Thursday, July 27, 2006

Andrea Yates

Andrea Pia Yates was the valedictorian of her graduating class, she later became a registered nurse. But most of us know her as the Texas woman who drowned her five children.

The mug shot photo, that was plastered in the media across the United States, following the June 20, 2001 drowning deaths of her five children, depicted an emaciated woman with lifeless eyes and dirty, greasy hair. In the days following the murders she was walking to court while people screamed chants of hatred towards her. As the weeks, months and years passed and the magnitude of her mental illness was revealed some individuals embraced her with compassion and her legal team fought her defense pro-bono.

In the days following the murders Andrea Yates was placed on a suicide watch, because her doctors and law enforcement officials feared she would try to commit suicide once she realized what she had done. Though she called the police, confessed to the crime and recounted the drowning in a monotone voice, psychiatric examination's revealed that she did not understand her action's were wrong, because of severe postpartum psychosis.

In the years leading up to the deaths of her five children, she was treated by psychiatrist's on an out patient basis, and when Andrea Yates attempted suicide, on two separate occasions, she was hospitalized. She had hallucinations of harming her son Noah, but she did not tell her doctor's of these hallucinations, because she feared he would be put in a foster home and be treated badly. Instead she tried in vain to fight these mental demon's herself.

On the morning of her children's murders Andrea Yates fed her children breakfast. They were dressed in pajamas, from the night before, as any well cared for and loved children would be. In photos of the children in the years, weeks and days leading up to the murders they are smiling. They are clean, well fed and look like any child that is loved and nurtured by their mother. Andrea Yates chose to leave her career and become a full-time mother. She home-schooled her children, she baked artistic cakes for their birthday's and sewed her children costumes for Halloween. By all accounts she was the mother of all mother's.

What went wrong? A prosecution psychiatrist testified she was not insane, but rather was overwhelmed and "obsessed". As anyone that has been inflicted with an obsession, such as a facial tic or a an incessant compulsion to wash one's hands, will tell you it is impossible to control. Andrea Yates tried to control her "obsession". In the weeks leading up to the murders she paced back and forth, she picked her scalp raw, in an attempt to remove the "666" she thought was branded on her scalp. Andrea Yates had claw marks on her legs, from holding herself back from harming her children. She felt the presence of "Satan" and hallucinated that "Satan" was speaking to her through cartoon's and movie's. She fought "Satan" or the demon's of mental illness for 7 long years, she attempted suicide twice, in an attempt to save her children from herself.

Could it be that her obsessive delusion's and psychosis were so severe, that when her medication was changed, two days before the murders, she could no longer control the motherly instinct's she had desperately maintained for 7 years?

When I think of Andrea Yates, one video always comes to mind. She is sitting in the living room watching her children play and she is cradling an infant her arms. She is smiling and interacting with her children and you can see the love she has for them in her eyes. When Russell and Andrea Yates divorced in March 2005, the only thing she asked for was her rocking chair. She sat in this chair for hours as she held, loved and nursed her 5 babies. No doubt this chair brings back precious memories of a better day. She also asked that when she dies, she be allowed to buried next to her children.

Though we have come so far in our treatment and detection of mental illness it is still viewed as taboo. No one condemn's an individual that suffers from diabetes, heart disease or cancer but often times a person that is treated for depression or another mental illness is judged or ignored as if this will make it all go away.

The Yates children lived everyday of their short lives with an individual that was mentally ill. I think of the testimony given by Andrea Yates mother-in-law, Dora Yates, that two months prior to the drowning's Noah Yates ran to his grandmother's side and declared that his mother was filling up the bath tub. Was he able to detect his Mother's despair and did he instinctively know he was at risk?

Those that have followed this case from the beginning know that Andrea Yates was convicted of her children's murders in 2002, but this conviction was overturned, because of erroneous testimony by a prosecution witness. It is easier to condemn a person such as Andrea Yates than it is to understand that she was so psychotic that she believed she was saving her children from eternal damnation. In recent years several women that have killed their children have been found not guilty by reason of insanity. All of these mothers were deeply religious and thought they were fulfilling a biblical prophecy. It brings to mind the story in the Bible of Abraham who was instructed by God to sacrifice his son Isaac. Should I dare ask was Abraham mentally ill?

Most likely Andrea Yates will spend the rest of her life in a maximum security mental facility. Where she will be protected from hurting herself and prevented from harming another child. She will receive psychiatric care and maybe one day this terrible tragedy will lead to a better understanding of postpartum psychosis and lead to the prevention of the disease.

My compassion leads me to believe that the jury made the right decision in finding Andrea Yates "not guilty by reason of insanity". Logic tells me that if the law had been written to read "Guilty by reason of insanity" more people would feel that justice had been served and that Andrea Yates had been held accountable.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Chocolate Flavored Sunscreen

With spaghetti and chocolate being my favorite foods, when I hear that one is actually good for me it makes by day a whole lot brighter.

I read in USA Weekend that dark chocolate acts as a sunscreen. While the thought of lathering chocolate all over my body sounded messy I was intrigued. As I continued to read I learned that scientific studies have shown that foods high in antioxidents such as dark chocolate, tomatoes, pomegranates, salmon and green tea bolsters our resistance to ultraviolet light helping to prevent sunburn, wrinkles and even skin cancer.

Not only can dark chocolate help in our quest for healthy skin it can also aid in lowering our risk for cardiovascular disease according to The American Dietetic Association. For centuries women far and wide have praised chocolate for its soothing effects, but as scientists begin to explore the possible health benefits of this tantalizing treat they are discovering that it does indeed have "healing powers" for the liver, digestion, skin and a healthy, happy heart.

Add that to your list of things found in the book of women's intuition!

The Gray Fence of Life

When I was in my early twenties a friend told me that not everything in life is black or white, but life is covered with shades of gray. I tried to live my life by this theory, but as I aged and matured this no longer held true.

I have returned to my roots of right and wrong and examine life as black and white. I have come to the conclusion that anything that falls in the gray category is a persons attempt to justify something that is wrong.

On my journey through life and my attempt to live that life without riding the fence, I was reminded by a clever individual that sometimes the things in life that start out wrong end up being oh so right.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Should a Three Year Old be in the Street? NO!

Three year old Carlos Salinas is in critical condition at University Medical Center in Lubbock, Texas. He was stuck by a car driven by 17 year old Arnulfo Moto on Thursday July 20, 2006.
This tragic and preventable incident is raising many questions.

* To begin with: Why was a three year old in the street?

* Where were Carlos Salinas' parents at the time of this incident?

* Who was Carlos Salinas' care-giver at the time of this incident?

* If Carlos Salinas' had a reason to be in the street why was the adult care-giver, parents or gaurdian not holding his hand while he was in the street?

* Why was Arnulfo Moto driving without a license?

* Had Arnulfo Moto attempted to get a license and failed the driving or written exam?

* Did Arnulfo Moto have insurance?

* Did Arnulfo Moto's parents or guardian know she was driving without a license?

* If so why did they allow it?

* Who owned the vehicle Arnulfo Moto was driving
when she stuck Carlos Salinas?

* Did they know Arulofo Moto was driving their vehicle without a license?

* If Arnulof Moto did not have a driver's license why did she wantingly breaking the law?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

"That One Kid"

What is it about a hot summer evening and a football that can turn a stranger into a memory?

My son had a friend over and after dinner they went outside to toss the football. It began with two and the two became three and the three became four and the four became five and the five became six. One boy was wearing jeans, one boy had on flip flops and glasses, another was playing in his socks while wearing a worn baseball cap, and another had on purple body-armor. They ranged in age from 10 to 16 and each boy was as different in their age as they were in their appearance.

The football was touched numerous times as they hurled it from one end of the yard to the other. They huddled and they clapped, they tackled and they slipped, they fell and they jumped. The ball was kicked back and forth and even tossed into the soccer goal a few times.

They congregated around the ball sipping cold sodas and as the evening turned dark they left, just as they had arrived; one by one. When my son came in for the night I asked about the boys. He didn't know most of their names or what school they attend and it never crossed his mind to ask, but he knew their game. His eyes lit up as he relived "the game" the kid in the white t-shirt "throws hard", the boy in the purple body armor "can jump high", the kid in the baseball cap "plays club soccer", and the little kid "plays GMFL". Each boy was as different in his ability as he was in his choice of soda, but on a warm summer evening a football brought it all together.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Will Oil Reach $80.00 a Barrel?

With increasing violence in the Middle East oil has reached a record high of $78.00 per barrel. Much better than the dismal prices in the mid 80's and again in the mid 90's when an operator couldn't break even with $9.00 per barrel oil.

How are the high oil prices reflected in Midland? For one an increase in drilling permits. The Texas Railroad Commission issued 1779 original drilling permits in May 2006 and 1491 of the drilling permits were for new oil and gas wells. In the state of Texas there have been 5422 well completions in 2006.

279 Oil and Gas Drilling Permits were issued in May 2006 for District 8 (Midland).
138 Oil Completions in May 2006 for District 8 (Midland).
11 Gas Completions in May 2006 for District 8 (Midland).

April 2006 Midland County ranked 9th in Texas for oil production with 759,964 barrels. Ector County ranked 5th and produced 1,497,835 barrels.

Preliminary April 2006 total oil and gas production for the state of Texas
26,639,514 barrels
412,147,107 MCF

The price of oil is also reflected at the gas pump. Gas reached $2.97 per gallon this week which is a record high, second only to September 2005 when gas prices reached $3.05 following Hurricane Katrina.

I leave you with this thought:
Some analysts predict oil will reach $100 per barrel if the tensions in the Middle East continue as the hurricane season approaches!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Sexual Assaults in Midland

A 23 year-old male reported being sexually assaulted to the Midland Police Department on July 9, 2006. He was sexually assaulted at Hot Shots Bar in Midland and "several Hispanic men" were the perpetrators in the sexual assault.
The United States Department of Justice reported that in 2002 31,000 males, over the age of 12, reported being sexually assaulted. The Department of Veteran Affairs estimates that 10% of men in the United States have been the victim of a sexual assault. Contrary to popular belief, most sexual assaults of men, are committed by heterosexual males.

Statistics show that 9 out of 10 victims of rape are female. 1 out of 6 women will be the victim of an attempted or completed rape during her lifetime. Midland is not immune to sexual assaults. The reported rape statistics for the last 5 years was released by the Midland Police Department in their 2004 Annual Report .

Reported Rape Statistics in Midland
2004 = 52 sexual assaults
2003 = 38 sexual assaults
2002 = 69 sexual assaults
2001 = 91 sexual assaults
2000 = 69 sexual assaults

It is required by law that sex offenders be registered with state authorities. There are approximately 214 registered sex offenders in Midland County, Texas.
The State of Texas maintains a database of registered sex offenders and this information is available to the public free of charge. This database can be searched by name or zip code.

Registered sex offenders by Midland zip code
79701 = 79 registered sex offenders
79702 = 1 registered sex offender
79703 = 43 registered sex offenders
79705 = 31 registered sex offenders
79706 = 50 registered sex offenders
79707 = 10 registered sex offenders

To familiarize yourself and family with the registered sex offenders in your neighborhood click on the link below and follow the prompts.

Texas Registered Sex Offender Look-up

Men, women and children that have been sexually assaulted often feel stigmatized and this feeling can be one of the most damaging aspects of the sexual assault. If you are the victim of a sexual assault it is very important to report the assault to the police, discuss it with someone that will offer emotional support, or contact the local rape crisis center for confidential assistance.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Midland to Mahmoudiyah

In the past when Midland, Texas has made the national news it has generally been for good things such as being the hometown of President George W. Bush, the rescue of Baby Jessica or when a local athlete has signed with a professional team. This was not the case on July 3, 2006 when Midland native Steven D. Green was charged with rape and murder in Mahmoudiyah, Iraq.

Young men and women enlist in the military to protect our freedoms and serve our country. But as we all know war is heinous. These men and women are subjected to fear everyday. Steven D. Green was sent to an area in Baghdad known as the "Triangle of Death." It has been reported that more than 40% of soldiers, patrolling this area, have been treated for emotional and mental anxiety.

It is alleged on March 12, 2006 Steven D. Green raped and murdered Abeer Qassim Hanza along with her family. He was honorably discharged from the military in April 2006 due to an "antisocial personality disorder." The March incident came to light in June 2006 after 3 other soldiers from the same battalion were tortured and killed by insurgents. U.S. Officials have said there is no evidence that these incidents are related, but there is speculation that the torture and murders of David Basineau, Kristian Manchaca & Thomas Tucker were in retaliation of the rape and murders allegedly committed by Steven D. Green and his 5 co-conspirators. An Al Queda linked group relased a video on 7-11-2006 confirming this speculation and said "revenge for our sister who was dishonored by a soldier of the same brigade."

When a person has been diagnosed with an antisocial personality disorder and is subjected to violence, fear, and death as was Steven D. Green can this be used in his defense? If he is convicted will this diagnosis be considered in his sentencing? Will this diagnosis possibly spare his life?

As the trial of Steven D. Green gets underway, and his victims are remembered, and his actions are chronicled in a court of law, I will also remember Steven D. Green as a casualty of war.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Quote of the Day

"When history looks back, I'd rather be judged as solving problems and being correct, rather than being popular,"

"The president that chases the opinion poll is the president that will have failed policy,"

President George W. Bush

Get out the Ladder

In 1983 as I pulled into my driveway I saw a couple of kids scrambling and ducking behind my mother's parked car. As I looked up into the trees my house was in the process of being toilet papered (TP'd or wrapped). This was my first experience with such an act. My first thought was "our house is being vandalized". Then from behind the car I saw my best friend's blonde hair. She stood up and scurried toward me. The gig was up she had been caught! She threw me a roll of toilet paper and said "we are doing Nickie's house next."

I soon learned that this was not "vandalism" but a "rite of passage." It is 24 years later and this "rite of passage" is still practiced, mostly by kids over the age of 11, but every now and then, when you least expect it, a co-worker, friend or relative leaves a pair of hot pink flamingo's in your front yard with a note that reads "you've been flamingoed, pass it on." No harm is intended and the target is generally a close friend so the culprit is very easy to find.

This "rite of passage" has evolved to include much more than a roll of toilet paper. We were "skewered" on the last day of school. I woke up the next morning to find trees of tissue and and a yard inundated with wooden skewers.
As I got on the phone, to wake up the culprits who were no doubt still asleep from their late night antic's, a teenager from my block stopped by to tell me about "skewering, forking and Jolly Ranching."

The skewers were easy to clean up, but when the toilet paper hits the trees it reproduces! I guess that is why the people that are toilet papered every weekend eventually quit cleaning it up!

I am personally investing in Cottonelle & Charmin. If my trees are going to be "wrapped" I am at least going to make a profit!

(If you are a kid: Don't do this it is wrong, wrong, wrong!)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Puppy Dog Tails

I spent the 4th of July in downtown Midland. My girls played in the bungie jumper and my son entertained himself with a red and blue glow necklace, while two little boys caught my attention. They were 2 or 3 years old and could have been twins. One of the little boys was happy-go-lucky. He walked along holding his mother's hand like a little gentleman. The other little boy was mad. He would take two or three steps and plop himself down on the ground. Each time his mother would reach down and coax him back up. I am sure she was wishing for Harry Potter's invisibility cloak, but on a fit scale, his was only about a 5. The trio soon passed and I went back to listening to the music.

The mother and little boy returned about 15 minutes later. The little boy was still in fit mode. As he passed by he said, "but I want to stay" the mother responded "I told you we were going to the bathroom." He squealed "oh no not the bathroom!" From his reaction I could tell he knew they were not going to the bathroom to "potty!"

No doubt she had been talking but his selective hearing was engaged!

The phenomenon of selective hearing has always perplexed me. It precedes "having eyes in the back of your head" and the good thing about selective hearing it is passed on from generation to generation so all can experience it's joy!

I can tell my kids 15 times to clean their room and I get no response, then out of the blue they will clean their room. My kids say it is "my tone" that lets them know I mean it. I guess the little boy detected his mother's "tone."

Have you ever thought about the time, energy and effort you could save if you could get that "tone" right the first time?

Monday, July 03, 2006

Time Life Genre'

I was lying on the couch, flipping through the channels and a familiar song caught my attention. I giggled as I listened to the lyrics "Your Kiss is on my Lips."
My nostalgic glee faded and I aged 20 years as the phrase "Time Life Presents the Eighties" blared from the television. Music of the 80's could it be! It was rather late I must be dreaming. I sat up, adjusted my glasses and realized this was no dream.
Throughout the years the commercials for Time Life 60's, Time Life Love, Time Life Country and even Time Life 70's brought back welcomed childhood memories.
How could the songs of the 80's be in a tidy little collection. The 80's were just yesterday. I know because I remember clearly Who Shot J.R., ET and Mork, Gary Hart had a girlfriend, Ronald Reagan was shot, Michael Jackson moon walked and MTV captivated the world as Pac Man and Asteroids ate away our quarters.
But there he was, Huey Lewis, front and center pitching the "decade of the eighties." His hair was gray, his eyes shadowed by crow's feet and his double breasted jacket was gone, but it was him.
I rolled off the couch, slipped on my flip flops and grabbed a flashlight. I rummaged through the storage building until I found the box that held my albums and forty-fives. I blew the dust off my turntable and danced to Eye of the Tiger, Oh Sherry, Time After Time, Puttin' on the Ritz and Sister Christian.
As I looked in the mirror the next morning, I thought of Huey Lewis and the fact that he looked twenty years older. But do I? I asked myself as I mixed the hair color to hide my gray and realized that fine line had officially become a wrinkle.
For the first time in my life I felt old. I started to dial the number and order the "decade of the 80's" collection but decided
Who needs Time Life when you lived the real thing?

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Shades of Blues

Because my husband eats, drinks and breathes the blues The Shades of Blues Festival, held at Centennial Plaza, was a welcome addition to our June calendar.
It was a perfect weekend for an outdoor event as the aroma of Kettle Corn swayed to the music in the soft West Texas wind. Blues fans young and old enjoyed the music as they sipped their drink from a pineapple.
Centennial Plaza had much to offer families of all ages the inflatable jumpers, clowns and jugglers, face paining, bead design and finger painting all complimented the music of Butch Avery, James Armstrong, and my personal favorite Miss Honey of the Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers band. Miss Honey played the keyboards with her toes as she accompanied Rod's lead harmonica and blistering guitar.
I first heard Miss Honey play at the Bar Jam in the early 90's. She had become somewhat of a legend in our home and our 9 year old, who plays the piano had to meet her. Miss Honey was as delightful offstage as she was on. She autographed my daughters CD and passed along her e-mail address. My Little Dumpling was thrilled and the next morning she was tickling (pummeling) the ivories with her toes.
If you did not make the 2006 shades of blues Festival plan to attend the 4th annual event next year. You will be glad you did as you move to the rhythm of "The Blues."