Friday, November 30, 2007

Who's the hostage?

Nothing like a hostage situation to spice up an already heated presidential campaign season.

Today's news: Man walks into Hillary Clinton's campaign office in Rochester, NH and takes hostages, claiming to have explosives ducttaped to himself. She cancels an afternoon speech at an DNC event, and some other presidential candidates' nearby campaign offices are also evacuated. Turns out, it was a man claiming to have mental probs and needing help - no explosvies, just roadflares. Here's the CNN story.

From the CNN photo, looks like a typical, not-so-crazy businessman in a shirt and tie. In a way, reminded me of the early 90's movie Falling Down, where Michael Douglass plays a working man who just melts down on his way home one day and beating and shooting his way through town. Never can tell.

Says Hillary post-hostage situation (as reported by CNN): "He was someone who was not known to my campaign headquarters until he walked in the door today." Clinton said Friday evening in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where she met with the hostages and their families. "It appears he is someone who was in need of help and sought attention in absolutely the wrong way," she said. "It was for me and my campaign an especially tense and difficult day."

You don't say.... Now, let me say this: I'm not advocating or encouraging what happened today. No way, no how. But there's a deeper, symbolic issue here. One that says a lot about us.

Appears this guy had a real issue - told CNN that "I need to speak to Hillary Clinton. Something's got to change. Ordinary people need help" with their insurance. However distraught and misguided this particular man was, he's got a point. A really good point, that so many people can probably relate to. Wonder who's going to start reporting first on his story and what led Lee Eisenberg to this breaking point? Of course, how will the Clinton Camp respond? Fellow Democrats? Republicans (ironically, Lee Eisenberg was wearing a red tie.... I'm the Repubicans are silently swearing about that). You have to admit, this has campaign tactic written all over it. Just wait - she'll play this up, saying it's evidence that people are truly in trouble and desperate for help.

Maybe politicians will listen. It's unfortunate that it took someone with a gun to make that happen. Eisenberg may have been the one with the suspected weapon, but who's really the hostage here? Those trapped inside or Eisengerg himself? We obviously have a health care crisis in this country, and it's one that makes many, many people feel like a hostage being held captive by insurers and politicians. While today's scenario isn't the way to reach any solution - hopefully it doesn't send a message out that violence, threats, and hostage-taking is a way to motivate our elected leaders - it does say something about our political system and society overall. Who's the hostage here?

(On that end-thought, go watch the movie John Q - Wonder if Lee Eisenberg ever saw that movie?? Brings a whole new perspective to the concept that "movies made me do it....")

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Duck, duck, duck....Me, me, me

Wait, it's tag - not goose! Wrong game.

During a late-night/early-morning blog exploring session, I discovered a virtual game of tag going on between fellow bloggers. Politics, journalism, religion, and all meaty topics aside, here's me tagging myself and getting in on that. Those who turned me in on this were mostly from the Diabetes OC (Online Community), including Diabetes Mine, Scott, and Kerri at Six Until Me... I'm sure there's more. Thanks for the heads up.

As Scott said in his post, I'm sure you'll be asleep by the end of this posting (a place I should be well-acquainted with at 2:45-ish, but for some reason haven't gotten to yet....) Enjoy.

My Random 7:
1.) I'm a newspaper man and am driven by deadline, but somehow I'm rarely on time. Work is one thing, but personal life is a complete role reversal. Can't manage time, always get distracted with too many projects within a project, or somehow find my way to time-wasting on a weekend with video games or "classic" movie watching on TNT or TBS, missing any previous-planned goal and deadline for the day. Of course, I did just manage to get a watch fixed and am starting to wear it - it was a Christmas 2006 gift, and I wore it for the first time in late November 2007. Procrastinator's Creed is what I've lived by for most of my life. Go figure.

2.) Noses fascinate me. Always have. Ever since childhood, I've had the urge to squish (you know, push on) various noses of those close in my life. Parents when little. Good kindergarten friend. My wife, who I affectionally refer to as "Nose." The dog, which is always cold and wet and curiously sniffing. Granted, this isn't an urge for most people I meet, and not a greeting or even something that happens all that often; only those few. Weird. No clue why.

3.) William is my middle name, which I'm very proud of. It's my grandfather's first name. My dad's middle name, and of course mine. I'd like to pass it down, should there one day be a son in our future. (I'd probably have to get an OK on that, though, so don't hold me to it...)

4.) This is my second blog. I'm a MySpacer, too. Started off to make this more in-depth, deeper, philisophical and insightful rather than just a way to keep in touch with friends and fam. Started focusing on diabetes more as a way to make it more of a conscious part of my life. That's a work in progress. In the meantime, here's another virtual soapbox for me to keyboard my thoughts for the online world to see (for better or worse). Story of why it's called what it is can be found in the little blurb off to the right there...

5). I've become a Hoosier, though am a native Michigander. Water v. Cornfields. It's true what they say about not knowing what you have until it's gone, or at least 300 miles away. Great Lakes are a wonderful treasure. There's only five, but us from ole' St. Clair Shores firmly believe that Lake St. Clair could and should be the next in line - maybe the six, "Little Great" Lake St Clair. Dream a little dream, I say.

6.) (D-bloggers, you'll get this one): Glucose tabs are like candy. Yep. Even before they came in fun, colorful, yummy flavors like orange, watermelon, apple, and grape. Back in the day, when they were individually wrapped, boring, white, square tabs that didn't dissolve as quickly in your mouth. Thought of them as a treat. Yum. Made my mom sick, but I loved them. Maybe that's why my sugars were always so high....

7.) If sleeplessness could cure diabetes, I'd be on my way. It's after 2 a.m. and the writing goes on. I'm strange like that. Something majestic and magical about the post-midnight hour. It's when the creativity flows, much like the coffee. There was a song back in high school, maybe college, called 3 a.m. by Matchbox Twenty. Loved that one. Relate so well. A former English teacher once said, "You'll sleep plenty when you're dead."

So, that is that. Now here's my open invite for everyone to follow the lead, or jump on the v-bandwagon, or just post another seven. Rules and a How-To on V-Tag can be found here. Also per the rules, I'll tag seven more: the wife Suzi, Kari, Dorian, my mom, Ryan Bruner, Cory Heck, and Jeremy Sarnovsky.

Have fun all.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A 10-year old punch

We made it into town not for the holidays, but also my 10-year high school reunion the day following Turkey Day. Was in the hometown, where we stayed with my parents for the extended weekend visit. Haven't really kept in touch with many people from high school, except more recently with the advent of MySpace and a couple quick, inpersonal emails here and there. But didn't do it through college and after, and since leaving Michigan, our brief weekend visits from Indiana didn't permit that. So it was great seeing many once-familiar faces in person for the first time in a decade. Many stayed in the area, some left the Mitten State as we did. We caught up, traded 10 years worth of stories, shared some drinks and had good times. Some married, some pregnant, jobs, etc. One's teaching at the former high school we attended, and she's married to the man a class ahead of us who I credit for turning me onto Oakland University, where I met my wife.... As fate would have it, I guess. Plan to keep in touch with some now, not wanting another decade to pass before we chat it up. Go Lakeview. Class of 1997.

As it turns out, the events of that night led to being laid up most of Saturday and for the drive back on Sunday. Thought it was a more powerful hangover punch despite the not-so-large, beer-only consumption - but that thought passed by mid-Saturday afternoon. Not able to keep any food or water down. Splitting headache, stomach pains. Stayed in bed most of the day. Reading my Bible. Suzi spent the day with her family. She was able to get out and see some of our friends from college, though I unfortunately had to miss the evening plans. They ribbed me, as expected and was appropriate. I would've done the same. Missed hanging out and watching hockey, drinking beer. Oh well.

Most of the symptoms and non-eating had passed by the time we got home Sunday evening (she drove). While it seemed at first to be weakness, my not being able to handle alcohol as I once could in college, it seems more likely that I had food poisoning or a bug of some sort. Maybe it was the seafood or something, complimented by the beer intake... Who knows.

All I know is that my 10-year had quite the punch. Knocked me out for two days. Moral of the story: don't wait a decade to keep in touch with old classmates and friends. Catch a drink and catchup in the meantime. Write an email. Do MySpace. Whatevever works. Just don't wait another 10 years before making the connections.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Studying faith

A week ago, I'd encountered a long pondered faith-related question in my readings of Lee Strobel's "The Case for Faith: A journalist investigates the toughest objections to Christianity." Check that MySpace blog posting here. Essentially, the point was whether the Bible, a main source of info for Christians, is really a trustworthy book. Unfortunately, my appetite for an answer wasn't completely satisfied. In the 15-pages on this question, it comes down to one scholar saying that "Like Christ, the Bible is totally human, yet without error." It talks about how the Bible wasn't dictated, it's a story told by people who witnessed and went through those times. Fine. But, you know, as we recount stories in our own lives and retell them, and again and again, sometimes we misconstrue or misinterpret something, or take it out of context. The explanations that all the Gospels and other Bible tales are so similar and therefore error-free, just don't jive completely. But, in my overall reading so far, and my own life experiences and changing views, my faith is strengthening despite the lack of faith in that particular point.

Tonight, a later chapter provides more intriguing mental exercise. Focusing on offensiveness of claims that Jesus is the only way to God, we get into morality, accepting Christ, and the overall issue of earning a spot in Heaven. The pages delve into that bigger picture, that what we do here on Earth really doesn't matter all that much; it's the afterlife we're preparing for. Psalm - 23:3-4 notes that Redemption, Righteousness, Worship is the sequence and it can't be violated. A quote: "Because we are moral human beings, we want to see equity. But when we reduce equality to issues of who behaved in what way during a given span of time, we miss the whole concept of equity. We are judging this from the point of view of our system."

Interesting. One comparison in the book is that an infant can't understand a mother, except that there's someone nurturing and caring for them. That relationship changes and grows to more respect, understanding as the child grows into adulthood. Same concept. Maybe we can't see what that bigger picture is quite yet, but someday, whether it's on this planet and in this life or not, we will. Makes you reflect on the whole point of life and what you do each day.

However, I can't totally embrace the concept that you must embrace God and only that matters. There must be more. The book doesn't expand on the rest of the RR&W point, but it fits that Righteousness plays just as much a part in getting to that heavenly spot as the other two. Just because you accept and pray to Him, doesn't mean you're on the way up. It's about living, too.

Some so-called Christians don't seem to get this point - they don't practice what they preach (no cliche intended). It's about tolerance. It's about being a good person. Neighborly. Morally and ethically sound. Some point to the Bible and criticize those who don't believe what they do, but in doing so become mean and cold-hearted that seems to make them seem hypocrits. Of course, my disclaimer is that I know more who balance all the aspects of that RR&W thought.

Exploring the aspect of why it's so darn tough to accept Christ, Strobel gets to an interesting point that compares other religions. Others can be good without having to admit there's God, can do what they please or banter philisophically about treating the earth well without actively practicing their faith. To quote on why not Christ: "He calls you to die to yourself. Any time truth involves a total commitment in which you bring yourself to complete humility, to the surrender of the will, you will always have resistence. Christ violates our power and autonomy. He challenges us in areas of purity."

Good reasons. Who wants to give themselves up? Their free wills? Their desires? Makes a good point. I think there's a higher power who's calling the shots, but at the same time that He or She gave us free will for a reason. It's supposed to be a journey. We're supposed to grow. In the end, guess it falls to that grand idea of doing something for the greater good. We need to have faith in that, whether or not we believe in every technical aspect of a written story or philosophy. There's a higher power who knows what's going on, and by trusting in that, we can come out as all is supposed to be. That's the definition of faith, and as I grow older and also study this topic more in-depth, it's becoming more clear that I've got some. We'll see where we go from here.

Ten years out....

Life since Lakeview has been an adventure, one with a variety of turns that have been both expected and unexpected. College, newspapering, coffee and conversation kept those early years company and offered consistency. Linda's. Many napkins came from those years. Poetry flowed, ever evolving into more journalistic prose as the years went by. Enter the light of my life, who helped define the good my life could become and the man I could be. For years, I'd looked whimsically out the window and pondered what could be - eager to embrace the possibilities. But she introduced the chance to make those dreams a reality. We've since moved to embrace that consistent dream of mine in newspapering, enduring the rocky road to Indiana and first two years of marriage. Amazing ride, one worth living every day.

Our 10-year reunion comes Nov. 23. The anniversary makes you really reflect on the past decade, wondering where you thought you'd be and the place you've ended up on the still-winding road. Some regrets, but mostly appreciation and gratefulness for the chances I've had thus far, the experiences I've been able to partake in, and the wonderful people that have graced my past decade.

The get-together will be at a local restaurant in the hometown, a small fee to pay for the food and then a cash bar to enjoy. Most I haven't had contact with since graduation. Some old connections are being rekindled through the wonders of social networking and email, but really I've only have kept in regular touch with one person from high school - and she wasn't even in my class. That person read her own handwritten poem at our wedding, and helped make high school and those post-Lakeview days what they were. She describes me as a better friend, someone to listen and rely on. I'd say the same about her. One can only hope for such a good friend and inspiration in life. That's a blessing.

So, here's to another decade of such fortune. The next may bring with it new obstacles and challenges more complex and frightening than the first; but if this past decade is any indication of what can happen with faith and navigating life's waters, then we've got the ammo to face whatever the decade brings.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Coffee - not bottomless, just potless

Once, there was a place where Coffee & Conversation came with the honor of a bottomless coffee pot. There in that Corner Booth, we sat and discussed anything we could for hours that seemed to stretch for endless hours into the night. Refills were always welcomed, and the cups and pot we saw periodically seemed to have no bottom.

Outside that booth, in our own homes or in other sanctuaries we've sought to cherish some C&C, the bottoms are easier to find. We have to buy the coffee and the pots to brew it, and whatever else we may want to accompany the java. We refill our own cups, and the bottoms seem to come quickly. Too much effort to just keep making more. Never endless, it seems.

In our home, we have three pots. One is a 12-cupper, though the auto delay doesn't work and there's a part that keeps it from working properly. The other is a cappucino/coffee combo that was a wedding gift; that one has a pot that's just too darned small. Doesn't hold much, and coffee-lovers will inevitably have to brew another pot. So, that's just not acceptable. Plus, it doesn't have auto start and you have to hit the switch to make it start - on mornings when you could use a cup when first coming downstairs, it's a little disappointing.

Today, while out doing errands and buying needed items, we came across one that called out to us. It's a potless "brew station." Has auto start, delay brew, all the bells and whistles a coffee brewer should. So, here's to a new toy to feed my C&C or Sunday morning newspaper and coffee routine. Cheers.

Friday, November 2, 2007

An old email discussion

Found this today while cleaning out an overstuffed Inbox. Thought it was worth sharing...

Sent to me almost a year ago...
What noble cause does our press pursue now? My answer is the aiding and abetting of the suicide of the West and all it stands for. As a Marine officer, I've never trusted the press and never will. I counsel my Marines to do the same; especially when in Iraq. I will not dispute anything you say; it's all from your perspective after all. What your organizations report on are fact-based events but if your always looking for the elephants hind end then you'll have no trouble finding it; though we all know there's a lot more to the elephant than just the hind end.Now from where I stand, every experience I've had with media has been negative towards what I and my Marines are trying to accomplish. You may call it news and reporting; I call the end-product what it is: information operations or even propaganda at times.It is a sad state of affairs that our nation has come to the point that we tolerate the behavior of our press as it is when, once upon a time, we treated as traitors and enemies such individuals and agencies who were perceived to work counter to national goals in wartime. I ask: Has our press been worthy of the 1st Amendment?

My response...
OUR noble press pursues checks and balances - making sure that what our elected leaders say and do is accurate and doesn't put our heroic military in harm's way - whether those frontliners care or not.
A distinction: "media" has too much negativity and, in my opinion, wrongly lumps newspapers in with ratings-hungry TV crews that are only looking for a soundbite. I believe newspapers - at the ground level of working reporters and editors and not the corporate entities that have gobbled many up - are seperate, noble, worthy, and necessary.
I'm a reporter in Indiana, born and raised in St. Clair Shores and reported at a few places in Michigan before moving here. I've made my share of mistakes, gotten names or details wrong, inaccurately quoted some people, and so on. But never is it with malice, or intentional. Most in the field can say this. Whether the corporate newspaper moneymakers care, can't say.
I have nothing but respect for the military and everyone serving us in elected office and public safety. But I'm naturally skeptical, and just because you're wearing that uniform, or sitting in an elected position as president, mayor, councilman, or homeowners association leader, doesn't mean I'll agree or trust everything you say without seeing some evidence of what you're saying is true. Question everything.
That is the difference in the military world (as I understand it from a civilian viewpoint). Don't question your leaders or orders. Do as you're told. Two different worlds. Both are important and necessary, and both need checks.
When it comes down to it, a bad military can do more harm than a bad press. Denying people info about what could ultimately save their lives is, well, an easy choice. WE ALL need checks and balances. "Your mom says she loves you? Prove it."

Diabetes awareness month

Word's out: November is National Diabetes Month. Even better, Nov. 14 is the first-ever UN-sanctioned World Diabetes Day.

Thanks for the heads up, fellow Diabetes Mine blogger.

While the happenings of WDD happen in NY at the UN hq, there is a Hoosier connection to be aware of: Eli Lilly is playing its own little part in this day.

American Idol-finalist Elliot Yamin is the official spokesperson for the Eli-Lilly-sponsored Inspired by Diabetes Contest, for creative diabetics sharing their stories around the world through art, essay, poetry, photography and music. As you know, Lilly's based here in Indy. Thought that was worth mentioning. Here's another link.

So, that's the scoop. Tell a friend. Spread the word. Get everyone in the know that it's a month to discuss and pass on awareness about diabetes, and that World Diabetes Day is nearing this month.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Stumbling Man (Thanks to Plantar Fasciitis, Not Diabetes)

It started on a Wednesday morning. Totally unannounced, unexpected, and incredibly unwelcome.

I arose from bed, refreshed from my slumber and ready to tackle the day. Stepping down from bed, the pain hit. Felt like I'd run miles and miles, and the feet were crying out in tired pain. Walking was not easy. Later discovered that my shoes didn't cure the problem. So, I felt myself stumbling around like Old Man Hoskins all day long. That was about a month ago.

At first, I feared the worst. Expected diabetes was the likely culprit. After all, I'd spent many younger years not managing adequately and have been suffering from initial stages of neuropathy for a couple years now. We thought this might be that dreaded progression....

The foot doc disagreed, about two weeks after the onset of this foot concern and stumbling routine. Turns out it's the most common, non diabetes-related foot disorder out there - plantar fasciitis, as it's officially dubbed. Translation: the shock absorbers in my heels and feet aren't working right, strained for some reason, and that's impacting arch and overall ability to walk normally. So, I got some quickly-made guaze and padding contraptions for the feet. Was told to wear them whenever my feet hit the ground, other than when I'm showering. So, that's helped.

Frustrating, not being able to walk. My ability to dance at weddings has been affected, sadly. I do love my dancing. I also managed to stay home from work a few times, which eased the walking and is always fun to work and talk business on the phone while wearing huge Homer Simpson slippers and Stewie Griffin pajama pants. Ditched the shoes I had worn when the problem first surfaced, as they were older and essentially broke down completely - we believe that's the cause of all this. I wanted to burn them in a fit of revenge, but we ended up tossing the brown leather shoes out with the trash a week or so ago. We thought about getting me a cane, a walker, or one of those cool medieval walking stick rods. Would have been a hit at the wedding reception.

Still, with all the headaches and laughs, it's good to know it's something "common" - that neuropathy and the D had nothing to do with it. That's two-sided, though: while not a direct cause, it's likely been masking the pain somewhat, the foot doc says. So, I could be in more pain. Always a nice thought... What, should I be saying "Well, thanks neuropathy!" Don't think so. Will just be thankful it turned out to be what it is, and go about doing what I can to better manage my health so the "common" probs stay more common than the "D-related" ones. Something to add to the 'Thankful' list on Turkey Day.


I realized that I'd never updated this or really wrote about it after this initial post, so wanted to make sure there was some follow-up. My foot doc actually helped me save money and MacGyver'd a pad for each foot -- padding cut to fit my foot, connected with gauze so it fit snug to my feet. Told to immediately replace my shoes, stay off as much as possible, and when I put ANY pressure on my feet, to wear the pads in my shoes, in socks or just on the feet.

It took weeks, and also some physical therapy, but things got back to being OK after awhile and a lot of pain. Sadly, I've come to realize that even years later, I have still never fully recovered. It stresses my feet out and I can feel them bothering me a bit when running, or walking quickly for any extended length of time. Conference activity and walking can really get to me, so I try to limit myself doing that for long periods without sitting or taking a break.

Back in the Saddle again...

Hoskins has returned. First blog in ages. Since early August, at least. Here's one from MySpace, hoping to start again another place to post poetry and prose about the world we live in.

Napkins & Notes

Buried in an office file cabinet, a beat up old black tri-folding folder keeps safe some of my written memories going back to high school. A decade old, the poetry and prose alike hits at the high and low moments I've had in life. From my grandmother's death, soured friendships, late night coffee and conversations, smoking, drinking, college and post college tales... even most recent as the first C&C with my wife (before we were married), and the move to Indiana in early 2004.

All encompassing. Many old scraps of notepaper, and diner napkins with blue ink from that once-infamous Corner Booth at Linda's Place. Quotes, thoughts, poems, stray prose.... You name it. One napkin outlines a conversation Suzi and I had pre-marriage about the epic struggle between Coke and Pepsi - "the eternal battle that wages on over the ages, conquering time and space...." - and how our college was switching between the drinks years ago. That's the good stuff.

This wasn't supposed to be a late night with coffee and reflection - sleep was preferred. But the flood of memories kept my review going, forcing my attention as the hours whittled away toward dawn. Still, I sit pondering some of my darkest days when my writing eerily focused on "death and darkness," or when in college I wrote about all-night drinking adventures that included smoking. Not the most pleasant times in life, by any means.

Yet, you can find certain smiles about old stomping grounds, tales of those dated, and just fun times of the younger days. The poetry is often awkward, but you can see the progression from youth to adulthood. Quite revealing and inspiring at the same time. While it isn't by any means a compilation of all I've written, not even everything from those teen and early 20 years, but it does show the depth and range I've manuevered - not even touching the journalism and newspaper writing. That's a completely different storybook of work, but another worth delving into.

Every piece of the folder is telling, but one quote stands out at this point of the early morning: "The hour means nothing; it's the manner in which you spend it."

So true. Especially when it comes down to finding old napkins and notes that can spark memories. Lesson: Experience it, write it down, read it later, remember....That's what it is all about.