January 26, 2010 on 10:46 pm | In death, ethics, Haiti, health, homeless, human rights | No Comments

I don’t have the words…

This tragedy just continues to echo around us. The depth and breadth of suffering is unthinkable.

Elsewhere, the Anchoress has a powerful update on Haiti.

And here is an inside scoop from the aid efforts of the USNS Comfort (H/T Confederate Yankee).

Unlikely heroes

January 23, 2010 on 1:18 pm | In daily life, death, homeless, military | 1 Comment

Sometimes heroism comes in unlikely packages.

ARLINGTON, Va. – Ray Vivier had been an adventurer, an ex-Marine who explored the country from South Carolina to Alaska, the father of five children.

The 61-year-old also was a man starting to get his life back together after living for years in a shanty beneath a Cleveland bridge. He had struggled with alcoholism, but by November he had a welding job, friends and a place to stay at a boarding house.

He rescued five people from that house when arsonists set it ablaze — but Vivier couldn’t save himself. He and three others died, and two people have been charged in their deaths. Vivier’s body, unclaimed and unidentified for weeks, seemed destined for an anonymous, modest burial.

A soup kitchen volunteer, though, remembered Vivier and heard about his heroism. Jody Fesco and her husband Ernie traveled back to Cleveland from their new home in Pennsylvania to make sure Vivier wasn’t forgotten. They identified his body, found his family and arranged a proper funeral.

On Friday, Vivier’s ashes were inurned at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.

“You can see from what he did that he definitely had a good heart,” said Mercedes Cruz, Vivier’s ex-wife of 23 years, who attended the funeral with the couple’s children. “No matter what our difficulties were in our marriage, I’m very proud of what’s happened.”

For his grown children — who now are scattered around the country — Vivier had been gone for about 15 years. They know of his heroism now — but they don’t know much about the man he was trying to become. They remember their dad’s struggles with alcohol and other troubles.

“What I’m trying to get out of this is to have one good, concrete memory that I can have of him for what he did to save those people,” said his oldest daughter, Elisha Vivier. “I’m proud of the man that he was becoming.”

Vivier’s funeral procession                                                     AP Photo/Kevin Wolf

I’m far too quick to label people in my mind with some sort of limiting descriptor, such as “homeless.” That makes it far too easy to fail to see them as complex people, capable of anything, no matter what sort of life they’ve been living.

As C.S. Lewis said in The Weight of Glory,

There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations–these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit–immortal horrors or everlasting splendours.

Pause, reflect

January 21, 2010 on 1:01 pm | In Congress, health care reform, politics, taxes | No Comments

I am really looking forward to the day when this woman will be out of a job.

Alex Brandon/Associated Press

It’s one thing to be a hypocrite. It’s one thing to lie. But to be a lying, in your face, serious as a heart attack hypocrite takes some kind of evil skill I can’t even fathom.

“We’re not in a big rush” on health care, Pelosi said. “Pause, reflect.”

I read that, and I almost had an out-of-body experience. Like I was suddenly set down on another planet. Because this is the woman who has been shoving universal health care down America’s collective throat like there is no tomorrow.

August 2009:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi vowed on Wednesday to push through the government-sponsored health care program that the late Ted Kennedy characterized as his life’s work. “Ted Kennedy’s dream of quality health care for all Americans will be made real this year because of his leadership and his inspiration,” Pelosi said in a statement.

October 2009

“Leaders of all political parties starting over a century ago with President Theodore Roosevelt have called and fought for health care reform and health insurance reform,” Pelosi said. “Today we are about to deliver on the promise.”

December 2009

“We would do almost anything if it meant we would pass health care for all Americans (by) the Christmas holidays,” Pelosi told reporters Thursday. “Maybe we can’t,” she said, in which case Congress could deliver “a New Year’s present for the American people.”

6 January 2010

Lawmakers are “very close” to resolving differences between the House and Senate health care bills and sending a final version to President Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday.

And now she says “not a big rush,” and “pause, reflect.” I suppose the stunning failure of Democrats to hang on to Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat wouldn’t have anything to do with Ms. Pelosi’s dramatic change of attitude. Not that she’s capable of understanding what Massachusetts’ voters decision represents,

“Massachusetts has health care and so the rest of the country would like to have that too,” Pelosi said, referring to the state’s health care program. “So we don’t [think] a state that already has health care should determine whether the rest of the country should.”

It’s not complicated, Ms. Pelosi. Americans simply don’t want to pay for universal health care.

We can only hope that this is an epic fail for what has to be the worst bill in the history of US government.

Right voices thinks it could be the beginning of the end for Pelosi.

Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit calls it a quagmire.

And Instapundit…oh jeeze, it hurts to laugh this hard.

Could we Californians hope for a Barbara Boxer reelection loss? American Power thinks so. Oh, be still my heart.

And in the meantime…

January 19, 2010 on 8:47 pm | In children, Christianity, Congress, daily life, death, education, Haiti, politics, Senate | 1 Comment

I am brushing off the cyber equivalent of cobwebs here. I ought to be ashamed of myself, for all but abandoning my blog for two months.

My blog email is full of spam, understandably, but why is it written in Russian? What did I post last that issued an invite to Russian spammers?! Nevermind, I’ll just hit “delete” repeatedly.

Nothing bad happened to me in the interval between my last post and this one. My only excuse for dropping out of the blogosphere was the hurricane of life: Committing to writing NaNoWriMo, then having a full court press California state mandated teaching performance assessment followed by holiday craziness. Blog? I have a blog? Does anyone read it? Will they notice if it falls silent for a few weeks, or months?

I did not finish NaNoWriMo, but I did find my creative (fiction) voice again. That’s been fun. I’d forgotten the pleasure of playing with characters, of letting them interact and typing the result. So, for me, NaNoWriMo was a success. And I nailed a major win on the state requirement, with a perfect score and the evaluator’s comment “This is the best TPA 2 I have scored.” It felt really good to kick butt on that one.

The holidays were a success too. Though my family has narrowed down to MrRT and the four RT offspring, three of whom no longer live at home, this meant the holidays really were happy. No ugly scenes, no unpleasant relatives, just good food and good times. Christmas especially, when all six of us were together.

Nothing, and I do mean nothing, makes me happier than watching my kids thoroughly enjoy each other’s company. That is the best part of parenthood, right there.

So, it’s January now–heck, January is half over–and I’m preparing to walk into a 12th grade classroom and teach English to high school seniors who are already half checked out and heading for graduation. I must be out of my mind. Not that I have a choice; it’s the final part of the teacher credentialing process. Since they put me with 6th graders last semester, they (whomever “they” is at my university) apparently figured I needed to experience the other end of the spectrum.

Hey, if I can teach 6th grade (and I can) and 12th grade, then surely I can cover everything in between.

At least in theory.

Meanwhile, life goes on in strange and terrible ways.

One one hand, Massachusetts voters finally grew brains.

Brutally Honest calls this triumph “Obama being spanked.” Brilliant metaphor, and so apt.

Right Voices offers up a gem of humor from Jon Stewart on the election.

And Michelle Malkin calls it a miracle. Yes, they do happen.

On one hand is US politics, sometimes depressing, sometimes wonderful, often surprising.

On the other hand, we have the horrible tragedy in Haiti:

I can not even fathom this.

There are so many ways we can help these devastated people, without even leaving home. First and foremost there’s the financial, through reputable organizations like the Red Cross, Child Hope, World Vision, Compassion International, Samaritan’s Purse, and in Haiti itself, the Real Hope Rescue Center

A fairly comprehensive list of charities working in Haiti is available here.

Even five or ten dollars matters in a country so poor they’re beyond desperate on a good day. They haven’t had a good day since January 12. They’re not likely to see another one for a long time.

And you might want to bookmark The Anchoress as you keep Haiti’s people in your thoughts and prayers.

I’m back. I’m writing. And I’ll be posting more on these and other stories very soon.

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