Sunday, August 7, 2011

What's New in the News?

I haven’t written about current events, local, national and world wide for a few weeks. It’s not that I haven’t had anything to say about them, or even that the news is so depressing no one would want to read what I have to say about it. I have just been chewing on some stuff- trying to formulate my words and reconcile my feelings at the same time.

The political process that took place during the recent debate to solve the financial crisis in the United States was nauseating. The fact that grown men- for the most part- old white men – for the most part, basically had a whose penis is bigger contest- really disgusted me.

I read something someone wrote that this was indeed democracy working. Well let me just say- bullshit. This was not democracy working- not for the people anyway. Of course, I know there are people out there that stood behind their particular old white men- and said- “Yeah! Ours IS bigger” but really- none of them spoke for me.

Principle- is meaningless if it serves no one.  

You can say you are sticking to your principles, but if they don’t solve the problems then your principles are meaningless and possibly destructive.

Everyone was waiting for the President to jump in and take over. Guess what? That was not his job. It was the job of congress to solve the problem- the fact that the President had to hold the hand and stroke all the so-called leaders was also disgusting. That was not democracy at work. It was babysitting.

After all that, and the 11th hour solution, they have not solved any immediate problems and the US credit rating was lowered anyway, from AAA to AA+.  Nice job guys. And oh yeah- the stock market is crashing.

I won’t be voting for anyone that was part of that debate.


I’ve been listening to and reading several reports and articles analyzing where the probation department went wrong in the Jaycee Dugard case. A lot of finger pointing has gone on and of course, lack of funding for the department seems to be a huge issue.

I see training as the biggest failure- and that starts at the top level management. From the probation departments’ own video, you can see for yourself how the inspection was cursory at best. I believe, the same as I believe for people going into any kind of law enforcement, you have to have an aptitude for the profession. You have to have an innate sense about people. Spidey sense.

It’s been my experience that if you hire the right people they will surpass any training you may give them and contribute their knowledge to the training curriculum. And people with a natural affinity for certain vocations will require less “classroom” type training and that alone is a money saving option when looking at training and development costs.

I don’t pretend to have the answers. I don’t know any of the probation officers that supervised Phillip Garridos, but I do know that for so many of them to not even be curious about the backyard, especially after neighbors had mentioned seeing kids, is negligent at best- and I bet if you were to ask the family of Jaycee Dugard, they would say it’s criminal.

Very recently, A Marin County Deputy, Jim Mathiesen, was shot to death while off duty and helping a friend who was involved in a domestic dispute. The shooter- Halloran was shot to death at the scene by a third party. Mathiesen, a good officer and by all accounts a fine man- shot to death for trying to help someone.

By Gary Klien, The Marin Independent Journal

“The relationship between Halloran and the woman had recently ended, and the woman asked Mathiesen, a family friend, to come over to provide advice and assistance about death threats coming from Halloran”, Basurto said. Halloran had threatened the woman and her family on Monday evening.

Halloran, who was on active state parole, has a history of arrests in both counties, and was once identified in court documents as a confidential drug informant for the Marin County Major Crimes Task Force

Another failure and it looks like the MCMCTF should have known this train wreck was coming too.

Here is the budget for the California Corrections and Rehabilitation Department – I don’t even see where training and development are included for the Parole Officers though I do know they are trained and go through extensive testing- so what gives?  Do they just become complacent once they get the job?  Maybe they need to readdress the battery of psychological exams – update them to reflect 21st century thinking. Clearly- something needs to change. 

Corrections and Rehabilitation Administration $437,172
Corrections Standards Authority $90,782
Juvenile Operations $251,112
Juvenile Education, Vocations, and Offender Program $38,343
Juvenile Paroles $25,258
Juvenile Healthcare $58,090
Adult Corrections and Rehabilitation Operations – General Security $ 3,360,099
Adult Corrections and Rehabilitation Operations – Overtime $ 105,391
Adult Corrections and Rehabilitation Operations – Inmate Support $ 1,386,034
Adult Corrections and Rehabilitation Operations – Contracted Facilities $ 413,484
Adult Corrections and Rehabilitation Operations – Institution Administration $ 440,552
Parole and Community Services – Adult Supervision $ 478,256
Parole Operations-Adult Hearing $ 274,850
Parole Operations-Adult Administration $ 111,495
Board of Parole Hearings $ 66,984
Board of Parole Hearings – Administration $ 7,300
Education, Vocations and Offender Programs – Adult Education $ 141,101
Education, Vocations and Offender Programs – Contracted Facilities $ 169,739 Education, Vocations and Offender Programs – Inmate Activities $ 65,856
Education, Vocations and Offender Programs – Administration $ 25,110
Correctional Health Care Services $ 2,070,583
 Total: $10,017,591

While gathering all this information I noticed the CDCR had a lot of updated information on their site- and that they are trying to address some of the failures that cost an 11-year-old girl 22 years of her life. I plan to keep an eye on things for a while just for my own sense of security. I’ll keep you posted. 


The most difficult news to absorb was yesterdays notice that the US had lost 31 troops in Afghanistan. As the hours went by more details trickled in and we heard it was Special Forces and then 20 members of SEAL team 6- the team that brought down Osama bin Laden.

In addition to the 31 US troops, seven Afghan troops and one interpreter lost their lives. The Taliban took credit and the US has no reason to believe otherwise.

It’s hard for me to not look at this from a mother’s point of view; mother to a combat veteran. 31 families will be receiving the dreaded knock at the door, letters from the President, whatever personal belongings their loved one had in country and in their numbed state they will make funeral plans, contact family members; try to figure out what the military pays for and what it doesn’t.  They will receive visitors bearing casseroles of lasagna and macaroni and cheese; meatloaves, cakes, cookies, and every comfort food known to mankind.  The loved ones will take a bite here and there and then cry because their loved one, their son or husband or grandson, will never take a bite of a chocolate chip cookie, or Boston Crème Pie again, that was his favorite they’ll think.  He’ll never see his kids grow up and get married, he’ll miss his nephew being born and after all is said and done- the Taliban will still be there.

I read on social websites, many people praying for the families and I certainly said my prayers for the families too. I saw a few people mention it was God's will. Well- if it is God's will-you can keep him. I personally don’t believe God is any part of war. I refuse to believe that he sanctions it in any aspect. I refuse to believe he picks sides and I certainly don’t see that he has come to the aide of any of the war torn Middle East, who by the way- pray a lot more than Americans. While people sit around saying it’s all God’s will- I am thinking- I bet God would like us to fix this mess.

I’m not against praying for anything but prayers alone do not seem to be working. Maybe it’s time to rethink how much the United States can do about the rest of the world and how they choose to live. I hate to think all these deaths, all the sacrifices of life, all the 21 year olds that will never see 22, have been in vain. But in vain they are, if at the end of the day there is no change. We have been in Afghanistan for 10 years now. It’s like painting the Golden Gate Bridge, the job is never done. They clear one area and move to the next, the Taliban moves into wherever the troops are not.  The Afghani people are so war weary they will make friends with whoever is offering the best deal- because they have to feed their families. They aren’t really working on higher principles like democracy yet- they are just trying to survive. We would do the same if the war were on US soil.

Democracy or forms of democracy have caught on in Middle East countries that have not been at war for the last 30 years. I think the movement is wonderful and indirectly related to the work our troops have done. Now it seems to me- that Arab nations should take care of each other- and we should come home.

Tonight my thoughts and prayers are with the families of ALL the troops lost in Iraq and Afghanistan. My thoughts and prayers are with the mothers and fathers, wives and children of all people killed in action while trying to help helpless and corrupt countries survive. My thoughts and prayers are with the thousands of wounded, visibly and not, I pray they heal and are able to live full lives. My prayer is for an end to this war.



Saturday, August 6, 2011


When I lived in Charlotte, a very sick Smokie got into a fight with a raccoon. I was in the kitchen baking cookies when Noodle chased Toshi in the house with growl and a bark that clearly meant “stay”. I followed Noodle outside to see what the fuss was about. Smokie was losing a fight with a raccoon. Noodle took the raccoon from Smokie- shook it till it’s neck broke- then gave it back to Smoke. I had never seen anything like it my life. Noodle was bitten all over his head and snout.

I had never seen him kill a fly- but that day he came to the rescue of his old dog and his new dog all at once. The next day- he was outside with Toshi and a stuffed toy, showing Toshi how to kill. It was amazing to watch, as the little puppy would shake his head back and forth and then Noodle would take the toy and show him again. If he could talk, I imagine he would be saying to Toshi, “You have to do it like this.”

On 5/26/11 Noodle, my 12 year old Chow- Terrier mix, had his necrotic tail amputated and his teeth cleaned (thinking his gum disease was the cause of the necrotic tail). He came home, was on pain pills and antibiotics for two weeks, and seemed fine. About two weeks later, he started having problems eating his food.  By 6/25, he could not open his jaw. We started him on antibiotics and pain pills 7/7. By 7/18 still no change, I brought him to the vet- where he was given an injection of antibiotic and more antibiotic and pain pills. On 7/25: he was given a skull x-ray, prednisone, muscle relaxers, and pepcid.

The Dr. went over the x-rays with me and pointed out where she thought it was arthritis. She thought the problem was arthritis and that his jaw had atrophied. She said she was going to look into options for me.  Her assistant called me yesterday to tell me that he can have surgery (no guarantees of course) and that it would cost about $5000.00.

So wait-if it is arthritis, what would the surgery be?  That was my only question to start with. But I could not get an answer. Here is my email to her-

Hi Dr. Podracka,

Thank you for contacting the surgeon and getting an estimate for the surgery. I understand it would be risky so I really need to be able to explain this to my son. I just have a couple of questions.

1.  What would the surgery entail- in other words what would the surgeon be fixing exactly?
2.  How long would the recovery time be approx?
3.  Would his jaw be wired closed?
4.  Mac has very watery eyes now- it looks like he is crying- this is something new- can you tell me what this might mean about his condition?

 My son is coming tonight- so if you could reply today that would be very helpful-

Thank you for your time- I appreciate all you have done.


Nick arrived at my house yesterday before I got home from work and before I received a reply to my email questions. He saw Noodle for the first time since the lockjaw episode. He took one look at him and went into action. He called me for the veterinarians’ phone number and then went over there for Noodle’s records. He did some research and low and behold- he has come to the same conclusion as my sister Angie- that Noodle has tetanus.

Angie has been telling me this for two weeks now-she even called the Dr. and told her what she thought- but the Vet disagreed.  I admit-I did some research and didn’t think it was tetanus. However- since then, more symptoms have presented themselves and it is looking more like tetanus.  At this point- we owe it to Noodle to at least get him the treatment, which would completely cure him if it is tetanus and not hurt him at all if we are wrong.

Nick found this information in an article: “INCREASED activity of serum creatine phosphokinase (CPK) has been reported recently in patients with tetanus and may be useful in the diagnosis of this disease.1 The object of the present study was to identify the tissue source of the elevated serum CPK in tetanus and to determine the mechanism of its release from the tissue.” 
Origin of Increased Serum Creatine Phosphokinase in Tetanus An Isoenzyme Analysis
Arch Neurol. 1967;16(1):89-93.

Noodle’s CPK was 2513 prior to his tail amputation. Normal canine CPK  (Creatine phosphokinase) should be 20 – 200.

While tetanus in dogs is rare- it’s not unheard of. The incubation period for tetanus is two weeks. I found a few articles written by people chronicling the symptoms, course of action and recovery of tetanus in their dogs. There is hope.  Nick asked the vet to order the appropriate medication. If she won’t- we will find someone who will. Meanwhile I am going to bulk him up with as many calories I can pack into his feeding as possible. (His weight-loss has been significant.)

My sister has been a great support while I have been going through this ordeal and I really appreciate it. She has loaned me her Care Credit dollars to pay for the bulk of the hospitalization and medicine and she has called me every day to see how Noodle and I are doing.

Having my son step in like he did yesterday was great. I am a little “sick dog” weary right now and needed that reinforcement to get me through the next phase. I could feel his decisiveness and his positive forcibility and knew that somehow we would get through this ordeal.

And my Noodle… well he is just the bravest dog I have ever met. He has not complained or whined once. He still tries to play with Toshi, though not being able to open his mouth puts him at a clear disadvantage. He still follows me from room to room and greets me with complete enthusiasm when I come home from work. He really is a very good, very brave, boy.

A link with information regarding tetanus in animals