Thursday, April 19, 2007

Mindful thinking in a global economy

News story on topic. Some interesting points for our political leaders to consider. You want to be a global community, U.S.? Start thinking that way. Maybe then the mentally ill, woman/rich-person/American life-hating folk won't come here to easily obtain weapons and kill. Maybe.... Nothing 100%, but at least it could reduce the probability these tragic acts of violence happen....

LONDON - The Virginia Tech shootings sparked criticism of U.S. gun control laws around the world Tuesday.

Editorials lashed out at the availability of weapons, and the leader of Australia — one of America's closest allies — declared that America's gun culture was costing lives.

South Korea's Foreign Ministry said the government hoped Monday's shootings, allegedly carried out by a 23-year-old South Korean native, would not "stir up racial prejudice or confrontation."

While some focused blame only on the gunman, world opinion over U.S. gun laws was almost unanimous: Access to weapons increases the probability of shootings. There was no sympathy for the view that more guns would have saved lives by enabling students to shoot the assailant.

"We took action to limit the availability of guns and we showed a national resolve that the gun culture that is such a negative in the United States would never become a negative in our country," said Australian Prime Minister John Howard, who staked his political career on promoting tough gun laws after a gunman went on one of the world's deadliest killing sprees 11 years ago.

The tragedy in a Tasmanian tourist resort left 35 people dead. Afterward, Australia's gun laws were changed to prohibit automatic weapons and handguns and toughen licensing and storage restrictions.

Handguns are also banned in Britain — a prohibition that forces even the country's Olympic pistol shooting team from practicing on its own soil. In Sweden, civilians can acquire firearm permits only if they have a hunting license or are members of a shooting club and have no criminal record. In Italy, people must have a valid reason for wanting one. Firearms are forbidden for private Chinese citizens.

Still, leaders from Britain, Germany, Mexico, China, Afghanistan and France stopped short of criticizing President Bush or U.S. gun laws when they offered sympathies to the families of Monday's victims.

Editorials were less diplomatic.

"Only the names change — And the numbers," read a headline in the Times of London. "Why, we ask, do Americans continue to tolerate gun laws and a culture that seems to condemn thousands of innocents to death every year, when presumably, tougher restrictions, such as those in force in European countries, could at least reduce the number?"

The French daily Le Monde said the regularity of mass shootings across the Atlantic was a blotch on America's image.

"It would be unjust and especially false to reduce the United States to the image created, in a recurrent way, from the bursts of murderous fury that some isolated individuals succumb to. But acts like this are rare elsewhere, and tend to often disfigure the 'American dream.'"

Police started identifying the victims Tuesday. One was a Peruvian student identified as Daniel Perez Cueva, 21, according to his mother Betty Cuevas, who said her son was studying international relations.

Professors from India, Israel and Canada also were killed. Liviu Librescu, 76, an engineering science and mathematics lecturer, tried to stop the gunman from entering his classroom by blocking the door before he was fatally shot, his son said Tuesday from Tel Aviv.

"My father blocked the doorway with his body and asked the students to flee," Joe Librescu said. His father, a Holocaust survivor, immigrated to Israel from Romania, and was on sabbatical in Virginia.

Indian-born G.V. Loganathan, 51, a lecturer at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, was also among the dead, his brother G.V. Palanivel told Indian media.

"We all feel like we have had an electric shock. We do not know what to do," Palanivel said.
Canadian Jocelyn Couture-Nowak, a French instructor, also died in the shootings, said her husband Jerzy Nowak, head of the university's horticulture department. "We're mourning," Nowak said.
The killings also hit a nerve for Virginia Tech alumni abroad.

"I think if this does prompt a serious and reflective debate on gun issues and gun law in the States, then some good may come from this woeful tragedy," said British Home Office Minister Tony McNulty, who graduated in 1982.

Britain's 46 homicides involving firearms last year was the lowest since the late 1980s. New York City, with 8 million people compared to 53 million in England and Wales, recorded 590 homicides last year.

"If the guns are harder to get a hold of, fewer people will do it," said Michael Dent, a 65-year-old construction worker in London. "You can't walk up to a supermarket or shop and buy a gun like in the States." (this may be pushing the line, London fellow...Can you say exaggeration??)

But even in Germany, where gun-control laws are strict, a teenager in 2002 shot and killed 12 teachers, a secretary, two students and a police officer at a high school. The shooter was a gun club member licensed to own weapons. The attack led Germany to raise the age for owning recreational firearms from 18 to 21.

"The instant I saw the pictures and heard the commentary, it immediately brought back our own experience," Gutenberg high school director Christiane Alt said of the Virginia Tech killings.

The Swedish daily Goteborgs-Posten said without access to weapons, the killings at Virginia Tech may have been prevented.

"What exactly triggered the massacre in Virginia is unclear, but the fundamental reason is often the perpetrator's psychological problems in combination with access to weapons," it wrote.

The shootings drew intense media coverage in China, in part because the school has a large Chinese student body.

"This incident reflects the problem of gun control in America," Yuan Peng, an American studies expert in China, was quoted as saying by state-run China Daily.

Only 7 percent of the more than 26,000 students at Virginia Tech are foreign, according to the school Web site. But Chinese make up nearly a third of that.

In Italy, there are three types of licenses for gun ownership: for personal safety, target practice and skeet shooting, and hunting. Authorization is granted by the police. To obtain a gun for personal safety, the owner must be an adult and have a "valid" reason. (Hmmm...)

Italy's leading daily Corriere della Sera's main story on the shootings was an opinion piece entitled "Guns at the Supermarket" — a critical view of the U.S. gun lobby and the ease with which guns can be purchased. State-run RAI radio also discussed at length what it said were lax standards for gun ownership in the United States.

"The latest attack on a U.S. campus will shake up America, maybe it will provoke more vigorous reactions than in the past, but it won't change the culture of a country that has the notion of self-defense imprinted on its DNA and which considers the right of having guns inalienable," Corriere wrote in its front-page story.

Several Italian graduate students at Virginia Tech recounted how they barricaded themselves inside a geology department building not far from the scene of the shooting.

In Mexico, radio commentators criticized the availability of firearms in the U.S. Others renewed Mexico's complaint that most guns in Mexico are smuggled in from the United States.

The killings led newspapers' front pages, with Mexico City's Dario Monitor reporting: "Terror returns to the U.S.: 32 assassinated on university campus." The tabloid Metro compared Mexico's death toll Monday from drug violence to the number of people killed at Virginia Tech, in a front-page headline that read: "U.S. 33, Mexico 20."

Monday, April 16, 2007

Removing a threat

Another school shooting massacre, this time a college campus. Man walks into classrooms and shoots dozens of people - 33 dead in all. Some of the students say he "seemed trained" in using the weapon. Another example of why guns shouldn't be allowed. Yes, enter all the Second Amendment furvents and hunters who think otherwise, avidly preaching that it's not the "responsible, law-abiding" gun owners who commit these crimes. My question: HOW THE HELL DO YOU KNOW THAT? Maybe he hunted, and bought this weapon for hunting. Maybe he went hunting every year with with his father and brother growing up, getting training and leading up to the unforseeable mental breakdown and massacre at V-Tech. We must blame ourselves for this tragedy. We aren't a mature enough society to own guns, for whatever reason. At the same time., we're also not a mature enough society to make a stand and ban these killing machines. By doing that, at least you eliminate SOME of the risk. Criminals can still find guns. But it will be more difficult. People who cite the Constitution as their "God-given" right to own a gun... Please. Maybe back in the day, but not now. Guns have changed too much. Our Framers didn't foresee or intend to allow what has become. There comes a time when laws and rules can't keep up with society's advances, and therefore must be amended. That's how the law works - it's ever-changing. If not, then these people should only be able to own single-shot weapons and cannons - not semi autos and automatics, and handguns that can be concealed. We must take this action. If only we had lawmakers who had the backbone to make this statement, not be intimindated by friends who hunt or big-dollar contributers like the NRA. If only.... Maybe we could make a concentrated effort to stop destroying ourselves.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Cozmo(ore) v. Minimed

A full week of using the new Cozmo. Cozmore. Cozmonitor. Insert name here.... Anyhow, I'm not the greatest fan. It'll have to grow on me - since infusing insulin for a week obviously isn't enough.

I'd been on my Minimed (various versions from 508 to 515) for six years, since starting pump therapy back in my last year of college. So, this is probably just my reluctance of embracing a new gadget and having to part with a long-time partner in Dlife.

Tentatively, here's my initial list of the differences as I've come across them in my starter week.

a.) It has infrared beaming technology directly to the computer, complete with blood glucose monitor that attaches and shares all results with the FREE computer software. Deltec's Cozmo has Minimed beat in the dust on this one. This would be the main reason I switched from Minimed to this Cozmo.

But there's caveats...

b.) This case is bulky, and the clip doesn't easily come loose from its spot at the beltline. By comparison, not thinner and handy and practical for a young professional often wearing a suit or shirt and tie to work who needs constant access to the pump. There's a holster case, however the blood glucose clip makes the pump unable to fit inside. Therefore, there's one case.

c.) The pump faces vertically, rather than horizontally as the Minimed. Again, less practical. If you're wearing it on the belt, it's much more difficult - just less of impossible - to view the screen adequately from this angle. As the home screen text and font is smaller than the minimed, you must take it off the belt, which as mentiond above, is tough enough.

c. ) To beam, you must DISCONNECT the blood glucose monitor that clips to the pump's back. That means UNSCREWING the battery cap slightly if not the entire way, which in my opinion is more difficult and frustrating than the minimed cap undoing. The genius who configured the layout of the Cozmore joint system managed to put the beaming eyes on the BACKSIDE of the pump, meaning the BG monitor covers it up while attached.

d.) The motor clicks quiet loudly, at least in comparison to the Minimed. And it ain't discreet when delivering a bolus - the screen backlight blinks repeatedly, and the motor whirrs quite loudly.

e.) Marketing people say it's more user-friendly because it has homescreens. I really don't see the point of three different homescreens. Again, it's not practical. And you must go through multiple menu screens to get to your basals. Just call a basal a basal, please.

f.) Infusion sets - seems like there's more tiny pieces to lose track of and eventually run over with the vacuum. And, there's an extra needle that's been thrown into the process - one for infusion set, another for insulin-loading the reservoir.

Ultimately, I'm torn. Maybe I should have gone on a trial run before going ahead with the Cozmo. People are great, I'll give Smiths-Medical that. They even got my original Minimed pump rep. But the quality - it makes me feel as though I've stepped back in time, that this was designed by someone who doesn't wear an insulin pump and know what it's like to manage this in daily life. The elements just aren't very practical.

Of course, the whole thing is completely FREE. Insurance covers 90 percent, and the trade-in-your old pump $500 credit makes it all costless, even as far as a partial payment on future supplies. And to upgrade, no cost. Not like Minimed's Pathways program that makes you foot an "affordable fee" everytime you upgrade. And doesn't have the beaming tech this one does now, despite the latest Real-Time push.

So, am I willing to trade in some practicality and modern convienences I've become accustomed to these past six years for money-saving? Likely so. The woes encountered thus far will likely diminish as I become familiar with my new friend Coz (Kramer as my wife calls it), and will probably be resolved in future versions of the pump. The newest one tomorrow is already obsolete, the way we move these days. So, I'll manage. Pump trainer woman may be scheduled for next week, or three weeks from now if the sooner time doesn't work out. So, in the meantime, it's up to me and my 220-page picture user guide that offers guidance and tips and has a whole section on practicality that relates to none of the concerns I've mentioned above....

We move on, though, and you have to concede that it probably doesn't really matter which insulin-system you use, it all comes back to your resolve in managing diabetes. Regardless of the technology. As my endo says: "It's not the pump. It's you."

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Remembering a legend

Please look at this video snapshot of Neal Shine's funeral mass. He is a legend in this journalism industry - we'll never forget his inspiration, kindness, and impact. Also, a link to the tribute booklet that the Free Press has published (link wasn't working directly, so here's the main page from the paper.)

Some experts of what's been said and written:

"He knew the power of the written words. Words were who he was. From the day he died, was in hospital died, calling for pen and paper so that he could write what he was feeling."

"He made a conscious effort to stop, and to look, and to see what might be needed. And instead of walking away, he did something. Many times, it was a very simple act. But how many people's lives have been changed by those simple gestures that Neal went out of his way just to be involved in."

Also, please see a post last week on my stories pertaining to this great man.

Stem cell-funding: There's hope

Story's below, but here's the CNN link.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Senate approved a measure that would roll back President Bush's 2001 limits on embryonic stem-cell research Wednesday afternoon, but the margin was short of the two-thirds needed to override a promised veto.
Bush used the only veto of his presidency to date to kill a 2006 effort to loosen his policy on stem-cell research, which bars the use of federal funding for work that would destroy human embryos.
In a statement issued after Wednesday's 63-34 vote, he said he would veto the new bill as well, saying it "crosses a moral line that I and many others find troubling."
"I believe this will encourage taxpayer money to be spent on the destruction or endangerment of living human embryos -- raising serious moral concerns for millions of Americans," he said.
But the president said he would sign a Republican alternative that would encourage other forms of stem-cell research without changing his 2001 policy. That measure passed by a 70-28 vote.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the Republican bill was aimed at providing "cover" for lawmakers who wanted to vote against a popular issue.
"Americans, by a huge majority, favor stem-cell research because they see the suffering of their own friends and relatives and neighbors. ... They put their faith in science," said Reid, D-Nevada.
The measure passed Wednesday would allow researchers to obtain stem cells from embryos created for in vitro fertilization that would otherwise be discarded by fertility clinics. The House of Representatives passed a similar bill in January, but it also fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto.
One of the Senate bill's principal sponsors, Iowa Democrat Tom Harkin, said the bill had the support of three senators who did not vote Wednesday, meaning supporters were just one vote shy of the 67 needed to override a veto.
"It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when," Harkin said.
In 2001, Bush limited the use of federal research funds to work on stem-cell lines that existed at that time. Researchers have since found those lines are contaminated and unusable, prompting calls to roll back the restrictions.
Scientists hope that stem cells will yield treatments for diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and diabetes, as well as spinal-cord injuries. But because days-old human embryos are destroyed when the cells are extracted, critics equate the procedure to abortion.
Abortion opponents such as Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, equated the use of embryonic stem-cell research to slavery.
"Its end is the way of death," said Brownback, a Republican presidential hopeful. "It kills a young human life. It harms us as a culture when we treat human life as property. We've done that. We don't like it. We don't like the history associated with it."
Fourteen other Republicans supported the bill, while two Democrats -- Ben Nelson of Nebraska, and Robert Casey of Pennsylvania -- voted against it. Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, a staunch opponent of abortion rights, was one Republican who supported the bill.
"I'm hopeful that the president won't veto this, because I think he can see -- anybody can see -- that it's just a matter of time until we get this through," Hatch said.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Right-handed Lefty

The southpaw is indisposed at the moment. Instead, my writing is on hiatus as is most tasks requiring the use of my typically-used left hand.

A morning reaction is to blame.

After a late-night of writing and exploring about church, religion and the origins of Easter and Lent, the eyelids lost their battle and closed. Awakening some time later in the morning, I migrated to the bedroom from the green recliner where the cat rested near my feet. She wasn't happy, but I was tired and it didn't matter. A thought crossed my mind about a night-time blood test, but I shrugged it off. The clock in the bedroom hovered somewhere near 4:30 a.m. So, I climbed under the warm covers to seek shelter from the outside world for a brief set of hours.

Enter apple-juice boxes that have - if you've read my past blogs - been known to "pee" on occasion. Flashing in and out of consciousness, but not recalling it at the time, I can now vividly recall the images of juicebox straws being forced into my mouth. I struggled, but don't know why or how exactly. The world whizzed around me, and Suzi was there with the juiceboxes in all her glory.

Something clicked. A stray voice that didn't fit. A male voice. Why is there a guy in my bedroom in the middle of the night? I heard my name - a different voice, female this time. But not Suzi. Somehow, I felt myself shaking my head. Oh no, I managed to say to myself. Tell me this isn't happening. No, no, no, no.... "Michael, can you open your eyes?" one male voice says. "I've got it. Ok. 45," another male says. The reality of what's happening finally sets in. Eyes opening, the white, swirly ceiling pattern greeted me next. The obviousness sweeps over me, closely followed by embarrasment and the notion that I'm still shaking my head. Five strangers linger nearby. Paramedics. Greenwood Fire Department. My tax dollars at work. But there they were, publicly serving my diabetic behind and pumping me with glucose through an IV in my left hand.

Later, after thanking my local FD paramedics and shaking hands, I filled in the blanks. It all began about 6:15 a.m., according to my loving wife. I put up a struggle. She tried with the juiceboxes, but (as we always say and encourage) she opted for "better safe than sorry." 911. Couple minutes later, the fire engine and rescue unit arrived with full-blaring siren and flashing lights. Bet the sleeping neighbors loved that! But, they arrived and helped out efficiently.

As a result, I know have a white gauze pad attached to the top of my left hand with white, silky tape. Writing's out. Along with washing the dishes anytime soon. Or heavy lifting. But, at least I can type a blog.... I'm making due.

Can't say I've ever had paramedics come to my house before. Growing up, the 6'5''-tall dad always helped secure my struggling self. Of course, I was younger then to. In the past, I've had paramedic encounters before - once at a new job, once on the road (which by far is one of the most regretful, scary experiences I've had). They are never welcome, but I thank my lucky stars they welcomed me back to reality each time. And, have I mentioned my loving, supportive, can't-live-without spouse? Well, ditto that.

Tight control has its side effects, especially in the puzzle-networking stage where basals and boluses are in flux and under constant review. In times like this, I almost wish for higher blood sugars and a lack of control. While long-term complications go in line with that extreme, at least there isn't Lows. Lost time. Lack of bodily function. Little to no control over what you say or do, and no inhibitions to stop it from happening. This is the thought that keeps me up at night. Makes me sweat and want to cry. It's hard to fathom for yourself, this drunkenness without the alcohol high. As a husband, this scares the hell out of me. As a father someday, there's no words to describe that fear. What if? At least the cat had enough sense to run and hide under her favorite gray chair downstairs when things got scary. Wish I could. But as all seasoned diabetics know, there's no hiding from this, no pulling a blanket over your head. Test often, test always - even when sleep is on the line.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Enduring diabetes

When do we get to a point where our diabetes control is like the 3 a.m. hour? When, no matter how much coffee we drink, music we drown ourselves in, or activities we occupy ourselves with, sleep comes crashing down and covers us like a blanket.

Tonight, I find myself asking this question. The comparison to diabetes is unmistakable - rigorous blood tests eight times a day, calculating each carb, recording every result to fill up the blank spots on the log sheet... It goes on. But eventually, you get to a point where the need to crash is overwhelming. You just want to pull that blanket over your head and forget about the diabetes for a little while.

I've lived that life for too long and let myself pull that blanket over my head much too often. Every couple months, excitement clouds the brain and I begin a renewed journey of rigorous blood testing. A new log sheet erases all traces of what had come and gone, past testing triumphs and trials. Another chance to halt the neuropathy and potentially encroaching complications from settling in on "my" world. So, it begins.

The numbers begin filling in the blank spots for each passing day. At first, it may seem like a rollercoaster. Late night testing to secure a stabile basal rate. Adjusting boluses to coincide with food intakes, and limiting what had become excess. Soon, trends become apparent. It's a balancing act, as any seasoned diabetic knows - but when you finally balance it out, you feel a sense of pride. You're making a difference. Flashes of anger explode momentarily when unexpected high tests make appearances, but you begrudgingly adjust and move on to get back in line.

But so often, it seems, the endurance isn't there and your soul can get tired. What has become a routine begins falling by the waste-side. For me, the black pouch with blood meter, strips, and picker doesn't appear as much at my side or on the desk, a visible reminder of what needs to be done. It's almost as if my subconscious wants to forget. Snack munching returns, no bowls or label reading, just hands in the bag. A few jellybeans here or there.

Why do we revert back into this abyss of uncontrolled diabetes? That hour when we have to fall asleep, pull a blanket over our heads? We all should know we're not invincible - those experiencing some signs of complications know that even better. Fellow d-blogger Scott captured it perfectly: "It’s like taking shifts on guard duty - except your shift never ends. There is no one to take over for you." And yes, sometimes your soul gets tired of that constant duty.

Maybe that's where faith and hope come in. The results aren't tangible. We may test a dozen times a day, write down the results and ultimately watch our A1Cs dip lower, but we never know exactly how this disease is affecting our bodies. What damage it may or may not be causing. The fear is enough to drive you nuts, but that fear can be crippling. The internal struggle I've grappled with the most over the years has been preventing that notion of fear from transforming into hopelessness. It can always get better, and it's never too late. Everyone dealing with this disease has to believe that. Whether it's with the help of a loving and supportive spouse, best friend, church family, or counselor, it's important to find a way to receive that hope. Diabetes isn't fair, but the denial felt in our teen years can be even more dangerous as we get older. I've learned that lesson, and continue remembering that every day that I struggle to maintain tight control.

So, even though now I find myself tired, and slipping into that 3 a.m.-type slumber, I know there's enough reason to keep testing and doing what I need to. This is only a dip in the rollercoaster ride, not a crash and burn scenario. Similar reasoning can be extended to anything in life really, but in the d-world - a cure. Someday, we'll have one. Greater minds will prevail to pinpoint the cause and cure for diabetes. Maybe not in our lifetimes, but all we can do is pass along our knowledge today and have faith that our stories - those trials and tribs we've all faced - can make a difference in the life of someone who will live to see that cure materialize.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Diabetes chess

Cozmo has arrived. It arrived by UPS at the wife's work this morning, and she brought it home at dinnertime. Now, the chess game of learning and adjusting to a new pump begins - or does it?

Despite previous thoughts, I've not yet reached checkmate in the decision-making arena. Maybe it's the newness... But there's hesistation on my part. I'm having a tough time on this first night to embrace the excitement of a new pump and part with my long-time companion of the Minimed species. I've played with the Cozmo. Looked it over. Pushed the buttons, explored the user manuel. Held both pumps in my hand, added them to my waist and experimented with how they look and feel.

My main draw to the Cozmo is the integrated blood meter with infrared capability with computer software. The most alluring point. However, this little clip that attaches to the back limits the use of the clear, not-same colored holster. The black case makes it look identical to a cell phone, and it's more bulky on my waist than the Paradigm. My arm hits the pump at my waistline, whereas with the Paradigm it's thin enough so that doesn't happen. A drawback, I say.

I've never had any problems with Minimed- only the customer service types. But nothing but good results and feedback on Minimed. If there's one overwhelming qaum, it's how everything is proprietary and can't be mingled or shared with other systems. Not too fond of that. So, though I've received my new pump - and that's exciting in itself - I am juggling the big choice. Will I stay or go? Which hand will be tipped in favor of a particular pump, which will become (or continue as) a bionic limb that goes everywhere I do and is a key player in managing my health? Hmm.... It has me considering a comment my endo made about management recently as I told her about my wish for a new pump: "It's not the pump, it's you." So now, I go back to that and question just how much this Cozmo (or Minimed) is just a pawn in the overall diabetes management game?

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Journalist to remember

UPDATED APRIL 12: Here's the Detroit Free Press coverage of his funeral. Also, a link to the fabulous, tear-inspiring tribute they put together. Very touching.

Neal Shine. Former Detroit Free Press publisher, who had to retire twice to officially get away from his newspaper. But even that didn't keep him away.
We sadly learned of his death Tuesday, from respiratory failure, at age 76. Word from the Free Press is they learned through an email that began... "With sadness, we need to let everyone know.... "

Shine was one of the most inspiring journalists I've met, and his life story goes to the heart of rising from the bottom to the top. He entered the J-world in 1950, as a 20-year-old trying to fulfill his lifelong dream of working at the Detroit Free Press. He started as a copyboy before working his way up to reporter, columnist, various editor spots, and ultimately publisher. I remember hearing his stories about this in J-school, listening wide-eyed to his stories about literally running print copy from the newsroom to copy desk, fetching coffee for reporters, and whatever else he was told to ease the stress of a newsroom. He retired as publisher in the late 80s, but returned before his final farewell following the notorious Detroit newspapers strike in 95.

He loved this newspaper business. It was a part of him. And he made you love it, want to do it, chase that last story by beating your shoe leather on the pavement. It wasn't about making phone calls from behind a desk - it was about being out there in the community, making a difference and helping those who needed it by exposing the truth.
Mitch Albom, one of my all-time respected and cherished writers, a man whom I grew up reading and aspiring to write like, wrote this in his tribute: "Neal Shine was that guy. The one who lures you into newspapers -- then keeps you there forever. Neal loved the ink, the presses, the deadlines, the very idea that something important happens every day and 'damn it,' as he liked to say, someone should be covering it."

After learning of Neal's death, I searched desperately for a token of tangible evidence of his presence in my life. No such luck. We briefly served on the Oakland University newspaper's board of directors together - and I'd kept in touch with emails and a couple scattered written letters after my move to Indiana. My email accounts reveal those are now gone, lost in the depths of a long-ago deleted folder. We also met in two classes during college - one being ethics, the other being feature writing. As is the most tangible piece of evidence, the purple folder from college - my Neal folder, as I fondly refer to it - contained my journalism ethics notes. It's also gone, nowhere to be found. That leads to the realization that my only remembrance of his teachings are now in my mind, and in the heart.

Neal once told me that I had all the potential in the world - if I just stood up and did what needed to be done. That lecture-like advice came from a time when I'd used some newspaper excuse to dodge an assignment in his feature-writing class, and he just shook his head and gave the written copy back to me, telling me to do it again. He gave me another chance. That advice tied directly into his ethics teachings, that you can never cut corners as a journalist. You have to get it right, and do it right. Any perception of wrongdoing is just as bad as the wrongdoing itself. It's a thought that carries over to my daily reporting world now, when having to turn down basketball tickets or even a cup of coffee from a source. Years back, I'd almost come to blows with a Walled Lake Schools spokeswoman who wanted to buy me a sandwich during a lunch interview. Shine was in my thoughts as I refused, and I could just imagine him chuckling but being proud that I stuck to my guns.

Like any mentor, you could call him at home. You had his personal email and mailing address. We knew each other mostly through college settings, but we came from the same town of St. Clair Shores - and he always remembered that. This man taught me to love the newspapering business in a way I'd had little exposure before: for the ethics and integrity of it all.

Now, we remember Shine. A true Detroiter. A journalist and old-school journalism man that's getting harder and harder to find these days as newsrooms are traded in for "information centers." We all owe him a debt of gratitude for doing what he did, and touching others' lives in doing so. Thanks for making journalism what it is, and inspiring others how to carry on that tradition.

New Pump - Part I

It's on the way.. Will get it Thursday. Just like the one to the right, except "volcano" black.
Got the news today. I'm shocked how quickly Delte (a.k.a Smith's Medical) moves. Doc sent in the paperwork yesterday afternoon, followed by my insurance form this morning, and alas - all good by Noon.
And the best part? It's FREE! Our insurance pays 90 percent, meaning we're responsible for the remaining 10 percent. However, Deltec has an upgrade program where you can trade in your old pump (whatever the bran) and receive a $500 credit. So, after all this, our 10 percent payment will be covered and leave us with another estimated $100 for future orders. Outstanding!
Pump is being sent UPS to the wife's work, so she'll be able to receive and sign for it later this week. That night, we'll be playing and exploring the new pump in all it's glory.
Amazingly, that wasn't even the best news today! Found out (well, knew it already, but confirmed and got the glory) of learning that I'd won our inner-office NCAA pool. Invested about $4 for two brackets, and walked away with $140 from my first-pick bracket. Even more outstanding!
Top it all off, it's only Tuesday. Hope more good news is on tap for this week. Will provide an update once the Cozmo and all related-equipment arrives.