Barbara Ann Comer, May 12, 1949 - August 22, 2015

Friday, August 28, 2015

Barb Comer was my Mother-in-Law - The Smart Man's Mom. She passed on August 22nd, and we had her memorial service yesterday, at the same Funeral Home where we had our daughter's service only two years ago.

I was privileged enough to be able to deliver her eulogy, even though I cried through most of it.

I love you, Barb.


Barb on the Alaskan Cruise we gave her for her 65th birthday. She said it was the best vacation she's ever had.




I’ve known Barb for 15 years. Not nearly as long as some of you, and not nearly long enough.

When I first became part of the family, Barb could not have been more gracious. She made sure I knew I was welcome, and never treated me with anything but the utmost kindness. Getting to know her and her story has been an amazing privilege. 

One of the things I admired about Barb was her incredible perseverance in raising Terry and Tom. She did so basically alone, and worked hard to ensure that even though they lived on the knife’s edge of poverty, her children knew that they were the most important thing in her life. She ensured each of their activities was attended by someone who loved them. She worked a second job so that they could afford to participate in music or soccer. Nothing was too great a sacrifice to ensure she raised happy, healthy adults, who were well-equipped to contribute to the society in which they lived, and pass on her ethos of hard work, self-sacrifice, and love. 

And what an amazing job she did. Her legacy lives on, in the form of Terry and Tom. They grew into fine men, with families.  Both of them exhibit the kind of generosity of spirit and love that she herself personified. Both are leaving a legacy of their own, in the people they care for and who care for them. Barb lives on in them, and in the love of her life, her granddaughter Lily. 

And Barb lives on in me. I know I’m a better person because I knew her. I’m more patient. I’m more kind. I have more empathy for those who don’t think the way I think, and more willingness to see value in what others’ value. And I’m grateful to her for changing me, and expanding my own circle of love.

If the measure of a life is taken by someone’s effect on others, then Barb was an eminently successful human being. She didn’t rock the world with her scientific or cultural accomplishments. She wasn’t famous, or even well-known. Instead she changed the lives of the people around her, one person at a time, making the world a little less mean, a little more kind. And being remembered for that is probably the best legacy of all.

Planned Parenthood and Hypocrisy

Saturday, August 22, 2015
Today I was driving down Parker Road and saw about a dozen protesters outside our local Planned Parenthood clinic, with the usual signs about "stop abortion" and "Defund Planned Parenthood."

The only problem, or course, is that our local clinic is not one of the Planned Parenthood clinics that perform abortions. Instead, they provide reproductive and sexual health care, and education about those issues to women and men who can't get those services anywhere else.

Additionally, Planned Parenthood uses NO federal monies to subsidize abortions, because that's the law.

While I believe that the issue of abortion is one of the true moral dilemmas of our time, what I don't understand is why so-called "right to life" activists want to deny the 2.7 million people who currently use PP services access to this type of healthcare. Because that's what Jesus would do? Not to speak for someone else's deity, but I'm pretty sure that whole "care for the poor and the sick" thing precludes denying someone else health care. Just sayin'.

What I haven't seen from these people is an actual plan to replace the services PP provides. The federal government does not subsidize abortion. Period. So what are you going to do about the other 2.7 million people who need this health care, Right to Lifers? Will you pick up the cost for their care moving forward out of your own pockets, or will you dump them on their asses with no other options, just like Jesus would do?

The hypocrisy, it burns.
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P.S. After I got home I made a charitable contribution to our local Planned Parenthood chapter, 97% of which will go toward providing health care to those who need it. 

P.P.S. Commenters will remain civil, or I will wield the Shovel of Doom™ with reckless abandon. I mean it, people - it's been a super shitty day, and I have no patience for idiocy, ad hominem attacks, or crappy arguments not based on science or moral philosophy. 

Link Me Up, Scotty - Life, Death, and Racism Edition

Tuesday, August 18, 2015
Most Medical Doctors die at home. Most everyone else does not. There's a reason for this, and it has a lot more to do with realistic expectations and saying "enough is enough" than the actual quality of medical care given in either case. Count me in for a peaceful home death, if I have the choice.
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Atheists weigh in on the "meaning of life." Yes.

H/T Brother Eric
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An open letter from a mom to two teen girls she met at the pool. Sometimes I backslide and tell those pesky kids to get off my lawn, and then I read something like this.

H/T Brother Seth
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A word on women's shoes. Preach it, sister. 

H/T Debbie the Librarian
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Why "Douchebag" is the perfect racial slur for whites.  I love that insult, and apply it liberally already (although I usually modify it to "douchecanoe."). I like this definition better.

H/T Sister Megan
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My quasi-celebrity platonic boyfriend Eric Gardener is at it again, this time with a new way to look at racism and its systemic effect on our society. I totally live within a racist system, and am the beneficiary of unearned privilege as a result. Am I sometimes a butthole about it? Almost certainly. Do I strive to do better every day and improve the system? You bet.
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Popehat is right on the money when it comes to the free pass given to law enforcement in this country. No one should be above scrutiny, I don't care how "noble" you think you are.
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24 Tattoos that symbolize people's struggle with mental illness. I'm considering another tattoo myself along these lines, but haven't made any decisions.  
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Video of the Week: Young Bailey Matthews finishes his first Triathlon. He's eight years old, and he has Cerebral Palsy.

Link Me Up, Scotty - Sexism, Toxicity and Suicide Edition

Monday, August 3, 2015
Some points to ponder regarding the legacy of Barack Obama's presidency. I personally love this President, even if I don't agree with every policy decision (*cough*drones*cough*). The dignity he brings to the office is unlike any President in my lifetime, and thankfully, history will judge his legacy, not Bill O'Reilly and his ilk.

H/T Terry R. 
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Toxic people suck, as in they suck the joy and peace from your life. Here's twelve strategies they use to accomplish that goal, and how you can be more emotionally stable without their input. All of these had bells ringing inside my head regarding people who have been in life (ding, ding, ding!)

H/T Rivi
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Boy Scouts of America finally lifts its ban against gay leaders. I suppose it's better late than never, but really - it's about fucking time.
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I totally need this type of obituary. Are you listening, Smart Man and Smart Sailor?
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This author found it interesting how many more people criticized his work when they thought he was a woman. And in other news, water is wet.

H/T Sister Stacey
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The numbers of female vets who take their own lives is far, far in excess of the general population. This bothers me on several levels for reasons that should be obvious, and I look forward to the day when I'm emotionally strong enough to try and help stem this epidemic.

H/T Brother Vince
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Transgender service members will no longer be discharged, and the Secretary of Defense has directed the Armed Forces to come up with appropriate policies to address the specific needs of trans people. Once again, the Armed Forces leads the way, and I couldn't be prouder of my old community.
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A suicide survivor with some timely advice on the language we use to describe the act of taking one's life. This has been bugging the shit out of me since Moe died, and I'm glad someone else feels the same way I do about it. No one "committed" a crime when Moe died. She died of mental illness, and is deserving of the same respect that a victim of cancer does. Both lost their fight, and neither one committed a crime. Language matters.

On Suicide and Selfishness

Friday, July 31, 2015
Today marks the second anniversary of my daughter's death.

It's been two years since she chose to end her life, and I'm two years into my grief journey.

It's been a long two years. It's now easier for me to talk about. Sometimes I can even do so without crying. I can share memories of Moe with those who love her, and take pleasure in the sharing. I believe I've come to some level of understanding about her suffering, and why she felt she had to choose the path she did. I'm far enough along that I feel ready to write about it, while recognizing that I'm not done, not by a long shot.

Based on my reading and conversation with other suicide survivors, I understand that many people become very angry when a loved one chooses to end their life. Survivors consider the victim to be "selfish," and curse them for inflicting such horrible pain.

I've never felt that way.

The thing that eats at my heart and brings me to tears is imagining the depth of Moe's suffering. How bad must her inner life have been that she would take such a drastic measure?  How lacking in hope, how intense her pain that she would remove herself from the world, knowing the pain it would cause to those who love her? It breaks my heart to think she was hurting this much, and also knowing that her depression lied to her about the availability of help and of hope. I would have cashed in my life savings, sold our home and lived on the streets to pay for her treatment, if that's what it took. I suspect she knew this, and didn't think she was worth it. Which breaks my heart all over again.

But I'm not angry, nor do I think she was selfish. She knew how this decision would affect those who loved her. She had been thinking about this for months, and held on as long as she could because she knew that taking her life would "make Momma and Poppa and Linda cry." She held on as long as she could, not for her own benefit, but for ours. 

In my mind, my own insistence that she continue to suffer in this horrific fashion to benefit my own happiness would be the act of selfishness. Who damns their own child to a life of suffering and pain so that they don't have to hurt?


Would I have rather she received the treatment she needed so she could have come out of the darkness and into the light? I can't even tell you how much I wish this. Every day, I grieve for her lost potential, for her light that has been extinguished in the world. Every day, I grieve for that lost outcome, and curse myself for not seeing the depth of her suffering. But I know she couldn't see the truth of the matter. In her mind, she was going to feel that way forever, with no reprieve or hope of recovery.

And because I know she felt that way, I cannot be angry with her, or consider her selfish. She wanted to end her suffering. I can now acknowledge and understand that fundamental truth of her life. And so when I think about my lost Moe, I feel sadness, and regret, and love, and loneliness. But not anger.

Eventually, I hope to reach a point where I'm emotionally strong enough to participate in suicide prevention activism. Not today. Probably not this year. But someday. 


Link Me Up, Scotty - Fierce Women Edition

Monday, July 27, 2015
The Tree Lobsters provide a dishearteningly realistic view into approximately 90% of all engineering meetings held on Planet Earth.
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Brother David once again provides funny, thoughtful political analysis, this time on The Donald and how the Republicans have painted themselves right into a Trump-sized corner.
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There's no need to wonder why our roads are in such terrible shape. There's no money. This is what comes from a "all taxes are BAD" mentality. Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society. They're a necessary evil. Because roads (or your choice of infrastructure projects) are necessary.
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From the "women are fierce" file. A sex worker in Charleston, VA, shoots and kills a client in self-defense. The man is now being investigated for a series of sex worker homicides in two states.

H/T Brother Seth
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How dogs react to stress depends on their temperament. I find this utterly unsurprising. There's a reason why successful dog/horse/cat whisperers are typically very calm people. It also explains why Miss Jackson Pi loves me best, but minds The Smart Man more.
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I love this story about a woman who started a business making hearing aid covers for kids' hearing aids. Since my own hearing is starting to go, I'll probably get several - one for every mood. Wonder Woman, The Minions, Dug.

H/T Brother Juan
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Dogs play for free at Sunningdale Gold Club. If there was a course around here that allowed dogs, I might even take up golf again.
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Turns out that the whole "Hillary used her personal e:mail to communicate classified information and is now being criminally investigated by the Justice Department" story is a manufactured scandal, fabricated and misreported by the media, specifically The New York Times. Whether you like Hillary or not, the truth matters. Being manipulated by partisan writers pretending to be journalists is not a road I want to go down, regardless of which side of the aisle is doing the manufacturing.

H/T Brother Jim
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So a dude organizes a "Straight Pride" parade in Seattle, and his turn out was, shall we say, less than stellar. Dude then blames gay people, because reasons? I find this HI-LARIOUS.
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Video of the week: Cancer patient and sexual and domestic abuse survivor Lena used her Make-a-Wish to make a video about surviving and thriving in the aftermath of abuse. Brava, Lena. You're an amazing person, with a bright future.

H/T Brother Seth


Nutrition "Experts"

Saturday, July 25, 2015
How to determine the scientific rigor and veracity of a self-styled nutrition "expert:"

1. Are they a certified Dietitian? Remember, "Dietitian" is a legally protected term. Any mouth breathing dolt with a web page and a 4th grade education can claim to be a "nutritionist." Just sayin'.

2. Are they trying to get you to try the latest Fad Diet? If so run away.

3. Do they receive commercial gain unrelated to their primary practice for recommending a product? "RUN AWAY, RUN AWAY!"

4. Google their name and "GMO." Their stance on this scientifically settled issue will tell you all you need to know.

This has been a Public Service Announcement, brought to you by Hot Chicks Dig Smart Men.