United States

2014: The year of no ideas a/k/a red states vs blue states

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2014: The year of no ideas | Opinion | The Seattle Times.

Opposing sides of the field
Opposing sides of the field (Pixabay)

Syndicated columnist, Leonard Pitts Jr. did it again: he wrote about issues that most of us are very concerned about and at least for this one reader/writer, he spoke for me.  The above article addresses the precise way that I feel – and that many others feel – about red versus blue.  Here’s a few quotes from the article that you should take the time to read in its entirety.

First a quote from President Obama, a quote that he premiered ten years ago and reiterated after the recent mid-term elections:

“I continue to believe,” said President Obama, “we are simply more than a collection of red and blue states.  We are the United States.”

Now a few paragraphs from Mr. Pitts’ article addressing that statement:

“People for whom everything is about politics tend to forget that most of us do not see the world that way.  Red or blue, left or right, most Americans simply want a government that works, that gets things done, and a nation that stands for something, that means something in the world beyond just a parcel of land where a bunch of people live.  This is why Obama’s words electrified 10 years ago; they seemed to connect people to ideals larger than their own lives.

“And it is why the same words seem flatter than left-out cola 10 years later, the hope of larger ideals having been sequestered, government shutdowned, PAC’d and gridlocked down into a sobering realization of how truly small American politics can be.

“Cowardice squared off against cynicism Tuesday [2014 election day] and cynicism won.  But there is something wrong when those are the only options on the ballot.

“We are supposed to be united states, the president says.  But there are too many days lately when a sentiment that once grounded and ennobled feels fanciful and unlikely.”

And now my statement:

Whether we’re talking about State/local government or Federal – year after year, too many employees of each have failed to do their job.  These employees don’t work behind desks in the hallowed walls of government; they square off on the football field where at least two opposing sides refuse to give an inch for fear that the opponents’ goals might be reached.

And I might add, goals that could very well benefit the American citizenry, but are turned down simply because the other team proposed them.

Doesn’t that seem shameful to you?

 

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Medical tourism – Alzheimer’s style

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More Alzheimer’s patients finding care far from home | Nation & World | The Seattle Times.  This article looks at the direction in which Alzheimer’s care may be shifting.  There are currently 44 million Alzheimer’s patients globally with 135 million projected by 2050.  Even now, Western spouses and family members are faced with an insufficient supply of qualified nurses and facilities, while other countries provide cheaper – and to some minds, better – care for those suffering from an illness for which very few effective treatments have been developed, and that is always fatal.

An enlargeable relief map of Thailand
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The treatment center that is the major focus of this Associated Press article is located in Thailand – the Baan Kamlangchay center.  Additional elder care options in other countries are mentioned, such as the Philippines, Eastern Europe, Spain, Greece, and Ukraine.  Cost is the driving force of those who are “exporting” (not my word) the elderly to these foreign countries.  One gentleman from Switzerland brought his 65-year old wife to Baan Kamlangchay because the monthly cost for her Alzheimer’s care ($3,800) is a third of what he would pay in his own country and he states that the staffing ratios are far better, and the activities more engaging.  In the Philippines, care is offered to Americans for $1,500 to $3,500 a month, compared to the average of $6,900 for a private room in a skilled nursing facility in the United States, according to the American Elder Care Research Organization.

Cost shouldn’t be the only consideration, however, when moving a loved one into Alzheimer’s or dementia care – and that applies to every country in which that care is available.  What are the training requirements for those who will be providing this disease-specific care for your loved one?  What type of governmental or social service oversight is in place to protect and advocate for the rights of those patients who can not advocate for themselves?  The latter question becomes extremely relevant when the patients’ families are not around to observe care on an ongoing basis.  In the previous paragraph I mentioned the man who brought his 65-year old wife from Switzerland to Thailand for care.  He is now faced with the very difficult decision of perhaps leaving his wife of 41 years in the facility, and returning to Switzerland to carry on the rest of his life.

That’s a decision unbearable in its emotional implications.

What are your thoughts?  Are you willing to become an expatriate should this medical need present itself in your life?

Baby Boomers remember 11/22/1963

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Please answer the following two questions:

  1. What were you doing when President John F. Kennedy was shot? (West Coast Pacific Time for that was 10:28 a.m.)
  2. What did you feel as a result of his assassination – either right then and there and/or the days and weeks following?
English: John F. Kennedy, photograph in the Ov...
John F. Kennedy in the Oval Office. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was in my 5th grade classroom at St. Bede the Venerable elementary school in La Canada, California, when suddenly, the school’s public address system came on in our classroom, broadcasting what appeared to be an urgent radio message.  The Principal of the school gave no preamble to the radio broadcast, it simply became suddenly audible in our classroom.  When I was able to focus, as a fifth grader, on what was being said, I recall hearing “The President of the United States has been shot; John F. Kennedy was shot during a motorcade in Dallas, Texas and is not expected to live.”  (Or words to that effect.)

My teacher, Sister Mary Fahan told us kids to put our heads down on our desk and pray.  It seemed so startling to me – it was a heavy moment for which us fifth graders didn’t have 100% understanding, but the young boys and girls in my classroom felt the heaviness of the moment anyway.  Many of us were crying at the words coming forth over the speakers in our classroom – urgent and shocking words that stuttered from the radio announcer’s mouth.

School was dismissed and when my sister, Mary, and I were picked up by our mom, we climbed into her red and white 1957 Chevy Bel Air Nomad station wagon and joined our tears and fears with those of our mother’s.

Then for the remainder of November and into early December, it seemed as though the only story being covered on our little black and white (somewhat brown and white) television screen were the news updates and somber funereal activities inherent with the death of a President.

I recall that after I recovered from the initial shock of the incident, the impatience of a nine-year old took over due to the bombardment of constant television coverage that echoed around the walls of our house.  I yearned for normalcy, and for me that meant a return to TV episodes of Lassie reruns and new episodes of My Three Sons.  Perhaps what we experienced during that 1963 tragedy is not unlike what the children of the 9/11 era felt when their lives were invaded by the tragedy that marks their young lives.

Unfortunately, there seem to be enough horrific world events going on that each and every generation’s children will have memories about which they will reflect as they enter their older years; just as us Baby Boomers reflect on November 22, 1963 and all the other tragedies that have invaded our lives since then.

My Veterans Day Hero

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My father, on the right, with his brother, Armand.
My father, on the right, with his brother, Armand, beside him.

My father, Don Patrick Desonier, born March 12, 1918 in Toronto, Canada is my Veterans Day hero.  He was still living in Toronto when World War II broke out in the late 1930’s.  A young man of approximately 21 years of age, my dad voluntarily signed up for the Canadian Army and served in the artillery division as a Second Lieutenant or – because the Canadian Army spoke both English and French – Sous-lieutenant.

My father was bi-lingual because his father was French Canadian – a descendant of French settlers in Canada.  The correct spelling of our last name was Desaulniers, but when my parents and us three kids settled in the United States, my parents grew weary of the mispronunciation – and misspelling – of our surname, so in the 1950’s, mom and dad had our surname legally changed to its current spelling.

When my father died on October 13, 2007, many of his effects were distributed to my brother and sister, and me.  I have some amazing black and white photos from WWII as well as a couple German handguns – both of which are locked in a wall-safe in our house.  A couple years before my father died from complications of Alzheimer’s, he and I had a brief, but eye-opening discussion about his war service.

My father fought in France, Germany, and England and saw it all – I know this because I asked him.  Our conversation went something like this:

“Dad, I have to assume that because you were in the artillery and served in several WWII hotspots, you were called upon to kill those who were designated as the enemy – right?”

“Yes, Irene.  No one wants to take someone’s life, but when it’s a question of the enemy taking a bullet or you and your buddies, you choose the former.”

“So dad, you saw your buddies get severely injured and even killed – didn’t you?”

“Yes – that’s the way it is on the battlefield.”

I looked at my father, tears in my eyes, and for the first time in my life, I said, “Thank you for your service, dad.  I appreciate all that you did to defend what was right during World War II.”

His response – and I paraphrase: “It’s just something you do, Irene, because it needs to be done.  No one likes war, but thus far no war has ever ended on its own.  Unfortunately wars don’t just peter out.”

Those of us Baby Boomers who have parents that fought in the earlier wars may not have considered what they endured before they started a family and got on with the rest of their lives.  I hadn’t, but I’m grateful that in my late 40’s, I asked dad about his military service, and I thanked him for it.

My hero and I taking a stroll in 2006.
My hero and I taking a stroll in 2006.