Tuesday, August 23, 2005

we are four

"we are four."

we are an unbreakable whole, united for life. we are a family.

i wish i could take credit for this profound truth, but it belongs to a friend who is setting a very good example.

our family is four, as well. and as the patriarch, one rung below the matriarch, i feel a certain responsibility to build and maintain the fabric of the family. but until recently this concept had never felt so immediate. so urgent.

i always understood the importance of this duty, but i didn't know how to put it into practice. how to make it real and meaningful. my own upbringing was lacking in this regard; to this day my parents and i are distant. i don't speak to my only brother.

this circumstance is sad and completely avoidable. it's history i don't intend to repeat.

my children and i recently watched a particularly apt installment of lelo & stitch. while the medium was transitory, the message was not:
Ohana means family, family means nobody gets left behind. Or forgotten.
my son picked up on this phrase, and has it memorized. i'm encouraging him to remember it.

"preston, what does family mean?" i ask him.
"family means nobody gets left behind. or forgotten."

we are an unbreakable whole, united for life. we are a family.

the thoughts are profound. instilling them in my family is imperative.

Thursday, August 18, 2005


joan died thursday, august 18, in the evening.

she spared herself months of debilitating pain by, it seems, self-medicating. the symptoms of an overdose were at first mistaken for a stroke, but eventually the family and staff put two and two together.

when it came to serious matters, joan was no-nonsense. she became a single-minded stoic, and it behooved no one to get in the way. same with the cancer. she was not about to take it lying down.

her husband and children flew in from all parts of the country to be with her at the end. the family didn't always get along, and this gathering was no different. emotions ran high, and disagreements flared. joan, in her silence, ended every discussion. she would have things her way, and that was that.

joan will be cremated, and the family will gather again to spread her ashes in the arizona desert. probably near camelback mountain, one of her favorite hiking spots. maybe it'll be in the fall, her favorite season, sometime in the evening.

it would be nice to think that she's still there, somewhere, breathing easy, enjoying the warmth of the sun, limbering up her metaphysical being for a long, peaceful hike through eternity.

she would like that...

Saturday, August 13, 2005

mother and country

it didn't take long for the neoclowns to start trashing cindy sheehan.

following her son's death in iraq, sheehan took her grief and protest of the war right to george bush's doorstep. she set up a camp near crawford texas, alongside the road bush drives to and from his much-used vacation ranch.

there she has created a rising storm of anti-war activity, in a manner impossible for bush to ignore.

sheehan has said that the president is isolated from opposing points of view. people are restricted to free speech zones a mile away, and he never hears anything but people who agree with him.

she's right. but with this persistent, now very visible protest, sheehan has changed that dynamic.

and it has the neoclowns frothing at the mouth.

"Despite what the headlines say, Sheehan, 48, is more antiwar protester than grieving mother," said a column Friday in the online version of the American Spectator. "She is co-founder of Gold Star Families for Peace, an organization that seeks to impeach George W. Bush and apparently to convince the U.S. government to surrender to Muslim terrorists."
got that? sheehan is with the terrorists. sounds familiar, doesn't it?
The photo Cindy Sheehan did not want the world to see: President Bush plants a consoling kiss on the cheek of grieving antiwar protester Cindy Sheehan last year at Fort Lewis, Washington.
i'm not sure of the point of that one. i mean, would you want george bush putting his mouth on you?

the takeaway here, the message bush and the neoclowns would deliver is this: it's not enough that sheehan's son was sacrificed needlessly by a corrupt administration--she also needs to like it.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


joan is dying.

this week she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, from which virtually no one recovers.

joan is my wife's mother, and she's too healthy, vital and vibrant to suffer the death that's in store. the online cancer resource sites spend very little time talking about survivability or recovery. they jump immediately to "palliative care", which essentially is about comforting the dying.

joan is in her 70s. for some people that's old; for her it's not even an inconvenience. she backpacks yosemite, she camps, she skies, she travels. she sets the kind of example anyone would be fortunate to follow.

for her to die this way, in fact to think of her dying at all, is outrageous.

my wife is beside herself. i can't talk about it easily. i can barely write about it. the children know granny joan is sick, but of course they don't know anything. they couldn't process it if they did.

we can't seem to process it either.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

intelligence, bush-style

my wife and i work in clinical research. drug testing, if you will. our companies help invent and market pharmaceuticals and medical devices that (in theory) help prolong life and improve its quality.

in this business it is expected and required that manufacturers prove, scientifically, that such products perform as intended. that they help sick people feel better, if not actually get better. if companies can't prove efficacy, scientifically, their products tend not to leave the laboratory.

george bush is philosophically opposed to this dynamic. by the logic of the president of the united states, it would be perfectly reasonable to market drugs and medical devices that haven't passed muster, science-wise.

similarly, bush isn't all that interested in the "science" of biology. he says "intelligent design" is responsible for all things, and should be taught in science class alongside that fraud "evolution."

The nature of the "evidence" for the theory of evolution is so overwhelming, and so powerful, that it informs all of modern biology. To pretend that the existence of evolution is somehow still an open question, or that it is one of several equally valid theories, is to misunderstand the intellectual and scientific history of the past century.

To give Mr. Bush the benefit of the doubt, he may have been catering to his Texas constituents, a group of whom, in the city of Odessa, were recently found to have turned an allegedly secular public high school Bible studies course into a hodgepodge of myth and religious teaching.

ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, i hold here in my hand a miracle. that's right, i said a miracle. it's a secret formula brought to america by the healers of [insert third world country here], and it will cure your most dreaded afflictions. the fda? they are elitist eggheads who don't understand the problems of real life like you and i do. they say, "you can't sell that here, we haven't tested it!" well i'm here to tell you, ladies and gentlemen, you can't test what you don't understand, and that's the healing power of GOD!

just $50.00, ma'am, and your husband won't bother you ever again. thank you very much. who's next?