Writing Mad

churcy lady posterWeeks ago I was home on a vacation from work. The whole week was spent in the garage, clearing out stuff and rearranging things, something we’ve been waiting about three years to do. Our next door neighbor, Craig, a 71-year-old guy who is pretty much the caretaker of the neighborhood was bringing a plant to my wife. Shortly after there was a trauma. You can Diana’s account on her blog and the version I wrote on the Kitsap Caucus blog. Seriously, go read those so you know a little bit about Craig and the trauma.

The short version is he fell off his deck. Diana was the first to render help after a contractor was yelling for someone to call 911. Craig’s face was buried in the grass. He wasn’t breathing. We all know to not move people in that situation, but he was not breathing. So she moved his head. As soon as she did he started to breathe again.

Since Craig has been hospitalized, and the injuries were severe, our role has been to take care of their little dog and send out the e-mail updates. Diana sent one out tonight. Shortly after, she received the following comment from an anonymous writer.

“While I admire your ability to post this information, I am apalled at the fact that you would post pictures of you and your family showing off your bloody hands and clothes. What are you thinking?? Do you for one minute think that his family would want to see this??? Did it also occur to you that by moving him immediately following the fall may be the reason that his injuries are that severe?? The first thing you learn in first aid in an emergency situation is that if you suspect a neck or spine injury, you never, ever move the head or neck!!! My prayers are with him and his family.”

Diana did decide to take the pictures down and wrote a response herself, saying she believed at the time she was doing the right thing. This is the first time that has been questioned. Diana was shaken by the comment, sent a note to Craig’s wife apologizing if the blog post was offensive. The photo was one of her with the ambulance in the background. In it you would have seen a little blood on Diana’s hands. I took the photo. Being a newspaper guy, I saw it as the best illustrator of the trauma we were all experiencing.

While Diana was upset, I was incensed, basking in my own self-righteousness, I suppose. I have learned to not write things when I’m angry. Tonight I didn’t care.

Dear anonymous, Perhaps you missed the part where Diana wrote that Craig’s face was buried in the grass. He wasn’t breathing. Had she, and then we, not moved him he would not have survived, because the paramedics took well more than five minutes to get there. Go without oxygen for eight-ten minutes and paralysis will be the least of your problems.

I don’t know if you have ever been in a situation in which you know you’re holding someone’s life in your hands. You don’t make decisions irrationally, but you make them quickly. Diana knew the risks. We all knew the risks, but he needed to breathe. Diana did the right thing. You weren’t there, so keep your armchair quarterbacking to yourself.

You’re appalled? I am absolutely disgusted there are people like you who are so quick to judge and then to suggest that perhaps it’s Diana’s fault that his injuries were so severe. You think those pictures were insensitive? Look in the mirror.

OK, so I know I relied on a couple of standard phrases common in Internet fights. “Perhaps you didn’t notice . . .” “Look in the mirror.” Be kind to me. I wrote it on deadline. The anger was fading, I had to get my wrath out quickly.


gas signI’m joining in the hypermiling craze. Well, is it really a craze? Had you heard of it? It’s not a craze like, say, flashmobbing, which is another craze I want to be part of at least once.

What’s involved is doing all I can to use less gas in the car. Having once worked in a marketing capacity, I was trained in the art of testing. Specifically, you change one element at a time to see how that affects results.

So the first thing I needed to do was see how, driving normally, the car I drive would perform. On the first tank I came in at 18 miles per gallon. When I refilled, gas was $4.20 a gallon, so I ended up figuring out that it was costing me about 24 cents a mile to drive. That opens up a whole new way of looking at things for me, because now I’ve resorted to figuring out how much trips to different places cost me.

For example, going to work and back costs about $2.65. Going to the gym is about $2.15. Now, if I was taking the bus to both of those places, the fare would be $1.50 each way, I think. So driving is cheaper, but not when you consider that the only cost I’m figuring in this calculation is the gasoline. There are oil changes, tune-ups, air fresheners (boy howdy) and other costs. But when I think about riding the bus, I think about that $1.50. When I drive to work, I seldom think about the cost. I only see gas prices in terms of how much it costs when I fill up.

This has been a helpful thing, because it has influenced me a couple time to work from home, which also means I’m less tempted to eat out, saving more money. Plus I get to wear shorts at home. Heck, I could wear . . . I won’t burden you with those images. Too late, you say? Sorry. Anyway, it’s pretty cool. It probably costs me about $3 to go to church, so from now on I’m only going if I can figure it will be worth more than two double cheeseburgers.

The real thing I did was change the way I drive. I go the speed limit. I turn off the engine in drive-throughs. I time signals way ahead. The people behind me are not always happy with me, but I try not to be too annoying. I also think about which routes will be more efficient. The end result, which is in no way a scientific one because I can’t completely re-create the drives I took on the first tank, was an increase in mileage of 1.2 miles per gallon. Frankly, I was hoping for better. But upon reflection, it’s still a noteworthy difference. It means I saved about $5 on that tank of gas. Each round trip to work is about a quarter cheaper. Over a month that’s about another $5 savings.

The next step is the first one in the Obama playbook. Tomorrow morning I’m making sure my tires are inflated correctly. I’ll return and report.