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scrottie just sent me a link to this awesome visualization of Amtrak train delays. It's nice to live in an era where it's possible to know whether we've missed the train or bus, or how long we might have to expect to wait.

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There are certain times when relying on a bicycle as one's primary form of transportation is less than glamorous. Here are my things right before my doctor's appointment last week, sopping wet from the downpour:

Sopping wet

I don't have a spare pair of socks at work here because I haven't needed any, up until now - I've managed to dodge most of the rainstorms. The doctor's appointment and the expedition to the farmer's market (=sweaty) both made me wish I'd gone to the trouble of packing or changing into cycling clothes instead of trying to just wear-and-go.

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Over the weekend, in the middle of the night, my parents had a strange and troubling experience with a presumably mentally ill man who threw golf balls through the kitchen window and spilled jugs of industrial-strength ammonia in the driveway (if I get his permission, I'll post my father's story of the account in the comments). My parents don't sound too terribly rattled by the experience, but I can't help thinking back to the story about the hatchet murderer in 2010, plus a half-dozen other stories of mentally ill persons and random acts of violence in Seattle.

It's not necessarily a Seattle problem, and yet I suspect a lot of mentally ill persons wind up in big cities because of the social services and anonymity they provide.

I just have to wonder - is this the best system we can come up with, America, for caring for these marginalized individuals? It seems awfully expensive, between the police, fire, and medical response, and all of the jail time and time in court.

What good does it do, to bankrupt such government systems, when the costs are inevitable and unavoidable?

Comments

( 4 remarks — Remark )
randomdreams
Jul. 7th, 2015 01:53 am (UTC)
A friend has made the claim that while the US by far leads the rest of the world in per-capita imprisoned people, that if you look at the sum of (people locked up in prison) + (people involuntarily committed to mental institutions) the US is about on par with most other industrialized nations.
We've chosen prison over institutionalization.
rebeccmeister
Jul. 7th, 2015 02:55 am (UTC)
As told by my father...
We experienced an early-morning disturbance that makes a story you might be interested in. This is the best I remember it.

About 2:30 a.m. your mom and I were awakened by what I first thought were explosions of fireworks. Except that the explosions were happening right outside our house, and it seemed to be late enough that the fireworks had pretty much ended. It also seemed like there were bangs made by something hitting the house.

I got up and went and stepped out the back door to see if I could determine what was going on, but I didn’t see anything. Suddenly a loud sound of breaking glass came from the kitchen. I wondered at first whether something from the stack of drying dishes had fallen to the floor. Your mom came to the kitchen and turned on the light, and then we could see that one of the kitchen windows was broken. Your mom noticed a golf ball on the floor. I went back to the back porch while your mom went to get a broom.

I saw a man climbing over the fence into our yard and I shouted to him, “What is going on?” He replied something to the effect that there was a gas leak and there was about to be a big explosion and he ran away down the driveway. I noticed a couple of plastic jugs at the bottom of the stairs, along with liquid on the driveway that I assumed had spilled from the jugs, so I went to investigate and found them to be labeled as heavy-duty cleaning ammonia. I smelled one and it did, indeed, smell like ammonia. Neither of the jugs had its lid, but neither were they broken, so I picked them up and put them on the brick retaining wall so they wouldn’t leak any more.

Meanwhile, your mom had swept the kitchen floor, so I felt safe to walk barefoot back into the house. Then I heard a commotion coming from the street, so I walked to the end of the driveway to investigate. I noticed that there were more golf balls scattered along the driveway. There were a bunch of Seattle Weekly newspapers strewn about the end of the Mont’s Market driveway, and I could see someone doing something at the bus stop, but I did not investigate further.

Back inside, your mom and I discussed whether we should call the police. I was thinking, if the guy was trying to break into the store, he would be gone by the time the police got here. Your mom, who has better sense than I, decided, yes, we needed to call the police. It took two officers some time to arrive — 30 minutes? 45 minutes? I lay down on the sofa to wait, and I might have dozed off.

When the police arrived and started taking in our story, a guy who looked like the man I had seen climbing over the fence came up the sidewalk. The police asked if he was the man I had seen, and I thought he was the same — he was carrying a green tee shirt, while earlier he had been wearing it. One of the officers went to talk to him, and had him sit down on the retaining wall by the sidewalk. The officer who stayed at the door said the man was familiar to them and that they had talked to him briefly before coming to our house. A second police cruiser arrived, and, after a while, a fire engine. I watched as the fire department medics started to intervene with the man, taking his pulse and blood pressure.

Eventually the officers came back to the front door and gave us a card with a case number on it. They said the man had mental health issues and apparently was not taking his medications. They said he was being transported to a hospital for treatment. They said it would be our responsibility to clean up the golf balls and repair the window, and that we could use the case number if we make an insurance claim.After we said good bye, the officers walked up the driveway with their flashlights and checked out the driveway, the back yard and the garage.

Your mom and I went back to bed. This morning we noticed broken glass in the sink, on the stove and all over the counters and everything that was on the counters. After your mom cleaned off the counter next to the stove, I went to work preparing breakfast, while she continued cleaning broken glass off of, and out of, everything else. We were a bit late getting to choir warm-up before church this morning.
shellynoir
Jul. 7th, 2015 06:47 pm (UTC)
Re: As told by my father...
I know that area well.

I wish we had more info on the links between toxoplasmosis and schizophrenia.
rebeccmeister
Jul. 7th, 2015 08:56 pm (UTC)
Re: As told by my father...
YES, or just better headway in general on how to handle schizophrenia.
( 4 remarks — Remark )

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