Tuesday, December 27, 2005

In Memorium, Courtney Kathleen Marsh, February 16, 1992 to December 26, 1993. She was our baby.

Had a friend.
He married his high school sweetheart.
The year he turned 38, his first child started college, the second high school.
"Feels so empty" he said
"You'll understand."

I married later,
To someone I wish I'd known from childhood.
The year I turned 38, buried two children, lost another from miscarriage.
Feels so empty
I understand.




I wrote that, obviously, before we had the rest of the miscarriages and had buried Robin. I think I'll go listen to Felicia whose music is sadly out of print.

But I remember her this day, in joy and in sorrow, always a part of my life, always with a place in my heart.




The hundred dollar Christmas -- how someone did all of Christmas for under a hundred dollars and had joy in the holiday.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

My daughter Jessica had a problem with compassion. She just didn't have it. So, once a month, we would buy, cook and serve dinner at the homeless shelter in Wichita Falls -- a meal for about seventy people. The service and experience touched her and taught her the compassion we weren't able to convey by just hoping and talking. Doing was what she needed.

At this time of year I think of her. Especially as I read about all the people who go out to homeless shelters once a year (on either Thanksgiving or Christmas), listen to cynics ask "don't the homeless need to eat during the rest of the year?" and miss her, I think of her.

Our hearts couldn't take returning to the shelter without her after she died, though our congregation took over. Thinking about the experience again, I remembered the importance of finding things to do with children -- and with adults -- to teach them when other methods fail. Sometimes talking is just not enough, though many things we do communicate better if we explain or label them.

We continue to do things with our children, and to explain the things we are doing, but my heart still remembers, especially this time of year. It is, after all, a season of hope and of the heart.




I was visiting at Wolf Angel again. I always have liked the blog's name. For some reason I can't get the comments to display. I've been thinking and reflecting a great deal. I'll post as I have concrete things to say, but there is more to say on many things, including more on the difference between spiritual, religious and social issues.

The differences are often important in churches from a conflict resolution viewpoint and in health care from a patient and family care perspective.

May this season nourish you in all areas, and may the differences in it give you joy and delight.

Stephen

Sunday, December 18, 2005


Come, Thou fount of every blessing,
      tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
      call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
      sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it,
      mount of Thy redeeming love.

Here I raise my Ebenezer;
      here by Thy great help I've come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
      safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
      wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
      interposed His precious blood.

Oh to grace how great a debtor,
      daily I'm constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
      bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
      prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, Oh take and seal it,
      seal it for Thy courts above.

John Wyeth


This time of year has so many emotions for me, both good and difficult.

This week I had to leave work to get Rachel from school with flu-like symptoms. Both Courtney and Jessica's final illnesses started that way, so that sort of thing has an emotional resonance. The call about my five-year-old brought all those memories to the top. By the time I got to her school, she had recovered and they had sent her back to class. She bounces back so quickly that it is surprising (I was only fifteen minutes away, especially at that time of day when traffic is light).

Of course she had been in the nurse's office longer, they hadn't been able to reach her mother or her sister. In their minds, of course a dad is called last, which when I'm in court or teaching a class is probably the way my wife thinks it ought to be. I no longer have the emotional load I once had, but the ghosts of memory are still bitter sweet.

A friend's son had a kid who had lived in the Wichita Falls area in one of his college classes. He told his mom that he told her that he knew someone who had lived in Wichita Falls and she told him she had been one of Jessica's friends at Church. In the middle of his mom telling the story, it seemed to suddenly hit home to her that Jessica was real.

Perspective is a funny thing, the way it comes upon us.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The means by which we live our lives are the ends that our lives serve. We may hear the old saying "the ends justify the means" but the reality is that the means become the ends that our lives are about. Even more for those who believe that there is a God and that we are passing through this life for many reasons, including judgment, the ends that we seek are the means by which we seek them.

That a life will be spent in the pursuit of means that make life better off not having been lived is the great peril faced by those who feel that the end justifies the means; they lose track of the reality that the means we use are the ends we are seeking, no matter what we may tell ourselves.

Understanding that the means we use are the ends we are seeking is the key to recognition and will. If you've read what I've written about acceptance and forgiveness you will recognize that both acceptance and forgiveness requires, at some point, a recognition sufficient that it causes a change.

Without a change in the manner of action, we have not forgiven ourselves, we have not found freedom, we have not accepted. It is the change that recognition creates that becomes the end that our life serves, which means that the way we act and the means that we use when we act remain the true ends that we seek.

There is a reason that peacemakers are blessed, and are called the children of God.




Yes, I mean that whether or not we support or suborn torture, that whether or not we are kind to those who we judge not to deserve it, that whether we overcome despair or are swallowed by it whole, especially in this season, in some part rests on recognition, will, acceptance and forgiveness.

I mean all of those things, because I mean that a key lesson in life is learning that our means are our ends.

For some interesting links, intended to create thought, not provide answers, death penalty discussion and more on the topic, trolls (who need to learn this lesson), ethesis, perseverance and torture.

And, as always, ozarque, a living saint.

May your means and ends be peaceful in this season.

Sunday, December 11, 2005


The diet is working. I'm amazed at how differently I think and feel about
food.

The sixteen pounds I've lost in about thirty days are a nice side effect,
but what has been very interesting are the mental changes.

For more information, see:

  • Calorie Lab

    • A long discussion with a lot of comments following afterwards.


[Update: I lost sixteen pounds the first thirty days, then ten pounds the second thirty, and four-five pounds the third thirty days. I'm now losing about a pound a week, which fits with the total calories that I'm eating. I no longer feel like I'm on a diet, what I eat is just the food I eat normally and I'm happy with it. I'm also in an OA group, which has really helped me deal with the emotions that eating was submerging. It got me through the holidays and the memories of my three dead children.]


BTW: Seth's book at Amazon.com.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

In the rising of the sun and its going down,
We remember them.

In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter,
We will remember them.

In the opening buds and in the rebirth of spring,
We remember them.

In the blueness of the sky and in the warmth of summer,
We remember them.

In the rustling of leaves and in the beauty of autumn,
We remember them.

In the beginning of the year and when it ends,
We will remember them.

When we are weary and in need of strength,
We will remember them.

When we are lost and are sick of heart,
We remember them.

When we have Joys we yearn to share,
We remember them.

So long as we live, they too shall live,
For they are now a part of us,
As we remember them.

Traditional Jewish Prayerbook remembrance, Candle Lighting Ceremony for Journey of Hope.

In memorium

Jessica Christine Marsh, February 12, 1986 to January 26, 1993
Courtney Kathleen Marsh, February 16, 1992 to December 26, 1993
Robin Elizabeth Marsh, July 6, 1997 to August 31, 1997

I remember them.

Sunday, December 04, 2005


Linguistics; propaganda; "Dad, I need 80 bucks...."

I don't know what you think of that "Dad, I need 80 bucks.." Ameritrade commercial running on CNN and the other news channels right now; I know what I think of it. It turns my stomach.

When the teenage girl tells her Dad she needs 80 bucks for a pair of jeans that she has to have because everybody has them, Dad asks her who the designer is, runs to his laptop and orders 100 shares of the designer's stock, and turns over the 80 bucks -- which, needless to say, he has right there in his pocket.

Not even one of the dialogues below takes place [and should be what really happens].

(1)
TEEN: "Dad, I need 80 bucks."
DAD: "You don't need 80 bucks. You want 80 bucks."

(2)
TEEN: "There's these jeans....."
DAD: "And you have to have them."
TEEN: "Yes."
DAD: "You don't have to have them, you want to have them."

(3)
DAD: "Do your friends have them?"
TEEN: "Everybody has them!"
DAD: "Then shame on their parents."

(4)
DAD: "Like you don't have enough jeans."
TEEN: "So, can I have the 80 bucks?"
DAD: "Absolutely not. All the kids in this world that don't even have clean water to drink, and you want 80-dollar designer jeans? No way. Go wash your mouth out with soap."



Quoting Ozarque.

Do you ever worry that your kids will grow up spoiled? I fear it.

BTW, for a good charity (when you are looking for something to remind yourself of why you are grateful):

Donations for the Pine Ridge problem would go to the Link Center Foundation, P.O. Box 2253, Longmont, CO 80502-2253, with the check or money order marked "Elders Heating Fund."

I can't vouch for the charity personally. The information comes from a Native American source. There's a website for the Link Center at http://www.LinkCenterFoundation.com.

Direct Link to the project.

____________________________________________

BTW, I do have a teenage daughter and when I talked with my wife about this commercial it was more on the line of but gosh, that is a funny thing to see on TV.

A lot of it is relative. My current boss used to work in men's clothes. He just can't bring himself to pay retail for clothing. I've lost a fair amount of weight, but I buy my non-work clothes from Wrangler ($15.00 a pair for pants) and my dress pants from Lands End. But, I know that sometimes, if you want fit and appropriate clothing that is going to last, you can end up paying money. Might be $20.00 for a dress at Nordstrom's Rack, might be ten times that (or more). I know that things I think of as essential are someone else's luxury.

I've read Shantaram and my parents served most of one of their missions in Tanzania. But, the issue, of how not to spoil your children, is significant to me.

We used to share our chapel with a ward that had pro sports players (active and retired) in it and others at a similar income level. People that buy the $200.00 jeans and think of the $80.00 ones as the cheap ones. Some of the people were great, but some walked out on their turn to do the dishes at girls' camp. I don't want my children to be like that, especially now that we are better off than we were.

Anyway, just thinking on the topic of kids wanting things, "needing" things, and being a parent. My teenager is preternatural. It is the five-year old (almost six) who worries me, who always asks for things. I worry about raising her.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

I realized I had robbed so much by looking to criticize in everything ... That is the way I guy in my men’s group began before he did a reading:


Acceptance is the answer to my problems.

I can not find serenity until I accept that persons, places, things or situations that are unacceptable to me are as they should be at this moment.

Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I accept my weaknesses, I can not overcome them. Until I accept life completely, on life’s own terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed int eh world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.

The more I focus on defects, the more they grow and multiply.

The courage to change is the courage I need from God to change myself, to learn to accept and to focus on what is good to watch it grow and multiply.

Active acceptance is th key to my relationship with God today. I never just sit and do nothing while waiting for Him to tell me what to do. Rather, I do whatever is in front of me to be done, and I leave the results up to God. However it turns out, it is His will for me.


I found it striking, as I did his discussion and what I learned from it.

Acceptance goes hand in hand with forgiving yourself of the pain that you have sufferred. We forgive others in order to be forgiven, by ourselves as well as by God, in order to accept His love for us and the hope that is in Him.

Especially in this season, may you find acceptance.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Holiday seasons are always hard times with grief. Mother's Day can be too much to bear for some, but most enter what is almost a tangible valley for the time from Thanksgiving to Christmas.

One of the keys to surviving such periods is forgiveness. Forgiving yourself and your spouse. It is hard because emotions drive one deeper into being hard and because every event brings with it the echoes of every prior event. History compounds itself into a terrible weight.

But, forgiveness also offers more. It is a way past recrimination and the past. It is a tool to avoid the crushing pain of the present. Forgiveness is a guide to the future we wish to create in the light of what is best in the past.

Combined with the Jewish version of the Golden Rule ("Be Kind"), forgiveness is the star of hope in every season. We draw close to what we can become with each other in a marriage and others who are dear to us in our grief by finding kindness and forgiveness in each step of the day. It has helped me survive the losses of the past and I think that forgiveness and kindness is much of what has made my present something I am grateful for and my life with my family such a source of joy.

May the world be kind with you this season, and may you find forgiveness as you need it, both in giving and receiving, with others and with yourself.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

We are not recommending this diet. On the face if it, if you had to cook up the ultimate stereotype of a wacky fad diet for use in a comedic novel or film, the Shangri-La Diet would fill the bill.

Basically, you don't eat anything (other than flavorless water) from 8:30 to 10:00 a.m. and then you have either a quarter cup of sugar in a liter of water or a half tablespoon or so of extra light olive oil (without the water). Then nothing with any flavor until 12:00 noon when you eat lunch. Repeat at 2:00 to 2:30 p.m. in the afternoon and listen to what your body tells you.

Often done in connection with a twelve step program.

The batscience is interesting, but batscience at present. On the other hand, for some people it really works.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

At this time of year, I need to express gratitude for the love of my life, my wife, and for my children who have given me reason to live.

There is a great working poem on prayer at the blog of my favorite saint, Ozarque.

At Must Love Books, there is a great metaphor.

I've been meaning to write about the negotiation class I taught recently. It reminded me of how grateful I am for many things.

I'm curious what others are grateful for.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Church exists to help its members, the members do not exist for the Church. That seems so simple. The Church is not the way, but it is the guide and support on our way, and the key to it. Much like the Sabbath day became for some, I worry that some people have replaced the goal with the tool. That is why Christ had to point out that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. The same is true of the Church.

We have Church, like the Sabbath, as a gift from God, not a prison or a taskmaster.

Though, thinking of the Sabbath I remember looking at graduate school materials and reading how Harvard's MBA students were encouraged to take a "sabbath" of sorts, half a day off on Sunday to relax from their labors.

We need surcease and respite, desperately some times. It is so very important that we find it, as a part of survival.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

We had a lesson on service today and got into a discussion of some people and things they had done. A friend paused, then said "that reminds me of my wife." I thought, that reminds me of my wife too. We both smiled.

Service is very important, and that is a feeling my wife shares, and one that makes me so very happy to be married to her.

When couples lose a child, they usually divorce. Last number I saw was over 90%. The experience is just so destructive, everything falls apart.

To survive it helps to keep moving forward. A good friend told me that, before Jessica died, that you had to remember those who were still living and decide if you were going to lose them as well as the one who died. If not, you had to keep moving forward.

For many, moving forward means not only staying in motion, but finding goals, "to do" lists. At times "to do" lists slowly evolve into "to fix" lists which can become "things to be unhappy about" lists.

Gordon B. Hinckley, spoke about that recently, reminding people to be grateful for each other rather than to spend their time finding fault and reasons to change each other.

It is an important lesson, especially for those who are overwhelmed by grief. By being grateful for each other they can strengthen each other when they need it the most rather than adding to each other's burdens and pain.

We can be grateful for each other, and reflect on the reasons for that gratitude, like Dave and I did about our wives this day.

Friday, November 11, 2005

My wife pointed out that in our community, pet dolls have replaced baby dolls as the toy for kids who want something to nurture, much as pets have replaced children for many. It is probably a significant moment of some sort, and appears to be more than just a local trend.

I'm curious if anyone lives in an area where that change was not complete this year -- there are baby dolls, but the prime promotional space goes to the pet dolls instead of the baby dolls as you walk in the store.

Comments and feedback welcome.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

One of my co-workers remarked that in every marriage there are terrible problems that are caused by silly things, and that all marriages have to survive those to flourish.

I realized that in my own life, the terrible, real, things had somewhat overshadowed the other problems. The long string of deaths and attempted recovery and death and attempt and death ... that all blended in together to usurp many of the normal problems.

After all, I was a typical undomesticated man, married for the first and only time at age 29. My wife was a marvelous creature from another planet (or so it seemed to me in so many ways).

A friend of mine blogged about her own life, where she truly felt like someone from another planet.

Ah, youth..... and culture shock

My brief life as an extraterrestrial, part 1
part 2
part 3
The husband question.....

In any situation of severe trauma, change or grief there are things to live through, times where we find ourselves strangers in a land that seems familiar. One of the most common experiences for those who have lost a child is to feel alone, strange and no longer a part of the culture of their birth, divided by the experience, dealing with people who can not understand, in spite of good will (or the lack of same).

I think that Suzette's experiences provide some perspective, a different way to look at things, a way to understand that somehow helps to fit and hold and sound and see through the fog. I would note that while she doesn't mention it in these posts, she has also buried a child and a husband.

Not much else to say, except I love my wife all the more now.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

I was asked to judge a negotiation round again this year and enjoyed it. It is interesting to watch people who have not been changed by practicing law, but the best part is the discussion that occurs after the self-assessment -- watching the students as they suddenly "get it."

While I was there I was asked to guest lecture in a class and to address a dispute resolution group and saw a large number of old friends and students. It is rewarding to see people I've taught in successful careers.

I have always found it valuable to teach people across levels. From post-graduates with multiple degrees to business clients to junior college students and even kids (meaning five and six year olds) I've always enjoyed teaching, and learning from those I am teaching. I'm looking forward to both the junior college class and the professional association. I will learn from both.

Irrational Ideas -- #1 -- just think of this next time you see an irrational essay or person.

The 12 Irrational Ideas -- the original essay about Albert Ellis that prompted #1.

BLieter points out:


DSM-IV-TR says the most useful way to distinguish the personality disorders for differential diagnosis is this:

Histrionics are coquettish
Antisocials are callous
Borderlines are needy
Schizotypals and paranoids are socially withdrawn
Narcissists are grandiose
Oh, both Narcissists and Obsessive-Compulsives are perfectionists, but only narcissists believe themselves to be perfect


Useful for considering the various types of problems some clients can cause and how to deal with them.

Funny, the week my Mom suggested this is what she was going to do, a web site shows up to help you calculate the numbers.

Anyway, some random posts, ones that might help someone learn something.

Interesting non-LDS essay on abortion

One more.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Sometimes you can't decide if it is good news or bad news. On the one hand, the diagnosis of Heather's condition appears to have been wrong. From a condition defined by symptoms and with a known progression and resolution, but with a still undetermined causative agent, she has gone to "nope, not that" -- but getting better quicker.

I think she learned a good deal from the experience of being a 10% or so, and appreciates the recovery. She has always been empathic, but being so sick she couldn't even shoot, had to drop some classes and realized that she might miss graduation from all the days she missed from school, I think that taught her something.

Luckily I was ahead at work before this all started, but it gave me some rough days too.

My wife always thinks of me as minimizing the bad or the chance that something will go bad. I don't, really, but I always tend to downplay the seriousness of things from both ends. I've noticed that most people tend to inflate a little, and that means that until people get to know me, and just assume that I'm inflating a little, much of what I say gets a double discount, once from me, once from the listeners. I'm still learning to overcome that, something I was taught as a kid (and was a good lesson then).

I'll say I'm relieved at how my oldest is recovering, and you can all understand that I'm understating how I feel. I'll leave it at that.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

There are three types of true stories. Unfair, fair, and irrelevant.

Unfair stories always cost someone who does not deserve. Take a friend of my daughter's who met her current boyfriend years ago, when other boys put a chair against a door and began to beat him up. The girl stood up and intervened, screaming and shaming and otherwise making them back down. No wonder my daughter loves her friend, and the story is neat, but it hurts the poor guy all over again, so they've all resolved not to tell the story about him.

Irrelevant stories are great stories, but they don't do anything for whatever dialog is involved. Like my poor neighbor forgetting to put her husband's car in park and having it roll across the alley and hit our garage door. The story can be charming and funny (when I called to explain why I was going to be late to work my secretary laughed so hard I had to explain it all over again to the office manager who was walking by). But there isn't any point to the story.

Then their are stories that are fair and fit in with the theme. Given that Saturday I attended a meeting, helped on an elder's quorum move, attended a temple wedding, a trunk or treat my wife and I were in charge of and a ring ceremony (as well as a few other things) it was a busy day. But, the wedding was of a kid I had in primary.

When we first met, I was sent out in the hall with him since he was a boy and I was a guy, and they felt he needed discipline. I didn't see it, he just needed a moment to collect himself, so I told him to stay calm and pretend that I had punished him and that should do it. Everything was secret until he told his parents (luckily, they approved).

He was a great kid then, and he has been a great kid since. This last year a lot of things have worked out for him and it was so good to see him in the Temple, along with a number of other people I hold dear. Almost as if I was seeing my own kids.

That story is fair to everyone involved and is the happiest kind of truth as well.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

I used to work out about five o'clock every morning with Ashley Gothro. From Ashley Gothro's favorite artist (Stan Rogers):


And you to whom adversity has dealt the final blow
With smiling bastards lying to you everywhere you go
Turn to and put out all your strength of arm and heart
and brain
And like the Mary Ellen Carter rise again

Rise again, Rise again
Though your heart it be broken and life about to end
No matter what you've lost;
Be it a home, a love, a friend
Like the Mary Ellen Carter rise again!


Too often we forget that we can rise again.

Advice from Folk Singers and his lyrics.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

And of course everyone knows what a middle-aged moralist of my type warns his juniors against. He warns them against the World, the Flesh, and the Devil. But one of this trio will be enough to deal with today. The Devil, I shall leave strictly alone. The association between him and me in the public mind has already gone quite as deep as I wish: in some quarters it has already reached the level of confusion, if not of identification. I begin to realize the truth of the old proverb that he who sups with that formidable host needs a long spoon. As for the Flesh, you must be very abnormal young people if you do not know quite as much about it as I do. But on the World I think I have something to say.


Which is:

Snobbery is not the same thing as pride of class. Pride of class may not please us but we must at least grant that it reflects a social function. A man who exhibited class pride – in the day when it was possible to do so – may have been puffed up about what he was, but this ultimately depended on what he did. Thus, aristocratic pride was based ultimately on the ability to fight and administer. No pride is without fault, but pride of class may be thought of as today we think of pride of profession, toward which we are likely to be lenient.

Snobbery is pride in status without pride in function. And it is an uneasy pride of status. It always asks, “Do I belong – do I really belong? And does he belong? And if I am observed talking to him, will it make me seem to belong or not to belong?” It is the peculiar vice not of aristocratic societies which have their own appropriate vices, but of bourgeois democratic societies. . . .

The characteristic work of the novel is to record the illusion that snobbery generates and to try to penetrate to the truth which, as the novel assumes, lies hidden beneath all the false appearances. Money, snobbery, the ideal of status, these become in themselves the objects of fantasy, the support of the fantasies of love, freedom, charm, power, as in Madame Bovary, whose heroine is the sister, at a three-centuries remove, of Don Quixote. The greatness of Great Expectations begins in its title: modern society bases itself on great expectations which, if ever they are realized, are found to exist by reason of a sordid, hidden reality.


From Lionel Trilling’s 1947 essay “Manners, Morals, and the Novel.”

My thanks to http://mthollywood.blogspot.com/

and to Tolstoy, for his writing which inspired C. S. Lewis to warn:

The lust for the esoteric, the longing to be inside, take many forms which are not easily recognizable as Ambition. We hope, no doubt, for tangible profits from every Inner Ring we penetrate: power, money, liberty to break rules, avoidance of routine duties, evasion of discipline. But all these would not satisfy us if we did not get in addition the delicious sense of secret intimacy. It is no doubt a great convenience to know that we need fear no official reprimands from our official senior because he is old Percy, a fellow-member of our ring. But we don't value the intimacy only for the sake of convenience; quite equally we value the convenience as a proof of the intimacy.

My main purpose in this address is simply to convince you that this desire is one of the great permanent mainsprings of human action. It is one of the factors which go to make up the world as we know it-this whole pell-mell of struggle, competition, confusion, graft, disappointment, and advertisement, and if it is one of the permanent mainsprings then you may be quite sure of this. Unless you take measures to prevent it, this desire is going to be one of the chief motives of your life, from the first day on which you enter your profession until the day when you are too old to care.


The entire essay is at http://www.limbicnutrition.com/blog/archives/025484.html

Friday, October 21, 2005

I was looking over my teaching evaluations from when I taught at SMU. The first class I taught, my so-called "normed" evaluations (think of figure skating or gymnastics -- subtract the high and the low score and average the rest) came to 8.3 on a scale of 1-9. The second class came back at 8.6. The best part about the second class's evaluations is that the raw scores were 57% nines and there were no evaluations below an eight. As a result, my overall average was about 8.5.

The key was that I made adjustments. Even with only two weeks to prepare and an accelerated schedule (I was teaching six classroom hours a week on the second class) -- and even billing 42+ hours a week as an attorney at the same time -- I was able to teach health care dispute resolution to a class including hospital administrators, Ph.D., MDs, JDs, health care consultants and graduate social workers. Viewed against a program faculty that averaged 3.5 on evaluations (a topic that came up at the last faculty meeting I attended before the program retrenched), I can look back and still be pleased.

The class outline is here: http://adrr.com/smu/health/index.htm

One thing that evaluations drove home to me, and that was highlighted in discussions about evaluations with other people teaching in the program, is that if you listen to feedback and adjust, you will get better. If you don't listen, but discount it as wrong or misunderstood, you will not improve. There is always a reason for the way people react to you, and usually it is something within your control (at least to change). The big thing for me was the number of people who felt my organization was only "ok" (well, 7 out of 9) in the first class. That class was tightly organized, but I obviously did not communicate the organization. I let the structure display itself a little more in the second class and was rewarded by the class responding.

The important lesson that reminded me to learn again was that when there is a problem, even if only a relative one, the right response is to ask yourself what solution will work rather than fighting with the message. Learn from the message, don't fight with it.

Next post I might talk about http://www.adrr.com/adr4/ppp.htm and related matters, but I need to spend some more time learning right now.

Monday, October 17, 2005

I was talking with a friend of mine, Nyle Smith, about life and the things it does to you. Nyle has survived a number of strokes. He was on the faculty at Lewis & Clark Law School before the strokes derailed his life. Nyle is now disabled, but still wise. I try to drop by to see him when I'm in Portland visiting family and we talk from time to time. I'm hoping that some day he will be able to blog.

One thing that I realized while talking with him is that I've always had good things to say about places where I've worked. He suggested that much of why I find good is that I do my best to make places better.

That came up as we discussed last firm. Before I came on board, it used to have more than 100% turnover (mostly staff and associates). Yet, for the almost four years I was there, turnover was down to about 10%. Talking to one of my ex-partners after I left, I discovered that turnover was at 100% or so the year after I left.

Nyle suggested that perhaps my job history of dramatically slowed turnover in each job I've had was not just my good luck in being in the right place at the right time my entire life, but perhaps something I was bringing to the table as well. He snorted at me and suggested I take credit for making a difference.

What he had to say reminded me of my first secretary at my employment when I brought another summary judgment back in and I passed it off as just more good luck. She snorted at me and suggested that luck might have made the difference once or twice, but after five or six I ought to consider that part of it might be me. I thought of her when I talked to Nyle and he said the same thing.

Nyle gave me some good perspective, which he always does. I appreciate his faith and endurance and good example. Not to mention, what he had to say was a good remember to give myself credit and to remind others to do the same -- to give themselves credit.

After all, much of life in recovering from grief is owning life and giving yourself credit, accepting joy and sharing it. Owning life and accepting the good things in it is a lesson to be learned and shared over and over again, and yesterday was a good reminder.

Thanks Nyle.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

One thing I really admired about Roark, besides his choice of wife, was the grace, love and kindness he showed his mother.

Too often families fail to follow God's advice to honor the relationship. I was glad to see that he did.

Too often grief and loss only feeds the divisions we feel rather than causing us to heal them. That is why so many couples divorce when a child dies, instead of surviving together.

picture

I've probably blogged more than enough about Roark. I'll respect his privacy to the rest. Much like I do with my co-workers (I like them, I like my job, I've had a great year, but nothing there fits within the scope of why I am posting) or my ward (other than the fact that everyone in our congregation likes our bishop -- which is a little unusual -- there isn't much to say about going to Church that is different for us than anyone else) there is little that fits within the scope of grief, loss and recovery that touches any of those parts of my life.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Picture of me at maintenance

Not the best, part of a bunch of photos we took of my daughter having fun with a large shipping box.

But, it is how I look on maintenance.

I've aged the date so I can import the picture to share, without it clogging up my blog.

I'll smile next time (I usually do, I was just, you know).


Monday, October 10, 2005

Roark and Katelynn had a wonderful marriage in Soquel, California. I've always had a fond spot in my heart for Roark (he's one of my nephews). He and Katelynn have been together since they were thirteen, he's now in grad school at MIT, and, as his brother Ben pointed out, it was time. And a wonderful time it was.

Win got called in to do a liver transplant tonight, so as I sit here just back from vacation, thinking about weddings and I how I love her, she is at work and not here. Speaking of Win, I've now gotten to see her brain (via watching a cat scan in real time) and it is as pretty as the rest of her. She was pretty bad off, but it was just food poisoning, potassium driven down below three, and an inner ear infection, all coming together. Gave us all a scare, but the ER folks were kind, though they sent me an orderly the size of Rachel. Luckily Win doesn't weigh that much, so I picked her up and put her in the wheel chair to take her in. She was clamped up and unable to walk at that point.

But, this visit to California was a good one, though we are all glad to be back in Texas and to have our house back from the Wichita Falls refugee who stayed in it last week.

Too much to write about.

But who we marry says a lot about us, and who Roark married says good things about him.

Though California is a funny place. Met a Seminary teacher out there who defined a student who really "got it" as one who decided against going on a mission and became completely secular. They have different goals and ideas out there.

Guess two more notes.

In Africa, some of the wards had the sisters blessing and passing the sacrament (the men tend to delegate anything that looks like work). It was pointed out to them that the sacrament is a priesthood responsibility. Next visit, the women handled the sacrament again. When the visiting authority asked, the bishop assured him that it was ok this time, they had ordained all the sisters to the Aaronic priesthood. Nothing was done at the time, I don't know if anything has happened since. Interesting that ordination to the priesthood was treated as a step down in status, rather than a step up for the sisters.

In one of the temples there was an effort to have the position of sealer restricted to only those who had been stake presidents. The only comment that was made was that perhaps the position should be restricted to only those who have served missions.

So many ways to look at things, so little time.

Monday, October 03, 2005

I am off to a wedding in California. If you need me, call the house, once again we have people staying here for a bit. I should be blogging again by October 15th or so.

For the newsletter I do, visit mediation newsletters.

Everyone has my best wishes.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Thursday, September 29, 2005

I've seen a number of very hostile e-mails about the refugees. But I've also met people who dealt with refugees in person.

The true story is that close to 100% of the refugees are kind and grateful. Over and over and over again that is the story I'm getting from people who have actually met a refugee or engaged in service or staffed a shelter or a clinic or done something else.

The sad thing is how the media fueled the disgust many Americans feel towards people who do not deserve it.

Do you know how many murders there were in the Superbowl?

None.

Not one. Not a single one.

How many gunshot wounds?

One. Bless his heart, a National Guardsman shot himself by mistake after all the refugees were out and they were doing a sweep to collect all the dead bodies.

If the media coverage had not been so hateful the evacution of the Superbowl would have taken place a day earlier, but the Guard delayed a day in order to have sufficient force to handle the anticipated violent crowd.

"I've got a report of 200 bodies in the Dome," Beron recalls the doctor saying.

The real total was six, Beron said.

...

"I think 99 percent of it is bulls---," said Sgt. 1st Class Jason Lachney, who played a key role in security and humanitarian work inside the Dome. "Don't get me wrong, bad things happened, but I didn't see any killing and raping and cutting of throats or anything. ... Ninety-nine percent of the people in the Dome were very well-behaved."

...

"These people - our people - did nothing wrong," said Sherry Watters of the state Department of Social Services, who was working with the medical unit at the Dome and noted the crowd's mounting frustration. "No human should have to live like that for even a minute."

By Brian Thevenot
and Gordon Russell
Staff writers


Thought I should say something to add to what those writers said.

The truth needs to be repeated sometimes.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

For those worried because I'm in Texas (I just got two calls tonight), Dallas is five hours (without any traffic slowdowns) from Galveston (we used to go every year for the 4th of July) and four hours from the North edge of Houston. Usually we don't even see rain from this sort of weather, though we are hoping.

And, the local wards are all making lists of places available for refugees to sleep and spend a night or two before they go back home.

I may not be ok, but if not, it has nothing to do with the weather and everything to do with spending too long looking out a window at Jessica's favorite place to go in Fort Worth. That was a long day yesterday.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

I've submitted a guest post over at Nine Moons. I'll be interested to see if they decide to use it or not.

While waiting, 100 best movie quotes can get you off and running and thinking. 100 best quotes, things like "I can tell you would rather die than pay tithing" and the like. Yes, I especially like metaquotes which are quotes as we have inherited them, not as they were spoken.

An interesting discussion on oil and the future at Ozarque's the on-line presence of the author of The Gentle Art of Verbal Self Defense.

Blogs used to be "web logs" -- logs of places people had been on the web. The number one blog at the ecosystem still is that type of log. In the Bloggernacle, what we have is computer generated web logs -- but no human ones.

Too bad, but it is a sign that we, like most others, have expanded past the original roots.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Recently the EAC list that my wife participates in had a discussion about a foster home for autistic kids that kept the kids in brightly colored crates at night. Win's comment was:

We had considered changing a crib to an upside down position for our children. They all started climbing out of their cribs at about 8 to 10 months of age. They could walk, they could climb, they could get into all kinds of trouble. But they were young enough not to be able to understand any sort of direction.

Courtney used to like to climb up our closet organizer and leave one shoe on the top shelf -- just 8 inched from the ceiling. It was her way of letting me know that she had been up there.

She used to leave crayon marks on the playroom ceiling. I never could figure out how those got up there.

Jessica liked to get herself up onto the toilet, use the toilet paper holder as a foot hold and use it to boost herself over into the sink. Then she could play with the faucets. She was 8 to 9 months old. She also figured out how to open up the frig and search for the container of whipping cream.

We did try a net over the top of one child's crib. It appeared to be more of a health hazard than any sort of prevention so it didn't last more than a day. I do like the big screen idea Russ mentioned.. It would be like a huge terrarium.

About the article, it all depends on the children and their particular issues. Autistic children can lay in bed and bang their heads into the wall or the side boards for hours. They can get head injuries. ...


Just thinking about our girls and bright colors. Hope the other children are ok, but I miss our girls.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

bye
qiihoskeh
2005-09-12 04:48 )
Suzette,
"defriending"
nothing personal,
I just can't stand all the greedy predatory (additional adjectives omitted) wrong wing "Republicans" and "Libertarians", may they and the Devil they worship suffer endless torment (details also omitted) for at least a billon eons -- they deserve worse. My sincere desire is to remove them permanently from the gene pool. I know you're dedicated to non-violence and can't agree.


Personally, I prefer to hear both sides of the story. I'm not interested in joining Pol Pot or those on the other end of the spectrum. I'm not interested in the free market anarchy of Albania.

I often find those I really disagree with can teach me something, from Brian Leiter to others.

I don't believe, as qiihoskeh appears to believe, that Republicans or Democrats or Marxists or Libertarians are headed to hell or worship the Devil, I've met too many good people of all kinds.

Not that a great deal of harm is not done, sometimes, by people of good intent, but without an interplay, without appreciating that many have good intent, we can not reach them and our violence only serves to transform us into the demons we think we face.

I admire true pacifists such as Dr. Suzette Haden Elgin or the Anti-Nephi-Lehites. I belive that Christ told the truth when he said "Blessed are the Peacemakers."

And, I believe with all my heart that I do not have all the answers, but that I know some of the right questions, and that by listening, I can learn more.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Just something light and happy for today. We had some friends over for dinner, and after dinner, when it was time for dessert, I asked our five year old to bring the ice cream from the refrigerator to me.

She opened the door, looked in and said "mm, mmm, mm. my day has come." I'd never heard her use that phrase before and she was just so delighted. It was a great moment (especially, since when I asked her about it she said "well daddy, I meant my moment had come, not my day had come."

It was like a beam of light breaking out of the sky to watch her be so happy, for us and our guests.

Labor Day weekend was great. Alison came down with Frank and her kids and spent the night and then Monday the Prince family came over. All we needed was the Greens to make it perfect (or at least a perfect Wichita Falls reunion).

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

"Real" mental illness is, in many ways, worse than grief, at least as far as I can tell. With grief, even overwhelming grief you've got severe disability for a few years (usually 1-3) and then modest disability for a few more (3-5) and then lingering pain and memories that people come to terms with (no, they never "get over it," but they do reach terms with themselves and God).

But mental illness, the real kind (and I'm using "Real" above to emphasize that it is real rather than as "scare quotes" to diminish it) continues without benchmarks and often without clear resolutions.

Sure, you can do some things. You can get aerobic exercise, if nothing else, sneaking off to a local university or school track and running for forty or fifty minutes a day. You can regulate your sleep and engage in cognitive therapy.

But the medication is usually not perfect (they all have side effects), your body changes as you age (so what worked last year, may need to be adjusted next year) and the very problem you are trying to deal with robs you of the ability to deal with it.

Grief is rough, and it can break coping mechanisms (usually, each child that dies breaks a method of coping, lose two or three and you can be a mess), but physiologically based mental illness can rob you of all your coping mechanisms.

On the other hand, especially in the modern world and in the United States, there is real hope of a kind that the world never had before.




Someone noticed that I posted about the baby Dallas matter (there is more than one) and other things *after* they were in the local newspaper and the only details I had were the reflections on my own life.

Well, my wife worked those nights, but she doesn't talk. So I post about the things I know. Sorry I don't have details.




If you have some free energy, drop by The Celibate Blog or Pie Polar Bear and leave them a kind word and say a prayer for them.

In times of great disasters people always want to know what they can do. The answer is simple: you can find a person and help them. One person at a time you can help people.

Peace and grace attend you.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Another baby born tonight, her one year old sibling was floated out of New Orleans in a bucket.

Poor mother was in pre-term labor, brought on by too much stress, too many days and nights in the Superbowl. Her story reminded us all of the flood on Featherstone when Win left as the water reached three foot deep, with Jessica and a bucket, and came to my office (on the 5th floor) to wait it out.

We named our next child Heather, but so many here are naming their children "Dallas."

We've a flood of them coming in from New Orleans, except we greet them with much more love and kindness, a flood of new life instead of a flood of death.

With all their suffering, only compassion has any answers.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Usually this blog deals with issues of grief, death and faith. I am working on another blog to discuss other issues at other -- but that isn't up and running yet and I wanted to post.

In the work world, there are a number of messages you can send and a number you are sent. Books that purport to tell you how to be successful at work are legion (with exactly what that means). They are of the following kinds (regardless of what they claim to be on their title):

1) Books that tell you how to send the message that you are a useful worker bee (the kind of people businesses need to run, after all).
2) Books that send you messages about how to be happy as a worker bee.
3) Books that peddle myths, for the purpose of getting your money, that are useless or dangerous.
4) Books that give you skills or elements to improve your knowledge base and that will help you make progress (books like Dress for Success or The Gentle Art of Verbal Self Defense at Work.

Crooked Timber and Cheese links to a discussion or two on the topic, especially New York Times Article and White Collar Invisibility (which has the useful warning All those career coaches and employment workshops are the white-collar equivalent of the predatory creditors in poor neighborhoods. The author's books are flawed, very flawed, but interestng too. Much of John Bruce's Journey is about a guy who is a worker bee but who gives off the wrong message over and over again.

Most people do not understand class. America is rife with class issues and getting a job involves:

a) communicating that you are a worker bee of the appropriate class for the job.
b) communicating that you are not a threat.

Employers want to hire you (well, they really, really want to hire someone to get work done that needs to be done). They really want to keep you in the job they hire you for too (sometimes blocking promotions because a manager is a manager while a good worker bee is hard to find in some areas -- though in others, good managers are essential).

Many times those who have lost children also lose their jobs. The incapacity of grief leads to other issues and that leads to job loss. Suddenly you are looking for a job, not at your best, but at your all time worst. Most of the books out there are useless to you or harmful.

But, there is a free library near you (with interlibrary loan, probably for free as well), and as long as you take it only a step or two at a time, you can work your way back from anything. The key is continuous, steady work going after reasonable incremental steps.

There is always a way forward. The Man Who Planted Trees (note: Giono ran into difficulties with the American editors who in 1953 asked him to write a few pages about an unforgettable character. Apparently the publishers required a story about an actual unforgettable character, while Giono chose to write some pages about that character which to him would be most unforgettable. The real story of a real man who created a forest is at true story, real forest)

Friday, September 02, 2005

Singh Gildarie was buried today. He died yesterday, after a long illness. He was my first home teaching companion in this ward, he could never go with me, he was always too sick, but he was always there for Sacrament meeting, always faithful until the end.

May grace attend him.
Time will pass, but I thought I would link to three discussions of the current disaster:

The shock and outrage over New Orleans' post-Katrina woes reminds me of that experience--and not just because of the chaos. What's just as striking to me is the unique scrutiny to which the local, regional and national disaster response infrastructure is suddenly being subjected. Thirteen years ago, when Hurricane Andrew devastated South Florida to the tune of 25 billion dollars, a quarter of a million people were left homeless, and over a million stranded without power--a quarter-million of them for over a week--as looters ran rampant and government personnel at all levels struggled to maintain order and care for the victims. But I don't remember a national outpouring of fury at the authorities' slow and imperfect response to that disaster. (In fact, compared with the police failures during the LA riots earlier that year, the response to Hurricane Andrew was a model of smooth efficiency.) Rather, the nation's attention focused on the (largely private, charitable) relief effort, as millions in donations were raised to help the victims recover.

Then, for the other side Over the past few years in particular, a lot of money and thought was supposed to have been devoted to planning for rapid response to large-scale urban disasters in the wake of 9/11. While authorities in Louisiana and New Orleans are not as powerful as the Feds, they have known for years that a disaster of this kind was likely and were told in detail what it would do to their city. And yet. The reports of what’s happening convey little except how poorly-prepared, ill-coordinated and slow-moving the disaster response is. As Mark Kleiman comments, failing to plan is planning to fail. Kevin Drum provides a demoralizing chronology explaining why FEMA is being run by people with no experience in disaster management.

Finally, from someone who actually had a spouse there:

Also, the latest update from my husband, who's still helping at the temporary hospital at the New Orleans Airport: They were completely overwhelmed with patients on Wednesday, never less than 15-20 ambulances waiting in a line to unload patients, 2-3 helicopters at a time, too. More medical teams arrived on Thursday, and there have been national guard there to help keep everyone safe, so things started to get under control. The forestry service arrived Thursday night/Friday morning and set up one of their base of operations for the emergency workers, so they now have beds and showers and meals being prepared for them, which is helping morale a LOT. And what a coincidence, that things started to get under control about 72 hours after the disaster...

I'm just reading about it all, and very sad for everyone.

//////////////////// btw, what the LDS Church is currently doing /////////////

Storehouses Continue to Send Supplies to Hurricane Katrina Victims
By Nicole Seymour, Church Magazines

Two additional truckloads of humanitarian aid for Hurricane Katrina's hardest-hit areas along the Gulf coast are on their way from the Bishops' Central Storehouse in Salt Lake City. The semi-trucks, loaded Wednesday, are filled with supplies necessary to sustain the lives of Hurricane Katrina refugees. The cargo includes tents, sleeping bags, bottles of drinking water, and five-gallon gas containers. Meanwhile, Church meetinghouses across the Southeast continue to be used as emergency shelters. One meetinghouse in Metairie, Louisiana, a New Orleans suburb, served as an American Red Cross Shelter and a destination for carloads of the state's refugee families, according to a Philadelphia Inquirer report.

At a press conference addressing the Church's ongoing role in the Hurricane Katrina relief effort, Kevin Nield, director of Bishops' Storehouse Services, said the Church would continue to meet the needs of Church members and other community members who are seeking refuge.

Brother Nield, who has played a significant role in the management of the Church's response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster, said a sufficient supply of drinking water is most essential. He said more water is in demand because of the potential for disease in local water supplies and also because thirst is greater than hunger among evacuees who are, to an extent, in shock. Brother Nield also said the five-gallon gas containers will serve as fuel tanks for generators and chain saws.

As 14 other trucks from the large central warehouse in Salt Lake have arrived or are near arrival among Hurricane Katrina evacuees, food, hygiene kits, and other emergency supplies preceded the latest shipment. Central bishops' storehouses in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and Georgia are sending vehicles and supplies to the hurricane victims. Brother Nield said some trucking companies are teaming up with the Church to help the regional storehouses to haul goods; some even contribute to the supply of aid. “It could be a bishops' storehouse in Slidell, Louisiana or it could be a chapel in Biloxi, Mississippi,” Brother Nield said. “It depends where the need is and the kind of requests that come forward.” He said the most urgent need is in the areas the media indicate: New Orleans, Louisiana, and Biloxi, Mississippi.

Volunteers from stakes neighboring the disaster are ready and waiting to help, Brother Nield said. “At the appropriate time, members will go in to help: to clean up and fix up and do what recovery could be done early on,” he said. “But again, it is too early in the assessment part of this whole process to know where they will be most needed and what they will be doing.” (For information about how to help with hurricane relief, visit www.providentliving.org).

Even though relief efforts are ongoing, the death toll continues to rise. New Orleans mayor, Ray Nagin, said Wednesday that he estimates the number of storm-related fatalities for his city to be at least in the hundreds, but more likely in the thousands. New Orleans has ironically flooded further in the wake of the storm because much of the city is below sea level. Eighty percent of the city is submerged because of the broken levees on neighboring, Lake Pontchartrain. To the east, Mississippi has a death count of 110; Alabama, 2; and Florida, 11—all victims of Hurricane Katrina. Also in the aftermath of the storm, 2.3 million people across the Southeast have been without electricity.

Federal officials have weighed-in on the disaster. Wednesday, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt, who is a member of the Church, declared a public health emergency. Because of standing water in many areas, the threat of diseases such as typhoid and cholera is apparent. Leavitt said more medical personnel would be present in the hardest hit areas to counter the spread of disease.

Another good link: the other side of the story, still unimpressed with FEMA

Even better, Julie M. Smith's comments at Times and Seasons.

Shortly before midnight Friday, the Bush administration sent her a proposed legal memorandum asking her to request a federal takeover of the evacuation of New Orleans, a source within the state’s emergency operations center said Saturday.

The administration sought unified control over all local police and state National Guard units reporting to the governor. Louisiana officials rejected the request after talks throughout the night, concerned that such a move would be comparable to a federal declaration of martial law. Some officials in the state suspected a political motive behind the request. . . Louisiana did not reach out to a multi-state mutual aid compact for assistance until Wednesday, three state and federal officials said. As of Saturday, Blanco still had not declared a state of emergency, the senior Bush official said.
consider it vis a vis this link cafe express.

BTW, for more on the head of FEMA how he lost his last job.

Finally, some blog thoughts on rebuilding, etc. New Orleans will be the New Orleans of the rebuilders.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

In memory, Robin Elizabeth Marsh, July 6, 1997 to August 31, 1997. The leader of our grief group once asked me when I was going to take time out for myself. She had met us when Jessica died, been there with us when Courtney died and had gotten to know us pretty well. I told her that after Robin was born, I'd finally take time for myself.

I miss her still, and sometimes, still dream.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

It is amazing what one person can do, over time.

A Grain of Salt talks about Gandhi and Christ, but it made me think about what one person can do, such as teaching people to read, one on one, one person at a time, until a people could be freed.

If we just continue, it is amazing what we can do, if not in our own lives, in the lives of others.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

One of the hardest things to do is to survive benchmarks, as one child approaches them, or as another passes them, and those who have died echo. Having our youngest start school was so stressful, especially as she talked about being baptized. Jessica was talking more and more about baptism, just before she became ill. She was never old enough to be baptized in our faith (ignoring, for a moment, the kindness of Catholic nurses in their own ways). She would be in college now, and all of her friends (except one) have gotten married in the last year or so. Tried to attend a wedding, but it was like running into a wall, I just could not.

On the other hand, Heather is rifle team commander this year, and should earn her forth letter in rifle team, something that is hers alone.

As for the weddings, we send gifts, we think, we go forward. Life moves on around us and with us.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

I thought I would write about Cindy Sheehan and other grieving parents in the public eye. The sad truth is, every time a grieving parent is in the public eye, someone is trying to exploit them. That doesn't mean they don't have an agenda of their own (think of MADD), but that they don't get anything for free.

That said, having given myself some time, I am still appalled by the exploitation of Ms. Sheehan by those on all sides.

First, I'm not happy with those who are using her to promote an agenda -- for either side (either as a stalking horse or a free target). The one side should have more decency, the other hand should leave her out of things in their discussions.

Second, (in a very related way) I am offended by those who are using her as media fodder. The first group exploits directly, the second group exploits reactively. If you suffer grief, you may very well run into both kinds. The one seeks to turn you into a cypher, the second type seeks to make use of you as a cypher.

For those exploiting her, on the one hand they delight every time she is attacked. They revel in it. Every attack strengthens that group regardless of which side they are on (attacking or defending).

The second group feeds off of the attacks and makes them continue -- the term media circus has some real meaning in this instance, it is a circus. Either the second group is doing its best to help the first group, or the second group is exploiting Ms. Sheehan for their own benefit, or they are so clueless as to make one question their competence. Who sees any real analysis? Who sees any real kindness?

You will see the same thing in local news when a child dies of hard drugs or steroids in a high school and a parent speaks out.

Ask yourself.

If a thousand sons and daughters had died in Iraq (or perhaps 1853), leaving two thousand parents (drop some for orphans, add some for step parents) and only one of those parents acts out in what you consider a loopy fashion, should you conclude:

1) That one out of two thousand is a fully competent adult knowingly doing something crassly wrong who needs to be shamed and humiliated as an example for other grieving parents (I listened to a radio personality do just that, though when I called him on it, he backed off in a letter to me), or

2) They are suffering under the disability of grief and being exploited?

3) The person just wants media attention?

I suggest to you that if #1 is correct in the first half (a fully competent adult knowingly doing something), then people who say Cindy Sheehan is the most courageous woman in America and should be president may have something. If she is fully competent and knowing, then she may be right and she is definitely courageous. The more competent she is to face criticism, the more she acts from reason and knowledge rather than emotion and being exploited, the less she deserves any criticism.

If #2 is correct, attempts to shame them do nothing but feed and support those who are trying to use her to get attention -- and in a way that makes Sheehan look correct.

If #3 is right, any attention rewards them.

I think that public shaming attempts -- especially of a parent who has lost a child within the last year or so -- are useless, crass and exploitative, and do nothing but encourage those who would exploit the vulnerable. If the person just wants attention, it gives them the attention they crave in an atmosphere that provides them with enough positive voices that the public shaming attempt never reaches them and enables exploitation.

With each attack, the both sides are strengthened and those who have exploited Ms. Sheehan (if she is being propped up) are rewarded. Real dialogue, which this country needs, and real respect for death and loss and sacrifice, all of those are lost.

Now, as for someone who is exploiting a grieving parent, I think stringing someone along to make them a target for such public shaming attacks is evil and heartless. Drawing the poor family into things is sad.

I don't know Ms. Sheehan's heart and I've seen a lot on the war in Iraq to where I am unwilling to agree that she is correct or insist that she is wrong.

However, I can understand how she could believe as she does regardless if she has a noble or a crass purpose. I don't know how much of those feeding off of her, from both sides, raven like wolves attacking a wounded deer rather than are responsible for the wounding in the first place.

But I know that public shaming attempts against such a parent are useless, less than productive and shameful.

People who have buried children, when they make mistakes or act out in public, need first and foremost to be allowed space and quiet.

If her critics are truly right (if any of the critics of those in grief are right), what Ms. Sheehan needs and deserves is to be allowed her act in private.

If she is right, then what she really needs is people to make the issue about the dialogue and the concepts and thoughts and not about her.

Too often the grieving are exploited, by both sides (or all sides or any side) and then discarded. As human beings we deserve more both in the grieving and how we relate to it.

My two bits. I'll probably take this post down after a while, but I wanted to vent a little myself.

Post script:

I was asked which blogs I would condemn as exploiting Cindy Sheehan. None. I do not see blogs as significant in what is going on in her case, and I do believe that there is plenty of room to comment and review without exploitation.

Maybe if I read more blogs, but I don't see them as a factor in what is going on with this example or with most grieving parents (other than the fact that many of them do have blogs).

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Interesting link to a thirty minute or so speach by a guy who was an engineer, then was a lawyer, and now is an entertainer.

What Do You Want to Be?
-- links to a link that will take you to the download.

Interesting, different.

Often, in dealing with grief, you have to decide, what do you want to be? What do you want to become? This is because you are going to become something, as are all those around you, no matter what you plan on. Life and change will happen. Especially if you have subsequent children, you are going to relive, evolve and become regardless of what you think you are going to do. Life will not remain static, and if you do not anticipate and plan and decide, it will still happen, just without your input.

An excellent question: what will you decide to become? What will you do for those who are part of your life, how will you help or hinder them in what they are going to become? What will your choice be?

Sunday, August 07, 2005

How can I keep on living, why should I keep on living? Hasn’t every parent who has buried a child had to face those two questions and had to face the traps that threaten on the way to finding answers.

One real problem is that because the pain is so great, it shuts everything else out. Then, once you are finally recovered enough to be numb or in shock, the only way you can reach emotion is to reach into the pain. It blots out everything else and seems to be the only real emotion left.

Sometimes children will start misbehaving so that they can be punished, because the emotions tied up with punishment and sorrow break through to real emotion and let some pain out. A child can become addicted to that cycle, and it can be hard to break.

Worse for adults is becoming addicted to anger and rage and pain as the only touchstones left, ones that will swallow a man or a woman in bitterness, leaving only dregs.

It is funny, but watching The Pacifier (my five-year-old had seen it several times, so I had to see it too with her), I was brought back to the only way I found to escape the traps. In the end, the hero realizes that children and family are the only things that matter, and he choses to remain near the children and to find his own way to starting his own family. Everything returns to that, to living life outside of myself, as the real meaning and the real hope.

That pathway out and away from anger for me was by remembering my wife and children and their needs and by finding a way to keep on going to keep on for them, while at the same time keeping Paul’s warnings about bitterness in my mind. "Any root of bitterness" is how the scripture reads, warning the saints in Jerusalem against the pain and loss that the fall of the city will cause them (Paul wrote them before the city was sacked, with blood running ankle deep, and the people scattered). Justified or not, I had to let all bitterness go.



I guess I should note that this blog is about faith and hope and surviving. About the three children we buried in a five year period and about finding our way home. Some times I write about related things, or about life in general, but everything comes together in living life for a real purpose and with a real hope, and when those are obscured or hard to see, living for those I love until I can see the hope and love I need for them again.

I write these essays for many reasons, but most of all to help those who are going through the same things I am going through, in hope that what has helped me might give them hope or tools to help them in their journey.

I pray that God will bless us all.

Stephen

Friday, July 29, 2005

In grief it is easy to read about how faith affected or effected many things. However, the word “faith” is used several ways, and they do not mean the same thing.

First, “faith” is used to describe hope or belief. When someone applies for a job and someone else says "I have faith you will get it" they are talking the first type of faith. Alma encourages people to have this kind of faith when they experiment upon the word, to just try to give it a place in their hearts.

Second, “faith” is used to describe the spiritual process by which one reaches through to the other side and connects with the power of God. It involves the first kind of faith, but it is something more (as there is a connection leading to the repeated comments that you can't have faith in things that are not true -- you can have type one faith but not type two faith in things that are not true).

Third, “faith” is used to describe experienced based understanding that does not rise to the level of knowledge. I.e. I have faith that the sun will rise in the morning or I have faith that my cat really loves me.

Finally, "faith" is used to describe the calm belief that results from the spiritual process of reaching through and connecting. It is the calm hope and peace that many in grief have following their prayers.

In understanding faith we need to realize that just as the Greeks had words for different kinds of love (such as erotic, friendly, parental, etc.) we need words for the different kinds of faith in order to understand faith better.

Also, it helps to understand that anger interferes with all kinds of faith. In my own life I've found that when I was angry the Spirit couldn't reach me. It came to me as we were studying in Sunday School today and the teacher remarked that Joseph Smith had the same experience of being unable to hear God when he was anger, and that it wasn't until he let go of his anger that he regained contact with God.

As Joseph put it in describing his experience "when the heart is sufficiently contrite, the voice of inspiration steals in and whispers."

I've had many issues as I have dealt with my losses (and seen many others with loss deal with their issues), and for a short time anger as a block to faith and to the whisperings of God was an issue for me. Then, when I was contrite, the Spirit began to whisper to me. I still had to rebuild myself, spiritually I was weakened from the experience, but but faith was there to restore me.

Paul warns against letting bitterness spring up, and I am certain that anger is a stem of bitterness, and one that harms our faith, in all the ways faith can be a part of our lives.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Neat, the blogosphere rankings came up:

Current Status: Adorable Little Rodent
Current Rank: #4932

Neat, thought I liked Flappy Bird a lot ;)

For whatever today's is for your blog, visit http://www.truthlaidbear.com/ecosystem.php and type in the name of your blog. If it doesn't come up, add it.

BTW, I've added http://whenigodeaf.blogsome.com/ to my blogroll.

I'm so glad my wife is coming home today.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

On torture

the elder President Bush's White House physician, a former doctor in the Army Medical Corps, had to say recently on this Bush administration's treatment of prisoners:

"Today, however, it seems as though our government and the military have slipped into Joseph Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness.' The widespread reports of torture and ill-treatment -- frequently based on military and government documents -- defy the claim that this abusive behavior is limited to a few noncommissioned officers at Abu Ghraib or isolated incidents at Guantanamo Bay. When it comes to torture, the military's traditional leadership and discipline have been severely compromised up and down the chain of command. Why? I fear it is because the military has bowed to errant civilian leadership."


We are in an interesting place.

Usually, torture and its analogs are useless. If a prisoner has not broken and refuses to talk, you get nothing from them. If they break, you get whatever they think you want, not the truth. In any case, by the time you can get the prisoner to someone who knows the right questions to ask and who can get useful information out of them, the information is dated and useless.

But, there are always exceptions. At times someone can be turned without being broken. It is almost always a threat of harm, not torture/pain that does it, and almost always in a tactical setting. The prisoner who leads the way through the minefield is a good example.

However, in an irregular war, where names, places, people, and contacts are all unknown (imagine WWII if the Allies did not know the names of the Nazi chain of command) there is suddenly useful information. It is like fighting the war on crime.

As a society we have already faced the temptation to use "the third degree" on criminal suspects, to beat, intimidate and deprive them of rights in the name of a greater good. National Socialism promised that greater good and our parents had to deal with NS (or, in English, the Nazi Party) in a world war and its aftermath.

But we are in a position of great temptation. The enemy is irregular (in traditional war, irregulars have no rights and are generally shot on sight). The enemy will not treat prisoners any differently no matter how we treat their prisoners (and can not take any great number of them -- all of whom they will brutally torture and murder). And, the enemy holds the promise of useful information that will not decay, if we only take the time to turn them.

Now, we are not abusing prisoners with the goal of causing them pain. We do not want them to break. Instead, we are trying to seduce them with methods that actually work. Which is why we, ourselves, risk seduction.

When God told Joseph Smith that those who lied in order to deceive were not excused because they thought others were deceiving them (or trying to), I think he was stating an important principle. When Mormon refused to lead the people in preemptive war and warned them that the grace of God would depart from them in that endeavor, he was giving a strong warning.

Now the war in Afghanistan was not preemptive. I don't think the President told any intentional lies (and honestly, given the track record of those attacking the "cake" story, their opposition would have been enough reason to believe it was true).

But I think we are facing a terrible temptation and that we are giving way to it. I have no doubts that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, but I have no doubts about where it leads either. I think that in spite of the fact that those who point out the problems with abuse are caustic and at times glory in hostility e.g., they may be right this one time (heck, they may be right more than once, a stopped clock is right twice a day, hundreds of times a year).

I am not making a call for action. I'm not suggesting that we condemn anyone. But I do think it is a time for thought and discussion, knowing what we face and what we want to become. That is because the ends do not justify the means. The means are the end. How we live and how we accomplish what we do is what we are and what we will become.

Whether we are talking about how we treat people of a different sex, or a different religion, or a different race or a different creed, in peace or in war, how we act is what we are.

Useful context links:

John Bruce's Blog

powerline comments on POWs, etc.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

After Carl had been with the firm about a year he cornered me. I'd always told him the truth and had been one of the partners who voted to hire him. He had learned a lot about the firm's history, including the number of disasterous hires who were gay. "How could you hire me, with all the problems they had?" I should have thought before I answered, but I think "But what did their being gay have to do with their problems?" kind of answered his question for him.

Of course Carl turned out to be probably the best employee we had ever hired. He finally moved on to a better firm, but I'd recommend (or hire him) today.

There are a lot of characteristics about people that have meanings, in different areas. It is easy to look at our own problems and forget those of others, or to define people by characteristics that have no meaning as to who they are in the context you meet them. At times society overcomes those lines (what professional sports team cares about the race of a player now), at times we seemed to be mired by them.

Sunday, July 17, 2005



As I've mentioned, negotiation and mediation are professional interests of mine.

Stu's an author of hundreds of comics, has decided to let bloggers use them, subject to specific rules.

For the terms, see volokh archived comment

Thought that was neat.

Otherwise, visited Wichita Falls, where we used to live, went by all of our old houses and apartments, visited friends, spent time where the girls are buried, was grateful to Alison for caring for their tombstones. Read Harry Potter (can't believe I let my oldest talk me into taking her down to wait in line. She wanted to wait in line and wanted company. Then we got up at six o'clock the next morning for the visit to Wichita Falls).

Missed some people (they weren't in/around) took others out to lunch, got home in time to sleep.

I meant to write a post about why I have this blog, but decided that will wait.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

annegb has left some comments that I've thought about changing into a guest post or two, they are really good. Next time I think I'll ask her if she would mind doing a guest post or two on my blog.

I used to write legal articles, had a research agenda that I followed in ADR (dispute resolution), negotiation and professional responsibility/ethics, with a couple articles on Civil Procedure. Civil Procedure can be thought of as "the rules of the game" where the game is being a lawyer, and if you litigate, civil procedure is your life's blood in many ways. In those interests I started a web site, my home site, adrr.com. It still runs about 60,000 hits a week, mostly for people who are interested in "accessible" writing (that is often a dirty word from an academic standpoint) -- writing that they can understand and follow.

What is interesting in terms of where I was thinking is how grief and the experiences of loss deepened some of my thoughts, but how those concepts (such as there being five, not two, standard negotiation patterns) were an outgrowth of my exposure to Elgin's work long before any of these things happened. Grief is an overlay, not a building block, and it took far more than it gave.

Well, life has passed me by, I'm 49 and unlikely to start once again getting cold calls from people interested in having me interview for tenure track positions (though my wife got a couple -- which really tickled her, though she turned them down for the present). I'm lucky in that I like my work and my co-workers, love my children and adore my wife.

But I miss doing research and writing seriously -- in an academic way. I didn't get over 20 zeros in the first six months of the year by not being serious about my research and writing at work, but it is a different kind of writing. When Jessica took sick in 1992, a lot of things began to die, including a number of dreams and interests I didn't realize were dead.

So, I hold my five-year-old daughter's hands as she goes to sleep (it keeps the nightmares away for her), think and dream and love my family and remind myself that there is a lot more to life and that I am lucky to have the things and people and love that I have.

And I may yet write an article on how the clash over ethics in negotiation is a clash between styles, more than a clash between right and wrong -- though it may be that as well. There is so much and never enough time for all of it.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Brigham Young said this, "We think the sisters ought to have the privilege to study various branches of knowledge that they may develop the powers with which they are endowed. Women are useful, not only to sweep houses, wash dishes, make beds, and raise babies, but they may also stand behind the counter, study law and physic [medicine], or become good bookkeepers, and all this to enlarge their sphere or usefulness for the benefit of society at large. In following these things they but answer the design of their creation."


In that regards, explorations, "Am I not a woman and a sister?" But what does it mean to be a woman, a sister, a feminist, a Latter-day Saint?

I always liked that quote while I was at BYU's law school, and it encouraged me when my wife was working towards her CRNA.

Alot easier to post on than the fact Robin would have been baptised this week and too many girls in our congregation who would have been Jessica's age are getting married. We even held one of the bridal showers in our house. Sometimes it is just too hard.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Well, they had us wait until this morning for the swelling to go down. After everything, the surgery will only be on Heather's hand, they are putting two pins in at 6:30 a.m. Win had to work last night, but will be getting off early and meeting me at the hospital. Heather is in good spirits, finished her econ final, I'm hoping she will still pass trig. She thought she was going to class this afternoon after surgery this morning.

Rachel has been very concerned about Heather. She is so sweet.

Anyway, things are well.