Saturday, November 29, 2008

An homage to John and Hank Green

There is this writer fellow named John Green and his brother Hank who created a little website called Brotherhood 2.0 in which they communicated only via video blog for a year, no written communication allowed. It's quite funny and somehow evolved into a movement known as Nerd Fighters. The brothers' experiment is over but still immortalized on the internet.

One of the video blogs by Hank Green has in it perhaps the funniest thing I have ever seen. I give you "The Man Who Throws the Tetris Piece"

I particularly like the party horn solo.

These two have a new website called Nerdfighters. Visit it. Join the movement. Do your part to decrease world suck.

I know my part of the world could use a little less suckage.

Friday, November 28, 2008

My dog is too smart for his own good.

So, Rowan has just once again proven that he is too smart for his own good.

Myrddin had the bone, or what was left of it, and was making his Chewbacca noises to try and encourage Rowan to play. Does Rowan take the bait and play? No, he starts poking at the stuff on the end table until he pokes the empty glass and knocks it off. I yell at him as I grab the glass. Myrddin takes off and Rowan calmly grabs the bone and takes it to his usual spot to start chewing on it.

He didn't even have the decency to look ashamed at his blatant fake out of the puppy. Kinda makes you wonder what else he's done.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Diatribe from a Smoker's Daughter

Okay, I may not be too popular when I'm done, but this is a topic near and dear to my heart.

I just read several lovely articles. One about how tobacco farmers in the US are rebounding. Mostly because they're exporting their product. Yes, smoking is declining in the US but apparently it's okay to export death.

Not only that, but the tobacco companies are still up to their old tricks. One in five college students smokes. One in 5. Why? Because the tobacco companies target them specifically with a million dollars a day in event sponsorships and giveaways. One in five.

Not only that, but they're working on a new product called "snus". Smokeless tobacco in neat little pouches. You still get your nicotine hit and a lovely does of carcinogens but without that nasty smoke that so many dislike. Give me a fucking break!

I worked for the American Cancer Society at one time and I can tell you with confidence that smokeless tobacco is just as nasty for you as smoking. You might get less lung disease but as a lovely trade-off you get mouth cancers that make you look like a circus freak when they're done cutting out the cancer. Yeah, that's a real positive trade off.

So, not only are they targeting college students and trying to give "alternatives" to smokers, they're still lying to you. There is not a product made by any of these companies that isn't a slow way to kill yourself.

Let me explain. My mother smoked for nearly 40 years. When the surgeon general came out with his original statements about cigarette smoking being a major cause of cancer, she didn't believe it. This despite the fact that she watched her older brother die really horribly from lung cancer. And despite the fact that she already was showing signs of serious lung damage herself.

Growing up, I watched my mother enter the hospital on an almost annual basis with pneumonia or some other respiratory infection. She had Legionnaires once, strep in her nose, thrush more times than I can count from antibiotics and generally spent about a week out of every year sick as the proverbial dog.

She gradually lost her lung capacity and her ability to walk any distance at all without gasping for breath. She took daily at-home nebulizer treatments and a whole plethora of medications: inhalers, steroids, and I don't know what else in a vain effort to keep breathing.

She spent the last ten years of her life essentially home bound. She lost the ability to do the simple things: go shopping, go bowling, do just about anything that required her to get around on her own two feet. She struggled to breathe just crossing from one side of the house to the other. It took her ten long years to slowly die. She always feared dying of lung cancer like her brother but in my opinion, she got the far worse outcome. Her COPD took away not only her ability to function but her will to live. It weakened her heart and killed her one day at a time for ten long years. Ten years, by the way, in which she didn't smoke. She managed to quit. But after 40 years, the damage was done.

And just in case you think second hand smoke doesn't kill, I can tell you with the same confidence that it does. My father smoked as a young man but stopped. My parents were married nearly fifty years. For 49 years, he lived with a smoker, but didn't smoke himself. He developed the same COPD as my mother and it killed him, too.

There is an incredibly long list of cancers that are directly related to smoking or smokeless tobacco. Go to to see it. But cancer isn't the only way smoking kills. It's just the fastest.

If you smoke, please stop. If you're thinking about starting, please don't. It kills you slowly day by day. So slowly that you can't even tell, until the damage is done and it's too late. If I had my way, every tobacco company executive, scientist or farmer would be charged with murder. They create a product that has no redeeming value and kills not only the people directly addicted to it, but their families and innocent bystanders. Any other product with so many ways to kill people would have been outlawed long ago.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Hope you have a strong stomach....

Well, we're back. We survived our weekend at Lost Pines, taught 64 Scouts how to survive in the Great Outdoors and we're all too pooped to tango. The first day of class is about 12 hours long, followed by an early start on Sunday with scenario and moulage prep and cleaning up the camp after all the students go home. It's a looong weekend.

But, here's the fruits of my endeavors. I was sub-scenario director for the first time and got to be in charge of 5 victims and their moulage.

Cool, huh?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Heading to Lost Pines

So, we're about to head out to teach Wilderness First Aid to a bunch of Boy Scouts. My entire family, with the most recent addition of hubby, are certified Red Cross instructors for Wilderness First Aid Basics. Our Venturing Crew specializes in teaching this class. We instruct, let's see 68 this weekend, how to save their asses when backpacking in the Great Outdoors.

Our local Boy Scout council requires the course for all troops headed to Philmont. So, we have a steady supply of victims. Speaking of which, we go whole hog and create scenarios complete with moulage to test their skills at the end of class. We have fun.

That's a piece of metal in his back. On site, we'll dig a small hole, have him lay down, and voila! hidden injury. We're sneaky that way.

More images to come on Sunday.

Rep. Henry Waxman

Okay, every time I see this guy on the tube I can't listen to what he's saying cause he's so damn fugly.

I mean, look at him! Gak!

I think he's a good choice for the chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. It's about time we had an environmentalist in this position. As long as I don't have to look at him too often...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Okay, this is just too funny...

I have to share. Go to this website and watch the "trailer".

They're coming to your town! Oooh. I'm scared. Except for the fact that "they" are already here. And just what is the gay agenda? Can someone tell me?

Personally, I like the one at BarkBarkWoofWoof.

Except for the 4 a.m. part.


Apparently, Somali pirates have released two ships after receiving $1.67 million for one and an undisclosed amount for the other. They currently hold a Saudi supertanker with $100 million in oil. They want $25 million in ransom.

Pirates? In this day and age? What the hell? As long as companies and nations keep paying ransoms, this idiots will keep taking ships. Apparently, they're pretty damn good at it if they can capture a ship like that oil tanker.

This is nuts. I know its a hard sell to the families of the hostages and I feel for them, but paying the ransom only encourages these douche bags. The Russians are all for attacking the pirates' land bases. The U.N. Security Council wants to impose sanctions and freeze assets of individuals providing support to the pirates.

This is a situation where the judicious application of force is required. For once, the Russians have the right idea.

Transgender Day of Remembrance

Today is the 10th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance. Please check out Things according to me to see a list of those who have died for this past year.

Let's hope that someday very soon there will be no one new on this list. In the words of Rodney King, "Can we all get along"?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Speak out!

In case you don't already know, Bush is trying to sneak through regulations that will allow health care providers to choose to define contraceptives as abortion and thus allow them to "opt out" of providing contraceptives as against their consciences.

I urge you to go to Planned Parenthood's website and send a message to Washington that you disagree with this proposal.

For a complete picture on how the Bush administration tried to sneak this one by and the outrage that ensued, read this.

Bush ain't done yet but we can still scream from the rooftops and not let him get away with this abomination.

Who says bloggers have no power?

Check this out.

Apparently, we can make a difference. When Mike Rogers of discovered that a local Subway franchisee donated to to Yes on Prop 8, he contacted Subway corporate headquarters.

They responded.

Now Subway has sexual orientation and gender identity language added to their discrimination policy, using the wording suggested by the blogger. And they've asked for the donation back.

How cool is that?

Monday, November 17, 2008

To Bail or Not to Bail

It's old school day in Washington.  Everything that is old is new.

So, the Big 3 automakers are asking for some of the bail out dollars to "develop alternatives to conventional fossil fuel powered vehicles" to the tune of $50 billion dollars.  They say they need the money in order to be competitive.  There's lots of noise on both sides of this issue.  At root is the idea that these companies are somehow to "big to fail" and so important to our economy that we have to help them.

Well, I have problems with giving Detroit money.  We've already done this once with Chrysler. Despite 1.2 billion in 1979, they didn't do so well. Now they want more.  If the President of GM won't resign and the UAW blames the economy for the auto industry woes instead of their own inflated pensions, I don't see why we as Americans should leverage their bad business practices.  Neither one wants to make any concessions.  Neither one wants to admit they may have had a hand in running the American auto industry to ground.
What ever happened to the idea of supply and demand?  If a business can't compete, it goes under.  Make poor investment decisions? Tough cookies.   It's as simple as that.  Just because they're large and employ lots of people is no reason for the government to step in and throw money at them.  We let the airline industry file bankruptcy, why not the auto makers?  At least under bankruptcy law there will be regulations and methods of restructuring that can conceivably purge the idiots and get them back on sound footing.

I simply don't get why it's so important that these guys not fail.  Unfortunately, I think the bail out is inevitable.  The consensus in Washington seems to be that we have to do this but we're going to "add strings".  Sure we are.  Worked really well the last time, didn't it?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I was a Reagan-era zombie

I came of age with Ronald Reagan as President. I just missed being able to vote against him the first time and watched with utter dismay as he won in what can only be described as a landslide in 1984.

Reagan scared the shit out of me the entire time he was in office. Let me say that again, with emphasis. Ronnie was scary!!! As a child of the 70s, I grew up under the threat of nuclear war. In some ways, my generation never believed that we would survive. Listening to Ronnie rant about the "Evil Empire" and drone on about how we needed to protect ourselves from the godless commies was never my favorite thing.

Reagan's "Star Wars" missile defense system was poorly thought out and provocative. It never worked, except maybe on paper. It pissed off the Russians and made them think we were looking to start a war that they would be unable to defend against. Now, somehow, Junior has tried to sneak it by us once again. Here we all were so fired up about the war in Iraq and arguing over who would replace him that we, or at least I, failed to notice when he decided to resurrect the idea of missile defense.

Folks, this shit still won't fly. It's still doesn't work. It's still provocative. And, hey, it's still pissing off the Russians. It feels like 1984 all over again.

Why would we want to travel down that path again? Is it only that this was the last time the Republicans felt like they really had control over things? Back when Ronnie Ray-gun was in office? I suppose that must be it. In the closing days of the election cycle here in Texas, we got the pleasure of hearing a radio ad run urging folks to vote Republican. The only name mentioned was Reagan's. Not a Bush or Palin or McCain in the entire thing. Just droning on about personal responsibility and voting Republican and how great Ronnie was.

Well, let me tell you my opinion. Ronald Reagan was an idiot. He didn't free the Iranian Embassy hostages, Carter did that. He takes credit for the fall of the Soviet Union. It collapsed under its own weight. Lots of people helped and maybe Ronnie had a part, but I can't really give the guy the credit. And we've seen where Reaganomics has gotten us.

So why the hell would we want to trot out a failed policy that did more to increase tensions in the Cold War than all of Ronnie's Evil Empire speeches put together? Are we really looking into starting that whole bullshit up again? Dude, cause I think Medvedev is ready to rumble.

It just isn't worth it.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Hokay, I have to rant

Every day when I use the little girls room at work some moron has covered the counter top with water after washing their hands. Ok, kudos, on the whole hand washing thing but seriously. There's enough standing water there for a someone else to wash their hands.

I just can't figure out how they do it. Do they cup their hands and fill them with water to rinse and then just sort of dribble it out as the reach for a paper towel? Do they shake their hands like a wet dog or what? I mean, it's not just a few drops. I can seriously wipe off enough water into the sink to hear it hit the porcelain, enough to fill up a double handle of paper towels sometimes.

WTF? How do they not realize the sink is there to catch the water?

Exxon redux

I've decided that since Exxon has so much money, they don't need anymore of mine. Starting today, I will protest their incessant greed the only way I can-- by refraining from purchasing gas from them.

Won't you join me?

Just another note on the "glad i'm not..." meter

So, I'll have to tell my husband when he gets in tonight. Next time he goes home, he can't go to church unless he repents first.

Seems that a South Carolinian Roman Catholic priest has told his parishioners that they should refrain from taking communion if they voted for Barack Obama. They have to perform a Sacrament of Penance first and get right with God for the sin of supporting a "pro-abortion" candidate when there was a viable pro-life candidate out there.

Whew. Well, first of all, good thing that hubby's not a practicing Catholic anymore. Especially good that neither we or his family lives in South Carolina. Perfectly lovely state, I'm sure, but still.

This is so crazy. But I want, no I need, you all to know that not every Christian thinks like this. A perfect example is the Rev. Chuck Currie of the United Church of Christ. His blog has a point of view much needed in this weary war on words that seems to be the only "faith-based" news the media reports upon.

With this revelation and the Mormon church's attack on Prop 8 in California, I think it time that this nation look closely at how we determine who receives tax-exempt status. When any church uses its power, money and influence to enter the political arena by supporting legislation and candidates and further using that power to intimidate its adherents, it is far past time that they loose the privilege of tax exempt status. Far, far past time.

This is the slippery slope that the founding Father's faced when they created they idea of separation of church and state.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Exxon and Prince William Sound

Remember last week when I talked about Exxon's obscene profit and how they have fought for 20 years to weasel out of punitive damages for the Valdez spill?

Well, the story continues. There is more. Prince William Sound is remote and rugged area of Alaskan coast that was covered by an oil spill 11,000 square miles in size after the Exxon Valdez ran aground on Bligh Reef on March 24, 1989. The official record states that 10.8 million gallons of crude oil were leaked by the disabled vessel.

Now, 20 years later, Exxon has received a favorable judgment that essentially lets it off the hook for reparations to the affected communities. Think the clean-up was effective? Exxon does.

Does this look clean to you?

That looks suspiciously like oil to me. How about you?

According to an article in the Guardian , "A study conducted by NOAA determined that as of early 2007 more than 26 thousand U.S. gallons (22,000 imp gal/98,000 L) of oil remain in the sandy soil of the contaminated shoreline, declining at a rate of less than 4% per year."

While the clean-up efforts at the time were hampered by the isolated location and our current technology, Exxon refuses to admit that this is still a problem. Much has been learned about how to correctly handle similar and even larger oil spills, so one can argue that we learned a valuable lesson from the Valdez spill. Environmentalists learned a lesson, certainly. But has Exxon?

I think they have not. They make BILLIONS every year. They balk at paying damages for so long that the judicial system essentially waves a white flag of surrender.

It is past time that Exxon and all the other megacorporations learned that they will be held responsible for their actions. Just like the current outrage over AIG's retreats in the face of multi-billion dollar bail-outs by America, we need to remember the outrage we felt when we watched hundreds of thousands of marine animals die, the livelihood of fellow Americans destroyed and what had once been a nearly pristine wilderness destroyed by our own addiction to oil.

We need to remember. We need to act. Think there's nothing to do in the face of such enormous greed? We must hold these corporations accountable.

I Hate Chihuahuas

I love dogs. Really, I do. But chihuahuas are not dogs. They're tiny little rat-like monsters that apparently are so potent their owners can't control them.

In the neighborhood where I live, there seems to be an overabundance of the little rat fucks. And the one common denominator? Their owners let them run loose in the street.

Now, we're talking about a dog that weighs less than a single tire on my car. One that seems completely unfazed by the two ton vehicle having to wait for it to decide to get out of the street. It's like, they look up and seem surprised to see me in my shiny silver Hyundai and wonder what the hell I'm doing in their way.

I'm about ready to put the Round Rock Animal Control number on my speed dial and just hit the button every time I see one of the little shits in the street. I mean, Holy Christ, don't these idiots care about the lives of their pets?

It's not like they don't have a fenced in back yard for them to run around in. No. Just about every one of my neighbors, I'd say easily 99%, have a fenced in back yard. Yet my next door neighbor opens her front door, let her two little yippy fucks out the front and CLOSES THE DOOR. She doesn't even stay out there with them the majority of the time. Holy Crap! If I let my 65 pound Rhodesian Ridgeback out the front door like that, I'd be in trouble in a second! Why is it these people think their little dogs are completely safe? Is it that they think the most they can do is piss all over you so it's okay to let them roam? Or that everyone thinks they're so darling they'd never hurt them? Well, let me inform you differently. These little shits are hard to see. They have no business running loose in the street. Hell, they're are cats in our neighborhood bigger than these dogs!

It's just a miracle one of them hasn't been run over yet. I mean, really. It's just a matter of time.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Ineffable Quality of Being Quackers

Well, this has been an odd and exhilarating week.  I've been trying to settle on a way to describe how I'm feeling and not really finding it.

A week ago today we elected Barack Obama as our next President.  The world hasn't changed that much, really, since then.  There are still just as many wingnuts and kooks out there as before.  Ann Coulter is still an idiot.  Texas is still Red.  My dog is still neurotic.

What is it that has changed?

I think my red hot flaming anger at all things Bush has certainly receded.  He seems such a sad little man now, surrounded by people trying to tell him he's still great when all the world knows the truth.  My incredulity is no longer strained at the mad spewings of rabid right wing pundits since a majority of Americans apparently agree with my assessment of their stupidity and voted against their spokesman.

Maybe it's just that my husband is out of town and the neurotic dog keeps waiting up for him so I end up with the entire bed to myself, mostly.  The other dog doesn't take up as much room or steal the covers or flop around trying to get comfortable.  I've slept well for almost a week.  Could that be it?  Not that I'm ready for separate beds when he gets back in town or anything, but I've gotten everyone to work and school on time, fed the dogs and the kid and myself, and taken care of immediate concerns without anyone's help.  I went to church by myself, attended the newcomer class alone and didn't explode when I had to introduce myself. Sounds pathetic, doesn't it?

I even managed to lose almost 5 pounds last week despite a well deserved celebration last Tuesday.  Can you say wine and cheese and pizza followed by champagne?

Maybe it's just that I've discovered a whole host of like minded inmates out here in the blogosphere and fellow Christians who really do think like me and knowing I'm not alone has been a great relief.

When one spends the greater part of one's life being the odd duck out, it comes as no small miracle to discover the other ducks out there.


Happy Veterans Day

Thank you to all veterans and their families who have served or are serving in our Armed Forces. May you all be remembered, respected and recognized as vital members of our nation.

Hate the war not the warrior.

Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) is a lunatic

Hokay. Now I have the "full picture" on what this jack-off was referencing. Are you ready? Seriously, I think you ought to sit down. I'll wait....

Ready? Apparently, Obama made a speech on July 2 in Colorado Springs in which he spoke about the need to expand...AmeriCorps!

For those of you that don't know, "AmeriCorps is a U.S. federal government program partnering with non-profit organizations, public agencies, and faith-based organizations that was created in 1993 by President Bill Clinton." (H/T to Into the Woods and Gooners on Daily Kos)

Now get what Broun thinks this means:

"It may sound a bit crazy and off base, but the thing is, he's the one who proposed this national security force," Rep. Paul Broun said of Obama in an interview Monday with The Associated Press. "I'm just trying to bring attention to the fact that we may — may not, I hope not — but we may have a problem with that type of philosophy of radical socialism or Marxism."

Not enough? He goes on:

"That's exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it's exactly what the Soviet Union did," Broun said. "When he's proposing to have a national security force that's answering to him, that is as strong as the U.S. military, he's showing me signs of being Marxist."

Do you see a powerful disconnect here? As in, how do we get from a service organization to Nazi brown shirts?

As always, don't take my word for it. And in case you think that this nut job from Georgia is alone, think again.

Just in case you forgot

Watch this:

Now remember that is direct video of our darling Mr Bush speaking about education.

Now read this:

"Obama thinks he is a good talker, but he is often undisciplined when he speaks. He needs to understand that as President, his words will be scrutinized and will have impact whether he intends it or not. In this regard, President Bush is an excellent model; Obama should take a lesson from his example. Bush never gets sloppy when he is speaking publicly. He chooses his words with care and precision, which is why his style sometimes seems halting. In the eight years he has been President, it is remarkable how few gaffes or verbal blunders he has committed. If Obama doesn't raise his standards, he will exceed Bush's total before he is inaugurated."

Those are the sterling words of one John Hinderacker of Powerline. Read the full idiocy here. H/T to Bark Bark Woof Woof

I don't know what world Mr. Hinderacker has been living in for the past 8 years but I find it hard to believe that he could actually say something like this and then sleep at night.

The Republicans are trying hard to salvage what they can of Bush's legacy. Too bad they didn't try eight years ago.

Monday, November 10, 2008

And the list grows...

The blogopshere is an incestuous place. You start out simply writing about what interests you. Something pisses you off and you go on a rant. Next thing you know, you're looking for like-minded inmates. Then someone starts posting comments and BOOM! your blog list grows. You have to go see what they're reading since they were kind enough to actually read yours.

I started out with a short list. Who came first is a blur. What was it, a month or two ago? Anyway, these things snowball. Now when I go to one site, I inevitably end up at least three more.

My choices are varied, I hope, but all fairly progressive. At any rate, they all have something I want to read or talk about things I agree with so there must be something in common.

So why do I bother with the never-ending list? Two reasons: First, I'm lazy. This way they're only one click away and all in one place. Hey, I have simple needs. Second: There's always the possibility that I might enlighten someone else, even if it's only one of my kids.

You never know. Stranger things have happened.

Anyway, with the election over and all that pent up angst and rage finally let free, at least on my part, the urge to blog endlessly about the neo-cons and idiots has receded. Unfortunately, that means I have to find a new topic. So, we're back to the never-ending blog list. There are some gems out there folks. Don't be afraid to sniff around and see what you find.

My top reads as of today are:
  Mudflats (got to keep up with Alaskan politics!)
  The Bilerico Project
  Straight Not Narrow

Ask me tomorrow and the list will change. Given enough free time in my work day ; ) I read them all.

And if I didn't mention you, don't feel bad. Most likely I read your blog today. And you led me somewhere new....

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Check this out!

This is just downright cool. Go to their website and you can even print a coupon for a starter kit. Score one for the environment!

All you ever wanted to know about Lymphedema but were afraid to ask...

Lymphedema comes in two basic forms- Primary, or what we now understand to be genetic, and Secondary, as a result of injury to the lymphatic system usually because of surgery or cancer treatments.

I have Primary Lymphedema. This means that I have a genetic disorder that I have passed down in an active form to one daughter and perhaps a dormant form to the other. Yea, me!

Lymphedema "is a condition of localized fluid retention caused by a compromised lymphatic system. The lymphatic system (often referred to as the body's "second" circulatory system) collects and filters the interstitial fluid of the body". (H/T to Wikipedia.) That point about the lymphatic system being a second circulatory system is an important one. It's a passive system, there is no heart to force the circulation. Lymph fluid moves through the actions of your body and has to fight gravity. Let's think that one through, shall we? In LE (lymphedema), as the affected limb begins to swell, it becomes harder to use. If you've ever had a twisted ankle, you know how this feels. As your ankles swells, it becomes less flexible. It hurts to move it anyway, so you stop. Unless you elevate your foot, the swelling increases and makes it worse. Why do we elevate? To fight gravity of course. So, if the lymphatic fluid moves as you move and you stop moving, the only force working on it is gravity. Thus, the only way to reduce the swelling is to elevate the affected limb. Not a very practical way to live.

According to the National Lymphedema Network , " Lymphedema can develop when lymphatic vessels are missing or impaired (primary), or when lymph vessels are damaged or lymph nodes removed (secondary). When the impairment becomes so great that the lymphatic fluid exceeds the lymphatic transport capacity, an abnormal amount of protein-rich fluid collects in the tissues of the affected area. Left untreated, this stagnant, protein-rich fluid not only causes tissue channels to increase in size and number, but also reduces oxygen availability in the transport system, interferes with wound healing, and provides a culture medium for bacteria that can result in lymphangitis (infection)."

And this lovely description tells us this is a progressive condition. As the fluid collects in the tissues of the affected area, it creates a series of changes that not only causes the swelling to worsen but works on the circulatory and muscular systems as well. Deprived of oxygen and literally squeezed out of space, muscles can atrophy, making it that much harder to move fluid. It's a viscous cycle that once started is the very devil to break unless caught early.

So, we have missing vessels or nodes that create a back-flow in the system. With no where to go, the fluid stagnates. How then is LE treated? Currently, there are only ways to manage this condition, there is no cure. Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT) is a multi-phased approach used to reduce the swelling and fibrosis (hardening of tissue), improve the skin and increase mobility. First, patients undergo Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD). A therapist physically moves the fluid through the body with a fairly simple form of massage that the patient learns as well. After every session of MLD, patients have the affected limb bound in short-stretch compression bandaging. This provides support and resistance for the limb. Exercises will be used once bandaged to help move remaining fluid. Once the limb has been reduced, the patient will be fitted with a compression garment and encouraged to continue daily MLD on their own.

Let me reiterate: THERE IS NO CURE. Various surgeries have been used over the years, almost always for extreme cases that cause complete disability. They generally do not work and often make things worse. A few years ago, Suzanne Sommers made headlines when she underwent treatment for breast cancer. She also developed LE in her affected arm. She underwent debulking/liposuction surgery. She's an idiot. Here we had a celebrity that could be the face for LE and she defies conventional wisdom and treats her LE as a cosmetic issue. Not a big help.

There is, however, research finally being done. I encourage you to visit the Lymphatic Research Foundation website. There are a whole host of diseases besides LE that are related to the lymphatic system. This organization is doing ground breaking work and pushing forward the boundaries of our knowledge on the lymphatic system. LRF was founded by the mother of a LE patient. She has done more in the past few years to increase research in this vital body system than just about anyone. If you're looking for an organization to donate to, these folks are doing good work.

Just what other conditions are considered part of LRF's mandate? Metastatic cancer is now seen as a lymphatic issue. In fact, without a lymphatic system, there would be no metastasis. It is through the lymphatic system that cancer cells are moved around the body. Autoimmune disorders are being increasingly tied to the lymphatic system. Since the system is the transport for many aspects of the immune system and aids in the removal of cell debris (yes, the lymphatic system is the sewer of the body), it is increasingly seen as tied to a host of autoimmune diseases such as Lupus.

These are just a few. Until recently, the lymphatic system received very little emphasis in medical education. Just a "it's there" and let's move on to those areas we can actually affect change. This is, happily, beginning to change. And it is in no small part thanks to the LRF.

Remember the treatment we discussed, CDT? This has been used in Europe and Australia for almost 4 decades. Until just the last ten years or so, it was considered experimental in the US and was very difficult to find treatment or insurance coverage for. This has changed in part because of the Breast Cancer Patient Protection Act of 2007. This legislation dealt primarily with the idea of drive-though mastectomies, but also addressed post-surgery complications. Unfortunately, since Medicare got involved it mandated a entire set of rules and regulations that actually set back treatment in some cases. MLD therapists are now required to be licensed Physical Therapists. Because MLD was a massage based therapy it was primarily delivered by certified massage therapists. Now those folks either have to go back to school to get a masters in PT or find other work. Way to go Medicare. Also, since Medicare is involved in setting pricing for the treatment and supplies, we'll begin to see fewer providers. Just recently, when I was ordering a new garment, I discovered the company I had been using has stopped providing custom fitted garments. I now have one location I can go to that is covered by my insurance. I can't really give you a good explanation of why Medicare low balls their fee structure but I saw it first hand when I was a Dialysis Tech. Dialysis is one of the few treatment modalities that is completely covered by medicare. Unfortunately, what they pay the centers is insufficient to cover all staffing and treatment costs. If it weren't for those few patients with private health insurance, dialysis centers would find it hard to stay open. This is one of the reasons medical care is so expensive. The idea of Universal Health Coverage is all well and good but the system as it currently stands will not be able to handle the lack of funding that would be inherent in a government-run system. Much will have to change. But that's a whole other ball of wax.

LE is, in short, a progressive condition that must be treated on a daily basis. What this means practically for me as an LE patient is that I must wear some type of compression every day. Right now as I sit here writing this, I am wearing my Reid Sleeves. These are large, bulky boots that reach from toe to hip that are filled with an egg crate foam and adjusted with velcro straps to provide compression. Most days, I wear a compression garment that looks like a pair of panty hose. These garments have come along way in their appearance, comfort and quality over the years. I do self-MLD regularly, though I should be doing it more frequently. I have to take care of my skin almost as if I was diabetic. Any injury, no matter how small, must be dealt with immediately and treated with antibiotic creams. I could be taking a prophylactic dose of oral antibiotics like I was after my last bout with cellulitis but there are risks involved in doing so. Namely, developing antibiotic resistance. Not something I want to contemplate since the last time I had cellulitis was so bad and difficult to treat.

Most days, I go about my business without giving it too much thought. Occasionally, I have pain associated with fibrotic tissue in my legs and the poor circulation resulting. It has become a part of who I am and a limiting factor in some ways. However, I have come to believe that how I approach this mentally is every bit as important as what I do physically. I am probably more handicapped by my weight than I am by my lymphedema. So, I chose to deal with this as someone with any chronic disease must. One day at a time. And an eye to the future.

Lymphedema- My Story

As many of you know I have lymphedema, Primary Bilateral Lower Limb Lymphedema to be precise. You probably have no idea what it really is. Don't feel bad. I've had a doctor tell me I probably knew as much about it as he did. Not really what you're looking to hear from the person you've been sent to by your primary doctor since she didn't know anything either. I've been told it's just something you're going to have to learn to live with. This was from a surgeon, which from his point of view, was essentially correct. He couldn't repair or cure my lymphedema with surgery so it was not something he could affect therefore it was just something I would have to live with. He gave me a prescription for a lymphatic pump and walked out of the room.

I've had lymphedema since I was about 5. As a child, I had all sorts of tests done, most of which I blissfully do not remember. I was tested for cancers, heart disease and just about anything else they could think of since no one was thinking Lymphedema. I even had exploratory surgery at one point to rule out I'm not sure what. That was in third grade. I spent every day from about 1st grade onward in a compression garment until middle school when I rebelled. I don't really remember the day to day struggle with the garment except that it was hot (I grew up in Houston) and uncomfortable. In fact, it wasn't until shortly after my mother died that in a discussion with my sisters I learned that they had been recruited to help me get the garment on when I was a young child. Let me try to explain why this was so and what it means to me. First off, a compression garment in appearance looks like a pair of tights, except much heavier and made of, at the time, much coarser material. They were kind of like the material of a knee or wrist brace you can buy a Walgreen's expanded into the form of panty hose. They were difficult to put on and as a child I required help to do so.

Here's the neat part: I have absolutely no recall of either of my sisters ever doing this.   None. I don't doubt that they did it. It only makes sense when I look back, knowing how difficult it was for me as an adult to get a garment on. I think this struggle and the resulting discomfort is what created such a high pain threshold for me as a teenager, and my reluctance to tell my mother when I was in pain. Dude, the psychological impact of this is a post unto itself. Suffice it to say that I was conditioned to ignore the pain, was subliminally aware of the resentment my sister's felt with out knowing why and grew up being "different" which as we all know pretty much sucks.

My lymphedema was well controlled throughout elementary and middle school. When I got to middle school and encountered the demon of gym, where we had to "dress out" I soon discovered that I was going to have to explain on a near daily basis what the hell I was wearing. It got old very quickly. So, I moved into a knee high compression garment that I could effectively cover up with socks (ah, the 70s!) and that was the end of that. Except that I gradually took to wearing them less and less and by the time I was in college, was rarely wearing them at all.

Again, my lymphedema gave me little problem. My ankles were almost always swollen but that was really about the extent. But gradually as I grew older, had children and started gaining weight, my lymphedema starting getting worse. I sought treatment once after my eldest was born consisting of a compression garment. More like a Chinese torture device. I don't know if you got from the description above how grossly uncomfortable these damn things were. Actually, it was more than uncomfortable. It hurt. It was most likely not well fitted but I was quickly discouraged enough to refuse to wear it.

As it continued to grow worse, I tried again. This is when my MD sent to the doc who was so smart to tell me I knew as much as him. He gave me diuretics and dismissed my questions about a new treatment I had heard about, Complete Decongestive Therapy. His explanation was that it was not a cure, worked well only as long as you were actively undergoing treatment and was not worth the time. Of course, he was thinking cure. Not management. This is important to understand. Since so little was and is known about Lymphedema, it has taken a very long time to shift the focus from cure and the general lack thereof, to management, which for the time being is where the focus needs to be.

So, the drugs didn't work. More years went by and I learned more information. I discovered a clinic in Austin that performed CDT and started the process with my insurance. They refused to cover it, calling the treatment non-standard and experimental. I would have to prove standard treatment a failure first. At my demand, they sent me to their "expert", the surgeon. The pump he prescribed for me came with no instruction on its use or potential misuse. It made things worse.

A few more years went by. On and off insurance over this time, I was left with very little I could productively do. I then had an episode of cellulitis that put me in the hospital. Low and behold, insurance was now interested in helping. So, once again I sought out the clinic and with some back and forth between we will pay, we won't pay, okay if you make me, I finally got some treatment. It was great. I was fitted for a compression garment and discovered that there had been some serious advances in their manufacture, as in, they were no longer Chinese torture devices.

Now I knew what to do and the only real handicap in keeping up with my treatment lay in my own commitment to the garment, bandages, etc and insurance. Because of the advanced state of my condition, I require a custom-fitted garment. These cost between $200 and $400 a piece and must be replaced at minimum twice a year. Without insurance, that cost was too great some years.

For almost a decade, we were on and off insurance as the job market allowed. In that time, I started having recurring bouts of cellulitis and other complications, that I lovingly referred to as leaking. A small nick on my leg would leak lymphatic fluid and sometimes continue for hours at a time. Fun times.

It was in this decade that we discovered one of our daughters had inherited this condition. At the time I was having children, no one knew enough about Primary Lymphedema to know that it was genetic. So when my daughter started experiencing swelling in one her legs, I was immediately concerned. My worst fears were confirmed and the progression of her condition has continued at a far faster pace than mine at her age.

All this was topped off with my most serious bout of cellulitis. I was in the hospital for three weeks. I became septic, the infection acted in ways it had never before and spread to the other leg. I spent a week in ICU, most of which I do not remember. It almost killed me.

Since then, both my daughter and I have received CDT and are faithfully wearing our compression garments, Nothing like a little near death experience to wake you up.

Next, a more medical discussion on the condition, where research is headed and how important education is for the medical community and patients.

Transgender issues

I'm not going to say that I am an expert in this area, but I am trying to become educated. I have the fortune of knowing a transgender individual and his ongoing journey has been an eye-opening lesson for me.

From the open rejection he faces from his mother to the loving and open acceptance he receives from his sister, he has been both blessed and cursed to encounter the extremes in reactions he will no doubt face throughout his life.

I encourage you to read the article this post title links to above. There is hope for the transgender community even in the Red States, of which Texas certainly qualifies.

In much the same way that Gays and Lesbians have slowly entered the mainstream consciousness and, current political defeats notwithstanding, reveal themselves as simply human, so does the trans community need to be willing to step forward and engage society. When they do, more people will come to understand them and recognize their essential humanity.

I will continue to seek to learn the lingo, to understand the differences between transgender, intersexed and transvestite, and to support fully any decision that my transgender friend makes. Even if I seem a bit confused at times. I don't have to understand everything, I just have to accept him for who he is.

That should be enough.

Friday, November 7, 2008

North Carolina and Missouri decided

North Carolina to Obama.

Missouri to McCain.

North Carolina voted Democrat for the first time since Jimmy Carter in 1976.

Hey! Lurkers!

You can now show me you're actually reading this site without posting a comment. At the end of each post you will now find a way to comment without commitment. Just check the tick mark next the box or boxes you best feel describes the post. If you don't find one that matches your assessment, then you can make a comment and I might just add it.

As long as it fits ; )

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Fear has it's place in our psychology. Fear of the Other and the Unknown kept us safe and cautious as we evolved. But in our modern world, it sometimes gets in the way.

Take the entire issue of Gay Marriage. I have yet to have anyone really explain to me how a marriage between a gay couple threatens mine in any way. It reminds me of the pressures that interracial couples faced not so long ago. In fact, it wasn't until 1967 when Loving v Virginia reached the Supreme Court that anti-miscegenation laws were made unconstitutional. At the time 16 states in the US were actively enforcing laws that prohibited interracial marriage. In parts of America, these couples still face rejection.

The argument that marriage is incontrovertibly caught up in the procreation of the race, which has been used by courts to exclude the Loving v Virginia case as "controlling upon the issue of same-sex marriage" doesn't hold much water. If procreation is the goal of marriage then logically any marriage that does not result in offspring is invalid. For this to be true, it means infertile couples, couples past child bearing age, and those that chose to remain childless should be equally held to have invalid marriages. Since they are clearly not viewed as so, this is by itself an indication of the discriminatory nature of anti-Gay Marriage laws.

Fear is the ultimate motivator behind the sometimes very rabid insistence of some that marriage should be defined as between one man and one woman (love that they felt they had to include "one" so as to avoid the whole issue of polygamy). But what are they afraid of?

There is the essential fear of the Other at work here. The fear that the Other will take away your control and force you into doing something you find offensive. We fear giving the Other the same rights as we enjoy out of the idea that this will somehow diminish our rights. And on many levels, homophobia can be traced to the fear that you yourself may be homosexual and then become a victim of your own prejudice.

These fears are irrational. Granting LGBTs the right to marriage, equal protection under the law and the same respect granted, or that should be granted, to every individual does not diminish you in any way. Gay marriage will not make heterosexual marriage any less valid. Gay men are not out to rape and seduce straight men any more than straight men are out to seduce or rape Gay men. That fear is a strongly misplaced sense of narcissism.

Many of these same arguments were used in regard to interracial marriage. Somehow the very idea of interracial marriage was seen as threatening to non-interracial marriage and the purity of the White race. And let's not forget the long held belief that Black men were intent on deflowering the cream of white womanhood. Being incapable of self-control when confronted with nubile young white girls, black men were assumed to be a threat.

While we now look on these ideas as misbegotten and unrepentant prejudice worthy only of our scorn, how do they really differ from the notion that Gay Marriage will undermine the family, result in higher divorce rates and the ultimate destruction of the human race? This did not happen when we allowed interracial marriages. It will not happen if we allow Gay Marriage.

The whole idea of the "American Family" was changing long before the idea of Gay Marriage came along as the perfect punching bag. The number of divorced people in the population more than quadrupled from 4.3 million in 1970 to 18.3 million in 1996, according to a Census Bureau. Gay Marriage was not legal in any state in the Union until the Massachusetts law in 2004. From January to December 2007, 2,443,857 Americans divorced, according to the Bureau of National Vital Statistics. That would seem like the number of divorces has decreased since the Massachusetts law went into effect. If numbers are your thing, this certainly looks like a kink in that argument.

Ultimately, fear is the basis for most of our prejudices, and generally it's an irrational fear. Fear served its purpose as we evolved. It kept us safe, helped us learn limits. It also led to warfare, prejudice and countless forms of discrimination.

It's time that we examined why so many of us are so fearful of the very idea of Gay Marriage. Let's us remember some very famous thoughts on fear as we enter into this study on who has the right to marry whom:

"I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain." Frank Herbert, Dune

"Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd." Bertrand Russel

And perhaps the most famous quote regarding fear of all:

"The only thing we have to fear is fear it'self - nameless, unreasoning, unjustified, terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."
---- FDR - First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1933

It is more than past time that we accepted the arguments against fair and equal treatment of the LGBT among us as based on fear. This fear diminishes us, makes us so much less than what we can be and needlessly destroys lives.

"Courage is not the lack of fear but the ability to face it." Lt. John B. Putnam Jr. (1921-1944)

Let us face our fears.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It's all in the numbers...

Apparently, the pundits called Missouri a bit too soon. The latest results show an even closer count than North Carolina. It's 1,442,613 for McCain and 1,436,745 for Obama. That a difference of 5,868. What will happen to their 11 E.C. votes? Unlike Maine and Nebraska that have provisions to allocate their electoral college votes proportionally (although they do not usually since their EC count is so small), Missouri does not. So like North Carolina a decision must be made.

While the 26 votes between the two states will not provide McCain with a victory or even make it close, it does beg the question: why do we use this system? In some states like Texas, where the outcome is a foregone conclusion, it has the effect of disenfranchising those of us who vote against the tide. While I am thrilled that Obama won, I am not happy that my vote and the votes of 3,521,163 other Texans, some of whom I know, did not really count. Even though over 3 million Texans voted for Obama, the only thing that matters is that McCain won the majority and so gets all the glory. It's a foolish, outdated system that needs to be replaced. It might have made sense in the days before instant election results. Now we can get final counts in 24 hours in most cases. It should be enough. Just think, if this was the case Bush would never had made it into office in 2000. Gore won 50,999,897 popular votes, Bush only 50,456,002. That's a difference of 543,895. That's more votes than the entire state of Wyoming has residents. In essence over half a million voters had their vote stolen in that election. No matter where you stand on the recount in Florida and the general fiasco that ensued, it is clear that the system is broken.

So what is the fate of 7,108,973 votes? How will they be counted? Will 3,551,894 McCain voters see their votes tossed away like so much garbage? Or will 3,560,079 Obama voters feel the sting?

It's a good thing that 18,845,055 more Americans voted in this election than in 2000. In fact, it's a great thing. But we should be counting every single one of those votes! I say it's time we let all votes be counted. If it's good enough to elect our Governors and members of Congress, it should be good enough to elect the President.

Freedom from hate

For those of you that don't remember or were not born:

America has come a long, long way.

Why is this an historic election?

My daughter and I were watching CNN this morning and caught Oprah in tears over the election of Barack Obama. My daughter turned to me and asked why were African-Americans so emotional over this victory?

I answered that it was an historic election. That while her generation viewed the idea of an African-American President as inevitable, those of us in older generations did not. She said she realized this was historic but she was still a little amazed at the response.

I've been thinking about how to clarify things for her. How do I explain to a white teenage college student what growing up in the US as an African-American is like when I myself am white? I can only turn to history.

In 1964 the Civil Rights Acts was passed. 1964, the year I was born. Before this legislation, African-Americans faced a kind of discrimination that, as someone who has never experienced it even second-hand, I cannot quite comprehend. Or understand. My parents, God rest them, grew up during the Great Depression in East Texas. They learned racism along with their ABCs. As a child of the 70s growing up in Houston, I did not. I rejected their discrimination and vowed to raise my children as color-blind as possible. As, I think, many of my generation did. For us, the institutionalized racism was a thing of the past. We sought to create a new generation that would not hold the same prejudices of our parents.

The Civil Rights Act encouraged desegregation of schools, sought to eliminate discriminatory practices for public facilities and voter registration and prevent discriminatory practices in government agencies. Before this act was passed it was common to see African-American voters in the South subjugated to a literacy test before they would be allowed to vote, discrimination in public transportation, restaurants, movie theaters and more was commonplace. For everyone born before 1960, this means that they were exposed to the kind of discrimination and racism that the current generation, especially those not of color, simply cannot comprehend.

That means for folks like Oprah and Spike Lee and Jesse Jackson, they have seen discrimination as a regular part of their lives for many years. Despite the Civil Rights Act, African-Americans face discrimination daily. Ask any African-American male. They've been pulled over by cops, had women cross the street as they walked down the side walk and generally been viewed as dangerous most of their lives. Why this is so has many explanations. From very real gang violence, to film and TV depictions, Rap music and more.

My daughter's generation, I like to think, has learned to look beyond the color of a person's skin, beyond their sexuality, beyond their professed faith or lack thereof to see the quality of the person. For them, the question wasn't do I vote for the Black guy or the White guy? It was who is the better candidate, who has the better ideas to move this country forward, who resorts to ugly, divisive tactics?

My daughters both voted for the first time this election. Many of their friends voted. Some actually returning home to just to vote early. Others by mail in ballots. Still others proudly taking their place in line yesterday. This election was for them. Those youth who watched and were disgusted with the last eight years but were still too young to vote. It will be days yet before we get the final results of the youth vote in America but my gut tells me they voted overwhelmingly for Barack Obama. This is one more reason this election is historic. They proved the pundits who had them pegged as apathetic very, very wrong.

I think this election, as the years pass, will be seen as a watershed moment not just for African-Americans, but for the power of the Internet. Gone are the days of candidates saying whatever they wanted, spreading lies and half-truths, and speaking to the fringe of their party as if they were the most important people on the continent. From blogs, to YouTube (yea YouTube!), to fact checking websites, the people were able to make informed decisions without relying on the main stream media and the candidates themselves. Maybe it's that I'm a child of Watergate. I lost all respect for politicians after Nixon and took whatever they told me as unreliable at worst and misguided at best. I'm of that generation that just assumes all politicians are lying to me. So for me, the idea that I can determine who's actually lying to me is nothing short of miraculous.

But back to my daughter's question. the only answer I can give her is that for the first time, African-Americans can look at the President of the United States of America and see someone who looks like them. That is no small thing. As our country's demographics move increasingly towards a non-White majority, it is time for the face of our country to reflect that. For those who thought it could never happen, whether they felt so out of desperation or righteous indignation, we the people have proven you wrong.

America looks the same way it did yesterday. It is up to all of us to set aside our differences and work for America, all of America. Let it be so.

Yes, We Can!

It looks like my prediction was wrong. Math was never my strong suit, but I can happily report that President-elect Obama has surpassed my prediction. Interestingly enough, it appears that North Carolina is split 50-50 with all precincts reporting. What happens to their 15 Electoral College votes? The votes were 2,101,986 for Obama and 2,089,826 votes for McCain. If you look at the county by county map North Carolina looks pretty darn purple. Who's going to get those EC votes? It won't matter in the big picture but I'm fairly certain North Carolinians want to have their votes counted.

Speaking of North Carolina, Kay Hagen defeated Elizabeth Dole 53% to 44%. Looks like calling Ms. Hagan "godless" didn't work so well for Ms. Dole. Good job, Libby.

On a more local note, John Cornyn is once again going to represent Texas in the Senate. I'm not happy that he managed to ride McCain's coattails in Texas, winning by an almost identical percentage. Out of 32 US House races in Texas, 12 were won by Democrats, a net loss of 1 for the Democrats.

So, while Texas still appears firmly on the Red side, please don't forget us Blue voters trying to make come change. And don't think we all voted for McCain.

The concession speech I wanted to hear from McCain

My friends (there has to be one of those), this has been a historic election. We fought hard and we lost. We lost to the better man because I allowed myself to be convinced that anything could be said or implied or done to win. And I apologize.

We fought hard and we fought dirty. I have told more lies and allowed more lies to be told in my name than I can count. I did not stop those who cried out "Terrorist" or "Kill Him" or "Muslim" because those people would vote for me. I encouraged and played to their fears; the fear of the Other; the unspoken racism that still lingers in far too many places in our great nation. And I apologize.

I made mistakes. Many mistakes. One of biggest is standing next to me tonight on this stage, My choice of Sarah Palin as a running mate may well have cost me this election. Her appeal to the far right wing of my party is unequivocal. But it has also driven many moderate, thinking Republicans to the other side. It has fractured the Republican party in ways that we cannot even begin to appreciate. It was a mistake. And I apologize.

I did not understand the potential of the Internet but relied on the tried and true methods. They no longer work. I have learned the hard way the lesson of this election. That everything I do or say will be recorded and uploaded to the Internet. That those who profess to speak for me or in support of me will likewise be recorded and have that video uploaded to use against me. I did not see that the Internet could be a tool for positive networking and creating an educated, motivated political machine. And I apologize.

Most of all I apologize to the American people for running the very type of campaign I swore I would not run. I hired the same SOBs that spread lies about my daughter to spread lies about Obama. And I defended that choice. I did not silence those around me that pandered to the worst in all of us. And I defended what they said as truth. I was guided only by my desire to win. And I apologize.

I pledge to you that I will return to the Senate and truly work with President Obama. I will work to end the divisiveness that has been the hallmark of my campaign. I promise to remember the man I was in 2000 and earn your respect once more.

I thank you for your vote and I urge you to set aside your fear and disappoint. Let us come together as a nation to solve the many problems facing us. They will not be solved by politics as usual. We must look forward as one nation. God Bless America and God Bless Barack Obama.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

President Elect Obama

I know many people are talking about this being an historic election. Just as many people are afraid of where Barack Obama's presidency will lead us.

But after watching both candidates speeches this evening, I come away with this: McCain made a valiant effort to restore his image and looked more like the John McCain of 2000 than he has in months. (more on this speech to come). Obama knows he has many people to convince of his sincerity and ability. His speech was diplomatic and very definitely presidential.

Both candidates called on their backers to support the other. McCain promised to work with President Obama. Obama expressed his appreciation of McCain's sacrifices and his service to his country. Both men showed what the best in America can be like.

I hope that President Obama can show us how to look beyond the idea of my party right or wrong. That we can look beyond Red state or Blue state and see only the United States of America.

After the last 12 years, starting with the debacle of Clinton's last term and ending with Bush's last term, this country has been divided. We've turned ourselves over to partisan politics, so much so that we've learned to accept the wildest accusations and the weirdest conspiracies in our attempt to vilify the other guy.

I fervently hope for a time when we can argue constructively and look beyond the rhetoric. I want to believe that the era of partisan politics is ending.

Hope is alive. Let us pray it only grows stronger in the days to come.

: ( Texas called for McCain

CNN has called Texas for McCain. While I knew this was inevitable I was hopeful. Despite the fact that the 4 largest population centers in the state all voted for Obama (as of 9:38PM CT), the state is currently showing a 9 point lead for McCain. These Obama counties were more than balanced by the heavily McCain rural counties.

Yet despite Texas' 34 electoral college votes for McCain, he is still behind Obama. The count stands at 207 to 135 and the popular vote seems to be shifting to Obama. CNN has this as 51% Obama. With 97 electoral college votes in states either still voting or undecided at this time but firmly in Obama's column and 40 more in the contested states of Florida and Virginia, 300 is more than possible; it is likely.

I predict that Obama's final electoral college tally will be 341.

Texas is looking Purple!!

As of 8:40PM CT, none of the major TV outlets have called Texas for the expected McCain win. In fact, McCain is only leading by a 3-5% margin on the various networks. When you stop to think that every poll showed McCain leading in Texas by 10 points or more, this is quite remarkable. 120,000 votes separate them. As I predicted Travis and Dallas counties are voting by wide margins for Obama, and Harris and Bexar counties are voting for Obama by slim margins. These counties represent the largest cities in Texas, namely: Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio.

We're looking at a very real possibility that Texas will be purple. I still predict that McCain will win Texas but the margin will be far, far smaller than previously thought.

And that gives me hope.


My family and I have all voted and are awaiting tonight's election results with equal parts eagerness and trepidation. My husband, youngest daughter and I voted early on October 29. Texas allows early voting with no restrictions and absentee voting if a few basic requirements are met. In fact, my eldest, who attends the University of North Texas in Denton voted by mail in both the primary and general elections. For both of them, at 18 and 20 respectively, this is their first presidential election. I'm proud of both of them. Not because they voted for Obama, though that's certainly a plus, but because they voted. We've discussed the presidential election thoroughly in our household but state and local candidates have gotten short shrift. Still, they know how to search the Internet. They may not have voted exactly as I did but that matters less to me than the fact that they were engaged in the election process and felt compelled to vote. Isn't that what it's all about?

On another note, I've been amused the last few days by a radio ad from the Williamson County Republican party. It endorses not a single candidate but extols the virtues of voting Republican. In fact, the only Republican mentioned by name is Reagan. That's how far back they feel they have to go to get a candidate worth talking about. Maybe they're thinking like Louis Black and it's time to elect a dead president.

Williamson county, like the majority of counties in Texas, has a long history of supporting Republicans. All the more so because of the close proximity to Travis County and Austin, that Blue bastion in an otherwise Red State. That they feel the need to buy air time to promote their party tells me a lot about their concerns for this election.

Travis county is expecting a near 80% voter turnout. 80%. That's nothing short of astonishing! Travis will vote for Obama, as will, most likely, Dallas and possibly Harris (Houston). This in no way means Texas will go to Obama, but one can always hope.

Still, while I have no illusions that Texas will go to Obama even by a small margin, I do believe that he will win the general election. More importantly, I think Texas stands a chance of electing other Democrats to Congress and the state houses.

Whatever the final outcome, America will still be standing on November 5. Let us hope that everyone remembers that.