Friday, April 27, 2012

Trip to Utah, April 18-22, 2012

The City Creek Center in downtown SLC
Having frozen custard in Orem

After Darren's graduation, BYU campus, 4/20/12

Dorine and I drove up to Utah for Darren's graduation from BYU (BS in Electrical Engineering, with minors in Math and English), which took place on Friday, April 20.  We left town on Wednesday afternoon, arriving in Provo at 1:30 am on Thursday; we stayed at the Provo Plaza Inn on south University Avenue -- adjacent to the Provo Towne Center mall and across the street from Sam's Club -- which was undoubtedly once a nice motel but has its issues now.  (We normally would have stayed at the Super 8, which isn't exactly the Ritz either but is near the BYU campus; however, the rate there had gone up to $140/night during graduation week.)  It was a fun, if too-short trip, as we got to see Darren (and meet his steady date Cait Brobst), most of my brothers (as well as Kelly's fiancee Michelle), and Dorine's brother Brian (who lives in Grantsville, out west of Salt Lake City).  Darren will stay in Provo this summer, thankfully having gotten an on-campus research job, before starting graduate school in the fall.

Friday, April 13, 2012

What's happening

Trayvon at 12; Zimmerman in a mug shot (all part of the narrative!)
1. The Trayvon Martin Case.  I have ambivalent feelings about this matter.  On one hand, I think a neighborhood watch captain has no business carrying a firearm, and it's entirely plausible that George Zimmerman's doing so caused him to feel emboldened and thus wrongfully to instigate what turned out to be a fatal confrontation with Trayvon Martin; however, I also think the prosecutor in the case has clearly overcharged Zimmerman by alleging second-degree murder.  I don't know the vagaries of "depraved mind" murder as it pertains to Florida law, but I can't conceive of any state of the evidence -- regardless of what hasn't yet come to light -- under which Zimmerman is guilty of more than voluntary manslaughter.  On the other hand, the fact that the professional race-baiter Al Sharpton has managed to insinuate himself into the case is almost enough, in itself, to convince me that Zimmerman's assertion holds water that he shot Martin in lawful self-defense.  (Given Sharpton's history of flogging false claims -- the Tawana Brawley and Duke lacrosse cases leap to mind -- a smart betting man might lay odds on Zimmerman's ultimately being exonerated completely...excepting, of course, that an implacable, would-be lynch mob wants his head on a platter.)  The death of a 17-year-old young man is a tragedy under any circumstance, but the attempt to make (Latino Democrat!) Zimmerman's killing of Martin fit a worn-out "racism" narrative is pretty ridiculous from where I stand; it's political opportunism at its very worst and most-obvious.

2. The 2012 Presidential Election.  Now that Mitt Romney has all but wrapped up the Republican nomination for president, I will be interested to see how the fall campaign shapes up.  At the very least, it's certain to be an extremely dirty affair; Barack Obama, not having a positive record to run on, will have no choice but to attempt to vilify his opposition -- and the major news media, having dived headlong into the tank for him in 2008, will surely do so again this year.  I'm one of millions who found irony in Obama's statement that he has to be re-elected in order to "finish the job."  Geez, precisely what "job" would that be -- destroying the dollar, perhaps?  (His lack of economic acumen reminds me of the apocryphal person who asked, "How can I be overdrawn at the bank when I still have checks in my checkbook?")

3. Climate Change.  I've long been convinced that concerns about man-made global warming are overblown and that the so-called "science" on which those concerns are based is the ginned-up product of naked leftist ideology.  However, one positive effect of the warmists' having overplayed their hand in recent years (doing their best Chicken Little impressions) is the gradual realization that their policy preferences are extremely unpopular; in short, we simply can't afford the solutions they propose without a serious degradation of our modern standard of living, and few people are going to go along willingly with that, at least absent some pretty convincing proof.  I once had someone state to me, "How much will it cost if Florida ends up underwater?"  My response (with apologies to Mike Myers): "Monkeys might fly out my butt, too, but that doesn't mean I'm going to spend a trillion dollars to 'try' to prevent it!"

4. My Truck.  I bought a brand-new Toyota Tacoma truck in 1999 and have had it now for thirteen years.  I don't drive it all that much, which is evident in the fact that it still only has about 72,000 miles on it; however, it's been pretty reliable transportation, and I hope to be driving it thirteen years from now.  It's funny that the truck suffered three collisions/accidents in the first six months I owned it -- first, a car pulled into Dorine when she was making a left-hand turn in a dual turn lane; second, we stupidly tried to empty a trailer full of gravel we'd hauled with it...on an incline...without blocking unhooking the trailer, which immediately slammed into the tailgate of the truck and messed it up pretty badly; and third, I was stopped at a light on northbound Tramway Blvd. when a drunk driver slammed into the car behind me so hard that he pushed that car into the back of my truck -- but none since that time.  (Knock on wood.)

5. Whitney Houston and "Evil" Benzodiazepines.  After Whitney Houston was found dead in February of this year -- in a bathtub in a hotel bathroom containing multiple prescription drugs -- the word "benzodiazepine" almost became a swear word.  People like Dr. Drew (of the eponymous television show on HLN) were hysterically decrying the use of "benzos" as if anyone using them were a tweaker bent on stealing your identity to get drug money.  Of course, it was later disclosed that Houston's death by drowning resulted largely from her habitual cocaine use, and no further mention was made of her prescription medications.  Speaking as someone who has long used Temazepam (a commonly prescribed "benzo") as a sleep medication, and as someone who has suffered greatly for two-plus years from mal de debarquement syndrome, the literature for which prominently mentions the use of "benzos" (especially Klonapin) as a palliative, I want to scream "You don't get anything, do you?" at these people.  After visiting with a sleep psychologist last week, I came to the conclusion that pharmacology -- especially the continued use of Temazepam for sleep, combined with a low-dose Klonapin or Diazepam (i.e., valium) for use during the day -- may be my only salvation in terms of coping with my two diagnoses (chronic insomnia and chronic disequilibrium).  Unfortunately, trying to convince a doctor or nurse practitioner that it can be okay, even desirable, for someone to use multiple "benzos" is a real trick; the publicity surrounding Whitney Houston's demise sure didn't help!