On Observing the Pain of Others

Morgan & the Chair

Observing the pain of others is, well, all we can do. We cannot experience their pain vicariously. We cannot take the pain from them. We can only hope that meds (narcotic and non-narcotic) can reduce the pain. As those with terminally ill relatives know (or have known, for those who are now past pain), we can only hope that those kind angels who facilitate what is euphemistically called “pain management” know whereof they speak.

I write this having observed my wife’s pain [yesterday morning], helping as I can, which is all too little. She was diagnosed with shingles about two weeks ago, but while in Mobile, Alabama, and returned home only Monday evening. The doc in Mobile misdiagnosed the situation, mostly by believing (wrongly) that the virus had been identified in time and that the anti-viral drugs available — that can ameliorate the seriousness and thus symptoms of the disease — would knock it out. So Patricia was caught short with inadequate pain medication. We remedied that [yesterday] with a visit to our local clinic, and as I write this she is pretty much in and out of sleep, but the intense nerve pain suffered through the morning has been ameliorated.

For myself, blood tests confirmed that I indeed was exposed to chicken pox at some point in the past, so have immunity to that disease (which can be caught from people with shingles, itself an adult — usually late adult — manifestation of a newly reinvigorated chicken pox virus). So I can hug her. (She arrived at the airport last night, I kissed my finger, and touched it to her nose.) After what Patricia has suffered, however, I will definitely get myself vaccinated against shingles — no way in the world do I want to go through that! (The doc cautioned that insurance companies may not reimburse for the vaccine — all things considered, BFD!)


Foot Majorly in Mouth Department

New Hampshire State Rep. Nickolas Levasseur on Facebook: “Anime is a prime example of why two nukes just wasn’t enough.” Uh, Representative Levasseur, are you sure you want to say that? Well, actually, apparently not. According to the good legislator,

I would like to deeply apologize for the insensitivity of this post. It was a poorly thought out comment, posted jest on my private facebook page. It was never intended to be viewed by anyone other than friends. This, of course, does not excuse the comment. This type of statement has no place in public or private discourse. It does not represent any true opinion, political or personal. My record in the New Hampshire House shows a commitment to equality and social justice. It is a record of which I am most proud. This comment is a disappointment not only to the people of New Hampshire, whom it has been my privilege to serve, but also to my own beliefs and moral code.

Yeah, you betcha.

Local news coverage:


Needless to say, the whole thing has gone viral on the Internet.

People should consider very, very carefully what they write to or about others. Once it’s written and posted (or sent), it cannot be retrieved. Not ever. Not nohow. And, then, sooner or later, it will come back to bite you in the ass.

That’s why I do not respond to inflammatory rhetoric in emails. That’s why I don’t engage in flame wars. That’s why, if you post an idiotic comment here, I may reply without even calling you an idiot. Yeah, there’s an iota of momentary satisfaction in just cuttin’ loose and firing all cannons at point-blank range, but the satisfaction lasts far briefer than the consequences of what you say.


Getting Off on Photography in Texas Department

(In what follows, I do not know if Texas is the only state having this particular law — or some variant thereon. However, Texas being Texas, ….)

Did you know that in Texas it is a crime to photograph or videotape another person without that person’s consent if the intent of the photography is to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person (including yourself)? (Texas Penal Code, Section 21.15.)

Oh, boy.

Recalling all my prior discussions about street photography, and photography of children in general, can you see the extreme danger of this kind of statute? In the absence of some other evidence (e.g., photography by a convicted pedophile), how the hell do police determine a photographer’s intent? If one man takes a single photograph of a female child (or of a male child for that matter, or a woman photographs a male child, etc., or one person photographs another “in the street”), is that enough to demonstrate intent? How about two? How about ten? Must they be consecutive? All on a single day? Within a single week? Even if the charge is entirely groundless, doesn’t this statute permit police to arrest anyone that another person thinks is taking “improper” photographs? (Think that unlikely? Read this.)

Consider the fate of poor Paul Clark, Jr., of Webster, Texas. Back in January he was charged “with photographing children without consent with the intent to arouse and gratify a sexual desire, said Webster Police Chief Ray Smiley.” It’s a felony. His alleged criminal acts: photographing girls aged 12 to 17 playing soccer in the public park. He had been reported to have taken the photos “on many occasions.”

Police seized computer equipment from Clark’s car, including a digital camera, memory cards, an iPod, USB flash drives, a computer and a collection of sexually explicit materials.

OK, all well and fine. My question, however (not answered in any of the news coverage I can find): which came first, the conclusion of supposed intent or the seizure? Seems to me they can’t have established the “intent” without seizing the sexually-related materials, and they can’t have had grounds for the search and seizure without something more than photographing the girls. (Unless, of course, this guy was especially stupid and consented to a search of his car.) Of course, many will use the statute to shame regardless of guilt.

Nice commentary and analysis may be read here.

In case you have any doubt as to where I stand, I think this is a very, very, very bad law. (As written.)


The Things One Learns Department


[A] culture-specific syndrome … [describes] an individual overcome with the belief that his/her external [genitalia] … are retracting or shrinking, with fear of that the organ will disappear.

In case you were wondering ….

(I think it tends to afflict religious fundamentalists more than liberals.)


The World Did Not End Department

The supercollider was turned on at Cern, achieving seven teraelectronvolts without the world disappearing in a man-made black hole.


Food and Fresh Aire Department

If you like pasta with tomato sauce, and you’re tired of bottled spaghetti sauces, try this: saute some chopped onions, throw in a couple cloves finely diced garlic, and add a can of chopped or diced tomatoes (with or without flavorings like basil, balsamic vinegar, etc.). Optional: add some tomato paste to thicken and intensify the flavor. Cook down to preferred level of thickness. Over pasta, topped with grated Parmigiana-Reggiano.

That was dinner last night.

Then, temps here remaining in the mid-60s to midnight, time to unseal the bedroom window. Ah, the glories of fresh air! Wife was drugged, so pain-free, and we cuddled under the comforter. Flocks of duck and geese calling on the lake at sunrise!


She keeps busy these days, but I don’t know if she’s still modeling.

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0 Responses to On Observing the Pain of Others

  1. Lin says:

    The tomato sauce sounds lovely. Thanks for the recipe :-) Best wishes to your wife for a speedy recovery.

  2. george says:

    I'd like to add my best wishes and those of my wife to Lin's. Having both had shingles we can really relate to her pain. get the shots Stephen.

  3. I'm sorry about your wife's pain. How horrible! Yes, I have been thinking of the vaccination as well. Shingles has a very bad reputation.

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