Monday, February 27, 2006

"Dad, can I go see the white hair?"

Today I am home with two sick kids. I am also a little under the weather with a sore throat. Abby was playing on so I locked all the doors and told her I would be in my room with Miranda trying to get her to sleep (she was extremely fussy and it was only 9:30 AM). At about 10:30, Abby came running in and woke me up. She said breathlessly, "Dad, someone is knocking at the door." I told her to ignore them and they would go away. She came running back in about 30 seconds later and said, "Dad, now he's in the back yard and he has white hair." I got up quickly to investigate. It was our landlord coming by to check on the sprinkler system. I came back in and told Abby who it was. A few minutes later she asked, "Dad, can I go outside and see the 'white-hair'?" I have heard the term "blue-hair" before used in derogatory ways, but had never heard this one.

When I was about 5 or 6 I saw a little old lady driving a car. I got excited and told my mom, "There's Phoebe (or something) from church." My mom replied, "That's not Phoebe, it is someone else," to which I responded, "All of those old white-haired people look the same to me." I guess my daughter is her father's daughter.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Seven Years in California...

My son is very similar to Brad Pitt's character in "Seven Years in Tibet." He went on a scout campout last night and fished today in a lake. He caught four fish and felt very badly that he had hooked one fish in the skull. However, he then shared a feeling that made me laugh inside. He said, "I just feel really bad for the bait. I mean they just sit there on the hook and die." Hopefully he won't turn into some worm liberator, going to bait shops with gun in hand, robbing the stores of live bait, and releasing the worms in the wild. :)

Maintain Order...

I was reading an AP article on violence in Iraq, and came across the following paragraph...

"The speed with which the reprisal attacks spread Wednesday — breaking out in Baghdad, Basra and smaller, religiously mixed cities — raised new doubts about the capability of Iraq's security forces to maintain order."

The same thing could be true in any of the cities in the United States where there is a lot of racial tension. For example, the LA riots when the policemen who beat Rodney King were acquitted also "raised new doubts about the capability of [America's] security forces to maintain order" as well. The scattered violence that occurred after Hurricane Katrina raised the same doubts, the violence that flares up in major cities after their sport franchise wins or loses a big game all cast doubts on our ability to maintain order in our own country. The difference is that those acts are born of impulsive frustration or a short-term anger. The violence in the Middle East seems to be the result of deep-seated anger resulting from feelings of being treated unfairly for millenia. It is quite possible that the strongest military presence in the world would be unwilling to "maintain order" in such a seething environment.

Ultimately, it is the people's willingness to be governed by the rule of law that allows free society's to operate and flourish. When the people are not willing to be governed by the rule of law, where people are killed for "snitching" (see an interesting article on this in Time Magazine this week), where people hate each other and authority figures, then chaos reigns. Luckily, it seems like the majority of Iraqis are not hate-filled, seething fanatics who wish death on anyone who doesn't see things in the same way as they do. They are willing to be governed by the rule of law from what I have read and heard from friends who serve in Iraq, but the minority of people in Iraq, want to continue to foment strife to maintain their agenda of an Iraq where people's freedoms are seriously curtailed.

Finally, I thought it would be interesting if the Associated Press investigated "gang warfare" and "gun battles" with police in the same way they report on the religious retaliations occurring in Iraq. Would America look very secure? Would our security forces be seen capable of solving the problem of violence in our own streets? People die daily in America as a result of hatred and violence too...

More Fossilized Shark Teeth... :)

Abby and I went shark tooth hunting again and found a bunch more. We were prepared with a wire sieve-like tray this time and got through a LOT more dirt. :) Kind of exciting. It took about 3 hours to find this many. A quarter is placed among them so you can see the relative size.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Lack of Insight... :(

Today I sat in on a family meeting for a Latina woman who is severely mentally ill. I felt so badly for the adult daughter and son who showed up for the meeting. One of them had traveled about 400 miles for the meeting. I thought how sad it is that this family (there are other siblings) was robbed of a grandmother by mental illness. I realized that I take so much for granted and that I tend to make my problems seem more severe than they often are. Can you imagine looking forward to enjoying your parents' golden years by taking the kids over for Christmas, having family get-togethers, or just spending quality time with them, only to have those dreams dashed by a mentally ill mother who manipulates each member of the family, says things like, "I had better go live with my one daughter (who was devastated when her child died from a tragic illness) so her other children won't die!" and treats her children very rudely on a daily basis? It is so sad to see a person reduced to a being who lacks insight about her physical and mental health. Who has lost the capacity to be aware and concerned about her life--and when told that if she doesn't take care of her staph infection she could die or have her leg amputated comments in Spanish the equivalent of "Oh well." What a stressful situation for both the mentally ill woman, and her poor family. I guess that is why there is a huge need for the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI). I hope this family is able to attend some of their meetings.


I feel gratitude that my grandparents and parents have their mental health intact so we can enjoy them in their golden years. :)

Wow...I sold $73 in photos today...If I can keep this up, It will be a nice supplemental income! :)

I had my best day of sales yet...I usually sell about 1 or 2 photos per day. Today I sold 8, and three were enlargements where I make a bit more money. :)

Check out the store...

Monday, February 20, 2006

Scary Elmo...

My five-year-old daughter was quite frightened of this Elmo on the Hollywood Walk of Stars. She couldn't get over his smashed nose and bugged-out eyes. The matted fur was an added bonus. Do you think it is the same guy from Utah Flieswithoutwings? How about the one you saw Shootingstar?

The Harbingers of Spring...

The other day, my 13-year-old son, C********* came running in my room. "Dad, you have to come look!!! There is a cool bird that keeps flying into the window!!!"

I said, "What kind of bird is it?"

He replied excitedly, "I don't know, but it has cool black feathers on its head, and bright red feathers on its front."

Expecting to see a woodpecker or Flicker of some sort, I went into the living room to wait. After a couple of minutes, I heard the "tap tap tap" at the window. I looked up and a robin was attacking its reflection in the window. Not quite the exotic bird I was expecting. Don't kids learn about robins in 1st grade?

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Some of my new photos from Fresno

Here is an old Chevy Truck used to transport Wine Barrels... Here is a picture of the Fresno California Temple at Sunset... Hmmm...These aren't loading as expected...Also they are taking much too long to upload. Check out my new photos at

Or click on title above, and then hit view newly listed link...

Saturday, February 18, 2006

A********* Found a Shark Tooth today...

Well, we went out to find fossilized shark teeth, and A***** found one on the side of the path. :) She was very proud of herself...we are currently soaking it in vinegar to get the rock to dissolve away, leaving just the tooth.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Shark Tooth Hunting

Today after work, I drove about 15 minutes to find a place someone told me you can dig up fossil shark teeth. I found the spot okay, and began looking around. There are several "digs" in the hillside where people have been digging in the hard powdery gray dirt. I think it is clay, but dry as a bone. I was digging and getting dust all over myself. On my way home, my throat felt a little dry, and my lungs felt somewhat heavy. That is when I remembered that if you are going to dig in the dirt around here, you need to wear a mask so you don't inhale the spores that infect you with "Valley Fever." Great...I will probably get that horrible fungal infection, be flat on my back for 2-3 weeks, and go bankrupt. All because I was excited to find stupid shark teeth. However, now that I know where the place is, I think I will go back sometime soon...maybe Saturday because it is supposed to rain, and I was told that is the best time to look because the rain exposes new teeth. :)

Origin of the word Blog...

Shooting Star...did you know that Blog is a portmanteau for "Web Log" or "We Blog?" I was discussing blogs today in my anxiety group to illustrate how blogs give us something to talk about in conversations, and they help us to look for interesting tidbits of our lives that can be shared with others. One client asked what Blog means, so I looked it up. check out the link and see for yourself.

The Blog, A Portmanteau Word* Blending “Web Log” as “We Blog”.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Death Murder Kill Rage drawing...Disturbing

Any thoughts on this picture we found in the waiting room at work? What type of a person do you think would draw something like this? A psycho murderer? A crazed sex offender? A prankster? A bored person? Give me your thoughts...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Anonymous Posters are Scary...

I played a joke on my brother NativeMinnow the other day re: a joke one of his friends made last week. I thought it would be funny to make him think he had made someone upset. Well, I got an anonymous comment re: some pictures I had up of my two little girls. The comment said, "Do you really think you should post pictures of your girls where just anyone can see them? Your daughters are beautiful." That freaked me out, so I deleted the posts. I hope it was one of my friends, and not some freaky sex offender.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Small Utah World...

I was at Movie Gallery the other day renting a movie...I hate Blockbuster and I am doing everything possible to avoid them and their manipulative deals/specials, overly intrusive staff, etc. I was opening an account and the girl that was working saw my Utah Drivers license. She made the comment that she was born in Vernal, but moved to Bakersfield about 5-6 years ago when she was 10. She thought it was very cool that I used to live in Dutch John as her father used to take her rafting and fishing there.

Beauty is Not Static...

I was asked by an older co-worker to take some pictures that she can place on an online dating site. This woman is a tad older than 50, and has quite a dynamic personality. She would likely be considered attractive by most men older than 50. However, when taking the pictures, most of them turned out poorly. Her smile was too strained. Her eyes did not have a twinkle. The skin tone was off. etc. I have thought about this before, because there are very attractive people who are not photogenic. I think the true beauty in a person is in the non-static characteristics. It is the way they flash a smile, not the smile itself. It is in the way their eyes twinkle and squinch as they smile. It is in the way they move their heads as they laugh. If you take a picture of someone in the middle of laughing, it almost always turns out looking ridiculous. Maybe these dating websites should allow for a small video clip to show what people really look like. :) And, if you are a person who is not photogenic, embrace the idea that the camera is a limited tool to capture the true beauty of a person.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Wash new clothing???

Am I weird? I got a new shirt yesterday for my birthday from a co-worker. I took it out of its plastic wrap today, pulled out the pins and cardboard, and ironed it. I wore it to work today with my new tie. The nurse was shocked that I would be wearing the shirt so soon...She questioned, "Did you have time to wash it already?" To which I replied, "No, I just took it out of the bag, ironed it and wore it." She seemed very disgusted, "You don't know where that shirt has been." I mean it could have been touched by dirty Asian, Black, or Latino textile workers, and a lot of them might have HIV or Tuberculosis. She didn't say that last thing, but I wonder why people think new clothes are so dirty. Anyone else find it strange that I dont' wash my clothes before wearing them the first time?

Homeland Security at Costco

I went to Costco today and I was in a hurry to pick up some 8X10 photos I had just sold. As I entered, I was having a hard time getting my card out, so I just walked in still trying to get it out. The official "card checker" at the door shouted really loudly, "EXCUSE ME...YOUR CARD!!!" I had gotten the card out by then and lifted it up so she could see it. The card checkers at Sams Club don't freak out like that if you just walk in. It's not like there are state secrets being held in Costco, or any terrorist targets in the vicinity. I found it very strange that she was so agitated that I walked in without flashing the card. I guess she takes her job very seriously...I mean if people without Costco cards got in, they could get an entire load of groceries, go to check out, and be told they could not purchase the groceries. That is a very serious issue. (actually, Costco was probably employing 5 re-stockers before realizing it would be cheaper to hire one card checker.)

Photo For You Ebay Store

Photo For You Ebay Store

Just interested in your comments, serious, or otherwise to this quote:

Every man's work, whether it be literature or music or pictures or architecture or anything else, is always a portrait of himself.-- Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English Writer

I think it is important to take our work seriously, no matter what we do, and put our best effort into it.

I no longer pine for springtime...

On the way to work today, I was listening to the new Mix CD that nativeminnow sent me. A song by Welcome Interstate Managers came on. This was one of my favorite songs last winter as I was braving the Utah cold and snow. The lyrics are:

Hey Sweet AnnieDon't take it so bad
You know the summer's coming soon
Though the interstate is choking under salt and dirty sand
And it seems the sun is hiding from the world
Your daddy told youWhen you were a girl
The kind of things that come to those who wait
So give it a rest girlTake a deep breath girl
And meet me at the Bay State tonight
And the snow is coming down
On our New England town
And it's been falling all day long
What else is new?
What could I do?
I wrote a valley winter song
To play for you
And late DecemberCan drag a man down
You feel it deep in your gut
Short days and afternoons spent puttering around
In a dark house with the windows painted shut
Remember New York Staring outside
As reckless winter made its way
From Staton Island to the Upper West Side
Whiting out our streets along the way
And the snow is coming down
On our New England town
And it's been falling all day long
What else is new
What can I do
But sing this valley winter song
I wrote for you
It just didn't have the same impact on me here in Bakersfield. The winters are mildy cold, and sometimes it even freezes, but it is the first of February and the fruit trees are already in full bloom. Daffodils and tulips are already pushing through the deep, dark soil. The robins never even seem to have left. I read a comment FliesWithoutWings wrote on another blog about how Northeastern Utah even has a mental soundtrack for him. That when he hears certain songs, they are somehow indelibly linked in his mind with Flaming Gorge. I think it is also true that certain songs have more power when experienced in certain environments/locations. I know that is definitely true of "Valley Winter Song."

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Psycho Intern

Photo For You Ebay Store
I changed my username to psycho intern. That is the official abbreviation that I am supposed to use whenever I sign my name to a case note or treatment plan. In this county, the psychiatrists are allowed to use the abbreviation "psych," but the psychologists are relegated the abbreviation "psycho." Hope it doesn't prove too fitting by the end of the internship.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Mentally Ill Have No Voice...(or a very loud voice no one hears)

I witnessed an interesting event yesterday at an inpatient psychiatric unit of a hospital. I had just walked on the unit and a patient began yelling very loudly,

"She has a razor! She has a razor! Someone better come get this razor away from her! She has a razor and is going to cut herself! Someone better take it away! No one ever listens to me! She has a razor!!!"

Well, a nurse, or social worker went to investigate and saw that this female patient had an object in her hand, which she assumed was a pull-tab of a zipper and tried to take it away because the client liked to eat metal objects. The nurse's fingers were cut badly enough that she had to go to the ER for first aid treatment. She tried to grab ahold of the razor, thinking it was something else, even though this other client was yelling right outside her door, "She has a razor!!! She has a razor!!!" I have heard that the mentally ill have no voice, and in this situation it was true. The message was clear. The message was based in reality. The message could have saved the nurse pain and suffering. But the nurse chose to ignore the message, possibly because of some notion that severely mentally ill people can't be right.

The mentally ill, even the psychotic/delusional ones, usually have at least one foot in reality and are aware of the reality surrounding them to varying degrees. We also shouldn't just dismiss what they say because they are mentally ill.

I know another client where I work who has been charged with very serious felony charges involving the Secret Service (something to do with forgery or counterfeiting). I guarantee that if he ever decompensated and ended up in a state mental hospital or inpatient psychiatric unit, they would say he was delusional if he began talking about being monitored by the Secret Service, but it is the truth. They keep very close tabs on him and are in frequent contact with his court-ordered therapy providers.

I was talking to my colleague about another client who lives on the streets. He is often afraid for his safety, and hypervigilant to any harm being done to him. He is worried his things will be stolen, that he might be beat up, that he might be harmed in other ways. Many mental health professionals would say he was paranoid and give him a mental health diagnosis. However, his behaviors are adaptive for his culture (living on the street). It is the same thing with criminals in the prisons and jails of America. It serves them well to be a little bit paranoid about other inmates. Because they hold to the criminal thinking that the system is set up for them to fail, instead of taking responsibility for their actions, and say they distrust the courts and public defenders, many mental health professionals would again say they were severely mentally ill and incompetent to stand trial. Again, this is not mental illness, per se, but an adaptive personality trait brought on by years of being caught up in the system. I guarantee that if you take a mentally sound adult, and place him or her in a violent prison environment, you will see that person become paranoid. It is the adaptive thing to do, and it might save their life. It is quite possible that other symptoms of mental illness are adaptive in some remote way (e.g., Schizophrenics withdraw when they are constantly overstimulated by external and internal stimuli).

Whatever you say about my job, you can't say it isn't interesting.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

My New Watch....

This is my new watch...I really like it a lot...

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Mother-In-Law Has Been Pleasant

Well, my mother-in-law has been very pleasant this trip...granted, I haven't been home much as I have worked 9 hours of overtime since she arrived, but it has been a good visit with no blow-ups. Plus, after just 4 days of watching the kids, the novelty has worn off and some of them are being kind of bratty to her now. :( She sees more of the annoyances that I have to deal with daily, and maybe understands why I am crabby with them at times. :) She hasn't nutted up on anyone yet though, but maybe if she spent 6 years dealing with their problem behaviors, she might.

The Perceptions of Others
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Today I had the opportunity to overhear two different people, from two different locations, bad-mouth the same person. The person that was denigrated is actually someone that I get along with well enough, and I was somewhat shocked by what I overheard. It seems that people don't just perceive her as a strong-willed woman, but as a controlling bitch that allows her power-struggles to interfere with her competent provision of services. One of the professionals (a psychiatrist) basically said that this person was incompetent because she would not authorize a certain patient to see the psychiatrist, even though in the doctor's opinion the patient was delusional, paranoid, psychotic, and acutely suicidal.

I have a tendency to try to get along with everyone I work with and to conform to the norms of the workplace. However, I wonder if I allow this desire to get along to color my ability to see people for what they are, or if it leads me to accept certain types of incompetence as professionalism. I do know that my workplace is often cynical, and that the mental health system is widely abused for the purpose of gaining a diagnosis in order to apply for social security disability benefits; however, I don't think we can allow the many (not the few...) that are abusing the system to cause us to distrust everyone, and throw up roadblocks to care for everyone either.

I will write another time about the funding issues in the mental health system. It is underfunded and Medi-Cal does not cover certain mental conditions that were caused by drug abuse, brain trauma, or medical conditions. The medical system does not want to treat some of these people either, and they are in limbo, with no benefits, no treatment, and severe mental health issues. Either mental health needs to receive more money to actually help these people, or new programs need to be developed to help treat the need.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Is Saddam Hussein Incompetent to Stand Trial???

If Saddam were tried in California, under the competency laws that exist in this country, he would quite possibly be found incompetent to stand trial for the following reasons:

* He is unwilling to cooperate with his attorneys
* He is unable to participate in planning his defense (unless his defense includes stalling court proceedings with uncooperativeness)
* He is unable to refrain from disrupting the court proceedings
* He is delusional about still being the leader of Iraq
* Because he has angry outbursts, some psychiatrist would likely erroneously diagnose him with Bipolar I Disorder
* He is unable to appreciate the wrongfulness of his actions

It would seem more legitimate if he were tried in an impartial country according to international law, but with the state of the world today, and the opposition to the war in Iraq, it is quite conceivable that he would be found not guilty and attempts made to reinstate him as the brutal dictator of Iraq. :)

Firm Handshakes...but not too firm...

Beware...your handshake may reveal more than you think...

Don't be a wimp when you shake someone's hand. No one likes a "dead fish" handshake, and it might cost you a job offer, promotion, etc. :)

However, don't get into an alpha male, domination struggle when you shake someone's hand either. No one likes to get their knuckles crushed ...

Oh, and to the women and men with weak handshakes, when you shake someone's hand, make sure the base of your thumb meets the base of their thumb, it is also a pain to accidently crush someone's knuckles together because they don't "fully engage" in the handshake.

Thank you!

Correlational Data is NOT CAUSAL...

I read an article at the following link

I always have a problem with the way correlational data is interpreted and reported in scientific journals and in the press. Correlational data does not imply cause and effect...yet even though all psychologists know this, the discussion section of journal articles almost always draws a causal conclusion (e.g., Parenting stress is related to reported ADHD symptoms in children...therefore, stressed out parents must over-report symptoms or create ADHD symptoms in their children due to poor parenting practices). Even though this is likely true, the writers ignore the other possible explanations. There could be many other variables that account for parents' reporting of ADHD symptoms, or for parents being stressed. For example, children that are hyperactive and inattentive are very stressful to raise and require constant supervision. The children with ADHD could be causing the stress in the parents. There could be something else happening at home that leads to ADHD-like symptoms, such as low blood sugar, tiredness in the evenings after school, increased conflict with siblings that does not necessarily happen at school, etc. Just because parent and teacher reports don't usually agree, doesn't mean the symptoms are overreported, or that the parents are causing the symptoms. Correlational data does not allow us to infer causal links.

I just re-read the article and I guess these authors were not blatantly saying parenting stress was causal in nature, but only that it is an important variable to consider when doing an ADHD assessment...but, I do see the causal links made all the time in articles and it is bothersome to me.