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Archive for the ‘California’ Category

Several years ago my good friend Gladys Blogerbang and her husband Bob retired, moving to the Denver area.  I have missed them immensely.  (All names and places have been changed to protect the innocent – which in this case is me – because I didn’t do anything wrong.)  Through the years Gladys and I have corresponded, telephoned, visited back and forth and emailed one another.  We have kept in touch.

The Blogerbang family and our family overlapped:  they had older children, we had younger children and there were a few in the middle the same age.  Those in the middle were friends.  Together, Gladys, Bob, Ken and I watched them all grow; distancing themselves from us as teens, stumbling through the 60s-70s, screeching into young adulthood, and hopefully finding that which they were seeking as mature adults.  Meanwhile, as parents, we consoled one another when they crashed, and cheered when things went well.  Gladys and I should have been sisters, but close friends is almost as good.

Neither Gladys nor I have ever totally mastered our computers, but we get by with tips and help from friends and family. Call us computer “dummies” if you like, and that’s okay because that’s how Gladys got us into trouble – well, one of us got us into trouble.

Gladys lost Bob a few months ago, and because of Ken’s Alzheimer’s I didn’t feel I could leave him to fly back for the funeral.  When she called to let me know of Bob’s passing we spent a few moments on the phone.  It’s almost impossible to let someone know how your heart aches for them over the phone, and how much I’ll miss Bob   I thought about sending emails, but somehow that was so impersonal.  Rather I chose to send cards and notes to keep in touch the old-fashioned way:  U. S. Mail.

Time passed and Gladys called me from Arizona.  She was staying with her daughter for a while.  It was wonderful to hear her voice and she sounded as if she was picking up the pieces of her life.

“I have a new computer,” she announced, “with a new carrier and a new email address,” which she gave to me over the phone.  She also sent me a card with some slight variations in the email address.  I chose the one I thought to be correct, which included her full name.  The following week I began to send her notes and a few forwards just to catch up.

Days later I checked my email and there was an email from Gladys Blogerbang.  “Good,” I said aloud, “she’s home and back on line.”  “Do I know you?” the message read.  “I’ve been getting your emails and I’m not sure who you are.”  Terror struck in my heart.  My dear friend, Gladys Blogerbang didn’t know me?  What happened?  Alzheimer’s?  Instant Alzheimer’s?

I know Alzheimer’s hits different people in different ways, but the only case I can recall of instant Alzheimer’s was Miss Daisy in the touching play/movie “Driving Miss Daisy.”  A long-time retired school teacher, Daisy woke one morning to find her class papers missing.  Searching for the non-existent work, she ransacked shelves and drawers finally becoming angry and frantic. End of scene; and then in the next scene she was in a care facility.  Was this happening to my friend Gladys?

Rather than panic, I zapped off a reply.  “Are you the Gladys Blogerbang who once lived in the Bay Area of California?”  “Were you married to Bob?”  “Do you live in Denver?”  The answer arrived that evening.  “I live in Germany.  I am married to Jake, and, yes, I am Gladys Blogerbang.  How did you get my email address?”

My first thought was joyous relief that my Gladys was just fine.  In addition, wasn’t this a fun, serendipity coincidence finding two Gladys Blogerbangs, each on opposite sides of the world.  I mentioned all of this to Germany Gladys, explaining how I accidentally ended up with her email address, no doubt making some minor error, and adding a bit about myself and Denver Gladys.  Maybe too chatty; too much information.  I also wrote that I would check with Denver and see where the mistake might be.  If it couldn’t be found I suggested it was probably the fault of the carrier.  I signed off with, “Please keep me posted and nice to meet you.”

Meanwhile I tried one of the other email addresses for Denver Gladys.  Nothing came back, so I sent a few more notes.  Two days later an email arrived, but from Germany Gladys:  “I have blocked your emails, but they are still coming through.  Please call your Denver friend and get this straightened out.  I do not want to hear from you.  Do not ever email me again” Wow!  Rejection – big time.

Admittedly, I was disobedient and replied one more time to Germany Gladys telling her that it wasn’t my problem, and that I was really glad she wasn’t my friend Denver Gladys, because she, Germany Gladys, was no fun at all besides being a considerable grouch.  Not kind of me, I know, but I actually felt, and feel, a little intimidated by her terse email, almost expecting Grumpy Gladys to appear on my screen and yell at me.  Me – the innocent one.

Then the imagination took over:  Is she an agent?  A spy?  A drug dealer?  Does she think I’m dangerous, planning to steal her identity?  A hacker?  (Now that’s a good one — me – the computer dummy.) Perhaps, though, in our crazy, mixed-up world, she has a right to her paranoia.  Sad but true, Denver Gladys and I could be a threat, but we aren’t —  not to anyone.  Furthermore, I am extending to Germany Gladys my utmost apologies just as I do when I get the wrong number on the telephone.

I have written a U. S. Mail letter to Denver Gladys detailing my internet adventure with Germany Gladys, and requesting she look into the mix-up sending me a correction to her email address.  We’ll just have to wait and see how this plays out, and hope it’s over.  The one thing I know for sure is I am really glad my dear friend Gladys doesn’t have instant Alzheimer’s.

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I was curious about drunk driving in California and wondered what I could find on the internet which might shed some light on this nation-wide problem. Finding some information, I did feel a little disappointed that statistics on one particular site hadn’t been updated since 2006. Perhaps statistics don’t change much. What I did notice, however, were pages and pages of attorney’s advertising to defend the drunk driver. I found that interesting and yet a little troubling. I realize that everyone is guaranteed due process, but it was almost as if there was more concern for the intoxicated driver than for the those who might be victim to his/her recklessness, so I surfed a few more sites.

Finding more statistics, but of another nature, the new page calculated that three out of every 10 people will have an encounter with a drunk driver at least once in their lifetime. Nearly one third; that’s a lot of people whose lives can, are and may be altered by the recklessness and selfish act of drinking and driving. Recalling my youth, and another accident, I realized this was my second encounter involving the deadly practice.

A boy friend (I’ll call him Hank) of my oldest sister, Polly, had an adorable small car, a very pre-war (WWII) model coupe with a rumble seat. One evening Polly and Hank invited me, a friend and my other sister, Janet, for a ride, and we got to sit in the rumble seat.  We were so excited – as that was the absolute desire of our hearts. The three of us – I was 11, Janet 14, and my friend 12 – wedged ourselves into the tiny opening located where most cars have trunks. With Polly and Hank in the front, we sped down the hill from where we lived, the wind already blowing our hair in every which direction. Laughing, we soon came to one of San Francisco’s main southern thoroughfares; and at our point of crossing it was a very wide section of what was then Army Street. With the traffic light in our favor, Hank ventured forward only to notice one lone car’s headlights coming straight toward us crashing broadside into the sturdy little car. The three of us in the rumble seat bumped our heads together a few times, our tight fit into the seat no doubt holding us in place. Running the red light, the driver of the other vehicle and his lady friend were both drunk.

Hank called my father and the police from the corner store and we waited for dad on the sidewalk. Hank and Polly dealt with the accident and police report, while my dad took the three of us home. Our adventure was short-lived, and other than a good couple of knots on our heads we were all just fine.

Drunk driving is nothing new and has probably been around since before Henry Ford’s Model A; a timeless problem unresolved.  By comparison, the state is totally on top of people having a disease which might have an affect on their driving, but it seems they can’t get a firm and lasting grip on driving under the influence of mind-altering substances.

Upon the Alzheimer’s diagnosis, Ken’s neurologist told us that by law the DMV must be informed of his condition. That was in January and by March, he received his letter requiring that he be retested. We both felt confident as Ken had renewed his license less than a year before and had passed with flying colors. However in just eight short months deterioration of his memory was becoming evident. Watching him from across the room at the DMV, I could see the puzzled look on his face. Undoubtedly, as he read the multiple choices, he had already forgotten the question.  He failed the written test so miserably they disallowed him taking a driving test. His license was revoked – forever.  He hasn’t driven since March of 2005.  Actually, that was a good thing; better the DMV than me concluding he was no longer a responsible driver.

My daughter, Julie, and I talked about the statistics and the many problems of people driving under the influence. The term DUI covers not only alcohol, but drugs, legal or not, or any other substance which might impair one’s driving ability, and yet many driver’s believe they are the exception. “Legislate more laws,” was Julie’s answer. “They don’t obey the ones already on the books,” I answered, adding that I had listened to young and old alike who carried a medical marijuana card and believed it gave them special permission to drive immediately after dragging in a few puffs of pot to dull their pain.

Back on the internet, one site claimed that sobriety checkpoints and other enforcement tactics would help, especially around holidays; and more education. When people know better they do better. “Sometimes,” was my answer.  Another page suggested, “If you want to do something about drunk driving, get involved.” Candice Lightner became involved when her 13-year-old daughter was killed by not only a drunk driver, but a hit-and-run drunk driver (who was eventually caught). He was 47 years old.   My drunk driver is in his late 50s. They were both old enough to know better.

Lightner founded Mothers Against Drunk Driving: MADD which has become a national organization. Through legislation, education and enforcing legal age drinking MADD claims to have dramatically reduced drunk driving. Yet, if you happen to be a statistic, it doesn’t matter what the reduction. For me, being a victim is 100 percent. So what can possibly help us as a state and as a nation in ridding our streets of drunk drivers? Being involved, enforcement, education or more legislation – or what? “It’s a conundrum,” concluded Julie, “It’s a conundrum.”

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