Monday, January 26, 2009

LITIGATION - A case, controversy, or lawsuit. A contest authorized by law, in a court of justice, for the purpose of enforcing a right. Participants (plaintiffs and defendants) in lawsuits are called litigants.

LITIGIOUS - Litigious signifies a disposition to sue; a fondness for pursuit of litigation or lawsuits. It also refers to that which is the subject of a suit or action; that which is contested in a court of justice.
I was riding my bicycle on a cold day, and in the parking lot I turned into a parking space, just as I had done many times before. But, this was no ordinary parking lot, nor an ordinary day, apparently. As I turned the wheel at a leisurely speed, I heard the wheel sliding on the ice on the ground. Soon afterward I was on the ground.

I climbed out from under my bike, moved it back into the upright position, and went into a fast food restaurant to eat. At some point that day I was recounting the fall. I told someone how I felt bad falling like that. The person looked at me, and the first words out of their mouth were, "You know, you can sue them for that." I then told the person the name of the fast food place, and he said, "They are loaded! You should sue them instead."

Am I crazy? Is this the value I| need to develop? I wonder wnhat would happen to me if I felt like filing suit every time something bad happened to me. I looked at the person, and said calmly, "But nothing happened to me." Apparently that is a non-issue as a supporter of our litigious society.

The temptation is strong for many, I guess. I see how courtrooms has become for many a way to get something for nothing. This is a judgment on an idea. I cannot judge individual cases. The system of litigation is a wonderful place for people who have serious problems, and have to look to our court system to mediate for them. But, now that so much is happening in the economic scene, I wonder if caseloads in the court system will see a rise.

One man asked me how far I will get in life feeling entitled. He said, "How far will you be if you felt grateful?" I believe that gratitude gets me further. I am grateful foir so much in my life. I live in the heart of litigation central. I know now that many things I took for granted are already feeling the pinch.

I am accepting assistance to go to school. I am on MediCal to cover my m ajor medical expenses, and California is having its own money problems. One man I know is sweating over a rumour that Social Security checks will not be derlivered in early February. He is sweating, because his MediCal is threatened by the questionably balanced California budget. We act like we are in the know. We think listening to the news we can predict the future.

No, suing McDonalds is not enticing to me. I am not thrilled at the concept of selling my soul in a court room, just because I feel entitled to money that is not mine. Of course, my legs are wobbly, so I will climb off my soapbox.

Today, I received a call from a neurologist. Of the three neurologists in Redding, CA, I have scheduled an appointment for an initial consultation. This is the start of a balancing act. To effect the best treatment with minimal costy to me, I have to work with this man to get all my testing in one month...

Do you think we can do it? I have my fingers crossed. But, after all this, I have then to wait to see if my doctor can find something wrong. My spastic gait is quite entertaining, I am sure. But, my desire is to see a moment where these people have searched enough of my brain and body, to say "Mr. Stahr, we have a diagnosis. Here is what we have to do next..."

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hari ini yang istimewa (This is a special day)

Today is a special day. I am seeing my efforts to move on in school bear fruit. I just received my first envelope from Chico State saying they need more information from me in\ order for me to be a student there. I am thrilled at this. I have no idea where this path should lead me. I do know that I am anxiously waiting for change often blind to the changes occurring all around me.

Starting a year ago, December, I trashed, and nrestarted this blog. I started it with crazy ideas, with anger, with a transparent bad attitude,a dn I still ended up making many friends online. I am thrilled to say that I continue to write often.. I am not as pleased with some developments in my life, but the world always changes in relation to my focus.

So, where is my focus today?

I am set on a plan to finish my bachelor's degree. I want to teach. I want a future now where I can say I have escaped the mess that has evolved from living in service work for the past twenty years. Maybe my health problems were necessary to m ake this evolution come about. I have a chance to move into a world where my work will no longer be contingent on the functionality of my body.

I am with the support of family and friends able to address problems I have had, and largely ignored for close to two years now. My walking ability has declined to where I was falling down regularly. Now, though I am walking with a cane, I have the comfort of knowing my family and fridends are behind me.

It is not that I would ever doubt their support, but as I shared more about my life with them, I saw how willing, how eager people were to help me. Sadly, arranging to see a neurologist has been a challenge. I need to see one if I am ever to move ahead knowing at long last what my diagnosis is. Strange it is that look on people's eyes when th]ey ask me what my problem is, and I tell them “I do not know”

So, today I see how my regular sharing has evolved my mind. I see how this sharing has facilitated my healing. I see how I have become more proactive in the seeking out of answers. Likewise I am able to feel the excitement of being willing to travel again. I wanted to stay angry in 2008. I now know that anger has damaged my body and spirit.

On January 21, 2008, I crossed the blog of a beautiful soul. That is a special thing for me. That person spoke to me this morning, and has shared with me much in the last three hundred sixty-five days. This day I get to see how much of my irrational anger has subsided through the help of people like you reading me today. I see how much of my healing has come through my interactions with people who -through this portal- has chosen to enter my life.

Many of you have told me to take care of myself. Some even told me to listen to my mother. I received comments from readers who told me to grow up. I have shared with many who said my writing seems a confused jumble, and many who told me they have enjoyed joining me in this journey.
I listened to comments of numerous people who wondered if I woulkd ever get baround to doing the things I said I would. This has been a fine year.

Thank you for reading

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

January, 12, 2009: Classes begin again

(This is an aerial view of nearby Mount Shasta... Gorgeous mountain, just one of the marvelous geologic features we can study locally in our earth sciences class)

I am sitting in the opening lecture of my Earth Sciences class. We are being lectured on the primary difference between us as a “web-enhanced” science class, and my previous effort to attempt this very class as a “hybrid” course where all lecture would be handled online. The class environment of times past have disappeared for me.

I promised the world I would remain in a technology environment that is at least five years old (I used to say five years obsolete). Slowly I capitulate, and am starting to accept the more rapid tracks of technology into my life. Yes, I can revise my guidelines.

My science instructor is using the bulk of this time explaining to us how to use the web site. When I started this class last semester (I dropped it), this was a hybrid course, and with my newness in the college scene, was not ready to handle the new concept of the Internet course. In my defense, I will say that my computer broke last semester, and managing became difficult.

This semester I am pleased to see that the new class design will have the lectures in class. If I am a good student, and follow carefully in my reading, I should be able to manage better in this class. I promised to become a better student, but I do realize the whole game is different from when I was a student before. Never before have I had a chance to take notes with a laptop. But also never before have I had to learn how to organize my time without class hours.

This class is now more lecture oriented. But, this semester I have to face the demon of the class that nis entirely Internet run. This semester I have two classes where there is no classroom time. This is a weird thing for me, but b y the time I dropped my Internet classes, I was actually starting to understand the class. It is amazing how I did not see the challenge right away. I never had to take Internet classes before, but, historically I have done better with much outside encouragement. It is a blessing that I get to learn more about how to handle classes online. This time I have a model on how to do them.

If that is not enough, my school finally realized that onlin e clases is a new paradigm for some of us.

Shasta College sent me the following invitation in my email:

Dear Student,

You have been identified as a student that has enrolled in an online
class here at Shasta College for the Spring 2009 semester; because of
this, we wanted to bring to your attention a free workshop that we
are offering called "Introduction to the Shasta College Online
System." Get the skills you need to successfully complete an online
class. This workshop will be a hands-on exercise in logging-on,
communicating and submitting assignments in the new Shasta College
Online System. You will also learn where to go when you need help
with the system or with your class work. Don't get left behind the
curve, come learn with us, hands-on!

The workshop will be held on Wednesday, January 21st from 12 noon to
1:00pm in Room 2206. We hope to see you there!

Thank you,
Shasta College

Sunday, January 11, 2009

What is the Meatrix?

I just at a sandwich, made with some chicken breast. It was quite delicious with some lettuce, some mayonnaise, and served up warm. Once again I am rethinking my food choices. I was a vegetarian at least twice in the past. I had mindless rationales to justify my choice. But, I knew my decision was good for my body. I knew it was good for the environment. I knew it is good for the animal. Still, when the time arrived, I found I had no drive. My own motives lacked their own meat. I bore no commitment to live differently than society as a whole. Each reason to live mindful of the values I espoused drifted away in a haze as I was faced with the joy and comfort of joining the mainstream.

Still, I read from people who help me to think. Author Peter Singer has lectured on ethics for close to four decades. As a professor of philosophy, he was faced with an idea that animals are possessed of rights long since ignored or denied by society as a whole. His writing is vivid, and he is able to present a wealth of information dispassionately, but with a directness that makes indifference difficult for me. His most powerful work thus far, is a book called Animal Liberation. In it, he makes his case for the rights of animals.

The book opens with a discussion of the writing of Mary Wollstonecraft. It was her book in the late eighteenth century which set off a firestorm of criticism. She wrote a Vindication of the Rights of Woman. A powerful writing, it now stands as one of the most powerful writings predating the feminist movement in America by two centuries. Her efforts were not without notice. Criticism was widespread, and it was not long before an Oxford professor of philosophy, Thomas Taylor, wrote his satirical rebuttal Vindication of the Rights of Brutes.

Peter Singer writes of this piece with one point in mind. Taylor was writing to make humor of Wollstonecraft's book. Singer also wanted to clarify that as the rights of woman, the equality of woman is much more accepted fact today than it was in the late eighteenth century, when Wollstonecraft died. Now, he adds, while we accept the wrongness of Thomas to mock equal consideration for women it is likewise ridiculous to suggest animals are any less worthy of consideration or respect than human beings.

Eating on my chicken sandwich, I am not as easily inclined to accept the logic. But, when faced with basic ideas of my humanity, I have ask myself what is my job as a steward of this planet. How am I responsible to behave with regards non-human animals?

The question is not an easy one. I am part of a group that persists in eating meat. Singer, a vegetarian, has not compelled me to stop consuming flesh in my diet. Still, the argument I was given did not rest solely on whether or not to eat meat. More so, it was about how responsible am I in my individual decisions regarding meat. Each purchase of meat and animal products holds the weight of my lack of knowledge. I have to accept that with each purchase I am ignoring the bad behavior of an industry

Working in a health food store, I am asked many questions.

Many questions deal with social responsibility. People are interested in knowing if animals are harmed, if products came from a country with good trade policies, whether or not workers involved in harvesting crops are protected by fair trade. Each day people become more interested in the ethical handling of animals.

In this post I will not discuss the information I received on animal handling. Suffice to say, if you read Animal Liberation, you will learn plenty about the raising of animals for food. But, you will also be exposed to the world of animal experimentation. Having read the data I am provided there, I am able to say most animal testing is useless, and we can dispense with most or even all animal experimentation at no cost to science, medicine or humanity. So, I will finish my sandwich, and think about this a little more.

Thank you for reading.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

As For Observation Wheels...

"Hey! have you heard that June Allyson gave a concert downtown? I heard there was not a dry seat in the house" -anonymous

If anyone has ever had trouble getting to a bathroom when nature could not wait, you could see the true challenge of the incident that occurred a few weeks ago at the Singapore Flyer. The world's largest observation wheel- standing tall at over 164 meters- came to a stop, leaving 173 people stranded for over seven hours. Granted, there are worse things that can happen, but even then, the unexpected can become hazardous.

As one of those cannisters curls aroung the highest point on the wheel, the occupants are standing more than one and one-half football fields' length above ground. Here is a description of these observation rooms:

Singapore Flyer capsules are fitted with the latest cooling system, supported by a back-up air conditioning system and a solid roof. Passengers need not suffer from the heat when the capsule is 165 metres above the ground, for the capsules are fitted with UV protection to shield them from the blazing Singapore sun. The precision wind engineering also allows passengers to sit back, relax, and enjoy the spectacular skyline without worrying about any movements or vibrations.

Ergonomically designed, each capsule measures 4 metres by 7 metres and has an interior space of 28 square metres, comfortably accommodating a maximum of 28 passengers. The flyer also has elderly and wheelchair friendly synchronised double door entry/exit systems.

But, once again, I assert that when something unlikely happens, like last month's fire in the control room, and the wheel has to shut down for over seven hours, what comforts do we have then? I figure: sure, I could stay on this ride for half an hour longer than the standard ride (each revolution takes approximately thirty minutes). But ideally, I know that wherever I am in the course of a day, I like to know that if I am in this capsule with family or friends for longer than half an hour, I want to know a bathroom will be available. Biology can be an ikssue if the riders had just finished eating. One person discussing this with me said , “well, they can just hold it!”

Time with family and friends can become more intimate, and more intense if that last bowl of rice with sambal, or that last cup of tea wants liberation before you do.

These are the memories of a lifetime, and I am grateful no one got hurt seriously when operations of the Flyer stopped. Of the people on board, two ended up in thje hospital for extended stays, and I have heard of no one seriously injured.

I am an epileptic. I am thinking how forgetting to take my medicine could affect me under those conditions. I suppose I have to be ready for anything. I am thinking how the views of Malaysia and Indonesia will seem most unimportant after such an experience. I am thinking how I would manage such a day now that my own neurology is under investigation.

As an aside:

I, like this machine, am being checked out for system failures. Sigh. My system is becoming irritating. Walking is a drag. But, my aggression is increasing. I now know that I have to come up with some answers on this physical stuff, and make my decisions based on the information my doctors provide.

Once again, the doctors at Shasta Community Health Center's HOPE van have forwarded me to another neurologist. Now, there is a new twist. I have been qualified for MediCal coverage with a payment portion of close to eight hundred dollars. At this point in my life, it is startling to think how I have to take charge of this. Each month I have to maximize the services of which I take advantage, because I am responsible out of pocket for close to half my take home income.

So, we forge on. I am forced to ask questions, and make decisions. I am forced to do many things, because every dollar counts. I pray we find some answers soon.

Thank you for reading.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

So, What are Your Resolutions This Year?

I was pondering my New Year resolve. I was thinking how do I take my resolve, and spread it out manageably across 365 days, so that I can have a positive report this time next year. This is no small concern. In twelve step meetings across the world, in many different languages, people say “Easy Does It.” This, in some circles is followed by the informal addendum: “But do it.” That is the part that seems so stifling, so intimidating. (It is often best to keep the more practical aspects of action in the theoretical). So, 2008 I had more practice being active, and getting things done.

I just watched a talk by a Darwinian philosopher named Dan Dennet, and he spoke eloquently about dangerous memes. What memes, what infectious ideas are we willing to die for? What ideas can I share today that may infect your mind, and pass on like a virus to be planted indiscriminately in someone else's world? I have exchanges with people from many different cultures. I know that just asn western Europeans had immunities to parasites against which indigenous populations were totally defenseless. Am I so bold and ethnocentric to think the culture that spawned me has a lock on truth?

When I go out in the world, I try to be respectful of other worlds, other cultures. My opinions are not so cherished that I would hoist them on the unprepared. I know many people try to check me for my opinions on things. There is a process of testing. In the virus world, this is akin to testing for antibodies. I know that when people want to share their ideas, they want to see how open, how vulnerable to infection I am. I have been examined for my attitudes on religion, politics, sexual orientation, abortion rights, attitudes on real science, pseudo-science, skepticism, open-mindedness, and the list goes on ad nauseam.

I will share freely on what I find interesting. By mentioning relative dating techniques, I can watch a person's face to see what they believe is the age of the planet. Before carbon and uranium dating techniques, one unbiased researcher in the 1800's proved conclusively the planet is only about six thousand years old.

So, with this being one year later, I might want to get to the point of this discussion.

I bought a book recently called Animal Liberation by Peter Singer. This man, an accomplished philosopher, made a case for the ethical treatment of animals that makes me rethink my carnivorous ways. This man makes me rethink animal treatment with a philosophical, but wholly dispassionate analysis of the relationship of humanity to the animal world.

I sit and eat my pastrami Reuben sandwich as I read in detail why supporting the factory farm industry is wrong. This book helps me to see the fractures in my own thinking. It is easier to talk about integrity when I believe it some attainable ideal. I know my soul always suffers fractures. It will always know some disparity between what I want to do, and what I end up doing. There will always be some disparity between what I say I do, and what I end up doing. So, what is this renewal of which I speak? Perhaps with these admissions alone, I will move myself more into alignment with who I want to be.

In these admissions I hope to get closer to meeting the ideals I set for myself in 2008. With my health, with my money, with my dreams of social advancement, and my hopes of spiritual balance, I have to make small changes in my life, many of them. One day at a time, I believe this year will be spectacular!

My friends in recovery warn me against planning outcomes. Still, my most wise and prudent friends assure me planning my actions, and mapping out my wants, my goals, is a must. So, Today, at least here in California, it is still January 1. Today, I still have 364 days to see how close to the mark I can get. I have my body, my spirit, and my mind. By taking little steps (“Baby steps, Dr. Marvin”) I can achieve great things this year.

Thank you for reading.