Saturday, May 26, 2007

Testing the Limits

The frustration continues to build as I continue to recover from this elbow injury and the infection therewith. It's hard because the injury is something you can see, but not the effect the antibiotics have on me.

I've had to give up my one part-time job as a courier; it's just too demanding right now. I still get tired awful easily, and because of not only that but having to limit my exposure to the sun, I also had to bag going with my dad tomorrow to see the PGA Champions Tour event not too far from us.

Driving to Ocean City and back yesterday for traffic reporting wasn't too rough, but it definitely wore me out. Today, I was able to handle a graduation party thrown for my second cousin in Catonsville. There was more than enough to eat, and it was nice to see many of my cousins, aunts, and uncles from my dad's side of the family whom I don't get to see very often. The snowballs afterward at Opie's weren't bad either. :-D

But what I wouldn't give to be able to wash my car, walk a volksmarch, or ride my bike. Still, I'm losing weight, officially having lost 21 in WW, 30 overall.

I'll keep taking it as easy as I can and trusting that God knows what He's doing.

Monday, May 21, 2007

My Stint as a Murder Trial Juror

Now that I have some pretty decent OCR software again, I can now scan in my recollection of an early 1994 murder trial in which Baltimore City police officer Herman Jones was shot and killed. Living in Baltimore, I was selected for jury duty many times. Since moving out of Baltimore in May of that year, I haven't been called for jury duty once. Here goes:

On January 21 (the end of the most blustery and frigid week this side of Yakutsk), I went down to the Clarence Mitchell, Jr. courthouse in and for Baltimore City (sounds like Dragnet) at St. Paul, Lexington, Calvert, and Fayette streets for jury duty. This was the fifth or sixth time I had to do this in my life. Most of the previous times I just sat in the jury room all day with 400 people I had never seen before in my life, then went home, since Baltimore has a "one day or one trial" system whereby if you're not called for a trial, your service for the year is done after that day. (You get selected via voting, by the way.) I served on one previous trial in which we convicted someone of a handgun violation; that lasted only 2 days.

It took only until about 1100 for all the remaining jurors to be called over to the cramped courtroom of Judge Richard Rombro in the other courthouse across Calvert St. from the Mitchell building. Not only was this courtroom cramped, but it was HOT. Remember how we were all asked to conserve heat and energy during the cold snap? I think that's because all the heat was sent to Judge Rombro's courtroom.

Then began the lengthy "voir dire" process of finding a suitable jury from the panel of jurors. This case received quite a bit of publicity, as Wilson and two accomplices, Derrick Broadway and Clifton "Chip" Price, were accused of killing Officer Jones in the process of trying to rob him as he ordered food from a Chinese carryout on N. Gay St. in east Baltimore on May 26, 1993. More on that later. The publicity weeded out quite a few jurors, as did the fact that the trial could go on for up to 2 weeks. On that fact I tried to withdraw myself, since my Team 5 counterpart would have to fill in for me if it went longer than a week, but to no avail. Other questions concerned whether we knew any of the witnesses, litigants, etc. Makes me wonder how the juries for the Bobbitt trials were formed.

By the end of the day, about 40 jurors were left, too few to select a jury. We thus had to return Monday afternoon for selection, which we did, reluctantly. One by one, each juror was brought before the state's and defense attorneys for them to accept or "respectfully challenge," i.e. dismiss for no particular reason save that whichever attorney felt he or she would not render a fair verdict, with each attorney receiving a certain number of challenges. Before they got to me, the jury box was filled with the requisite number of jurors, but the attorneys could still challenge the jurors after they were seated. Juror #7 was dismissed, and guess who became the new juror #7? Three alternates were named as well.

The trial then began with opening statements from each side. Here's a rundown of the major players:

JUDGE RICHARD ROMBRO: Probably not too far from retirement (we thought we heard him talking about that [note: he has indeed since retired]). Early 60's. Very tall, at least 6'6". No nonsense, Judge Wapner type, but more reserved.

STATE'S ATTORNEY MARK COHEN: Mid 30's. Also tall, about 6'4". A little too dramatic at times, being a young lawyer trying to make a name for himself.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY BROOKE MURDOCK: See last sentence for Cohen. Also mid 30's. More irritating than Cohen.

HERBERT WILSON, DEFENDANT: 17. Stoic, almost lost. Seemed like it all didn't really matter.

We dubbed our bailiff "Barney Fife" because he walked like him. The first of two clerks we had looked like Dan Aykroyd circa 1976, complete with sideburns. Running errands for His Honor was a young, attractive girl who may have been his daughter.

Cohen paraded more than 30 witnesses before us amid Murdock's incessant objections and lengthy diatribes as to why she was objecting which elicited progressively sterner rebukes from Judge Rombro ("Miss Murdock, just say you object"), not to mention innumerable conversations at the bench which were not for us to hear. Two of the witnesses were Broadway and Price, each of whom had plea bargained, pleading guilty to second-degree murder in exchange for turning state's evidence against Wilson who was being tagged as the shooter. Another was the owner of the carryout who didn't speak much English and required an interpreter, but it was the interpreter who needed an interpreter:

COHEN: How long have you owned the carryout?
INTERP: (before owner can answer): Yes.
COHEN: No, no--how long have you owned it? (Interpreter interprets, owner answers in Chinese)
INTERP: 5 months.
OWNER (angrily, in English): No! No! 5 years!

What emerged was the following picture of what happened:

Wilson, Broadway, Price and three others are drinking beer and wine in Wilson's house. They decide they wanted to rob somebody to get money for drugs, so Wilson went to get a .38 Smith and Wesson from his friend, Reginald "Scar" Rollins. Wilson, Broadway, and Price check a nearby pizza joint but no one is there, and they didn't want to rob the place, so they go to the Chinese carryout instead; the other three are to meet them later. Officer Jones, who has just completed his shift, pulls up and enters the carryout; the three follow. Wilson, brandishing the gun, makes Jones get to his knees and tells him to empty his pockets. He does so, then says he has nothing else (he had $5). Jones then pulls out his gun and fires, hitting Wilson. Wilson, upset at Broadway because he didn't search Jones' pockets, shoots Jones twice as he flees. In trying to get the gun from Jones, Broadway is shot twice, then he flees. Jones dies later at the hospital. Both Broadway and Wilson wind up in the hospital. Wilson gives the gun to Price, then it changes hands several times before the police get it a month later (Wilson sent the police on a goose chase originally about the gun's location).

Another interesting exchange was with a late witness produced by the defense (one of only four Murdock called, including Wilson in his own defense) who met Wilson the first week of the trial in lockup, heard the name Broadway, and said that Broadway was the shooter (part of the defense's divide-and-conquer strategy). Cohen cross-examines him:

COHEN: Then what happened?
WITNESS: I don't wanna talk to you.
COHEN: Why not?
WITNESS: 'Cause I don't wanna talk to you.
COHEN: Why not?
WITNESS: 'Cause I don't wanna talk to you.

While both lawyers were reprehensible at times in their demeanor, Murdock won the crass statement of the trial award with this statement in her closing argument: "If Officer Jones hadn't pulled out his gun, he might still be alive today." At that point, one of his daughters stormed out of the courtroom.

Then, we got the trial. For a jury, we got along pretty well. Among ohers, there was a retiree, another DoD employee, a letter carrier, an accounting student who played a mean game of Uno, and a couple of computer/telecommunications folk. The foreman was an auto mechanic.

Never knew how much joy we'd derive from staring out the jury room window onto Calvert St. watching Baltimore go by and figuring out if the cars were parked in the same spaces they had been yesterday. The Battle Monument, commemorating the 1814 Battle of North Point vs. the British, stared back at us from the middle of Calvert.

We deliberated for 2 hours. At no point was anyone convinced that Wilson wasn't guilty. Some, however, felt it unfair that Wilson appeared to be the hit man while Broadway and Price, involved in the same crime, would likely get lesser sentences for the plea-bargain. I felt that way too, but life isn't always fair and the plea-bargain was beyond the scope of this trial.

We thus found Wilson guilty of felony murder (simply, murder committed in the act of a felony, and neither the intent to murder nor the identity of the shooter did not have to be proven), attempted robbery, use of a handgun in a crime of violence, and conspiracy to rob. He will be sentenced later this month.

As I stood on the corner of Fayette and Calvert waiting for the #2 bus for the last time, Murdock came up to me and thanked me for my service. I wished her good luck in her future cases. But, as another juror standing there and I concluded, she really didn't have much of a chance. The evidence was too overwhelming. I was relieved to be done at last, and I returned to the midnight shift at work the next evening. Thanks, Linda, for filling in!

Oddly enough, I ran across Cohen years later as he was lobbying against medical tort reform in Annapolis.

Duckpins Fly South

Another piece of my childhood is gone: Seidel's Bowling Center is closed. Article (though I'm not sure how long it'll be available; hat tip: Dad). Also, Frederick's only duckpin alleys are going dark.

Baltimore is the home of duckpin bowling, a variation of tenpin bowling in which a ball slightly larger than a softball is used. It has no holes and is thrown much like a softball; some big guys would routinely toss it halfway down the lane! The pins are smaller, more squat, and spaced further apart. As a result, you can throw the ball straight down the middle and get . . . two pins. No one has ever rolled a 300 in duckpins, but my dad once had a 178. I think the record is in the mid-200s. Two popular local TV shows (what are THOSE?) in the 60s and 70s were "Duckpins and Dollars" (which eventually morphed into "Bowling for Dollars" with a tenpin option) and "Pinbusters" where kids competed in 4-frame duckpin games by age group. And a number of years ago, there was an effort to make duckpin bowling the official state sport of Maryland, which would replace . . . jousting.

Seidel's was the neighborhood place where, as kids, we'd often go for birthday parties. The management wouldn't worry if we just bowled in our stocking feet. Of course, we kids liked duckpins because the balls were much easier to throw. I often threw left-handed, even though I'm a righty. Seidel's was located in a storefront next to a residential neighborhood, a throwback to an older, more nostalgic time even in the 70s.

About half a mile away from Seidel's was Vilma Lanes, another duckpin establishment based under a Read's (remember those drug stores?), but it wasn't quite as nice a place as Seidel's. The Vilma had something you didn't see just anywhere: a water cooler with a penny-operated Dixie cup dispenser. That center is long since gone.

Sadly, my old neighborhood is now crime-ridden and falling apart, as the article mentions. Yet another reason why I'll never live in Baltimore City again. And one more piece of my history becomes, well, history.

Duckpin bowling is dead. Long live duckpin bowling.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Pot Pourri 3

I Can Take A Hint

In the past several years, I've applied to many different places for full-time work, and naturally gotten my fair share of rejections. Well, I think the Broadcasting Board of Governors (the folks who run the Voice of America, among other things) is trying to tell me they don't want me . . . except that they're not actually telling me so.

I submitted my resume which showed how I'd worked for nearly three years for a local radio station as a news reporter, and had done so as recently as 2004. I got back a form letter saying that I lacked having sufficient news story writing experience in the last five years. That is simply untrue, and the BBG would know that if they had bothered to actually read my resume.

But I decided to give the BBG the benefit of the doubt and sent them a revised resume, emphasizing my qualifications that indeed met their requirements. So what did I get in the mail the other day?

The exact. same. form. letter.

At first, I was going to call the contact and ask why she didn't see any difference in what I sent. But then I realized that it would be a waste of time to get into an organization that has made it perfectly clear it doesn't want me. Why would I think I'd enjoy working for such an employer?

Great Customer Service

From that lousy experience, I switch to Target ("Tar-jay") where I had to get my watch battery replaced the other night. The young lady who replaced my watch battery had a heck of a time both getting the back of my watch off and on. (BTW, all of the Target ladies wear red shirts and, in this store, are all short brunettes, so it's hard to tell them apart.) In the process, she somehow disabled the button that allows me to change the mode of the digital portion of my watch so that I can time things; I use that in my work (see below).

So yesterday I returned to see what could be done. The lady I talked to this time discovered that the metal contacts to the button had been severed. She tried several times to jerry-rig it to no avail. Originally, she was going to offer me a discount on a new watch, but the manager came over and had her swap out a functioning watch for me.

I wasn't looking for a new watch, just to get working the watch I had. This went way over my expectations. And I think a key was that I remained calm, patient, and polite.

Driving My Life Away

On Friday, I spent way too much time behind the wheel. Here's where all I went. All except the traffic reporting stint were in the Cygmobile, where most of the rest was incurred through my couriering job:

Frederick, MD to Silver Spring: 39 miles
Around the DC area for my traffic reporting job: About 150 miles
Silver Spring to Rockville: 15 miles
Rockville to Frederick: 31 miles
Frederick to Knoxville (MD): 18 miles
Knoxville to Towson: 68 miles
Towson to Bel Air: 30 miles
Bel Air to Columbia: 43 miles
Columbia to Hagerstown: 71 miles
Hagerstown to Frederick: 30 miles

Total: 495 miles. No wonder I'm so tired this weekend. And I think I got about 12 hours of sleep from Tuesday night to Friday morning.

What I'm "Reading"

My latest book on CD is Protestant seminarian-turned-Catholic apologist Scott Hahn's Swear to God, a book about how he came to love the Sacraments which he had originally thought of as "boring." I can use a little boost in my Catholic faith, and I think this will help. It'll be nice to have something meaty to listen to while driving for work instead of just all sports talk all the time.

My Sister, B.S.N.; Vince McMahon, Doctor of Humane Letters (honorary)

And last, but hardly least . . .

Kudos to my older sister who graduated magna cum laude from Sacred Heart University with her B.S.N.! She won a couple other awards from her schoolwork. My mom and dad went to her graduation, which featured a commencement speech from Mr. Dr. McMahon.

Yep, Vince McMahon of the WWE spoke about his rags-to-riches life. His wife of well over 40 years is a trustee of the university. And his hair is slowly growing back.

Who cares; my sister can kick McMahon's butt from here to Hartford scholastically! And I bet he can't start an IV, either. Finally, I know she has a nicer hairstyle. :-D

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

You Can't Eat That!

So the People's Republic of Montgomery County (MoCo, Maryland) Council (a.k.a. the Pleasure Police) followed up its ban on smoking in public places by bravely saving its million or so residents from themselves by banning trans-fats in restaurants. Wonderful. Forget me coming to MoCo anytime for dinner out after January 1.

If I want to eat food that some self-important schmoe (who wouldn't dare be seen in a restaurant that I would go to!) has deemed no good for me, that's my right. It is not the prerogative of any government to tell me what I can or cannot eat, or if I'm a restaurant owner, what ingredients I can and cannot serve, especially when there are plenty of things worse for you than trans-fats! What's next, the MoCo Health Department getting Jay Santos and his Citizens' Auxiliary Police to monitor portion sizes among restaurant patrons and "move in" when portions don't "look right"? (Where have you gone, Phil Hendrie?)

It's sad to see the do-gooders like those in the MoCo County Council follow the lead of this twit, Michael Jacobson, the head of the Center for Science in the (so-called) Public Interest, whenever he wants to demonize something in the food industry (movie theater popcorn, Chinese food, Tex-Mex food, etc.). I'm especially amused by finding that

Jacobson will not tolerate any of his employees eating “bad” foods at work. CSPI’s in-house eating policy is so puritanical that Jacobson once planned to permanently remove the office coffee machine -- until one-third of his 60 staffers threatened to quit.
You want that kind of world, MoCo? You got it. Unanimously. Enjoy.

UPDATE: Great retort by Tom Knott.

UPDATE II: Great cartoon by Michael Ramirez, by way of John R. Lott. Click to enlarge:

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Hope You're Sitting Down

I'm so done with Rush Limbaugh. (pause for #thuds#)

It really isn't any particular thing he's said; I've just outgrown him after 14 years. I think it's a combination of things:

  • I'm not entertained by him anymore. I don't enjoy hearing him say how he hates to talk about himself . . . and then talks about himself.
  • I get a lot of the info he provides from my blogs, listed to the right. Especially Michelle Malkin, whom I'll marry in another life. ;-) (just kidding, love!)
  • I prefer now to listen to sports talk radio, especially Jorge Sedano and Steve Czaban (not that I endorse everything on their sites).
  • If I do listen to political talk, I prefer folks like Laura Ingraham (single, female, and Catholic), although her interviews are often boring. Glenn Beck has his moments. I don't much care for Sean Hannity, especially after he dissed Fr. Thomas Euteneuer of Human Life International. And I don't get the popularity of a self-hating curmudgeon like Michael Savage.
So my conservative credentials are still intact, but I just don't care for Rush anymore.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Two Cool Findings

First, Ladycub and I have gotten a lot of use already from freecycling. It's a great idea; before throwing something out or taking it to the dump, see if someone else might want it! The only rule is that it has to be for free. Chances are your town or area has a freecycle list. You can also put out a request for something that might be given away; someone on our list moved here from Colorado where they freecycled all their belongings, and are trying to get furniture for their new place via freecycling. Neat, huh?

Second: Who knew you could still play kickball? Here's my hometown's kickball organization. This is something I may have to consider playing when I get well, or at least watching until then!

One of the few good memories I have from seventh grade was my first kickball home run. We used this ball that seemed to be made of titanium, and we played in our playground that was sloped uphill heading to the outfield.

When I came up to bat, the boys on the other team naturally came in several steps because they didn't expect me to do much. And much of the time, I didn't disappoint. But this day, I was going to make them pay, and I did.

I ripped a shot over the center fielder's head and sent it rolling uphill toward the school. I rounded second and third. Here was where I figured I was dead meat, or would at least be sent back to third; the rule was if the ball reached home plate before I did, I'd have to go back to third. Of course, I could be tagged out as well. But the kid from across the street threw it too high and it sailed into Cardenas Avenue, and I had my home run! Everyone was stunned, as was I.

Almost made up for all the times I got beaten up.

More about Mom

I spoke glowingly of my mom here for her birthday. But there's always more to say.

I have met few people as devout and dedicated to the heart of Jesus as my mom. She prays for all of us every day and attends daily Mass. She is often telling me things the Lord told her for me. She, my dad, and another couple meet weekly for prayer.

My mom gives generously not only to us, but to those around her, such as a lonely invalid whom she takes all sorts of places, and a delightful lady from Cameroon who came to her when she was newly in the United States and didn't know a soul. She and her husband just became U.S. citizens, BTW.

Mom came to visit me twice in the hospital, and she brought us meals when we got home. Also, the jambalaya meal she made for us the night we moved in here probably saved our marriage, as we were ready to mangle each other that night.

And when we were kids, she made sure we got to swimming lessons, soccer practices and games, play rehearsals, dances, etc. And she always sat up until the last of us were home.

I can only start making a return for all that she's done and all that she is by saying:

Happy Mother's Day, Mom. Love you. God Bless.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Stitches and Seniors

(Arrrrggghhh. I typed this once, then lost it when my browser crashed trying to open some other window.)

The stitches on my right elbow are out, again. I'm cleared to return to work, but only light duty for couriering. The pain in the elbow isn't too bad unless I bump it. What is really painful is my right shoulder, and until I finish with my antibiotics in my left arm, I won't be able to return to physical therapy.

Nor do I think it advisable to ride a bike. And I can't swim with my IV either. But at least I can walk for some exercise, which I did last night. (BTW, I gained about half a pound for the week, but considering how sedentary I was, that wasn't so bad.)

After my doctor's appointments for the above on Friday, I stopped and visited my hospital roommate at his assisted living home. He not only remembered me, he remembered my wife too. He seemed to be in good spirits, and his sense of humor was still with him. His therapist was also with him, and he said they went "way back. Two months."

While I was waiting to see him, a lady named Elizabeth introduced herself to me and asked me to walk with her around the property of the center. She lost a son during World War II, and otherwise had no family now. She appeared to be in great shape for her age, and she said it was because she wanted to keep moving and not become sedentary. (I think that's why a lot of retirees get into volksmarching.)

Again, I was reminded of two things:

  • God willing, I will be old someday; and
  • The elderly crave, more than anything else, some attention. I don't think that's too much to ask.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

99 Balloons

This has nothing to do with Nena or her early 80s song.
Rather, this video shows that no life is wasted, no matter what science says.

Wow. Just wow. Would that I could be half a parent like these two.

99 Balloons: Dear Eliot

(Hat tip: Dawn Eden via Jill Stanek. And Ladycub.)

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

I'm so tired - Part IV

(I have a feeling this series will never end.)

Slept much of the day today, interrupted only by the need to eat lunch. But then again, I could still be in the hospital trying to recover.

I have a hip pack with my antibiotics and a pump for them in it. That hooks to the IV lines into my arm. LC changes the bag every night and the batteries every other night.

I have to take advantage of this week off to get as much rest as I can; I'm supposed to return to work next week. But in any event, it takes what it takes. I just have to listen to my body, even if I'd rather ignore it.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Frederick Marathon 2007

Yesterday was the Frederick Marathon, which used to be held in late March until it snowed one year. So, expecting that it would be warmer, the organizers moved it to the first weekend in May. It wasn't much warmer yesterday (mostly in the 50s), and it was quite breezy. But I figure that if we could get rid of the breeze, the conditions would be fine for the runners; they generally prefer colder to warmer.

The course ran right behind our house:

And we were right near the 25-mile mark. But two large bridges stood between here and the finish line. Ouch.

We wound up helping out at the mile marker with giving out water and cleaning up cups that the runners had drained. Actually, LC did more of that than I did because of my physical limitations.

Funny how not too many of the runners wanted to help themselves to any Vaseline, even if they needed it!

Here came the ultimate men's winner, Christopher Zieman of Chapel Hill, NC.

Previous winner Michael Wardian of Arlington, VA set a world record for the fastest marathon run while pushing a stroller. According to the Frederick News-Post, he wore number 1, and his infant son number 2. He finished third overall.

Setting a new women's course record was Jenn Shelton of Virginia Beach, who seemed to be dressed more for a swim meet than a marathon!

Here's Jenn's front, courtesy of Skip Lawrence of the Frederick News-Post.

It was fun to be part of the race and cheer on the many others who finished; they certainly did more than we could just by racing! Only downside: we both got rather sun- and windburnt!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Weight Loss Update 5/5

Maybe I should go to the hospital more often.

I dropped another 4 pounds for the past couple weeks, making 19 pounds lost with WW, and 28 pounds from my top weight.

*happy dance*

Friday, May 04, 2007

Way Cool

After my follow-up doctor appointments (I'll be out another week), LC took me over to Best Buy where I had a $50 gift card to use. I knew some of it would be consumed by the new Rush CD, Snakes and Arrows. I'm still compiling my opinions on it, and I'll post those later.

I then took a quick tour through the TV show DVDs and found to my surprise that both the British and the U.S. versions of "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" are being released on DVD. So I snapped up the first volume of the UK version (the superior one, IMO). It's quite good; it's uncut, and some of the stuff that got left out makes the show funnier . . . and make more sense! Now I have another couple series to collect on DVD.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Prayer for Virginia Tech

Beyond the arguments and debates surrounding the events of a couple weeks ago at Virginia Tech, the tragedy remains. My brother sent around this prayer, written by a sophomore at the high school where he teaches. I find the first couple intercessions especially powerful:

Lord, help me realize that the trials of the everyday are not meant to erode my faith in humanity. Instead, let me see the good intentions of those around me, and let me forgive unintentional trangressions more easily because of this.

Help me see that one person's violence and anger is caused only by the neglect of several people; help me to care for those around me, so that it may not be said that any actions of mine were provocation enough to drive an individual to such an end.

Rest the souls of the victims in the Virginia Tech shooting at Your right hand, and let the true horror of this tragedy be seen not in the dramatic media but in the pain of the ones that have lost loved ones.

Help those affected by the shooting to find solace and peace within themselves.

And amen. Well said.

Home, Home Again

Greetings from the Pink Flowered Office. I'm back home. Thanks yet again to the indefatigable and ever-patient Ladycub. I can't give her enough smooches.

Thanks to her and the good folks at NeighborCare, I now have a portable pump that will keep giving me antibiotics to keep the staph infection at bay. Of course, this means I have to carry it on my person, kind of hard to do with my right arm back in a sling. But? It beats being in the hospital. I have to admit, though, that I did a pretty good impression of my roommate when I hit my elbow against the wall a little earlier. Oh, did that smart!

It'll be hard to accept that my job now is to just keep healing for the next number of weeks. I want to get back to my regular routine, but it'll have to wait. Meanwhile, this is a good time to find out what other things God may have in store for me. Even though He give me a bum elbow, yet I will trust Him.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Same Thing Happens Every Morning

The hospital

God bless my roommate.

He's about 90 years old, lives in a nursing home, and is confused as to where he is. Every morning the nursing staff has to change his undergarments, and he treats it as if he's being tortured.

Well, this morning he was a bit too much. Not content with the usual amount of expletives toward the nursing staff, he also threatened to leave Against Medical Advice; he says he'd take a cab. Actually, he wanted to leave here . . . to get to the hospital. I had enough and left the room until they were done with him.

I think he's got dementia of some sort. LC and I have done our best to talk to him, but I think the thing that confuses him the most is that he really can't tell whether he's at his nursing home or here. I feel for the guy, but this morning it was just too much. I'm glad I didn't say anything to him.

Besides, how do I know that won't be me in another 40 years?

UPDATE 5/1 late evening: He had his stone removed today and seems to be in much better spirits. I bet one reason he was howling so much during the cleaning of his nether portions was that it probably made his stone hurt like heck.

He took some time to tonight to tell me an old story of how he snookered his friends on a bet. I plan to keep in touch with him after leaving here; he seems like he needs some friendship.

After all, how many older folks waste away with no one to talk to or care about them? Both my parents and my in-laws have elderfolk that they've "adopted" over the years, and I recall well a Yorkshire couple serving as our UK grandparents. I think this will be a good opportunity to extend myself. I mean, like the story of the starfish, I may not be able to help everyone . . . but here's someone I can help.