The rehabilitation.

My doctor last week not only told me the bad news — my ouchy knee is probably arthritic — he said that making it less ouchy is in my hands. He prescribed ibuprofen in horse-size tablets, unspecified weight loss (“every little bit helps”) and strengthening exercises on the torture machines. All this by way of saying, you guys get the blow-off today, because I gotta go to the gym. The one closest to my house is not only highly recommended and reasonably priced, they’re having a “women work out free” promotion for the month of March, so I’m going to check them out before I sign anything.

Why, you ask, might a gym around here be willing to give away services free? Why, read on:

Ashley, let us clasp hands and hold them high! Wayne County, my county, the 313, lost 19,079 residents in 2005-’06, a full 89,000 since 2000, surpassed only by Orleans Parish, La., site of Hurricane Katrina! Anybody want to buy a house? Sinn fein!

Cathy Seipp doesn’t need another blogger standing in line to sing her praises; she doesn’t need anything now, having died yesterday of lung cancer, at 49. I hope she might find a glimmer of grim humor in the fact her lack of a smoking habit is the first phrase after her name in her obituaries, in the place where “Nobel laureate” or “designer of the space shuttle” would normally go: “Journalist Cathy Seipp, a non-smoker, died of lung cancer Wednesday, at 49…”

I didn’t know her. We corresponded a few times. Five years ago, I blogged a blackly humorous piece she did in Reason magazine, about the inability of public-education zero-tolerance nanny types to deal with not-particularly-complex subtleties of their students’ medical needs, which I thought was devastating. As she told the story, her daughter has a type of asthma where she needs to carry two inhalers at all times — one to be used immediately (as in, IMMEDIATELY) after an attack, another right after. She carried these in her backpack for years until a teacher spied her using them, and demanded that she adhere to the school’s official prescription-drug policy; that is, that they be kept in a locked drawer in the office, where they could be asked for under the proper procedures.

Obviously this is absurd. Asthma attacks come on swiftly and can be deadly; you’d think a simple explanation to school administration would suffice, but Seipp did what she was supposed to do — got a note from her daughter’s doctor that laid out the nature of her illness, and assured all that the girl had been properly trained in the use of the inhalers, and so forth and so on. Not that it did any good:

I spoke to Ivanhoe’s then-principal, Kevin Baker. He said I’d been “breaking the law” for five years by keeping the inhaler in the backpack instead of in the office, and that he would “confiscate” it if he found it there in the future. If the school had allowed this before, he said, it was an oversight. “So now what we need to do,” he explained, in a sing-songy, Romper Room voice, “is set up a series of intervention meetings to help you understand our concerns about you breaking the law.” My arguments about doctor’s orders went nowhere. “When your daughter is at school,” Principal Baker said, “I am the ultimate authority concerning her health.”

If that isn’t about the best capsule description of a certain type of public-school official, I don’t know what is. (My sister can tell a few more stories along these lines.) Seipp sent me a note, I wrote back, and that was pretty much it. As a media critic, she had few peers, and as an observer of Los Angeles, her hometown, she was always worth your time. She was conservative, but not in the amen corner; she wrote about her politics in an interesting way. (At first I didn’t understand why she wrote for those lemon-suckers over at the Independent Women’s Forum, but she was a freelancer, and now I am too, and so I understand perfectly now.) She was funny and smart, she was honest, she told the truth and, from the abundant testimony of those who loved her, she was a good mother and a fine and loyal friend. A life too short, but well-lived.

Back later.

Posted at 9:16 am in Current events |

19 responses to “The rehabilitation.”

  1. brian stouder said on March 22, 2007 at 9:51 am

    well, having just had another birthday myself – 49 is awfully awfully young!

    The following seems to fit in with today’s rehabilitative theme. We have been following this story because my lovely wife’s sister works with the mom of the injured little girl.

    an excerpt

    While playing at her rural home nearly two weeks ago, kindergartner Emily Grace Kirkpatrick took a spill, severely injuring her head. At first, her parents, David and Donna, thought little of it. But when Emily Grace’s condition worsened during the night, her parents rushed her to Withham Hospital in Lebanon, where doctors performed a CAT scan. When it showed that Emily Grace’s brain had begun to hemorrhage, she was taken by ambulance to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. There, doctors treated Emily Grace just in time, saving her life.

    When Emily Grace makes her expected return home from the hospital today, she will be greeted by 1,000 colorful origami cranes adorning her bedroom and a plaque reading “1,000 Cranes for Emily Grace.”

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  2. Adrianne said on March 22, 2007 at 11:09 am

    Our old city editor, Charles St. Cyr, released his study of city editors (I was one of the anonymous participants). Here’s a link to the Editor & Publisher story on it:

    Chuckles is now a professor at Butler University, and removed from the stress of his old city editor job. Note to Chuck: drinking helps!

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  3. nancy said on March 22, 2007 at 11:22 am

    Ha. I never understood management’s problems with Chuck, especially not compared to what came after him. (Not immediately after, Mike!) But I guess he was hard to push around, and that’s not always an endearing quality to people like his bosses. Glad he found his feet.

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  4. LA mary said on March 22, 2007 at 11:47 am

    Older son had asthma and we went through a very similar story with the L.A. public schools over his inhalers. So stupid. I would get called at work to come to school to administer his inhaler if the part time school nurse wasn’t there that day. He could be dead by the time I got there. I had to encourage him to lie and sneak off to the bathroom with his inhaler.
    What was really great, though, was the leaf blower use by the school janitor that always, without fail, triggered asthma attacks. Windows wide open, right outside the classroom, blowing dust my kid’s way.

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  5. brian stouder said on March 22, 2007 at 12:16 pm

    Considering all the noise that the blower must have made, using it while classes are in session would pretty much stop the learning process anyway – apart from the young folks who could no longer breathe.

    I don’t think I will ever protest which books are in the school library; but I could be provoked into action by some idiot running loud power tools near young folks trying to study

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  6. Dorothy said on March 22, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    When in the world did common sense become obsolete in this world?! Sheesh.

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  7. MarkH said on March 22, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    I must admit anger/amazement at the myopic (to say the least) school attitude regarding students’ asthma treatments I’ve read here. My son has been a type 1 diabetic for 17 of his 18 years and our shools have always been sympathetic and cooperative regarding his needs, especially emergencies. And his treatment involves NEEDLES, for crying out loud. He tried the insulin pump for a time, but is now on these neat little self-contained penlet injectors; not exactly a syringe and can only be set up for insulin, so he gets to keep his supplies with him as needed.

    Nancy, that’s interesting stuff regarding the heavy migration away from Wayne County. But I would expect it given the migration of auto manufacturing (“Come to Wyoming! We’re Hiring!” Aren’t those signs all over the place there?). On a related subject, here’s a story of the top 25 most dangerous and top 25 safest places in the country. Interestingly, Detroit and Flint occupy #2 and #3 most dangerous spots, while just a few miles away, Troy is #5 safest. What’s up with that? I read that stats, but that can’t tell the whole story. What makes Troy different?

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  8. nancy said on March 22, 2007 at 1:06 pm

    Troy is an upper-middle-class suburb. Detroit is a poor city. That’s it, in a nutshell.

    There are also issues with police-patrols-per-capita, but I’m not knowledgeable enough to get into them here. There’s also a higher arc, which Ze’ev Chafets outlines in his excellent “Devil’s Night and Other True Tales of Detroit” — that before 1967, the DPD was very much like Los Angeles’. That is, aggressive, not particularly concerned with niceties of civil rights, and very fond of rousting black people. The riots of ’67 started, in fact, after a police bust of an after-hours bar in a black neighborhood, an institution with a long history in the city going back to Prohibition. People were pissed.

    As I recall, when the white exodus started and the department fell, inevitably, into black hands, they dismantled a lot of the tools of minority harassment — the jump-out squads, etc. — but perhaps swung a little too far in the opposite direction. I remember reading, a few years ago, a DetNews story about why car insurance in the city is sky-high, basically because the force doesn’t particularly give a crap about auto theft. Investigation is a low priority. You can phone in an auto-theft report, as though it were a minor fender-bender — report the VIN numbers on the honor system, etc. Of course that made Detroit the insurance-fraud capital of the United States. (If you read those stories I linked to, note the guy who was pleased to see his car insurance rates dropped by HALF when he moved outside the city.)

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  9. MichaelG said on March 22, 2007 at 3:00 pm

    I’ve enjoyed Cathy Seipp’s blog for several years. Quite a statement given my liberalism and her conservatism. She is everything you say she is, Nance. She’ll be sorely missed.

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  10. LA mary said on March 22, 2007 at 4:03 pm

    I remember when Gladwin Hill, a retired reporter for the NYT died, it was noted near the top of his obit that he WAS a smoker. He was also a friend of Howard Hughes and Ernest Hemingway and knew several presidents personally, and had a truly amazing life and career.

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  11. ashley said on March 22, 2007 at 4:14 pm

    MarkH, I think that survey did not include New Orleans, as they were considering that 2005/2006 data may not be accurate…the latest data I’ve seen lists New Orleans as #5, behind Nancy’s beloved Detroit.

    However, New Orleans never fails to satisfy, by having a murder rate of 96 per every 100,000 people.

    Once again, step aside Gary, Indiana. We’re number one! Nance, we gots some celebratin’ to do!

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  12. ashley said on March 22, 2007 at 4:14 pm


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  13. LA mary said on March 22, 2007 at 4:18 pm

    I know how you feel. My old home town of Paterson NJ always gets number one on some list of the most rude cities in the US. That’s something to be proud of.

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  14. Joe Kobiela said on March 22, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    Dead at 49 from lung cancer in a non-smoker, makes a pretty good argument for how bad second hand smoke is dosn’t it.

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  15. MarkH said on March 22, 2007 at 8:01 pm

    Ashley, you are correct, and I didn’t even think about the implications of post-Katrina NOLA, and how it might skew the data. But your area has always been on everyone’s high-crime radar.

    Nance, from the data, your first statement was a given, of course. What interested me was the relative close distance to Detroit, and the megalopolis connecting it to Troy. How to keep the bad guys at bay? But as I look again on Google Earth, there is quite a bit more distance from Detroit than I thought. Bigger police force would convince me that it is safer in Troy. My next question is, is ALL of Detroit, or even metro Detroit really that bad? All of it poor, blighted, or lower income, etc.? Any safe havens/ And, are all the Grosse Pointes considered metro? As for car insurance, each of your vehicles is under $500/year, full coverage.

    Joe, good point about the mystery of non-smoker lung cancer. But consider this: at 55, I have always been a non-smoker, save for when I was growing up in a heavy-smoking household. Even today, you can’t completely avoid second-hand smoke, but my bi-annual check-ups show healthy lungs. Even my sister, ten years my senior, smoking since age 18, is only just now showing signs of possible emphysema, but no cancer (wood-knocking in background) yet. For someone like Cathy Seipp, it would seem to be the genes, or at least another environmental cause.

    Joe, while I got on the line, and pilot that you are, what did you think of the Airbus A380? Did you see that landing the other day at LaGuardia? Doesn’t JFK have wider runways? Sheesh; when that thing came in, it seemed like forever before the captain flaired, and when he finally did it seemed to snap up quickly, like light plane. Then he has to correct yaw to stay on that incredibly narrow runway and the rudder’s doing the same thing. It all looked incredibly shaky for such a big tub. Then I se that is controls are a KEYBOARD?! No standard yoke & pedals? Are you ready to fly it?

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  16. Joe Kobiela said on March 22, 2007 at 9:33 pm

    If it don’t say Boeing I aint going.
    I saw the landing, he had a bit of cross wind and just about ground looped it, I havn’t seen the cockpit yet so I don’t know about the keyboard but I would think it would have to have a yoke, possible side stick so you might have missed it. A number of years back airbus flew one into the trees at a airshow in Paris. The pilot tried to pull up but the computer would not allow a override due to low airspeed, you can probly find it on u-tube. It is one big airplane, the problems are the taxi ways are not big enough, and it has trouble turning around. I have a problem with the Airbus company, since they are supported by the goverment of France, they can undercut Boeing on cost, however Fed Ex cancelled their order for the a380 due to cost over runs and late delivery and have bought 747-800 freighters. I was in Seattle a couple of years back and took the tour through the Boeing assemble plant, WOW, The buildings are so big they have no heat or AC. There are so many lights the heat from them keeps the building warm, and in summer they open the hanger doors, and let fresh cool air in.
    I just got back down from doing some training tonight, great night to fly.

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  17. MarkH said on March 23, 2007 at 11:51 am

    Joe, you are correct. I was looking at a photo with the captain in his seat, and he was blocking a view of the stick. But it’s off to the left and the keyboard is still right in front of him. Go here to navigate through a more complete look at the aircraft:

    Yes, there must have been a pretty good crosswind on landing, but I still say they could have helped things by picking JFK for a wider runway. The captain had his hands full, no question.

    And, I certainly remember the Airbus landing in the trees! It made me very wary of all this computer innovation when it comes to commercial fight. He couldn’t override the computer to save the craft?! No way I’m getting on one of those things.

    BTW, sorry for all the typos in your portion of the entry. Thought I corrected them, but in too much of a hurry, obviously.

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  18. MichaelG said on March 23, 2007 at 4:36 pm

    I also remember the Paris Airshow Airbus splash. SAAB had a similar software problem that caused a prototype to crash in the mid ’90’s. You want crosswind practice, try Half Moon Bay just south of San Francisco. As a result of various circumstances, the runway is situated 90 degrees from the prevailing winds. On a good day it would take full rudder on my old Citabria to land and that thing had a huge rudder.

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  19. brian stouder said on March 23, 2007 at 7:06 pm

    I am a confirmed ground-pounder – but back in the day, I would drive out to Baer Field (aka Ft Wayne International Airport) and park near the rr tracks – more or less in line with the end of one of the runways.

    It always amazed me to watch fairly large aircraft come in with a pronounced yaw – and they’d whip overhead and pound the runway. Seems like that first instant on the ground must be hell on the tires!

    And – just watched a show about the Air France Airbus crash near Toronto, wherein all the passengers lived, and the plane burned to a crisp. It was landing amidst a thunderstorm, and instead of windshear – they hit an unexpected 40 knot cross-wind!

    They fought all the huge crosswind all the way down to the runway, and beyond…and it wasn’t the longest runway, and they failed to deploy the thrust reversers for 10 additional seconds…the second-guessers were pretty unanimous that the captain should have aborted the landing – powered up, and gone around again. But the pilots fought the beast all the way to the end of the runway, and then plunged into a ravine, where the plane began to burn.

    The ravine itself got some criticism – it shouldn’t be there! – but if you’ve flown into Charlotte’s airport, that place has huge gulleys and ravines, which could easily swallow up an errant airplane

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