View From Table 9

August 21, 2008

Clear

Filed under: Uncategorized — table9 @ 11:23 pm

We had our second visit with the therapist today.  He said that while we can never be 100% sure, in his professional opinion there was no untoward activity involving our son at summer camp.  He said our son was open, quite talkative, and funny, did not display any signs, symptoms or behaviors indicating stress or anxiety or uncomfortableness.

Now, we can breathe.  Next, we teach him more about how not to be a victim. Because there are no safe environments.

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Measles Outbreak Fueled by the Unvaccinated

See, the thing that those who think that if they don’t vaccinate their child, they’re eliminating a risk of lifelong medical/behavioral issues.

What’s really happening is that they are trading one (perceived and not scientifically well documented) risk for another – the risk here of lifelong medical issues from risk of contracting encephalitis post-measles, amongst other issues.

Of course, while they’re exposing their children to this legitimate, well documented medical risk (anyone see the movie “Awakenings“? Those people suffered from a form of encephalitis contracted post-polio) as well as exposing others who have taken the step to immunize, protecting their children, but whose children happen to be immune-resistant.

Oh yeah, and while 123 people died during the last serious outbreak of Measles less than 20 years ago, nobody has yet died of Autism.

*sigh*

Vaccine refusals fuel measles outbreak

22 minutes ago

Parents refusing to have their children vaccinated against measles have helped drive cases of the illness to their worst levels in a dozen years in the United States, health officials reported on Thursday.

In 2008 alone, 131 cases of measles have been reported, with 15 serious enough to be hospitalized, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

Most of those infected were not vaccinated and there is no reason for any cases to occur when vaccines can prevent them, the CDC said in a weekly report on death and diseases.

“Measles can be a severe, life-threatening illness” the CDC’s Dr. Anne Schuchat said in a statement. “These cases resulted primarily from failure to vaccinate, many because of philosophical or religious belief.”

Only 13 percent of the cases were imported, the CDC said, naming Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, India, Israel, China, Germany, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Russia. “This is the lowest percentage of imported measles cases since 1996,” the CDC report reads.

At least 15 patients, including four children younger than 15, were hospitalized, although no one has died, the CDC said.

“In the decade before the measles vaccination program began, an estimated 3 to 4 million persons in the United States were infected each year. Of these, 400 to 500 died, 48,000 were hospitalized, and another 1,000 developed chronic disability from measles encephalitis.”

Encephalitis is a life-threatening inflammation of the brain that can be caused by viral infections such as measles.

More than 90 percent of the patients were not vaccinated, the CDC said, had no evidence of having been vaccinated, or were babies too young to have been vaccinated.

“Of the 95 patients eligible for vaccination, 63 were unvaccinated because of their or their parents’ philosophical or religious beliefs,” the CDC said.

Some religious groups refuse vaccination but many parents have fears that vaccines are unsafe or may cause conditions such as autism — fears the CDC says are unfounded.

“Increases in the proportion of the population declining vaccination for themselves or their children might lead to large-scale outbreaks in the United States,” the CDC said.

Outbreaks of measles are being reported now in Israel, Switzerland, Austria, Italy and Britain among people who are declining the vaccine.

British health officials said in June that measles had again become endemic for the first time since the mid-1990s due to parents declining to get their children vaccinated.

The last serious U.S. outbreak was in 1989-1991, when 55,000 people got measles and 123 died. The CDC said 55 cases of measles were reported in 2006.

Measles kills about 250,000 people a year globally, mostly children in poor nations. The disease causes fever, coughing, irritation of the eyes and a rash. Serious complications include encephalitis and pneumonia that can be fatal.

“Measles knows no borders, but can be prevented for less than one dollar per child in a developing country. We must be steadfast in our efforts to reduce measles cases globally,” the Measles Initiative, which includes the American Red Cross, CDC and United Nations agencies, said in a statement.

(Reporting by Maggie Fox; Editing by Michael Kahn)

Copyright © 2008 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

Punny!

Filed under: Uncategorized — table9 @ 1:40 pm
Tags: ,

I got these on email today and they cracked me up. So, apologies for not crediting the author(s) as they were not on the message (given some of these, I could understand why they might want to remain anonymous).

TOP  TEN  "PUN"  WINNERS

The ability to make and understand PUNS is the highest level of language 

development.  Here are the TOP 10 winners in the
International Pun Contest.  

1.  A vulture boards an airplane, carrying two dead raccoons.
The Stewardess looks at him and says, I'm sorry, sir, only 
onecarrion allowed per passenger. 

2.  Two fish swim into a concrete wall.  The one
turns to the other and says, 'Dam!' 

3.  Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, so
they lit a fire in the craft.  Unsurprisingly, it sank, 
proving once again that you can't have your kayak 
and heat it, too. 

4.  Two hydrogen atoms meet.  One says, 'I've lost
my electron.'  The other says, 'Are you sure?'  The
first replies,  'Yes, I'm positive.' 

5.  Did you hear about the Buddhist who refused
Novocain during a root canal?  His goal: transcend
dental  medication. 

6.  A group of chess enthusiasts checked into a
hotel  and were standing in the lobby discussing
their recent tournament victories.  After about an
hour, the manager came out of the office and asked
them to disperse.  But why they asked, as they moved
off.  'Because,' he said, 'I can't stand 
chess-nuts boasting in an open foyer.' 

7.  A woman has twins and gives them up for
adoption.  One of them goes to a family in Egypt 
and is named Ahmal.  The other goes to a family in
Spain; they name him  Juan.  Years later, Juan
sends a picture of himself to his birth mother.
Upon receiving the picture, she tells her husband
that she wishes she also had a picture of Ahmal.
Her husband responds, 'They're  twins !  If 
you've seen Juan, you've seen Ahmal.' 

8.  A group of friars were behind on their belfry
payments, so they opened a small florist shop to
raise funds.  Since  everyone liked to buy flowers
from the men of God, a rival florist across town
thought the competition was unfair.  He asked the
good fathers to close  down, but they would not. He
went back and begged the friars to close.  They
ignored him.  So, the rival florist hired Hugh
MacTaggart, the roughest and most vicious thug in
town to 'persuade' them to close.  Hugh beat up the
friars and trashed their store, saying he'd be back
if they didn't close up shop.  Terrified, they 
did so, thereby proving that only Hugh can 
prevent florist friars. 

9.  Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot
most of the time, which produced an impressive set
of calluses on his feet.  He also ate very little,
which made him rather frail and, with his odd diet,
he  suffered from bad breath.  This made him (Oh,
man, this is SO BAD, it's  good) a super 
calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis. 

10.  And, finally, there was the person who sent ten
different puns to friends, with the hope that at
least one of the puns would make them laugh.  No
pun in ten did.

August 15, 2008

One of a Parent’s Worst Nightmares

Filed under: Uncategorized — table9 @ 10:14 am
Tags: , , , , ,

I think there’s a tendency amongst parents (people?) to believe that we can keep our children safe from the world at all times. If we live in the right neighborhood. Choose the right school. The right play dates. The right babysitter. The right camp. The right activities. If we go to the right church. See the right doctor. Do all the right things. We can keep them safe.

Then, we learn we’re deluding ourselves.

Because this last week, one of our son’s camp counselors – the ‘head counselor’ in his ‘bunk’ – was arrested by the FBI for possession of child pornography.

This is a ‘great’ camp. One from a school that’s been around since before the Civil War. One run by Quakers. Costs a fortune to go to the school and the camp is seriously not cheap. We chose the camp based on it’s reputation and the comments of so many parents we know. We seriously do believe (hope) they did not know what this guy was doing on his home computer. Far too much at stake for them. Of course, we also believe the school/camp has done a crappy job of informing and supporting the kids & parents, citing often the ‘legal position’ they’re in. Sweet Lord, can we for once stop thinking about the potential lawsuits and start taking care of each other.

We’ve taught him about safety and about privacy since he could talk. Certain body parts (we use their real names, not euphemisms) are private – only for Mommy, Daddy or the Doctor. Nobody else’s business. A stranger comes up to you – run. Asking to help find a puppy? Run and yell. Mommy said it’s OK to come with them? If they don’t know the secret passcode, run and yell. Can’t find Mommy or Daddy? Find a police officer, a firefighter, or another Mommy and run to them. See, this is what they look like. Run. No secrets in our family. You will never get in as much trouble when you always tell the truth.

Yet he was not safe.

We made it a point to be involved with his day. Met his counselors, including this guy. Asked them questions. Asked him questions. Checked his belongings, checked his body when he was bathing. Not in a police-state way, just in a parent-being-aware way. How’d you get that scratch baby? Tree. Oh my, that’s quite a bruise. Yeah, climbed a wall. What’d you do today buddy? Who did you play with? What did you like?
Made sure to have conversations with the counselors, look them in the eye, ask about them and watch as they interacted with the kids. My impression of this guy? Immature, somewhat. Slightly strange in a D & D, Sci-Fi re-enacting, heavy metal playing in Mom’s station wagon kind of way.

Then an email, a press release, and blind panic. Re-examining everything that happened over the past 7 weeks. That tiny Go-Go figure he came home with? His reluctance some days to go to camp? Saying he ‘hated’ camp? The special changing arrangement made? All seemingly no-biggie at the time, in hindsight big ‘ole red flags. AAAAAHHH. Dear God, did I unwittingly feed my baby to the lions?

Last night, a visit to a counselor to gently probe and see whether anything untoward happened. Counselor wants to see him again. Next week. Doesn’t want to wait until after we come back from vacation. AAAHH! On the one hand, I get that my son needs to get comfortable with the counselor. The not-so-rational side of me wanted the counselor to spend 15 minutes with him and declare him 100% fine.

So, another week in some kind of hellish purgatory, hoping and praying that maybe after next visit that he’ll have been declared untouched.

Then, living in an unsafe world yet again, teaching my baby not to be a victim, because there are no places where he can be 100% safe. Maybe there never were.

Lastly, hubby and I work on putting ourselves back together again. Dealing with his rage and my blind terror. Hoping all the Kings Horses & Men really can put Humpty Dumpty back together again. Because Humpty’s got a son to raise.

August 14, 2008

Airlines Charge Soldiers for Excess Baggage

Really, I should not be completely surprised, given our faux “Support our Troops” culture and our own personal experiences with commercial travel on military orders (short version of long story – Continental made DH, traveling in uniform on emergency orders, sleep in an airport because of a flight missed due to weather – God Bless America, don’t mind that sailor sleeping in a corner like a homeless person because we don’t give a crap).

The fact that this is coming from the Washington Times (not exactly a liberal hotbed of journalism) I find somewhat heartening. But really, charging soldiers going to war, fulfilling their promise to protect us from all enemies, foreign and domestic, extra for their government issued gear and some personal stuff (not much, believe me, fits in those C-bags beyond their uniforms and gear)?  Really We should be ashamed.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Soldiers pay bag fee on travel to war

American Airlines is charging troops for their extra baggage, a practice that forces soldiers heading for a war zone in Iraq to try to get reimbursement from the military. One of the country’s largest veterans groups is asking the aviation industry to drop the practice immediately.

American, which recently charged two soldiers from Texas $100 and $300 for their extra duffel bags, said it gives the military a break on the cost for excess luggage and that the soldiers who incur the fees are reimbursed.

“Because the soldiers don’t pay a dime, our waiver of the fees amounts to a discount to the military, not a discount to soldiers,” said Tim Wagner, spokesman for American Airlines. “Soldiers should not have to pay a penny of it.”

Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) spokesman Joseph Davis said service members destined for Iraq should not have to spend the money out of pocket and should not have to worry about filing expense forms in a war zone.

“That’s a lot to ask when the service member has much more important things on their minds, such as staying alive and keeping those around them alive,” he said.

The VFW is asking the Air Transport Association (ATA) to urge member airlines to exempt military personnel traveling on official orders from all excess-baggage fees. “This should not be a very difficult decision to make,” Mr. Davis said.

Several airlines have instituted cost-cutting measures and have eliminated or are charging for amenities including meals, beverages and additional luggage.

In a letter to the ATA on Friday, VFW President George J. Lisicki said troops understand the financial constraints the airline industry faces but that the military traveler represents a minute fraction of the total passengers carried every year.

An ATA spokesman said the association will respond directly to the veterans association.

In a written statement to The Washington Times, James C. May, president and chief executive officer of the ATA, said it is individual airlines that must determine fare rates.

“While ATA cannot by law even suggest uniform pricing policies to our members, we will bring this matter to their attention for their independent consideration,” Mr. May said.

“Air Transport Association member airlines have always been committed to supporting our nation’s military,” he said.

“Airlines routinely offer special fares for military personnel and families, attempt when possible to accommodate unplanned schedule changes and generally seek to do what they can to show their appreciation,” Mr. May said.

Most major U.S. carriers waive baggage fees for up to two bags for military members traveling under orders, Mr. Lisicki said. However, a $100 fee for checking a third bag appears to be the industry norm, except for first-class passengers or elite frequent fliers.

US Airways allows military personnel with identification free luggage up to 100 pounds, and Delta allows two bags up to 70 pounds in the cargo hold, as does Northwest.

When soldiers receive their travel orders, they should make sure that excess baggage is authorized and that soldiers can be reimbursed for additional fees that airlines impose, said Army spokesman Paul Boyce.

“We can help them with additional expenses for travel, but soldiers have to submit a receipt and it has to be looked at by our finance people,” Mr. Boyce said.

“We appreciate the VFW’s help in assisting soldiers. It would certainly make it easier for soldiers, but there are other ways to help them recoup their money for Army travel,” Mr. Boyce said.

August 13, 2008

China’s Bait & Switch

Filed under: Uncategorized — table9 @ 4:04 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Hubby and I are pretty avid Olympics fans, both winter and summer. We especially love the opening and closing ceremonies, and routinely compare how each one does in ‘lighting the torch’ (so far Barcelona’s Archer wins the Gold there, followed by Sydney’s fire and water), so of course we’ve been watching the games.

We’ve also been watching with some interest the news reports. First, the report that the spectacular fireworks broadcast during the Opening Ceremony in Beijing were (depending on which interpretation you agree with) “faked” or “simulated”.  Next, the story of a little girl singing during that same Opening Ceremony who wasn’t actually singing. No, they don’t mean she lip-synched vocals recorded earlier.  That’s pretty normal in big-venue performances.  As it turns out, it wasn’t her singing, but another child who was judged to have a better voice but not the same appearance.

Most recently, charges are being raised again that three of the six women gymnasts competing for China are, in fact, not old enough to compete and therefore should be disqualified. Lest anyone think this is sour grapes, let’s all note that this issue was raised well before the Games and was brushed off by the Chinese Olympic Officials.

What’s surprising about all these allegations is that the Chinese response seems to be a general “So What?”  Fireworks “simulated”?  That was for safety. (So why not just disclose it on the broadcast?)  Voice dubbed?  It was a critical moment that they wanted to be ‘perfect’ (again, why not just disclose it?)  Neither of the girls in that incident expressed anything but indifference – one thrilled it was her voice and the other thrilled because she got to ‘perform’.   I’m sure we’ll hear the same regarding the athletes whose eligibility has been repeatedly questioned – what’s the big deal?

In reality, it should not surprise us. After all, we’ve had literally millions of toys and other products recalled in US Markets due to use of paints containing lead in violation of our laws.  In most cases, the US parent company claimed they did not approve these paints and the Chinese often admitted to switching out the more expensive lead-free paint for a less expensive one containing lead.  It’s scientists are also widely accused of academic and scientific forgery, including one case where a scientist faked computer chip research.  It’s also known for manufacturing fake pharmaceuticals, including indictment for making and distributing fake malaria drugs.

Some say this is the culture – that profitability and presentation take precedence over safety and sincerity.  In China, we are told, to ‘lose face’ is a terrible outcome, one to be avoided at all costs. It’s all about image.  We could say the US is similar, as are many other countries. The difference though is that in the US, worse than losing face is to betray trust.

Apparently, that’s not so important for the world’s most populous nation, and one that’s emerging as a new world power.  It’s not more important to be trusted, to comply with laws or rules, to be honest, even when people’s health and welfare are at stake. What’s most important is that the image be preserved.  And that scares me most of all.

August 6, 2008

Paris Hilton Responds…

Filed under: Uncategorized — table9 @ 12:51 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

This is really good!

August 4, 2008

Epiphany

Filed under: Uncategorized — table9 @ 5:45 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

Of all the traits my son possesses, the one I find most fascinating (daunting, terrifying) is that he has no fear. He will climb anything, jump off anything, jump over or crawl under, run headlong into the wind, laugh with pure joy while hurtling through space on great big roller coasters. When he is hurt, he cries from pain but not fear of that pain, which means he cries for a shorter period of time and is more easily calmed.

An observer once commented that this was the sign of a very secure person. I don’t think that’s untrue. I do believe most fear is learned, and that we’ve done much in his first six years to create a world that is not scary for him, seem uncontrollable or unpredictable. Mostly, we just hold on tight watching him. He didn’t earn the nickname “Danger Dan” because he’s a scaredy-cat.

One thing I’ve noticed is that there are some children in his life whom he reacts to differently. They are the spark to his dynamite, for lack of a better word. With most kids he’s pretty normal in his behavior, but there are a few who bring out the daredevil in him. Repeatedly. Last summer he had a peaceful 6 weeks at preschool camp until one child returned from another camp. Then, my son got in ‘time out’ every day for the last 3 weeks of summer for doing crazy stunts, etc.

So, we observed. During the school year we noticed that a few kids (including the summer-camp child) were being mentioned as co-conspirators in his (mis)adventures, some named by teachers, though not always. We worked to role-play and teach him that one should not always make that arm-fart when one’s friends insist it would be funny even though the teacher said it’s quiet time. Things got a little better. A little.

Then, comes this summer, his first in ‘real’ camp. We agree to carpool with one of Danno’s ‘sparks’, who happens to live nearby and with whom carpooling is very convenient for both families. Besides, these two kids really enjoy playing with each other. We also went on a camping trip with another of his ‘sparks’. What I realize now is that this gave us some really good opportunity to observe the dynamic between Danno and his ‘sparks’.

What I saw was this: These are both children whom are the opposite of Dan in their fear factor. One is deeply insecure, even for a 6 year old. The other is really quite timid when you get past the bravado. Both seem to have an odd fascination with my son, seeming to challenge him to ever more dangerous activities, watching intently as he does them with glee.  Most importantly, that it really bothers them when Danno rises again and again to the challenge without hesitation.

That’s when I saw it. They’re afraid. They’re deeply envious and at the same time fascinated by the fact that he’s not afraid. And they *want* him to be afraid just like they are, want it in a very jealous and almost vindictive way. Want to say ‘see, that’s how it feels to be afraid. See, you’re just as scared as the rest of us.’ They want him to be intimidated and stilled.

Now I see what we must teach him: We must show him this in people, how to recognize it, understand it, and most importantly to guard against it. We’ve also got to protect him from this, too, as he learns, because his experience and risk judgment skills are that of a 6 year old not a 36 year old. These children aren’t alone, nor are they the only ‘sparks’ he will encounter in his life. It’s our job to give him the skills to navigate his world, ground him in values that will serve him well, and give him a secure place from which to make those wondrous leaps. Because the only thing we really do have to fear is fear itself.

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