THE CRASH COURSE

Douglas Patton: “I’m sure surprised you touted this guy. He’s sure not on board with Obama – or humanity for the matter. See this [recent post of his, decrying Obama’s plan to help people stay in their homes].”

☞ I didn’t tout his political views, I touted his “crash course.” I think he makes a mistake to join the radio talk show hosts and others who whip up outrage and resentment over the mortgage package. Leaving aside any thought that it can be a good thing to help one’s neighbor, there is the question of whether it’s worth trying to avert a depression. A lot of people think that’s what’s at stake here.

ONE THING IT WOULD COST NOTHING TO FIX

From from the Miami Herald:

Discrimination hurts — more so in hospitals
By LEONARD PITTS JR.

Your wife is dying.

One moment everything was fine. You were in your stateroom on the cruise ship — it was to be an anniversary cruise — unpacking your things. The kids were in the adjoining stateroom playing with your wife. Suddenly, they banged on the door crying that mom was hurt.

So now you’re in the hospital — Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital — waiting for word, and it’s not coming. They tell you, Joe (we’ll call you Joe), you can’t be with her. You plead with them, to no avail. No, Joe, sorry, Joe, we can’t tell you anything.

One hour turns to two, two to four, four to six. Your wife is dying, and no one she loves is there.

Finally, in the eighth hour, you reach her bedside. You are just in time to stand beside the priest as he administers last rites.

Your wife is dead. Her name was Lisa Marie Pond. She was 39.

It happened, Feb. 18-19, 2007, except that Pond’s spouse was not a man named Joe, but a woman named Janice. And there’s one other detail. Janice Langbehn who, as it happens, is an emergency room social worker from Lacey, Wash., says the first hospital employee she spoke with was an emergency room social worker. She thought, given their professional connection, they might speak a common language.

Instead, she says, he told her, ”I need you to know you are in an anti-gay city and state, and you won’t get to know about Lisa’s condition or see her” — then turned and walked away.

For the record, this is an increasingly anti-gay NATION, to judge from all the mean-spirited amendments and legislation that have made scapegoats and boogie men of them in recent years, including Florida’s Marriage Protection Amendment, which passed last November.

Langbehn is suing the hospital for negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress. In a hearing last week, Jackson asked a judge to dismiss the suit. A ruling is pending. Attorney Andrew Boese, who represents Jackson, says the hospital ”absolutely” disputes Langbehn’s characterization of her encounter with the social worker. And as for visiting Pond’s bedside: “Our first duty should be to patients, particularly in an emergency room. The decision to allow someone into a trauma bay should be a medical decision. It shouldn’t be a question for a jury . .. . ”

All that notwithstanding, it strains credulity to believe that Joe would have spent eight hours barred from his wife’s bedside as Janice was from hers.

Politicians and alleged religious leaders have routinely invited us to hate gay people and call it morality. They have taught us to frame gay lives in cloudy abstracts of tradition and values. But this isn’t abstract, is it?

No, it is Janice and Lisa, meeting in college and falling in love, 20 years ago. It is a ”holy union” service in a local church, friends serving as maid of honor and ”best man.” ”We were dirt poor,” says Langbehn, “but we pulled it off.”

It is taking in foster kids no one else wants, drug babies, HIV babies, babies with fetal alcohol syndrome. It is adopting four of them and Lisa deciding she wants to be a stay-at-home mom and Janice saying OK, and wondering how the six of them will manage on a social worker’s salary. It is Janice, diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and Lisa, bashful Lisa, becoming the family extrovert, cheering the kids at ”toddler tumbling time” shepherding them to swimming lessons and story time at the library.

It is Lisa, who loved pecan sandies, the movie Beaches and Mitch Albom’s book Tuesdays With Morrie, stricken by an aneurysm. It is Lisa, for eight hours, dying alone.

It would be good if someone remembered her next time we are invited to hate an abstract. And remember Janice, who could not ache more deeply even if her name were Joe.

BATTERY POWERED CIGARETTES – II

Heather Lackey: “I love my electronic cigarette. Thanks for posting the link to the forum. It’s a valuable resource.”

☞ This left me with a lot of questions, so I asked Heather to elaborate. Here’s her story:

I actually quit smoking in 1999, more or less, and I was fine till about 2005, when I suddenly started missing it. I picked it up and quit a few times between 2005 and 2008. If I’d been single, I probably would have just picked it up and kept going, but my husband married someone who didn’t smoke; I didn’t think it was fair to expect him to now live with the stink of a smoker. So, in mid-2008, I resigned myself to just having to live with the longing.

I had read an article about electronic cigarettes in the UK earlier in 2008, but I didn’t think they sounded like a very good substitute. What I missed about smoking was the sensation of smoke hitting the back of my throat. I go to lots of concerts and inhale plenty of propylene glycol coming from the fog machines; I couldn’t imagine how that stuff could reasonably mimic the sensation of smoke. Then I saw a YouTube video of a young woman who had just received her electronic cigarette in the mail. She opened up the package, put it together, took her first drag, looked at the cigarette and said, “Wow, it really is like smoking” (around 6:50).

I ordered my first – the Pocket Mini (DSE901b) from Puresmoker.com – the next day. It’s a bit larger than the one shown in the YouTube video, but it got a lot of favorable reviews on the e-cigarette forum.

I tried explaining this thing to my husband before it arrived, but I think he was still expecting it to be pretty nasty. When it arrived, he checked it out, even took a drag himself, shrugged and went back to what he was doing. He has no problems with me using it, even when we’re watching TV in bed at night. His one worry after it arrived was that it would lead back to smoking actual cigarettes again, but there’s no way I’d go back to “analogs” after this. Real cigarettes don’t come in chocolate, pina colada and coffee flavors, and I like not smelling like an ashtray (or having to deal with the mess of ashes and cigarette butts!).

A few weeks ago, I ordered a Pee Wee, also from Puresmoker.com. This is like the one in the video, and I’ve quickly developed a preference for it. It’s lighter and more balanced; I’m more likely to hold it like a regular cigarette than I am my other one, so it feels more “natural” in my hand. I don’t use cartridges with it, though, because when I tried it with the cartridges that came with it I kept getting “juice” in my mouth. I just use an empty mouthpiece and put a drop of electronic cigarette liquid/juice on the atomizer, which lasts for about how long I’d smoke a single cigarette. So the way I see it, putting a drop on the atomizer is the equivalent to flicking a Bic.

These things can be fiddly, though (the e-cigarette forum is a big help for troubleshooting problems you might be having with your electronic cigarette), and you have to stay on top of keeping batteries charged and having replacement atomizers on hand, so they’re not for everyone – yet. The technology will no doubt improve, and probably rather quickly as these things catch on. (And they have been catching on. Puresmoker recently said that they were filling 200-300 orders a month back in July, and now they’re filling up to 300 orders a day.)

I have smoked them in public, but so far only outside, in the car, or in places where smoking is allowed (such as a club we went to recently to see a concert) – oh, and in public restroom stalls. If anyone’s noticed, they haven’t said anything. I haven’t tried them in non-smoking areas yet (aside from the restrooms). While I enthusiastically talk these things up online and to friends and family, I haven’t wanted to become the center of attention when I’m out having a meal or doing some shopping. I’ve read of others on the forum doing it, though, and it usually goes over well after a bit of explanation. The biggest (and definitely an understandable) concern that business owners are having with it is that other patrons may think smoking is being allowed if they see someone doing something that looks a lot like smoking. It can be easier to just say “Sorry, but you can’t vape in here” than risk losing non-smoking customers. Of course on the flip side, bars affected by smoking bans are starting to see these things as a way to get smokers back into their establishments.

I generally buy zero-nicotine liquid, since what I’m after is the throat sensation. I have purchased low-nicotine when the zero-nicotine version of a flavor I’ve wanted has been out of stock. I haven’t had any trouble going back to zero nicotine when it’s available again. In fact, I so far haven’t actually finished a bottle of low nicotine – when the zero comes in, I stick the low in a drawer and forget about it until I run out of zero again. Some believe that the “throat hit” effect depends on nicotine levels (the higher the better), but in my experience it depends more on battery charge, atomizer condition and drag technique.

☞ So what does it all cost? “If I don’t buy any shiny new models and just buy liquid and replacement atomizers and batteries for the two I have, it’s about $70/month, $840/year.” That’s for the equivalent of nearly 20 smokes a day, she says; so about a third what actual cigarettes would cost. Not to mention the savings on life insurance premiums and medical care.

LIFE’S TRUE BOTTOM LINE

“Who, being loved, is poor?” – Oscar Wilde

 

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