Nurse Ratched is dead! Meet Nurse Negligent

If anything good can come out of what happened in Virginia, perhaps it will be that our government will stop being so incredibly shortsighted about the mentally ill.

A paranoid schizophrenic who drifted in and out of reality, in and out of hospitals, in and out of compliance with his medication regime, walked into the Capitol a year ago and killed two security officers.

Rusty Weston is now in a federal corrections unit in North Carolina. He awaits a court decision on whether corrections officials can force him to take his medication…

…What kind of system waits to invoke mandatory medication until a man so severely ill has killed two people? The kind that insists on presuming that an irrational man makes rational decisions about his mental-health care. The kind that then fails both the incompetent and the innocent.

‘Rights’ leave mentally ill families in legal limbo” by Beth Barber

If correction officials can’t force a mentally ill person—who is IN PRISON and who has KILLED two people—to take medication, then how does anybody believe that the administration at Virginia Tech could’ve done anything about Cho Seung-Hui?

As it stands right now, the PARENTS of an adult with schizophrenia can do absolutely nothing to help him when he goes out of control—except watch.

You can’t force your son to take his medication, you can’t force him to accept psychiatric help, and you can’t institutionalize him against his will. And our law works this way because?

Because our society was brainwashed into thinking that all mental institutions are run by Nurse Ratched.

Yes, it is true that in the past there were abuses; people institutionalized not because they were mentally ill but because they were inconvenient. My great uncle, for instance, had polio. When he became an adult he could no longer be cared for and he was committed to a mental institution. It was a disgusting travesty of justice and medicine.

God forbid that this ever happen again. It won’t, either, because now we have tough laws that prevent such abuses. But we have literally thrown the mentally ill patient out with that bathwater.

Modern drug therapies are much more successful than the treatments of the past, but sometimes in order to stabilize a patient you need to place him with an inpatient facility until the proper drug therapy can be determined and administered.

Translation: you have to commit them to a mental institution, because they are so far gone that they will not cooperate unless they are forced to do so.

And as you can see in the case of Rusty Weston, even if someone has killed two people as a result of delusions, the law does not allow anyone to force that person to take medication without a court order!

This hits very close to home for me. I know two families who were/are prevented from forcing their sons into treatment for schizophrenia, with disastrous results.

One of these young men was brutally murdered less than a day after the police detained and then released him—because he was “no threat to anyone.” He was a diagnosed schizophrenic and obviously very ill, but our current laws and lack of resources to treat the mentally ill prevented him from receiving the treatment he needed. Institutionalizing him would have saved his life.

The other young man is my nephew. What his family is going through is hell. He is suffering, they are suffering, and yet the law prevents them from helping him. Medication can stabilize him; in fact, he took his medication for years and lived a good, productive life, but the only way now to get him back on his meds would be to institutionalize him, because he is deep in the throes of his illness and will not voluntarily cooperate.

Virginia Tech is an aberration, a statistical anomaly. The mentally ill are much more likely to become victims of violent crime than to perpetrate it, and yet when they do, it becomes news.

Therefore it is the most painful of ironies that a larger majority of mentally ill is less likely to get what little help is available because they are of no threat to others. And that little bit of help still available is constantly being whittled away by proposed cuts and other bureaucratic stupidities.

We could have prevented the deaths of 33 people by forcing Cho to receive treatment, and yet we allowed our fear of resurrecting Nurse Ratched prevent us from doing so. It is another travesty of justice and medicine, but for some reason we are just too blind see it.

In one minute, everything can change

My heart goes out to the two families hurt most by this tragedy.

I don’t know either of the boys involved, and I don’t know if the 17-year-old driver was driving recklessly or not; that will be determined later. What I do know is that this intersection is a very difficult one.

The article mentions the lack of sidewalks on the south side of Santa Fe Drive, but what it fails to note is the lack of a traffic light at the southbound I-5 exit onto Santa Fe Drive. Take a look:

Map of intersection

In order to go east on Santa Fe, you have to wait for a gap in the traffic before navigating the turn. When the high school pickup/dropoff traffic is in full swing during mornings and afternoons, it’s almost impossible to turn left at all, especially with students walking in the road on the south side.

It’s a little easier during lunch rush, but not by much. You have to wait for that gap in traffic and then accelerate quickly on your left turn, and remember: there are student pedestrians on the road into which you’re turning.

What with the rain we had yesterday it is quite conceivable the 17-year-old driver saw an opening and accelerated too quickly for the wet pavement.

I’ve often heard that traffic lights don’t get installed at intersections until somebody gets killed. I’ve often wondered how come there wasn’t a traffic light installed at that intersection, especially with all the school traffic so close, but I guessed it was because of the traffic light that does exist a short distance west of the intersection.

Perhaps the city planners felt that two traffic lights so close together might cause gridlock, and indeed, Encinitas lights are famous for their poor timing. Carlsbad seems to have traffic light timing down pat, but Encinitas gridlock is a given.

No matter what the cause, Ryan Hwang was taken from us, cruelly and too soon. The other boy’s life has been forever changed. These two families need our prayers.

UPDATE 03/05/2007

I’m opening up some mail that collected on my desk, and found a letter from the school with this information:

Rather than flowers, the family is asking for letters or donations. Donations will gladly be accepted at:

The Ryan Wang Memorial Fund
c/o Alexandra Dodds
Wells Fargo Banki
276 A North El Camino Real
Encinitas, CA 92024

My 1.5 seconds of fame

Tiger found a linkable video of the newscast I mentioned here. Somehow they managed to find one coherent sentence in all my splorking—amazing!

I’m the gal in the glasses at the very end, just before they sign off.

Get this video and more at

Thanks, Tiger!


I’m NOT the lady in the sunglasses. Not that there’s anything wrong with that lady in the sunglasses.

Shoot! We all were counting on those free contraceptives, too.

From this official-looking letter, it looks like Prom attendees will be receiving some really interesting party favors this year.

“Due to the generous donations provided by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, San Dieguito Academy will hearby supply free contraceptive devices at all further dances, beginning with prom 2006.”

“San Dieguito Academy neither promotes nor condemns your student’s sexual activity. Our mission is to support the unique culture and programs of San Dieguito High School Academy. In keeping with this mission, SDA thanks you again for helping us provide a healthy and encouraging environment for your student to grow, learn and succeed.”

Excerpts from prank letter mailed to parents of high school students.

Dang, I wish I’d gotten this letter… it sounds like a classic. I mean, “We neither promote nor condemn your student’s sexual activity” is exactly what you’d expect to hear from a school district nowadays.

And you’ve got to give the kids involved some credit for coming up with a senior prank that’s funny without causing physical damage to the campus, or requiring somebody to clean up a big mess.

The school administration, however, doesn’t see any humor in it at all.

[Principal] Gauthier said the school resource officer, who is a sheriff’s deputy, will investigate the prank.

“To put my name on it – that’s got to be breaking some law,” she said.

At any rate it seems to be a hot story. There were news cameras in the school parking lot when I picked up Tiger; a pretty blonde woman stopped me and asked me if I’d mind answering some questions. I said sure, but when she stuck the microphone into my car window, my brain turned to mush.

REPORTER: So what do you think of this senior prank?

BONNIE: I, um… splork…

CAMERAMAN: (to reporter) Psst! Your microphone isn’t on!

REPORTER: It’s not? (she clicks a switch on the microphone) How about now? Okay! (turns to Bonnie) So! What do you think of this senior prank?

At that point I was greatly relieved—because I had a second chance! This time I was going to put a coherent sentence together, a sentence that would reassure the citizens of San Diego County that at least one parent wasn’t high while driving.

Unfortunately, looking into the business end of a microphone apparently renders me incapable of speech.

BONNIE: I… um, er…. splork!

So if you see a confused-looking parent on the tube tonight, splorking about Prom contraceptives, you’ll know who it is.

Free speech and blog comments

Every now and then I get a bee in my bonnet about some topic and feel I must write about it here. I don’t do this much because:

  1. It’s hard to be funny whilst ranting, and
  2. Who cares about my little rants anyway?

Hubby has to listen because he’s married to me—and I have a sneaky suspicion he tunes me out sometimes—but none of the rest of you are so obligated. Therefore, I don’t rant (much) on this site.

One of the few rants I did post I called “Will NutriFeron save you from the bird flu?” and it probably gets more hits than any other post I’ve made so far.

The post was inspired by a Shaklee spammer—whose original spam comment I edited to remove her name and the link to her site, but otherwise left to stand. I also posted my snarky opinions about multi-level marketing (MLMs) and NutriFeron’s dubious labeling, and in so doing received several comments from Shaklee distributors.

A few were angry. One was extremely rude. But most came from Continue reading “Free speech and blog comments”

13-year-old internet trolls or Congressional staffers? You decide!

Not that I want to go all political on you, but I find this awfully funny. Besides, it’s nonpartisan. So there.

Apparently Congressional staffers at the U.S. House of Representatives made more than 1,000 changes to the online encyclopedia Wikipedia; naughty, naughty changes that violate those ethics Wikipedians HOLD SACRED, but which Congressional staffers find as unfathomable as IP addies and Web 2.0.

But what kind of changes, you ask? What kind of violations get you banned from Wikipedia?

“Furthermore, in 2005, Senator Coburn was voted the most annoying Senator by his peers in Congress. This was due to Senator Coburn being a huge douche-bag. In the August edition of Roll Call, the senator was voted “most likely to get his arse kicked by hill a hill staffer over recess”. He gladly accepted this honor saying “I completely expect to get my arse kicked because I suck at life”

Vandalized page for Senator Tom Coburn

Plenty of pages from both sides of the political spectrum were vandalized. Scott McClellan‘s name got added to the definition for “douche.” Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor was noted as smelling “of cow dung.” They described Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist as “ineffective.”

More mean-spirited entries included renaming Senator Robert Byrd to Bobbity Negro Stabby Boid.

For over six months Congressional staffers (identified by IP addresses) changed pages, and for over six months Wikipedia users caught them and chastised them, to no avail.

It’s also apparent from the talk page that many people from the community are exasperated with the Congressional staffers.

Wikipedian conclusion: “Evidence of trying and failing to resolve the dispute

Wikipedia also accused the Congressional staffers of a nefarious something called POV:

The Congressional staffers constantly push their unverified point of view (POV) and have no regard with editing policy.

Marty Meehan

  1. “whitewashing” Marty Meehan
    “Meehan is also known nationally as one of the tobacco industry’s toughest critics” – where is the evidence for this?
  2. Removing legitimate content again.

POV-pushing,” Wikipedia

Well, hell-llooo! They are CONGRESSIONAL STAFFERS. That’s what they do: push their point of view, verified or not.

In fact, I think asking Congressional staffers to verify all statements before publishing them is kind of like asking terrorists to give peace a chance. I mean, they really should, but the very nature of their job description kind of goes against the possibility they actually will.

The American public in general knows this, but those Wikipedia guys—they’re just way too idealistic. Way.

At any rate, Wikipedia has found no resolution to this problem, except to periodically ban Congressional staffers from using the encyclopedia.

Obviously no moms were involved in determining this punitive action, because it isn’t harsh enough. If they were MY Congressional staffers, they would’ve lost their accounts, too.

, , from Shane to Old Fart

A human being named Dhruba—and not a tentacled alien monster—answered my plea for help regarding my emptied shopping cart.

Thanks for writing us at

I am sorry you encountered problems while using our web site.

Here are some suggestions that usually help:

Dhruba’s helpful suggestions included clearing my cache and my cookies and refreshing my screen, obvious things I’d already tried. I wrote back to complain my cart was still empty and then I went to bed, visions of Home Depot gift cards dancing in my head.

This morning brought another response, this time from an Amazon customer service rep named Raja:

I’m sorry to hear that you’ve had trouble with your shopping cart.

Your Shopping Cart is related to your account. If you create your list while you are logged into your account, and then log out, your items will seem to disappear. If this is the case, you should be able to retrieve your cart by simply logging back into your account.

This is a basic concept of e-commerce I already understood, but which Raja probably has to politely explain it to thousands of clueless Amazon shoppers every single day; clueless, angry shoppers—shoppers who might accuse Raja of nefarious things, like trying to cheat them, or of being a tentacled alien who laughs maniacally at customer distress.

In fact, I expect Raja probably longs to express something other than the polite, apologetic message she typed out for the quadrillionth time, something along these lines:

If you create your list while you are logged into your account, and then log out, your items will seem to disappear. If this is the case, carefully insert your keyboard into your lower body internal cavity and see if that helps retrieve the contents of your shopping cart.

All politeness aside, my cart was still empty. As I prepared to close the e-mail and take my future Christmas shopping elsewhere, I saw I’d overlooked the end of Raja’s message:

As you are our old customer, I’m issuing a Promotional Gift Certificate of $10.00 which can be used for your future purchases.

Woo hoo! Ten dollars! Now I’m back to the amount I originally expected to pay when I first put my items into my cart, before Amazon raised the prices! In fact, now I’m ahead by five bucks!

I do appreciate good customer service. It’s good, old-fashioned customer service like this that will keep me coming back to Amazon again and ag—

Hey! Who is Raja calling “old”? from stressed to Shane

A few days ago I wrote about my experiences with the changing prices of items in my Amazon shopping cart. Today I write that those problems are no more!

Why? Because today when I logged in to my account I found yet another one of those Amazonian messages:

Picture of my shopping cart: empty!

My cart is EMPTY. And I didn’t empty it.

I only recently started filling it for Christmas shopping so it couldn’t possibly have approached Amazon’s 90-day limit for holding items, either.

So. Where did all my stuff go?

I checked my ordering history to see if, perhaps, there was a perfectly logical reason for my empty cart, like how I might’ve checked out while I was sleepwalking.

No such luck. Nothing in my previous orders and nothing in my cart.

I wrote to Amazon’s Help Center and am awaiting a response, but I can’t help but wonder if there’s some prankster Amazonian out there in cyberspace, one who took offense to my previous opinion about I picture him as a tentacled, three-eyed creature laughing maniacally at confused shoppers like me as he changes our prices and empties our carts.

Maybe he not only emptied my cart but is now waiting for my “Help!” message to flitter across the Amazonian support boards so that he and all the other tentacled creatures can laugh at us. Maybe he will respond, too, with a witty yet sardonic retort:

Amazonian: Whatsa matter, crybaby? Something wrong with your cart?

I will answer that response with witty yet sardonic repartee all my own:

Bonnie: Please, please, PLEASE give it back! That stuff was mine! PLEASE PUH-LEASE?

Perhaps the Amazonian will wave his tentacles and laugh at me because I am groveling. “Stand up and fight!” you might urge me, because you only have my best interest at heart and don’t want to see me cowed all my life by e-commerce bullies.

Really, it’s awfully hard to stand up and fight when you hate to shop and it took you 2 weeks just to make your list and check it thirty times and you only want to shop in PEACE… but okay, I’ll do it.

Bonnie: Amazonian Creature, GIVE ME BACK MY STUFF! Or, I’ll….

Amazonian: (sneering) You’ll do what?

Bonnie: I’ll, I’ll….

Amazonian: Cry? Ha, ha, HA!

Right about then I’ll have been pushed to the point of no return. I’ll flick my credit card at him and it will fly through the air in slow motion, end over end, traveling through time and space and my computer screen, until it reaches the braying Amazonian Creature and slices his head clean off.

As his lifeless body slumps over his computer, his scaly hand will fall upon the button that not only refills my cart, but also refills empty carts everywhere, giving all of us customers the original, cheaper prices, too!

Amidst all the cheering, I’ll check out quickly (but modestly) stopping only to look both ways to make certain no frothing and vengeful Amazonian creatures are bearing down on me.

On the other hand, I think almost everybody loves a Home Depot gift card for Christmas, don’t you? from stress-free to stressed me

I got this alarming message when I opened up my shopping cart yesterday morning:

Picture of popup message in my shopping cart

Yikes! Less than 12 hours after starting my Christmas shopping, I lost $13.54 on the Lost boxed set and the National Treasure DVD just because I didn’t buy them immediately! They weren’t on sale when I put them into my cart, either—the market price of those DVDs must’ve gone up, that’s all, and I am stuck with the higher price.

It used to be I could leave stuff in my cart all week before I checked out. Sometimes the prices changed, sure, but it was never more than a few cents here and there—never anything like this. In fact, until this happened, Amazon was what I considered a stress-free shopping experience.

Thanks to Amazon, I could:

  • buy stuff at any time of day or night,
  • save money on gasoline, and
  • shop in my pyjamas without anybody ever knowing (unless I confessed in the “special instructions” section during check-out).

All of this good will to Amazon was generated, however, before I knew it could change the prices in my shopping cart so drastically.

For a few moments after I read that message, I wondered what to do. Should I quickly check out and buy my stuff before the prices had a chance to go up again? Or should I remove the items with changed prices because they were more expensive than I’d expected them to be?

Unable to decide, I left the cart alone until this morning, when I logged in and found another message:

Another picture of my shopping cart

Wow! I saved one dollar by leaving everything in my cart overnight! Now I’m only down $12.54, rather than $13.54—but I’m still left with a dilemma: the longer I take to finish my Christmas shopping, the more opportunity I give Amazon to change the prices in my cart.

Should I buy now? If I do and the prices go down I’ll lose the chance to recoup some of that $12.54! But if I wait, the prices might rise higher than those in local stores, even after factoring in the costs of my time, gasoline, and having to shop in clothes other than my pyjamas.

So here I sit, frozen with indecision. I don’t know about everybody else, but to me suddenly seems about as stress-free as the stock market.

UPDATE: 12/5/2005

Woot! Now I’m I’m only $4.88 in the hole.

Another picture of my shopping cart