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Commentary, sarcasm and snide remarks from a Florida resident of over thirty years. Being a glutton for punishment is a requirement for residency here. Who am I? I've been called a moonbat by Michelle Malkin, a Right Wing Nut by Daily Kos, and middle of the road by Florida blog State of Sunshine. Tell me what you think.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Absolute disgrace II- Marine's widow denied visa

Another tale of how legal immigrants get screwed by the system.

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa -- The phone call devastated Robin Ferschke, the mother of a Marine killed in Iraq.Michael+Ferschke.jpg

Her Okinawan daughter-in-law, six months pregnant with the couple's child, tearfully called earlier this week and said she was having problems getting a residency visa to live in the United States.

"She was crying so hard, it was hard to understand what she was saying," Robin said in a telephone interview Thursday from her home in Maryville, Tenn. "She said she was told she could not get a visa because of something called the two-year rule."
That's the rule that requires a marriage be two years in length before a immigrant's residency becomes permanent. Before that, they are considered conditional. I know, been there with my wife Leonita after our marriage in 1989.

But Hotaru Ferschke, 24, and Marine Sgt. Michael Ferschke Jr., 22, a radio operator with the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, had been married only one month before he was killed July 10 while conducting door-to-door searches in Iraq.

They were married by proxy while he was in Iraq, and the unusual circumstance has further complicated the issue. Although the couple had planned to eventually live in the United States, no paperwork for a residency visa had been prepared before the sergeant's death.
Michael Ferschke was serving in Iraq. A delay in his sending in the I-130 petition for his wife is understandable.

Immigrant relatives of US military personnel are supposed to be protected This could be a misunderstanding. Mrs. Ferschke has another appointment at the embassy on Thursday.

Hotaru has declined any interviews concerning the visa problem.

"This was all so unexpected, it made her very nervous," Robin said. "She's still grieving for Michael and worried about the baby and doesn't want to talk to anyone.

"Michael's unit has rallied around her and is keeping the press away while they are trying to get everything ironed out. They are protecting her, taking her to places she needs to go and collecting the right information."

"The Marine Corps on Okinawa is working very closely with Mrs. Hota Ferschke and the U.S. Consulate in Okinawa to assist Mrs. Ferschke in the Visa application process," 1st Lt. Judd Wilson, media relations officer for Marine Corps Bases Japan, said in an e-mail response to a Stripes query.

"Mrs. Ferschke has not been denied any visa to the United States," he said. "This is a misunderstanding."

Added Wilson: "Marines take care of their own, and Mrs. Ferschke and her child are a part of the Marine Corps family,"
Mrs. Ferschke is fortunate to have both her mother-in-law and the Marine Corps fighting for her and the unborn child she is carrying. Her husband gave his life for this country, in return Hotaru Ferschke should have the right to live here. Anything else is a disgrace.

Update- Here is a link to another Stars and Stripes story that tells much more about Hotaru and Michael. How they met, how Hotaru has already visited the United states etc. It is worth reading. Here's just the closing.

She said she told the Ferschkes of her plan and they were bowled over by her decision.

"When I talked about my plan to move to his hometown to raise our son, my mother-in-law told me that it was something that they wanted me to do, but they did not ask because she wanted to respect my freedom.

"My mother, meanwhile, had mixed feelings. She suggested me to raise the baby [on Okinawa] until he finishes elementary school, but I told her that it was important for him to grow up in the same environment as his father, beginning at an early age."
Michael Ferschke Jr. should have that opportunity.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

The Knucklehead of the Day award

Today's winner is Pinellas County Police Sgt. John Daniels. He gets the award for the following-

TARPON SPRINGS - A Pinellas County deputy stopped a car early Sunday driven by a Pasco County deputy who smelled of alcohol and was allowed to call someone to pick him up, according to a report.

Sgt. John Daniels was using radar to monitor traffic about 1 a.m. Sunday when he noticed a 2007 Dodge Charger going about 100 mph on Keystone Road near Ranch Road, the report states. The speed limit along that stretch of Keystone is 45 mph, the sheriff's office report states.

Daniels then saw the car pass vehicles in a no-passing zone, the report states. By the time he managed to catch up with the vehicle, it had pulled over in a turn lane at County Road 611 and a passenger, Pasco County Deputy Kent Hentschel, 24, was urinating outside the car in full view of other motorists, the report states.

Daniels stopped and saw Hentschel look in his direction and then continue urinating, the report states. Daniels then asked the driver, Pasco County Deputy Jose Berrios, 25, for his license, proof of insurance and registration, the report states.

That's when Berrios and Hentschel identified themselves as Pasco County sheriff's deputies.

As the sergeant spoke with Berrios, he noticed that Berrios smelled of alcohol and had glassy eyes, the report states. Berrios was asked how much he had consumed, and he said one or two drinks, the report states.

Berrios also was asked why he was driving so fast, and he didn't have a good answer for that, the report states. Both Pasco deputies admitted they had been drinking and were on their way home.

Daniels told Berrios he wanted to give him a breath test and that if Berrios failed, someone would have to be called to give him a ride, the report states. If he passed, Daniels told him, he could continue driving, the report states.

Berrios said he would prefer to call for a ride without undergoing the breath test, and he was allowed to do so, the report states. Daniels waited for the pair's ride, and after he made sure the driver was not intoxicated, he allowed the two to leave, Daniels said.

The report did not indicate a speeding ticket was issued.
Two off duty police are recklessly speeding and probably DUI, but Sheriff Daniels lets them without a breath test. How very nice, I make a bet the general public doesn't get that kind of treatment, nor should they. As I often say, the motto of police is very often 'To serve and protect....our own'.

Pinellas County Police Sgt. John Daniels is today's Knucklehead of the Day.

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Just keep the printing presses running till I say stop

The quote of the day, 700 billion dollar bailout edition.

In fact, some of the most basic details, including the $700 billion figure Treasury would use to buy up bad debt, are fuzzy.

"It's not based on any particular data point," a Treasury spokeswoman told Tuesday. "We just wanted to choose a really large number."
Thank you for being so forthright who ever you are. Now my opinion on the bailout is cemented 100%. No way.

Hat tip- Doug at Below the Beltway


It certainly took long enough

For a golf writer to talk about a Lorena slump. From AP-

PRATTVILLE, Ala. – Lorena Ochoa takes another streak into the LPGA’s Navistar Classic. For a change, she’s trying to end this one.

Ochoa, set to begin play Thursday on Capitol Hill’s Senator Course, is making her first start since the Safeway Classic on Aug. 24 and is winless in seven events.

“It’s been challenging in the last months, that I didn’t get any wins,” Ochoa said. “So it would be nice to start that roll again.”

She spent much of the past month at home in Mexico trying to regain the form that helped her win six of her first nine starts this year, including four straight.
Lorena's last win was Sybase in May. After her win at the Ginn Open, at least two golf writers talked of Ochoa winning all the rest of the tournaments she entered in 2008, and or completing the Grand Slam. The usual silly talk heard from lazy people covering pro golf, except this time it was Lorena Ochoa instead of Tiger Woods. Ryan made note of it at the time.

Yesterday in a comment at Hounddog's blog, I made mention of the lack of Lorena slump talk. This article had come out the day before. Bad me for not noticing.

Then I'm not Andrea Adelson who wrote Lorena would win a Grand Slam before Tiger. Andrea, how many times has Woods completed the Grand Slam and how many times has Lorena? Time for some Final Jeopardy music.......

Tiger 3, Lorena 0. It was 2-0 before Adelson wrote her dumbass column. I wonder what she would be writing now?

By the way I'm not criticizing Lorena, just the media coverage. There are probably at least 50 LPGA golfers who would take Lorena's results since Sybase for their own.

Talking about media coverage, is it coincidental or not that the talk about too many Asian winners died off at the same time that three blondes took LPGA events in a row? The blondes are now ruining the LPGA tour!

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

A sign of the apocalypse

First Dawn 'Mary Ann' Wells gets arrested for having marijuana, now Hugh Hefner may have to make cutbacks.

Tycoon Hugh Hefner has been advised to cut back on staff at his multi-million dollar glamour empire as it struggles to cope during the global economic turmoil.

The 83-year-old has been told to lay off some of his staff at his Los Angeles and New York offices as soon as this month or go bankrupt.
Seriously if Hefner has to cut back that quickly, he must have serious financial difficulties.

There is other trouble for Hugh also.

The news will be another blow to Hefner who recently discovered that two of his "bunnies" may have been cheating on him.

Holly Madison, who has previously been named as Hefner's "No.1″ girlfriend, is alleged to have had an affair with magician Criss Angel and another bunny, Kendra Wilson, is reportedly dating football star Hank Baskett.
Its hard times for people all over the world right now. Hugh will just have to move on(or over).

Hat tip- Doug at Below the Beltway who writes "It's a sad day for America, my friends."

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Guns and Rubbers

Some interesting economic data out of South Korea.

The sex trade in Korea was estimated to amount to 14 trillion won last year, roughly 1.6 percent of the nation's gross domestic product.

The Korean Women's Development Institute, commissioned by the Ministry of Gender Equality, yesterday released a report on the sex trade last year.

"The official figures of the sex trade dropped compared to 2002 thanks to continued crackdown on prostitution," said Byun Hwa-soon, a researcher at the think tank.

"But we cannot deny that new forms of prostitution and overseas sex tourism, which domestic authorities cannot police, have increased."

More than 46,000 brothels and disguised sex-service businesses disguised were identified last year, down 23 percent from 2002, according to the report.

The number of prostitutes dropped by 18 percent to 269,000 during the same period. The sex trade involved some 94 million transactions in Korea last year, down from 170 million in 2002.

The amount of money traded for prostitution was over 14 trillion won, much less than 24 trillion won in 2002.
That proves it. We're definitely having a economic downturn.

Can you believe a nation would blow waste so much money? It is incredible. Robert Koehler at Marmot's Hole makes note of some further South Korean economic data.

Money spent on whoring in 2007: 14.952 trillion won
ROK defense budget for 2008: 26.7 trillion won
I see it now. Kim Jong-il plans to conquer the south with the aid of prostitutes. If all that data above is true, he may well be on the way to it.

GI at ROK Drop is also commenting.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Modern Love

David Hlvasa writes about the painful decision he and his wife faced once they knew the baby she was carrying, was already dead at the 20-week point of pregnancy.

We each assumed there was only one possible decision, so when we talked, we talked logistics: appointments to reschedule, job responsibilities to manage. We asked questions we might have asked the midwife, about recovery time.

Then we realized we weren't in agreement. I was talking about the D and C, while Lisa had decided to give birth. Incredulous, I asked why she would want to go through all that pain. She said she couldn't imagine just getting rid of our child by a surgical procedure; she wanted to see him

Resting on my outstretched hand, he was thin, nearly weightless, his skin pinkish-gray and translucent. He seemed to me less like a small baby than a scale model of a stripling child. I cradled his head between the ends of my middle and ring fingers, his features peaceful, perfect, blank.
I can empathize with this couple. Next January 26th marks six years since my son Daniel died 14.5 hours after he was born. Leonita and I also held our son.

In the NICU I stood with Fr. Tomasz watching Daniel's life signs dwindle to nothing on the monitor. At 7:23 a doctor put a stethoscope to m y son's chest and then said "Your son's heart had stopped." After 14.5 hours of life my son had died of septsis.

Later that day DW and I got to hold Daniel in my wife's hospital room. Friends and family came, I had called these people again after what happened this morning. I asked DW if she wanted me to buy a cheap throwaway camera to take some photos. She said no. We both regret not having done this.

Other than the moment the doctor said Daniel's heart stopped, the moment I remember most was right after the nurse took Daniel from my wife and I so the funeral home could get him. DW broke out crying louder and heavier than any time I've seen her in the 17 years we been married. She is such a wonderful and loving person, who does many kind things for other people. Leonita wanted and deserved a child so much, and all she went through to just have Daniel taken from her. Why God, why?

Ann Althouse asks in the title of her post "Would you have labor induced to deliver a 20-week old fetus that already died?" No my wife and I wouldn't but Leonita would have for her 20-week old old BABY. My son was never a fetus, he was always my and Leonita's baby. Neither of us like the word fetus, and from those parents I know who lost a small baby, these feelings from bereaved parents is quite common.

Also note, David Hlavsa at no point in the article uses the word fetus in reference to his son Benjamin. Son or baby are used.

Forgive the slight rant, I really like Professor Althouse despite her poor word choice. I frequently link to her blog. Also we share the same birthday, January 12th.

God bless David Hlavsa, Lisa, and their son Benjamin.

HAVING waited until we were in our 30s to start a family, my wife and I were having trouble conceiving, leading to sperm tests, hormone shots and other extraordinary measures.

Over many months, the process of conception became so technical that when Lisa told me she was at last pregnant, I found it hard to know what to credit. After the first ultrasound, she came home with a black-and-white picture of a tiny curled-up creature. We put it on the refrigerator: my son, the lima bean.

At 20 weeks, we went in together for the second ultrasound. The technician made small talk and popped his gum as he dimmed the lights. Lisa lay back on the table. I shifted in my seat, jammed my hands into my pockets, and stretched out my legs like a teenager settling in to watch a movie. As the technician slid the paddle around on Lisa's belly, the image on the computer screen wheeled, dipped and blurred.

Finally my son's image popped into focus. Arms and legs folded, he seemed to be resting on his back, as if lying on the bottom of a pool, waiting to spring to the surface.

I said, "Cool."

The technician muttered something, hit a button to freeze the image and walked briskly out of the room.

A few minutes later, in walked a small man wearing a rumpled white coat and steel-rimmed glasses, his bow tie askew. He shut the door behind him.

I don't remember exactly what he said; he looked as if someone had left him out in the rain. What we had taken for a frozen image, he explained, was in fact absolute stillness.

We still refer to the man as Doctor Death, perpetually forlorn, always breaking bad news. They keep him in a closet. (A year later, pregnant with our second son, Benjamin, my wife turned a corner at the hospital and saw him at a nurses' station; she did an abrupt, involuntary about-face.)

After Doctor Death left, our midwife arrived to explain that we had a decision to make. Did we want to schedule a D and C or induce labor? Her language was very plain, but it took a while for me to understand what she was really asking: Did we want the pregnancy to end in a surgical procedure in the outpatient clinic, or in the maternity ward as a stillbirth? We asked whether there were medical advantages or disadvantages to either choice. She told us it was simply a matter of preference. No hurry. Let us know.

On the drive home, we were mostly silent. As if exchanging telegrams, Lisa and I said what we needed to and no more. We each assumed there was only one possible decision, so when we talked, we talked logistics: appointments to reschedule, job responsibilities to manage. We asked questions we might have asked the midwife, about recovery time.

Then we realized we weren't in agreement. I was talking about the D and C, while Lisa had decided to give birth. Incredulous, I asked why she would want to go through all that pain. She said she couldn't imagine just getting rid of our child by a surgical procedure; she wanted to see him.

So I had to ask myself: Why didn't I want to meet my own son? Clearly, it wasn't Lisa's pain I was worried about. We pulled into the driveway, phoned the hospital, turned around and drove back.

Going to the hospital for a stillbirth is the photographic negative of going for a live birth. You carry the overnight bag, check into a room in the maternity ward and so on. But they put a marker on your door to alert the nurse-midwives that, in this room, things are different.

As a means of inducing labor in a body that is not yet ripe, Pitocin is brutally effective. But it can take a while to kick in. After an hour of flipping through magazines, Lisa and I decided to take a walk. The nurse said it might speed things along.

Wandering about in the midwinter dusk, Seattle sinking to the bottom of the gray scale, we were about a quarter mile from the hospital, just about to turn around, when the drug took hold, doubling Lisa over. We considered calling a cab, but she decided she could make it, so we stumbled back with her arm around my shoulders for support.

By the time we reached Lisa's room, her contractions were frequent and prolonged -- much more so than they would have been at the early stages of a natural labor -- and each surge of pain seemed to levitate her body above the sheets.

When at last the anesthesiologist gave her an epidural, Lisa sighed and fell back into the pillows. Within an hour, she was asleep, and shortly after that, I dozed off as well, like a Lab curled up in the armchair at the foot of her bed.

My first son was born some time in the gray dawn. In such cases, there is no rupturing of waters. The birth sac slips out whole and unbroken. The bag was a little bigger than my fist. The midwife put it on a towel and, with a small pair of scissors, carefully snipped it open.

She unfolded our son's limbs, disentangling one from the other, unfurling him like a new leaf, talking softly to us all the while, describing him. He was about five inches long, she said. He was anacephalic, which means his brain and nervous system had failed to develop. He had probably died about a week earlier.

Gingerly, she handed him to Lisa, and though it was clear that Lisa wanted to hold him longer, it was only a minute or two before she passed him to me. Later, she told me she was afraid he would come apart in her hands.

Resting on my outstretched hand, he was thin, nearly weightless, his skin pinkish-gray and translucent. He seemed to me less like a small baby than a scale model of a stripling child. I cradled his head between the ends of my middle and ring fingers, his features peaceful, perfect, blank. His feet reaching nearly to my wrist, his toes were like mine and my father's, the second toe longer than the big toe.

When we got back from the hospital, the epidural had not quite worn off, so Lisa did not have full use of her legs and clung to me as we staggered up the front steps. Thinking of ourselves as a public spectacle (How must we look to the neighbors? Drunk again!), we burst out laughing. Once inside, the bleak humor continued: Anacephalic? All right, so he won't go to Harvard.

It wasn't until I had settled Lisa onto the couch that my own legs quit working. I was in midsentence -- something about an errand -- teakettle in hand, halfway between the tap and the stove. A spasm went through me, I doubled over and I heard my own voice howling from far off, the full-throated cry of a child.

On the day I went back to the small college where I work, I felt myself in another kind of altered state, not above the flow of daily life but just below its surface, heavy, settled, still. I had been thinking about how to tell people: my colleagues, my students. Some knew that Lisa and I had been expecting a child; clearly I had to tell them what happened.

Others didn't know about the pregnancy, though. Should I spring the whole story on them all at once? When a parent dies or a partner -- when we lose someone who has lived in the world -- there are customs, worn paths to follow, ways to talk about it. But I didn't see any path with this. Was I supposed to keep quiet and pretend nothing had happened? I couldn't accept that.

So I typed out an e-mail message, brief and plain, explaining: Lisa had been pregnant, the child had died and we took some comfort from the belief that all he had ever known was love. I stared at the screen for a long time.

Then I clicked on the top of the e-mail program and addressed the message to everyone at the college: faculty members, students, staff, people I knew well, people I didn't know at all. I had a fleeting thought that this might be inappropriate, but then I pressed "send." It felt like a form of protest.

I wasn't really looking for a response. I wanted just to get the news out; I couldn't bear to repeat it over and over. And although my department's administrative assistant did field a few complaints about receiving something so personal by a general message ("Who is this guy?"), most apparently understood or at least excused my gesture.

AND then came the outpouring: for weeks after, people I barely knew would come into my office, gently shut the door and burst into tears. I heard stories of single and serial miscarriages, pregnancies carried nearly to full term, stillbirths -- all the lost, lost children. Grief hauled about, and nowhere to put it down. Some said they had never told anyone; who would understand?

My first son is like the faintest scar on my skin now, nearly hidden. Over time, will the mark disappear as my skin becomes mottled and wrinkled?

Lisa was planning to bury his ashes, about a teaspoonful, in the garden, part of which was to be his. Instead, she kept his ashes in the bedside table drawer, right next to her, as if afraid he would wake in the night and need her. She felt him close to her, a wisp of spirit, the smallest presence.

But he's gone now, she says. Offhand, I don't know where she keeps his ashes. But not in the garden. The garden is hers and Benjamin's.

When Benjamin was very young, just beginning to speak in sentences, he asked if he had a brother once. Lisa paused a moment before answering, but by the time she started to speak, he had moved on to something else.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

My heart valve replacement surgery experience Part Two

With apologies to Paul Harvey, now for the rest of the story. Part one of my surgical experience can be read here.

Two things I forgot to mention in my first post was the coughing. Even when hugging a pillow it felt like I'd break a rib. Because of the pneumonia, I did plenty of coughing. Now I don't cough as often, I think I've done so around 10 times since my discharge on the 29th. It's still not a pleasant experience.

I also had a allergic reaction to the tape used for my dressings over the surgical site. Doctors were worried it was an infection, but it quickly became apparent it was only where the tape was. Benadryl was used to treat this, but other than the redness the allergy caused no discomfert.

Mid day the 18th- Me and my bed(Sometime while in ICU, I got transferred to a large size bed. I'm over 6' tall and the standard bed left my feet touching the end or going over it) got transferred to the CV unit or 3 South as its called at JFK.

My catheter was removed that evening, and this was when I first remember being able to sit up in a chair.

Aug 19- Setback time. I had heart arrhythmia issues that required more care than the CV unit could provide, so about 24 hours after arriving on the 3rd floor, I was sent back to the ICU. My arrival downstairs required my having the catheter re-inserted. The less said about this the better, except that I wished someone had hit over the head with a rubber tipped hammer beforehand.

Shortly after arriving back in ICU, I had a hot flash that seemed to never end. I ending up covered in sweat.

Aug 20-21- Getting sent back downstairs didn't help my mental state of mind at all. I overhearing one ICU nurse of mine describing me as 'lethargic'. Lethargic was about right.

I think the 20th was when I had my first 'accident'. Either spilling food or drink on myself or instead of urinating in a container, having it come out on myself. When not recuperating from surgery, I'm a bit of a klutz. This was magnified during my hospital stay.

One accident wasn't of my own making, but due to my night nurse Francis a few days before my discharge. When almost 90% through getting me set up and comfortable in bed before my going to sleep, he accidentally tipped over a cup of water into my bed. That necessitating a change of linen for the bed and gown for me. Francis I could tell was angry at himself for what happened, but didn't take it out on me.

The 21st was probably my turning point in my stay at JFK. Whether it was because of my having regular bowel movements from that point on till my discharge, my telling jokes to the nurses, that I began talking golf and discussing one of one online fiction stories with Leonita(Both subjects try her patience, but as I say she has Saintful quantities of it) or breaking out in song or all of the above is not known. All I know is it was then that the worst was behind me.

Aug 22nd- I got transferred back to the CVU around 2 pm. Again my large size bed coming with me, and a larger chair this time too. Beginning around the 21st Leonita or I would have to demonstrate to every new nurse of mine, how to get the chair leaning back or getting it stowed in place again. The chair didn't work like the normal hospital recliner.

This day was the first time I recall a Code Red(Fire alarm) being called over the intercom. Supposedly they are drills, my room door would be closed when they start, but the ones on the 22nd in CICU seemed for real. Each of the two code reds coming with a slight bang and shudder.

Sometime around 6 that night, I went for my first out of my room walk(A Physical therapist got me up out of bed while I was in ICU but I stayed in the room) with the aid of a walker. I think my journey was all of about 10 yards but it was a start. By the day of my discharge, I was able to do three laps around the CVU when up and around.

Aug 23rd- This was the last day I needed any oxygen. By then because of sleep apnea issues, I was only on a nose cannula at night.

I got feeling back in another finger this day. Leonita brought me a rubber ball to practice squeezing with my right hand sometime during my hospital stay. I still use it. Since I came home I have noticed my right arm is weak too, I feel uncomfortable lifting it beyond a certain point.

Aug 24th- The catheter finally comes out for good. By now I felt even the slightest tug on it or movement. My nurse Jean removed the foley in the process only causing me minimal discomfort. Thanks Jean. Now I only had the IV line left attached to me.

Sunday the 24th was when I got my first shower post-op. It felt so good.

A friend of mine and Leonita was admitted to the hospital on the 24th for chest pains. Terry having a room down the hallway from me(I was in 3005, she in 3012) but I never stopped by to say hello but we spoke on the phone. Misery likes company?

Leonita takes notice of a patient on the floor that day when out walking with me and the nurse. I made it a practice not to look in other patient rooms. First I like my privacy(I always told Nurses, doctors, PCAs and other hosp. personel to fully close my door when leaving. The room was quieter with the door closed too.) and I respect that of others.

It was either this day or Monday that I began receiving Heparin in order to raise my INR level. Before my surgery, I took cumadin because of my PE in 2005 and threat of another blood clot.

Leonita brought me Sunday communion on each of those days I was hospitalized. A Eucharistic Minister named Barbara brought me communion 2 or 3 weekdays also.

Aug 25-28- Now it was time to raise my INR in preparation for discharge. It was a slow process 1.4 to 1.5 to 1.7 to staying at 1.7 on the 28th. This made me think I'd spend labor day weekend in the hosp. Something I did not look forward to all.

On the 25th or 26th I began reading the newspaper or a book for the first time since being admitted. On the 26th Leonita brought me my laptop, I used this to send out a few email and post a message to friends at both a blog I write at and a forum where my online stories are posted.

Since I needed help to get the PC set up, I'd only use it when Leonita came to spend dinner time with me. In any case, using the PC was tiring and I didn't feel much like using it for more than 30 minutes at a time. 20 of those 30 minutes spent in either getting the PC to warm up and then make connection to the internet with AOL Dialup.

After 8-17, Leonita returned to work. She would bring me breakfast, visit at lunch, and come after her work day was over(4 pm). Visiting hours at the CVU are much less strict, family can come and go most anytime. Let me say it again, I got the most wonderful wife in the world. Leonita has the patience of a saint, something absolutely necessary to put up with me and my numerous shortcomings.

On 8-26, a close friend called me. Her name is Grace. I've known Grace and her husband Patrick via a melanoma support group for over a decade. We even met a few times in the late 90's when I used to travel to California for treatments. It was nice of Grace to call, as it was when a writing friend named Sephrena called also to see how I was doing.

By the 25th I would spend almost the entire day in my chair, only going back to bed at night, and for an afternoon nap around 130. Napping was easier in the afternoon than the morning, because during the later I'd see a steady procession of doctors and other visitors. It always seemed someone would come in the room after about 15 minutes.

My mobility was increasing. I could get out of the chair after counting 1...2...3. After a while I began getting up on 2, fooling my nurse or wife in the process. Getting in and out of bed was tougher and the physical therapist concentrated on teaching me how to do this. Now I can get in and out of bed without problems except for some physical discomfort in the chest area.

Sleep- Something not easy to do in a hospital. People go to a hospital to get healthy, and rest would seem to be essential for this. Then how do you rest when people come in your room every 2-3 hours even in the middle of the night? Its a catch 22 of course.

Most nights I'd ask my night nurse to get me in bed around 11. I'm accustomed to going pee at least one time a night. So I didn't want to get in bed too early or risk two bathroom trips. So I'd need to get up every night around 2-3 am. After this was through, I'd try going back to sleep.

Then shortly after your eyes close, a hosp worker comes in to give you a breathing treatment. Then after you doze off for a few minutes after your visitor leaves, the nurse or PCA comes in to take your vitals. Throw in a visit or two by the PCA to make a notation on the wall chart....well you see how impossible it is to sleep.

One night nurse named Jackilyn was good at getting her patients sleep time. She endeavoring to have your vitals taken around 1130 and then not again till 5 or 530.(I got IV antibiotics up to the day before discharge. These were done every 6 hours for 30 minutes. Therefore a nurse had to come in at least every 6 hours) In between you'd be allowed to rest. Thanks to Jackilyn it usually worked, though some hosp. workers would not get the memo once in a while.

While taking a shower with Leonita's help on the 28th, we talk about the surgeon Dr. Lester. Guess who sticks his head in the bathroom door? Dr. Lester.

Finally got around on the 28th to shaving for the first time since admittance. I had postponing this, because by the time I got to the floor my beard was already out of control. Shaving me would require cleaning my electric razor multiple times. So I put it off, till finally I couldn't let it go no more.

Something I haven't mentioned- My blood sugars. My primary care doc has me on diabetes meds. However I've always been marginal in my blood sugar numbers. My wife has diabetes and tests herself every morning. She would sometimes test me too, and I'd wake up with a number in the 60's about twice as often as one over 100, and the ones over 100 would make it by the slimmest of margins.

This continued when I was in the hosp for AVR. I had blood sugars as low as 56 and 58. The nurse would bring me OJ then. Twice when Leonita was there, she gave me a little chocolate fudge cake she brought up from the cafeteria for herself.(After I ate some, Leonita stored the rest in a drawer. The next day my number was low again, so Leonita got the cake out again) After eating, they want your blood sugar under 150. I think I crossed that number three times, but barely. One time they gave me insulin, and my sugar dropped like a rock into the 70's. Another time I get my prescribed glucotrol pill after my blood sugar registers in the 70's.

Since coming home my blood sugars continue to be low sometimes. Like today, I woke up with a number of 63 and before eating lunch leonita measured me. It was 60.

It was on the 26th or 27th that the night PCA Suzette mistakes my 35-year-old sister-in-law named Leonette for my and Leonita's daughter. Leonita and I were 46 and 47 at the time but my wife has turned 47 since. Leonette has a baby face and looks ten years younger than she is but still......

Aug 29th- Jackilyn takes blood from me at about 3 am. She tells me if my INR gets to 1.9 or higher, the heparin will be stopped. After 5 am, Jackilyn is back to give me the results. Its 2.3, the heparin is stopped. I'm going home! The heparin is stopped and for the first time since 8-13 I'm not receiving anything by IV. When Leonita comes to bring me breakfast, she begins packing my stuff. She takes about 80% of it home before leaving JFK around 730.

Not so fast on my going home yet. The doctors have to see me before signing off on the discharge. They all come and go by 10 am. I'm growing increasingly antsy and restless. Nothing seems to make me rest, I just want to get out of the place. I have a nurse named Judy that day, but she's never had me as a patient before. She has other patients, and needs to get my discharge papers together. When Judy arrives to take out the now unused IV pics, I ask if noon would be a good time for Leonita to come, Judy says yes.

It isn't till past 1230 that Judy comes to read Leonita and I my discharge instructions. When this is through, judy calls for a volunteer to come with a wheelchair to bring me downstairs. I'm going home.

Not so fast again. A few minutes after 1 pm, a frail elderly volunteer(who looks as if I should be pushing her out of the hosp. rather than vice versa) who weighs about 30-40% of my total weight arrives in the room without a wheelchair. Instead the volunteer comes with a story about the large wheelchair being locked up, and I'd have to wait for security to free it. Who knows how long this will take . One large wheelchair in an entire hosp. I'm itching to get out of Dodge, and ask Judy if I can just walk downstairs. I can do 3 laps around the floor, why not just walk to the front entrance and wait there as Leonita gets the car?

Judy says fine, but she'd have to go downstairs with me. Except she's got to take care of another patient then. Judy leaves, Leonita and I wait 10-15 minutes, Judy is still busy. So with Leonita carrying my last bag of possessions, we set off for the elevator by ourselves. A few minutes later, I'm standing outside breathing fresh air for the first time in over 2 weeks. A few minutes before or after 1:30 I climb in the car with Leonita's help. Finally I'm going home!

By the time of discharge, I'd lost a little under 20 pounds since being first admitted in July. That Salisbury steak diet does wonders.

I may write a post homecoming post at a later date.


Friday, September 19, 2008

My heart valve replacement surgery experience Part One

I'm writing this post in order to help educate and prepare other men and women who are facing AVR surgery. AVR stands for Aortic Valve replacement. I also had repair of heart aneurysm on August 13th 2008.

Prelude- On July 30, 2008 I was admitted to the hospital with shortness of breath. The symptoms were like congestive heart failure, but not quite. I was suffering from aortic regurgitation as a result of a heart aneurysm. In the days ahead, I'd learn the heart valve I had was bicuspid rather than tricuspid. A cardiac catherization and cardiac echo gram confirmed all this. If there was good news, it was I had no heart blockages. My father twice required having heart bypass surgery.

The surgery I was facing was tricky, and I have other complications. The surgeon Dr. Lester has had limited experience in the surgery I needed, and was honest with the wife and I about this. Financial considerations kept me from travelling to places that do the surgery I needed. Gainesville Shands and Texas Heart were discussed. Considering I spent 16 days hospitalized, its probably good I stayed close to home.

I was discharged from the hosp. on August 6th, told to come back for pre-op on Aug. 11th, and told my surgery was scheduled for Aug 13th at 10 am. I'd have to report to the hospital at 6 am.

Before I had surgery, a ICU nurse at the hospital came to visit my wife Leonita and I. Her name is Zarah, and she's been our friend for a few years. Zarah gave me a good briefing on what I'd face after surgery, but there were still some surprises.

This is written all from memory. Neither Leonita or I took any notes. I was heavily medicated in the aftermath of AVR, so I'm sure there are many details I'm forgetting.

August 13th- I woke up at 430 that morning. Did a few last second things around the house before leaving around 5:40.

JFK Hosp is about 2 miles from my home. I was taken immediately into pre-op and went through all the preperations. It took two tries for a nurse to get IV in me or blood out of me. Don't really remember now. Around 7 am Leonita was shown in and stayed with me till I was wheeled down to the operating room at 8. I remember all the people in the room, and getting moved off the gurney to a table. Shortly after that I was off to la la land.

As I learned my surgery was complicated. Repair of the aneurysm and AVR. A St Jude mechanical valve was used. One problem- They had a tough time tubing me. That meant I had a tube down my throat for the first 24 hours. For the first 10 days or so after its removal, I couldn't eat certain foods(bread products for one) and needed the help of liquids to wash down the rest. Overall my appetite was good post-op. All those Outback Steakhouse commercials on American Movie Classics used to drive me insane.

My operation wasn't over till almost 6 pm. I was taken to CICU and my wife saw the surgeon. All I remember that night was Leonita saying goodbye(I couldn't open my eyes, but heard her voice), the tube and my inability to talk, being told I had a high temperature that got around 102 that night and that my nurse had just me for a patient. She spent most of the night seated at a table across from my bed.

Note- Zarah informed Leonita and I sometime during my hospital stay that in preparation for doing my surgery, Dr. Lester did no surgery for 48 hours before mine. That so he could be physically prepared.

And so began 9 out of my first 10 hospital days in the CICU. Both rooms I stayed in were right off the nurse's station and as a result noisy as hell.

As I began to wake up, I noticed the numbness in my right hand. It encompassing four of my five fingers at the time. I'm right-handed, and write for a living. This would be a major cause of depression the first few days for me. 5 weeks and 2 days post-op feeling is slowly coming back to my hand. It confined to three fingers now.

Aug 14- The tube was removed around 1030 am. My wife and her sister were with me then. I had some food an hour or so later.

That day I began to contract pneumonia, the main cause of my long CICU stay. My liquids needed to be restricted but at the same time I needed them to eat. Sort of a catch 22.

It was on the 14th I first remember getting hot flashes. They mostly involving my sweating profusely from the head. I'd continue to have them till almost the time of my discharge, though they gradually decreased after my transfer to the Cardiovascular unit.

Sometime on the 14th evening, I had something removed from me. That required me to be immobilized and my head tilted backwards. Maybe someone knows what this was, or I'm just dreaming from still being in la la land. All I know is I was struggling to breathe the night of the 14-15th. Before being put on a ventilator, I requested my wife be allowed to come to the CICU. JFK is pretty strict when it comes to ICU visiting hours, but your nurse can make exceptions. Leonita came and stayed with me till the ventilator came out late in the morning of the 15th. My nurse Tina sending her home for a rest.

Note- I liked Tina, who is from India, but used to call her Gina mostly. It was an incident mistake due to my meds and my health issues. Tina never seemed to mind.

My nurses and PCAs were almost always great during the time I was in the hosp. Ones that stood out were Gina, Jean, Jackilyn, Imelda and Mary Jane(members of the Filipina mafia like my wife), Evanna and others I forgot the name of. I even grew to like the one PCA who seemed to only annoy me on my first visit to JFK in late July.

I don't know what I would have done without Leonita. She's always had the patience of a saint, but it has been tough on her the last 2 months. I got the best wife.

Aug 15- I was taken off the ventilator. After a short time, the nurse ordered me lunch. Just my luck, it took 90 minutes for one inedible tuna sandwich to arrive(It was very dry and probably had little or no mayo).

Well I told Gina this, and asked if my wife Leonita could be called to bring me something. Then suddenly Gina bolted from the room. I'd learn later, her other patient tried to discharge himself and was walking out of the ICU!

I had my first bowel movement this day. On a commode, not in the bedpan fortunately.

Beginning Thursday or Friday, the night nurse would hand wash me in bed.

Aug 16-18- I got over the pneumonia but was generally feeling sluggish. All I remember is watching one Miami Dolphin pre-season football game, The movie Apollo 13 about 5 times, lots of the channel TNT and not much else. Leonita would bring me the newspaper in the morning, but other than wanting to know who won the last LPGA tournament, I showed little interest.

It was during this time, Leonita began to bring me breakfast daily. JFK's choices for this meal were either too hard to swallow or lacking in taste. Leonita would usually bring me scrambled eggs, but I ate a little French toast or English Muffin once my throat began getting better. These were all foods I was allowed to eat. Visiting hours at the ICU didn't begin till 10 am, but the nurses were kind enough to let Leonita come in around 630-645 to feed me. I was in no shape to feed myself with my right hand pretty useless. So my wife coming was helpful to the nurses. After feeding me, Leonita would leave before 730 and come back later.

That's about all I remember up through the 18th when I got sent upstairs around mid-day to the cardiovascular unit. I will continue my story in a post tomorrow.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Knucklehead of the Day award

Today's winner is Derric Johnson of South Bay Florida. He gets the award for the following-

WEST PALM BEACH -- A father got a little too much of a head start on trying to teach his son to drive Tuesday and it landed him in jail, police say.

Derric Johnson, 28, of South Bay was teaching his 11-year-old son how to drive in the parking lot of an apartment complex in the 4600 block of N. Congress Avenue, Tuesday afternoon when the boy lost control of the white Kia SUV and ran into four vehicles, city spokesman Chase Scott said.

If that wasn't bad enough, behind one of the cars was another child.

Luckily, a man watching it all unfold, pushed that child out of the way but was then hit himself, Scott said. He was taken to St. Mary's Medical Center in unknown condition.

Witnesses told police they saw the boy was sitting in his father's lap driving the SUV around the parking lot twice when he hit the parked cars, according to the report. Johnson fled after the accident, but was later caught at the Stoneybrook Apartment complex in Riviera Beach. He was arrested on outstanding warrants as well as charges of fleeing the scene of a crash and child neglect.
Giving an 11-year-old driving lessons is monumentally stupid. The above Palm Beach Post article isn't telling the whole story about the boy in question, whose name is Derrell Outler. WPEC Channel 12 giving us this fascinating tidbit.

"He's actually the only father my son knows," explained Derrell's mother LaMarsha Turner. She says she still lets Johnson visit her son. That's what Johnson was doing when Turner's 5th grade son, who's legally blind, asked for the driving lesson.
Giving a legally blind 11-year-old driving lessons. Where does Florida get these people like this from? I have no trouble at all in naming Derric Johnson of South Bay Florida today's Knucklehead of the Day.

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Is it five weeks already?

Actually yesterday marked five weeks since my heart valve replacement surgery. Tomorrow will be my 3rd week anniversary since coming home.

I'm doing pretty darn well. The first week at home was slow and sometimes difficult. Last week I began showing lots of signs of getting better. The feeling is returning to my hand, I've only taken two pain meds in the last seven days,my outdoor walks twice a day are a little over a half mile now. I can still get tired easily, yesterday I had visits from both occupational and physical therapists plus an appointment with the cardiologist. By evening I was exhausted and in bed before 9:30

Today or tomorrow I'll post my surgical experience. It is lengthy and will be in two parts. Maybe it can be of use to other people facing the surgery I underwent.


Wrong number

Typos in a phone book can have interesting consequences.

NEWTON, N.J. - A misprint in a telephone book has led to some callers dialing a phone sex service while trying to reach a New Jersey political organization.

A listing for the Sussex County Democratic Committee in Embarq's white pages sent people to a sultry female voice inviting them to pay for sex chat.

Embarq spokesman Glenn Lewis told The New Jersey Herald of Newton that a transposition error caused the last three digits of the Democrats' phone number to be misprinted.

He said the listing has been corrected in Embarq's directory assistance database.
I've always said politics is the second oldest profession, only to prostitution. They have a great deal in common too. Both take money for services rendered, plus both are out to screw you.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Blame the bloggers Chapter 1,384

Florida Secretary of Agriculture Charles Bronson said some of the blame for runs on gasoline in the wake of Hurricane were due to rumors spread on the internet.

Bronson said the gas shortages were due to "public panic" that he blamed in large part on unnamed bloggers fueling the frenzy last Friday.

"A lot of it ... was people who actually believed a blog, when they see what's coming out over the blogs and it just got worse and worse as the day went on," said Bronson. "Even though all three of us were indicating ... there's no shortage of fuel," he continued, "it didn't make a difference."

So bloggers were able to incite the public into a petrol panic while three of Florida's four statewide elected officials could do nothing to stop them? Yipes.
I have a three word simple reply for Charles Bronson, before I get on to a longer reply.

What a crock.

I say that for several reasons. Remember I'm a Florida blogger myself, but this is the first time I have discussed anything to do with Hurricane Ike.

The television media reaches millions of more people than bloggers in Florida and else where. There was wall to wall coverage of Ike, before and after the storm. I watched a little of it, and one frequent topic of conversation was what the storm's effect would be on oil supplies and gas. The picture the networks painted was a doomsday scenario almost, just like it was with other aspects of Hurricane Ike. One report had someone saying those who stayed behind faced certain death.

Did bloggers mimic the mainstream media's doomsday reports and overall Hurricane Ike coverage? I'm certain some did, but how many of them reach the numbers of even low rated MSNBC? Does Wizbang even have those kind of numbers?

Come on Charles, name the bloggers who caused the panic. You certainly came out fast enough with the names of oil suppliers accused of gouging. The bloggers responsible should be outed too and I'll be waiting for your announcement.

One last thing, the title of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune blog post is 'Are bloggers more powerful than Crist and the Cabinet?' Some bloggers, a small handful, have the ability to persuade others. Most throw red meat instead to people holding similar opinions. None have the power to affect millions like Governor Charlie Crist or other statewide officials have when making policy.

So only an uninformed idiot would think the answer to the blog title's question is yes.

Update- Corrected post to say Secretary of Agriculture, than Secretary of State Charles Bronson.

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Saturday, September 06, 2008

Rigor mortis

Police in Japan come across a different type of stiff.

TOKYO -Police were trying to determine Tuesday whether they were the victim of a hoax after the body they thought they found at a seaside resort was actually a life-sized doll.
Investigators found what seemed like a body wrapped in a sleeping bag in a forest in Izu City, a seaside resort in central Japan, after an anonymous caller reported seeing it, a Shizuoka prefecture spokeswoman said on condition of anonymity, citing department policy.

Investigators never actually looked inside the sleeping bag and brought it back to the city police station for a post-mortem examination, the spokeswoman said. Apparently no one doubted a human body was inside until a medical examiner unwrapped it and found the doll, she said.

The Asahi newspaper said the doll was sophisticated and life-sized and wore a brown wig, a blouse and a skirt.
LOL. Didn't any member of police notice either the body being too light or having too low a body temperature even for someone dead? You almost think this has to be an urban legend, but it was reported in the Japanese press.

Hat tip- Japundit

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Friday, September 05, 2008

LPGA Tour reverses course on 'English policy'

Let me note two things before getting to the topic-

1- This is my first time to write on this controversial subject. On August 13th I had heart valve surgery and only came home from the hospital on August 29th. In addition I have suffered from numbness in one hand since being operated on. While I started blogging again earlier this week, I didn't comment on the LPGA policy. Complicated and long posts are difficult for me to do at this time.

2- My wife is Asian, Leonita born in the Philippines. I've lived in the Philippines, and have visited Japan, South Korea, Macau, China(Hong Kong) and Singapore at some time in my life. You may want to weigh this when considering what I write below.

The policy reversal comes after a week of heated criticism from the media, elected officials, and tournament sponsors. From

The LPGA has received valuable feedback from a variety of constituents regarding the recently announced penalties attached to our effective communications policy. We have decided to rescind those penalty provisions.

After hearing the concerns, we believe there are other ways to achieve our shared objective of supporting and enhancing the business opportunities for every Tour player. In that spirit, we will continue communicating with our diverse Tour players to develop a better alternative. The LPGA will announce a revised approach, absent playing penalties, by the end of 2008.
The policy the LPGA is revising was broken by Golfweek a little over a week ago.

PORTLAND, Ore. - For the past several years, the LPGA has impressed upon its membership the importance of communicating effectively in English. As the game's dominance shifts to the East, the LPGA has strengthened its stance. Learning English no longer is a tour suggestion; it's a requirement.

At a mandatory South Korean player meeting Aug. 20 at the Safeway Classic, the tour informed its largest international contingent that beginning in 2009, all players who have been on tour for two years must pass an oral evaluation of their English skills. Failure would result in a suspended membership.
When I first read this, I was deeply troubled. Did the LPGA Tour realize the PR and legal nightmare they were possibly stepping into? The moment a player was suspended, a discrimination lawsuit was likely to follow. One that even if the tour won, would be financially costly in addition to be destructive on a public relations level. Asia based companies are sponsors of LPGA tournaments, plus the tour gets large broadcast fees from South Korea and Japan. The LPGA seemed to be self-inflicting a wound on itself.

Also when Hall of Famer Se Ri Pak joined the LPGA, her English skills were very poor and she was shy to do interviews. If such a policy was in state in 1998, would the tour have been graced by one of its greatest players ever?

Pak's English has improved greatly. As could be seen after her 2006 LPGA Championship win. Pak remains shy to some extent, but not because she has trouble communicating in English.

There are non-golf gestures by Asian players that have been appreciated by the public. Like when Mi Hyun Kim donated $100,000 US dollars to Kansas tornado victims in 2007.

Ron Sirak at Golf World wrote that the final straw as to non-English speaking players came when Eun Hi Ji did her winner's acceptance speech at Rochester in June only through a translator. How true this was is open to conjecture.

Ji explained herself and took some blame in this article-

"At the time, I spoke Korean in the interview. I experienced pricks of conscience as I felt if the latest decision targets me. I'll pay more attention to improving my English."
There have been rumblings about the Asian players for some time. Dating back at least to Jan Stephenson's magazine interview in 2003 where the Australian born golfer said Asians were ruining the US based tour. A golf writer Craig Dolch who I highly respect also seemed overwhelmed by the amount of Asian players qualifying for this year's ADT Championship.(I'd supply a link, but Craig's golf blog was taken down after he stopped working for the Palm Beach Post in August.) If the field was set today, over half the field will have been born in Asia(Mostly South Korea, but one player from Japan and Taiwan also) compared to only 4 native born Americans making the field. I haven't scrutunized the list thoroughly, American born Jane Park and Brazilian born but naturalized US citizen Angela Park may be getting counted in these lists. Both players are of South Korean heritage.

Also note 2008 saw Asian born golfers win three of the LPGA's four major championships. In fact all the majors were won by players whose first language isn't English. Lorena Ochoa taking home the Nabisco in addition to Inbee Park winning at the US Open, Yani Tseng at the LPGA Championship, and Ji-Yai Shin at the British Open. This and the lack of success of US players has caused a lot of grumbling from the media and some fans.

Is it nationalism or thinly veiled racism? I'm both a fan of the LPGA, and been a credentialed member of the media who covers the tournaments. While doing the later, I've seen one or two members of the media mocking the English proficiency of some tour players. So honestly I think a little bit of racism is at play.

Back to the LPGA's policy. As recently as Monday, LPGA Tour Commissioner Carolyn Bivens defended the new policy to both Golfweek and Golf World magazines. Saying players being fluent in English was needed as part of the Tour's business model. Lisa Mickey explaining-

Sponsors and pro-am participants pay money for personal encounters with professionals on the golf course. For sponsors, golf tournaments are an advertising tool and a corporate entertainment tool. The LPGA's Kraft Nabisco Championship, for example, is a well-established way for food and grocery vendors to network against the backdrop of a professional golf tournament alongside top women golf pros.

Plenty of corporate sponsors align themselves with the NBA and NFL, but that doesn't necessarily mean they will go one-on-one with Kobe or run downfield for a bomb from Brett Favre. Golf is unique and personal and when people are spending money in this environment, they do it for the chance to spend five or so hours on a golf course with a real playing professional. At the end of the day, if that pro hasn't been able to utter a single "Nice shot," then the odds are pretty high that the amateur spending substantial dollars won't be back next year. Too much of that hurts the tournament. Enough of that hurts the tour.

The LPGA certainly has embraced its global membership and its global membership has made it a much more interesting tour, but while professional golf may be fun and games to the public, it is still, at the end of the day, a business. And, as mentioned before, this business depends solely on the personal satisfaction of check writers based on their experiences with the pros. If the pros can't communicate, the experience is not a valid return on investment for those individuals sponsoring events and playing in pro-ams. Pro-ams and sponsorships secure tournament purses. Without the purses, there are no tournaments. And without tournaments, there are no tours.
While I don't agree with some of what Ms. Mickey writes, I still recomend you read all of her column.

Pro-Am day is arguably my favorite day to attend a tournament when I'm not covering one. Players are more laid back, and the atmosphere is more fun than serious in nature.

Players communicating with their playing partners is important, no doubt about it. These people are paying money to spend time with LPGA pros. But is English proficiency needed for it? Helping an amateur golfer with their swing, putting stroke, or other golf course techniques whether done verbally in English or non-verbally in English but by other means of communication would seem equally valuable.

I attended the 2005 ADT Pro-Am where West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel played with South Korea's Soo Young Kang. Kang's English ability is fair at best, but her playing partners enjoyed playing with 'The Fashion Model of the Fairways'. So much so, Frankel came back to watch Kang play on Saturday and Sunday.

After the new policy was reported in the news, criticism was fast in coming. The New York Times, golf writers, newspaper columnists of both the generic and golf variety chiming in saying this was a bad idea or saying the policy was clumsily announced or both. The list is long, and I will give a brief sampling.

The New York Times-

Here is a thought-experiment for the executives at the Ladies Professional Golf Association. What would American sports look like if all the major sports associations required athletes prove that they are conversant in English? That is essentially what the L.P.G.A. has mandated with a new rule that will require all golfers who have been on tour for two years to pass a test of their spoken English, beginning in 2009.


Women have been fighting against discrimination in golf for decades, as Augusta National Golf Club -- home of the Masters Tournament and still lacking a single female member -- shamefully demonstrates. For the L.P.G.A. to impose discriminatory rules on its own members is not only offensive, it's self-destructive.
The LPGA blogger known as Hound Dog said-

My opinion? I am sad that America's isolationist (or is it elitist?) tendencies have backed the LPGA into this corner. The Tour is stuck between its home society which insists that the other 90% of the world conform to its words and rules, and a remote one which delivers a large portion of its product and revenue. I am a little surprised that the Tour sided with the former in this case - what happened to "money talks"?
Randall Mell of the Sun-Sentinel wrote-

LPGA Commissioner Carolyn Bivens makes it harder on herself, I think.

Her heart is often in the right place, in being a champion for her players, in fighting hard to get them a better position in the sports marketplace and a more secure future, but her tactics so often confuse, baffle and stream roll.

For a former newspaper executive, she doesn't really seem to understand the value of PR, or communicating her goals effectively.

There's no massage in her messages, which hit us too often like blindside hammers. That's been a staple in her three-year reign. We get focused on the wrong things when clumsiness overwhelms direction. We get caught up debating her tactics so much that we fail to see the good that's intended.

This new mandate to force foreign players to speak proficient English or face suspension from the tour is another example. It promises to mostly affect Koreans, with 45 of them on the LPGA Tour.

Really, it's a good idea that Koreans become proficient at English. It's good for them and the tour.
I agree with Randall that the way the policy was made public was very badly handled. Ryan at GNN agrees. I think the threat of suspensions was discriminatory, but felt the Asian players do need to learn better English. A well thought out plan by the LPGA to facilitate this would have been far wiser, and would have avoided the PR nightmare of the last ten days.

Some people did defend the policy, and I feel none were being racist in doing so. Christine Brennan at USA Today, like Lisa Mickey, defending Carolyn Bivens and the policy-

Lawyers weighed in. PGA Tour players, who rarely if ever give the LPGA the time of day, added their two cents. It can safely be said that nearly everyone was aghast.

If only all those people had taken a moment to think -- had stepped away from their shot, to use a golf analogy -- they might have decided to go after this news with their pitching wedge rather than a sledgehammer.

If they had done that, it would have been noted that the LPGA and the PGA Tour have almost nothing in common, except for the word golf. While the PGA Tour is swimming in cash, most LPGA events live and die by selling the opportunity to play with the pros in weekly pro-ams. It's an experience unique to golf, akin to an NBA star having to play a basketball game every week with sponsors in different cities or a major league baseball player having to spend hours helping the owner learn the basics of playing shortstop.

This is not an idle exercise for an LPGA player. She is expected to interact, offer advice and tell stories with her foursome, which is filled with sponsors or their customers paying anywhere from $4,000 to $12,000 per person for the experience. If those sponsors can't converse with the player (65% of LPGA events are in the USA), the tournament often hears about it. And if the tournament doesn't do something about it, the sponsor might decide not to come back next year, especially in these tough economic times.
Overall reaction was negative. Lawyers saying the policy was discriminatory and even some legislators in California voicing their objections. Truthfully I think politicians who worry about sports have better things to do with their time.

#1 Player in the world, Lorena Ochoa, called the policy 'drastic'.

The LPGA probably rethought this policy after protests from two prominent tour sponsors became public. Michael Bush at Adage reporting-

Saying it was "flabbergasted" by the Ladies Professional Golf Association's new policy requiring "effective communication in English on the part of all of our Tour members," State Farm is urging the group to reconsider -- or the insurer may reconsider its sponsorship.
State Farm is both a general sponsor of the LPGA as well as the sponsor of the State Farm Classic Tournament.

"It's something we are dumfounded by," said Kip Diggs, media-relations specialist at the insurer, which is a general sponsor of the league as well as of the State Farm Classic Tournament in Springfield, Ill. "We don't understand this and don't know why they have done it, and we have strongly encouraged them to take another look at this."


Mr. Diggs, however, said State Farm was unaware that the LPGA was contemplating any such policy. While he would not disclose the value of State Farm's LPGA sponsorship, which runs through next year, he said the policy was something that the company would take into consideration when deciding whether to continue its relationship with the league when its contract expires.
What Mr. Diggs said contradicts the claims from LPGA headquarters that sponsors were consulted before the new policy was made. State Farm is one of the tour's biggest sponsors.

State Farm isn't the only sponsor taking note. David Peikin, senior director-corporate communications at Choice Hotels International, said, "We have a great deal of interest in the intentions of the LPGA on this subject. Based on our understanding, this policy is currently under review by the LPGA, and a final decision and any related details will be determined over the next four months. Until that time, we will be closely monitoring LPGA news and announcements."
It comes as no surprise that the LPGA reversed itself only a short time after these protests were made. The Tour can't afford to antagonize sponsors they have now when the tour is in danger of losing tournaments, or lost ones already.

Ron Sirak wrote today-

Given that all the Europeans on tour speak English, as well as the handful of players from Latin America, the policy clearly was aimed at the Koreans. And to offend the Korean community was not only wrong, it was bad business. The tour's single biggest revenue stream is Korean TV money. What is to be gained by offending that community?

The ultimate silliness about this entire situation is the small number of players it really affected. A well-placed source within the LPGA hierarchy said there were "perhaps a dozen" Korean players on tour who did not possess the English skills the LPGA desired. A caddie who works for a Korean player placed the number at "about five to seven."
Then what the hell was this all about?

Lost in the entire issue has been one that strikes at the heart of the matter, and at the heart of women's golf -- if not at golf itself. The large contingent of Asian players -- primarily Korean -- on the LPGA Tour would be absorbed more easily if the Americans just played better. The language situation was not as much of an issue last year when Americans were winning.

In 2007, nine Americans won LPGA events, and, for the most part, they were the right nine: Morgan Pressel, Cristie Kerr, Paula Creamer, Natalie Gulbis, Brittany Lincicome, Stacy Prammanasudh, Meaghan Francella, Nicole Castrale and Sherri Steinhauer.

This year, the only Americans to win are Creamer (twice) and Leta Lindley. The majors were won by Lorena Ochoa (Mexico), Yani Tseng (Taiwan), Inbee Park (Korea) and Ji-Yai Shin (Korea). Of those four, only Shin struggles with English. It is no coincidence, I'm guessing, that this policy was imposed in a down year for American players.
Ouch and I thought I was critical of LPGA HQ. Sirak concludes by saying- "This was a black eye that could have been avoided. The LPGA was hit by a sucker punch -- and it was the sucker."

We'll have to wait some time before knowing if the wrong headed policy will cause damage to the LPGA Tour. What has happened in the last ten days reinforces what I been loudly saying for over two years. Commissioner Carolyn Bivens has to go before she ruins the LPGA Tour. That said, it is time to rest those three numb fingers of mine.

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