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Notes, 1/31/07

Anyone who has followed my blogging for some time may know that I have relapsing and remitting multiple sclerosis. I’ve been lucky with RRMS — the relapses I’ve had have never been completely incapacitating. Painful, depressing, frustrating, but if the worst possible relapse simply makes it so I walk with a cane, I’ll be fine with that. Some people with more progressive forms of MS end up in wheelchairs.

One thing I’ve noticed since I first developed the symptoms that would eventually be diagnosed as RRMS is what seems to be an overall weakening of my immune system. The most recent book on MS is that it is a disease that is acquired through contracting a virus, but MS sufferers may have certain genetic predispositions that make them more vulnerable to that virus. Genetic factors notwithstanding, MS is considered an autoimmune disorder.

As a result I’ve been sick with one virus or another and attending infections since late November. It sucks.

I hate telling people these things, both in person and online. In person — specifically at the church where I am the tenor soloist and section leader in the choir — I feel like people might just roll their eyes, even though I’ve known most folks there too long to truly believe that. Actually, my church has been wonderful to me, so I shouldn’t even worry. It’s just me.

Online, it’s even easier for people to say, “whatever dude, you’re too sick to work a computer?”

Not exactly. I still surf when I’m sick. But I find if I’m ill enough, I can’t seem to put sentences together properly. My research, crucial to making my blogging different, unique — that suffers too. Research like I do requires a focus and level of concentration that only comes when I’m in decent health.

I’m amazed I’ve blogged as much as I have in the last two months, really. Of course, I haven’t been ill straight through, either. Here’s what I’ve been able to identify, though:

  • My whole family passed around a lovely norovirus about a month ago — for a guy who has only upchucked one other time in 27 years, that was great fun — not;
  • Immediately on the heels of the norovirus, I came down with what must have been the flu;
  • That segued into an upper respiratory infection;
  • In the midst of the upper respiratory infection, I stepped out of the shower one night and was cleaning my left ear with a q-tip, and something happened. Still don’t know what. I do know that I’ve got perhaps a 40-50% hearing loss in that ear at the moment. You can imagine how upsetting even a temporary, minor hearing loss is to any musician. I can only describe what’s going on in that ear as it being like someone tucked a radio tuned to an empty channel in there. There’s a layer of white noise over everything.

That’s the short list. I go on, and I risk sounding like I’m 79, not 39. The only other thing worth including is the bronchitis — yay!

My point in telling you this is to explain why there are occasionally fits and starts in my blogging. I will rapidly update stories, participate in comments, you name it, and then it may seem like I disappear. I never do — I monitor comments no matter what, and read all the e-mail I receive. But my mental and physical energy (in spite of the sedentary nature of writing) must be close to normal before I do all this. If it isn’t, I’m just a passive observer.

Some notes on cases recently covered now…

Loic Rogers

The 3-year-old Montana boy may have died through misadventure, after all.

For his family I fear that even a declaration of accidental death may not dispel a cloud of suspicion, particularly over Loic’s father, Mark. I had my questions, that’s for sure, and I still am troubled by leaving the youngest child outside at night to go inside and get older children — but Loic’s father Mark doesn’t need any more fingers pointed at him, I think. Something like this, any parent will spend years tearing themselves apart. One passage in the Daily Interlake article linked above is worth quoting, though:

Authorities have not determined whether the [septic] tank’s damaged lid was the reason [Loic] ended up inside it.

One thing is clear, however: If the lid had been securely fastened in place, even the determined little boy could not have slipped in during just a couple minutes of the gathering dark Jan. 24…

The article does not state, nor have authorities said at this writing that Loic’s drowning in that septic tank was an accident, but the tone of the piece certainly seems to be pointing in that direction.

If it is officially declared an accident, I say leave the Rogers family alone. Loic’s parents, Mark and mother Ariel, were already estranged when the boy disappeared. The fracturing of a family is usually a private tragedy. Loic’s disappearance turned the Rogers family’s problems into fodder for the media and bloggers, because let’s face it — the vanishing of a cute 3-year-old boy on a cold, wintry night is upsetting to just about anyone with a heart. I’ve got a cute, blond-haired three year old son just like Loic, so naturally I was bothered by the story.

But this missing persons case turned into a death investigation is like a lot of missing persons cases — not necessarily a crime. That’s the gamble crime reporters or bloggers take when we cover them.

Brentos the Deathmaker (Brent E. High)

I’ve received one very angry e-mail from a relative of one of Brent High’s alleged victims, Randy Brock. They had the usual problem with people posting stuff about murders like this online, much less discussing it. More than that, they really didn’t like my wondering if Brent High was mentally ill. High is the 26-year-old MMORPG devotee who may have ax-murdered Randy Brock and Brent’s own stepbrother, Brandon Johnson, on January 24, 2007 in Nampa, Idaho.

Shortly after I got that e-mail, a different person (maybe a friend or relative of Brent’s) posted in the comments on the first entry I wrote about High, indignant that commenters were not showing much pity for Brent, who may be a paranoid schizophrenic.

Let me explain something here — a killer is a killer. Yet I must admit, the mental illness factor gives me pause. My brother David, who committed suicide in 2000, had a terrible battle with bipolar disorder, and he’d been counter-diagnosed as being a schizophrenic at least once (please, no debates about how different those illnesses are. I’m well aware, and have always wondered why one set of doctors thought David’s symptoms added up to schizophrenia). My biggest fear before David died was that he would do something to someone else one day. It was a fear because even though my brother was an aggressive, feisty guy, he wasn’t a killer — and he himself would never have emotionally survived hurting another person while in a psychotic state.

To my knowledge, my brother David was only ever a grave danger to himself.

Point being, yes, I did have to think about the idea of Brent High possibly being a schizophrenic for a bit, and figure out what I felt about that in the context of researching and writing about this double-murder.

Brent was on social security disability, or so he said. His illness, whatever it was, was a known factor. That being the case, he surely knew that he couldn’t function normally without medication. Personal choices do play a role in such things. Had High’s behavior prior to January 24 never been questioned, it’d be a different story. But he was posting online years ago that he was on SSDI. That means the guy had been to a lot of doctors. At some point, he had to make a decision about whether he wanted to be sane or insane. Or at the least, he became negligent where his mental health was concerned. That was a lapse in responsibility.

So I don’t have any pity for him. I’m pro-death penalty, but not 100% sure High should be fried if he’s found guilty of murdering Mr. Johnson and Mr. Brock. But I am 150% he needs to be locked away forever.

That’s still more liberal a view than I once had. I once compared people insane enough to murder, much less butcher others to rabid dogs, who should be put down.

And if Brent High was more lucid than the first reports of the crime indicated, and that’s proven, then I’ll change my mind a little and say yes, put that rabid animal down.

Other stuff…

I’ll be posting some guest blog entries here soon, and I am still trying to figure out how to repair what happened with CrimeBlog.US and HuffCrimeBlog.com. I’m still not convinced it’s something I need to fix, either, but any further explanation of that would be the in ultimate techno-boredom for most readers. I do have access to the text of all my entries in both blogs, and am still moving things over as often as I can. If an old entry is still missing and you’d like me to ease things and move it over sooner rather than later, simply e-mail me (link above, on the right) and let me know the subject of the entry, and I’ll get it posted here. I am, incidentally, pre-dating the entries as I move them, so new material is always at the top of this blog.

And that’s all for now, folks.