Cataract gone…so far, so good

[text]So far, so good.
I checked in for cataract surgery this morning at 6:30 a.m., about 25 minutes before sunrise. It was, and felt, early. It was over, and I was ready to be picked, by 8:33, which is when an initial text to Meda was time stamped.

So far, no “hallelujah” moment, I’m afraid. My eye is still somewhat dilated, vision a bit blurry, but no pain or headache. I report back for first recheck tomorrow morning, then again next Monday. I’m taking it slow and easy.

I have a longer post over on Facebook.

Cataract, your hours are numbered!

A friend commented to me this week that cataract surgery has become a regular rite of passage for people of a certain age, and I suppose that’s true.

My first and dominant eye goes under the laser knife tomorrow morning. Scheduling and preparations have been going on for longer than I really wanted. But such is life.

The preparations for cataract surgery have included two different sessions where measurements were taken, I believe to guide the computer-assisted laser that does the actual cutting of the eye. In addition, there was a required session with my primary care doctor to obtain a medical clearance, affirming that I’m well enough to survive the brief out-patient surgery. In my case, the computer returned the estimate of something less than one-half of one percent chance of suffering a heart attack or stroke. The doctor assured me that these odds never go to zero, so not to worry that the risk wasn’t zero.

Of course, just to be sure that you aren’t too casual about it, the packet of paperwork also included an optional Advance Health-Care Directive where I could specify how much I want to stay alive if by some fluke I keel over during the short operation. I decided to go with the odds and not worry about such things at this time.

Then, beginning three days before the surgery, three different eye drops, none inexpensive. Two start at the beginning of the three days, but on different schedules (one 1x per day, the other 2x per day). Then, after the surgery, the third drops are added. There’s a complex calendar for each eye, and they overlap (the calendars, not so much the eyes), so I know it’s going to get confusing.

Then there were the instructions to be sure to report any changes in health prior to the surgery. Of course, after returning from New Orleans a couple of weeks ago, I came down with the obligatory airplane cold. It’s worked its way through my system, from a running nose through an uncomfortable cough and back to near normalcy. I decided to wait until today before checking in as instructed with one of the nurses regarding health changes. Luckily, the cold has largely receded and I was told it should not pose any problems tomorrow.

I’m prepared to show up before sunrise at the surgical offices near downtown with photo i.d., insurance card, the form disclosing any medication I take regularly, and of course some form of payment for amounts not covered by insurance (and luckily our health insurance is quite good).

So wish me and my right eye the best of luck!

Some advice from a longtime journalist on legislative coverage

“If you want to really cover the Legislature you’ve got to be there, and not just for opening day.” Susan Halas,

Sage advice from Susan Halas, who has been reporting on Hawaii politics since 1976, writing for a number of publications over the years. She is now a Senior Political Contributor at MAUIWatch, and has her own public relations and communications company, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Her comment on my post about how to cover the legislature is absolutely correct and on point. I’m reprinting it here for those who don’t obsessively follow comments because it so accurately captures what’s necessary to do it right.

I was a young reporter in the 70s working for the Maui News. In those years my paper sent me to Oahu to attend the sessions. I learned to cover the legislature by actually going to the offices of our elected officials and getting to know them and their staff, and showing up often enough that they got to know me too. I also learned early on that most really important decisions were not decided on the floor or in committee but in much more informal settings like the Columbia Inn, a variety of nameless bars, or hoisting a few pau hana beers with the ILWU folks. Those decisions were just confirmed at the legislature.

We reporters were also expected to actually READ the legislation introduced by members of our Maui delegation, and tell the folks at home what was in the bills sponsored by our lawmakers and also provide the details of the other important legislation of the day.

Even though print journalism is effectively comatose in Hawaii, there is no substitute for legwork, personal contact and a wide net of off-the-record friends and sources.

Following the career of a legislator like Maui’s Joe Souki from his first public office as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1978 (where he resented the tag “Elmer’s (Cravalho’s) Boy” through his rise to Speaker of the House, to his fall at the hand of his own crew and his resurrection through dint of circumstance and perseverance, has been a fascinating close-up view of how political clout is wielded in our state. It’s all personal. We still do it face-to- face, one-on-one, and the most important skill a lawmaker can have, as Souki learned early on, is the ability to count.

No matter what the vibe, speed or reach of social media it is not yet where decision are made, though it is regrettably often where opinions are formed.

If you want to really cover the Legislature you’ve got to be there, and not just for opening day.

And that was how I felt when I walked away after covering the legislature for five years as executive director of Common Cause Hawaii, serving as the organization’s lobbyist, public spokesman, researcher and legislative analyst.

I felt at that time, and continue to feel, that to make a difference in the legislative process requires a full time presence and full attention. You have to be part of living in that small village of several hundred people who gather from January to May each year and somehow manage to pass legislation by the end of the period. Whether as a reporter, a community advocate, or a lobbyist, you’re facing the same job of learning how the system really works, finding sources you can trust, and then riding the beast through the rough parts of each year’s session.

In an organization, it isn’t necessary for each person to commit to a full-time presence at the legislature, as long as you’ve got someone in that position who can work the hallways and also guide others in applying outside political pressure via public opinion, mobilization of constituents, etc.

In another comment, Aaron suggested a crowdfunding project to support independent reporting at the legislature. As with any journalistic endeavor, though, that’s no simple project.

And so it goes. If the ideas float around for a while, maybe some will take hold and go somewhere.

A Saturday afternoon rainbow seen from Waikiki

We were visiting friends at their hotel yesterday afternoon when this vivid rainbow made its appearance.

We were looking back over Kapiolani Park towards the mountains. The rain, and the rainbow, hung there for quite some time before finally dissipating.


Latest HPD shooting again raises familiar questions

There was another incident in which Honolulu police shot two suspects under unfortunately familiar circumstances (Honolulu Advertiser, “Police shoot 2 in stolen car, capture both” or Hawaii News Now, “2 wounded in officer-involved shooting in Mililani“).

The incident drew little comment when reported.

However, two similar incidents that resulted in fatal shootings drew questions just a couple of years ago. In each of those cases, like in the latest one, police attempted to stop suspects who were driving, and when they tried to drive off, police fired.

Here’s what I wrote at that time (“Could Honolulu police have avoided recent shootings?“).

Clearly, it’s a dangerous kind of encounter. The data suggest that perhaps there are other ways to handle these situations that reduce the number of times they turn lethal. Do other major police departments have different approaches to these confrontations? Are there “best practices” that have yet to be adopted here? Could the shootings have been avoided?

Available data suggest that Honolulu has a higher incidence of police shootings, and a large fraction of those incidents involve the same circumstances in which police try to block a car driven by a suspect, who then is shot while attempted to break through the surrounding police.

Similar questions have been asked about police policy elsewhere. That post, for example, linked to a report by the Las Vegas Review-Journal (“Analysis: Many Las Vegas police shootings could have been avoided“).

Those questions continue to go unanswered by HPD. Perhaps the new members of the Police Commission should raise them anew.