Friday, February 26, 2010

What the Beck?

I'm not a political commentator (for the most part) but in the same spirit of "Rant" from last post, I ask: what in the world has come over the "conservatives" who watch Glenn Beck? Beck's 5 p.m. (Eastern) show garners up to 3.4 million viewers at times. You know who you are. Among you are likely many of the nearly 9000 who paid from $250 to $750 to attend the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) last week, where he gave the closing speech.

I think seeing an excerpt from that speech was the proverbial "straw that broke the camel's back" for me where he is concerned. Put briefly, in the speech Beck rails against and maligns the "progressive" movement at length, complains about government taking taxes to fund what it decides the people need (of course without mentioning that the people themselves elect persons from among themselves to become our government)....Beck continues by commending himself on never feeling entitled to a free education...and then announces that he educated himself--at the library, where the books are FREE. I guess he does feel entitled to read the books that magically appear in the free buildings that sprout up solely through the will of God around the country.

That gaffe spurred me to the internet to find out who this idiot was. He readily calls himself a recovering alcoholic...which is much more socially acceptable than mentioning the fact that he also admits getting "high" (using marajuana and cocaine) every day for 15 years. I'm sensing a source of brain damage there.

He's written books. In his 2009 "A?guing With Idiots" he ranks the "Top Ten Bastards of All Time." Remember, "Number 1" is his pick for worst bastard of all time...

10. Pol Pot (leader of the Khmer Rouge, responsible for ~1.7 million deaths)
9. Robert Mugabe (dictator of the failing African state of Zimbabwe)
8. Teddy Roosevelt (our 26th president)
7. Bernie Madoff (ponzi scheme swindler of 2009)
6. Adolf Hitler (murdered ~6 million Jews and others)
5. Keith Olbermann (apparently for his penchant for pointing out Beck's errors and self-contradictions on his own show)
4. Pontius Pilate (for washing his hands, I imagine, as though it weren't the will of God)
3. FDR (our 32nd president)
2. Tiger Woods (the pro golfer) ...and, drum roll please:
1. Woodrow Wilson (our 28th president)

And what did Wilson and FDR do that was worse than killing millions of innocent people? FDR was "progressive." Wilson stepped on the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution's grant of the right of freedom of speech. Hmmm. (Immediately I wonder, why isn't Founding Father and 2nd president John Adams at the top of that list? Remember the Alien and Sedition Acts? Even Adams regretted signing them soon after he did it, according to his correspondence.) Interesting list. If I were going to make up such a list, it would look a lot different.

So then I came across this quote from Beck: "you have Barack Obama going in and spending the money on embryonic stem cell research, and then some, fundamentally changing – remember, those great progressive doctors are the ones who brought us Eugenics. It was the progressive movement and it [sic] science. Let’s put science truly in her place. If evolution is right, why don’t we just help out evolution? That was the idea. And sane people agreed with it! And it was from America. Progressive movement in America. Eugenics. In case you don’t know what Eugenics led us to: the Final Solution. A master race! A perfect person. The stuff that we are facing is absolutely frightening." (aired March 9, 2009)

If he weren't on national TV equating stem cell research with eradication of the Jewish race, I'd think his stupidity was funny. (I'm ignoring his lack of knowledge about the origin and basis of the theory of eugenics as well. Funny thing is, the basis of eugenics would agree with Beck, since the original British theory began with the idea that social welfare programs that encourage the empoverished and "less able" to reproduce were counterproductive to society as a whole. Sounds to me like another portion of Beck's CPAC speech. But I digress.)

Stem cells provide promise for vast innovations in medical treatments for severe ilness and injuries. To promote fear of such advances will only further hinder the development of promising therapies. (if you are interested in what stem cells really are, I recommend the National Institutes of Health basic primer on the subject.) I literally cheered when I heard that the federal ban on funding for embryonic stem cell research was lifted.

So my opening question remains: how is it possible that Glenn Beck has become the superstar of the conservative movement? Why would anyone with any intelligence watch him? (As a footnote, I heard no press reports about George F. Will's CPAC speech, which is available online and was quite good (except for the 2 or 3 sentences wherein he equates auto insurance with health insurance, ignoring the obvious differences). I'd listen to an Oxford and Princeton educated PhD anytime...especially over someone like Beck who barely passed high school.)

If anyone out there can explain this Glenn Beck thing to me...please do. End of Rant.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Rant and Rave Wednesday

This will be a first for me. Little Ms. Blogger has been doing "Rant and Rave Wednesday" for quite some time, and hers is fun to read, so, at her invitation, I'm giving it a try.

Rant: The east coast of the U.S. is about to get hit with another 48 hours of snow. Can you say "enough already"!!!!

Rave: hubby and I made a fantastic Asian Beef Salad for dinner with London broil, oranges, peanuts, rice noodles and Kraft Lite Sesame dressing. Mmmmm.

Rant: If the snow causes them to cancel school for my son, all sorts of confusion and angst will result. For example...

Rant: Right after the last blizzard, my ex went with my son to his parents' house (parents are in Florida), which is 25 miles away from his house, (his house is already 15 miles from my house) and told me he was not going to drive him back the 25 miles, forcing me to drive 50 extra miles just to pick up my boy. He's like that.

Rave: I was planning on going to a 2 day educational program by myself but this morning a friend from school emailed several of us to ask us to go with her, so now we're planning a fun time out!

Rant: My work computer got a virus from what seemed like a very safe website...then I hear from the IT guy that the hard drive was so old it's not worth the labor! Wait a minute! I thought I was worth a decent computer around that place, at least!

Rave: I'm next on the list for a replacement computer.

Rant: I gave in to temptation last night and bought both a Snickers bar and ice cream while hubby was at a "thing" for work. Where did I get these bad "food" habits?

Rave: We're back "on the wagon" tonight with homemade Chicken Tortilla Soup from my own's healthy and low fat/cal.

That's about all for me. How'd I do?

Quick Note re: Guatemala

For several months I looked for other loans on Kiva for entrepreneurs in Guatemala, but there was a bit of a lull in originations there. (The window at the right links to Kiva's homepage where you can search by country.) I found one last month and tonight I found that there are numerous opportunities to lend to individuals and small groups in Guatemala. I now have three loans out. How could I resist helping those who gave us our beautiful gem?

(It's whipped cream....and that's her mom, not me!)

If you have any interest at all, please take a look at and see if any of the stories speak to you. Only takes $25 to start, and you get the money back!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I took a bit of time off of blogging to think about Storm, but I'm back and wanted to share some happy things!

Storm was the cat who figured stuff out. When she wanted to go out the sliding glass door to the screened porch, she was the first one to sit right by where it opens. Soon, she learned that the little lever at the top was the first step to opening the door. So when she wanted to go out, she would hop up on the speaker near the door and fiddle with the lever a bit. I'm not quite sure if she was thinking "I know this is how I could open the door" or "Here, mom and dad, first I want you to flip this, then you'll pull the door open."

She also learned the same thing about the garage. If she wanted to go check out the garage, she would stand full height on her hind legs and reach up to the door handle with her "hands" and paw at it. She would even be working on the correct end--the part that moves down when you turn the lever.

The photo of Storm with her favorite toy also brings back memories...from the moment we opened the Christmas presents for the cats that year, that pink and green octopus was Storm's. She never seemed to tire of it. She would take it in her mouth and throw it up over her head, then leap on it before it even landed. Repeatedly. What fun to watch!!

One time she got outside while we were away (darn cat sitter) and we had all of the lights on looking for her inside (not knowing yet that she was out.) That girl came around to the tall kitchen window which is about 1 ft. off the floor on the inside. From the outside, she could reach the lower edge with her front feet while standing full height on her hind legs. She waited there, where she could just see what was happening in the kitchen, and meowed when we came into the room.

Storm was the one who played with her "cousin" Frankie, who never had littermates to show her how to play nicely. So, they developed this game where Storm would run behind the entertainment center in the great room and reach through the 2" hole for wires for the bottom shelf. Frankie would launch herself onto the bottom shelf and the two would take turns batting at each other through the hole...but no one got hurt because the hole limited the attack safely.

Of course Storm and her twin, Tiger would play together the most. So many mornings they would just run from one end of the house to the other, chasing each other, tagging or rolling around at the other end, then doing it all over again. OH, and how they used to go wild over birds and squirrels outside--hunting them together through the windows.

We can really tell how Tiger and Frankie miss Storm; each has looked for her in places we know they would always find Storm. It's very sad to see, but I've also noticed that now Tiger and Frankie will sit at the French doors and "hunt" squirrels together. We also see the two sitting nearer to one another, and have started feeding them next to one another (instead of the twins together, with several feet between them and Frankie). Thankfully, they seem to be developing a closer friendship than ever before.

I think they'll be ok, and I think we'll be ok too, eventually.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

My Precious Storm

I have been struggling with this post since Friday night. I'm going to leave the beginning I wrote on Friday:

Today has been a shock and truly awful. Yesterday, I was enthralled in the pure bliss found in my soft, furry companions. Today has been a nightmare. I am in shock and in tears.

This morning, hubby was up before me and called the cats to their breakfast as he has for years. I heard him calling "Storm! Storm! Come Storm!" and after a few minutes he came up and told me that Storm didn't come to have breakfast. I'm a very slow riser in the morning normally, but this was odd. I got up immediately. Storm--or any of the cats--just never misses breakfast. My husband and I exchanged phrases--she couldn't have gotten outside--I heard her at midnight at the bedroom door--I'm sure she's just hiding or sleeping--she's been in hiding before.

Things just felt different today. I went around the house calling to Storm. I looked under things, then went to the basement. I thought I heard a "meow" near the furnace, but no. Over by the washer I turned on the other two lights, calling "Storm" several times. Finally, she answered "meow"...then louder, "Meow!" Her call was coming from behind the washer. I finally saw her, lying in the eight inch space behind the washer. She didn't get up to my calls. I moved the hampers, the little shelving unit, and reached to her.

It wasn't until then that I realized that she couldn't get up. Immediately I thought she had a spinal cord injury...she couldn't move her hind legs. I gingerly pulled her from her hiding place, trying to somehow keep her spine from moving and wrapping her in a retired bath mat to give her additional support. "Honey! HONEY!!" I cried. Storm's back feet were cold to the touch. Her breathing was rapid and shallow, with a deep sigh every few breaths--a disturbing pattern. She felt cold all over. My husband came down as I put her on the island in the kitchen with the doubled bath mat as her bed. Storm seemed a little relieved as she rested her head on my forearm, her lower body limp.

I knew it was grave. I kept replaying in my mind how Storm could possibly have fallen (she's a very lithe cat) and hurt her distal spine. I just couldn't believe it. We soon learned that I really had no grasp of what really had happened to my girl.

Hubby and I took Storm immediately to the emergency vet. Driving there I held her in my lap, still supporting her spine in the bathmat. There, the tech got her vital signs and told me that Storm was a bit cold...when I asked later, she told me 92.5 F, which is far below the normal for a cat (100.5-102.5). The vet, a softspoken South African man, examined her and gave us his first impressions. Although possible that Storm had injured her spine, he thought that she more likely suffered from a blood clot lodged at the distal end of her aorta, blocking both femoral arteries. It's something that happens, particularly in American Shorthair and Maine Coon cats. They did x-rays--chest, hips, legs, spine--and he found no spinal or other fractures or bony defects but noted a somewhat enlarged heart. It was a clot.

My experiences with human patients told me that clots could be dissolved with medications, but reperfusion injuries could be very destructive. These patients were also treated within minutes to an hour or two after injury--Storm's legs were cold, completely paralyzed and her toenail beds were blue. We only knew that she was walking around midnight, paralyzed at 7:30 in the morning. My heart was sinking very quickly.

The doctor carefully explained how cats often can have enlarged hearts but manage to hide any symptoms because they cope so well. This cardiomyopathy worsens and allows a clot to form in the heart, which can break off and lodge in the bifurcation of the aorta. Storm had never been sick a day in her life. I never saw a single sign of heart disease, but I understand how she could have kept it so well hidden.

Knowing that she was hypothermic, I wrapped covers around her and tried to warm her with my body heat, supporting and stroking her the whole time. She rested her head on my forearm like she was exhausted and knew I was there to take care of her.

As we discussed Storm's prognosis and few options, her breathing became more labored and he listened to her lungs again. He had mentioned pulmonary edema due to heart failure earlier, and it was already worse. The kind doctor let me borrow his stethescope and I was horrified. I've heard wet rales that bad before, but always when we were making the decision to intubate the patient to prevent complete respiratory failure. I couldn't speak but my husband told me later that my face said it all.

The staff moved very quickly to get Storm an IV and give her a strong pain medicine. I stroked her and held her head while the doctor started the IV, then cuddled her once the IV was placed. As soon as the medication was in she relaxed a lot. I couldn't believe it was all happening so fast.

Knowing that embolectomy (surgery) was out, medications were extremely risky and reperfusion would likely kill her--and that even if we could get her through the "clot-buster" phase almost all cats have repeat clots, often fatal, within weeks, we faced the only humane option. Thank goodness my husband brought it up with the vet: "Is it too early to consider..." When he said "no" I broke. We all knew it was the only option.

I had taken the role of the critical care nurse--Storm was the patient. I held her, comforted her, would have done anything for her, but had not faced the fact that she might not make it. When the actual need to decide that euthanasia was what we needed to do for her, the reality hit me and my eyes welled up with tears. I knew Storm would not survive this crisis, and kindness dictated that we not put her through days of suffering.

Thank heavens my husband was there to sign the consent form and fill out the form about her remains, because when the second gal showed up with the clipboard I couldn't deal with her. I only knew that these were my last minutes with Storm, and I wasn't going to pay attention to anything but her. Storm was a lot more relaxed after her pain medication, but was still breathing hard and when she tried to reposition herself her paralyzed legs gave her pain. We had a few minutes with her then.

I focused only on her. My husband did not want to be there at the end, so he petted and ruffled her fur and said goodbye. The dear kind vet put together the necessary medications and I leaned in close to Storm, whispering in her ear and stroking her shoulder and chest. As I nuzzled her head and stroked her, I thought I heard her purring very quietly. Then her breathing slowed and then stopped.

I couldn't stop stroking her and feeling the soft fur of her head on my face. After another minute I looked up and the vet gave her a soft pet. He listened to me babble about what a wonderful cat she was, how smart she was....he asked if I needed something for my cut hand--I was bleeding from when Storm had gotten me with her "thumb" nail when I held her head for the IV.

The vet, knowing how attached we pet owners can be, offered me the snippings of her fur from when they shaved her arm for her IV. Not knowing whether I wanted it or not, I wrapped the fur in a tissue and stuffed it in my pocket.

I stroked her several more times, so limp and still, and said my last goodbye to my very smartest pet, my very best girl Storm.

With her favorite toy

On Thursday afternoon

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Kitty Bliss

When it's 20 degrees and snowing like a blizzard outside, what do you do? Here's one of the things we do around our house....we join our cats as they show us the best ways to keep warm! Here are the twins enjoying the fire.

I was a little surprised that Storm actually let her brother Tiger share her stool. Things soon went back to normal....

Just like most men, Tiger always wants to have the remotes...

Frankie has her favorite place to keep warm....

But when there's a fire, Frankie will join the rest of us in the great room.

Storm looks like a cuddly baby relaxed, so happy...loving the heat of the fire on her back. Sometimes I feel like that, like the rare occasion when I'm in my toasty warm bed, feeling the smooth cotton sheets and the featherlight warmth of the down comforter--and I don't have to get up if I don't want to. It's a rare and special bliss.

Storm is sleeping in her own bliss here. I thought this was so cute I just had to post this picture too!

When the state of emergency (and driving ban...yes, we are legally forbidden to drive on the roads except for emergencies) is lifted and we're able to get out, who knows where bliss will be found. For now though, it's right here.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Winter Tries Its Best

We had snow on Saturday here...and it's snowing again right now. We got about 10-11 inches...but I didn't get this picture until Monday morning, so it had melted a little.

This evening's snow is supposed to last all night to the tune of maybe 3 inches, then of course there's snow predicted for Friday evening through Saturday--a major event, possibly a foot, they think. This has been one of the snowiest Winters in recent memory for this part of the country. But I'm not taking back what I wrote yesterday. We're on the back side of Winter '09-'10.

One of my blog-friends wrote a piece today about fighting off The Funk. Always fun to read, today Whimsy did battle directly with wintertime Funk himself. Like her, I refuse to give in to The Funk--this will get easier day by day, as we count down the last half of Winter (starting Thursday, the half-way point...not that I'm counting.) For me, making the effort to make it to Jazzercise several times per week (I was there Saturday and Monday so far) is half the battle, since Jazzercise is fun and leaves me feeling relaxed, happier and more energetic after each class. I recommend it to everyone!! ( for a class near you...U.S. and international!!) (I'm not making an advertising plug for my benefit...I've just loved doing Jazzercise since 1989!)

So, here's to fighting the good fight against The Funk! How are you doing in the battle against the dread winter Funk? Is the weather getting the better of you, or are you holding out for Spring?

Monday, February 1, 2010

End in Sight

Sorry everyone, it's been a rough January and I've only had time for...geez, is it only 3 posts last month? I am sorry, and I wish I could promise better for February but in January the "you know what" hit the fan at work, and the coming month is a run-up to a trial (that means massive amounts of work for just that one case, while trying to keep all of the others from getting behind).

We finally had a chance to catch up on the Christmas visits as well. Last weekend we had the pleasure of visiting with my siblings and their kids; the weekend before we went to visit hubby's daughter and granddaughter. Both visits were GREAT!

Despite all of the busy activity recently, something else is on my mind. Last evening, a certain angle of the sun--a brilliant afternoon light that hit just so on my cheek--made me realize that it's now late winter. It's not that we're even half way through winter itself (the half way point would be February 4 around 5:45 p.m. UT, not that I'm counting) but I could just feel that the worst of our winter here is over. There was change in the air.

About an hour later, my hunch was confirmed. The picture below is not very good, but the important part is that it was snapped at 5:28 p.m. on Sunday. For weeks it's been completely dark by that time, but now the sun still hangs above the trees.

Then, this evening at 6:10 p.m. I was still enjoying the beautiful colors of sunset so I took this one: (again, not a good photo but I think the colors show a little.)

It seems like we've been in such darkness for so long but now the evenings are noticably lighter to me. For us, it's been a really snowy Winter so far and we've had several serious cold snaps--seriously unusual for us. But now the end is in sight. I think we might make it through another winter!