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Category Archives: Family

Growing old gracefully and western civilization, or, do you have parents?

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Both my parents were dead by the time I was 29 years old.  My father had Alzheimer’s, and by the time I graduated from college to come out and help my mother take care of him, it was essentially to put him in a rest home.  He died there one week later.
My mother, due to the stress of taking care of him, contracted lymphoma and died four years later.  Her sister was in a rest home with MS, and we had been visiting her there for years.  With my parents gone it was left up to me.  She had a daughter who lived back east, but she had stopped visiting 5 years earlier.  It was just too painful.  I must admit that the visits came to be less and less frequent.  She was in a new full blown rest home, and she was actually one of the lucky ones.  The place reeked of urine and feces, people were literally moaning and screaming and wandering the halls, mostly in their wheelchairs.  It was a difficult place to visit, and I used to have a few pops before I went up every time.  I think when she passed it had been nine months since I had seen her the last time.
This is how we take care of our old and disabled.
My grandfather was in the VA, and when grandma was alive we visited him almost every afternoon.  We did see hundreds of people in the halls, but most never had any visitors.  We use to walk around award from bed to bed and make sure everybody in there had a little bit of attention and some human contact.  I think I was six years old then, and I still remember how bad it was.
This was all over 30 years ago.  I can’t imagine what it is going to be like when we baby boomers all start dropping like flies.  The lucky ones of us will just die, the unlucky ones will have to live through it.
We go our entire lives assuming that we deserved Health Care, and then somehow it will be provided for us.  Regardless of Obama Care and all of the best intentions, without a major revolution there simply is not going to be any way to pay for our Health Care.
It will literally take a village.  Without it we will be lucky to be given enough morphine to ease the pain as we are left in a corner in her wheelchair to quietly wait for death.
Aside from local governments, I have only encountered one group that is trying to do something about it:  The National Compassion Holiday Petition group http://nationalcompassionholiday.com/ led by Michael  Villalpando is that group.
If you have parents, know of anyone disabled, or plan to ever come incapacitated yourself, you might want to pay it forward and at least sign this guy’s petition. It’s free,  unless you feel called to contribute, and only takes a second.  Your old age Karma might just depend on it.
 

 

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Boston Marathon bombing suspect arrested

A street is closed near the scene of twin bombings at the Boston Marathon on April 17, 2013 in Boston.(AFP Photo / Spencer Platt)

A street is closed near the scene of twin bombings at the Boston Marathon on April 17, 2013 in Boston.(AFP Photo / Spencer Platt)

Law enforcement officials in Boston tell reporters that they have arrested a suspect thought responsible for Monday’s deadly bombing.

CNN confirmed the news at 1:45 p.m. local time when journalist John King said both a federal source and a Boston law enforcement source confirmed the news. Reporter Fran Townsend then added over the phone that “there is an arrest that has been made in the Boston bombing case based off of two independent videos.”

The suspect is now expected to arrive at a federal courthouse in Boston.

Earlier in the day, CNN reported shortly after 1 p.m. that a suspect has apparently been identified. The suspect’s name has not been made public as of this time, but he is reportedly a dark-skinned male, according to police.

According to CNN’s sources, surveillance video from a Lord and Taylor department store and a local television station are believed to have helped authorities identify the person sought responsible for Monday’s incident, which US President Barack Obama said on Tuesday is being investigated as an act of terror.

 

New Lord and Tayloк shop in Boston.(Image from Google.com)

New Lord and Tayloк shop in Boston.(Image from Google.com)

 

CNN’s King reports from Boston that the video footage helped police narrow in on a person being considered a suspect in the attack “to such detail, I’m told, that they believe they have a clear identification, including a facial image of a suspect.”

The footage, sources say, show the suspect carrying and perhaps placing down a black bag that is thought to have contained a bomb that was detonated at the second of two crime scenes near the finish line of the annual Boston Marathon just before 3 p.m. on Monday.

The mayor of Boston, Massachusetts has confirmed that a suspect was ID’d, and officials are expected to speak to the press at 5 p.m. Wednesday afternoon. According to sources speaking to the Boston Globe, authorities may publicize their findings at that briefing.

 

 

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Life after ‘Till Death Do Us Part’

OldCoupleWalking1 5 Real-Life Tips for Widowhood
from Former Romance Novelist

Perhaps the only bad thing about a lifelong romance is, eventually, someone has to die.

Short of an unnatural occurrence – a violent crime, a suicide pact, a plane crash – a wife or a husband will be forced to go on alone. After decades of shared life, love and happiness with her husband, Ralph, Thelma Zirkelbach says surviving “till death do us part” can be like wandering lost in a foreign wilderness.

“Ralph has been gone for 7½ years now; when I first lost him I had no idea that I’d have to get used to an entirely new lifestyle,” says Zirkelbach, author of “Stumbling Through the Dark,” (www.widowsphere.blogspot.com), a memoir about an interfaith couple facing one of life’s greatest spiritual challenges.

“When you’re grieving – whether your loved one is suffering from a terminal condition, or he or she has recently passed – practical things like funeral arrangements, short- to long-term financial issues or even what’s for dinner can seem very conceptual, abstract and far removed from what you’re feeling.”

But the biggest challenge is having no one with whom to share your life, she says.

“Family milestones, major news stories and technological changes are just a few things Ralph has not experienced with me,” says Zirkelbach, a grandmother, speech pathologist and Harlequin Romance author.

She offers five areas in which couples can prepare for both the process of dying, and life after death:

• At the hospital: We tend to take our health for granted until we don’t feel well. Sometimes, it’s something we can’t shake; for Ralph, flu-like symptoms would prove to be leukemia. At one point during her life at the hospital with Ralph, Zirkelbach kissed her husband before he was sent off to isolation as part of his treatment; it would be the last kiss for an entire month. When a spouse gets sick and requires extended hospital treatment, be ready for a shortage of parking, general uncertainty and an irregular schedule. Zirkelbach’s sanctuary during Ralph’s time at the hospital was the hospital’s café, where she “gorged on smoothies and cookies – sweets are my comfort food,” she says.

• Finances: This can be one of the most difficult areas because, too often, couples don’t prepare for the eventuality of a death well in advance. While older couples are more likely to be financially prepared for a death, younger couples are often caught blindsided by the loss of a spouse. Consider getting professional assistance from a financial expert.

• Spirituality: What is often put aside as secondary in daily life can quickly become the primary thought for someone who is grieving. Zirkelbach and her husband were an interfaith couple – he came from an evangelical Christian background and she is Jewish. Ralph was admitted to the hospital as Jewish; he had planned to convert, but as his condition worsened and his family became more involved, he stuck with Christianity. This was emotionally confusing to Zirkelbach during an already stressful period. Understanding each other’s views on matters of life and afterlife before a loss is helpful.

• Bad things can still happen: When Ralph got sick, Zirkelbach’s mother was also beginning a rapid decline, and ultimately died before Ralph. “Just because a terrible thing is happening to you doesn’t cancel out the possibility of another one happening,” she says. “There’s no credit limit for misfortune, which is all the more reason to show love, regularly, to the people you care about the most.”

• The journey of letting go: Zirkelbach quotes Mary Oliver’s poem “In Blackwater Woods”: To live in this world / You must be able … To love what is mortal … knowing / Your own life depends on it; / And when the time comes to let it go, / To let it go. “I had no idea I could survive all by myself; it seemed like I needed help with everything,” she says. “But I’ve learned a very important lesson — I’m much more resourceful, much stronger and much more independent than I ever thought I was.”

About Thelma Zirkelbach

Thelma Zirkelbach received a bachelor’s degree in speech pathology from the University of Texas, a master’s in speech pathology and audiology from the University of Houston and an education doctorate in curriculum and instruction with emphasis on reading disorders from the University of Houston. She has been in private practice in speech pathology, specializing in young children with speech, language and learning disabilities, for many years. She began her writing career as a romance novelist, publishing with Harlequin, Silhouette and Kensington. Her husband’s death from leukemia in 2005 propelled her to creative non-fiction.

 

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“Rights”Rights” a short rant for my friend Barry Monahan.

Plaatje-Christopher-Human-RightsYeah, talk to me about rights. What rights do we really have?
You have the right to remain silent, unless doing so pisses me off and I slap you upside of the head with my pistol.
You have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? I’ll go with the last one, but as far as the first two I think that is kind of up to God.
Did the victims of baby Doc, or Hitler have the same rights? I’m not necessarily saying it’s not correct for protecting our own shores, but what rights do they have at Gitmo?
You have the right to work your ass off, be the best you can be, and hope to heck somebody doesn’t shoot you in the face. That is all.
Rights are like entitlements. They do not exist in the real world.
Have we gotten so fat and freeking Arrogant that we think the world owes us a living, and somehow is obligated to take care of us?
Let’s face it, baby boomers. We have no right to anything but to work our asses off.
There are so many of us, there is nobody left to bail us out. The days of peace love and dope in the Haight-Ashbury are over.
Face it, you are not going to be guaranteed healthcare, a sweet old peoples home with chirping birds and basket weavers, or a nurse name Consuela to come and wipe your ass when you poop your pants. Some of us are going to starve, some of us are going to croak on the streets from heart attacks, and some of us are going to stroke out.
What you have the right to do, is your best. Work your freaking ass off as hard as you can for as long as you can, treat the people you love with love, and be thankful for every breath you have the “right” to take.
And you do have the right to thank your God, however you envision that, for every good minute you’ve had.

 

The Last Time (grab a box of Kleenex)

 

 

by Devon Corneal

Tonight, Little Dude asked for a snuggle before bed. It was well past his bedtime and I was tired, cranky and had a stack of laundry to fold, a memo to write and a blog post to finish. I told him I’d snuggle for two minutes.

He crawled under his blanket, squirmed until he was comfortable and pushed me to the edge of the mattress. He offered me his favorite blankie to keep me warm. I put my arm around him and he was sound asleep before I had finished cataloguing the list of things I had to do before I could crawl into my own bed. I considered making a stealthy escape but stopped when he threw his arm around my neck while mumbling unintelligibly. A sleeping 4-year old’s arm has as much strength as a soggy piece of toast, but I didn’t move. Despite my earlier desire to leave, I stayed and pulled him toward me.

I had one of those rare blissful parenting moments when everything else fades away and you appreciate the simple physical presence of your child. I marveled at the amount of heat a small boy produces when he sleeps and the ease with which he leaves the world behind. I smelled his hair. The laundry could wait.

It hit me in the darkness of his cluttered room that these days are numbered. Some night in the future, Little Dude will ask me to snuggle with him before he falls asleep, and I will have no idea that it will be the last time. I won’t know to pay attention or to try to commit every minute to memory. Days or weeks or months later, I will try to recall when that last snuggle happened. I won’t be able to. I know I will ache to slide next to him on his narrow bed, listen to him breathe and wait for the moment when he surrenders to his dreams. All of the irritations, the inconveniences and the wishing for time alone will seem insignificant in comparison to the warmth and peace of his nighttime routine. I will regret the times I hurried through bedtime and left his room even though he asked me to stay “Just one more minute, Mommy.”

It will be too late.

I just now understand that in anticipating my son’s “firsts,” I’ve forgotten to appreciate what he’s left behind. The firsts are monumental, celebrated and captured on film. I reveled in Little Dude’s first steps, jotted down his first words and am prepared to save lost teeth. There isn’t a first I haven’t recorded in some way. I’ve paid less attention to his “lasts.” I’ve ignored the finality that comes with moving from one stage to another.

I don’t remember the last day that Little Dude’s eyes were blue before they turned green. I can’t recall the last time his hair was baby soft and curly, or the last time he crawled or took a real nap. I can’t pinpoint the last time we shared the peaceful quiet of a 3 a.m. feeding, or he squealed with joy to be riding his wooden rocking horse. There will be a hundred last times to come. And I won’t know they’ve passed until there is no hope of recapturing them. I know this because I don’t remember the last day he used a pacifier or waited for us to get him from his bed rather than clomping into our bedroom at some ungodly pre-dawn hour exuberant and ready to face the day as we struggle to open our eyes. I’ve forgotten when he stopped liking sweet potatoes or saying “Pick mine up!”

Not that there aren’t stages I’m happy are gone. I don’t miss teething, two-hour feedings, biting or needing to be carried everywhere. I’m neither Pollyanna nor a masochist. Babies are darling; I’m also glad I don’t have one anymore. Raising children isn’t all warm snuggles and charming memories. Parenting can be a long, hard slog.

But for today I’m focusing on the last times still to come, even though I won’t know that they’re the last chapters until long after they’ve gone. The last snuggle. The last time Little Dude asks me to bring him chocolate milk. The last time we play fire trucks. The last time he falls down and comes crying to me with his entire body shaking, tears streaming down his face, believing with childish certainty that a kiss from me will make his skinned knee better. The last time he asks to marry me. The last time he believes in my omniscience. The last time we color together at the kitchen table. I’m not naïve enough to believe that this moment of reflection will stop me from becoming irritated, impatient, frustrated, bored or upset tomorrow when my son whines, spills spaghetti sauce on the rug or throws a fit because I won’t let him stay up late. Maybe, though, I’ll temper my response if I can remember how fleeting this all is. That for every moment I’ve prayed would end, there is something I miss.

 

 

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Corporate Convergence: 5 Tips for Big Data Visualisation

 

Easy access to big data sets has handed companies a very effective marketing tool. Able to create industry relevant infographics and heat maps, statistical visualizations are an important means of transforming raw data into palatable visuals for the average consumer. It may sound simple, but there are a number of complex factors involved that need to be considered and implemented to achieve the end result of a well-rounded infographic.

Here are 5 Big Data Professional Presentation Tips:

  1. Think like the user. Don’t overestimate the intelligence of your audience. Carefully consider what they do and don’t know, and make a note of this before embarking on the planning phase of your infographic or heat map. Remember that the final design should always result in a comprehensible sensory process for the reader; exciting them with an array of “visual cues” leading on from each other. In other words, confusion is the equivalent of failure.
  2. Compression is key. As its name implies, big data is BIG. Analysis is essential to identifying the important inferences from the none-essentials. It requires the person doing the scrutiny to separate the main points from the supplementary details. To do this successfully, you’ll need to prioritise the focal outcomes, using the remainder space to supply supporting information.
  3. Suggest specific action. Big data usually encompasses a specific call to action. Make sure this is the standout conclusion in the testing phase of your infographic. This can be easily accomplished through highlighting trouble areas within the data sets using colour coding and similar distinguishing methods.
  4. Make it interactive. Allowing users to input an entry that will, upon pressing enter, generate a result, is gaining popularity. Dubbed the “interactive infographic,” these types of designs can be used as the foundations of powerful digital strategies and campaigns – keeping in mind that they need to be relevant to the primary cause/point of action.
  5. Use layers of data. Google Maps is an excellent instance of big data layering. The interface, which exposes layers of data upon zooming in, is the perfect of example of how professionals could incorporate a lot of information without exposing their target market to sensory overload.

Integrating “Business Intelligence” into your company is essential to making informed and cost-effective decisions. A corporate sphere that requires extensive planning and proper execution, facing the challenges presented by creation, presentation, and interpretation are worth the outcomes of this complex field of research. Big data is the way of the future – embrace this integrated realm of opportunities by displaying important investigations to your visual learners.

Citations:

Bella Gray is a corporate blogger based from her Houston office space. Speciliasing in business coaching and online marketing, Gray is the perfect go-to-gal for all your company tips and solutions.

 

 

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Should Graduation Ceremonies Still Be Held With Silly Gowns?

 

For every person that loves the pomp and circumstance of graduation day, the quirky cap and the big baronial gown, there is a person that feels like the whole cap and gown thing is a justifiable reason to give the entire graduation ceremony a miss. So where does it all come from, and is it at all necessary in modern society?

The academic raiment that people wear when they graduate is a throwback from medieval times. The gown that people wear was actually how everyone dressed back then. It must have been great for the winter but somewhat stifling in the summer. They also present somewhat of a trip/slip/fall hazard, and so universities from back then would have been subject to considerable public liability insurance premiums.

So what about the hats? Mortarboards were originally reserved exclusively for people who’d managed to obtain a master’s degree, but are now used by both undergraduates and bachelors also. They have also been used by many as inadvertent weapons throughout the years. Many a graduate has flung their ‘Bishop Andrewes’ in excitement, perhaps a bit too far in the air and a bit too inaccurately, only to see it drop via one of its points onto the head of a fellow graduate. In 2011, no fewer than 72 graduates received hospital treatment as a consequence of an academic cap injury.

So as well as being from the past, and dangerous, they are also perceived by many to be outdated and unnecessary. As time moves on and the world of education subscribes to modernity in a million different ways it becomes more and more difficult to justify the reactionary regalia that for many a stickler, underpins what university is all about.

In an education system that no longer uses chalk boards, tinkers with the formal setting of the classroom and conducts itself in virtual environments, is there really a need for the cap and gown any longer? Whilst it would seem like somewhat of an anti-climax for everyone to turn up on graduation day wearing their jeans and t-shirts, is the cap and gown really all that necessary?

Would it not be equally as smart and fitting for each of the males to wear a nice suit, each of the females something equally as smart. Maybe that is something that the cap and gown does have going for it, though. It is epicene, creating a synchronic plateau whereby the boys and the girls are all uniform. If that is all that it has going for it then perhaps it’s doomed, because there are plenty of male graduates who doubtless feel slightly as though they are cross-dressing.

There are also the cost implications of the cap and gown. Even though people are not expected to buy them, they cost a fair amount just to hire, and for what? An elongated ceremony and a few pictures. For many, then, there’s the additional logistical nightmare of trying to offload it so that the all-important drinking binge can commence. It seems that the cap and gown is a tradition that’s clinging on for dear life.

This post was written on behalf of OCVC

 

 
 

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