My apologies in advance to Benny Van Buren.
See boys, that's what I'm talking about. Fundraising is only one half skill, the
other half is something else.....something bigger!
You've gotta have....Heart! All you really need is heart!
When the odds are sayin' you'll never win, that's when the grin should start!
You've gotta have hope! Musn't sit around and mope. Nuthin' half as bad as
it may appear, wait'll next year and hope.
When your luck is battin' zero,
get your chin up off the floor. Mister, you can be a hero. You can open any
There's nothin' to it, but to do it. You've gotta have heart! Miles
and miles and miles of heart! Oh, it's fine to be a genius of course! But
keep that ol' horse before the cart! First you've got to have heart!
A great pitcher, we haven't got!
A great slugger, we haven't got!
A great pitcher, we haven't got!
What've we got? We've got heart! All you really need is heart! When the odds
are sayin', You'll never win, that's when the grin should start! We've got
hope! We don't sit around and mope! Not a solitary sob do we heave, mister
'cause we've got hope.
We're so happy, that we're hummin'.
Hmm, Hmm, Hmm
That's the heart-y thing to do.
'Cause we know our ship will come in!
Hmm, hmm, hmm
So it's eight years over due!
Hoo, hoo, hoo. We've got heart! Miles and miles and miles of heart! Oh it's
fine to be a genius of course, but keep that old horse before the cart!
So what the heck's the use of cryin'?
Why should we curse?
We've got to get better......
....'cause we can't get worse!
And to add to it; we've got heart! We've got heart! We've got Heart!
Thanks DU for all you do for all of us.
GBBC - or The Great Backyard Bird Count is looking for volunteers to count the birds in their backyards* for 4 days in February. You can sign up to participate at their website. http://www.birdsource.org/gbbc /
This helps to document many different things and can touch on many issues close to DUer's hearts and minds. Examples from their site are:
How will this winter's snow and cold temperatures influence bird populations?
Where are winter finches and other “irruptive” species that appear in large numbers during some years but not others?
How will the timing of birds’ migrations compare with past years?
How are bird diseases, such as West Nile virus, affecting birds in different regions?
What kinds of differences in bird diversity are apparent in cities versus suburban, rural, and natural areas?
Are any birds undergoing worrisome declines that point to the need for conservation attention?
And for those photo-taking DUer's they also have a contest for (what else) photos of birds submitted by the public. There are prizes for birdwatching submitters as well.
* from above - it doesn't have to be your backyard. As they say on their site: It doesn't matter whether you report the 5 species coming to your backyard feeder or the 75 species you see during a day's outing to a wildlife refuge.
I got a phone call from my sister last night with news that, were it to involve anyone else in my family it would have saddened me, left me flat. She called to tell me that my eldest aunt had passed away. I must say that, normally, I would have been reflectively sad and (knowing myself) quite tearful. I will admit that my reaction did not fall in those usual responses. I felt relieved and, if the truth be told, ever so briefly happy about hearing the news. Yes, I said ever so briefly and that was the case. I caught myself quickly and reverted to having no emotional response at all.
Now, before you think me totally heartless, let me explain. This woman had been very involved in my family and my upbringing ... so much so that she was allowed to pick my name when I was born. She was the oldest of my mother's siblings and as such ran every one of their lives to one extent or the other. I have come to the conclusion that at least when headstrong, opinionated behavior is concerned, I am cut from the same cloth as she, just a very different patterned cloth. She was the "alpha male" of the family and she never let anyone forget it. When I was growing up, I mistook her bullish behavior for strength and admired how she commanded all the air in the room pass by her first. I have since come to understand that she didn't practice fairness nor compassion for anyone that there was not some large payoff for her in the end. I get it and even though I have that same strong headed streak within me, I hope that I have learned the value of not using it as a weapon to hurt others but rather as a way to advocate for others when my help is requested. I, unlike her, don't think that I can bully my way to the monopolization of any situation through intimidation, nor that I should.
Over the years we began to discover that there were areas that we just didn't see eye to eye about and the distance between us grew so large as to be unmanageable for any type of mutual respect to flourish. The final straw came when my mother died in 2001. She bullied myself and my siblings (and my mother too) through the whole last week of her life and the week after her passing in person and then from a distance for months afterward. My mother, as would be expected because of the dynamics of their relationship, had allowed my aunt to be the executrix of her estate and had at some point had given over all her power to my aunt as far as final arrangements were concerned. Whether that was legally implied due to her service to the estate or actually spoken, I will never know for sure. What I do know is, my aunt "handled" all the arrangements for my mother's funeral and all that entails. She wrote the obituary for the papers, barely mentioning the man my mother had five children with and had been married to for 24 years before his death. She did, however, focus on the event and the man my mother married (that my aunt had handpicked for her) and the years that she had been married to him instead. It was written as if nothing had ever happened in my mother's life before she moved to the same town my aunt had lived in for years and married this man. Yes, the children were mentioned in the obit, but it was very disjointed, as if we had been plucked from thin air rather than born within a long term marriage. I never knew until that time just how jealous my aunt had been of my father and his influence over my mother over the course of all their married life.
Now, add the fact that my aunt was a mormon and she arranged a mormon funeral for my mother. My mother was NOT a mormon ... in the later years of her life she never mentioned any type of faith at all and had not attended any church even her own to my knowledge) for at least a quarter of a century. My mother's children were window dressing for this charade, nothing more. She had an argument with my then 8 year old daughter over a beanie baby ... and even pulled a screw driver as a weapon ... as if to stab her because she thought my daughter had taken one of my mother's beanie babies without permission. As it was, it was a stuffed animal that had been purchased for my daughter by my mother's best friend while we were at the hospital in my mother's last days.
Then, the arguments about my mother's wishes about her "things" began. Things that had been in our home when we were children that had been "promised" to us when she passed. Not things of any great monetary value, but things with priceless sentimental value to her children. We had to hire a lawyer and threaten to sue her before we could take possession of these things. It was NOT what my mother had wanted at all and she had made my aunt promise in front of us that these wishes would be carried out without delay. Since she was in charge, there had to be a fight before we could completely carry out these wishes made on her death bed to all of us. Needless to say, what love and respect there might have been for this woman in the past died along with my mother.
So, I get the call that the "family piranha" had passed and had this flood of mixed emotions in rapid succession. I am still wondering where the "college money" my mother promised my kids is and will have to start an inquiry, legally, into that now that she has finally left this world. Just what I wanted, a fight with a dead woman! The regret stems from the loss of the respect and admiration that I had once had for what I thought was an empowered woman and wishing that I could stir up a more traditional response to her passing. But honestly, it's just not in me where she is concerned. I will not celebrate her passing, but I will not mourn it either. I will note it and move on to what I can only hope is the final chapter in my necessary dealing with her and her effect on my life. Ho hum is the best I can muster for her.
But wait. The roller coaster climbed yet again to bring me to the other end of the emotional spectrum quickly enough. I had been going through a job interview process, in house for my current employer, for the last 4 weeks. I had been told at the beginning of the process that it would be a decision that would be made within days ... that they stretched out to a full four weeks instead. When I went for the initial face to face interview I left feeling very positive. The interview was with my current boss's boss since, whomever got the position would report to her directly. The following week my boss told me that his boss had decided that someone from outside the company that had interviewed was his boss's choice ... until she met with me ... and she now wanted to promote me from within (not something they have a long history of doing, btw). Then I had to interview with her boss, the VP of our division. That interview was over the phone and I concluded that feeling, again, very confident. The following week I had to have a phone interview with the director of HR, which lasted a mere 22 minutes. I wasn't so self assured after that interview, knowing that there was still an outside candidate that I was competing against for this position. Tick, tick, tick ... time was passing and there was little communication from anyone except my boss, who told me that he was told the job was to be mine once they drew up the offer letter. Tick, tick, tick ... waiting for that call made the days seem almost too long to be bearable and the longer it took, the more I began to think that they had changed their minds but did not want to tell me as we are currently in a peak period and I am currently attempting to cover for 7 or 8 people in the field. Yes, I said 7 or 8 people and not one job went undone. As the days passed, I thought I had been pigeonholed as a great support person but not "management" material.
Well, I got that call today and they made me an offer. A bit lower than I had anticipated, but we are still in negotiations so nothing has been signed in blood or tears yet. Between you and me, money will NOT be the deal breaker here as the perks are working from a home office more than working in the field and managing people doing the job that I was doing rather than wondering how I am going to physically remain on my feet long enough to drive to the next location and repeat the work over and over in each location that I am currently covering as well as my own work. It will be more of a mental challenge than the current physical challenge that I have and that is a welcome thing! I will be home more often when my daughter comes home from school and have more flexibility to leave my work for an hour here and there to attend her sporting events (which I have missed all of since December when I got my last promotion). it's not the easy life by any stretch, but it sure is better than what I have now and a welcome change to what I am currently doing.
After all the agony of waiting for this call today, my soon to be new boss told me that she knew she wanted to hire me for this position 5 minutes into our face to face ... 4 weeks ago! ARRGGHH! Why do they have to make these things so painful?
So, join me on my roller coaster and tell me the yin and yang happening in your life. Or, you could just commiserate with my situation or congratulate me on my new promising future.
I had a long conversation with my sister last night who happens to be a counselor in the office that TDO'd Cho. She wasn't there at the time that the TDO was executed, but since all the happenings last week she has gotten quite the education on how his TDO was executed. She was in the office all week and many of the survivors were taken there for mental evaluation as well as any student having access to their office.
To make a long story short, Cho's room mate had notified the campus police that he thought Cho was having some serious issues. The campus police picked him up and took him to her office for evaluation. A TDO was filed so that he could be evaluated in a hospital setting. During his initial interview and intake, he was asked if he would volunteer to be placed in a facility for evaluation. Had he refused, he would have been "involuntarily committed" for evaluation. But, he agreed to "voluntarily" go to the facility so the TDO was processed differently from that point on. The restrictions that remained in place with the TDO was the requirement for a magistrate to evaluate him after his two day voluntary stay. If the magistrate felt that he was no longer a danger to himself or others the TDO would be vacated and his record would not show a forced commitment. That is exactly what happened. Rather than being evaluated at a state facility, which he would have been had it been a full force TDO, he was allowed to check into a private facility (still paid for by the state mind you). He was escorted to the facility by by the police but he was not handcuffed since he was cooperating with the treatment plan.
Two days later he was convincing enough to allow the magistrate to release him from the facility.
Now, because he had gone voluntarily instead of being forced in for the evaluation, he didn't have to acknowledge that hospitalization on the application for a gun in Virginia. Had he been committed on the full force of the TDO it would have been flagged on his background check and he would have been denied the purchase. He found a loophole, a small crack if you will, and he slipped right through it.
She also said that the news reports are very flawed (big surprise there, huh? ) and that they had been many reporters that had called her office pretending to need crisis care in an attempt to get into the office. She said it was the week from hell for her office.
She also said that in his history there was an incident in Korea before he came to the US that she thought played a big part in his pathology. I have not seen this tidbit in the news and I hesitate to post it even for fear that it will get her involved in the whole mess as a "leaker". But, if what she told me about his history is actually true it would explain why he was such an angry young man. Should it appear in print anywhere, I would then be happy to confirm that piece of the puzzle, but I just don't want to get her into any trouble at this point.
She also said that many kids, both from the college community there as well as the high school age (she called them the wannabes) were being TDO'd this week. She said they were taking no chances with anyone that might even be near the line at all.
She said that he had been processed correctly as the law requires. He was just able to control the pathology enough to convince the authorities that he was no longer a danger and was released.
Edited to add - a TDO is a temporary detention order
For those who watch the old black and white classic movies, that phrase should sound familiar.
For those that aren't familiar with it, it is from the movie His Girl Friday with Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell. The story is actually a comedy dealing with a newspaper man and his ex-wife who still works for him as a writer. She meets another man, plans to marry and leave the paper and the former husband just can't let go ... hilarity ensues. There was a remake of this film not so many years ago with Kathleen Turner, Burt Reynolds, and Christopher Reeves. The remake was ok, but nothing can touch the original. But, I digress.
In this film there is a subplot of a man who was listening to another man making a speech in the park about "production for use" of any and all items. The man shoots someone with a gun and the newspaper woman has a discussion with him about the speech that he heard and writes the papers story from the point of view that the gun in his hand was a case of "production for use" and having heard the speech, the man merely used the gun as it was intended when it was produced.
This phrase has been running through my head since the shootings yesterday. The idea that these types of hand guns were not produced for hunting animals for food but for hunting humans instead. I recall hearing one of the talking heads this morning even refer to the incident as if this shooter were "hunting humans" since they believed that there were particular people that he was looking for and he needed the two hour lag time because those people would not be in class, and ready targets, until that time.
I have never owned a gun nor allowed a gun in any home that I have maintained since I have lived independent of my parents. I do remember my father bringing a gun into the house during the riots of 1968. He kept it in his sock drawer. We all knew it was there and we all avoided that drawer like the plague. My father died in 1970 and I never saw that gun again. It was brought into the house as a protection piece, produced for protection use in our case, and was never, to my knowledge, ever fired.
My brother, during a bad acid trip in the late 60's, was messing around with loaded shotguns with a friend who was also tripping, and ended up shooting his friends thumb off. That gun was produced for hunting and was misused. It ended up hurting a human instead. It was not my brothers gun, it belonged to the other kid, who was also pointing a loaded gun at my brother ... while they were both drugged out of their minds. Not smart for sure.
My mother was later elected as a magistrate judge and she often had to report to the court at all hours of the night to process prisoners, often domestic dispute arrests, and she had a conceal and carry permit. She carried her gun, learned how to properly fire it, and never ever left it out where anyone could get it that shouldn't have access to it ... meaning anyone other than herself. She never used it for self defense or any other reason, but she had it until her dying day. Again, production for self defense, but never used.
Now, I wonder what most of the handguns in this country could fall under as far as their "production for use" category is concerned. Handguns can be used for target practice, but even then, often the target that one is shooting at is a silhouette of a human. Does that fact, in an of itself, support the idea that handguns are produced with the soul purpose of shooting another human being?
I know ... it's not the gun that kills, it's the hand that pulls the trigger but I can't help but wonder how so many of these guns keep ending up in hands that can't stop themselves from being the aggressor rather than the defender.
These are just random thoughts that have been rattling around in my head and I just felt the need to write them down and ask if anyone else ever considers "production for use" of these weapons.
As for me, I did some skeet shooting for a class in college. I found that slightly enjoyable, although I have never done it since. I fired a handgun once at a bottle when my mother was practicing with her gun out in the country one day. I didn't like the feeling then and I can't imagine that I would ever fire one again, even in self defense.
The other thing that keeps going through my head is the lyrics to this Elton John song ....
From this day on I own my father's gun
We dug his shallow grave beneath the sun
I laid his broken body down below the southern land
It wouldn't do to bury him where any Yankee stands
I'll take my horse and I'll ride the northern plain
To wear the colour of the greys and join the fight again
I'll not rest until I know the cause is fought and won
From this day on until I die I'll wear my father's gun
I'd like to know where the riverboat sails tonight
To New Orleans well that's just fine alright
`Cause there's fighting there and the company needs men
So slip us a rope and sail on round the bend
As soon as this is over we'll go home
To plant the seeds of justice in our bones
To watch the children growing and see the women sewing
There'll be laughter when the bells of freedom ring
We, as a country, have such a love hate history with guns. When it is all said and done, we need to remember that guns, like everything else, must be evaluated on the "production for use" level. Before you pick up a gun, ask yourself, what was this guns intended use when it was produced. Assault rifles and hand guns were, imho, produced to shoot another person. Perhaps if we can admit that we can start to break our bonds with these weapons and find that we need them less than the dangers they pose to us as a society.
Again, just random thoughts and it is not my intent to suggest that guns be removed from those that use them responsibly ... just that maybe there should be a few less around and available to those that don't have that switch in their heads that allows them to see just where that line of no return actually is drawn.
They didn't care about actual investigations or convictions other than getting their "numbers" up to stop criticism of the AG's office.
Sing a song for the wrong and the wicked and the strong and the sick, as thick as thieves.
For the faceless fear that was never so near, too clear to misbelieve.
Well the sea is jumping salty and the porpoise has the blues,
my recollection's faulty and I cannot find my shoes.
And my wiring is misfiring due to cigarettes and booze,
I'm behind in my dues, I just now got the news.
He seems to tell us lies and still we will believe him,
then together he will lead us into darkness, my friends.
Let it fall down, let it fall down, let it all fall down.
Let it fall down, let it fall down, let it all fall down.
The man says stand to one side, son, we got to keep this big ball rolling.
It's just a question of controlling for whom the bell is tolling.
Let it fall down, let it fall down, let it all fall down.
Let it fall down, let it fall down, let it all fall down.
There'll be suffering and starvation in the streets, young man.
Just where have you been, old man? Just look out of your window, man.
Let it fall down, let it fall down, let it all fall down.
Let it fall down, let it fall down, let it all fall down.
Well, it ain't nobody's fault but our own,
still, at least we might could show the good sense
To know when we've been wrong, and it's already taken too long.
So we bring it to a stop then we take it from the top,
we let it settle on down softly like your gently falling snow
or let it tumble down and topple like the temple long ago.
Let it fall down, let it fall down, let it all fall down.
Let it fall down,
let it fall down,
let it all fall down.
I stopped into Office max today so I could DHL out some equipment I use for work that needs to be repaired. Since it's a third party billing, it's usually a bit of a process to get the waybill completed. I checked the counter and there were no waybills out so I walked down to the far side of the counter where the employee was attending to another customer. I stood quietly, waiting to get the employees attention so I could request that she call someone else to assist me. The customer that she was helping was looking through the clip art book, attempting to select clip art to put on her new business cards for her psychic services. Now, I was probably a good 10 feet away from where she was sitting with the clip art book, looking in the direction of the employee and not paying a great deal of attention to what this woman was doing.
I hear her say "I want to ask you a question." I turned to glance at her, thinking she was speaking to the employee, but no, she was talking to me. I was a bit taken aback by her approach and her tone, as if she KNEW me and I had some obligation to respond. I'm sure my face showed my surprise as I responded "Excuse me?" Well, she didn't explain her initial request but instead went right into her question as if I had agreed to grant her my time and attention. Not that I think my time or attention are more valuable than hers, just the opposite really. I didn't attempt to interrupt her while she conducted her business and I was in a bit of a hurry, wanted to get my task done and move on. I was so caught off guard that I finally said "Ok, what is it you need from me?" She proceeded to ask me if I liked the color combination she had chosen for her clip art and her paper (I assume for some sort of letterhead). I glanced at the page of the book she was showing me, didn't find it offensive and told her that I thought she had selected an acceptable combination. Then, she continued to tell me about her "other" problem. She wanted to have business cards printed with two pieces of clip art on them. I thought, ok, and I care ... why? She picked up the clip art book and showed me a picture of two cats, nothing special but nice all the same. It seems the cats were not the part that was giving her trouble. Her issue was, she couldn't find a CROSS that she liked in the book. She proceeded to explain to me that she was a psychic, who got messages from God from angels. She explained that she wanted the cats, just because she liked cats, not because she was a witch or anything because, well, she worked through God. (Now, I found that an odd way to state it. Usually people say that "God works through them not that they work through God.) I thought for a second and well, she did ask my opinion, so I gave it to her. I told her that were I to be presented with her business card that had a cross on it, I would never seek her services, not even for entertainment purposes. So much for my quick errand. Needless to say, we were off and running!
I suggested that perhaps she might want to have two different cards printed, one with just the cats and one with just the cross and she could present the card that seemed appropriate for the perspective client. She freaked. She asked me if I believed in God or not. I told her not really. She told me that she would never take me a as client then. I said, that would be ok with me. I then tried to explain Deism to her, giving examples of our very own founding fathers and many great thinkers of that time who were also deists. She began to get more and more flustered. We eventually got around to discussing the hijacked state of Christianity in the world today and even that I thought that blivet** had hijacked the religious community. She asked me if I believed in the devil and I tried to explain that I thought we all had the ability to be "the devil" if we chose to. She said, yes, the devil can enter us for sure. I told her, no, I didn't mean that we were taken hostage to an evil spirit, but that we had the capacity to harbor an evil spirit within ourselves, should we chose that path. She still insisted that the devil could recruit you rather than you just choosing to be evil, therefore it was not your fault if "the devil makes you do something". She had just explained away free will as far as she was concerned and all deeds were either godly or that of the devil, but we had no hand in steering any of those deeds at all.
I had remembered reading a thread this week in GD about god not smiting anyone anymore. I had given that concept a good deal of thought coupled with the fact that my son had just made me watch Bruce Almighty with him last week (with some of the funniest lines about smiting included). So, I had the idea of smiting in the front of my mind. So, I ask her, why isn't God smiting those that lied and were encouraging killing in his name, who let little children drown and left so many begging for relief in NOLA, and who laughed when a prisoner in TX, who had found God and was asking for some mercy, was put to death instead.
Well, she went from blivet** to the Clenis like a brand new sports car in the hands of a teenage driver, quickly and recklessly. Well, didn't I know that her family had been paying taxes in this country for over 300 (yes, she said 300) years, and her taxes paid for that White House and she didn't think it should be used for committing adultery and that was more important than any of the issues I had brought up. She added that She was sickened by the thought that now his wife wants to run for that office and he would be back in there, renting out the REAGAN (yes REAGAN) bedroom and God only knows what else. I asked her why no one was being made an example of, why blivet** hadn't been told to sacrifice one of his daughters (in the vein of Solomon) to this holy war he had begun. She then told me that all things like that, the vengeful God, had been documented in the book of REVOLUTIONS ... yes, she said REVOLUTIONS! I told her that is one book of the bible I would like to read, as I thought we could use a little revolution in our daily life right now. I corrected her, asked her if she was speaking of the book of Revelations and she said, "Yeah, that one." The woman then said "You seem to come from a place of rage and anger, yet you want to know where the compassion is from those of us that believe in God." I explained that I wasn't bound by her beliefs, that I make my own should or shouldn't based on what I believed, but that most Christians wanted to impose their should or shouldn't on others without complying to their own standards within their own life. That stumped her a bit, but did not silence her at all. I told her I was enraged, that so many of her "faith" had been hoodwinked and they didn't even know it. That they had fallen prey to listening to false prophets like Robertson, who is amassing wealth here on earth at the cost of the well being of others and that surely Jesus would frown on that. That religion was no longer praying in a closet but rather a mega-business, where a evangelical leader could denounce his own secret and tawdry behavior in public to his flock, while making a small fortune and engaging in the very same behavior he had condemned to the faithful. That was demonic possession, that was pathological!
By this point, the employee had begun to strain so as not to laugh out loud. She told me to step over to the other end of the counter and she would assist me while the woman continued to look through the book for the "perfect art work for her purpose". Once we got to the other end of the counter, I said to the employee, "She can't be much of a psychic or have very reliable angels working for her through God, because if she was or did, she surely wouldn't have chosen ME to ask that cross question to". The employee laughed right out loud, nervously, hoping that the woman wouldn't hear her and said "Isn't that the truth". We both laughed, I finished my business and I left. I sat in the parking lot for a good 5 minutes, just contemplating the disconnect that I had just witnessed inside. I was pondering what might have transpired should I had pursued the "I'm not a witch" comment as well as wondering where I could get a copy of that little known book of the bible called REVOLUTIONS. We might be able to find out what we need to do to bring about the resurrection of our country in a book like that.
I took my son to the bank today to open a new account for himself. He transfered some funds from his savings account into the new account, took a few dollars for gas money to get to school and food money to get a burger on those late nights when he gets out of class. Not much cash mind you, but a small buffer to get through him the rest of the week.
He also needed some new headlights for his car and he insisted on going to WalMart to get them. See, he is a college student and well, money is tight (both his and mine), and he wanted to get them there because they were cheaper than at the local auto supply places. So, I relented and drove him over there to pick them up. As we were driving into the parking lot, there at the fringe of the parking lot sat a very elderly man in a wheelchair. He was holding a sign that spoke about his vet status and how he was desperate because he had been dropped from the VA roles. Now, it was in the low single digits and he looked like he was taking a real beating from the cold wind that was blowing today. I couldn't read all of his sign on the first pass by him, so we drove back around to the fringe of the lot to read the sign again. That's when he surprised me.
He said, "I wonder if he's hungry? I am not so hip on giving people money on the street, but I would be happy to buy him something to eat." Now, keep in mind, this is a 19 year old who feigns that he is not interested when I talk about politics or ever voices any stance on social issues that he hears me talk about or work on. He says "Mom, that's YOUR thing" to me all the time. But, today, he showed me that he got it more than I had imagined.
We made one more pass by where he was sitting, not being noticed or acknowledged by anyone else driving around the parking lot. My son rolled down his window and said "Excuse me Sir, are you hungry?" What, I thought, did he just say Sir? A second wow for me. (not that I didn't teach him manners or respect, but hearing him acknowledge this man with the respect that he deserved without reservation caught me off guard all the same.)
The old gentleman turn and rolled just a bit closer to our car. He replied, "No, I'm not hungry son. I just ate a little bit ago." My son then asked him what kind of help he needed. He replied, "I am desperate. The VA dropped me and I don't know where I am going to get my meds this month. If you could help me out with a buck or anything really, that would be the best help I could get right now." I was already reaching into my pocket for a $5 bill to hand him. I handed it to my son so that he could hand it to the man. He did that. The man thanks us and started to roll backward toward his hopeful but mostly unnoticed spot again. Then the real wow happened. He said "Excuse me Sir, wait just a minute, ok?" the elderly man turned back to my son with a surprised look on his face. My son reached into his own wallet, pulled out two one dollar bills (quite a hit on his weekly funds when his wallet was not too fat to begin with) and handed them to the man. The man thanked him and said "God Bless you son." Neither one of us are very religious, but we knew what saying that meant to that man all the same. My son gently said "You're welcome and thank you too." At that point, the elderly man did roll back to his lonely spot on the fringe of the lot and I pulled away to find a parking spot to continue on our errand for his lights. I, of course, was quietly sobbing tears of pride at his act of generosity. He turned to me and said "Mom, are you crying?" I silently shook my head yes and he leaned over to kiss my cheek. I smiled and said "What a good, generous progressive kid you are. You make me proud." He smiled in his usual "aren't I cute" way and glanced out the window, away from my line of view.
I know he was feeling happy, safe, secure and loved ... as well as proud of himself. He learned today that it feels so much better to give than receive on so many levels and I learned that I might have penetrated his outward expression of disengagement after all.
With kids like this, we just might still have hope, don't you think?
Do you remember me
I sat upon your knee
I wrote to you
with childhood fantasies
Well I'm all grown up now
Can you still help somehow
I'm not a child
but my heart still can dream
So here's my lifelong wish
My grown-up X-mas list
Not for myself but for a world in need
No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
Every man would have a friend
That right would always win
And love would never end
This is my grown-up Christmas list
What is this illusion called
The innocence of youth
Maybe only in that blind belief
Can we ever find the truth
There'd be no more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And every man would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end
This is my grow-up X-mas list
This is my only life-long wish
This is my grown-up X-mas list....
Happy Holidays to all my DU FAMILY. May this season bring you together with good friends, supportive family, and HOPE for the future.
Let me start by stating that SS Survivor benefits is what enabled me to attend college and have a place to live while doing so. At the time, I received a check for $300 a month to help with my expenses. It wasn't enough to cover everything, so I always had a job too, as well as selling plasma twice a week for a bit of pocket money. But, clearly, if it weren't for that benefit check, I would have not been able to stay in college.
Having said that, here is my current question, in hopes some of you can help me find the answers and give some advice on how to change this back to the way it was before.
My room mate's son - his father is dying of cancer. He is currently married to a really whack woman ... a drug addict according to the boys father. He was in the beginning processes of divorcing her when he was diagnosed with a still unknown type of cancer that is not in the bone but rather on the bone ... and spreading quickly. They have ceased treatment at this point and he is in full hospice care. He has 3 kids with his wife, she came to the marriage with one, and then there is my roomies son, who was the first born to him. So, that's 5 kids total who would be eligible for benefits once he has passed.
Looking at the formula for what would be their survivor benefits from SS, the kids would be eligible for 150-180% of his SS income collectively, but only until they reach the age of 18 (19 if they are still in secondary school). Now, he was a real hard worker when he was well, knowing that so many people were dependant on him for support. Over many years, he only paid $65 a week in child support until roomies son was approximately 13, even though it was discovered at that point in time that he was actually earning more than $100,000 a year! At that point, she went back to court and his support was increased to $225 a week for her son. That assured that things were quite a bit more comfortable for her and her son at that point. Once he became ill and began receiving SS disability for himself and the children he has with his wife, her support was automatically dropped to $186 a month by SS, even though no new court order was ever entered, so his arrears are still mounting up as far as the state is concerned. She's not looking for blood from a dying man, so please don't think that is the point of my post. It's not. I just wanted all the facts out on the table.
At the point when he was originally diagnosed, his whack wife came on the phone just after he told my roomie about his illness (and the treatment they were going to undertake) and assured her that the SS benefits they would get after his death would be "substantial" and that they would be ok. She then told my roomie that she would "have to take the youngest child (whack wife's child with him) to raise because I just can't handle her anymore". Now, other than the father being the same for both these children, these two women have really no relationship to speak of, much less one that would indicate that my roomie would be inclined to take in this child at all. But, that is just how cold hearted the whack wife is. She sees his death as a way to make money not as a loss at all. He currently is staying at his mothers house, about 15 minutes away from the house they shared (which should be foreclosed on any day as it is). She rarely comes to visit him or bring the children to see him, unless of course she wants money from him. My roomie, on the other hand, drives the hour each way several times a week, both with her son and with out him, as he seems to be happiest when she is there. She is trying to make his last days as comfortable for him and her son as she can. She knows she will be there to deal with the emotional fallout with her son once he has passed. She does this, even though there seemed to be little time or effort put forth to visit with her son for the 11 years that his child support was so low. His interest and his visits increased a bit once he paid the higher amount. Thank goodness they did, as this boy now has a relationship with his father, and is trying to deal with a loss of something that he had just gained. Not a good emotional place for any of us to be right now.
Anyway, to get to the point of the post. We had begun to check into the survivors benefits for her son as it seems the days are getting less numerous and the hope of a cure is not possible any longer. When looking at these benefits, I was shocked to see that all support would cease when he reached 18/19 and there was no longer any support for this child when he seeks a college degree. When did this change? Why did it change? How can we see that this is addressed and this type of support reinstated? Many of my generation would not have made it were it not for that type of support. How can we stop making this kind of investment in these kids who have fallen on hard times? How can we kick these kids to the back of the line if there is no other way to help them reach their goals at no fault of their own? Who thought this was a good idea and who went along with it?
My roomie and I are both single mothers who share expenses to try to make an ok life for our kids. We don't have large nest eggs, no stable college funds ... heck some months we are mugging Paul to pay off Peter, just to keep the house running. Just how are these kids that are in this situation supposed to continue their education with no safety net, lowered Pell Grants, college loans that will mean that they will be working for a good portion of their post-graduate years just to find themselves in much the same situation as they were when they started .. wondering how they are going to be able to support themselves and meet their obligations?
WTF! What kind of society have we become that we are treating these kids like throw aways instead of giving them a hand up and a safety net of any kind?
There was an explosion last night in Danvers Mass. A chemical warehouse belonging to a company that made coatings and inks, exploded at approximately 3 AM this morning. This building was located in a residential neighborhood, near the point where 3 rivers converge. When this building exploded, it rocked the neighborhood. In fact, reports of hearing the blast have come from as far away as Maine this morning. As luck would have it, no one was seriously injured. However, there is now just a big ass hole in the ground where this building once stood. There is also contamination to the local rivers from the seepage and run off from putting the fire out. Romney is on sight, making his 9/11 type statements about how the neighborhood looks like a bomb went off, how some thought that they were being attacked, and how some thought a plane had crashed into the building. His big concern through out the speech was that a rain storm is coming and he wants them (FEMA and local authorities) to give the homeowners, who lost all their windows in the blasts from the plant, permission to board up these houses, most of which will later be needed to be condemned due to chemical exposure and damage to the very stability of the buildings themselves.
Yes, he has called in FEMA which has already arrived on the scene with cadaver dogs and orange spray paint. Imagine that! MEMA and FEMA are already on the case and all paperwork to be filed for Federal help is in the works. There is also a fund being set up for the families at a local bank where people can send checks for the families effected. Romney states that he means to take "full advantage" of any State or Federal aid that he can get for this problem.
Now, I'm not knocking that the state is responding. Actually, the opposite. I am glad that they are responding as quickly as they are. I am amazed, however, how quickly they got FEMA involved and on scene. I will be less amazed when he plays this for gain if he runs in 08.
For anyone watching this news conference, you got treated to Romney calling this a "Thanksgiving Miracle" numerous times. I don't think there was a special interest group from the republican base that he did not use a buzz phrase for in this presser. Rather than make everyone feel safe by reassuring them that it was an accident, he compared it to dropping a "2,000 lb bomb in the middle of this neighborhood". A dirty bomb at that, because it was a chemical explosion. Thank goodness he didn't go that far any way.
He is slick. He paid close attention to Katrina and the lack of response there. He is not going to make the same mistake. He is going to make sure he gets plenty of face time with this. It sure beats his public response to the disaster known as the Big Dig. That he has passed down the line to others to handle. That potato is too hot for him to handle. There is no way he can come out of that smelling like anything but a failure.
Danvers will be different. He will play this up as how he will respond to "a terrorist attack" or a "natural disaster", should he make it to the WH.
He is currently headed to the local shelter set up at Danvers High School. No doubt he will be there, holding another presser, solving the problem of where these people will be sleeping tonight, as the high school is NOT considered a shelter and has no facilities to accommodate these people for any length of time.
Mass people will come together and take care of these people. We always do. It just galls me that he will attempt to take credit for the generosity of the people of this state. We are used to natural disasters and we always come together to see to those around us in those situations. This one will be no different in that aspect. But, it will be different because we have a "wanna be" as Governor who will use this to exploit those damaged by this disaster and won't be shy about stepping up to the mic to say that he fixed it all by himself.
Details of the blast here http://www.turnto10.com/news/10378569/deta...
For those that hadn't heard about this, Dreyfus appeared on Bill Maher's show this past Friday and he discussed a meeting that is to be held with the Martha's Vineyard school system concerning the need to bring the teaching of Civics back into the classroom. To that end, I wrote to the Martha's Vineyard newspaper to see if I could get anymore information about this meeting. Here is the response I received from them this morning.
This is what I got from the superintendent's office...
Rachel Nava Rohr
In case you are getting questions about the Richard Dryfuss Civics
conference, it is being held at the Katherine Cornell Theater in Tisbury
on December 6th from 7:00 to 9:00 PM. We are still working out all the
details; however, it appears that Richard discussed the conference on
national TV and we are getting calls. The idea is for Richard and a group
of knowledgeable civics education folks to discuss the importance of
teaching civisc and come up with a list of follow-up ideas to get the
topic back into the curriculum in a bigger way.
We hope to have the conference available on MVTV and on the web, but
details are still being worked out at this time. I will have a list of the
"important people" who will be in attendance, but I have been told that
Richard asked people like George Will and Bob Bennett to attend.
I'll keep you posted.
James H. Weiss, EdD
Superintendent of Schools
Martha's Vineyard Public Schools
The Martha's Vineyard Civics Conference
What is Civics?
Is it necessary?
If it is necessary can we revive it?
If we revive it then how do we do it and when?
The Martha's Vineyard Public Schools and Richard Dreyfuss invite you to
join a Conversation about Civics.
In America, the public schools were founded to educate young people and
produce capable citizens for the country. Today, testing is driving the
curriculum making it inevitable that schools have reduced or dropped
civics instruction. This reduction in focus has all but eliminated the
tools necessary to run a democracy: dissent, debate, logic, reason,
civility and critical thinking. While many national leaders and educators
have discussed the importance of teaching such tools, few are able to do
anything to fix what is potentially a crisis of epic proportion. Richard
Dreyfuss and the Martha's Vineyard Public Schools would like to bring this
conversation into focus and discuss the necessity of teaching such tools.
To start this important process, we are inviting a select group of
educators, administrators, students, scholars and members of the community
to participate in the discussion with hopes to develop and pilot a project
on Martha's Vineyard using technology and storytelling to engage, inform
and inspire a new generation of Americans in what it takes to be a citizen
of a true democracy.
Please join us on Wednesday, December 6, 2006 from 7 - 9 PM at the
Katharine Cornell Theater, (Tisbury Town Hall) 51 Spring Street, Vineyard
We will be filming the event: A signed release will be required.
Refreshments will be served.
Please call the Office of the Superintendent of Schools at 508.693.2007 to
confirm your attendance.
Bolding is mine so people don't miss that they are attempting to get it on the web as well. The noted "guests" in the email don't thrill me at all, but Dreyfus should be able to make quite a good case for this addition and that should be worth watching.
This is a big story on our local news here. It's being reported that Tamiflu (remember, it was to be the Bird Flu treatment of choice) has some very disturbing side effects in children. The FDA is updating the label to inform consumers of these side effects now. They are saying it can lead to bizarre psychiatric behavior, with 103 reports of illnesses in children being reported, although most of these reports are coming from Japan. Side effects being reported include:
The reports are based out of Japan because they have used it there to combat Bird Flu for some time.
Shouldn't this be front page news just as it was when Bird Flu was the terror du jour way back when? Shouldn't we be telling the people with as much enthusiasm about the side effects as we told them about how wonderful Tamiflu was going to be if and when we needed it? Rummy certainly has made his money off this drug. Shouldn't we investigate it with as much interest as we did, say, Vioxx? Why no conversations about it in the MSM to make people aware that it could be dangerous to use it?
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