Sometimes you have a bad day. Maybe your bike tire went flat or you check your bank account and find out you got an overdraft charge. But humans have ways of coping — like reminding themselves, “Hey, it could be worse.” And you know, it could be. You could find yourself with the bubonic plague, like a few months ago when “a Central Oregon man likely contracted bubonic plague from a cat.”  That man, Paul “Steve” Gaylord, had a really bad day. But he didn’t have the luxury of saying it could be worse. But it was pretty bad, and then it got even worse.
After he nearly died from the plague, he “has now lost his withered fingers and toes to the disease known as the Black Death. Doctors amputated the blackened extremities of Paul ‘Steve’ Gaylord in an operation that lasted 2 1/2 hours Monday at the St. Charles Medical Center in Bend. The 60-year-old Prineville man told The Oregonian the surgery was a success but painful.” 
And that is the power of human spirit. You get the Black Death, then you lose your fingers and toes, and still you carry on defiantly. “I’m very happy to be alive,” Gaylord said. “I can’t change it. I want to get out of pain and be able to walk again and do things for myself.” 
Doing things for one’s self is a liberating activity. Taking matters into one’s own hands can be empowering. Unless you buy water bottles with your own hands with the help of food stamps and pour the water out. Then it is fraud, not empowerment. “Last week, KVAL News reporter Ty Steele saw two men dumping out case after case of bottled water on the ground before returning those bottles for the five-cent deposits…A DHS administrator commented on the video, giving a name to what the men were doing. ‘It’s called water dumping,’ said program manager Richard Whitwer.” 
You dump perfectly good water out to get a 5 cent deposit. Because humans are not just defiantly optimistic. They are also clever. Like whoever decided to scam Lane County residents by pretending to solicit donations for Womenspace. “Womenspace directors say someone has been calling local residents claiming to represent the non-profit, soliciting false donations. One woman told the organization a man called her asking for banking information. Womenspace reps say they never cold call as a fundraising tactic, and would never ask for a donor’s financial information over the phone.” 
So don’t give your banking information over the phone. That’s just silly. Similarly silly is starting off your higher education with being arrested for public intoxication. “Officers made 24 arrests and issued multiple citations Friday night in an attempt to keep Eugene’s University District calmer, Eugene Police Department said. EPD was on ‘Party Patrol’ in the neighborhoods to the west and south of the University of Oregon Friday night. During a six-hour period between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. officers arrested 24 people on charges ranging from consumption, open container and prohibited noise…OLCC assisted with enforcement and response efforts.” 
The OLCC helped out, perhaps in an effort to prove it still is relevant after a week in which it got called out for being behind the times. “Large grocery stores…are calling for a more significant change to the liquor laws in the state of Oregon. Proponents (such as Safeway and Albertsons) have stated that much more needs to be done to modernize Oregon’s liquor laws. In fact, the Northwest Grocery Assocation has told the Oregon government that an update to the system was needed. If Oregon does not update the system, says this association, they will push an initiative that would privatize liquor in Oregon, much like what occurred in the state of Washington.” 
This drive to privatize Oregon liquor control, of course, would not be complete without lobbyists. Grocery lobbyists are pushing for the privatization, whereas lobbyists for smaller distilleries and wineries are pushing back. Which raises the question: what do the people want? This was a question raised in another context this week as well: “Many Oregonians see these disastrous consequences of the Citizen’s United ruling, and they have begun to push back. From Coos Bay to Joseph, Gresham to Ashland, people are organizing and standing up for democracy run for the people, by the people — not corporations and other special interests. People in cities and towns across the nation are organizing to pass local resolutions calling on communities to support — and the U.S. Congress to pass — a constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United.” 
Citizens should unite and make their voices heard. Some are already doing so — not for overturning Citizens United, per se, but rather marijuana. “Hundreds of patients who rely on medical marijuana, and their supporters, [held] rallies [on Sept. 20] at Obama campaign offices and elsewhere in at least 15 cities in eight states across the country. In Eugene the rally [was held] in front of the U.S. Courthouse. The rallies are ‘an effort to draw attention to the Obama administration’s aggressive efforts to shut down legal medical marijuana grow sites and dispensaries, obstructing the passage of laws that would regulate such activity.'” 
The fact is, some activity needs to be regulated. Like sexually abusing kids. “The Boy Scouts of America failed to report hundreds of alleged child molesters over two decades and often left parents in the dark as a means to save face, the Los Angeles Times reported. After reviewing 1,600 confidential files dated 1970-1991 from the century-old organization, the Times found more than 500 instances in which the Scouts learned of abuse directly from boys, parents, staff or anonymous tips, rather than after the incidents were reported to the authorities…The Oregon Supreme Court has ordered the public release of about 1,200 files dating from 1965 to 1985, including some reviewed by the newspaper. Scouting officials told the Times that in many cases, they covered up the allegations to spare young victims from embarrassment. But some of the alleged molesters then went on to abuse other children, according to Scouts documents and court records cited by the Times.” 
Speaking of child abuse: In case you didn’t know, if your kid’s appendix bursts, you can’t just pray away the health complications — at least according to the State of Oregon. “Two Creswell parents pleaded guilty to negligent homicide charges in the apparent ‘faith healing’ death of their 16-year-old son, Austin Sprout. Sprout died after his appendix burst in December…The Bellews are members of the ‘general assembly and church of the firstborn,’ a church that believes in healing through faith and prayer rather than seeking medical care…Last year, the Oregon legislature changed the law regarding faith healing. Now, faith-based healing can no longer be used as a defense against manslaughter charges.” 
But like I said, it could always be worse. We could be subjected to television ads that try to make public transportation sexy.  Or maybe that might make things better. Maybe what we’ve needed this whole time was just sexier buses.