Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Brief Post for This Week.

I went to see Dr. Wonderful’s junior colleague on Tuesday, and it was disappointing.  He didn’t know anything about parathyroid tests – which, considering he is a family practice doctor, is understandable I guess – but he did refer me to another endocrinologist.

He told me to use an OTC cortisone cream on both my arms “for the blotchiness” – he didn’t know what that was, either, or why I was losing pigment.  I don’t plan on coating my arms with cortisone cream, as it thins skin and as far as I know cannot help with loss of pigmentation.

He doesn’t think this is environmental.  He told me to follow a “low fodmap” diet.  I guess I can give it a try, once I look it up to see what in hell it is.

Then he scheduled me for a mammogram, and sent me on my way.

“We may never know what’s wrong with you” he says.  Arrgghhhh!

The new endocrinologist’s office hasn’t called me for an appointment yet.

Meanwhile, I went shopping for basic household stuff (tp, I use a LOT of that, toothpaste, etc) at Target on Wednesday, taking the dreaded senior van.  After walking around the shop for 1/2 hour, I was nauseated, drenched in sweat from my head and neck, red in the face, and had to fast-walk over to the restroom with an attack of diarrhea (fortunately, I made it in time and with no drama).

This usually only happens when I have been out for about an hour or more, so it’s getting worse.  I grabbed an extra plastic bag on the way out just in case my nausea escalated on the way home.

I sat outside Target, waiting for the van, out of the way of most people because I was embarrassed that I was bright red and sweating profusely.  A couple of customers asked me if I was alright, as they passed me on their way in to the store.

“Please hurry up van gosh I wish I had a car,” I thought, not the first time, of course. I can add “embarrassment’ to the list of issues I have with lack of transportation.

I literally crawled up the stairs when I got home, hung out in the bathroom for awhile, and then went to bed.  At 2 PM. Took anti-nausea meds and an antihistamine so I could sleep.  My bp was 176/90.

None of this is normal.  Whatever it is, it is getting worse and now I am rethinking my errands situation.  Can I go to the grocery store next week?  Heck, I went downstairs to get the mail today and my bp spiked to 180/97.  I am angry that this is rapidly confining me to my apartment 24/7.

I have things I want to do!  I have my first granddaughter arriving in November, and I want to travel to see her for Christmas (my son and his wife live far away in another state).  I want to get better!  It’s frustrating because, if it’s a parathyroid problem, all they have to do is take one or more parathyroid glands out, and voila!  Cured!  How can I make it through airports and long flights when I can’t even last a half hour in a store?

But…no diagnosis yet.  If I end up in the ER again I will demand a PTH test, along with a colonoscopy (might as well, since no one seems to be able to treat the diarrhea I have had every day since January).  That’s if I feel well enough to advocate for myself, which is unknown at this point.

As I write this, I am still nauseated and exhausted.  This is the most frustrating situation I have ever been in, and it’s scary, too.  I feel very discouraged.

On the plus side, I hope…I received an exercise bike from Amazon yesterday.  I saved up Amazon cards over the past year to get it, so it didn’t cost me anything:

It is supposed to be “easy to assemble”.  I am very bad at assembling anything.  Hopefully there won’t be too much swearing and crying.  The only time I regret not being married is when I am forced to assemble things!

As my world continues to shrink due to illness, I am not about to go down without a fight.  I am thankful that my mind is pretty much intact, even as I try to get my body under control.  At least with an exercise bike, if I start to feel sick I am already at home, so that’s the logic behind this purchase.

I have already eliminated soda, caffeine, bad fats, white sugar, and anything else that causes symptoms that I can think of from my diet.  I tried eliminating dairy and gluten, months ago, and there was no change.  Vegetables and fruits are hit-and-miss, as too much fiber wreaks havoc with my digestion.

I stopped dying my hair and I cut it super-short to see if this helped with the heat intolerance (it didn’t).  I use only organic soaps and shampoos, all free of sulphates.

I take 50,000 IU of vitamin D3 for my vitamin D deficiency. I drink enough water – bottled water, as this place is not Memphis with its artisan wells.  This place is where you can set your faucet alight due to fracking.  Heck, I even give my cats bottled water, the water here is so bad.

I cut back on all meds and only take blood pressure medication (not working all that well at times), a med for palpitations, and Tylenol for pain.  The new medication my gastroenterologist’s PA prescribed has, as one of its few side effects, a tendency to prevent absorption of vitamin D3 – so that’s out, too.

Besides, I haven’t any money for new prescriptions this month anyway.  I’ll have to do more surveys just to pay my bills this month.  I don’t need the stress but it can’t be helped.

Which brings me to recommendations…surveys.  Yes, they take forever to qualify and complete, but if you have a ton of free time they are sort of worth it.  Best ones are:

Mint Vine – pays out in gift cards (way too many to list) or Paypal.  Lowest payout is $10, and you can earn that fairly quickly (2 weeks or so).  It’s how I earn Amazon cards, primarily, and how I get Christmas presents for others.  If you want to join this one, please use this link, because I get extra points if you sign up through it and then actually take surveys:

Vindale Research – This one takes longer to do, but if you don’t die of boredom you can earn $50 in Paypal within a month.  That’s the minimum amount you can earn.  Definitely worth it if you are in a panic and spend all your waking hours doing surveys so you can pay bills (like me).  This is another one that can help if you sign up and complete the “evaluation” (demographics info) through this link – I get $5 per referral:

OneOpinion – This, too, takes a bit longer but it also pays out in gift cards (Amazon, Target, Walmart, Home Depot, Starbuck’s, Visa) and Paypal.  Minimum earnings – $25.

Sorry to beg for referrals but I don’t think WordPress allows “donate” buttons, and I am really strapped this month from the extra OTC things I have had to buy in an attempt to control some of my symptoms (which I have now discarded because none of it seemed to help).

Terrible situation – health vs bills.  So I am desperate this month.

Weird news of the week: Binky the Cat bites would-be burglar!

Made me smile.

Be good.  Be kind.  Please excuse the pitch for referrals, I won’t do it again.






Stop, Drop…and Think.

We live in some really depressing times.  People are sad, angry, anxious, and worried.

I think I can help a bit with that.

Lots of us remember Watergate and Nixon’s resignation, and we were upset then, too.  But I don’t think I have seen the intensity of emotions that I am seeing today, when I compare that event to 45’s chaotic presidency.

Part of it is, I think, due to the outrageous flaunting of public opinion and the blatant disrespect for our Constitution.  I don’t think there is anything to compare to that, in terms of how much contempt the Republicans and the president have for the American people and our democracy.

Putting all that aside, I want to focus on what we can each do on an individual basis to keep our emotional equilibrium.

We live in an instant information era.  Breaking news hits us many times a day, and if it doesn’t get on the TV news it gets on social media and takes off.  News that we had days to digest in the past now has us scrambling to make sense of it within minutes.

That’s cognitively tiring.  Exhausting, even.

It’s easy to just say, “Oh get the hell off the internet and go do something else”, but for those who cannot get out of their homes (due to illness or poverty or whatever), it’s not that simple.

Of course, if you can get out and go camping or take a bike ride or do some kind of hobby, that’s great!  You probably have a lower level of stress than the rest of us.  I am all for that!

My suggestions – for the rest of us – are as follows:

When you read or see a news story that upsets or angers you, stop reacting.  Drop what you’re thinking about.  Think in a different way.

The first part, to stop reacting, is called “thought stopping” (yeah, I know, pretty obvious name). The trick is that you need to be aware when you are reacting, so you can stop it.

Here is an easy way to do that: put a rubber band on your wrist.  When you start to feel upset, snap it.  That is your (slightly painful) cue to tell yourself to redirect your attention.

With time, you won’t need to use a rubber band.  Or maybe you are aware and don’t need to use a rubber band, which is terrific!  You’re ahead of the game already!

You can also use any other attention-getting device, such as a small bell or something. Whatever interrupts your reaction is fine.

Next, drop whatever you’re doing that has upset you – reading news, looking at social media, watching TV, what-have-you.  Immediately go into the “think” part.

You can do this in several ways.  You can redirect your thoughts to something completely different.  Kitten and puppy videos are on YouTube for a reason, people!

You can read a completely unrelated book.  Or a book that’s on the same topic but that sees it from a different perspective – like any book written by your favorite comedian.

You can listen to your favorite music.  Or play your own music.

“That sounds like good old distraction,” you might be thinking.

Yeah, it does.  You can think of it as “mindful distraction”.  The difference between that and distraction alone is that this method is a conscious effort to change your thinking.

It is called “cognitive restructuring”.

Here’s an example:  Let’s say you see a news story about the presidential pardon of Joe Arpaio, or the story about the ban being lifted on giving the police military weapons, or the taunting of North Korea, or…well, you get the idea.

And you react with anger, and/or hopelessness, and think, “We’re so screwed! Why isn’t anyone doing anything about this!  Everyone in Congress is complicit!  My hair is on fire!”

Hence, the “on fire” association when I nicknamed this method.

So, here’s what you do – stop reacting.  Drop what you’re reading, and think about writing your congress person.  If you’re like me, just Googling your congress person’s website tends to turn your feelings down a notch.

Or you could say to yourself, “Self, remember all those crowds at demonstrations and town halls we see!  People are doing things!  And there are more of us than there are of them!”

Keep reminding yourself, Republicans may control all 3 branches of government now, but most Americans are pretty sick of the way things are being handled, as evidenced by polls.  And, Hillary won the popular vote.  There were always more of us than there were of them.

Write these reminders down, if it helps (and it might).

I don’t recommend that you immediately go post your outrage somewhere, like on FB or Twitter or comments sections of websites, because that just continues to make you upset (because you haven’t switched your thinking).

In fact, the more you dwell on something, the stronger the connections between the neurons in your brain get for that idea, and then you can get stuck, unable to stop thinking about it.

That’s called “laying down neural tracks”.   They can be switched/lessened, but it takes more work.   That’s the kind of thing for which I used to conduct therapy.   Therapy works, but it takes awhile.

It takes some effort to do stop, drop, and think, but it’s worth it.  It will lower your stress level, and possibly make it easier for you to sleep at night.

And judging by the way the world has been lately, you’ll have many opportunities to practice this technique – think how good you’ll get at it!   Your health might improve, too.

See? Sometimes I do more on this blog than just bitch.  Heh.

Today’s weirdness comes from Chambersburg, PA (which is about 80 miles SE of where I live):

“Spiritual Sonogram Offers Couple Relief. What Do You See?” (Ali Bradley, Fox43 website, 8/22/17)

The couple sees Jesus in their baby’s sonogram.  I see yet another reason why I need to move out of Pennsylvania.

Today’s recommendation is for Motorola smartphones.  I just got a new one the other day, and it was so easy to set up…ok, with minimal crying, I mean…and I love it.

My last smartphone was a Motorola, too (there is a post somewhere on this blog about it), and it was a klutz’s dream.  I dropped that sucker so many times, and it never broke or cracked or anything.  It was a Moto G.

This one is a Moto E4.  I imagine it will be dropped a lot, too.  It was very affordable (less than $40), it’s on the Verizon pre-paid plan, and it’s at Target or on target,com.  Has a great battery life and decent storage, with a slot for a memory card.  Best phone for the money, in my opinion.  And no, no one is paying me to write this, I just really like Motorola phones.

Be good.  Be kind.  And remember, the only thing that should be on fire is 45’s pants.








Just Make It Stop

Brief health note: I have an appointment with an endocrinologist on November 15.  Hopefully, we can get to the cause of the flushing and labile blood pressure.  And since I have changed my diet, I haven’t felt nauseated and have managed to stay out of the hospital for 3 weeks.

Today I was going to write about how silly/weird/dangerous Trump is making America look to the rest of the world, then I was going to write about the polls in various states regarding the presidential election.  Serious stuff.

But my heart just wasn’t in any of it.

I am sick of hearing and reading about politics.  I am ready for the election to

I mentioned possibly not watching the third and final debate when I last blogged – and I didn’t.  I did try to watch the Alfred E. Smith dinner, but I didn’t watch for long…it was painful.

This dinner, which is televised every time it is on, has always been a funny and light break from the political debates of the day.  I usually watch it and laugh.  It is a non-partisan dinner held by the Catholic Archdiocese of New York to raise money for their charities.

But this year, Donald Trump, ever the out-of-step doofus, either didn’t understand the point of the speeches, or just decided he was going to use the dinner as a platform for his vitriol against Hillary Clinton (I tend to think the latter), and he got booed for it.

Booed.  I think that’s a first for the event.

It wasn’t that his jokes were bad – though they were – it’s that he had so few of them.  He did throw his wife Melania under the bus, making a joke about how she copied the First Lady’s speech.  But self-deprecating humor?  Nowhere to be seen.

At one point he compared himself to Jesus, stating he (Trump) also worked for his dad as a carpenter.  For 3 weeks.  Charming.

I couldn’t watch any more of it.  I am just so sick of the sound of Trump’s voice, and of the poisonous lies that come out of his mouth.  He has no sense of humor unless you count his making fun of people who are other-abled and his insulting “pet names” he has for anyone he doesn’t like as “humor”.

Trump brings down every venue he’s in.  Unless, of course, you are a hate-filled misogynist who enjoys laughing at other peoples’ expense, and thinks name-calling is funny.

One person I do like listening to is Elizabeth Warren.  She has such high energy, and such an obvious affection for Hillary and women in this country in general, that it’s always a treat for me to watch her.

She took Trump’s remark about Hillary being a “nasty woman” and embraced it for all of us. Specifically, she stated

“Get this, Donald.  Nasty women are tough.  Nasty women are smart.  And nasty women vote.  And, on November 8, we nasty women are going to march our nasty feet to cast our nasty votes to get you out of our lives forever.”  (“Elizabeth Warren Rallies ‘Nasty Women’ to Vote for Clinton”, Asma Khalid, NPR website, 10/24/16)

Yeah!  And all over the country, women are referring to themselves as “nasty women”.  That did pick me up for awhile.

But I am ready for the election to be over, and clearly I think that Hillary is going to win.  The latest AP poll has her leading nationally by 14 points.  I wish I could say I am surprised her lead isn’t larger, but one thing this election period has taught me is that there are far more reactionaries in this country than I had previously thought.

It’s still quite astounding to me that the GOP is running a candidate like Trump, and I wonder if there isn’t a split coming after the election between traditional conservatives and the alt right, resulting in a 3rd party.

That would obviously be a big advantage to the progressives in this country.

But for now, I wish the right would just all shut up.  They don’t have anything interesting to say, they have been insulting women and minorities for years, and if they want to fracture into a hundred different political parties it would suit me just fine.

November 8 can’t come fast enough for me.

Recommendations for this week….the new season of Longmire is on Netflix.  Great series, and worth a look.

Be good.  Be kind.   Happy Samhain!



October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

domesticviolence1…and also breast cancer awareness month.  I lost a sister to breast cancer, years ago, and I would encourage all my female readers to get regular mammograms.

My focus on domestic violence is mainly because my life was almost lost to it 6 1/2 years ago, so I have first-hand knowledge of the effects it can have on someone.

The night I left my abuser, he had fallen asleep holding a tire iron.  I had no doubt that, once he woke up, he would have beaten me to death with it.  And so I tip-toed out of the house and out to my car, where I had stashed a packed bag in the trunk.

If I had not had a car, I don’t know what I would have done.  I had actually asked 2 people for help leaving (in the form of “come get me”) but both of them let me down.  They ignored my pleas and I was on my own.  Now the car is gone, due to a catastrophic engine failure, and I find myself in a different kind of dire situation due to lack of one – being able to move closer to one of my kids so they can help me in an emergency.

Very soon after, I found the apartment I still live in today, and I was able to get the 2 kittens away from my abuser by “trading” them for the computer I had left behind (the kitties have been living with me happily ever since).

The nightmares have stopped.  I feel safe in my home.  I am ok.  Kitties are happy and healthy.

But I have always thought about other people who have gone – or are going through – the same kind of abuse I did, and how there are still not many services around for them.  I think about how I would run a shelter – one that included pets and also adult children with disabilities – that could really address this problem of domestic abuse.

To have someone endure abuse, and then have to decide if he/she can leave pets behind is an additional burden placed on an already stressed-out survivor.  As far as his or her adult children go, most survivors choose to stay and not leave their child behind.  Most shelters – and this includes the one I fled to – will not allow adult children to stay in the shelter with the survivor.

This is unacceptable.  This policy prevents people from getting the help they need.

In an ideal shelter – in a shelter I envision – there wouldn’t be one house with bunk beds in each room.  It would be more like a compound, with individual units (like motel rooms) where each family and their pet(s) could stay while transitioning to permanent housing.

Counselors would be assigned to the units (maybe 1 counselor to 4 units, for example), and they would help the survivor obtain whatever was needed to help him or her start a new life – whether it be permanent housing, a job, further education, medical assistance, or other resources.

That is my vision.  Unfortunately, I am unable to move on this due to my recurring transportation and illness issues, but maybe this will spark some action from someone who is able to help.

This vision is one of the things that motivates me to continue to push to get well.  Clearly, a shelter that operated as I think it should would cost more than how they are run today, but that’s where grant writing and fundraising come into play.  It also would help to have a paying job on the side.

That’s where the motivation is for me to go back to school and either get my PhD, or find some way to get a license (licensed professional counselor).

So much to do, so little time.  But I have to get well first.  And I may have to travel out of state (or at least to Pittsburgh or Hershey) to get the medical care I need.

On Friday I will see one of my primary care physicians and see how quickly I can get an appointment with an endocrinologist.  Medicare being what it is, I can’t even try for an appointment without a referral from my pcp.  Fingers crossed that I can get an appointment soon, and that it’s in Blair County where I live.

I am a dreamer.  I am a survivor.  And right now, I can use all the help I can get.

Today’s recommendation, if you can stomach it, would be the 3rd and final presidential debate tonight at 9 PM EST.  I watched the other 2 but am not sure how much of this final one I will watch – my blood pressure is high enough, thanks.

The Saturday Night Live parody this Saturday should be quite funny, however, and no doubt we will have every channel doing post-debate analysis anyway, so if you don’t watch it live I don’t think you will miss anything.

In the meantime, here is a short clip of our president that illustrates, for me, how much I will miss him when he leaves office:

I will miss First Lady Michelle Obama, too:

Be good.  Be kind.  Take care of one another.

Not Secular, Not Elvis, Not Even Close

I need an iPod or something.  That way, I don’t have to put my fingers in my ears and sing “la la la la la I can’t hear you”, which I literally did on Wednesday.

Yes, I really did that.  And, though it was done humorously, I did it so I wouldn’t have to hear what I knew was going to be a bunch of pro-Trump drivel from…

…yeah, one of those entitled seniors I wrote about last week.  He’s also the guy who shouts into the microphone at every monthly meeting of the volunteer organization I belong to, when he “leads us all in prayer” before lunch.  He can hear fine, he just shouts a lot, because he’s one of those people who seems to think that “louder” means “important”.

I am going to back up here a bit.

Those who read my Facebook posts were subjected to the shorter version of what happened in my life on Wednesday (feel free to skip).  I had to attend an awards lunch – yes, it was mandatory and yes, I paid the van service $6 for transportation to/from the lunch – which, like all meetings of this volunteer organization, is held in a church.

The senior organization that administers this volunteer program (which is federal) actually owns and runs the van service – but they won’t transport anyone under 65 for free for their mandatory meetings.  It’s ridiculous, and they won’t give any explanation, they just say “no”.  They reimburse gas mileage to people who drive, but do not pay for or reimburse van costs or bus fare.  It doesn’t make any sense to me.

So I walked into the church common room, or whatever they call it, and the first thing I saw was this:

Trump Sign

This is a picture of the “snack table”, where the volunteer organization leaves breakfast bars for us, since the damn meetings start at 8:30 or 9 am.  In case you can’t read this sign, it says “please 1 per person Thank you “Donald Trump” (sic)”.

I suspect it was the pastor of the church who wrote this, because he is present for every meeting (even though he isn’t a member of the program) and he fancies himself a funny guy who occasionally makes jokes about President Obama and “liberals”.

He’s a Methodist minister.  I used to attend a Methodist church, years ago when I was married (long story for another time), and the minister of that church wasn’t anything like this man.  In fact, the Methodist churches in Memphis tend to be fairly liberal.

I don’t know why he should care if anyone takes more than one bar, because as far as I know he doesn’t buy them.  But…seniors are really like children, you see, and it’s up to him to make sure we obey all the rules. *Rolls eyes*

I thought, “Uh oh, this doesn’t bode well.”  Any reference to Trump doesn’t bode well with me.

The program started out with door prizes.  Oddly, in the middle of this, the pastor walked up to the front, took the mic from the volunteer coordinator (who is a member of his church, by the way) and announced…

“There’s been a bus accident.”

Everyone gasped.  As you do, if you think “oh I know people who ride the bus” and so on.

He continued, “It was Hillary Clinton’s campaign bus.”

It dawned on me that this was a joke.  Ha…ha…ha.

He then said, “Three boys pulled Hillary out of the bus.  She says to them, ‘Since you saved my life, I’ll reward you with anything you like.’  He describes what the first two boys want (a car and something else) and said, “The third boy asked for a tombstone.”

His punchline?  “Hillary asked, ‘why a tombstone?’  Because, the boy said, when my father finds out I saved you, he’s going to kill me.”

Everyone laughed heartily, except for the two African-Americans in the room, and me.

The pastor walked back to where he usually stands at the back of the room, a smug smile on his face.

He had to pass me on the way.  I asked him, “Why did you say that?  Not everyone here is a Republican, you know.”

He looked at me as if I had two heads, and kept right on walking.

The other people at my table looked horrified, because I had spoken to the pastor that way. Two of them were my friends (or so I thought) with whom I went through training.

I explained, “There are Democrats in this room, I bet, and Hillary supporters too.  Plus, this was inappropriate, this isn’t the place for partisan politics.  I found it offensive.”

Again, I got the “she’s got two heads” look.  And no response.

Yes, my day was off to a bright start.

The rest of the morning was fairly uneventful.  I won a gift card to a local gas station.

I don’t own a car.

I guess I will give it to Nancy Downstairs.

The volunteer coordinator and her minions assistants, in their usual bumbling way, had not prepared enough door prizes for everyone.  Now, that caused an uproar with the people who didn’t win anything.   They were threatening to write letters (to whom, I have no idea), draw up petitions, and call their local politicians.

I’m serious.  They really did say these things.

Violate church and state?  Who cares?

Don’t get a door prize?  Up in arms!!

Lunch time rolled around – yay, it’s not Meals on Wheels this time – and the volunteer coordinator announced on the mic, “Come lead us all in prayer, Jack.” (Not his real name, by the way)

Jack obliged and shouted into the microphone, ending (of course) with “in Jesus’ name”.

I was so glad he didn’t ask his god to bless Trump or make any political references.  So glad.

Of course, everyone bowed their heads except for me.  I keep hoping one day I will find another person who doesn’t do this, so I can befriend him or her.

While standing in line for lunch, my “friends” and I passed Jack, who was on the verge of telling the “friend” behind me why he voted for Trump.  That’s when I did the finger in ears la la la thing.  That got a few laughs but it really helped me, because I truly could not hear Jack.

“What a blessing”, as they say in Memphis.

After lunch, we were subjected “treated” to the musical stylings of an Elvis impersonator.  Who, for some odd reason, didn’t impersonate Elvis, he just sang some of his songs.  He played guitar and warbled (pretty badly, I might add) accompanied by recorded music.

It was awful.

And there was Jack, in the back, shouting out “Play (insert title of Elvis song here)!” after every song.  Thankfully, he was ignored.

But then it got worse.

Mr. Elvis Impersonator Who Isn’t Really then began to play gospel songs.  And, of course, the majority of the brainwashed seniors sang along, off-key, or just shouted the lyrics.

One of my “friends” turned to me and said…

“Come on, sing!!”

“I’m not Christian,” I replied.

She laughed.

“I’m not kidding,” I said.

She laughed again, and then turned away.

I was dismissed.

More Bitching, Celtic Witching…and Ellen DeGeneres

In that order.  Skip down to the next page if you only want to read the “witching” and “Ellen” parts.

I was recently in Memphis, visiting my son and daughter-in-law, and the subject of social media and Facebook came up in conversation.  Despite the fact that both of them are tech-savvy (his job is doing computer administration stuff), they do not “do Facebook”.

The reason is simple: what you put online never, ever goes away.  They are private people and they don’t like the thought of their personal lives being on the internet for all to see.

Even programs where the developers state you can “erase” things – “Snapchat” comes to mind, for example – it’s never really erased.  It can be buried in your device, perhaps, but if someone really wants it they can get it.

No program makes it impossible, too, for someone to just copy what you write and post, meaning it can be out there in cyberspace, in perpetuity.

Ok, so I understand and respect their position.  Which is why my Facebook page has NO pictures of either of them, or their dogs, nor will it have, ever.

We also discussed the more vacuous things that are found on Facebook – pictures of peoples’ meals, of everything they bought that day, of every party they attended and of everyone they ever knew.

Then there are the one or two-line homilies about the nature of life and so on.  Most of those are banal.

My posts often come under fire for “being negative”, as discussed in the last blog post.  So I decided that, on my way back from Memphis, I would only post trivial and positive things.

The first post was when I was in the Memphis airport at 5 AM, waiting for my flight to board.  I commented on how nice the airport is, with its redesign and blues music on the loudspeaker.

Then I posted from Pittsburgh, stating I was waiting for the final leg of my flight to board, drinking a latte and playing “Words with Friends” with a friend (who was also on Facebook).

Finally, I posted when I got home, stating my cats were upset (I should have included a cute picture, my bad) but that the flight – in a 6-seater, one-prop plane – was terrific.

Ugh.  Who in hell cares??

To me, it was all inconsequential stuff that happens in my life, and in everyone else’s life, too.

I rarely even think about stuff like that, or if I do it’s only for a minute or so.

My head is filled with “what can I do to make the world better?” and “how can this experience/thing I saw illustrate the point that people need to be kind” and “how do I frame this struggle with illness/disability so that it can educate others?”

I don’t care – and I suspect you probably don’t, either – what flavor my latte is, aside from what to order at the coffeehouse counter.  Unless I work for the coffeehouse, what possible reason could I have to take a picture of it and post it on Facebook?

The Memphis airport plays blues music.  Big deal.  Unless it plays music recorded by one of my friends, and I can use Facebook to promote that, why post about it?

Who cares who I play “Words with Friends” with?  Or that I had a nice flight?  Why should I waste my time, and yours, writing about things like that?

Yet this seems to be what the majority of people on Facebook do, every day all day.

Not everyone has to post earth-shattering news/opinions and so on, that’s not my point.  But it’s like there is no filter on what they post, or even priorities.

A picture of someone’s lunch has the same weight for them as their snippet about their deity or their philosophy of life.

There’s something really disturbing about that.  Disturbingly shallow.

Aside #1: I do have friends who post pics of meals for other reasons, such as they created something for their elderly mother – and I like posts like that.  Because they carry meaning about life, and relationships.  Same goes for posts about their new cars, and new houses, and other good things that come their way – I like to know my friends are doing well.

But I cannot post meaningless trivia about my life – it seems so self-indulgent, and it assumes people want to know every dumb little thing I do all day.  And, hey, unless someone is a stalker, I cannot imagine why they would want to know all that.

I suppose I could just give up posting on Facebook entirely, and I actually have considered that. Still might.  I find it rude when people write me to advise me to “stop being negative”, or go so far as to post those banners or whatever-you-call-them with sayings about how messed-up negative people are…on my timeline, really?

I could just “unfriend” those people.  I haven’t decided what I want to do yet.  But, again, this feels exclusionary to me.  After all the “cliques” I’ve been tossed out of, from high school onwards, all the jobs I have lost due to my opinions, now I’m being pushed out of Facebook for not conforming?

Really?  Not even by the actual Facebook admins, but by people I know socially?

Ok, rant over.

Relativism and Bestowing Kindness

I posted a rant on Facebook today.  It was a bit different from other angry posts I have written in the space that asks, “What’s on your mind?”

Because this one was directed very specifically at a few people I had, at one time, considered friends.

Oh, not just Facebook friends – nearly all of them are/were friends “in real life”.  From high school, and from former workplaces, these are people that I may have had what I would have considered “minor ideological disagreements” with, but whom I generally considered to be kind and decent people.

But, in keeping with this particularly “grinchy” holiday season, some decided to repost some pretty vitriolic and/or holier-than-thou passive-aggressive treatises this week.

The essays are formulaic in that they usually have a big picture on top of the text that spouts some directive such as “like and pass this on if you agree!”  Then the text that follows is often what apparently the writer thinks is a brilliant and original set of thoughts strung together but which is actually a mishmash of right-wing platitudes.

The tone of the treatise is always smug, a kind of “oh we poor, beleaguered, hard-working property owners who are being oppressed at every turn by filthy ignorants wanting equal rights and basic essentials like food and housing” textual equivalent of wailing and tearing their hair out.

Sometimes they throw veterans in the mix, as if public assistance agencies deliberately cross-check with the VA in order to steal benefits from one to give to the other.  It goes something like this: “People who have NEVER worked a DAY in their LIVES get housing and food and free utilities and free Obamaphones and free healthcare while OUR VETERANS who RISKED THEIR LIVES to KEEP YOU FREE are homeless, starving, cold, phone-less, and waiting MONTHS for a doctor’s appointment…”

I don’t know what kind of mind thinks these things up, but it takes a special kind of craftiness to twist “facts” like this.  The “fact” is, although both types of agencies are funded by public money, they have their own budgets, and their own advocates in Congress and elsewhere who lobby for funding.

“Welfare” and the VA are entities that endeavor to assist people with all kinds of issues – and that’s where the similarity ends.  They have nothing else in common, and do not share resources or funding.

But it’s important for extremely conservative people (and I use that word “people” in the broadest sense) to set up false equivalents like this because they can’t gain much support by saying:

We don’t like poor people because sometimes they smell, are often mentally ill, sometimes are disabled in ways that make us uncomfortable, don’t dress nice/appropriately, don’t fit in the middle-class life script of stable family-college-steady job-retirement, aren’t the same culturally as we are, don’t go to our church or any church for that matter, and generally make us not want to be around them or even think about them.

So it must be their fault, because WE did everything right in our lives and we’re just fine.  Why should WE pay to support people who messed up their lives?  Oh, except veterans, because…imperialism/oil/we-hate-Muslims.  And “I support the troops” is the mandatory addition to any statement criticizing US foreign policy, especially if it involves killing.  Have to make that clear – after all, we don’t want to be seen as traitors for questioning our military!

It’s quite apparent to anyone with basic intelligence that right-wing people in all classes hate the poor.  Even some right-wing poor people hate the poor!  If they had their way, which thankfully they do not (yet), everyone would be made to conform to their way of living or be locked up or given no help at all so they could just starve/freeze to death.

And, despite the zillions of times people point out the statistics that state our most vulnerable populations are children, the elderly, and the disabled, right-wingers persistently try to assert that most people getting public assistance are able-bodied young people who can work but won’t.

The “disabled” are all faking, are mentally ill (which to right-wingers means “not ill at all, just morally bankrupt/not saved/weak”), or have substance abuse issues (which, again, to right-wingers means they “just need to stop, the weaklings”).

If people happen to be born disabled, they ought to be put in institutions where we don’t have to see them or interact with them.

To someone like these mean-spirited, rather dim-witted individuals, state institutions for special-needs people are a good use of their tax money.  Because hey, it’s all about them and their comfort level, because they are so physically, morally, and mentally perfect – kind of like Aryans or something.

And Jesus loves them, don’t you know.  The Bible tells them so!  Some Bible that I guess I never studied, because in the ones I read, Jesus hung out with lepers and other “undesirables”, the same kinds of people right-wing Christians want to kill/imprison/hide away in institutions.  He even touched them and stuff!

So, the relativism the title of this post refers to?  I’m getting to that now.

I have read several things on the internet (comments and articles), and have had people state to my face that the people who speak about the poor in the disgusting and cruel manner they do “are unhappy people who aren’t aware of how hateful they’re being.”

Those people, it is asserted, deserve my kindness too.

No, they don’t.

First of all, I think they are fully aware of what they’re saying, because they say it loud and they say it often.  They can quote Faux News fake statistics to back-up their boneheaded opinions.

I do not have a poker face.  Never did, never will. So unless I am, for some reason, wearing a Halloween mask when people say these horrid things to me, they are more than aware of the reaction they have elicited.

Additionally, they often whisper or speak in low tones when they say hateful things.  That indicates they are aware that other people, in general,  would disapprove of their ideas.

Since this is hardly Seattle, and they are unlikely to be confronted about their ideas by anyone except me or perhaps Nancy Downstairs (who doesn’t suffer mean fools either), this tells me they know their ideas are unacceptable by social norms.

Know = awareness.

Next reason?  Oh yeah, they’re unhappy souls.


I don’t care if they’re unhappy that their mortgage rate is too high, or that they have to pay $400/month in Medicare because they make over $200,000/year (look it up, that’s the rate), or that they hate having to choose between buying an $800 iPhone and buying a new purse – when “poor people” can get free Obamaphones!!!

“Obamaphone”: a basic cell phone (Kyocera Jax is an example of one – I know because I had one) that does nothing but call and text.  You get 350 minutes of call-time free, which isn’t a lot if you are disabled and have a lot of doctor’s appointments, or are looking for a job, etc.  You get unlimited text messages.  

It’s not an expensive smartphone.  That’s a flat-out lie.  Here is the site for it: Safelink.  They have income guidelines – you can’t just get one because you want one.

The point is, I don’t care if they’re unhappy.  They need to shut up.

To these unhappy folks I say:

Either deal with your “terrible” situation, or don’t.  But it’s not poor peoples’ faults your car payment is too high.

Yes, I guess you could reason that it is poor peoples’ faults because you have to pay taxes, and some of that money goes to social services.  And so you put down less money on your car, so consequently have higher car payments than you’d like.

Heck it can’t be the car manufacturer’s fault for the high car prices, right? (“It’s the unions,” I hear you muttering)

Or the banks, for high interest rates?

Hey, Mr and Mrs Fox News, guess what?  Many people who get food stamps or other assistance do so because their jobs don’t pay them a decent wage – the kind of wage you get.

You go look up the minimum wage and tell me how you would be able to have a house or even just a car on that amount of money.

Go on, I’ll wait.  *whistles tunelessly*

Yeah, you either didn’t do it, or you did and now you know that you cannot afford those luxurious groceries on minimum wage.   Why, produce alone will run you $50 just buying apples, onions, potatoes, basic stuff.

So maybe you don’t care – you earn a decent living, screw all those losers who work at McDonald’s and Walmart…

Ok, so let’s cut out taxes for social services.  You’ll need to pay more for police, prisons, and military because we po’ folk aren’t just going to quietly starve to death or die from health problems in our shabby apartments, we’ll be hobbling out in the streets long before it gets to that point.

We’re uppity that way.  And some of us, you just can’t kick us enough to keep us down.

Hey, when you become disabled, we’ll help you, too.  Even though you’re an asshole who probably doesn’t deserve it.  Because we think things like food, shelter, and healthcare are things everyone ought to have.

We’re not mean and nasty like you.

No, I am not going to be kind and understanding to people who have many things to be thankful for in their lives – comparatively speaking – but who are hateful in word and deed to the poor and disabled.

They don’t need kindness and understanding – they need a good dose of reality.

They need to – just once – imagine themselves in another person’s situation.  How would it feel to push a shopping cart in the streets in the middle of winter, that contained every possession you own?

Why would someone do that?  What would they be thinking and feeling?  Would they be cold? Hungry?  Depressed?  Ashamed and hurt when people give them dirty looks?

No, don’t anyone dare lecture me that I am being unkind to people who look down on people less fortunate.  My priorities are straight, thanks very much.

I am thoroughly disappointed in these so-called “friends” and their hateful posts.  Besides the disgustingly callous aspect, it’s disappointing in that they are in “monkey-see-monkey-do” mode.

Donald Trump and other Republicans can trash the poor, the disabled, the “other”, so it must be ok for them to do so too, right?

So in addition to these “friends” being morally bankrupt hypocrites, they also haven’t a brain between them that they can use to think original thoughts.

They just have unhappy lives/marriages/not enough material possessions so they’re going to take that out on the first downtrodden person they encounter – but probably not to their face.

No, they repost it on Facebook where no one can confront them or, if they do confront them, they can rally their other cowardly right-wing, pseudoChristian, xenophobic, racist, sexist, entitled, smug, holier-than-thou jingoistic Facebook warrior friends to come to their defense.

There.  I feel oh so much better!

Weirdness of the week comes from last night’s Republican debate.  Ben Carson, narcissist extraordinaire, when asked about how he felt about carpet-bombing that resulted in the deaths of children and other innocents, first replied, “Yes”, then said this, referring to children he has had to operate on (this maniac is a surgeon):

“I say to them, ‘we’re going to have to open your head up and take out this tumor’, they’re not happy about it, believe me. And they don’t like me very much at that point, but later on, they love me.” (“Watch Ben Carson Debate Weirdness: I Told Kids ‘We’re Going to Have to Open Your Head Up’ [VIDEO]”, Oliver Willis, Addicting Info Website, 12/16/2015)

Yeah, populations we bomb and kill eventually learn to love us for doing that.  And this man wants to be president??

Recommendation for the week: Go out and look at holiday lights in your neighborhood or elsewhere.  They can have a soothing effect, especially when you’re driving around.  I would love to do an experiment sometime on the physical effects of lights like that, and how that influences mood.  Hmmm, a dissertation idea!

Be good.  Be kind – but not to petty-minded, mean people.  It does no good and will only sadden you.