Monday, July 25, 2016

The Social Darwinism of Satoshi Uematsui

       Horrible news out of Japan today. Satoshi Uematsu, a 26 year old former worker at a nursing facility for the elderly with mental disabilities, went on a stabbing spree at the facility. Uematsui killed 19 resident and wounded 24 more. Twenty of the wounded are considered critical. The brutal act is not only shocking because Japan is a relatively safe country with little major crime, but Uematsui's social Darwinist rationale for his actions. When he turned himself in Uematsui confessed and said he committed the murders because he wanted to get rid of the disabled.
       Uematsui delivered a letter to the lower house of the Diet in February declaring he would kill 470 disabled people because he wanted Japan to be a country in which the disabled could be euthanize d. Uematsui rationalized the disabled are a drain financially and emotionally and cannot participate in society. Uematsu was himself institutionalized because of the letter, but was released after two weeks. Today he made good on his threat, though thankfully not the number of casualties he originally intended.
       If not for my experience in recent years being dumped in a similar facility, I might have glossed over this news item with little emotional. Instead I feel great empathy for those living in such places. Not only do they suffer physical and mental ailments, but also face a growing societal condescension as the people they used to be fade into twilight. You would like to think it does not happen, but I can tell you first hand residents of nursing homes are frequently considered lesser people because of their debilitating health issues and/pr advanced age. Uematsui's despicable act is rightfully condemned by the public at large, but the seeds of his attitude regarding the disabled are there. Faint perhaps, but not as faint as would make me comfortable.
       I would like to have some solutions to offer up, but unfortunately, I do not. I am only glad I was fortunate enough to escape the facility in which I was trapped. Lord only knows how long I will bear the emotional sears that came along with it. Maybe telling my story and the things I witnessed during my experience can count as my fair share. Proper compassion must come from within. You cannot make someone draw the right conclusion. You can only hope to appeal to the better angels of human nature.

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Force is Strong with This One

       
       Always two there are
       Master and apprentice.
      But as a friend asked on Facebook, which one is which?  I am not revealing for certain.   You must make up your own mind.  Who is the more insidious?    
       I  had forgotten about how I promised to post a photo with the Darth Vader candy dispenser Kristy gave me a couple weeks ago. It was a nice gesture, even if it was arguably a concession for the tendon stretching splint I sleep in thee days. The Sith Lord tickles my fancy regardless.     

Monday, July 18, 2016

Belated Holiday Selfie

       I have gotten into the habit in the last couple years of posting selfies on holidays. The Fourth of July came and went without one. It was not a mistake. If you will notice in the photo from Swan lake a few days back my hair flowing in the wind. I needed a haircut desperately. There was no way I was going to post a photo permanently on my blog with me looking like one of those dime a dozen country singers who came and went in the '90's.
       Now the hair has been trimmed, so here is the Fourth of July selfie actually two weeks later.   I always deliver...eventually.        

Monday, July 4, 2016

The Fourth of July

       Today we celebrate the United States' fortieth birthday. As a fiercely independent person, I was curious why my first instinct was to make that as my opening sentence. Our nation's 240th birthday, not Independence day? What gives? Then it struck me I am a little more than five months away from turning forty. I am a Bicentennial Baby, so I am always reminded of the number soon coming up for me. More so when the number is a milestone.
       I wanted to wrote a few words about what American means to me, but it I difficult to do in a brief blog post without sound trite. I am not competing in some high school essay writing contest. Sine Qua Non is for my thoughts and reflections, whatever they may be. So in keeping in brief, I will say this: I ran across an article this morning that said an average of 7,000 American renounce their citizenship very July 4th. Good riddance. They were probably all going to vote for Hillary Clinton.
       Lunch was a cookout. It was hot as all get out in Sumter, but I managed a nice spot for my two cheeseburgers, chips, and ice cream. I am all about American junk food when celebrating. Or any other time, for that matter. There was enough left over to have more for supper, so double the fun, folks. I live in the city limits, so no fireworks. Good food is a bigger deal to me than minor explosives, so I will manage.
       I hope everyone else enjoyed the same kind of day as I.   

Happy Fourth of July!

       I hope he can see with those.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Swan Dive

       I received a pleasant surprise today. In the late morning, my friend Christie—Christie of Christmas cheer, not of occupational therapy—contacted me. She had her grandchildren for the day and wanted to know if I would like to join them for lunch and a trip to Swan Lake Iris Gardens. I did indeed want to partake in the adventure, so within thirty minutes, we were all on the road.
       The first order of business was to agree upon a lunch destination. Placing a high priority of kid friendliness, I suggested Pizza Land. Pizza Land is a Sumter landmark featuring a pizza buffet and wide screen televisions always airing cartoons. I frequently allow my inner child frolic on a long leash. Pizza and Loony Tunes sounded great to me. Alas, I have been slow to earn my Sumter street cred. Although I had eaten at Pizza Land before, I could not recall its exact location or, as my bad luck would have it, the proper name. Oops.
       As I turned out, mistaking the correct name for a pizza place wreaks havoc on a GPS system. I felt guilty over messing things nd apologized profusely as a wandered the cityscape. I found solace with the realization none of the locals asked offered correct directions, either. Surely Pizza Land was not a mythical Shangri La of nigh unlimited pepperoni and cheese for a reasonable buffet price?
       Pizza Land did exist. I had not imagined it. But we did have to confirm its existence from the waitress at East of Chicago Pizza, a competing eatery with buffet and cartoons on wide screen televisions. So our failure to find Pizza Land ended happily. Mistakes rarely turn out so well. One must take a moment to appreciate the blessing when visited upon you.
     We made it to Swan Lake Iris Garden with little difficulty, presumably because I offered up no insight on how to get there. I had been once before in December to view the two million Christmas lights on display, but I left the driving to the GPS. While this was my second trip to Swan Lake, it was the first time I walked around. I spent most of my time lounging in the shaded picnic area people watching while the kids played on the playground. Quietly watching people puts me in my element as far as the great outdoors goes. I do plan to return in the near future for the butterfly garden which was way too much of a hike for our current location and in dire need of naps kids. So an excursion exists for another day.
       So I have now eaten at Pizza Land and visited Swan lake both at Christmas to see the lights and summer to see the garden bloom. Thee are the rites of passage for Sumter residents, so I appear to have long last made it official with the help of Christy, Morgan, and Ray!
   

Breakfast of Champions

            With apologies to Kurt Vonnegut.
     My long holiday weekend began early when Christy, my occupational therapist, surprised me with several bags of sugary goodness. On the one hand, she wants to fatten me up. On the other, she wants to make up for putting me through the ringer these last five weeks. We have pent this time together working on some adaptations for household tasks including a few gadgets I used to own, but are now allegedly boxed away but more likely thrown away by the Chavis clan, my time with Christy is coming to an end. Next week will be our last.
       But I am certain the sugar rush from chocolate donuts, honey buns, chocolate chip cookies, and a crate of Dr. Pepper will leave a lasting impression. It is not all sugar, either. There are plenty of Doritos and Ritz crackers, too. Christy speaks my language fluently. So fluently, she also gave me a Dath Vader candy dispenser. I am a science fiction geek, what can I say? I will post a photo of it up soon.
        Do all these goodies make up for the strenuous exercise program and tendon stretching splint that went along with the household adaptations? You bet. I am going to miss Christy when it is all said and done.