Tuesday, March 29, 2005

A Hero of Sorts

Lord knows there's no love lost between me and attorneys. For the record, judges are just attorneys without a private practice. No better, no worse. (Like an emergency room doctor.) They put on their robes and go to work every day, preside over their courtrooms and most base their decisions on the law as they know it to the best of their ability. Most are fair and honest... naturally there are those who interject their personal beliefs and seem to favor one side over the other. But for the most part, I think they have learned the law and interpret it and apply it honestly.

There is a judge here who has done that. For years he's had to make decisions regarding another human life based on law. Not emotion, personal belief, religious belief or politics. Just the law. I'm sure he's had many sleepless nights over his decisions. A woman's life literally has hung in the balance. One side begging him to rule she be kept alive and the other pleading for her right to die. One claiming she would want to be kept alive no matter what because of her religious beliefs. The other supplying evidence to the contrary. It's been a long, hard legal battle. One man has heard it all and had to base his decisions on his expertise of the law in the State of Florida.

This man is in a no win situation. Some are going to be happy about his decisions and others angry. He's doing his job, as best he can. Judges in a higher position have been asked to review his decisions and decide if he has made the right ones. So far, all have vouched for his interpretation of the law. The Governor tried to override him, the State Legislature, even he President of the United States, his Senate and Congress. In the end, the local Judge's decision stands as the rule of law.

This man is now getting death threats and has the need for personal security. He's even had to leave his church and it may distroy his career, but he'd doing what he feels is fair, honest and right. In this country one shouldn't fear for one's life because they are doing their job. Oddly, it's the folks who are one the "right to LIFE" side making the death threats. What's up with that? It's something I'll never understand. This judge could have copped out, passed the buck, decided not to decide. But, he didn't, he did what he is elected and paid to do. The dictionary says the definition of hero is:
he·ro n

somebody who commits an act of remarkable bravery or who has shown great courage, strength of character, or another admirable quality.
somebody who is admired and looked up to for outstanding qualities or achievements

This judge certainly shows some heroic qualities. While scores of others protest his decision, I pray for his safety and that he is at peace.

Friday, March 25, 2005

One more observation...

This morning while watching a local TV reporter from outside the Hospice, the camera panned the crowd. I was troubled to see several "JEB!" campaign signs.

Who said it wasn't a political issue for the governor?

On being considerate of others ...

Florida has quite a knack for attracting bad political publicity. For fifteen years a case has been played out in our local news. Off and on it has demanded national attention but recently it's become the lead story all over the world. It's an explosive story. One that requires almost everyone to fall clearly on one side or the other, each passionate regarding their view. It's not a middle of the road type of issue. I too have an opinion and have taken a side. However, there is another quiet story behind the head lines that prays on my heart and mind.

The other story plays out in the same 72 bed Hospice facility. Yes, there are only 72 beds in this nursing home. To see the vigil outside this facility you would think there is only one patient. Each of those beds holds a terminally ill patient. A warm human being coming to the end of his or her life. Each is there because nothing further can be done for them medically. They are made comfortable and hopefully free of pain. All are just waiting. Their families are also waiting. Sitting with someone who is about to die is very difficult. I did it last summer with my own father. He wasn't going to get any better. Sitting next to his drug induced sleep just waiting for that last breath. Naturally it's sad but it's so much more. Emotions run high. Memories flood, the numbness and shock of it all can be overwhelming even when you know it's coming. Hospice is trained to aid not only the patient but the family as well. They do fabulously good things.

In this facility there are family quarters so that loved ones can stay near by. These people are all riding the emotional roller coaster of anxiety. Jumping when the phone rings. Afraid to leave the room.... even to sleep down the hall. Watching. Waiting. Draining the energy from within. Exhaustion is common. Your heart is broken. Sometimes the waiting seems endless.

I can't imagine how the other 71 patients and their families feel about the circus right outside what should be a quiet, peaceful place. I read about one. a 73 year old incurable cancer patient who's one last wish was not to die alone. His granddaughter was sleeping in the family quarters when she was called by his nurse to come quickly to his room Friday. Without thinking, she ran down the hall in her pajamas to be with him. She was stopped by security guards, who had seen her there before, this night demanded proof of her identity. In her haste, she had left her wallet in her room. She plead with the guards that her grandfather was dying right then and to please let her pass. The article I read says she shouted to Hospice employees to vouch for her and eventually she was allowed to pass. When she arrived at his room, it was a few minutes too late. Her grandfather's room was just two doors from that of the dying woman in the national spot light. This is one of the sad stories that the national media will not cover. My heart breaks for their sorrow and the additional stress they must now endure.

Do the protesters not care about these people and their feelings? How disrespectful to intrude in their lives at this time. I could go on but it would just be more words. The entire situation seems like a huge invasion of privacy to everyone inside that Hospice.


Tuesday, March 22, 2005


I have one sister. I love her dearly. She is without a doubt, my best friend which has nothing to do with this post, it's just a fact. She has one child, my only niece.

My husband has three sisters and one living brother. Linda has two daughters; Patty has two sons and three living daughters (her youngest daughter -Nancy Jo- was tragically killed last year at the age of 14) ; Vicky has two girls and a boy; and Randy has two daughters. Though we live hundreds of miles apart, we are especially close to Patty and Vicky's children. They are amazingly loving children. The expression close knit perfectly applies to all of them. Protective of one another. I do not agree with their political or religious beliefs. We agree to disagree. We don't discuss it really. These sisters married brothers. The combined families are perhaps the most caring families I know.

Tricia is now Patty's youngest. She's always been ONE of my favorites. I know I shouldn't have favorites, I love them all. Each has their own unique lovability. I really do love them all very very much. But, I find something especially special about Tricia. She's deeply religious. She possesses an amazing faith. Thoughtful, caring, giving, generous, kind, loving, and insightful. She's fun and funny. Hip and square. She loves country and religious music. And smart.... she's real smart. When Nancy Jo was killed she was a rock. Confident her sister was in "a better place" and "with the Lord." I worried about Trish. She and Nanny Jo had shared a room since NJ's birth. They were close. As close as sisters can be. As close as I am to my sister. I worried about her because I know how I think I'd feel if something happened to my own sister.

Today my phone rang about 8:30 am. "Hi Aunt Connie, it's Tricia!" She had come to Florida with her friend Jessie to visit Jessie's grandparents for spring break. "Is it alright if we come over and see you and Uncle Bobby sometime today?" She's 17 until next month. They are teenagers in Florida for spring break. They drove 90 miles to visit us ... not to go to the beach or a theme park, just to visit relatives and say hello. They brought us an Easter Lilly. They couldn't stay too long, Jessie's grandparents didn't want them out in the busy Florida traffic too late. They are only 17.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Snap, Crackle, Pop

Pet peeves.
It seems that when the good Lord was passing these out I got a double dose. The list of things that annoy me is lengthy. Every time I go out in public it is as if there is a test to see how quickly a total stranger can get on my nerves. Maybe I am over reacting... probably so... but there are also a LOT of people out there who need to just knock it off!

Gum ~
I hate gum! Gum should be stripped from the face of the earth and illegal to buy, sell, own, chew, store, or HAVE in any form whatsoever. Chomping, snapping, smacking, popping .... ANY noise made while one has gum in their mouth should be totally against the law and the offender should be cooped up in a small room with someone else who's even more obnoxious than they are! Then there is the improper disposal of gum... don't get me started with how disgusting that can be.

Flip flops ~
Being in the vicinity of someone walking in flip flops is especially irritating. The clapping noise when the sole slaps the wearer's foot if maddening to me. Living in Florida makes it difficult to avoid this irksome noise pollution.

Shuffling ~
PICK UP YOUR FEET!!! If you are too tired or lazy to raise your feet up off the ground when you move yourself forward... STAY HOME so the rest of us don't have to listen to you drag your shoe heels across the floor. Shuffling while wearing flip flops makes my skin crawl.

Humming ~
This is not the same as singing softly along or humming along with the music being played in the background. That can be quite humorous actually. I am talking about encountering someone who is just humming out loud. Nothing recognizable. Just humming. Do they hear a tune the rest of us don't? It's trying to have this person standing right behind you in line at the grocery store. (Whistling at random fits this category as well.)

Strollers in public ~ this is tied with gum
There should be a rule. If you have brought your child AND the stroller into the public place, the child must be IN the stroller. Not running amuck while you use the stroller as a shopping cart. The only thing worse than this is when the "grown up" allows the child to push the stroller. (Strollers will be addressed some other time as a separate issue as I find them especially frustrating to deal with.)

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Isn't it ironic... Thanks Hillary

Here I sit in my foil lined, beautifully decorated, vintage bathing cap. I'm watching out for vans of ANY color because I got email from Hillary again today. She corresponds at least once a week. Basically she thanked me for my participation in the Count Every Vote campaign. She's asking me to forward the emailed information to friends, which I have already done. (What the heck, here' s the url to the site in case you didn't get it before: http://www.friendsofhillary.com/CountEveryVote/)

In her email, there is a statement I find quite brilliant. She says,

"Isn't it ironic that at the same time the White House is welcoming elections in other parts of the world, we still have to fight to make democracy real here at home!"

As a voter, living in Florida hasn't been easy the past couple of elections. Jeb Bush, Katherine Harris and company have secured our place in history and it's embarrassing. Count Every Vote is especially meaningful to Floridians.... well. to me as a Democrat anyway. Our country and the world changed with the 2000 elections and not for the better. Maybe I should get over it, but I haven't. I'm still bitter and hold a grudge.

My mother (though she's a wonderful woman) I find politicly challanged. She believes all the ills of the world rest on Hillary's shoulders. I for one would LOVE to see her in the Oval Office as the first woman president of the United States!

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Tis the Season

Yesterday we had occasion to visit the local emergency room. It's not our first time, we are unfortunately quite familiar. I'll spare you the gory details, but in our case it involved a recent heart attack patient experiencing chest pains.

When we walk into the beautifully appointed lobby we notice the place is packed but I'm thinking, whew... chest pains and bleeding usually rate priority. Unfortunately, several others waiting have the same symptoms.

The ER was an absolute joke... people filled every seat and wheelchair in the lobby plus every bed in the back with even more lining the hallways.  The triage nurse took him in quickly and they found him a bed in the hall... where we camped out for over four hours! 

He's having chest pain that is escalating I plead. 
But, they can't do anything until he's seen by an ER doctor and he can't see a doctor until he's processed and because of the large number of patients waiting they don't know when they will be able to process.
What about testing the blood they drew hours ago?
Sorry, not until he's processed.
A song starts playing in my head,
"Will the cir-cle, be unbrok-en? Bye and bye Lord, by and byeeeee?" AARGH! 
I ask a nurse about the delay in processing. Her reply, "Tis the season."
Now I understand.

Getting no where fast, I called my mother and asked her to call his doctors and let them know he's in the ER. I know the hospital hasn't let the doctors know because he hasn't been processed.... etc, etc. 
She claims to have said something like, "You'd better not let him die waiting in the hall!"

VERY SOON an admitting nurse was seeking us out to start his processing.  At that point they took those tubes of blood that had been taped to the sheet (now 4 hours old) for testing to see if he was having a heart attack! (Thanks, Mom!) Then the chest xray fellow showed up  and not long after that the triage nurse was overheard saying he had two calls from "this guy's" cardiologist wanting to know why he has been laying in the hall all afternoon.  The squeaky wheel and all that. Bottom line, six hours later he was admitted and things are now progressing nicely thank you very much.

Health care in Florida has it's own unique peculiarities.
Snowbirds ~ mostly elderly retired folks who spend their winter in Florida and their summer "up north" ~ get here and have occasion to need a doctor. Their regular doctor is "up north" and they haven't bothered to seek out a local practitioner "just in case." So, when a Snowbird needs a doctor, they just go to the emergency room clogging up the whole health care system just like they do the highways this time of year. Need a prescription for cough syrup, go to the ER. Have a sty in your eye? Go to the ER.

I was told that this week a Snowbird who had been in Florida for about three months came to the ER complaining of a chronic pain in his side. When asked how long he'd had the pain his reply was, "about six months."
:: pausing here so you can make a face::
So, the nurse asked what made the pain an emergency today? His reply was that he was just tired of it.
::in case you want to make another face::

Apparently another problem is that everyone knows that if you SAY you're having chest pains, you get priority. I'm told MANY now lie about their condition to get "ups in line." Can you imagine FAKING the seriousness of your illness, most likely putting someone else at great risk, so you can get "processed" more quickly?
It's disgraceful, immoral and inhuman.

I don't begrudge the Snowbirds. We pay no state income tax because they're here. Tourism is our state's livelihood. But, for crying out loud, PLAN AHEAD! Would it be too much to ask that before next year's visit they go to their doctor "up north" or call their insurance company and get a referral for a local doctor? Then turn loose of the co-payment and visit him/her when they arrive to touch base so they have someone to call on if they need care. Don't take up space in the ER when it's not an emergency.

We'll talk about the driving another time.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Your Tax Dollar$ at Work

Because of the nature of the business my husband is in, I am particularly familiar with hurricane damage. Having a daughter who was a weather buff growing up, I am accustom to closely following weather conditions. Last year was an exciting hurricane season here in Florida, especially for those of us on the Gulf Coast. We had four major storms. Many areas were affected by all four storms. A large number of Floridians are still living in damaged homes and rentals simply because it takes a lot of time, money and paper work to get these things settled, not to mention the actual work itself. (There are never enough licensed contractors after a storm.) As luck would have it, South Florida (Miami-Dade, Ft. Lauderdale etc.) was completely spared from any hurricane activity in 2004.

That in mind, there is an article in today's St. Petersburg Times about ten Miami-Dade County residents who have pled not guilty to federal charges that they filed false aid claims for property damage caused by Hurricane Frances, which barely hit the area. There will be 14 people indicted when it's all said and done. The article went on to say that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) paid more that $30 MILLION to about 13,000 residents of Miami-Dade, even-though the Labor Day storm did not generate hurricane force winds in the county. (Frances hit September 5 in Martin County, nearly 100 miles from Miami, and the National Hurricane Center forecasters said the highest wind gust recorded in Miami-Dade was 59 mph. Hurricane strength is sustained winds of 74 mph.)

Now then, my question to "W" and his powers that be at FEMA is this, when all those claims from South Florida started pouring in and the $30 MILLION in checks were being written, didn't anyone notice just how much money was going to an area that was not affected by the storm? There are people who literally lost everything they own who are still waiting for FEMA aid yet those who shouldn't even qualify are paid. THIRTY MILLION DOLLARS for hurricane damage to an area that didn't even have a hurricane. You'd think SOMEONE would notice. Surely the president's brother (Florida Governor Jeb "the shrub" Bush) knew there wasn't a hurricane in Miami. He made of point of being photographed after every storm where there WAS damage. But wait, Jeb is from South Florida and I am sure he plans to return there after his unsuccessful bid for the White House. I'm not saying he had anything to do with this.... surely not. Just seems to me like SOMEONE would notice money flowing in the wrong direction.

Why are only 14 being indicted? There must be more than that "taking advantage of the system." Perhaps an anger management course is something I should look into because this really pisses me off.

Here is the url for the St. Pete Times article: http://www.sptimes.com/2005/03/13/State/10_plead_not_guilty_t.shtml

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Greetings from Florida!

Beautiful weather, sunny skies and white sandy beaches. Everyone wants to be here... especially this time of year. Home to retirees, snow birds and alligators. Many refer to our lovely state as "God's waiting room." Tourist traps, theme parks and trailer parks galore. Not to mention a wonderful place to hide in plain sight.

::What is she talking about?::

Remember all that September 11th business back in 2001? (It was in all the papers.) Recall reading the part about many of those terrorist fellows living and training in Florida, blending in with the locals? They went to flight schools, topless bars, plain old drinking bars... Sure, sure, sure they aren't supposed to do those things as "good" Muslims but hey, they needed to fit in. Had they done any research at all they would have know that they could have accompolished the same thing simply by moving to Orlando and buying a motel, gas station or luggage store.

I know, I know it's old news and I'm rambling instead of getting to the point.

A friend of ours has a relative visiting this week from "up north." (This phenomena comes with the change of address card when one moves to this tropical paradise.) Upon arrival at the northern airport, this relative discovered he had lost his drivers license. Though delayed clearing security, he was allowed to board the plane for Florida. So here he is with no identification.
Isn't that going to be a problem when he goes home you might ask? Sure it is. So our friend's daughter takes the relative to a local office of the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles where a friend of hers just happens to work. A few hours later... no proof of residency, no test, no nothing, this gentleman has a brand new Florida driver's license! Do I even need to make a comment here? I shutter to think how many "bad guys" have legitimate Florida ID's that shouldn't.

Oh yeah - I forgot to mention, this relative wrecked our friend's car yesterday... pulled out right in front of someone and now the rear door of our friend's Cadillac is smashed in. AND, a friend of the relative "up north" found the missing driver's license in the glove compartment of the relative's car. If you're reading this and live in Florida or Pennsylvania, you might want to be especially cautious. He's LEGAL in two states!

Yet another blog

Just what the world needs.
"Friends" think it might be fun for me to give this a try. So do I, maybe.
It IS intrieging ~ what the heck, I am paying for the internet access anyway.

And so it begins, and it's all Jay's fault... oh, and Philip's since he's the one who introduced me to Jay.