Shoe Money Tonight

Occasional ramblings by an anesthesiologist/mother (and sometimes her husband).

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Unintentional - But Fitting

ES1 is currently re-reading the Harry Potter sextilogy (stop giggling). As such, tonight, as we were both feeling less than up to going out, we are watching the Sorceror's/Philosopher's/Deranged Gym Teacher's Stone. As I looked at the 4 HP DVDs on the shelf, trying to decide which one to pick, I started thinking about the general development of the series.

The first book could be considered much more of a children's tale. As Harry is first introduced to the world of magic, the entire novel is written with a sense of child-like wonder. The movie captures this wonder perfectly. Even the low-quality CGI, making many of the special effects (especially the troll) seem cartoonish, serves to underscore the point. John Williams' score is whimsy at its best.

As the tales progress, Harry and his friends mature. So too does J.K. Rowling's writing. The dangers increase, and the tale becomes darker. The movies themselves mature. The special effects have become first rate. John Williams' score in "Prisoner of Azkaban" was a thing to behold, but pales in comparison to Patrick Doyle's work in "Goblet of Fire."

There are many who dismiss the first books, or the Chris Columbus directed movies as being for children, and not yet mature. That was, however, in many ways, the point. Although plot points from the first chapter of Book 1 become important later, the beginning stories were fundamentally simpler tales. In the later tales, the characters become formidable.

I close with 2 thoughts:

1. Dumbledore said to Snape: "Severus, please." Is Dumbledore really the sort who would plead for his life? If not, what did he mean?

2. If Hermione's so bright, why did she never think to go up to the room of requirement and pace back and forth three times thinking about how she really needed a fleet of Star Destoyers crewed entirely be female Jedi with PMS?

(oh, because they wouldn't fit out the door. Never mind)

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Motivational Posters

You can create your own here!

Updated 8/16/07 to correct image links.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Random LJ thingy

To all my friends who know I have a livejournal. I actually posted something else. Please come and fill it out.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Nationalized Health Care

This is a topic that is often blogged about, but it's one I haven't touched yet. I have a feeling that as the next presidential election draws nearer, especially if Hillary runs, we will be hearing yet again about reforming our health care system to a nationalized system like that in Britain, Canada, or pretty much most of Europe. I can sum up my opinion of this idea in two words: HELL NO. I have quite a number of reasons why I have this opinion. They all are based on what I consider to be serious flaws in the systems, flaws that put patients in unnecessary danger (at least compared to what we provide here). Most of my examples will be from Britain and Canada, but I do have some personal experience to share from a Scandinavian country.

Lets tackle the most important one first - outcomes. This article by Deroy Murdock in National Review Online . Some facts he reports (read the article for more detail):

- in the US 25% of those diagnosed with breast cancer will die; the numbers in Britain and New Zealand that number is 46%

- the US system does better in treating seriously ill patients in hospitals (only 1/7th the death rate in Britain)

Murdock also discusses access in that article. I certainly didn't know prior to reading his article that New Zealand will not give dialysis to kidney failure patients who are over 75 years old. Did you?

According to this reprint of a Spectator article, 40% of British cancer patients never get to see an oncologist and 36% of Brits needing elective surgery wait more than four months. Startling number when you realize that only 5% of Americans wait more than 4 months for elective surgery.

The National Center for Public Policy Research compiled a nice list of facts about the Canadian Healtcare system and wait times for procedures. It's interesting to note that Ontario has the shortest wait time (nearly 14 weeks). Why do I find that interesting? That's the Canadian province that is a mere one hour away from where I live. And do I see Canadians who can afford it come here and pay out of pocket for treament? Of course I do.

Then there's this article in Opinion Journal. It talks about the lawsuit filed by a man in Quebec after he had to wait a year for a hip replacement. He won. The chief justice involved in the case stated "access to a waiting list is not access to health care." The ruling stopped just short of declaring the entire system unconstitutional.

For an insider view of a NHS - see Angry NHS doctor . He works in the British equivalent of an ER. Warning - poor grammar, spelling and British slang abound on his site.
(Edit (9/24) - Apparently Angry NHS Doctor is no longer blogging. What a shame).

Oh yeah, that personal story. My in-laws moved here from Denmark in the 1970s. When my husband was in high school his dad got sick. He was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and had lost a fair amount of weight. So, he was scheduled for an elective hemicolectomy. When the opened him up to do the surgery, they found that his problem wasn't just from the UC. It was from the colon cancer that was hiding there. The surgeons were able to remove it all and 10 years later he's still doing fine. The doctor's told them they were lucky they found it when they did, given its size, if it had gone unnoticed it would have killed him in six months. The wait time in Denmark for the type of elective surgery would have brought him very close to that six month mark. He often remarks that he'd be dead if they were still living there.

That's my two cents on the issue. Comments? Feel free.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Go Bills

Sorry for the lack of posting. We wanted the previous post to remain at the top for a while.

That said on to my favorite subject this time of year. Football. After having watched the Bills play the first two games of the season I have to say I am much more optimistic about this season. I had resigned myself to another season like last years, hoping that this time our new coach would be committed to giving Losman the practical experience he needed.

Imagine my surprise when we nearly beat the Patriots. Sure we didn't score a single point in the second half, but we also didn't get blown out. We had a couple of poorly timed (and questionable) penalties in the second half that cost us some potential scores. Losman looked pretty good in that game.

Then there's last Sunday's game. It wasn't pretty at times, but we won. Our defense was up to par (as has been the case in many years past), but finally we have an offense that seems capable of scoring from within the red zone with some consistency. And who blocks a punt anymore? Could our special teams be any better? Thank God we didn't lose that when we brought the rest of the team up to speed. And where has my optimism taken me? I think we could go 8 and 8. Not a Superbowl run just yet, but pretty close.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Remembering Sean Rooney

Note: this post is here as a part of the 2996 Project, a tribute to all the victims of September 11th. Please visit this link for more stories.

Everyone remembers where they were that fateful morning. I was still living with my parents. ES1, then my fiance, had come over as soon as the news broke, so that we could be together. That afternoon, there was in my parents' house, as in many places, a flurry of telephone calls. Everyone was calling everyone else to make sure they were alright.

Our friend AM, who once dated my best friend Pat, called me up. She asked if I had heard anything from Pat's family, since his uncle works in the WTC. I said I hadn't, and proceeded to call his family. I spoke with his mother, who told me a harrowing story.

My best friend's uncle, Sean Rooney, was indeed in the second tower of the WTC. When the first plane hit the first tower, he and his coworkers were told to stay put.

When the second plane hit, they were trapped.

He called his wife, Beverly Eckert. They spent some time talking. Finally, he told her that it was time to say goodbye.

A few seconds later, she heard an explosion, followed by a whoosh. Suddenly, the line went dead.

She turned to her television to see her worst fears confirmed.

A few days later, a memorial service was held at Pat's parents' house in East Aurora. Many stories were told. I spoke with some of his family members to get a few more. Here are a handful, which may perhaps shed some light on this man's life.

Sean Rooney was not a man to waste time. Sean Rooney was not shy. He loved people, he was very outgoing, and he always had one question on his mind: "What can I do to help?"

In the winter of 2000, Sean & his wife drove in from Connecticut to visit. Pat's parents noticed a large object on top of their car. It seems that the last time they were in town, Sean had decided that their bathroom needed a new vanity. He secretly took measurements. Upon his return to Connecticut he proceeded to build one. He then installed it, along with some new tiling. It was called a Christmas present.

He was one of the last true Jacks-of-all-trades. He was known on sight at his local Home Depot. At his own home, their dining room holds a gorgeous table which he built. Every cabinet in their kitchen was installed by him.

His talents also extended to cooking as well. He did all the cooking. One Thanksgiving he made a Turkey dinner for 17 people. Nobody ever turned down one of his meals.

His interests also included golf. Golf was, however, apparently about the only thing he wasn't good at. Nonetheless, he enjoyed it immensely. One day, on a trip to Nantucket, he and Pat's father hit the course. No more than 4 or 5 holes were played before a thick fog rolled in. Sean decided that the course diagram on the scorecards should be accurate enough for navigational purposes. As long as they stayed on the green, they could simply follow the path in the dew to find their balls. They used this method to play the next 4 holes before finally giving up.

One couldn't say enough about his generosity. A friend of his, who lived near him in Connecticut, took a job in New York City. His new abode did not have room for any of his furniture, leaving him with nothing. Sean took his outdoor furniture, which was padded for comfort, and one day drove in and said "here."

Above all, he never dismissed anyone. Not even the person who bagged his groceries escaped his attention. Everyone was treated as a person who was worthy of personal contact. No person was overlooked.

One day, Pat's parents were on a visit to Sean & Beverly's home in Connecticut. Outside the local supermarket, a street person was pushing a cart full of cans. He hit the curb, overturning the cart, as well as himself. His cans rolled out into the middle of traffic. Without hesitation, Sean stepped out into traffic. With one hand, he held the traffic back. With the other, he helped the others load the cans back into the man's cart.

Most of all, through the memorial service and speaking with his family, I saw the love. I saw the love that he had for his family, friends, and human beings in general. I felt the love that he inspired in all those who knew him. Most of all, I felt myself to be a lesser person for never having known him.

Today, his name lives on. With the help of the Jesuits, Sean's family established a scholarship at Canisius High School, which was Sean's alma mater, as well as Pat's and my own. This scholarship goes to an incoming freshman who either graduated from the Catholic Academy of West Buffalo, or lives on the West Side of Buffalo.

This scholarship was dedicated at a ceremony in his honor. It turned out that Sean's high school friend, Tom Fontana, who had watched the entire event from his home in New Jersey, wanted to help out. He brought along a movie he had just completed, Judas, and it was screened at the event. Also at the event, the first student was given the scholarship. This student had fled with his family from Rwanda in 1995. His parents were from different warring tribes. He was the ideal first recipient.

Sean Rooney's legacy continues to touch the lives of those who knew him, and many who never knew him. He was a great man, whose life was cut short by blind hatred. His memory and legacy, however, will live on long after those who murdered him are forgotten. Standing in contrast to those who hate, is the memory of a man who knew only love. Decades from now, when the names of the violent are confined to grade school textbooks, his legacy will touch the hearts and lives of many deserving young students in the hallowed halls of Canisius. Even then, those who knew him will remember a man of infinite kindness, infinite generosity, and infinite love. Today, let us all take a moment to remember Sean Rooney. He was what we all aspire to be.

A tribute video of him is posted here.

Updated 8/16/07 to correct image links.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

A Bad Day got Better

I had a good day yesterday. ES1 did not.

When she came home, she was in need of comfort food, and was not in the mood for my planned Green Chili Daal (or, more precisely, was not in the mood to wait the 45 minutes it would take to cook it).

The solution: I took her to La Marina. Everyone there knows us, given the fact that ES1's mother used to translate for the owner's father when he first arrived in America. The food is great, the ambience is superb, and they have the most down home & consistently hot waitresses of any restaurant I've ever seen, real or on screen.

Slowly, the food and the wine began to melt away all stress.

Then things got better. It was announced on television that they got the mofo.

Personally, I was hoping that he would find himself cornered and try to hide inside a wood chipper, but no such luck. ES1 pointed out that she greatly admired the restraint of the State Troopers for taking him in unharmed.

The important part is that the families of State Troopers can now rest easier.

There is no civilized nation whose legal system allows for the punishment that befits a degenerate parasite, and probably murderer like this man. The best we could do is put him in the general prison population and start a rumor that he is a child molester.

I'm sorry, that wasn't very Christian of me. It's a good thing I'm not in charge of law enforcement.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Makes the gold bikini seem lame...

When ES1 gets home I am going to suggest that she needs to add one of these to her wardrobe.

Until then, I am going to preemptively move my pillow and a blanket to the couch.

Hat tip: Glenn Reynolds over at Instapundit, via Jonah at the Corner.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Sure you do...

Sure he loves tennis. That's why whenever we watch I have to explain the scoring to him AGAIN.

But I'm glad he doesn't complain when all I want to do on my Sunday off is watch tennis all day long.

I love tennis. There is an art to it. But Sunday saddened me a little. I got to watch Andre Agassi play his final professional tennis match. I'll miss him. He was always fun to watch. But I'm sure someday I'll be watching little Jaden or Jaz on the court. I just hope they have a little bit of their dad's spunk and their mom's skills.

A nice evening...

I'm watching tv.

Two hot, sweaty girls are physically exerting themselves, with the occasional grunt or scream.

ES1 is screaming right along, at the appropriate points.
I love tennis.

God Rest His Soul

One of the State Troopers believed to have been shot by Ralph Phillips has died .

Prayers for him and his family, as well as to the other wounded trooper.

For more on the search for Ralph Phillips see here and here for more.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Philips redux

A few updates about the fugitive scumbag and his shrinking band of supporters.

First, the bad stuff:

Over the last few days there were many people complaining that he "wasn't a criminal; he was only in jail for robbery." Just like I'm not married. I only live with a woman whose jewelry happens to match mine (and who I happen to be madly in love with, plan to spend the rest of my life with, and eventually have kids with, but that's not the point!).

Also, a number of people have said "well, how did the State Troopers expect him to react when they attacked his grandchildren." By "attacked," they mean called CPS on. Why did the troopers call CPS? Well, lets see - their mother brought them to the house where their grandmother was harboring an armed and dangerous fugitive for 3 days!!!!

Now, the good stuff:

The few morons who actually can make any of those previous statements with a straight face are being called out by the rest of the community.

The two State Troopers who were shot are still in critical condition, but there is much hope.

And the best news of all:

Philips support is dwindling.

The restaurant which used to serve the "Bucky Burger" took it off the menu a month ago. It's harder to find the t-shirts (though apparantly many were seen at the fair (fortunately not by us)).

It seems that some of the people who looked at him as a romantic outlaw no longer find the whole situation amusing. They finally are starting to wake up to how dangerous this man really is. Some people love a guy who will "stick it to the man." They are less amused when things start to get really dangerous.

Still, some will complain about the police roadblocks, and being inconvenienced. This is to be expected. There is a sadly large group of paranoid self-important people who see themselves as being "oppressed" by anything that is inconvenient. These people tend to have a pretty stupid definition of oppression. Here's a good rule of thumb: if you can publicly protest against your own government you are not being oppressed!

You wanna see oppression? Go to Cuba. Go to North Korea. Go to Iran. Go to China. Go to Saudi Arabia. Try going to any of these places and enjoying the freedoms you have here. Lenin had a great term: "useful idiots." Useful idiots were people in western liberal democracies who denied the occurrence of his purges and atrocities, or generally helped the communist cause, whether knowingly or unknowingly. Often they helped it simply by undermining those who were working to protect their own freedom or safety.

Kim Jong Il has useful idiots. Castro has lots of useful idiots (including, disgracefully, a former president). Ralph Philips has useful idiots. Their number, fortunately, is dwindling. And those that remain are not going to be useful for him for much longer.

Pray for Donald Baker Jr. (who was supposed to be at his sister's wedding today) , Joseph Longobardo, and their families for a speedy recovery. And pray that this whole sorry affair comes to a close soon.

Snippets from the Final Frontier

1. Inspirational Posters

2. I'm reserving judgment on this one, though I have to say I'm intrigued.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Sorry State of Affairs

On April 2, a standard low-grade lowlife who was a week away from finishing a 90-day jail sentence for a parole violation broke out of jail. He is accused of having shot a NYS Trooper after his escape. Since then he has become a lowlife magnet, attracting dirtbags of many types. Last night, it appears he ambushed and shot 2 more State Troopers. This crap has to stop.

Those of you from the Buffalo area (or who may be watching the news ticker on the bottom of the screen on "Fox & Friends") have heard of this man, known as Ralph "Bucky" Philips. This is the last time you will read me referring to him by that nickname. Firstly, because he is a low-class dirtbag who doesn't deserve to be known by anything other than the name printed on his arrest warrant. Most importantly, however, "Bucky" was the nickname of my wife's late cousin who was a singularly decent human being - the sort whose smile would stick with you for the rest of your life if you had but looked upon it once. Let the name "Bucky" be forever associated with that man, and him alone.

As I said earlier, Philips has become a magnet for lowlives in some of the areas around Western New York. For some reason, he has become a local hero to many. You can buy T-Shirts in the area which read "Run, Bucky, Run." A restaurant serves "Bucky Burgers," which can only be ordered to go. ( A cartoon in our local birdcage liner, The Buffalo News, joked about it being served along side an "Osama bin Lager"). Many locals call the police manhunt "excessive."

Then, there have been some incidents. A few months ago, a 25 year old with a suspended drivers license was riding an ATV while drunk. A state trooper stopped him. There is some question and theorizing as to the exact chain of events that happened next. A man matching Philips' description had been seen on an ATV, and an ATV had been reported stolen. There is some question as to whether or not the trooper might have thought this 25 year old was Philips. What is not in question, however, is that this drunken dirtbag took off, and actually was dragging the state trooper with his ATV for a mile. Since he refused to stop, the trooper was forced to shoot him. The idiot died of his injuries.

Now the family of this idiot is suing the police. I guess that at 12:40 am when they're looking for a dangerous fugitive on an ATV that they should just let a drunken idiot on an ATV by without a glance. Or maybe the trooper should have just let himself be dragged until the moron ran out of gas.

Then we have several incidents in which people have harbored him for days on end. Finally, last night, 2 state troopers were ambushed and shot. They are both in the hospital.

What is most disturbing of all is the undercurrent. There are many people who so distrust the police that they romanticize a dangerous fugitive. It's bad enough for police when the local citizenry is unhelpful. I can't imagine how frustrating it must be when the local citizenry is actively aiding the dirtbag. There have been several occasions in which I have felt that we should simply wall off entire area and tell the morons inside "Fine, you don't like the cops. Lets see how long you last without them."

Seriously, there are very few things as aggravating as people who cannot comprehend the fact that other people are risking their lives to keep them safe. The only upside to this whole sorry affair is that at least now a large subgroup of dirtbags has revealed their true colors for all to see. I pray that Philips will be taken in before any more people are hurt. I will not, in this prayer however, make any requests as to his condition when he is finally captured.