Friday, October 30, 2009

This drunk is a public menace. Get him off the road!

A chronic drunkard that caused a car wreck killing a young mother is apparently off the wagon and back on the streets, menacing good people again.

Over 12 years' time, Robert Van Dyke has been arrested seven times on DUI charges and only convicted three times.  His last drunken trip down the road (well, the last time he was caught anyway) caused a collision that  killed Michelle Bradley, a 36-year-old mother of two from West Valley. One daughter also in the car survived but lost an eye.  Bradley's pregnant sister-in-law was also injured in that fatal crash.  Bobby Van Dyke spent just six years in the Utah big house for his role in killing Michelle - his sentence was 20 years.

Van Dyke's story is one of a serial drunk that somehow continues to get out on our roads, and like any numbers game, it's just a matter of time until another unfortunate victim has their number pulled while Bobby's behind the wheel.

In late September Spanish Fork police stopped Bobby and booked him on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, according to a report on   A police spokesman reported that Van Dyke smelled of alcohol, had slurred speech and exhibited other signs of intoxication, but refused breathalyzer and sobriety tests.

Are you as outraged as I am about this?  How do losers that repeatedly prove that they have no regard for other people get sixth and seventh chances to go out and hurt someone again?  Prosecutors claim that it's a tough process to convict guys like Van Dyke.

Make your feelings known!  Jeff Buhman is the Utah County Attorney.  His office states they intend to vigorously pursue felony charges against Van Dyke in his latest drunk driving.  Send them your opinion and your support.  Let's get this menace out of our way and make sure he stays where he belongs and where we can be sure we'll all be safe from him - behind bars.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Get life-saving text messages

We live in a communication age.  Mobile computing, text messaging and the Internet allow us to send and receive messages and information at the push of a button.

Utah Valley University has launched a text messaging system for students and staff that provides instant notification of important information that affects people's lives.  Think Virgina Tech.  Think Columbine High.  Both were events on a large campus that ended with lives lost while the rest of the population on those campuses struggled to understand what was happening.

We live in an age where anything can happen in the blink of an eye.  Think World Trade Center on 9/11.  What could be the power of text messaging be as a means of minimizing the damage from terrorist attacks?  When people know what's going on they can then make informed choices that can result in better outcomes.

A few weeks ago, a white powder was discovered in the ROTC offices in the Woodbury Business Building (WB) on the UVU campus.  Anthrax?  Poison?  People were scared.   Everyone errs on the side of caution in these types of incidents and the WB was evacuated until hours later experts declared the substance to be benign.

The text messaging system was employed to keep the campus updated on what was going on.  The information quelled panic while allowing those that received the news to decide whether they wanted to leave campus.

Getting signed up to receive instant text messages regarding important happenings at UVU is so easy.  We just don't know what can happen at any minute, but by being available to news via text messaging from those in the know, we can be sure to stay in the loop, guaranteeing that we know what we must know to stay safe.

Friday, October 9, 2009

If H1N1 were on the stock market, I'd buy.

Are you watching the media event that we call Swine Flu.  Oops, we're not supposed to call it Swine Flu.  Pig farmers claim it gives their product a black eye.  H1N1 (now we're PC!) is receiving more conflicting media coverage than Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

Today, Americans are being told to brace themselves for explosions of flu, school closures, mass vaccinations and tens of thousands of deaths — or perhaps not. Are the media to blame for the confusion? Absolutely. 

A headline on the September 28th cover of Time Magazine, reads "Flu phobia.  How fear goes viral and what you can do."   The story discusses American's fears, and we have lots of them about swine flu.  The Center for Disease Control (CDC) issues daily email updates and RSS feeds.  A CDC spokesman says in the Time article, "It's going to be a unique flu season.  The only thing certain is that it's going to be uncertain."

What is the truth about swine flu? Is it real?  Is it media hype?  Does it only exist on a Hollywood sound stage the next lot over from the Apollo 11 moon-landing set?  Unfortunately, it's real.  It's everywhere.  It's a pandemic.

Cases are on the rise.  Fear is rising and the looming shadow of this generation's first pandemic seems to come at a bad time.  Families without health insurance seek refuge in the nation's emergency rooms.  Schools suffer shortages of nurses.  Who wants to risk losing a job in this economy by taking excessive sick time?  How many families are going to get fever, chills, nausea and worse, for Christmas?

The psychological toll piled on top of an already tough life for many could exact a high price from a bankrupt public psyche that is plodding towards a dreadful holiday season short on cash, enthusiasm and optimism.  We have had some fat years and how could things get so bad, so fast?

These are some of the questions many are asking and there are few answers to console.  Of the answers that experts do have, one of the most chilling is the certainty that H1N1 is for real, and that people are dying.  Sadly, more children are dying from this strain of the flu than any other in recent history.

The CDC keeps great statistics and their latest headline declares that 76 children have died so far this year from swine flu.  Reportedly, the highest number of children killed by any strain of the flu has been 88, and our year has three months left.  Illness is accelerating.  Hospitalizations are increasing.  The death count is rising.  If H1N1 were on the stock market, I'd buy.

Despite the uncertainty comment, the CDC guarantees a few things: nearly half the country, including pregnant women, children, and anyone with asthma, diabetes or heart disease, will face a higher risk of getting seriously sick.

Oh, and another sure bet:  this virus could turn really deadly at any time.

This week's release of the first swine flu immunizations marks the most ambitious vaccination program ever undertaken in U.S. history.  All amid increasing skepticism surrounding all vaccinations' ties to autism, as well as the publicized uncertainties that this vaccine was produced too fast, without appropriate time to be proven.

My 9-year-old had the flu all last week.  Did he have swine flu?  Does it matter?  He ran a fever for three days and then he was back to normal; wiping his nose on his shirt and his greasy taquito fingers on his pants.  What are you going to do if you get the flu?  Are you going to get immunized?  Take the poll on the left and see where you stand.