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60 minutes, Epilepsy, and Jaye Allen Folkins

Recently, my wife and I caught a 60 Minutes Program on the Axelrod family. Katie Couric interviewed David and his family about their daughter Lauren, who struggles with epilepsy. Her struggle is so severe, that is has caused her permanent brain damage.

There are a lot of things in the interview that brought out an emotional response from me. But one of the main quotes is the following.

“It’s been hard to explain to her,” David Axelrod replied. “She doesn’t understand why. She asks all the time, ‘Why does Barak Obama need so much help.’”

He recently surprised her with an unplanned visit. While the Axelrods are grateful for how far their daughter has come, they are committed to helping other families intervene sooner than they could for Lauren.

“Do you ever look at her and kind of think, ‘Gee, what if? What would she be doing now?‘” Couric asked.

“Too often,” Susan Axelrod said. “And this is what happens. It’s painful.”

God knows what she could’ve been. But that’s a treacherous place to go. You know, there was a time when we have given our right arm for just a week of good days. And now, she has them consistently. So, you know, that’s a big victory,” David Axelrod added

This made me think of a thought I have had almost every day of my life since my brother died because of his epilepsy.

What could have been?
What would Jaye look like now?
What songs would he have written or what Girl would he love?

And David Axelrod is right, that is a dangerous place to dwell.

Then the other night, my seven week old daughter was quite fussy. So I started singing to her. I then ran out of songs, and for some reason I began telling her stories about her uncle Jaye. Who is her name sake (Gracie Jaye Folkins). Now I know she won’t remember the stories right now, but just talking to her about her uncle was nice.

That conversation (though one sided unless you count coo-ing) along with the 60 minutes segment, inspired me to put up my brother’s memorial video online. It is pretty long (1:15:00 minutes), and you will cry if you make it to the end, but it allows me a way to keep on remembering him. And hopefully it will remind others of how dear their loved ones are.

Don’t waste a moment.

UPDATE: I have moved Jaye’s video to his page. Here is the link.

From its vantage, Anxiety attacks!

Posted on August 26, 2009

Lately I have been writing short stories and posting them online.


My family has always liked my stories. And I grew up in a no bull-shitin’ family. If it was good, it was good. And if it was bad, well it was bad. Plus, I have a hard time connecting with my Mom. I think we are just too alike. So because I enjoy writing and feel that I have a knack for it, I have taken to putting thoughts on digital paper again. To say “I love you” to those I have a hard time saying it to. And as a simple, yet effective therapy.

Really? Therapy?

Well, yeah. Writing is therapy for my mind as it is caught in Anxiety’s web. And the more thrashing my mind does, the more it becomes entangled.  Anxiety that is based on wanting to control and keep safe. An impossible goal. Which is something that I have always struggled with. The wanting to hold on, the desire to keep and protect. But after death entered my world, my mind was left split. It still wanted to love and shelter those around it, but it now knew that it never could. That life would do what life wills.

And here enters the anxiety attacks. And please understand something, I am an insanely logical person. I analyze data and build structures for a living. So if you were to ask my opinion on anxiety attacks pre cataclysm, I would have arrogantly said.

“People need to get their shit together” and would have believed it too.

Where I find myself now, is in a pretty humbled place. I understand with authority that the mind is insanely powerful. That it is beyond our comprehension and may always be. That grief and fear can turn physical, and some of us now must work hard to not allow it to do so.

Sounds insane? Yeah maybe, but it is real. No doubt it is as real as anything in this world.

To reference what I wrote above, writing takes my mind off the web of control. It stops the fear with the understanding of the following.

-No matter how much I want to keep my loved ones safe, I can only do so much
-The web can’t hold me if it is not recognized
-I have to do what everyone else does, and let it go

Writing helps me let go.

The old, the young, and the dead

Posted on August 11, 2009

pile the bodies over there
the stench is filling
you’re so young, but you’re all that’s left

just pretend they are
deep in slumber
stiff ol’ lumber
thus so easy to move

so grab their wrists
and i’ll grab their ankles

we’ll carry them
then bury them
not far from here, not far

* * *


 Alleged US massacre in Afghanistan ‘provoked by false information’

An alleged civilian massacre by United States forces was deliberately provoked by false information from villagers pursuing a feud an investigation claims.

As many as 91 civilians were killed when a neighbouring villager lied to US special forces about Taliban positions it was claimed.

The deaths in a night assault by US planes last summer provoked outrage among Afghans and severely strained relations with Hamid Karzai’s regime.

US commanders initially said no civilians had been killed in the village of Azizabad in Herat province despite United Nations and independent human rights group investigations putting the civilian toll at up to 91.

A later US military investigation admitted 30 had died in the assault, but maintained the forces had attacked and killed 22 Taliban fighters.

However a film for Channel 4′s Dispatches reports there is now doubt any Taliban were present and the strike was instead part of a feud based on competition for lucrative jobs at the nearby Shindand airbase.

Seven months after the attack, Mohammed Nader of neighbouring Kalask village was sentenced to death by a court for knowingly giving US special forces false information about Azizabad. Residents had testified to seeing Nader with the raiders that night.

US soldiers entered the village in the early hours of August 22 last year following reports of Taliban sheltering there. They said they called in a heavily armed AC130 gunship after coming under fire, however villager told the programme US troops opened fire without provocation.

Gul Ahmad, a villager, said: “The women and children tried to run away from it. They killed everything, everyone, the elderly, anything that moved.” The film also reports the feud has continued with provincial officials accusing US special forces of siding with the Kalask faction.

Afghan police officers told the programme that after a further clash between the villages in December, US special forces had demanded police hand over men from the Azizabad faction who had been arrested.

One Azizabad man was bundled away by Afghan guards and his badly beaten body returned hours later.

Afghan authorities allege the US has refused to co operate with demands they hand over the guards involved.

Maj John H Redfield, a US military spokesman, said it stood by the findings of its investigation into the Azizabad deaths. He did not comment on the wanted men.

* * *

 In Memory Of 

Craigs Brother

Posted on June 29, 2009

So one of my all time favorite bands is making a new record. I am totally stoked and it appears so are they (craigsbrother). There promo song “Thousand Yard Stare” it an awesome rock song as well as a beautiful tribute. Ted is quoted as saying the following on their site

“This song is dedicated to Roy Brooks Mason Jr., the soldiers at Fort Campbell and every veteran of Iraq who would choose to end their own life.”

I googled Roy and found the following article.

SANTA CRUZ — An AWOL soldier committed suicide in a car parked at an ocean overlook on Friday afternoon, three days after he was reported missing from Fort Carson in Colorado.

U.S. Army officials had issued alerts asking for the public’s help in finding Pfc. Roy Brooks Mason Jr., a decorated Iraq war veteran, but had no luck finding the 28-year-old.

“We knew that he was missing and we were looking for him,” said Fort Carson spokeswoman Brandy Gill. “We were concerned for him.”

Around 1:20 p.m. Friday, Mason used the phone in a call box on West Cliff Drive near Stockton Avenue to call 911. He told a dispatcher there would be a dead body in a red Chevy Cobalt parked on West Cliff Drive, authorities reported. He also asked that someone clean up the area quickly “before kids see,” an emergency dispatcher said.

Police, fire and medics rushed to the scene, found the car described and saw a man sitting inside with what appeared to be a handgun on his lap, authorities reported.

Officers surrounded the area but waited to approach the car until they had obtained a ballistic shield. They were unsure if he had fired the gun or if he may turn it on others, police spokesman Zach Friend said. Police also had sent a crisis response team to the scene in hopes he was still alive and could be talked down.

However, Mason had shot himself before emergency responders arrived. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

West Cliff Drive, which overlooks

the Pacific Ocean, was packed with walkers, joggers, bicyclists and cars when the shooting occurred. Police said no passersby were injured.

Officials at Fort Carson had reported Tuesday that Mason did not show up to accountability formation that morning and was listed as absent without leave. The Army also reported he may be carrying a gun, but was not a threat to the public.

Mason, whose hometown is Fairfield, had served two tours in Iraq since joining the Army in 2004, according to Army records.

Mason had been awarded the Army Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Combat Infantry Badge, the Army Service Ribbon and the Overseas Service Ribbon.

Mason was the second AWOL serviceman located in Santa Cruz County on Friday as the Memorial Day weekend began.

If you want to download the album and pay a buck or two to support the band, that would be awesome.