Monday, March 24, 2008

4,000 Americans killed in the war with Iraq

An article is on CNN.com regarding the president's comments about the 4,00o American servicemen and women killed in the line of duty in this out-of-control violent war with...nobody really in particular...Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, terrorists, an extensive variety of jihad extremists...


While reading the article, this passage caught my eye:

"Of the 4,000 U.S. military personnel killed in the war, 3,263 have been killed in attacks and fighting and 737 in non-hostile incidents, such as traffic accidents and suicides."

I'm sure this article isn't mentioning the amount of servicemen and women who were injured in battle, then go to the hospital for a while and succumb to their injuries. There's many people who have lost limbs, have PTSD, and sustained brain injuries who don't die but hang on for years, trying to get a job, be part of their family, not be freaked out and try to remember what "normal" was.

I can't believe the number of casualties is up to 4,000. There's no exit strategy for this war with Iraq, or War of Terror, or whatever they're calling it, but what's even more alarming is that there has been no measurable progress. The government isn't assembling itself or even remotely running, everything there is a mess, the "Green Zone" is a joke, and every day one or two or more of our friends, family members, neighbors and co-workers doesn't come back.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

today is the 5th anniversary of the beginning of the IRAQ war

When originally pitched to congress, G.W. said it would cost 50 to 60 billion, and take about 18 months to topple Saddam Hussein. Five years later, the war's price tag is up to 600 billion, and by the time the war actually ends, it's expected to cost up to 1 to 2 trillion dollars.

3,992 members of the us military have died. Currently there are 158,000 troops in Iraq. There is still no exit strategy and no clear accounting of how and what the budget is spent on.

It has been 1,833 days since George W. Bush declared the end of the war.

"major combat operations have ended"

There's no system in place or anyone ready to step up and take over Iraq.

For more information, visit http://icasualties.org/oif/.

Remember Afghanistan? News about what's been happening over there can be viewed by visiting http://www.icasualties.org/oef/.

Here's a link to a CNN article about Bush's new all time low approval rating.



oh yeah, and this is my 500th post!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Happy Pi Day!

Happy Pi Day! What did you do for Pi day? I had some pie, of course.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Le.

Le is my neighbor, an older woman I met at work a few years ago. I worked pretty closely with her at work and got to know her well. Through the course of small talk I mentioned that I was thinking of moving out of the place I was at. She suggested I come by where she lives because there are a couple of open apartments and the landlord is nice. My current landlord at the time (who is a whole story on it's own) was not taking the news that I was moving out in a month and a half very well and was making things difficult. The prospect of a nice landlord almost seemed like a myth, like unicorns and leprehichauns.

Well, I met the new landlord (Ray and his wife Jill), and I got a good vibe about them. Shortly thereafter I moved to my present apartment, and have to say Ray is the nicest landlord I have ever had in my entire life.

Since Le's older and my neighbor, I feel obligated to be neighborly and help her out from time to time. I never mind though; helping her doesn't take long and one day I’ll be the old lady. Hopefully there will be a young person around the corner available when I need a piece of furniture moved or a light bulb in a ceiling light fixture needs to be changed. There is an incredible abundance of farmer's markets in this city and on Saturday mornings in the spring and summer, Le and I would pick up fresh fruit, produce, smoked salmon and baked goods. Last winter we got a bit of snow, so I swept her porch and walkway, and picked up some groceries at Safeway for her.

I think Le has something going on. Some elderly type of thing. Maybe early dementia, Alzheimer’s…something is definitely is going on. I first suspected this late last summer; I noticed she repeated a story she had literally just told me. About half way through I interrupted and told her the ending. She caught herself, "oh, I just told you that." I thought nothing of this really, I thought maybe she was tired or had something on her mind.

Last year I stated going out to lunch with her and a couple of other old ladies who live nearby. We would do this monthly and all meet at a Village Inn, Denny's, or some other type of divey place. I started to realize that even though Le is the same age of these other women (mid 60's), Le seemed a little slower then the other ladies. Le's reaction time to questions and actions has been steadily getting longer. The other two old ladies are still employed and are very computer savvy. Albeit they pursue research of cat photos and busybody message boards, they are active and involved—their minds are sharp. Le kind of knew how to use a computer, but has lost the skills she had a few years ago and has no interest in owning one. Her health has deteriorated a bit since I've known her, and she seems to often be a little swollen or shaky, so her fine motor skills for computer use are restricted in some way. Sometimes Le looks a little tired or swollen. She seems to get out of breath going from her apartment door to my car, which I park right in front of her apartment. And any closer and I'd be on the grass between the curb and her door.

So maybe last month Le and I went out to lunch without the other old ladies. We went to this great greasy spoon diner place up the street called "The Brite Spot." They serve good ol' American Breakfasts and have a straight up no nonsense menu. I ordered a spinach and Swiss omelet, and waitress goes through the motions of asking me what kind of potatoes and toast do I want. I answer, and then she turns to Lee and asks her what she'd like to order. Le looks up at her, and said, "I'll have what she's having." The waitress poses the same toast and potato query to Le, and Le stares blankly ahead and doesn’t answer. After an uncomfortable pause, the waitress asks her again, and then looks at me. I started to get a little concerned, and said to the waitress, "just give her wheat." Le looks at me and snaps out of it, and asks, "Oh, did someone say something?" So I told her the waitress wanted to know what kind of toast you want. Le looks at the waitress and says, "Oh, I'll have wheat please."

The remainder of the ordering and breakfast seemed to go off without a hitch, but I thought the way she spaced out was odd.

I ended up missing out on our February lunch so rescheduled again with Le for today. I usually call and confirm with her the day before our lunch, but was busy and forgot. In the past, Le had been very meticulous about writing our lunches or plans in her calendar, so it didn't occur to me that she would forget.

So, as scheduled, I show up at 10:45. I knock at her door; no answer. I ring her doorbell, and after a minute Le opens the door. She looked as if she had literally just gotten out of bed and threw a robe on. Her hair was all disheveled, buttons on her robe were buttoned wrong, and she had a real confused look on her face. "Oh, were we supposed to go somewhere today?" she asked with a worried look on her face. Boy, this wasn't a good sign. “Yeah, we were supposed to go to lunch,” I tell her, “but we can reschedule if you want.” I didn’t think she was in any shape to go out to lunch.

Le insisted: “No, no, I want to go, I need to get out of the house.” I asked her if she was sure, she was adamant about going to lunch and invited me in while she quickly got ready. “I’ll just be 20 minutes,” she yelled from the bathroom while I made myself comfortable and pet her cat.

20 minutes later Le emerges and we head out to Applebee’s. I usually try to steer her away from these types of places, but she had gift cards she wanted to use. She did ordered the same thing I did, and I ordered the healthy option with fresh fruit instead of fries. Le seemed a little pale and out of it on the ride over, so I asked her how everything was. She said fine, but I’d have to forgive her if she seems a little tired because she just got home from the hospital. She went on to explain how she ended up in the hospital, but it was conveyed by means of a bunch of disconnected fragments. Le also said that the landlady and neighbor came over to her house and said she needed to go to the hospital. The way she described it, it sounded like an intervention. I think Le’s words were, “Jill brought Vicki as backup to make me go to the hospital.” In the middle of all of this, Le mentioned they did a cat scan and found a brain aneurysm. That definitely doesn’t sound good.

In my observations I have to say Le’s gone from keeping a meticulous calendar and often arranging lunch or events on our block to not remembering dates or appointments. Earlier today I saw Jill (the landlady involved in the intervention) and her husband Ray, and asked them what they could tell me about Le and shared my experiences and observations. Ray said that Le was really upset the other day thinking someone had stolen her laundry when actually she hadn’t brought it down to the laundry room at all. Jill noticed that she has a hard time remembering dates and following though on things to completion. Jill also told me Le’s brother and sister in law were heavily involved, and Le didn’t mention her brother at all when we had lunch.

I don’t think this is a good sign. I told Ray and Jill to call me if anything comes up or if they need anything with regard to Le. Le’s sold her car and isn’t getting out as much these days. A while ago Le was thinking of moving to an assisted living facility but then changed her mind because she loves this neighborhood so much. She’s lived here for over 16 years, and I have to agree it is a great neighborhood. I wouldn't want to move either.