all their ugliness, usually have discernible reasons for their horrific actions.

Mr. Singh's murder makes no sense. And for that reason, those who committed it are most exceedingly dangerous, even more so than the "Waldo Rapist". They came to the store. They got money, and they could have taken anything else they wanted from the store. But for no apparent reason, they shot a man. And he died. I want to know: why shoot Tony Singh? You got what you wanted from him. Just leave, robber man. Your face is on the security camera. You didn't take that out--an oversight that I pray will lead to your capture.

This random nonsense killing is far more frightening to me than the rapist. What's to stop this man from walking into my neighborhood 7-11 and killing someone there? Or the QT on Wornell I go to, what would stop him from killing there? Or the nice lady who works the register at the Phillips 66 on Red Bridge and Holmes? This man, and his two co-conspirators, must be caught ASAP. Who knows who they might shoot next for no apparent reason.

The gunman, a black man, had on a black hooded sweatshirt or coat. Two other people were in the store at the same time, another black man wearing a dark coat and a white t-shirt underneath, and a black woman, wearing a white t-shirt who stood near the door. Police want all three of them for questioning. I would like a fast 5 minutes with them to ask why. No, strike that. I probably don't want to hear the answer--for there is no reasonable reason for taking the life of a defenseless and cooperative man. Let's just catch these people, put them in jail and let God take the ultimate judgement.

Winter's Taking a Last Whack at Us

Winter wants to take one last swipe at us...

Were you out and about today in Kansas City? Wasn't it nice this morning and just after lunch? What happened around 3 p.m. anyway? Well, a front came through, nice and chilly. Here's the temperature and wind record for Kansas City International Airport around that time:

1200: 57.9 SW 9.2 mph
1300: 59 WNW 8.9 mph
1400: 62 SW 5.8 mph
1500: 54 N 21.9 mph
1600: 48 N 21.9 mph
1700: 44 N 23 mph
1800: 39 N 21.9 mph
1900: 36 N 23 mph
2000: 34 N 25.3 mph

Precipitation appears to be right on our doorstep and I have seen some sprinkles around as I finished up my domestic chores. Snow is forecast for tonight and tomorrow with a storm total of 3-6 inches. We are under a Winter Weather Advisory starting at midnight tonight and running to 1300 Sunday. Good day to stay inside, and hang out on the internet and around the TV. March is mad, in more than one way!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Your Tax Dollars at Work?!?

The Cleavermobile--I want to know--does it smell like french fries? (Kansas City Star)
A report came out in the last couple days about the lease fees paid by the government to various members of Congress for their vehicles. Topping the list: Our own Missouri Fifth District House Representative Emanual Cleaver (D) with a $2,900 lease bill. He leases this converted minibus for that amount. The bus is handicap accessible, runs on vegetable oil and has enough room inside to meet around a table. More photos of the office/bus can be found at this link on heycameraman! Cleaver and his office say that he saves money with this, as the monthly cost on this plus his regular offices. An examination of his web site reveals the presence of two office addresses: 101 W 31 St in KCMO and 211 West Maple in Independence. He states in this article in the Kansas City Star that he does not lease a regular car or SVU/truck but leases this instead.

I might have bought the idea of a mobile office back in the "old days." But as a commenter on the Star article so pithily put it: "A mobile office is an assistant and a Blackberry. People in wheelchairs can just roll right up." Especially in light of there being two offices in the district, I think this is excessive and for show. "Look how accessible and ecologically friendly I am!" it shouts. I would be more impressed if he maintained regular office hours at his brick-and-mortar offices when he was in town. I would be more impressed if he made himself honestly available for interweb conferencing at regular times. I would be more impressed if he returned the phone calls from Shanin and Parks radio program on KMBZ.

There's a definite "throw the bums out!!!" feeling among people right now. The ten House members who lease expensive SUVs and Lexuses (how about an American car?) for greater than $10,000 a month are also feeling heat. I wonder if our elected officials are out of touch with the rest of us--living at a much higher level and not really understanding the pain of the common man. A House member or Senator might really have an understanding of the situation of the people, but the way they live insulates them and obscures their understanding of us and our understanding of them. I would encourage politicians to live as simply as they can, within the context of their responsibilities and real needs (e.g. security). That way, they can see us, and we can see them.

Jeep Chase From Last Week Still Intrigues Me!


On Sunday, March 6th, this man, Jason Edwards, washed and waxed his red soft top 2003 Jeep Wrangler and filled its gas tank. On Monday, March 7th, his Jeep went missing from his residence's parking area. He called his family, and made the calls to the police department and his insurance company.

Late afternoon that same Monday, while on a break during his duties as a medical student at a local hospital, he flipped on the TV. And what did he see but a red soft top Jeep Wrangler being chased by police cars and the news and police helicopters. He saw the red Jeep make its way through woods and backyards. He watched more to try to be sure it was his.
As the chase went on for several minutes he saw close ups, recognized cargo in the back and knew it was his. He watched it go the wrong way on a highway.
And speed down Kansas City, Kansas streets. The Jeep took a beating, with fence parts sticking out of the windshield and radiator. Finally after almost 30 minutes, the driver, a male, who could be seen smoking cigarettes during the drive, abandoned the Jeep. He ended up stranded on top of a building in Kansas City, KS. Eventually the KCKFD came with a ladder and helped the police take him into custody.

These are the two miscreants who ran off with the man's Jeep. The male had multiple warrants for many crimes. The female had no warrants, but ended up with many charges after the chase. The chase started in the north part of Kansas City when the police got a tip that the male was at a certain address. When the pair saw the police at the house, they jumped in the Jeep and ran. Foolish people. First ground police units were on their tails, then a news chopper, then the police chopper. They tried to outrun the helicopters by going off-road.
The Jeep was very stout, never getting stuck in the mud, and it ran over several fences. It lived up to the great Jeep name in off roading. Personally, my very first thought, even before I thought "I hope they catch these creeps." was for the owner of the Jeep. It looked well cared for, even babied. I thought to myself, "I hope these fools don't wreck it too badly."
Unfortunately, by the time it was done, the Jeep had to be towed to the impound lot. Mr. Edwards has been advised to total it. Thankfully, during the long course of this chase, no one was injured.

Using this link right here will get you to a page where you can either see highlights of the chase from KSHB's news chopper, or the raw video--you can pick your pleasure.

photo credits and info credits: top--Kansas City Star Middle three--KSHB (stills from their video) Mugs--from KCKPD via KSHB Bottom--KMBC.
Reports from the Kansas City Star, KSHB, and KMBC were used for the info in this write up.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Touch and Win!

Texas A&M players touch it up during their Big 12 tourney quarterfinal win (Kansas City Star)
ESPN Magazine's Page Two had this little item about team touch and team success. They reviewed the research of Michael Kruse of Berkley who found that teams who touched a lot won a lot. You may be thinking, excuse me, Observer, but doesn't this item belong on the sports blog? Hang with me here, because I think it's not just a winner for sports teams to be touchy-feely. I'd link you to the article, but you can't access ESPN Mag content without a subscription, so here's some of their words:

It has been well documented by the brains who study such things that in life, the act of touching another person makes the touchee calmer and healthier and leads to better performance. Turns out, there are benefits to being touchy-feely in sports, too.


In the fall of 2008, Berkeley social-psych researcher Michael Kraus, along with psychology prof Dacher Keltner, decided to track the performance of NBA teams by the amount of positive physical contact players made during the 2008-2009 season. Their work, to be published in an upcoming edition of the journal Emotion--reveals a strong correlation between touching and win totals.


Since players on better teams high-five one another more often than those on lesser squads, the researchers made sure to account for both celebratory high-fives after buckets and more "benign contact" between plays: shoulder touches as teams buckle down on D or butt slaps coming out of a time out. Sure enough, the most successful clubs were the ones with players who reached out to one another often and spent lots of time connected. Kraus explains that fist bumps, for example, serve to improve team chemistry, spacial awareness and cooperation among teammates.

And here's some more data to support these findings: the NBA's two touchiest teams in 2008-09 were also two of its best: the [Boston] Celtics and [Los Angeles] Lakers.

The graphics are also from ESPN Mag--one shows where on the body the touches happened and the other is a representation of the touch factor for the five best and five worst NBA teams in the '08-'09 season.

Here's the deal: when you touch someone, it's a connection. Usually it makes the recipient feel good. It means you are noticed, appreciated and yes, maybe even loved. The touching that happens not because you did something, but to encourage you and acknowledge you is probably the most powerful. It's one thing to touch after a score, it's another to touch when you are behind in the game and not playing well. The touch in that situation means, "Hey, we're together, we'll pull through, it's going to be good."

We Americans are often not terribly good at touching in our families, and in our communities. Often we hesitate, afraid to offend. Other times, we stiffen and appear uncomfortable. I know for me, it is easier to give than to receive. When I get a hug at church, I have to remind myself to relax physically and accept it for the affirmation that it is. Usually, it feels pretty good, once I relax. You married people, you certainly know what a loving touch can do for your spouse.

So, take this away: touch someone like you mean it today. Especially your kids.

Some links for you: Wikio has a list of citations for this, and the New York Times mentions Dr. Kraus' work here.

Be Looking for Something Different in the Rear View Mirror

When you mentally picture a police car, it probably looks something like this...

The Ford Crown Victoria has been used as a police car since the early 1990s. About 75% of police cars on the road are Ford Crown Vics. Ford will be retiring the Crown Vic and is rolling out a modified Taurus for police use. The 2011 Police Interceptor Taurus will debut in Las Vegas today at the NASCAR track. It looks like this:

Drivers will have to be sharp! You'll need to be watching for this new car, Crown Vics completing their service and the occasional Dodge Charger police car.

Make it easy on yourself: keep your tags up to date, carry insurance, don't speed or blow stop signs, wear your seat belts, don't text or yap on the phone, and certainly don't drink and drive. That way, you can admire the new cop cars from afar!

Photo credits: top, Grandview, MO police cruiser by The Observer. Bottom, Taurus police model by Ford Motor via the Detroit News. Link to Detroit News article here.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Kansas City Missouri School Board Agrees to Superintendent's Plan

The Kansas City Missouri School Board sucked it up and agreed to the plan developed by Superintendent John Covington to close about half of the KCMOSD buildings. The history behind how they got here, and the possible trips and snares going forward are both deep and complicated. The simple fact is we got too few students going to too many buildings and schools. The district cannot pay for this any more. Some must close.

How did the Kansas City Missouri School District get into this pickle? So many factors: deseg money that gave the district a false sense of financial security, white and middle class black flight to suburban and outlying Kansas City school districts, the natural aging of the population with a consequent reduction in the number of kids. In addition, the school board and school processes became a center of power for some Black leaders, and that power has been abused and used for selfish purposes.

What may happen now? Well, one thing to note is that in April, five school board seats are up for election, and shifts in the office holders could cause the school board to be less cooperative with Superintendent Covington, at best, and at worst, could end up with his eventual outster. And of course, the actual closing process--dealing with personnel and buildings--will be full of details and push and pull. Patronage will be in full display.

These closures must happen. If they do not happen, the district will be a financial shipwreck, and risks full state take over. In fact, in my opinion, if the closings do not happen, the state must come in and take over. Ditto, if the superintendent is removed by political force.

As said previously in this blog, in several entries regarding the Hickman Mills C-1 district, in which the Observer lives, closing schools suck. And you never want it to be your school that closes. But sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

Yeah, you wanna read the Kansas City Star's coverage--linked right here.

And here's some TV coverage from KSHB--linked here.

Compare and Contrast

Now, I just couldn't resist this...

2010--Women's basketball

1966--Women's basketball

Picture credits: top--Burlington Free Press. bottom--Des Moines Register
More and a link to the Des Moines paper over on "You're Looking Live..."

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Beyond the Free Speech Case

Westboro's adherents argue that the First Amendment is designed to protect speech the majority may not want to hear. But [Shirley] Phelps-Roper is ambivalent, noting that man's law won't matter much when America meets divine wrath.

"Her destruction is imminent," she said. Laughing, she added: "And it's going to be marvelous."


This is one sorry bunch, the Westboro "Baptist Church" (my quotes). I hate the fact that their speech is protected--but it is--by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the country they hate so much. Perhaps the Supreme Court can define some limits of decency that the law can enforce--we shall see. However, there is a larger issue.

They call themselves Christian and their puny 100 person family-run organization a church.

But I don't see very much that is like Jesus in any of their actions. The signs they carry are full of hate. The signs they carry indicate they think they know what God thinks or what He will do. No one fully knows that information. They are playing God, bringing God's supposed "word" and proclaiming judgement on others. The quote above indicates a lack of love for all American people--people Jesus suffered, bled and died for, in the ultimate sacrifice, so that people could experience grace and love and forgiveness for sin and be reunited with God.

Yes, the Bible talks about judgement for sin, but it is also full of grace, love and second chances. None of the latter is part of the dialog with the Westboro organization.

We are instructed by Jesus not to judge, so I will leave the final verdict on the Westboro organization to God. I think Matthew 7: 21-23 gives a bit of a glimpse as to what may transpire when the time for judgement arrives. The verse is part of the Sermon on the Mount preached by Jesus Christ during his ministry on earth:

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' (NIV)

I didn't really want to pollute my blog with a photo of these people, but a little paint and it's a little more palatable--a little. (USA Today photo)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Dr. Martin Luther King on Values

From Dr. Martin Luther King's April 1967 speech at the Riverside Church in New York City. Hat tip to P Flow of Mo Rage for causing me to go find the whole speech after he quoted snippets of it in his blog entry "You say you want a revolution?"

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing-oriented" society to a "person-oriented" society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. n the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life's roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life's highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: "This is not just." It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say: "This is not just." The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: "This way of settling differences is not just." This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

A link to the entire speech's text can be found here:

Just another piece of the puzzle...

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Other People's Money

Should I admit it? Part of my news diet is the website World Net Daily. The other day this commentary by Dave Welch was posted. (Linked here for your reading pleasure.) I found this very interesting fodder for myself at this time. I am trying to see the balance between self reliance and accountablity for ones' actions and taking care of each other and helping the helpless and needy. A thoughtful Christian should not find this balance easy to achieve. Mr. Welch draws a parallel between opium addiction and what he calls "O.P.M" or Other People's Money addiction. Here are some pungent paragraphs from the article:

The progression from pleasure to pain caused by imbibing something harmful that produces addiction sounds very much like the gnawing hunger and dependency on Other People's Money that has driven our nation to the edge of moral and economic bankruptcy.

The real reason we have a government gone wild is the generational clamoring for local, state and federal governments to provide for us what God and the Constitution intended for us to provide for ourselves. The short-term pleasures felt by opium, alcohol, crack cocaine and taxpayer-funded "pleasure" are the traps by which we are enslaved, because they destroy rather than empower.

We are well familiar with the statement by British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher that the problem with socialism is that sooner or later we run out of other people's money (O.P.M.).

My beloved aunt once stunned me by saying she believed it was right to take from "rich" people and give to "poor" people. When I followed up, she indicated even that the government should enable it, so that it got done. That's the first time I met a person who believed in "O.P.M." Anyhow, back to Mr. Welch.
In some states well over one-half of the workforce are on the government payroll, and Sen. Jim DeMint reminds us that government dependency is not without great cost: "More people expect government to pay the price and establish the values. This expectation has created a competing vision of America that replaces the principles of freedom with a reliance on government."

The bottom line from a Judeo-Christian perspective – which is the basis for our culture, our laws and our economic system – is that by embracing government as our provider, we are rejecting God as our provider as well as the duty to work and to care for others: Abraham called the name of that place The [YHWH-jireh] LORD Will Provide, as it is said to this day, "In the mount of the LORD it will be provided." (Genesis 22:14)

Wow, strong stuff, that needs some further thought. The reason this article grabbed me though is that it goes beyond the sort of Objectivism that Ayn Rand espoused that provides the basis for quite a lot of conservative political thought and gives another way to think on the side of self sufficiency and accountability.

The question has to be realistically asked: what is society's obligation to those who are struggling? Take unemployment payments. Does providing unemployment payments serve to a) keep people from being hungry and homeless and provide a stipend for them as they look for work or b) remove from people the urgency of the job hunt, and give them an excuse not to look for work? Paul Krugman in the New York Times examined the question in his column in light of the actions of Republican Senator Jim Bunning. He got 442 comments back from Times readers reflecting all kinds of views. Many comments talked about the nation's debt. Several decried the Republican view as lacking compassion. Some noted many who are using the system in a way that removes the need for them to work.

I haven't gotten anywhere near resolving this in my mind. In fact, an entire paragraph I wrote ended up being lifted out and put in another draft post. What's the balance? How do we as a nation manage our resources and provide for people? Some of this is economics, some of this is philosophy and yes, Virgina, some of this is theology. And none of it is easy.


Friday, March 5, 2010

Wayside Waifs Visit: Doggie Kennels a Big Hit

Stopped in at Wayside Waifs Thursday this past week to see how things were going with the new kennels. Amazingly, they still were not full--I guess that's a good thing. There were still plenty of attractive animals to look at in the shelter.

What? You're leaving? And not taking me with you?

A dachshund mix--beagle maybe? Cute dog! [For Capt Schmoe:-)]

Puppypalooza! These are some of a litter of 13 Rottweiler mix pups.

Cats too. This young lady, like my GirlCat, has extra toes.

Administrative Assistant Kitteh will be glad to help with the paperworks!

Wayside Waifs is on the web at www.waysidewaifs.org.

Some Dangerous Lyrics

If you are a church goer, you should pay attention to the lyrics of the songs and hymns you sing. Sometimes, you are singing profound prayers to deepen your commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ. Your average church hymnal is just riddled with dangerous words. So are many of the better contemporary songs being done today. Why, here's one I just couldn't get out of my head after hearing it on the radio.

Looked down from a broken sky
Traced out by the city lights
My world from a mile high
Best seat in the house tonight
Touched down on the cold black top
Hold on for the sudden stop
Breath in the sudden shock
Of confusion and chaos
All these people going somewhere,
Why have I never cared?

Chorus:
Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity
Give me your arms for the broken hearted
Ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me your heart for the ones forgotten
Give me your eyes so I can see
Yeah, yeah

Step out on a busy street
See a girl and our eyes meet
Does her best to smile at me
To hide what's underneath
There's a man just to her right
Black suit and a bright red tie
Too ashamed to tell his wife
He's out of work
He's buying time
All those people going somewhere
Why have I never cared?

Chorus

I've been there a million times
A couple of million eyes
Just moving past me by
I'd swear I never thought that I was wrong
Well I want a second glance
So give me a second chance
To see the way you see the people all along

Chorus x2

Give me your eyes!
Lord give me your eyes!
Everything I keep missing
Give me your arms!
For the broken hearted
Give me your arms
Lord give me your eyes.

--Brandon Heath & Jason David Ingram

Here's a link to the artist's video on You Tube.

Here's another song--this is by Matthew West, called "The Motions"

This might hurt, it's not safe
But I know that I've gotta make a change
I don't care if I break,
At least I'll be feeling something
'Cause just okay is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of life

I don't wanna go through the motions
I don't wanna go one more day
without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don't wanna spend my whole life asking,
"What if I had given everything,
instead of going through the motions?"

No regrets, not this time
I'm gonna let my heart defeat my mind
Let Your love make me whole
I think I'm finally feeling something
'Cause just okay is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of this life

'Cause I don't wanna go through the motions
I don't wanna go one more day
without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don't wanna spend my whole life asking,
"What if I had given everything,
instead of going through the motions?"

take me all the way (take me all the way)
take me all the way ('cause I don't wanna go through the motions)
take me all the way (I know I'm finally feeling something real)
take me all the way

I don't wanna go through the motions
I don't wanna go one more day
without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don't wanna spend my whole life asking,
"What if I had given everything,
instead of going through the motions?"

I don't wanna go through the motions
I don't wanna go one more day
without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don't wanna spend my whole life asking,
"What if I had given everything,
instead of going through the motions?"

take me all the way (take me all the way)
take me all the way (I don't wanna go, I don't wanna go)
take me all the way (through the motions)
take me all the way

I don't wanna go through the motions

And here's his video, as posted on You Tube. In addition to having great words, this is a great rock anthem!
Listen and enjoy!

The Car Show

I went to the Kansas City Auto Show today. This extravaganza of automobiles rolls around every March and is a great opportunity to look at cars in a little bit of a less pressured environment then visiting a dealer. The only event that I like better that concerns new cars is when they go out and set up test drive tracks and you can test drive any care you like. So let's check out the cars!

Autopalooza!

Some classics were on display, too. This is something I always thought they should do.

I guess if you have enough money for a Porsche, you can get one with orange trim.

I thought this work van from Chevy was pretty cool with the outside access to parts bins.

The latest Caroll Shelby offering from Ford Motor Co.

Check out the blue accents on this Hyundai coupe's dashboard.

The on board computer/GPS on this Lexus was ready to tell us where we were. Check out the push button start to the left of the display.

Lots of walking and lots of pictures and lots of fun! It'll be a while before I am ready for a new car, but there were cars there that I might consider when I go shopping.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Surprise

The incident recounted below is true, but the patient biography has been somewhat altered to protect identity. Details have been changed, and maybe fluffed a little. Federal privacy rules, you know, the ever popular HIPAA.

It had gone on for several weeks. He just didn't feel right. Dizzy, sometimes. Weak. Sometimes very thirsty. Sometimes his eyes wouldn't focus right, the newspaper or television would get all blurry. He hated going to the VA Clinics. He always had to wait. He always ended up next to the craziest man in the waiting room. He just wasn't right, though. He would go after his half day of work at Wal-Mart. It had been long enough--it was time to get things looked after.

He arrived at 1400--too late to get in to see the Nurse Practitioner in the Same Day Care Clinic. He couldn't get in with the Blue Clinic either, his primary clinic--they were full. It was likely he would be seen in the Emergency Department. Starting around 1530 or so, they would start seeing the people who couldn't get in to see the NP in Same Day Care--if they weren't too busy with urgent cases--who still wanted to be seen today. He got a drink of water, settled in with his book. He was lucky. The young Iraqi vet next to him was sweet and sane--good grief, the same age as his youngest son.

Soon, someone called his name. He got up, carefully, as the dizziness had returned, steadied himself and walked to the ED entrance. They showed him to a bed, said someone would be right with him. The bed was pretty nice after the waiting room chairs. He kicked off his shoes and made himself at home. Not long after a nursing technician came over and began checking his vital signs. A nurse came over too. "Check orthos if you would Dennis." she said to the tech, "The report I got said that he says he has dizziness sometimes."

The nurse watched the tech put the mid 50s year old Black man through his paces--checking his pulse and blood pressure lying down, sitting up and standing. He appeared to have no dizziness subjectively. She would look at the numbers when the tech presented them to her. Dennis was good; if there was an obvious abnormal, he'd bring it to her attention right away. Sitting at the computer, she pulled up the ED roster for the day, and picked his name out. She reviewed the initial triage note, and the history. Nothing remarkable, in fact, a pretty healthy guy. Some high blood pressure, the scourge of the Black community, takes meds for it, a history of depression. He is overweight. Time to go talk to the patient, the record has told all it can tell.

She greets him, calling him by name. He is alert, oriented, sensible. There is no appearance of drug or alcohol use, no "ETOH on body", no buggy eyes--he is sober. He recites the history of weakness, dizziness, "not feeling right" He denies any GI problems, infections, fever. Physical exam is unremarkable. Skin turgor is good. Skin is warm and dry. Mucous membranes are moist. Lungs clear, abdomen soft, active bowel sounds, no swelling in the feet or ankles. Mostly these subjective symptoms. The nurse will present his case to the ED doctor, after popping a quick nurse's note in the computer. Dennis has put the orthostatic vital sign set in the computer--they are unremarkable.

The nurse walks over to the doctor's area. The day ED doctor is going to be done with his shift in 20 minutes. The evening doctor has not yet arrived. The nurse presents the patient's case to the doctor. He seems distracted. He pulls the patient's record up on the computer, looks at the screen. The nurse directs attention to the negative orthostatic vital sign test. The doctor says, "Put in a saline lock. I'll order some meclizine [an anti vertigo medication] for him."

The nurse returns to the patient, explains that the doctor will be right over and that he wants an locked IV line in the patient. The patient is cooperative, verbalizes worry over his symptoms. The nurse gloves up, puts a tourniquet on the patient's left arm. The patient continues to talk. "...and you know, sometimes my eyes just get all blurry..." The nurse is listening, replying, as she palpates a vein, and then preps the skin. She doesn't mind if patients talk while having blood drawn or getting an IV placed--it helps keep the mind occupied. In fact, the nurse thinks, let's draw some blood with this IV start, just in case. She explains to the patient that she will draw about a teaspoon--12 cc--of blood with the IV start, just in case it's needed. He nods his understanding.

He's not sure why they need the IV line, but he is glad that his blood is being drawn. There just has to be something going on. Maybe they won't discover it this late afternoon, but it's a start. He has grandkids and he wants to be able to keep up. The nurse skillfully punctures the skin, and before he knows it, the pain is done and an IV line is in his arm. The nurse is holding a syringe with blood in it. She finishes securing the IV line, and moves to a cart not far from his bed with the blood filled syringe. He sees her fill four tubes with caps of various colors with his blood, put labels on each and deposit them one by one in a plastic baggy. "Hey, Dennis have you seen the glucometer?" she says.

"...my eyes get all blurry." Isn't that what diabetic patients whose blood glucose has gotten out of hand tell me all the time? the nurse thinks to herself. Hey, I've got blood, let's check it out. The nurse fills the vials, carefully leaving a tiny amount of blood in the syringe. She gets the glucometer, scans her badge, scans the patient's arm band. "We'll take a bit of this blood, test your blood sugar." she tells him. Carefully, she puts a drop on the strip, sticks the strip in the machine. Waits for "the longest 30 seconds in nursing" to pass for the glucometer to read out. Finally, a reading. The nurse lifts the machine up to read it: 569. 569? Maybe I made a mistake--there's a little more blood in the syringe--let's do it again. She scans everything again, drips the blood, waits. This time the reading is 563. Well, the blood did sit, while she chased down the glucometer. Let's do it again, this time with fresh blood, I'll have Dennis do it. Meantime, I'll go talk to the doc. I don't even want to mention it to the patient much, until I am sold the reading is accurate. On the way to the doctor, she explains to the patient that she is going to get some blood by finger stick and check the result against the one she got using the blood in the syringe. The nurse tells the patient that the readings from the syringe blood were all very high and she wants fresh blood to verify the results. "Has anyone mentioned diabetes to you ever?" "No." the patient says. "Does it run in your family at all?" "I'm not sure." he says. Crossing with the tech, she reminds him to clean the patient's finger well, maybe have him wash his hands. If his sugar is that high, he'll be spilling it in his urine, and if his restroom hygiene is poor, he could have sugar on his hands that would corrupt the result.

The nursing tech comes over. He has the patient go to the sink, wash his hands. He lies back down. The tech sticks his left middle finger. Diabetes. Diabetes? Is that it? That would explain a lot. He remembers when his cousin was diagnosed, after he became unconscious at home. Was there more diabetes in the family? For him, they had mentioned it once, in relation to his weight. Other then that, no indication. The tech looks at the machine--it has a reading. He asks, "It it still high?" "Yes," the tech says, " in the 500s. I'm going to let the nurse know. She's over talking to the doctors right now."

The evening ED doc is on. He is a thoughtful and thorough practitioner. The nurse is glad to see him. She sits near him, waits for him to finish what he is doing. Finally, he is done, and turns to her. "John Doe in bed 7," she says, "came in with a number of vague symptoms--dizziness, weakness, not feeling right, blurry vision at times. Dr. Daytime had me place an IV and he ordered meclizine. When I placed the IV I thought I would draw blood just in case, and along the way I checked the blood sugar. I got 569. Dennis is rechecking it with a finger stick because the blood sat for a little while in the syringe before I got the glucometer." Dennis comes over, hands the nurse a piece of paper with the new reading--559--and says, "Still high." The nurse thanks him, turns to the doctor. "Well, I'll be supposing you'll be wanting a CBC, a CMP, and an acetone--and some urine to check." The doctor is grinning and says, "Yes, that will do, the routine ED labs and an acetone." He pauses. "That was a good catch, there. What was it that tipped you off?" "The blurry vision. I've had diabetics with high blood sugar tell me they couldn't see well when their sugar was high." The doctor and nurse stand up together. "Well," says the doctor, "I better talk to the patient. It's likely we will have to admit him tonight." The doctor turns to the nurse. "Seriously, that was a very good catch. He could have left here with that high sugar, gone home, and been in serious trouble." The nurse smiles back, blushes a little, nods. She says, "Well, let me have the clerk order the labs, I'll send the blood and have the patient pee and we'll get things going."