Sunday, May 28, 2006

Do to others as you would have them do to you... or just be an asshole

I was thinking about assholes today. The context here is that we have family members who, without the slightest frame of reference for what it means to care for a relative in the home who cannot meet his or her own most basic needs, are full of opinions on how that care should be provided. Now I'm not one to swear gratuitously but I keep finding myself saying "Assholes!" on a regular basis when I hear or hear about the latest uninformed and callous opinion from the bleachers about the level of care that my mom is receiving from her doctors and my incredible wife (who, by the way, has spent very nearly a year away from her home and family to care for my mother).

We've all heard the adage "opinions are like assholes--everybody's got one," but I'm increasingly finding that assholes are full of opinions and the need to express them. In fact, I'm going to postulate the theory that when one's need to express an opinion exceeds their desire to gather more information about that which they are about to pass judgment on, they are at risk of becoming an asshole. Once they state their opinion the line has been crossed.

And it all comes down to this: assholes violate the Golden Rule. Oblivious to the fact that "no one wants to be 'should' upon," they do the very thing to others that would enrage them if it was done to them. Doing to others as we would have them do to us is putting ourselves in others' positions and making sure we don't do to them what we wouldn't want done to us.

No wonder it occupies the most prominent position in Judeo-Christian ethics: God understands that we all have an inner asshole. I'm beginning to wonder how much of the spiritual work of men and women is just making sure that no matter their accomplishments or failures at the toils and tasks of daily existence, at least they weren't assholes to anybody.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Six Months, or So

I have posted very little about my mother, but have mentioned from time to time on the podcast that my wife has been in Phoenix caring for my mom and I have been going back and forth to there on the weekends. My mom has cancer and for some time now the doctors have been struggling with a more definitive diagnosis so they could determine what if anything could be done about it.

It's back now: metastasized breast cancer with full involvement on both kidneys. Stage IV, inoperable, six months. Or so.

Having been involved with my mom on an almost daily basis since the end of August of 2004 with this, when she called me out of the blue to tell me she had a large tumor in her breast that she had told no one about. I flew down that day to check her into the hospital, where the nurses and the doctors examined her and exchanged knowing looks... the size of the tumor was much too large, she clearly had waited too long...

...only that tumor ended up being a very rare and highly treatable variety. She also had a much smaller tumor on her other breast of the more malevolent kind, but they were confident they got it all out during surgery. Turns out they didn't.

But what made things so much more difficult for my mom for over a year now was her sudden stroke last February. She made some progress in rehab, but has gone steadily downhill over the last 15 months. She is no longer able to toilet herself or even get up and walk without assistance. Add to that the growing pain from the cancer, and my mom will probably not see a bettter day than the ones she's had before.

The depths of compassion of my wife through all of this have been absolutely remarkable. Where I lose my patience, she soldiers on. Where I feel resentful or depressed, she injects cheer. What a gift... more precious than gold.

But I mention all of this because I have an observation to make, and a confession. My most present sentiment is that I am looking forward to all of this being over and getting my family back. I'm not proud of it, and I know that I will regret this after my mom passes, but some honesty here may help somebody else in a similar situation. I gather these feelings are not unusual, and I'm not surprised. I guess what I am surprised about is just how powerful they are. I confess I felt palpable relief when I found out that my mom was not going to persist for years in her present state.

I do want to see my mom comfortable and to see her reconciled to her other two sons. And I want to see her content that she has lived a good life and will see her God. This certainly isn't about me.

But this blog is, and I wanted to be open about my sentiments after my mom's prognosis.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Just Plain Wrong

After it became known that the Federal government was monitoring the phone numbers called by U.S. phone customers (but not listening to the conversations--scout's honor), the consistent administration line has been: don't worry, Common Man, we are only after the terrorists.

Then today, an ABC news reporter revealed that he was warned by a source in the government that the FBI was going through their cell phone logs to see if they had been in contact with anyone employed by the CIA as part of their search for leakers at that agency. No subpeona, no warrant. They just apparently called up the reporter's cell carriers and got what they wanted, thank you very much.

And not just a couple of reporters from ABC, but reporters from the New York Times and the Washington Post as well.

I don't live in fear of the U.S. government taking away my freedom, but I do believe that the balance between freedom and security has tipped away from freedom. Just as the balance between public interest and corporate interest has tipped to corporate interest. Congress is becoming a blank check for expanding corporate influence, and no one in the administration seems much embarassed by their own zeal in circumventing the spirit if not the letter of the Bill of Rights.

I don't know if it's yet, but there will be a redressing of these issues and a significant scaling back of government and corporate influence over our lives. There may not be urgency about it now, but more and more people will begin to be angered and disturbed by these trends. There is nothing inevitable about an erosion of freedom and an expansion of governmental and corporate power. We hold the votes, and the votes ultimately dictate the law.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Birthday, Missy! And Happy Mother's Day!

Today is not only Mother's Day, it's my daughter Missy's 19th birthday. Last year as a teenager... Anyway, here's a reprint of one of my favorite pieces that she did. Happy Birthday, Missy!

And Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there (especially Mother Zeke and Mrs. Zeke, and Erica, our adopted daughter, mother of Baby Joey and wife of Sergeant Joey, who's deployed with the Marines in Iraq for tour #3). I pray that next Mother's Day no American wives and mothers will need to fear for their husbands or children overseas.

Monday, May 08, 2006

An Abomination

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Same Car, Better Mileage

How can you get better mileage from your existing car? conducted a real-world study on this, and the results are surprising. Here's a taste: running your AC with the windows up is no different than driving with the windows down. Here's another: tire pressure doesn't matter. The biggest potential savings: stop driving like a maniac. (HT:

Just to spiritualize this, remember that this is about being better stewards of our resources. Waste is ungodly. If you're still not persuaded, remember that the more gas you buy, the more money you put into the pockets of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Libya, and lots of other places that think you suck and that the world would be better off without you.