Mountain Lion

While on the way back from an extended bike ride up to dinosaur ridge, my wife and I were shouted a warning from a man in a minivan parked on the opposite side to Rooney Road. “Mountain Lion!”, he shouted, pointing to a tree we were just about to pass. We stopped and crossed over to the opposite side of the road. I stayed just long enough to snap this near useless picture from my phone camera:

Mountain Lion

(Click for larger image.)

My picture is only good for context, to show how close the tree is to the road and how close we would have rode by this magnificent cat. Fortunately, someone else got a better picture and posted it on the 9News Facebook page:

Mountain Lion II

(Click for larger image.)

(Credit: the Smith family.)

What’s Your Story Worth?

Susannah Breslin has started a blog titled “Letters From Husbands Of Breast Cancer Patients”. I had previously wished Susannah well in an email and a blog post.  In a reply a few days ago, she asked:

“Interested in writing an anonymous letter?”

Looking at the blog, I see:

LEGAL
By submitting to Letters from Husbands of Breast Cancer Patients, you grant The Letters Project a perpetual, royalty-free license to use, reproduce, modify, publish, distribute, and otherwise exercise all copyright and publicity rights with respect to that information at its sole discretion, including incorporating it in other works in any media now known or later developed including without limitation published books. If you do not wish to grant The Letters Project these rights, it is suggested you do not submit information to this website.

It joins a peculiar list of “Letters” blogs:

The Letters Project includes Letters from Johns, Letters from Working Girls, Letters from Men Who Watch Pornography, and Letters from Men Who Go to Strip Clubs.

I wish Susannah complete success in her cancer battle. And I will no doubt continue to enjoy her writing on Forbes. But I have no interest in participating or supporting “Letters From Husbands Of Breast Cancer Patients”. In fact, I hope it fails.

Speaking from experience, there is a definite need for male support people – husbands, fathers, brothers – to tell their stories about helping their wives, mothers, and sisters fight breast cancer. But not anonymously. The stories I found most encouraging came from those attached to recognizable people. They had names. Many of them I met in person.

During the course of my late wife’s 10 year battle with breast cancer, I discovered and developed a robust network of supportive males. We toiled for the most part in the background, finding support, as males typically do, within our own network. Support groups for “individuals supporting cancer patients” were overwhelmingly presented from female perspective as caregiver. Presuppositions and assumptions of males as detached, unresponsive, and clumsy were prevalent – sometimes offensively so. Agenda driven women were particularly perplexed by my ability to go beyond mere hand-holding and were simply dumbfounded to learn I’d accompanied Janet through each of her 55 chemotherapy treatments, countless doctor’s visits, and stayed nights at the hospital for three major surgeries. Hand-holding. Hell, I held her body steady as she retch for seemingly endless hours after chemotherapy and ineffective antiemetics. I held her body steady dozens of times as the doctor punctured her chest wall to drain off a liter of fluid from her lungs at a go. And I held two jobs to help get the best medical treatment – conventional and experimental – possible.

“Letters From Husbands Of Breast Cancer Patients” joins some rather odd company in Susannah’s Letters Project and the context does little to position men in a particularly favorable light. “What’s it like to be the husband of a breast cancer patient? EMAIL your story. All the letters and their authors will remain anonymous.” How audacious and presumptuous that a woman should self-insert as the gatekeeper for stories from husbands! And that those hard earned stories shall be anonymous, handed over to become someone else’s property for future profit.

I encourage husbands, fathers, and brothers of any cancer patient to tell their stories. Do so where you can place your name on it. We’ve earned that recognition the hard way. These are our stories and we own them. No need to sulk into anonymity for having experienced moments of doubt or fear while participating in an ordeal that was only ever going to suck in the end. I’d wager there was a good measure of courage and silent strength expressed along the way. The pain, insights, and growth we experienced are ours and are to be celebrated, not sold for less than a song.

Winds of Change

I’ve written about Lovelock’s less than scientific handling of “climate change” in the past. Looks like he’s had a change of perspective:

James Lovelock, the maverick scientist who became a guru to the environmental movement with his “Gaia” theory of the Earth as a single organism, has admitted to being “alarmist” about climate change and says other environmental commentators, such as Al Gore, were too.

Heartening.

“The problem is we don’t know what the climate is doing. We thought we knew 20 years ago. That led to some alarmist books – mine included – because it looked clear-cut, but it hasn’t happened,” Lovelock said.

“The climate is doing its usual tricks. There’s nothing much really happening yet. We were supposed to be halfway toward a frying world now,” he said.

“Supposed to. ” Don’t you just hate it when nature doesn’t cooperate with the narrative? Unfortunately, we’re left living with 40 years of really bad legislation and regulations – chock-a-block full of good intentions though they may be – and an EPA concerned with protecting their own jobs and entitlements more than anything else.

Instapundit slips. Armageddon nigh.

A “sobering” demonstration of just how important coffee is.

YEAH, I HAD A STORY ABOUT OBAMA, THE SENATE, AND TAXES, BUT I SOMEHOW MISREAD THE STORY SO I TOOK IT DOWN. That’s two stories I misread this morning. In my defense, I was blogging on just one cup of coffee.

Friends don’t let friends blog without coffee.

OWS Alchemy

But you should have heard the crying and pleading from dedicated Madison folk about how important it was to keep open this wholly unregulated, health-code flouting shanty town, which, it was argued, was housing the homeless.

How insidiously consistent that the Occupy With Self rabble would seek to turn their constitutionally protected, but shallow protest movement into a social welfare program.

Extinction: Something to Avoid

I can get on board with this. After all, what kind of example will we be setting for our children if we’re so irresponsible as to let ourselves go extinct? Or worse, as Neil deGrasse Tyson points out, think of the hit to the self esteem of our dead selves if we let the planet get hit by a killer asteroid:

If humans one day become extinct from a catastrophic collision, we would be the laughing stock of aliens in the galaxy, for having a large brain and a space program, yet we met the same fate as that pea-brained, space program-less dinosaurs that came before us.

Stupid humans. But is there no hope to spare us such galactic schadenfreude? Perhaps there is room for solace:

The chances that your tombstone will read “Killed by Asteroid” are about the same as they’d be for “Killed in Airplane Crash.”

Come to think of it, the odds of you actually having a tombstone are infinitely greater if your demise comes while strapped in a lawn chair inside an aluminum tube squirting old dinosaurs out its back-end than they are if some massive space rock – in blatant disregard for all EPA rules and regulations – cleans out all life on the planet. Unless, of course, masons have some sort of special immunity or professional courtesy arrangement with space rocks.

Bye-bye Netflix

I cancelled Netflix today with mixed feelings. I’d been a subscriber since early 2006. The only clear ding I had against them was that the movie selection was quite dated or B-list movies. The Netflix/Qwikster fiasco from last year didn’t help either. The knock-out punch was the one-two combination a Roku box purchased last year and movie streaming for “free” via Amazon.com Prime. Extra dings for all the free channels available via the Roku box.

As part of the cancellation, Netflix offers an exit survey which includes:

Netflix Cancellation Survey

(Click for larger image.)

Surprisingly, the Netflix/Qwikster debacle isn’t one of the listed reasons. Neither were devices like the Roku box. But a preference for watching “bootleged DVDs” is. An honest survey choice would read: “You’re a criminal and don’t know it so select this choice. You’re account information will be automatically sent forward to a school of MPAA sharks.”

First Robin -2012

First Robin - 2012

Unless winter is particularly hard, robins tend to stay around here most of the year. But it’s when they start singing that I know spring is on they way. Heard this guy belting out a fabulous tune this morning as I sat down to the first cup of coffee of the day. Spring may be a long time yet in coming – my bones tell me this. But it’s on the way – the robin’s song and the buds on the maple tree tell me this.

Grateful for another day on the planet.

Law, Meet Maker

This is an awful story:

Last year after a full-body scan at a Seattle airport, Cissna was singled out for a pat-down, her second, she said, within three months. Cissna is a breast-cancer survivor who has had a mastectomy. She refused the pat-down – seeing it as invasive – and left the airport to return to Juneau, a city accessible only by air or water, by means including a rental car, s mall plane, taxi and ferry.

Cissna also happens to be a State Representative from Alaska (D-Anchorage). In response to this experience,

[Cissna] is lead sponsor of at least four bills that take aim at the TSA. One of those, HB270, would require signs warning of physical searches and electronic devices that use radiation outside TSA checkpoints in airports.

One of Cissna’s other bills other would criminalize anyone who conducts a physically invasive pat-down, which she considers unconstitutional; it is scheduled for a second hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. Another bill calls for a study of psychological and physical effects of airport screening. She also wants some of the state’s airports to opt out of TSA requirements.

Devil's EyesI hope she is successful. Looking at the wider canvas, this story accentuates the value in subjecting legislators to the laws they help create. In this case, enduring the myriad of indignities perpetrated by the TSA’s security theater as the rest of us do helps connect lawmakers with the consequences of their decisions.

A striking example of failure in this regard is allowing our representatives to have a separate and distinct (and significantly superior) health care program than the rest of us. Making health care reform laws that look good on paper are never connected to real world consequences for the lawmakers. When another piece of paper reports that the first wave of papers haven’t succeeded, lawmakers generate a new set of laws designed to fix the problems in the first set of laws…at least on paper. And so the monster grows ever bigger with a life its own. It is my belief that if lawmakers, by law, had to live with the monsters they help create, perhaps we would have cost effective programs that actually worked.

(Related Slashdot conversation happening here.)

[Graphic credit: boobaloo]

Undisciplined Youth or Sign of the Times?

Many of the reactions to this survey, New U.S. Smartphone Growth by Age and Income, are suggesting that young people don’t have their priorities straight in that even though they may be earning $15,000 or less a year, they still spend money on a smartphone. I disagree.

Youth and SmartphoneWhat isn’t revealed by this survey is how many of those surveyed do not have a land line. In many cases, the individual’s cell phone is their only phone. They do not have a land line. Back when I was in my 20’s (just after the era of strings pulled tight between soup cans and just before cell phones), my income was comparable to $15,000 per year in today’s dollars. Yet, I still had a phone. It was as indispensable then as it is today.

Neither does the survey distinguish the type of smartphone. Some are more expensive than others. Some are acquired new while others may be acquired refurbished at a significantly reduced price – particularly for older models (AT&T is offering me an upgrade from my 3G iPhone to a refurbished 3GS for 1¢.) Given the multifunction capabilities of a smartphone, the case can be made that such devices replace more than just a phone. They replace the phone book, paper maps, and the Rolodex. Smartphones also incorporate features, such as a personal music device, once contained in physically separate devices.

So, if I were to add together the relative cost of my circa 1980’s telephone service, portable cassette player, and day-timer, the sum would probably compare to the cost of today’s modest smartphone and cell service.

[Graphic credit: erlandh]