Monday, October 27, 2008

Goodbye Common Sense

Got this in an email today and just had to share it.

An Obituary printed in the London Times

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old hewas, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessonsas:

Knowing when to come in out of the rain;
Why the early bird gets the worm;
Life isn't always fair; and maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children,are in charge).

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boycharged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.

It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an Aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims.

Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from aburglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death, by his parents, Truth and Trust, by his wife, Discretion, by his daughter, Responsibility, and by his son, Reason. He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers;

I Know My Rights
I Want It Now
Someone Else Is To Blame
I'm A Victim

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Where Are The Critical Thinking Skills??

I'm working on a project for my job that has me really analyzing the skill set involved in critical thinking. Naturally, examples of critical thinking - or more often, not using critical thinking - seem to be popping up all around me.

Tonight we were on our way home from a run to the local Costco when we came upon some road work just getting started. We watched a police officer go to the traffic light control box and turn the traffic lights into flashing red lights. There were 2 cars in front of us - and no one moved. The police officer waved the first car through the intersection, but the second one just sat there. I think they were waiting for either the light to turn green or the cop to wave them through. Finally the cop made a hand motion to them - pointing to the light and showing that it was flashing red, and the car pulled forward. My husband was fit to be tied. He was yelling to no one in particular "flashing red means treat it like a 4-way stop!"

It made me realize how our society tends to wait to be told what to do. Where are the critical thinking skills? Why should we have to be reminded that flashing red lights mean stop and proceed in turns?

Which reminded me of a great You Tube video that was sent to me via email the other day. Another fine example of lack of critical thinking. Check it out if you need a good chuckle. Then consider the tragic nature of a country full of people who are incapable of thinking for themselves.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Two years already?

Today, May 22nd, marks 2 years since the open reduction/internal fixation (ORIF) procedure to correct my shattered ankle. Two whole years! I remember it like it was yesterday. As I prepare to turn in for the night, I can imagine exactly where I was at this time two years ago - in the hospital bed following surgery, complaining through 3 different nurse shifts about the numbing sensation that was working its way up from my ankle toward my kneecap. I remember persistently pushing the button on the PCA machine that administered my pain medication. I remember finally breaking down in tears just after midnight when the 3rd nurse took over for the night shift. I was starting to panic because the numbness was moving its way up my leg. I was having horrible thoughts of losing all feeling in my right leg and having to have it amputated. Imagine my surprise when the kind nurse who finally took time to listen to me (and had already changed my bed pan) turned on the overhead light and I realized she was a girl I went to high school with. Wow! Nothing humbles you quite like looking a childhood acquaintance in the eyes after she changed your bed pan and witnessed you having an emotional breakdown. Bless her heart - she listened to me. I told her that I thought the wrapping was too tight around my ankle and was causing me to lose feeling. She called the surgeon, explained the situation (and my self-diagnosis), and he gave her the okay to re-wrap the ankle. Ahhh...relief!

I can easily picture myself in the same spot two years ago where I now lie - then with my ankle resting atop a stack of pillows, heavily wrapped in postsurgical gauze, and my mind swimming in Vicodin and sleeping pills. I remember the early days well - the frustrating nights of uncomfortable sleep; flipping and flopping, trying to find a position that would allow me to sleep for more than a few minutes before having to move again. I spent the first several days home in a Vicodin-induced stupor. You know you're in a lot of pain when you can't think of anything else.

But flash forward 2 years - 24 months - and while the memories are still crystal clear, I feel almost normal again. Having the metal removed last October was absolutely the right decision. I only occasionally suffer from the painful aching when the weather is wet. I have a good amount of flexibility in the right ankle. It isn't perfect, but I'm managing. The scars are still ugly reminders of what I've been through, and I don't think I will ever be completely healed (physically, mentally, emotionally) - but I've certainly come a long way from where I was 2 years ago today.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

There is Hope After all

I just read an article at about the upcoming tax rebates. There is a chance that we will get a rebate. Yippee!! I didn't realize that the rebates are based on "adjusted gross income" - which will help. The goal is to get our tax return done and filed so that I can put this one to bed. Not to mention, I need to do it in order to fill out the FAFSA forms for our 2 college boys. That's always a fun day. It takes hours to pull all of the information together and fill out the numerous pages - which usually results in a message stating that we can afford to pay $30,000 per year out of pocket for each kid's college tuition. Um...right. That's more than we pay for our mortgage at the end of the year - and yet somehow we're supposed to have that kind of disposable cash available. It's important to keep your sense of humor intact at times like this.

Yesterday I was telling a colleague at work that this entire week I have felt like I was running through mud. Expending lots and lots of energy, but not getting very far. I realized last night that I have felt "stuck" like this both at work and in my life outside of work. Lots of activity, but not a lot of progress. Definitely not much time for reflection or appreciation. And perhaps it is the busyness itself that has left me feeling stuck. I am motivated by production. I like to look back on a day at work and be able to say I got something done today! I like to feel that way at home too. Whether it's laundry, cleaning the kitchen, preparing a nice meal, or tackling a project. I feel better if I've accomplished something. I think where I get into trouble is when I lose focus. If I have an endless "to do" list but nothing is prioritized, I become overwhelmed. I really think I need to create a priority list and then approach each day with a single focused goal in mind. If I get that goal completed and manage to tackle others - BONUS!

Of course, there are days when I need to achieve NOTHING in order to feel good. Those are good days too. Sleep in, spend some time reading for pleasure, maybe watch a movie with my kids, go for a walk, work on a puzzle. No deadlines, no expectations. I NEED those days to recharge my batteries - and I think I have finally recognized this and embraced it.

I'm tackling the day today with a new perspective and a more focused plan for moving forward. There is, indeed, hope after all.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Political Rant - Brace Yourself!

Today our wonderful US House of Representatives passed the "stimulus package." The solution to the economic crisis in America. This is the plan that will provide tax rebates for individuals who really haven't paid much in taxes - but gives nothing to those hard-working Americans like my husband and I. We work hard to make ends meet and hand over a good portion of our earnings in the form of taxes - but we are literally ignored when it comes time for rebates. Once again, the government will take money we have worked hard to earn - and hand it over to those "less fortunate."

Don't get me wrong - I'm all for helping those in need. But I am struggling to understand how I can continue to teach my children to be self-sufficient, when our government continues to reward those that are not. My husband and I are currently paying for two kids in college. We were told we made too much money to qualify for any financial aid - so we have had to take out substantial educational loans. Consequently, I work a full-time job, plus a part-time job, and my husband works a full-time job. We will not qualify for the tax rebate. We get to continue to work endless hours every week to support our family, while others are offered financial aid for their children and will now also receive a tax rebate.

This came around in email today and was too perfect to not share here:

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that's what they decided to do. The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the > owner threw them a curve. 'Since you are all such good customers, he said, 'I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20. Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men - the paying customers?How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his 'fair share?'

They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so:
The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).
The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings. 'I only got a dollar out of the $20,'declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man,' but he got $10!' 'Yeah, that's right,' exclaimed the fifth man. 'I only saved a dollar, too. It's unfair that he got ten times more than I!' 'That's true!!' shouted the seventh man. 'Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!' 'Wait a minute,' yelled the first four men in unison. 'We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!' The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn't show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn't have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D.
Professor of Economics, University of Georgia

With gas prices well over $3 per gallon and costs going up everywhere I turn, what options are left for hard-working Americans?

Friday, January 11, 2008

81 days postop - the second time around

It's hard to believe that I'm almost 3 months postop from my ankle hardware removal on October 22nd. Nonetheless, I am happy to report that I am healing up nicely. The good news is that the persistent aching and stiffness I was having before the procedure has gotten much better. My ankle specialist warned me that I will likely suffer arthritis in the joint and may need another procedure at some point in the future to deal with that. But for now, I am enjoying the relief. My only gripe is the really ugly scars that I am left with. The scars from my initial surgery are still there, though faded some - but the second procedure added another 2, one that is thick and an angry red color about 5 inches in length. In the pictures below, taken about 10 days postop, you can see the incisions beneath the tape. The ones on the inner side are the new ones.

I still have some tingling along the incisions as well. Fortunately, it's the dead of winter. With any luck, these new scars will be faded before I'm tempted to wear shorts again!