Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Medical Marijuana: Should It Be Legalized?

I know that for some this is a touchy subject. Should marijuana be legalized for people with severe physical disabilities who say that no other medicine prescribed by a doctor will ease their suffering? I think it should.

Countless Americans (and countless people worldwide) suffer from debilitating diseases like multiple sclerosis and others. They say that unless they smoke a joint, they can't move on their own. The pain is excruciating, and they're practically useless, physically speaking.

If you didn't already know, California passed a State law saying that if a physician prescribes it, patients who really need it can take marijuana as medicine for their pain. Montel Williams (the popular television talk show host) has said many times on his show that he, himself, uses medical marijuana. He has MS, and, he said, that if he doesn't smoke a joint in the morning, he can't get out of bed. Needless to say, he's a raving supporter.

I know what kind of pain surgery on one's bones can bring. It's unbearable. It's the kind of pain that won't let you sleep even if you're hopped up on pain pills that cause drowsiness! And as bad as that is, that's the kind of pain that goes away over time. People with these diseases don't have the luxury of knowing that eventually, their pain will get better. It's worse than what I experienced with my reconstructive foot surgeries!

Anyway, now the Supreme Court has said that federal law overrides state law, so physicians in California who are prescribing medical marijuana are breaking the law. The justices are afraid that these ailing patients will sell their medicine to drug addicts. But why would you sell something that helps you function if you absolutely cannot function without it? I mean, does it make sense?

Yes, marijuana is a drug, but so are all of the other prescriptions that doctors prescribe! Any prescription drug can be abused. Any drug can be addictive. Any drug can cause death if used incorrectly. All the federal government has to do is move marijuana from one list of drugs to another. It's that simple.

Montel had something interesting to say on his show: "I don't care if my doctor wants me to smoke it in front of him in his office. If I have to be at his office at 7 a.m. in order to use my medicine, I'll be there. Somehow."

Monday, November 29, 2004

Thanksgiving's Over, but Life is Not

When Ron and I went to visit my grandma and her husband Friday and Saturday, I was surprised as to how much Roy (my step-grandfather) has gone downhill. He seems disoriented a lot, doesn't understand what's going on most of the time, or has to have things explained to him over and over. It's sad.

I remember when he and my grandma got married. I was a sophomore in high school. My sister and I sang at their wedding.

He used to have a sparkle in his eyes, he used to be ornery. He used to smile. He knew how to have fun. That's gone now.

I really admire my grandma, though. She's so gentle and loving and patient with him. She takes care of him as if he were a giant one-year-old, even though he's 18 years older than her. His daughter and grandkids (all of whom have kids of their own) don't seem too willing to give my grandma a break, even though many live in the same town or very nearby. Grandma's there with him 24/7, and it's draining her. But she loves him. We all do.

My holiday prayer is that he makes it through the holidays. Please keep him in your prayers, too.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Thanksgiving Quiz

Brought to you from a link on Dan's blog.

You Are Pumpkin Pie

Even when people are full - they make room for you.
Good or bad, your smell is most likely to arouse a man.

Take the quiz to see what you are! And have a wonderful Thanksgiving, er, TURKEY DAY!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Life as a Graduate / Journalist

After talking to my graduate advisor, I've decided on and enrolled in a class for the spring semester that I can use my $700 scholarship with: Communication 812: Contemporary Theories in Communication.

"Study selected conceptual models useful in the academic study of human communication, including theories involving such contexts as interpersonal communications, public communication and mass communication."

Don't worry, I made sure with my advisor that I could take this class without having taken the other two classes that I should have taken before this semester's class. Next fall, though, I was told, I need to try to take both Comm. 801 and 802: Introduction to Communication Research and Historical and Qualitative Methodologies in Communication Research, respectively.

Also, just as an update: Some poor sap got suckered into taking that position at KPTS, and they're going to be working their tails off for half the pay they deserve for it. Someone must not have done their research. I actually called my interviewer after the interview to make sure the proposed salary of "20 to 24" was either "dollars per hour or thousand per year." That's probably why I didn't get a call-back interview. They knew I was too smart to take something that paid so poorly for all the work they needed done. What do you want to bet they'll be trying to fill that position again in another month or so?

On a sad note, our church's Ministry Assistant has decided to resign. She's going back to school to become a Lay Assistant in the Kansas District. One of the lines in her letter surprised me somewhat (although, maybe it shouldn't have considering the state of our synod): "I am disturbed by the many divisions within the Synod at the present time and the 'confessional' stance taken by some." She also said that she supports all of the resulutions that were passed at Convention in July. Maybe I shouldn't be all that surprised; afterall, she is a babyboomer.

I really wish there were more confessional Lutherans leading our youth. Our young people have too much to deal with the way it is to be led by those in our Synod who are liberal enough to be part of the E*CA. By the same token, I know that there are some very confessional members in the E*CA who might be more comfortable in the LCMS. I've met some of them, and a couple have recently joined our church because it is so very confessional. In fact, it's the most confessional and traditional Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod in our entire city (out of about 8, I think).

May God bless our journey!

Friday, November 19, 2004

Free School for ME!

I'd like to share a letter I just got from the Wichita State University Graduate School.

Dear Erica,

Congratulations! The Graduate Review Committee for Educational Opportunity Fund applications has awarded an Educational Opportunity Fund scholarship to you for the Spring 2005 semester. The award is $700.

As I understood it, this was the most they were going to award! I could have been given much less, but they gave me enough to take a class for free, plus get books (I hope)!

My education will continue, albeit with a more elementary subject to graduate school research. I just can't believe they chose me!

Thursday, November 18, 2004


The hard part is over. My presentation went so-so, but I did get a compliment for highlighting the most important data from my tables, and my professor suggested everyone who has tables do the same. In two weeks, as per my professor's revised syllabus, the newspaper for which my class did our research project is sending representatives to visit us and we get to give our presentations all over again.

In the meantime, I need to figure out what's wrong with my printer. The black ink won't print, but the color will. I've tried replacing the cartridge, but to no avail. I had to attach my assignment to an e-mail and have my professor's assistant print it out for me before class. Sixteen pages. How am I supposed to trim that down to a five-minute presentation?!

Anyway, the day is done and I'm exhausted after a day spent preparing for and in my graduate class. Hopefully, we'll be talking about blogs soon, but there isn't much time left to do so. I'll let you know so you can leave more comments, if you want, because I'll probably use my blog as an example. I seem to know more about blogging than anyone else in my class right now. Imagine that!

If I don't write again before next Thursday, HAPPY TURKEY DAY!!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Bear with me...

Sorry I've not been blogging as often. I've been putting in eight hours at the Eagle every day (still in training, and they're also trying to give me as many hours as possible), and I'm working furiously on a research project for my graduate class.

Hopefully after I give my oral presentation tomorrow evening, I'll be able to breathe a little easier. No class on Thanksgiving, of course, and then we get back to reading assignments and in-class discussions for the last two weeks before the final.

This class has been pretty cool: no tests at all. Even the final isn't a test: it's a written reaction paper that we have to compose in class. I mean, come on, we're all graduates of some form of communication curriculum. We should be able to write a reaction paper in two hours while in the classroom.

Okay, maybe it's just me. I've always enjoyed written exams more than tests where you have to choose an answer from a list or multiple-choice format. In most cases, if you're not entirely sure of an answer (like a name or something), you can give a description of what or whom you're trying to name and get at least partial credit if you can convince the instructor it just slipped your mind and you really do know what you're talking about.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that after tomorrow, I should be back to blogging as usual. That is, unless and until I decide to take another graduate class. But the next class I take is going to be a step or two backward from where I am now. Who knew I should have taken 801 and 802 before taking 770? And that both of those classes are only offered in the Fall semesters! Grrrrrrrrr!!!!

BTW, no call back yet from KPTS. Oh, well. I'm not disappointed.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Everything I Need To Know About Journalism I Learned From Superman

I just came across this link from the Society for Professional Journalists (of which I am a member) via their periodic e-mail, and I thought some of you might enjoy reading it.

Now, I'm soaring! The Eagle and Superman: what a dynamic duo!

Here ya go!

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Tomorrow, I Fly Solo

Well, I've been on the job for about a week and a half now, and I must say that I thoroughly enjoy my job! I get to interact with customers on a daily basis and employ elements of the Associated Press Stylebook, and even teach the lady who's training me a few things. (For example, the difference between a hyphen and a dash and when to use plurals when dealing with a prepositional phrase.)

We get some of the most interesting people coming in to place announcements, too. The other day, an older couple came in to place an engagement announcement for themselves. They said they were going to Branson, Mo. for their honeymoon. Melody, the lady training me, asked them if they were going to see Dolly Parton, and the older lady said, "I'm not taking him to see her!" As if to say he didn't need to see her large chest. We all started laughing.

A young lady came in today, and said that she'd been putting off placing a wedding announcement for some time now, and wanted to know if there was a cut-off time for placing one. We told her that we usually like to have them placed no more than a year after the wedding, and she said that her first anniversary was November 1. Well, we didn't want to turn revenue away, and she didn't want to submit an anniversary form because she wanted to put in all kinds of information about the wedding, so we let her place a wedding announcement. She said, "Well, it won't look bad for you guys; I'll be the one who looks retarded." Then she laughed and left with the form.

I got a really cool comment from Melody today, too. She said that I really do a good job dealing with the customers. She said I have a great disposition and make people feel good about coming to us. That's just my personality, though. I like to make people feel good. It's like Mary Kay Ash, the founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics, used to say: "Imagine everyone you meet is wearing a sign around their necks that says 'Make me feel important.'"

Anyway, to get back to the topic of this post, I get to work by myself tomorrow. Melody's kids don't have school tomorrow, and she wants to be able to spend time with them. I've learned enough to take over a mostly-quiet Thursday, anyway. I get to take calls, help customers at our window, work with our page layouts and do some editing. We're going to print the pages to negatives Friday, and that'll be it. (Celebrations publishes in Sunday issues only.)

The only bad part of this job is that we have a really crappy computer. Even the company Emergency Technical Support people are stumped by it. Our computer will freeze up on us as many as ten times a day, even if we only have one program running. The tech guy said he doesn't think it's a virus, we just don't have enough memory to do much of anything. I asked what the possibilities were of getting a new computer, and he said that next summer, the company is going to be purchasing 25 new machines, so we should get some of the trickle-down machines maybe by the end of next year. I don't think we'll be able to make it to the end of this one without having our hard drive rebuilt.

Anyway, I'm enjoying working there. Now I know why I've been wanting to work there for so many years. I'm just thrilled that I've been given this opportunity! Thank God!

Friday, November 05, 2004

Staying for the Flight

Well, it doesn't look like I'll be leaving the Wichita Eagle. I really didn't want to, anyway, but that interview solidified for me the thought that I'd be better off staying where I am.

I found out at the interview at KPTS that they'd have me working an average of 40-60 hours every week, plus extra events like telethons and fundraisers, on top of a list of about 30 duties I'd be responsible for as part of the job. And they want to salary the position at $20,000 - $24,000 per year. I'd work myself to death and get very little pay for it. I figured that if I worked a 60-hour week, I'd get about $7.50 per hour. And that's if they gave me $24,000 per year. I've done the research enough to know that I'm worth about $20 per hour in this market, even with less than five years' experience in the field. No, the Eagle doesn't pay me that much, but they do pay me more than half that wage. And not just barely.

Anyway, they're doing call-back interviews around the middle of the month, and Ron says that if they call me back, I should ask them to double their offer or no deal. They'd never do it. It would just be my way of saying that I'm not dumb enough to take a job that would kill me and pay me a high-schooler's wage when I have a bachelor's degree and I'm working on my master's.

Granted that it's a public television station, but they should still be able to pay me at least half of what I'm worth. Don't you think so? I mean, to offer me something less than that is an insult! And they were interviewing a number of people for that position. I feel sorry for whoever gets it. I really do. Unless they're stinking rich and are only taking the job because they love to work. That doesn't apply to very many people here anymore, though.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

I'm an Eagle!

Okay, not literally, but I am working at the Wichita Eagle now! Today was my second day, and I can already tell that I'm going to love it there.

I'm in training for the rest of this week and next, and will be in the office on my own after that, switching off with another lady for days during the week. (Ex., She'd work Monday and Wednesday, I'd work Tuesday and Thursday, and we'd each work half a day on Friday.)

I'm intrigued by some of the benefits I'll be entitled to just by being an employee: Discount movie tickets, discounts on Eagle merchandise and books, travelers' checks at no charge, personal checks cashed up to $100, employees can register to vote, purchase postage stamps, newspapers can be purchased at half-price (including subscriptions), and classified ads can be placed for half-price.

We printed two extra editions of the newspaper today, one about Bush holding an edge on the election, and one about Bush winning after Kerry conceded the race. I, of course, couldn't resist getting both special editions. Each special would usually cost $.25, but I was able to get both for that price since I'm an employee now.

I have an interview at KPTS tomorrow morning, so we'll see how that goes. I'll let you know, but it'll probably be a while before I hear what they thought of me.

About the presidential race: I thought Kerry said he wasn't going to concede! He is, however, going to make sure that every vote is counted for official reasons (which they would be anyway). Ted Kennedy talked to him earlier in the day and helped him do some number crunching. He told Kerry that if he insisted on not conceding until all the provisional votes were tallied, he'd keep the nation divided for at least another 10 days, and that wasn't good for the country. Apparently that's what convinced Kerry to make his concession call to Bush. I'm glad.

There's no statistical way that Kerry could have won in Ohio. Every single one of those provisional ballots would have had to be votes for him in order to have a clear win, and even that would have been too close to call without a recount, which would have put the country in even more turmoil. We didn't really want to have to use those thousands of lawyers, did we? That would have just prolonged the painful race.

We all knew it was going to be close, but I didn't know it would be this close. A margin of just 4 million popular votes and two electoral votes before Kerry conceded. Wow!

Congratulations, Americans! W got his four more years. May each year be better than the last.