Thursday, April 28, 2011

hey kid, stop that annoying breathing...

"I mean, people have access to health care in America. After all, you just go to an emergency room."
--george w. bush

our gentle descent into the jungle continues.

today we're telling low-income parents that they should reconsider taking their sick child to the emergency department--because it's just too darn expensive.

and really, that kid's wheezing asthmatic fit will probably pass. eventually. maybe.

"Washington state's plan to cut Medicaid would limit emergency room visits for potentially serious conditions such as breathing trouble and more. Two-thirds of the 1.1 million state residents covered by Medicaid are children.

"...critics say conditions such as hypoglycemic coma or asthma attacks weren't considered to be emergencies. They worry that parents and patients might self-diagnose and make risky, life-threatening choices to stay under the limit — particularly since budget cuts are reducing other options."
is it not remarkable the things we'll allow so the gentry can avoid paying a few more tax dollars? washington state residents recently defeated a tax on candy, soda, and bottled water, so poor kids could lay around gasping for air while their parents agonize over a trip to the emergency department.

let's savor that a moment, shall we? we in washington state are so enamored of our heart-clogging candy, high fructose corn soda, and ocean-choking plastic water, that rather than pay a few cents more for them, we'll deprive sick children of emergency healthcare.

when did the plan to eliminate poverty become the eradication of the poor? and damn those people for hogging all the emergency care...
"...emergency rooms have only been required to treat all patients regardless of ability to pay since the 1986 passage of the EMTALA Act. And of course Republicans routinely complain about EMTALA to this day, calling it a 'hidden tax' on the insured and railing against the fact that it doesn't allow hospitals to dump illegal immigrants with heart attacks in the gutter."
so, this is what we've come to? this is how we're defining "civilized" behavior in the greatest country on earth (and make no mistake, most states and the federal government are similarly cutting funds for the most vulnerable in favor of those who need no help at all).

we're devolving into a talking-monkeyocracy. before long we'll all be jumping up and down, shrieking, and waving sticks in the air, while dolphins and border collies look at us and roll their eyes.

even "dumb" animals take care of their offspring. you'd think the least we could do is offer ours emergency care to offset all the candy and soda.

it's the civilized thing to do.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

the first cut is the deepest

congratulations on the purchase of your electric lawn mower!

with reasonable care and maintenance, your new mower will provide years of service (where electric power is available).

your new mower is environmentally friendly in that it produces zero emissions! (note: nuclear generator, coal-fired plant, or similar power source required.)

your new mower is effortless to start and maintain (note: some plastic pieces may detach and be caught in rotating blades. use caution when being hit by flying pieces, as unsafe bleeding may occur. disconnect power immediately and call 911 if needed.).

some assembly required; do not attempt to use mower prior to assembly.

children should not attempt to use mower. adults should use mower only with parental supervision.

when using this mower, always wear adequate ear protection, eye protection, hand protection, foot protection, and electrical protection. failure to wear adequate protection may result in injury or death.

important notes about your new electric mower:

1. this is not a self-propelled mower; user must push mower and activate blade to cut grass.

2. this is not a gas-powered mower; it may not cut through long grass. if your grass is long, a gas-powered mower may be required (where gasoline is available).

3. this is not a gas-powered mower, but it is still plenty loud. especially when attempting to cut long grass.

4. why did you let your grass get so long?

5. this mower may be used in "mulch" mode. even when not in "mulch" mode, it will leave behind residue similar to a grass smoothie (especially if your grass is long).

6. your dogs may eat and regurgitate grass smoothie-residue.

7. grass smoothie residue will cling vigorously to mower wheels, shoes, and dog paws. it is easily removed upon contact with indoor surfaces such as floors, rugs, and couches.

8. grass smoothie residue may obstruct rear bag assembly; use caution when allowing mower blades to amputate fingers, as unsafe bleeding may occur. disconnect power immediately and call 911 if needed.

9. electricity and water don't mix! do not run over exposed sprinkler heads as this may cause unsafe contact between water and electric current.

10. if water and electric current come into contact, unsafe ventricular fibrillation may occur; disconnect power immediately and call 911 if needed.

11. do not run over electric cord (user-supplied); power to mower may be interrupted. do not allow "live" end of severed power cord to touch wet grass or grass smoothie residue. do not stand on wet grass or grass smoothie residue when in contact with "live" end of severed power cord as unsafe ventricular fibrillation may occur; disconnect power immediately and call 911 if needed.

12. mower blades may become dull after cutting grass. use caution when sharpening blades as metal shavings may work their way into skin and enter bloodstream. if metal shavings enter heart or other organ via bloodstream, do not attempt to remove without supervision of a trained healthcare professional.

13. do not attempt to adjust wheel height while mowing.

14. do not attempt to clean mower blades and undercarriage while mower is plugged into a power source.

15. failure to observe these recommendations may void warranty.

Monday, April 11, 2011

stress position

there's a great scene from "broadcast news" in which a hapless editor/engineer makes a mistake on an imminent deadline.

this is important only in that if he doesn't fix it, instantaneously, there's a big hole, live, in the middle of jack nicholson's evening show.

if he screws this up, he'll be fired and probably never work in news again. meanwhile, the show's type-A producer (holly hunter), is encouraging speed and accuracy while he works by loudly chanting in his ear "bobbybobbybobbybobbybobbybobbybobby..."

* * * * *

last weekend, driving to the girl's gymnastic meet, i got us lost.

by the time i discerned that the google maps directions were wrong, we were late for scheduled warm-ups. and march-in. and probably the first event of the sectionals meet.

this was important only in that if the girl didn't compete (and score well) in all four events, there would be no moving on to the state competition.

if i screwed this up, i'd be dismissed from daddy duties and probably be disinvited to some future event (such as, but not limited to, college graduation, an eventual wedding, and babysitting for grandchildren).

meanwhile from the back seat the girl was encouraging speed and additional speed by chanting in my ear, "daddydaddydaddydaddydaddydaddydaddy..."

* * * * *

at this point mrs. spaceneedl demonstrated (yet again) why she's the smart one in the family.

very calmly she got on her iphone, tapped in an address, and conjured up directions delivering us from "lost" to "found."

we still arrived late, but fortunately the girl was competing in the third session of the day...and the first two sessions ran long.

so while my heart missed several beats, she hadn't missed a thing.

* * * * *

epilogue: the cumulative score necessary to advance to state was 32. the girl tallied a 33.8. my most-favorite daddy status was restored and is temporarily secure.

* * * * *

sidebar: there is a slight but finite possibility that there was nothing wrong with the google maps directions.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

what fresh hell is this?

johnny, rosin up your bow and play your fiddle hard
'cause hell's broke loose in georgia and the devil deals the cards
and if you win, you get this shiny fiddle made of gold
and if you lose, the devil gets your soul

~charlie daniels

there's a new devil in town.

and his name is whatever the hell you want it to be.

that's not my opinion, mind you. that's according to pastor rob bell, author of "love wins," a re-examining of the nature of heaven and hell and bedevilry.

"The actual word 'hell,'" Bell writes, "is used roughly twelve times in the New Testament, almost exclusively by Jesus. The Greek word that gets translated as 'hell' in English is the word 'Gehenna.' Ge means 'valley,' and henna means 'Hinnom.' Gehenna, the Valley of Hinnom, was an actual valley on the south and west side of the city of Jerusalem. Gehenna, in Jesus's day, was the city dump.

"People tossed their garbage and waste into this valley. There was a fire there, buring constantly to consume the trash. Wild animals fought over scraps of food along the edges of the heap. When they fought, their teeth would make a gnashing sound. Gehenna was the place with the gnashing of teeth, where the fire never went out...

"And that's it."

that's it? that's hell? i mean, it would be if you lived nearby, but still... where's the branding? where's the iconography? where's the spokesperson for eternal torture?

as you might expect, rev. rob's take on cherished christian dogma is raising quite a ruckus. critics are outraged that his hell is bereft of molten effluvia and bullwhips and harsh language. they like their devil red and pointy-tailed and pitch-forky. nattily outfitted with cloven hooves, a serpent's tongue, and an exquisite black goatee.

that's a devil everyone can agree on, in the same way everyone knows jesus had long red hair, milky-white skin, and a really nice toga. just like the rest of the middle-eastern jews of his time.

despite all the upset, brother rob's hades is plenty scary. he describes a hell complete with dismemberment, murder, and starvation that would make any devil chortle with delight. but those examples are earthly, and therefore seem unlikely to instill sufficient fear to deter socially inconvenient behavior. and isn't that the point 2,000 years of hellish PR?

besides which, everyone has their own phobias to keep them hunkered down. fears that are their own work of art, panoramic plays of light and dark and nuance and cliche. yours are especially disturbing, aren't they? care to share?

okay, i'll go first. my worst fear is that i'll be forced to live on a tropical island populated with happy, smiling folks who visit for a week or two then go away, replaced by a fresh batch of people who arrive, spend a lot of money, then go back whence they came. and so on for the aforementioned forever.

but that's me. that's my fear. please, mr. devil, don't throw me into the palm tree patch.

your fears, undoubtedly, are more rational. it seems entirely reasonable, for example, that you'd be afraid of snakes. big ones, with heads the size of your fist, that bite your arm and twist and squirm and won't let go, ever. little venomous ones that slither and hide, with teeth so needle-fine you don't even realize the poison is rushing to your heart. snakes in the grass. snakes on a plane. snakes on a boat, snakes on a goat. hissssssss.....

no? not your cup o' hot steaming hell? that's fine, not to worry. there are plenty more where that came from. like...

wanting a job, but being chronically unable to get one. having a job, but living in fear of losing it.

a child, once adorable and adoring, who now doesn't like you. at all.

a disease that makes you forget what you're doing, who you are, and why that stranger is wearing a ring with your name engraved on it.

a lump that wasn't there the last time you checked.

radiation from safe, sunshine-and-rainbow reactors.

oil spewing endlessly into coastal waters, covering living creatures with a dark blankets of crude.

scary, right? and these fears are entirely available, here and now, no dying required. not immediately, anyway.

point of metaphysical clarification: if the purpose of "hell" is to keep the faithful compliant, an actual devil isn't really necessary, is it? i mean, couldn't some clever dogmatists just invent a scary "beast of the underworld," and sell the hell out of him? is the question itself heretical? yes! yes! and yes!

Bell said he wrote the book because the Christian message that God is love seems to have gotten lost.

"I kept meeting religious people who were incredibly dogmatic about heaven and hell when you die, but didn't seem to care about the fact that 800,000,000 people will go to bed hungry tonight," he told the crowd.

He said that what he called "evacuation theology," or the idea that "Jesus is your ticket to somewhere else," is dangerous because it can cause people to miss Christ's message about how to live in such harmony with God that you are creating a heaven on Earth.

"Jesus taught his disciples to pray, not 'God, beam me up,' but 'Thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven,'" Bell said.
well, no wonder rob's book has got so many people so in a tizzy. that kind of jesus talk doesn't mesh well with kicking the poor and the sick when they're down. it's inconsistent with educating children and feeding the hungry. it totally doesn't synch up with the unblinking corporatocracy some are working so hard to build.

in a world with so many demons afoot in the land of the living, satan is redundant. but as brother bell probably wouldn't say, in many ways the prince of darkness might actually be preferable.

the devil bowed his head because he knew that he'd been beat
and he laid that golden fiddle on the ground at johnny's feet
johnny said "devil, just come on back if you ever wanna try again
i done told you once, you son of a bitch, i'm the best that's ever been