Friday, June 20, 2008

This Needed to be Said

Only 'cause my house wasn't lost, it would have been totally inappropriate for me to say it:

No doubt exists whether this flood has been catastrophic, has changed lives, has altered our view of the world. I was there with you all. I sandbagged, worried, evacuated my own newsroom by hand in the pitch black when electricity was cut. I cried as I read stories from our newspaper and others. I prayed for those affected. I'm still waiting for the water to recede, and I hope just as much that the damage is minimal.

Meanwhile, for those of you who weren't there, I'd like to tell you a little about Katrina:

When Katrina ravaged my Mississippi as well as Louisiana, I watched on the DI television, and I was helpless. My mother relayed to me via the telephone which coworker had lost a husband and baby, who had drowned in their attics as they tried to break through the roof to escape rising waters.

I watched the death toll rise, the government not send aid for days.

People were angry; they were forgotten. They died. And even after they died, they were still forgotten. One news story recounts a woman who tried to flag down police as she stood next to the corpse of her husband. Their advice to her was how to effectively move the smelly body as far away from the road as possible. . . .

We passed several blocks of houses that had made it through the storm, upright, and in various forms of disrepair. Some had X's spray-painted on the door. A family friend explained, the first slash of the X was painted as a tally of how many bodies needed to be removed, the second slash as a mark that someone had picked them up.

More houses had only the first slash painted on, bodies still rotting inside. . . .
Read the rest in the DI.
I have friends in New Orleans, and I agree. This is bad. The losses are catastrophic. I know several people who are homeless, many streets are still flooded, and I've no idea how we're going to start holding court next week. But, thank God, it is no Katrina.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Minor Rant

From the Press-Citizen: The Iowa City Police Department wants motorists to do a little thinking before venturing out onto the streets and causing traffic headaches for everyone in town. In a news release, the department listed six common sense points for drivers . . .

I won't list the rest of the article here, go to the PC website if you want their tips for the terminally brain-dead. Of course, those who are moronic enough not to realize they should plan alternate routes to avoid congesting the roadways, and think they have the right to go out in the middle of an intersection blocking cross traffic despite the huge old red light right in front of them, are probably not going to change their ways because of a newspaper article. But in a quixotic effort to reach the uneducable, I would like to add a seventh tip I was surprised to see left off the list:

People who see in front of them an entire line of cars patiently waiting their turn at the light (a la Benton Street Bridge) then try to scoot into a lane they can clearly see is closed up ahead in an effort to merge in at the last minute and cut ahead of everyone, should be dealt with.

You are not more important than everyone else who is waiting for their turn. You are an insensitive, moronic asshole. To the two people who tried to pull this on me yesterday: no, I did not politely allow you to merge. If this had been a congested parking lot, where we have to let people go in spurts, you bet I've had allowed you to turn ahead of me. If it had been unexpected road construction, where people have to suddenly merge two lanes down to one, I would have alternated. But I saw you pull out of line, speed up on the side, then try to merge back in ahead of me. Then I saw you acting all put out because I wouldn't let you in - not only in front of me, but those thirty other cars who were waiting their turn. Granted, the idiot behind me was nicer to you than I, so you unfortunately did not get the negative reinforcement you deserved. If I were God, you'd have sat there, vainly trying to get back in, and watched the cars that were originally behind you wave as they went through the intersection first before someone decided you'd been punished enough. Lucky for you, I'm not God, and other than some minor cussing, I'm not prone to road rage. But you might want to think twice about the concept of road rage. You live in Iowa, and you're lucky we don't have much of that here. But your luck may run out.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Fasten Your Seatbelts . . .

Guess I'm not going to be using Highway 1 to get to IC for a while. I'd wondered why 380 was open but 1 wasn't. The answer, courtesy of the KCRG website:

Monday, June 16, 2008

Wish Me Luck

I've got to go to Iowa City today. I've got a double-secret route passed on via another attorney who ot it from a fed ex guy, and I've already gotten a report from the other attorney that it's open, but it involves dirt roads. At least I don't have to go through Des Moines.

Friday, June 13, 2008


In case there are any lawyer-types that cruise by this, Linn County's website indicates that the courthouse is (obviously) closed until further notice. The Supreme Court has given the official okay to the closing - at least for today - which means all deadlines are extended until it reopens as if it were an official holiday:
Rule 1.1801 Computing time; holidays. In computing time under these rules, the provisions of Iowa Code section 4.1, subsection 34, shall govern. [Report 1943; amendment 1967; November 9, 2001, effective February 15, 2002]

Iowa Code Section 4.1
34. Time - legal holidays. In computing time, the first day shall be excluded and the last included, unless the last falls on Sunday, in which case the time prescribed shall be extended so as to include the whole of the following Monday. However, when by the provisions of a statute or rule prescribed under authority of a statute, the last day for the commencement of an action or proceedings, the filing of a pleading or motion in a pending action or proceedings, or the perfecting or filing of an appeal from the decision or award of a court, board, commission, or official falls on a Saturday, a Sunday, a day on which the office of the clerk of the district court is closed in whole or in part pursuant to the authority of the supreme court, the first day of January, the third Monday in January, the twelfth day of February, the third Monday in February, the last Monday in May, the fourth day of July, the first Monday in September, the eleventh day of November, the fourth Thursday in November, the twenty-fifth day of December, and the following Monday when any of the foregoing named legal holidays fall on a Sunday, and any day appointed or recommended by the governor of Iowa or the president of the United States as a day of fasting or thanksgiving, the time shall be extended to include the next day which the office of the clerk of the court or the office of the board, commission, or official is open to receive the filing of a commencement of an action, pleading or a motion in a pending action or proceeding, or the perfecting or filing of an appeal.

Also, when I called into Johnson County to discuss how to handle a hearing I have on Monday, I was informed by the County Attorney's Office that at least the entire juvenile court docket has been cancelled for Monday and will be rescheduled, though Leroy was unable to give any estimates as to when the hearings would be reset. Upshot: Check for yourself (again, obviously), but you'll probably find everything cancelled for the first part of the week. I've already notified my clients.


Linn County courts are examining alternate sites, but nothing's been found yet. It looks like the juvenile courtrooms are totaled:

"Of course, there is extensive damage to the courthouse, but we don't know how extensive until we can get inside. We know the sub-basement and basement are all water. There's a tunnel from the parking lot into the courthouse where we tried to sandbag but the water broke through. All those courtrooms are lost."

Well, the power's back

At least my house doesn't look like this. I am truly fortunate.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

If You Don't Hear out of Us

According to the Press-Citizen, the internet is about to go down for much of Eastern Iowa. This may put a crimp in the excellent job John Deeth and others are doing in live-blogging the flood. If things go dark out here for a while, you'll know why.


They're gonna close I-80 and route people on 30 and 380. Of course, they assure us 380 is not planning to close, even though it did in 1993. Comments on that link discuss getting from CR to IC via Highway 1 through Solon. However, although I can't find any news talking about this, I happen to know from driving it yesterday that the water appeared to me to be within a couple of feet of flooding Highway 1 near the Cedar River Bridge just outside Mount Vernon.

So, I'm trying to plan alternate routes. Highway 30 to 151 and down to 6? If I recall 1993, that one was right out. The only thing I can think of is going far enough east or west that you can get parallel with IC (north/south-wise) without hitting the river, and coming in up one of the back roads. Good lord.

Side note: so much for the Farmer's Almanac:
April and May will have above-normal temperatures, with near-normal rainfall. Early and late May will be especially warm.

Summer will be slightly cooler and drier than normal. The hottest temperatures will occur in early and mid- to late June and mid- to late July.

UPDATE: Well, D just called and the Cedar River is over Highway 1 at the bridge outside of Mount Vernon. It's not closed yet, but he says it's kind of high, so it will be soon. So that's the first route to IC to go down.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Rain, Rain go the f*ck away

Downtown CR is being evacuated. Just about everything on my calendar for tomorrow is cancelled. What a mess.

I've said a little prayer of thanks that I'm not living anywhere near a river this year. My biggest hassle is kicking the sump pump in the basement every few hours to start it running again. I was a flood of '93 refugee for two months, so I know what that looks like and I'm very grateful.

Go to the Press-Citizen or Gazette sites for photos.

Free Read!

Missing you some Harry Potter? Waterstones has the text up of the 800-word prequel JK Rowling hand-wrote on a postcard to be auctioned off for charity. Note: The pic's a little small for handwriting to be read easily. Might want to enlarge it. Also note: Disappointingly, she signs it: "From the prequel I am not working on . . .

Leave 'Em Alone Already

Apparently there's a whole new concept that needs to be added to the living will, a "right to romance." Excerpts (out of order, I've made them more chronological) from this article in Slate:
Before Dorothy came along, the manager said, Bob was really kind of a player and had all the women vying to sit with him on the porch. But with Dorothy, she said, "it was love." One day, the staff noticed that they were sitting together, then before long they were taking all their meals together, and over a matter of weeks, it became constant. Whenever Bob caught sight of Dorothy, he lit up "like a young stud seeing his lady for the first time." Even at 95, he'd pop out of his chair and straighten his clothes when she walked into the room. She would sit, and then he would sit. And both of them began taking far greater pride in their appearance; Dorothy went from wearing the same ratty yellow dress all the time to appearing for breakfast every morning in a different outfit, accessorized with pearls and hair combs. . . .

Soon the relationship became sexual. At first, Dorothy's daughter and the facility manager doubted Dorothy's vivid accounts of having intercourse with Bob. But aides noticed that Bob became visibly aroused when he kissed Dorothy good night—and saw that he didn't want to leave her at her door anymore, either. (Note to James Naughton: Bob did not need what you are selling.) His overnight nurse was an obstacle to sleepovers, but the couple started spending time alone in their apartments during the day. When Bob's son became aware of these trysts, he tried to put a stop to them—in the manager's view because the son felt that old people "should be old and rock in the chair." . . . .

Bob's family was horrified at the idea that his relationship with Dorothy might have become sexual. At his age, they wouldn't have thought it possible. But when Bob's son walked in and saw his dad's 82-year-old girlfriend performing oral sex on his 95-year-old father last December, incredulity turned into full-blown panic. "I didn't know where this was going to end," said the manager of the assisted-living facility where Bob and Dorothy lived. "It was pretty volatile."

Because both Bob and Dorothy suffer from dementia, the son assumed that his father didn't fully understand what was going on. And his sputtering cell phone call reporting the scene he'd happened upon would have been funny, the manager said, if the consequences hadn't been so serious. "He was going, 'She had her mouth on my dad's penis! And it's not even clean!' " Bob's son became determined to keep the two apart and asked the facility's staff to ensure that they were never left alone together.

After that, Dorothy stopped eating. She lost 21 pounds, was treated for depression, and was hospitalized for dehydration. When Bob was finally moved out of the facility in January, she sat in the window for weeks waiting for him. She doesn't do that anymore, though: "Her Alzheimer's is protecting her at this point," says her doctor, who thinks the loss might have killed her if its memory hadn't faded so mercifully fast.

Now, I realize that children do have a vested interest in their parents' relationships, even at this stage of the game. Bringing in a new person creates emotional complications - What do you tell the grandkids? What if health problems are exacerbated by sexual activity? Can they really consent with dementia? What if they decide to give away precious family heirlooms that mean nothing to them anymore because they can't remember the significance?

I also realize that dementia complicates things. For example, a rigidly religious person may become uninhibited as the disease robs their mind of complex thinking processes. At that point, do you go with what the person's expressed values prior to the disease, or post-onset?

Despite the complications and the fear, I still believe in a healthy dose of "do unto others." I mean, which of us would like to be subjected to this?

I am speaking from some experience here. After my mother died, my father had typed up the obituary I wrote to send to the newspaper. A notoriously bad speller, he asked me to look at the email before it was sent. I scanned it, made a few changes, and hit "send." Then, of course, the email closed and his inbox popped up. To reveal dozens of "winks" and emails from other women off a dating website. I was rather horrified. Particularly as my divorce had just gone through after catching my ex cheating on me through one of those online sites. I went numb, and didn't say anything to anyone. I realized he was completely fearful of living without mom, and this was just some kind of viceral reaction - he was always rather impulsive. But it felt like a betrayal just the same.

Within a few weeks, it emerged that he'd already gotten a girlfriend or two culled out from the crowd. My siblings were scandalized. As is normal for new relationships, he spent most of his time with dating and neglected his hurting kids and (worse) grandkids. This was particularly painful because he'd already received the news that he himself had less than six months to live (though he beat the odds to live almost three more years). He started forcing one particular girlfriend into family gatherings will all the grace of a bull in a china shop, particularly given the enormous amount of grief still present for my mom. He borrowed money from his kids - who were hurting financially - to go on dates. I fielded calls from siblings talking about everything from hurt feelings to inheritance issues, with an underlying current of resentment that their notoriously conservative father was spending the night out. I brokered a compromise: don't bring dates around the grandkids, because they're a little too young to deal with this and their father is afraid they'll get confused and forget grandma. Otherwise, do what you like. But the resentment simmered, just the same.

In the end, nothing of my mother's was given away. That was the one thing I would have had a problem with. As for the rest: Meh. He was an adult, albiet a childish one. He'd been given little time to live and was grasping for something to make him feel young and normal again. It was good for him, so the rest of us should butt out. Because it was hurtful to us, we can choose to limit our contact with these women, but we can't try to impose this upon him.

How much more true when the person in question is incarcerated in the depressing environment of a nursing home, watching their own lives slowly, painfully, wash away? I know the fear, and the anxiety. Get over it. C'mon. Let them have fun. You'd want the same.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Welcome Vicki

She may be leaving Iowa for a three-month project in India, but she's now on the blogosphere, which will make it tons easier to keep in touch. Follow her travel adventures!