Kathy Petersen’s Blog

I don’t miss TV!

Posted in Uncategorized by Kathy on November 28, 2008

We’re at my mother-in-law’s house for Thanksgiving, and the kids are loving having TV, and I’m being reminded every commercial break how much I don’t miss it! During the political season, whenever I went to my mom’s house and regular TV was on (as opposed to watching cable without commercials, or with only a few commercials between shows, like Nick Jr. has), I remember being unpleasantly surprised with how many political commercials there were. It’s something I’ve always known, but not having had TV for these past two years, and only seeing commercial TV on occasion, it’s a bit jarring. Now, with the Christmas shopping season gearing up and/or in full swing already, watching TV today with an overload of Christmas commercials — especially those for toys and games — I’m glad my children aren’t subjected to that on a regular basis.

Miracle in Euthanasia Case

Posted in Uncategorized by Kathy on November 26, 2008

I’d never heard of this story, until it came over the OneNewsNow update. In short, a young woman had a heroin overdose (while pregnant), was declared to be in a persistent vegetative state (due to oxygen deprivation) and was kept alive until the baby was born (healthy little girl). Her divorced parents had a difference of opinion — her father wanted to keep her alive, noting that she had already improved to the point where she just needed a feeding tube; her mother wanted to remove the feeding tube and let her die, saying she had already “died” mentally, and wanted to let her body follow. Here is an article from their local paper, as it stood at the first of this year. Now, the update. Briefly, the mother has become a born-again Christian and has had a change of heart in more ways than one. She now sees her daughter as living and responsive:

Lauren’s mother became a born-again Christian and visited her daughter at her hospital facility, which Bowman believes was quite eye-opening. “And then an amazing thing happened,” he notes. “She told Lauren that Lauren would be cared for, and Lauren started crying, and they cried together and she realized that her daughter was really there and was really responding.”

Lauren was also responding to pain, music, family members’ voices, touch, and assisted exercise. The parents have agreed to settle the case and share joint guardianship of Lauren.

So, she wasn’t “persistent vegetative” after all, I guess?

Why I don’t teach my kids to believe in Santa Claus

Posted in Uncategorized by Kathy on November 25, 2008

First, my parents didn’t teach me to believe in Santa Claus as a child, either, and I know I didn’t miss out on anything — in fact, in some ways, I had more excitement because we knew when my mom bought all the Christmas presents, then hid them away in her closet, finally wrapping them one afternoon that she had free, and putting them under the tree until Christmas morning. We spent the time she wrapped the presents huddled outside the door, imagining what presents she had gotten. And the time between putting the presents under the tree and Christmas morning, we indulged ourselves in the art of figuring out what the presents were — clothes (wondering which ones in particular, and what colors or designs), puzzles (hmm, wonder what pictures?), games, books, movies, etc. Ah, the memories! So, yeah, I did “miss out” on wondering what Santa was going to bring, but kids who believe in Santa “miss out” on what I had.

Second, why my parents didn’t teach us to believe in Santa. My mom said she was devastated when her older sibling or an older cousin told her that Santa was fictitious, but she was still going to pass on the tradition to us until… when my brother (who was the oldest) was still a baby, my mom was visiting with another woman, and her youngest child came in sobbing, because s/he had just been told that Santa was fake, and the child sobbed, “But I know he’s real, because you said he was, and you wouldn’t lie to me, would you mama??” What do you say, “Yes, child, I lied to you”? or would you lie still further and say, “Of course, Santa is real!”

Third, almost none of the cousins believe in Santa, either, and we’re all glad about that. My sister who had the first grandchild was not going to have her kids believe in Santa, but when her daughter’s second Christmas came around, all of her in-laws and everybody in the stores asked her, “What is Santa going to bring you?” so my sister decided to let her believe in Santa. She’s now 10, and her brother is 8, and I’m not sure if they still believe. All the rest of the cousins on my side of the family know that Santa is not supposed to be talked about — privately, the parents have told them that he’s just pretend, but that K&A think he’s real, so not to tell them the truth. (They also really believe in the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny, which I think is a little sad at their age — especially as jaded as they are in so many other areas!)

On my husband’s side of the family, none of them believe in Santa, except the second oldest girl, who has a very active imagination, believes with all her heart (or at least, did a few years ago). One day when she was going on and on about Santa and what he would be bringing her, and the sleigh and reindeer and all that, her mother gently said, “But you know that he’s not real,” to which the young lass said, “SHHH, Mama! He’ll hear you!!”

Fourth, I don’t think that Santa should get the credit for what the parents do.

Fifth, it could be quite awkward (and lead to many more lies), if the child asks for something that Santa can’t give — whether it be a horse, some out-of-stock toy, for a dead relative to come back to life; or for “Santa” to give the wrong gift — whether it be the wrong color, style, etc.

Sixth, it’s lying. Yeah, there’s time for fantasy and fun, but I think kids should understand that it’s just pretend or make-believe.

Seventh, “Santa” gives rich kids more than he gives poor kids, and some kids don’t get anything at all from Santa. It is one thing if everyone is equally poor or equally rich. Laura Ingalls felt tremendously blessed by receiving an orange, a stick of candy, and a penny from Santa Claus (Mr. Edwards); but she would feel dreadfully poor if that is all she received if she knew that Santa gave Nellie a beautiful doll. Likewise, children today would feel slighted if they only receive one toy from Santa, while the child down the street brags that Santa brought him or her a room full of toys.

Eighth, I’d probably feel better about Santa if rude, mean, rotten, or otherwise spoiled children actually did receive a lump of coal or a switch in their stocking. Unfortunately, too often rich children who receive everything and then some from “Santa” are the ones who would most benefit from a switch, or receiving nothing. “He sees you when you’re sleeping; he knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so…” go ahead and let your little inner monster come out and be bad because you’ll still get a pile of presents anyway?

So, I will teach my children the lore about St. Nicholas — they’ll probably know more about Santa Claus than the kids who believe he’s real! They’ll know about the real man named Nicholas, who was good to the poor children in the winter who were hungry and cold — that he was so good that people started trying to emulate his good deeds, and give children food, clothes, and toys at Christmastime. I’ll teach them that it was this good example which led to the creation of the Santa Claus myth. But they’ll know it’s just a myth.

You may think that’s Bah! Humbug!, but I won’t be persuaded otherwise. After all, it is better to give than to receive, and the Santa Claus myth focuses all the attention on the receiving, and in many cases turns little children into little snots. I’d rather focus attention on giving, by letting them know about those who are less fortunate, and doing something good for them, rather than in just expecting toys that they don’t need and won’t really even appreciate.

Stem Cells save woman’s leg

Posted in politics, Uncategorized by Kathy on November 24, 2008

Let me rephrase that:

Adult stem cells save woman’s leg

With all the furor over embryonic stem cells — which requires the destruction of a genetically unique human life — but with little or nothing to show for it, it makes one wonder why the media has downplayed the great advances made in adult stem cell research, such as the above, and saving a woman’s trachea, which I blogged about a few days ago.

Unfortunately, I know the reason why.

It’s the same reason that whenever a Republican has the slightest hiccup of ethical proportions (and some pretty darn major ones too, I grant), it is published far and wide, and every headline (and quite a few times within the article), the editors trumpet, “Republican Governor…” or “Republican Senator…” or whatever. But whenever a Democrat screws up the same or many times even worse, his political party or affiliation is mentioned only briefly, and almost never in the headline. Usually, you’ll see it buried deep in the article, one time after his or her name (D), and that’s about it.

The mainstream media doesn’t want people to realize that embryonic stem cell research is barking up the wrong tree, so when stem-cell therapy is successful (which happens with adult stem cells, and not so much if at all with stem cells taken from embryos), they will minimize the story, or similarly bury in the details of the story that those stem cells were taken from adults, without killing them. But when Michael J. Fox or the late Christopher Reeve get in front of Congress or give interviews or make commercials promoting embryonic stem cell research, it is heavily promoted. That leaves the impression that embryonic stem cell research is the only kind of stem cell research underway; and that stem cells can only be taken from embryos by killing them. Just the same way that shouting “Republican Congressman Mr. So-and-so” from the headlines while whispering “Gov. Spitzer (D-NY)” somewhere in the small print gives the impression that Republicans are more corrupt than Democrats. By the laws of fairness or odds, about half the time a story breaks that some politician is involved in some scandal, the headlines should equally shout or be silent about the political affiliation of said politician. When the headlines are silent about the the political affiliation of said scandalous politician, someone who only reads the headlines or skims the article may be apprised of the fact that the politician is scum deserving to be thrown out of office, but may not realize the political affiliation, and could easily presume that it’s 50/50. But if 100% of all headlines that don’t say the political affiliation of the scandalous politician are about a Democrat, and 100% of all headlines that do day the affiliation of the Republican, then the balance is skewed. Even if Republicans and Democrats are equally scummy, immoral, unethical, etc., if the Republicans take the rap for 100% of their own faults plus half of the faults of the Democrats, then the Democrats only get 25% of the “scandal points,” leading people to believe that they have the moral high ground. Which is bull.

Stem Cell Research

Posted in Uncategorized by Kathy on November 20, 2008

While the world goes agog whenever the slightest step forward happens with embryonic stem cell research (which has significant moral and ethical problems to many of us), when significant leaps happen with adult stem cell research (which has no moral or ethical problems at all), the results are largely ignored. Why? Why is it that the world rejoices when embryos are destroyed for little or no benefit, but they are silent when great benefit comes from no destruction?

But I think that this deserves to be shouted from the rooftops: adult stem cells were taken from a woman and were grown into a trachea to replace her own trachea which had been damaged by tuberculosis. Since they were her own cells, she will not have to take any immune-suppressing anti-rejection drugs.

While I have a great deal of sympathy towards people such as Michael J. Fox and Christopher Reeve who looked to embryonic stem cells to help them with their ailments, they and their supporters completely ignore the fact that research into adult stem cells have had more benefits and uses and success than research which destroys human embryos. That needs to change.

My thanks to RealChoice for bringing this to my attention.

Oooo…scary

Posted in autism, children, vaccines by Kathy on November 19, 2008

My latest copy of Parents magazine came in the mail the other day, and I’m reading through it. It’s kinda like candy — not much substance but it gives me something to do — far too mainstream for me. Sometimes I get more enjoyment out of disagreeing with and/or arguing with an article or statement than I do from agreeing with it! 🙂

Take the paragraph-long snippet of an article titled, “Measles on the Rise.” The intent is to cause concern among slacker parents who are not vaccinating their children right on schedule, or to give thoughtful non-vaccinating parents some doubt as to the validity of their choice. They note that many parents are concerned about the MMR-autism link, and debunk it, saying that “study after study has shown that vaccines don’t increase a child’s autism risk” (although I’ve heard and read things about these studies that make me question their validity). I don’t think that MMR is the sole cause of autism (thinking it is probably the result of a number of chemical and environmental assaults on the body), but it might cause some.

Still, the ominous tone of this article is hilarious. It starts off by saying that choosing not to vaccinate has “dire consequences.” That’s possible, so let’s read on — what are the “dire consequences”? That there were 131 reported cases of measles in the United States in the first six months of this year — the highest number in 12 years. Ok, so it’s the highest number — fine, let’s accept that, but so what? Were any of these children harmed by measles? Let’s not forget that prior to the vaccination, measles was considered to be a mild, generally harmless childhood illness that all kids got at some point unless they were naturally immune to it. A few kids became very sick from it and a very few even died; but millions of children got it (probably annually) without anything worse than a fever and a rash. Now, just because it’s “vaccine-preventable” it’s made out to be as bad as cancer or something. I’d rather my kids get real measles than the vaccine — do you see how many people make it through childhood without measles, thanks to the vaccines, and then end up getting it or losing their immunity as adolescents or young adults — or old ones? Measles, like so many other diseases, including chicken pox and mumps, are relatively benign diseases when contracted as a child. They cause the worst problems to infants under one year of age and older teens and adults. So, we immunize children who will generally have a mild case and receive permanent natural immunity from a disease, only to let it wear off when they will have a horrific case and could end up permanently scarred, disabled, or even dead. I got chicken pox when I was 12, so I remember it well, and it was not fun. But I’m glad I got it then and not as an adult! I know somebody who got chicken pox as an adult, and he had a far worse case than I did at 12 years old! He was horribly sick for a lot longer than I was. As far as the infants go, if mothers have natural immunity from these diseases (after having had chicken pox or measles naturally), they will pass on their immunity to their children through pregnancy or breastfeeding for the first several months if not a full year, or however long they nurse. That means that the infants are generally going to be protected when they’re most vulnerable, and are not able to get any vaccines. But women who, like me, are only artificially immune to diseases like measles, mumps, and rubella, cannot pass that immunity to our children, leaving them vulnerable should they come into contact with the disease when they are babies.

Back to the article — a whopping 131 cases. Since the article is so short, it is not very informative, in that we have no idea who these people were who got the disease. I remember a measles scare (possibly the one mentioned in the article that happened 12 years ago), in which college kids had to get a booster shot, because the immunity from the vaccines they received as children had worn off. It’s anybody’s guess if the booster shot actually works — it was assumed that the original vaccine would be enough, so why should we believe the assumption that the booster shot is going to live up to its hype? But, let’s assume that all of the cases were in children, and no adolescents or adults. There are roughly 4 million babies born in the United States every year. If we count children from, say, age 3 all the way up through the end of elementary school (5th grade, although some people consider it to end at 6th grade), then there are 32 million children under consideration. Wow — 131 cases out of 32,000,000 — oh, yeah, that’s dire. Again, there is no hint in the article of the severity of the cases — just that they were reported.

Continuing on, the article says that more than half of the children who got sick hadn’t been vaccinated due to their parents’ beliefs. Let’s take the “beliefs” part — not everybody who chooses not to vaccinate does so because of fear of autism, though I daresay that is the most prominent one. Some people don’t like that some vaccines are grown in tissue from aborted fetuses (called “human diploid tissue”), or monkeys, or cows (due to mad-cow disease, although the cows used are supposed to be stringently tested), or other “unclean” things (I think some vaccines are grown in pork or other things that are unclean to Jewish, Muslim, and possibly other religions). Some people are concerned about SIDS or diabetes or auto-immune disorders or cancer. Some people think they may be linked to allergies such as eggs (which some vaccines are grown in), or perhaps other substances — why is it that so many children nowadays are allergic to so many things that used to not cause problems? Give parents the choice that a certain vaccine may reduce their child’s risk of getting an already-rare disease which is usually typically mild and self-limiting, but that it may increase the risk of him or her developing a life-threatening allergy to peanuts or something, and what do you think most parents will choose? (Not saying there is a link, just wondering if there is.)

Finally, “more than half of the children who got sick hadn’t been vaccinated.” They don’t attach a number, so we’re left to guess as to the actual percentage, and only know it’s somewhere between 51% and 100%. I can just about guarantee that if it were much over 50%, they would have said something like, “nearly 2/3 of the children…” or “over 75%…” So you know what this means? Almost half of the children who got sick had been vaccinated.

I don’t know what the “official” immunization rate is for this or any other vaccine. I’ve read numbers in the past, but they tend to get jumbled up in my mind. I think that even the strongest vaccine proponents do not pretend to have higher than 98% efficacy on any vaccine, most are no more than 95% while many are down around 75-80%.

But we still don’t know out of the “dire” 131 cases out of 300,000,000 people in the United States, how many of these people had anything more than a mild case of measles that wasn’t worse than a stomach virus with itching.

Who correctly predicted our current financial state?

Posted in politics, Uncategorized by Kathy on November 18, 2008

Check out this YouTube video that somebody did of financial analyst Peter Schiff’s appearances in 2006 & 2007 predicting our current financial predicament. He talked about house values falling, the credit crunch, and a recession starting in late 2008. He was frequently the only one in a panel of 4 who predicted this kind of negative stuff, and everybody else flatly contradicted and even mocked him a bit. But he was right.

Cheeky little mouse!

Posted in Uncategorized by Kathy on November 16, 2008

Last night my cat (Bear) brought a live mouse into our house through his cat door. Of course, I immediately called my knight in shining armor to come down and dispose of the little critter. Before he got down, though, the cat had dropped and recaptured the mouse at least once, and then dropped it again. The mouse didn’t run. The cheeky little thing stood up on its back paws and chattered and scolded the cat like you wouldn’t believe! Not being fluent in mouse, I didn’t understand what he said, of course, but I daresay that had I understood, I shouldn’t repeat it! And then, the mouse bit Bear on the nose. It was the funniest thing I’d seen all day!

My husband came down directly and grabbed the mouse (which didn’t appear to be harmed) with a wadded-up pillowcase to protect his hand from being scratched or bitten, and let it go outside. Hopefully, Bear won’t bring any other treasures into the house, dead or alive.

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Digital Camera update

Posted in Uncategorized by Kathy on November 12, 2008

Well, I was a bit optimistic that the empty box that was delivered yesterday that should have contained my digital camera was a complete oversight by the seller; but it was not as pessimistic as him just screwing me over. He lives in Georgia and sent it via UPS, and when it was sitting in the Atlanta facility over the weekend, apparently one of the workers stole the camera box out of the shipping box and taped it back up.

When I got the package, I noticed it seemed light, and as I carried it into the house, I began thinking that it was not just “light” but too light. Opening it up, I realized with a sinking feeling I was right. I immediately emailed the seller, and he called back within an hour. The seller was just a “regular Joe” — not a business with thousands of items. He had 100% positive feedback since ’99 with over 100 transactions, so I had and have no reason to suspect he would cheat me.

Anyway, he called me and we talked for a bit, and he said that he took the box himself to the UPS store where it was weighed in (at 3 lbs plus), and he had the paperwork showing that it did weigh that much. We ended up talking a couple of times, and we’re working to fix this. Nothing like this has ever happened to me, so I’m not sure what to do. I talked to a guy at PayPal, and he said I needed to initiate a claim through PayPal, and suggested I call the credit card company as well to contest the charge (tell them that I didn’t receive the item that was charged to the account). I didn’t want to “start a claim” because that sounds like he was the cause of the problem. Apparently (fortunately!) theft from the shipper is so rare it doesn’t have its own FAQ. I can’t start a claim through eBay until 10 days after the close of auction, to “give me time to receive the package” in case it was misdirected. There isn’t a link for “I received the box but the item wasn’t in there.” Sigh…

So, last night, I called the credit card company, and talked to a guy who obviously didn’t speak English as his first language. If you’ve watched the movie Hitch, this guy’s accent was like Will Smith’s character’s doorman, Raul, but worse. I had a hard time understanding him, and I’m not totally sure he understood me. He told me that the transaction hadn’t posted yet. At the time, I thought he was saying that the statement hadn’t closed and I would have to wait until the end of this posting period to contest it. Now, I think he was looking for an item transaction called “ebay” or “paypal”; but the transaction was listed under the seller’s name. The credit card employee never asked me what the transaction was or how much it was or anything — just said, “It’s not on here.” I’m going to call in a few minutes and see if I can get an American, so I don’t have to talk slowly and in small words to be understood — and more importantly, so I can understand what s/he is saying without having to translate through the thick accent.

We’ll see what happens…

I’m in shock!

Posted in Uncategorized by Kathy on November 11, 2008

My husband bought a digital camera through ebay — used, so it was a good price for the camera; canon, so it fit the lens of our film camera. It was supposed to arrive today via UPS. I waited around all day for it, because a signature was required (it finally arrived just a few minutes ago — about 4:15). When I took the package from the guy, I couldn’t believe how light it was — it felt like there was nothing in there. And there wasn’t!!! The only thing in there was a sheet of bubble wrap. My mind just can’t quite comprehend it. I’m hoping it was an oversight, but how do you accidentally forget to put a camera into a box, and not notice at some point during the intervening 5 days that the camera is still in your house?? I paid through PayPal so I assume there is some sort of fraud thing that will refund me my money if the seller doesn’t come through. I hope. My gut feeling is that the guy will come through — that as weird as it may be, it was an oversight — maybe he took the camera out to check something before the auction was over and forgot to put it back, and just sealed up the box, forgetting that it wasn’t in there? I’m hoping. But how do you take an empty box that is supposed to weigh just over a pound and not notice that it weighs nothing??

And of course, I signed for the package and opened it, so where is the proof that I did in fact not get the camera? Just my word. Will that suffice? Maybe the UPS guy will remember me and remember that the box was awfully light? (Yeah, I’ve been accused of being optimistic. But what other alternative is there? If the pessimistic view is correct, why should I borrow that trouble before I have to?)