Feedback; Terri Schiavo; Dinner

The screwy work schedule went about as predicted in the last post. However, it was my wife’s birthday yesterday, so even though I was off work at a very reasonable hour I was not able to post. Her parents, her brother, and her brother’s significant other took us out to dinner. More on that later.

•I got an actual email! An email based on the content of the website, praising the site, and most of all completely unsolicited! I will quote it in its entirety, suppressing the name of course:

I like your site! I have spent much of my work day trying to read as much as I can. I really enjoyed Meeting Arthur Witles! Can’t wait to read more!
Keep up the great work!

I know that my wife played a role in getting the web address to this person, but still, isn’t it this type of simple praise that keeps me typing away? Well, of course it is, else I might have just skipped out on posting tonight. I do appreciate any feedback, as I am sure anyone with their own webpage does, but it seems that few people ever actually take the time to send an email whether they agree/disagree with what you are saying. In my case I know that I usually just never send emails to websites assuming that they will never be read, responded to, or taken seriously. If that is what is keeping you from emailing me, I can assure you that I read all the email, respond to all of the email, and take all praise in stride. I do assume that any criticism is coming from completely whacked out psycopaths (if you think my opinions are wrong then you are obviously clinically insane), but I answer them as well.

There was a bit of a mistake in that last paragrah. When I said that I read and respond to all emails I forgot to mention that I don’t really read the ones that come in with subject lines that read like V|I|A|G|R|A.

(A lengthy phone call from a friend ended the post here yesterday. I am going to continue it today on the same page, if I can get back aboard the train that my thoughts were riding yesterday).

•The wife’s birthday was on Wednesday and her parents had arranged for us all to go out to dinner. We just went to the place we always go to, only this time we, or I really, opted for the outdoor seating since it was a pretty warm evening, not to mention that it put us in the section of our favorite server. The food was excellent and a good time was had by all.

At the start of the dinner, I asked the waiter to bring me a beer, but to put it onto a separate ticket. I was not entirely sure who was going to be paying for the meal or how it might be split up, so I didn’t want anyone else to have to pay for my beer, when the beer is four dollars a pop. When it came time to pay I looked at the check while everyone else was talking and decided to pay for it myself, both everyone’s meals and my beer tab (as the meals added up to about sixty dollars, which was just what I had gotten paid to install a couple of sinks in one of the rentals that my boss owns). I asked my brother-in-law if he would cover the tip if I paid for the meal, and while he offered to split the meal many times, he finally agreed. I did force him to tip a full 20% (which seems excessive to a lot of people, but you must understand that servers in the state of Arizona get paid less than minimum wage and have to claim that they were tipped at least 10% by every customer, lots of people don’t tip even 10% which really screws the server over. When I get good service the tip is always 20%).

The thing that I found funny about this was that then the parents-in-law offered to pay for the meal. I remember a Father’s Day meal that I had planned to pay for, but when I returned to my seat from the restroom, they had a calculator out to figure out who owed what (which was why I bought the beer separate this time, makes those calculations easier). This time I didn’t decide I was going to pay for it until right at the last minute, and, as I found out later, my wife’s parents really did want to pay for it -both because it was their daughter’s birthday and to thank me for fixing their pc several weeks ago. Oh well, I decided to use the money I had made on the side to pay for the meal and I feel pretty good about it. There will be many other opportunities for someone else to snatch the check away from me in the future.

It seems that paying for the dinner was observed by the gods of monetary karma. The next day I bought a lottery scratch ticket, something I do maybe once a month or so usually and purely for entertainment; I really don’t consider it my retirement plan. The ticket I bought was of the three-dollar variety, going by the name of Slingo(on the occasions when I do buy scratch tickets I usually always buy the two or three dollar ones since there is so much more to scratch off, some like crossword puzzles, some like bingo, it takes you a few minutes of anticipation before you eventually lose your money). I scratched that ticket off a little bit at a time while I was reading web sites, it was a twenty dollar winner. Soon after scratching the ticket I realized that I had forgotten to buy cancer sticks while I was out earlier, so I took that scratch ticket and another ticket that I have had laying around for months and went to a different store than where I bought the initial ticket. I tucked the twenty bucks from the ticket into my pocket, but used the three dollars from the other ticket to buy yet another Slingo ticket. Which turned out to be a ten dollar winner. It seems that the gods of monetary karma really did want me to split that dinner bill with someone since they gave me back half of the money the next day. At any rate, it sure was nice to scratch off two tickets and end up with actual cash. Usually I just end up saying “well there went three bucks”.

•The aforementioned lengthy phone call, the one that cut yesterday’s post so short, was with a friend that I talk to kind of infrequently, yet who is the closest of all of my friends. What made the call go so lengthy was our discussion of the Terri Schiavo fiasco.

I had my mind made up on this a long time ago. The woman had been immobile and virtually brain dead for a decade. Let her die for God’s sake. I know that I wouldn’t want to be kept alive in that state, and certainly not to be paraded around as a political wedge tool. Of course the only person in the entire universe that knew of her actual wishes died when she did. The whole issue just seems such a non issue to me that I couldn’t understand why any rational human being could oppose letting her die. Then my friend brought up a few issues (a couple of which I don’t want to get into) that I had never actually thought about.

The first issue is that maybe she never told either her husband or her parents anything about what she would want if she became so horribly disabled. I can see that as a possibility. Then each side invents conversations where her will was spoken when it never actually was. While I see that as a possibility, I still think that it would be more humane to let her die than to fight about the legalities of it, especially since her conditon hadn’t improved in a decade.

The second issue is one that is extremely complex, far too complex for me to try to delve into, but I will just scratch at the surface. My friend’s contention is that the brain damage had completely wiped out any memory of her former self; that she was alive without knowing that she had ever been an active, walking, talking, functioning person. She is alive, she is not in pain, she has no memory of a “better time” in her life, this is her reality. This could all be completely true, the only way that you will ever know is to end up in the condition that she was in. Perhaps you really do have a mind like a newborn child where everything seems so new and wonderfull, unfortunately you will only know this once you get to the state she was in and at that point you no longer have the capacity to make a decision about your life or death.

The third issue is about moving on. My friend’s assertion is that since she wasn’t in pain it was doing no harm to keep her alive. Her husband had finally given up hope and started to move on with his life, while her parents had not yet made that decision. Again, this is a pretty deep philosophical issue, but, on the surface it is a selfish issue on both sides. If the husband has truly come to terms with the fact that his wife is never going to get better, that she is going to be in this state until her life is taken by some process of aging, why doesn’t he stand by her side and let her live? On that same note, if her parents have reached that same conclusion, why not just stand by her side and let her die? In the case of the parents I am sure that the reason they want her to live is simply love; they love their daughter unconditionally and want her to be there as long as possible (regardless of mental or physical capacity). In the case of the husband I am pretty sure that the reason he wants to let her die is out of mercy; he knew her when she was a vivacious young lady with a thirst for life and simply can’t stand to see her like this. The husband was able to make the decision to just let her go, the parents can’t. Does that make either of them right or wrong? If so, who should be the judge of that?

The fourth issue is where my mind started to itch a little bit. Have you ever read a “living will”? I have, my mother made one when she saw her mother slowly dying in a hospital room, and gave copies of it to all three of her sons. While I am sure that there are no surviving copies of that sheet of paper, I am pretty sure that we will all remember exactly what it said. One of the lines in it read, roughly, “In the case of serious injury affecting brain or nervous system function no extraordinary means should be used to prolong my life.” That line is saying, in effect, that if she is ever in a coma and not able to live on her own that she doesn’t want a bunch of machines hooked up to her to keep her alive. But, should a little tube that gives you food and water be considered extraordinary means?

I am currently not sure just how to judge this one. Making a person starve to death/die of thirst over a 13 day period seems inhumane, but, keeping that person alive for a decade without any sort of cognizant existance seems wrong also.

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