Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Beautiful Gift of Love


My adopted mama did the sweetest thing yesterday. There's a wall plaque that she bought in 1979, and she said she's been keeping it to give to someone but had never found the right person. When she rediscovered it the other day, she instantly knew it was meant for me. It was so sweet it gave me happy tears:

"God took a rainbow from the sky,
a dogwood from the hill,
A hidden valley, fresh and green,
a golden daffodil,
A meadow sleeping in the sun,
a robin's lilting tune,
The scent of lilacs all around,
a new October moon...

God took the ripple from a stream,
some breezes from the air,
The glistening radiance of a star,
the springtime, sweet and fair,
A bed of roses in the rain,
the cooing of a dove,
And when His masterpiece was done
He smiled and called it... LOVE."

--Unknown Author

May everyone experience the masterpiece of Love in their lives today and always!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

It's Not Just Tiger: Monogamous Marriage Is An Anomaly


Thanks for the interesting perspective on the history of marriage..­.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Beyond Skin Deep

So I had an extraordinary experience in a very ordinary place, yesterday: the grocery store. I have to preface this by saying that I have very pale, white skin, blue eyes, and long, curly brown hair. I'm mostly English, Scottish and Irish, with a strong dose of Navajo and a little Cherokee heritage thrown in from some great-grandparents. But when someone normally looks at me, the first thing that is generally noticed is "white girl" or "white woman."

Yesterday, someone looked deeper upon first glance and it sincerely awed me. A man whose ethnicity I was unsure of whether he was Native American or Asian walked up to me and asked me what my heritage was. I started to say the part about being Irish, English, etc... and he stopped me and said, no, that he meant what tribe was I from. When I said Navajo, he gave me the most welcoming smile and said that he, himself was Cherokee. I told him that I, too, had some Cherokee heritage, he smiled even wider. It was such an amazing experience to me. Afterward, he simply nodded and said that he thought so and wished me a very good day and went on his way.

While I have always been proud of my Native American heritage, I have never really felt included in that sense of tribe as I did yesterday in the bread aisle. This man could see that there was more to me than the color of my skin, and simply welcomed me as a part of his extended family. So while according to all the legal formalities, I am considered a white woman, that is only a part of who I am. I'm grateful to have been given this eye-opening experience.

I've always wanted to learn more about my Native American heritage, but I've never really known how to go about it and was a bit worried that I would be judged by how I look instead of what's inside me. And that may yet happen as I continue this journey of self-discovery. But if it does, I will always know that there is someone out there who accepts me as I am as a member of his tribe, and that simple smile and nod of acceptance will be with me to the end of my days.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Lessons from the Past + Being in the Present = Lovely Future

So I have had some amazing insights, moments and happily unexpected blasts from the past lately. And I'm still processing a lot of it. I've been reminded that you never know what's around the next bend in the road. It could be disaster or it could be heaven. You just need to take things one small step at a time and you never know where you may end up.

For instance, if my first college adviser hadn't given me bad advice on some of my core classes, I might have been in the Diplomatic Corps. Instead, I switched majors, ended up becoming a happy Georgia Peach, and building a wonderful family here.

I have learned so much in my short life, and I know I still have so much more to learn. I've sometimes run, sometimes walked along this path of mine. Occasionally, I turn around and take a few steps back, but mostly, it's just to sight-see and reminisce. I leave the pain back there where it belongs. Instead, I try to savor and treasure the beautiful times I've been granted.

Even though there's been more hardship in my life than I would have liked, whether by someone causing it or through my own dumb mistakes, if I could go back, I wouldn't change one bit of my life's path.

That's because if I did, that butterfly effect might kick in and I might not have the wonderful people who are in my life now. Each and every one of you are bright and beautiful gifts who constantly provide happiness, surprise, love, friendship, support, truth, hugs, smiles and laughter.

I had a spiritual epiphany the other day... Love does indeed make the world go round, but we've got to have a balance in it. Too much love can lead to obsession or blind fanaticism; yet too little love makes for a sad, lonely life.

I know it's not time for next year's resolutions, but I'm going to make one right here, right now: I promise to always try to learn my lessons from my past experiences so that I can be fully here in my present and appreciate all that I have instead of worrying about things I can't control... which leads to a better future, no matter how many turns that path may take.

Love and hugs to everyone!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Huckabee Calls Knee-Jerk GOP Attacks On Obama 'Deplorable' And 'Shameful'


I don't often agree with Mr. Huckabee, but I wholeheartedly agree with him on this one. Thanks Mr. Huckabee for throwing some sincerely needed common sense into our political discourse!
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Robert Reich: An Open Letter to Harry Reid on Controlling Health Care Costs

These ideas make a lot of sense to me. And I emphatically support one of Robert Reich's last statements to Harry Reid:

"Your responsibility isn't just to pass whatever will muster 60 votes and that the President and Dems can later call "health care reform." It's to do the right thing by the American people and bring down future health-care costs. Don't cave in to Lieberman or Nelson or the drug companies or the private insurers or the AMA or anyone else. Lead the charge."

But I would add that this is not just Harry Reid's responsibility, it's everyone's. As citizens, call on your elected representatives and demand real reform. Thanks and best wishes!
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Hopes and Prayers for Our Soldiers

I got hit in the gut today with one of the scariest feelings.

I heard news that a dear friend had been hit with an IED and there was no word on his condition. I tried to stay hopeful since I didn't have any details, but for a few brief moments, a wave of grief washed over my soul that I just couldn't stop. The thought of that bright light going out just floored me.

I had to let it work its way out for a few minutes and then I started to think clearly again. I got in touch with the right people and within a few minutes learned, (Thank Goodness!) that he was going to be okay and that everyone in his unit made it, too. Whew.

I don't care whether you're for or against the Iraq or Afghanistan wars and the side missions into Pakistan. I don't want to debate whether it's right or wrong for us to be there. What I want is for us to do whatever it takes within legal and moral guidelines to resolve those situations and bring our soldiers home!

That means we need to realistically look at the situations in all war zones as they are today and figure out how to solve them given the CURRENT conditions on the ground, not what they were and not what we wished they'd be. Put those plans into place (and these should be both political and military actions) and do it. We Americans are famous for our ability to adapt and overcome. Please let's live up to that image so we can bring our soldiers home safe and sound as soon as possible.

There are too many friends and family members who already have to live forever with that grief I experienced for a few moments. I hope and pray that I never have to experience that feeling again. But if I do, I'll bravely face it. It's the least I can do for those who risk their lives every day to safeguard me.

Please don't just think of our soldiers on holidays like yesterday and Memorial Day. They deserve to be in our thoughts daily. To quote my new friend Paul Arvay:

"Today and every day, when you see someone that you know is a Veteran, or you see someone in uniform, please thank them in person with a smile, a nod or a hand shake! Let them know that you care about and appreciate all that they have done and will do for all of us."

Thank you Veterans and Soldiers for all you have done and will do.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Where's my Party?

So I've almost always claimed to be an Independent because I have never been completely comfortable with the platforms of either of the two major political parties. And the terms to describe them seem to have been hijacked. I am moderate, liberal, and conservative... it just depends upon the topic.

It's also one of the reasons that I often try to persuade folks our democracy would be stronger if we had more choices of political parties out there.

And yes, I know there are other parties than the two main ones, but either by choice or history or both, it is incredibly difficult for any of the smaller parties to regularly get candidates on the ballots due to various election laws and regulations

At first, I looked at the Libertarian Party because that sounded really close to some of my viewpoints, but the idea of unbridled capitalism hangs me up. Although some of their other platforms I can get behind... like the government keeping its nose out of my business.

The Democratic Party also has elements that I think are great. They're much more embracing and inclusive of people who are different from each other and I'm a firm believer in the premise that all people should be equal under the law. I also believe that those who can work and be productive members of society should, but that our country has a responsibility to care for those citizens who can't care for themselves.

There are also elements to the Republican Party that I like... especially when it comes to the idea of being careful of how we spend taxpayer money and the focus on states rights vs. federalism. I agree we need a strong central government but it should also be balanced with strong states.

One of my complaints about all these parties is that they don't stick with their ideals. As an example, Republicans were supposed to be all about fiscal conservatism, but under the last Republican president and Congress, a record surplus was turned into a record deficit.

So here's the political party that I want to be a part of, one based on the following premises:

My ideal party would be a staunch supporter and upholder of the Constitution, especially our Bill of Rights--All of Them.

All people are equal under the law no matter what.

The government has a responsibility to ensure the health and welfare of its people... first and foremost by having sound economic policies that strengthen the economy without it being held hostage by companies that are "too big to fail." I am all for capitalism... but it should be a fairly regulated system of capitalism with consumer and worker protections built in. Businesses are not people, and there should be no such thing as a corporate citizen. Business interests need to have balanced regulations that will ensure our people are safe and yet are not so onerous that businesses can't grow and prosper in a fair marketplace.

Our government should be responsible for our national defense and handling of natural disaster situations... again, going back to the ensuring the health and welfare of our citizens.

Our government should be made up of people who are honestly trying to serve their constituents by looking at the big picture and how laws and regulations will affect our country over the long term--not people who are looking to keep a job and are constantly turning with each direction the wind blows in order to get re-elected.

Here's where my libertarian leanings come in: the government has no business regulating my personal life. For instance, as a woman, I should be able to have any kind of surgery I want without asking permission... however, I also believe that I would never have an abortion unless my life was at stake... and maybe not even then. But I should have the right to do with my body as I choose. Period.

Speaking of personal life regulation... church and state need to be completely separated again. The idea of marriage as a religious ceremony should stay within whatever religion you worship. For the purposes of caring for property, children, etc, people should draw up and enter into a civil contracts. And any people who want to should be able to enter into that civil contract. That way, if you're religious and marriage between only a man and a woman is important to you, then it stays that way, but people entering into commitment contracts would have the same rights under the law as any other participant in a contract, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, disability, etc.

And last but far from least: Prison should be used as a last resort and should be used to keep violent offenders away from the rest of society. And prison should be a place to reform violent offenders, not a way for them to increase their violent tendencies. Victimless crimes should never be a cause for a prison stint... In fact, I really find the idea of a victimless crime as a concept hard to wrap my brain around. In the Depression era, Prohibition of Alcohol created huge crime syndicates that were empowered with the wealth they gained from the black market sales of alcohol.

With today's current drug war, the very same thing is happening. And what is incredibly saddening to me is that a substance such as the currently illegal marijuana has fewer and less damaging side effects than alcohol or cigarettes. Yet it is illegal and someone who prefers it to alcohol can be put in prison with violent offenders and then have to assimilate into that culture of violence in order to survive. So not only do the black market sales of this substance empower the cartels who sell it, but it also increases the number of people who participate in violence as a way of life.

So I guess my last point is that as LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition)suggests, we should at the very least decriminalize these substances and instead tax and regulate them. This would reduce our prison population (and thus a drain on our state and federal budgets), violence, the power of criminal organizations in our country, and possibly increase our tax revenue. Sounds like a win/win to me.

So there you have it... I've described some of the main ideals of a political party I'd like to see in existence... Anyone else interested in something like this? I'd love to hear everyone's pros and cons on my thoughts.

Thanks, and as always, I hope you have a lovely day!

On Being Alive

So I had quite a shocker today... turns out there's been a rumor of my death floating around somewhere in NC. The way I found out was from a dear friend who just found me and told me he was so glad the rumor wasn't true.

I've always been a firm believer in the do good things and be the best person you can be and those things will come back to you motto. And today, good things came in spades. I didn't know how worried my friend was for me. Ours was a typical story... close friend in high school, I went one direction, he went another and we lost touch. I don't know why this rumor of my untimely death exists. In one way it's a bit disturbing, but in another way, it made me remember that when someone is really your friend, you matter to them no matter how long or how far apart you become.

To hear the sound of relief in my friend's voice... and the bit of disbelief that it was actually me... The experience was profound to say the least... I feel thankful, honored, stunned, happy, and immensely humbled.

I am so thankful for all the love and support and birthday wishes yesterday, but I think I'm most thankful for being able to give the gift of a happy surprise to someone else.

And just so we're all clear... Rumors of my untimely demise are just that. I'm still the spitfire you all know and love and I certainly plan to be around for a long time to come. = )

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Happy Day!


I hope everyone has a wonderful and happy day today! If you're not having one yet, take a pause and think for a moment about something you like or love and let that wonderful smile shine through. For me:

May everyone who has pain experience a reprieve,


May all of our soldiers come home safe and sound,

May those who are in need find help or learn to help themselves,

May you find or come closer to your own sense of inner peace, and

May today bring joy, love and happiness to all.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Joseph Cao: Voting For Health Reform Was "A Decision Of Conscience" (VIDEO)


Thank you Representative Joseph Cao for following your conscience and putting the needs of your district before party politics. Here's hoping more people follow your good example!
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Friday, November 06, 2009

Successful Flight Through Enceladus Plume

Successful Flight Through Enceladus Plume

Gotta love the amazing things our space exploration is showing us...

Angry at the Wrongs of Our Health Care System


So currently, I and my family are among the supposed lucky ones in our nation to have insurance, an HMO. You'd think that if anything was wrong with us, we'd have at our resources the best people available to solve the problems. And we'd be able to pay for those solutions because we have insurance.
[Big Angry Buzzer] Wrong!!!

So a family member of mine has had two different pain conditions for the longest time. And since I love this person so much, I've tried everything I can to figure out how to fix it or ease it or something.

With the first pain condition, we saw our primary care physician a few times (all at $25 a pop) and then we were referred to a neurologist. No offense to the good neurologists that I'm sure must exist somewhere in Atlanta, but the two different ones we visited for my family member SUCKED. They tried to tell us it was carpel tunnel syndrome (something I've seen first hand and KNEW wasn't it.) But NOOOOOO, the doctor knows everything and was so positive it was carpel tunnel that my already in-pain family member had to go through an extremely painful nerve induction test to find out that guess what??? It's not carpel tunnel.... something I told both doctors during the first visit... Total of primary care and specialist visit copays: over $200.

So basically, we paid these doctors to torture my family member with that damned nerve induction test and then tell us that they had no idea what was causing the problem, go see another specialist. At this point my family member gave up on the system and just learned to deal with the pain and loss of hand dexterity.

So lo and behold, over the last month, the other pain condition flared up, and my family member refused to go to the doctor because they didn't want to get their hopes up and have them shattered again. After it gets too painful, we agree to go to our primary doctor (a different one who happened to graduate from Yale School of Medicine). I thought to myself, okay this time it's going to be different.

As soon as the primary doctor examines my family member, she immediately refers him to a general surgeon because she thinks something is torn inside. $25.00 to find out this possible diagnosis. Two days later when we're able to get in to see the surgeon (and by now the pain is at a 10 on a 1 - 10 scale), and after a ten minute exam at 3:40 yesterday... and without sterile gloves even, the surgeon says sorry I can't help you, it's not the problem your doctor thought it was. So essentially, I paid $25 for this other doctor to hurt my family member even more during the probe of the painful area.

I walk back into the primary doctor's office yesterday around 4pm and demand the doctor find the cause of my family member's pain so they can get some relief. Doctor has no idea what to do other than tell us to go to the emergency room... Yay, we're going to the emergency room in the middle of a flu outbreak.

4:15, we walk into the emergency room door, sign in and after a 20 minute wait, are seen by the triage nurse. She tells us the rooms are all full but we're the next in line. 5:15 rolls around and they finally call us back to a room. And when we get into the room, that's when we have to pay the $50 copay for an ER visit. A doctor comes in and spends ten minutes doing the same kind of exam that surgeon did earlier in the day. Then he decides to order a CT and an ultrasound. Whew, I think. We're finally going to get an answer. But my family member is still in pain and finally around 8pm they come in and give him a shot of something for the pain.

Now keep in mind, my family member hasn't eaten anything since midnight because they thought they were going to have surgery that day. But eating is still not allowed because it might mess with the tests.

IT TAKES 3 1/2 HOURS FOR THEM TO TAKE HIM FOR TWO TESTS THAT LASTED 15 MINUTES A PIECE, INCLUDING TRAVEL TIME TO AND FROM THE TESTING AREA. Total time spent actually doing something: less than an hour.

We then have to wait for over another hour to get the test results back. Guess what?!?!?! Everything looks normal except for a teeny bit of extra fluid somewhere, but that fluid shouldn't be causing the pain because it's seen on both sides of the body and the pain is only on one side.

Bottom line, we paid people to poke and prod my family member, cause more pain, waste lots of time only for them to say we have to go to yet another specialist. We didn't walk out of the emergency room until after 11pm last night.

So for all these people who are screaming and scared about having to wait in lines for the boogeyman of socialized healthcare... WAKE UP PEOPLE, WE ALREADY ARE! And those of us with insurance are actually paying for the privilege of doing so.

$100 personal money spent and over 8 hours of our day wasted. (And that $100 may not seem like much to some people, but when you're laid off and trying to save every penny, that's way too much to have to spend for little to absolutely NO results) Speaking of results... our end result, a prescription for a pain med and a referral to another specialist who I doubt will be able to help us.

And guess what, my family member is so disgusted that if this next specialist can't figure it out, that's the end and they're going to stop trying to get it fixed.

Not only do I feel taken advantage of by the system, but I feel emotionally raped. We get our hopes up time and time again that someone's going to actually find a solution only to hear, Nope, we don't know, and ha ha... you had to pay us to tell you that.

Maybe I should start learning the words to Oh Canada... my Canadian friend tells me this would never have happened there.

My whole life, I've worked hard to tone down emotional reactions and be calm and rational. I don't pass the buck and I try to fix as much as I can and not try and throw blame around, but if I or my family member has caught one of the flu viruses after all the rest of this mess we had to deal with, I am so going to verbally throttle someone.

Last night was finally the straw that broke this long patient camel's back. I've tried to be good and do the right thing, and all I've gotten for it is wasted money and the horrific chance to see my family member clenching teeth through pain. Do you know how much it hurts me to see my loved one hurting—really hurting—and not be able to do a damned thing about it???

So I don't care who has to do what. Mr. President and Members of Congress, get off your collective asses, stop dilly-dallying around with lobbyists and special interests (corporate or otherwise), and actually do something for our substandard American Health Care system instead of talking about it all the time!!!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

A different idea in the healthcare debate


So I just read an article on HuffPost called: "Public Option Plan Will Cover Few Americans, New Statistic Reveals." A quote from one comment on how the public option should have been:
"Here's how it should have been: Open up clinics for citizens who don't have health care insurance. Require proof of citizenship for access. Done. It really is that simple. And no one should have a problem with that. I could have written the bill for this in ten days and it would have nothing to do with the insurance industry..."

I think the person who commented is on to something here to provide access to everyday health service needs, especially with the public option sounding as watered down as it is... Further suggestions for improvement would be to include legal immigrants (who have to file taxe returns like citizens do) in the ability to access services and include preventive care as services provided.

Study after study shows that preventive care reduces costs across the system, yet our current system is not based on any preventive care incentives. Instead, it's based on reactionary care... fixing things after they've gone wrong instead of focusing on wellness.
About Health Care
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Leadership

Saw a great quote by Andy Stern, President of SEIU today:

Real leadership does not govern out of fear - fear of losing the next election, fear of what might be used in an ad, fear of being too partisan. Leadership is not thinking about the next election - but the next generation.

This is indeed the very necessary time when we must not procrastinate. We must treat our challenges as opportunities and seize the chance to reinvent ourselves. Having cut my teeth in the corporate environment, one of the most important things I learned is that the only constant is change.

Change, especially advancement in technology, is occurring at an exponential rate. This is our time... to innovate, to change our country for the better, and in doing so, reestablish our sterling reputation for doing what's right--for our citizens, our country, and the world.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

To Be or Not To Be: The Public Option and thoughts on politics


As one of the former employed who will be losing my health insurance in March, I strongly and sincerely call on Congress to pass health care reform containing a full and robust public option. That is one of the reasons I worked so hard to elect President Obama and the Democratic majority in both houses of Congress. This is the time when the proverbial rubber needs to meet the road.

We the People created a huge call for change during our last election, yet I haven't seen very much change in the way legislation is being crafted. Kowtowing to industry and corporate welfare seems to be the message of the day. We the People elected you, and if you can't get Our Business done instead of getting Corporations' Business done, then I will work even harder to elect people who will actually live up to their campaign promises.

Speaking of which, there was once a thing called truth in advertising, and this whole mess has me thinking about starting a grassroots effort to sue elected officials who break their advertised campaign promises.

And since we're on the topic of advertising... am I the only one who's noticed that healthcare costs started skyrocketing immediately after we removed or watered down the regulations regarding advertising for prescription drugs???

Perhaps the politics of the day is too entrenched in the culture and we need to work to make it easier for parties other than Dems and Repubs to be in power. Maybe other parties could do a better job and create the change we demanded (and so desperately need) in our last election. If a majority in the House and Senate can't make this happen, then we have a very serious problem on our hands.

Either way, not a dime of my now limited money will go to support any political campaign or organization that does not support real reform in our healthcare system.

Leaderless: Senate Pushes For Public Option Without Obama's Support


I am so frustrated with the idea of a trigger. "Trigger" is typical politicalese for "we are telling you we're going to do it, but we're not really going to do it" kind of reform. A trigger does nothing but allow the status quo, which is definitely not working, to continue. The only way a trigger of some kind could work is if there is a strong tracking and enforcement mechanism built into the trigger option... something I've not heard a thing about. If anyone can enlighten me, I'd appreciate it.



I don't often agree with Harry Reid, but I very much prefer his idea of the opt out public option. This would provide the states who want it the chance to have it. Those who don't, don't have to and the residents of both will be able to see the differences between the two healthcare ideas.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Friday, October 23, 2009

Saturday, October 17, 2009

I Live In The Land Of You, Me And We


My comment on Matthew Modine's article on Huffpost
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

I join your call for We and am sorry your thoughts were misrepresented. Thanks for discussing the constant use of fear and divide & conquer tactics. My own posts often call for active citizenship, truth in journalism, and an end to the increasingly outrageous use of selective content, half-truths and outright lies I've seen lately.

abmabardy, class is not discussed in the US. I'm a diversity consultant, and while we often discuss bias and power dynamics when it comes to race, gender, sexual orientation, age and ability, I hardly ever hear mention of class. I'm actually trying to learn more and raise awareness. I'm gathering a discussion group focusing on the dynamics of wealth, class and power in the US and Canada.

If you or any of your readers are interested or would like to learn more facts about wealth over time in the US, including the ratio of CEO pay to factory worker pay, visit: http://musingsbytams.blogspot.com/2009/09/fix-it-president-hits-wall-and-it-us.html

William50, the best way forward on issues of bias is to keep talking. Thanks for your perspective. Whether it be race, class, age, religion, gender, etc., we humans use difference to divide ourselves. Until we learn to tap into the creative power of difference (and it's possible because I've been lucky enough to experience it), then we shall never be We. The more we talk and seek to truly understand, the closer we'll get.

Have a lovely day!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Tribute to Long Lost Friends...


Thanks to the clever people who created facebook, I've been able to find a lot of people I thought were out of my life forever. I'm grateful to have the chance to revisit those memories, treasure the resulting smiles, rekindle some of those relationships while letting others go where they may. I have to be honest, I was addicted to FB for a while. But that's faded. I do still love checking in, but I'm not on it for hours like I used to be.

However, there are still some people whom I haven't found on FB and they've been on my mind a lot lately. So I thought I'd spend today reminiscing and send the best of wishes to some people I've not seen since high school. And if you, dear reader, happen to be in touch with any of these wonderful people, please pass along my best to them:

Stori Whitted, for one. She was my best friend in 9th grade, and in an odd way, started me on my path to meeting my husband, actually both of them, come to think of it. Sassy, beautiful and way out there. Stori pulled me out of the shell I was in and I like to think that I pulled her back from the brink of outrageousness. After a couple of moves, she drifted out of my life, but I've always hoped for good things and happiness for her.

Nikki Sweigard is another person I wish I could find. She was my best friend the rest of high school: Incredibly smart, pretty, funny and definitely strong in her sense of self and style. We had so much in common, including our determination to succeed. I lost touch with her in college and looking back, I don't think I appreciated her as much as I should have. I've blamed myself for that friendship being lost. I didn't handle a disagreement anywhere close to how I should have, but I also didn't have the maturity then that I do now. Nikki, wherever you are, I'm sorry for not understanding, and I miss your caterpillar stamp to this day. = )

The twins, Ebony and Brian Bookman. Both smart and good-looking, and always with the best of hearts and smiles galore but such fun to watch when one would get the other's goat. Gotta love that sibling rivalry!

Jennifer Todd and Quyen Tran, each other's best friend, and with me and Nikki we turned into the four musketeers... I miss our jokes and laughter, our talks about our trials and tribulations, and especially, our scheming those Evil Elf Christmas plots to get even with Martin Biggers' teasing me. Heck, I even miss Martin, class clown #1. Although I don't miss the jokes about Santa and me. But it led to some wonderful stories, so I don't regret them in the least.

Terry Howie, one of our other class clowns. Incredibly clever and a handsome one, too. I definitely miss him. I don't know how, but somehow, whenever I needed it most, there he was with a laugh or a tease and he was always able to take my mind off whatever I was stressing about. We weren't as good friends as I now I wished we'd been, but I know Howie wouldn't want me to have regrets, only good memories.

Last but definitely not least: Jay Gilmore, a smart and sweet guy who like me was a bit of a late bloomer, but when he did, Wow. He was there for me during some stressful times, and I'll always appreciate that and his ready smile.

You know the saying that some people are in your life for a moment, some for a short time and some for a lifetime? Regardless of which type these friends of mine may be, I hope and wish that wherever you are, your life has been filled with love, happiness, and fulfillment.

And here's a P.S.... I left someone really important off my list... Jeff Carver. even though lots of people thought he might be a bad influence, I never believed them. He was always my protector and he had a lot more in him than most people gave him credit for. I just found him and for all the people who thought he was a bad influence, you were dead wrong. He's a great man who owns his own business and has a beautiful family. Lesson here... Always look below the surface, you'll be amazed at the beautiful spirits you'll find.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Patriotism Above Politics


I've spoken earlier about the extremist conversations that have raged in our country these days. Still, I was a bit surprised when I heard the glee some people spread when Chicago didn't become the next pick for the Olympics. At that point I shrugged and realized, "That's politics as usual."

Then I woke up this morning and discovered that President Obama had won the Nobel Peace prize. My pride in my country was overwhelming. "Wow," I thought. "The world doesn't hate America anymore, or at least not as much. Maybe this will give us a pause in the constant back and forth of the 'I hope Obama fails' meme."

I caught one story that made me laugh so hard because a couple of White House staffers thought they were being punked when told about the prize. Thanks for the laughter, staffers:

"White House Aide: 'It's not April 1, is it?':

Two key White House aides were both convinced they were being punked when they heard the news, reported ABC News' George Stephanopoulos .

'It's not April 1, is it?' one said.

Upon being called by ABC News at 5:45 ET this morning, a White House aide said, 'This better be good.'

When told by ABC News that the president had won the Nobel Peace Prize, the aide replied: 'Oh, that is good.'

In the midst of that article, though, I began to think that perhaps I thought too soon that extremist opinions were going to fade on this topic as the article linked above shows a variety of reactions--several of them negative. What American wouldn't be proud that one of our own was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize?

So then I started doing some more digging and an additional article caught my eye. In which, Sam Stein of HuffPost captured some conservative reactions:
"Obama isn't the first American president to win the Nobel Peace Prize, but he's the first to win it without having accomplished anything," wrote John Miller, of the National Review. "Obama's award is simply the projection of wishful thinking."

"The prize seems not just premature but embarrassing," wrote Mark Krikorian, also on The National Review, "this just reinforces the Saturday Night Live meme that Obama has done nothing. This really might be his Carter whacking-the-bunny-rabbit moment."

Indeed, an online petition was started just hours after the announcement was made, objecting to the "absurd decision to award B. Obama Nobel Peace Prize."

And so, in the immediate aftermath, the meme had already been established -- seconded by the usual purveyors of conventional wisdom -- that the Nobel Prize was more burden than benefit for the White House. The conclusion: the president needed to turn the prize down.

"I predict right now that he will find a way to basically turn it down," Time Magazine's Mark Halperin told MSNBC's Morning Joe. "I think he is going to say, I share this with the world or whatever. I don't think he'll embrace this. Because there is no upside."

"The damage is done," added Mika Brzezinski shortly thereafter.

He hasn't done anything? Really? Really???

How about when he got the leaders of France and China together instead of them storming out and his other missions to repair the United States' tattered reputation? How about his focus on reducing nuclear weapons? Or how about all the real terrorists he has protected us from?

Me being the political mutt that I am, I never thought I would agree word for word with a response from the Democratic National Committee, and I admit this is much more extremist language than I tend to use:

"The Republican Party has thrown in its lot with the terrorists -- the Taliban and Hamas this morning -- in criticizing the President for receiving the Nobel Peace prize," wrote DNC Communications Director Brad Woodhouse. "Republicans cheered when America failed to land the Olympics and now they are criticizing the President of the United States for receiving the Nobel Peace prize -- an award he did not seek but that is nonetheless an honor in which every American can take great pride -- unless of course you are the Republican Party. The 2009 version of the Republican Party has no boundaries, has no shame and has proved that they will put politics above patriotism at every turn. It's no wonder only 20 percent of Americans admit to being Republicans anymore - it's an embarrassing label to claim."

Let me repeat that: "Politics above patriotism." Today, I'm putting Patriotism above Politics. Today is a day in which all of us should be proud.

So whether you are independent, democrat, republican, libertarian, green party, communist, socialist, etc., let's stop with all the politics for the moment. The Nobel Peace prize epitomizes the very foundations of our country. So lets take a pause, please! Even if it's only for a day...

And instead, let's bask in the moment, proudly fly those Stars and Stripes in our minds, step up and be We: United States citizens who remember and are proud of the ideals of our country--freedom for all, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.




Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Obama Puts Government On Greenhouse-Gas Diet


I am thrilled to see the President walking the talk on this issue. Not only will these measures help save taxpayer dollars in reduced energy costs, it will also help stimulate the economy and job creation by increasing demand for green energy products and services. Way to kill two birds with one stone!
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Noblesse Oblige, Anyone?

I've been thinking a lot lately of truth, justice and the American way, along with how frustrated I've been at the anger and fears fanned from the swindles (identity theft, Enron, Madoff, golden parachutes, etc.) exaggerations, out-of-context half-truths, and sometimes the outright lies that are being passed as pure truth. And unfortunately, more people than I'd like are falling for it. And I'm not blaming this behavior on any particular group either, because there have been and are people on all sides that have participated in these departures from our ideals--ironically sometimes in the name of those very ideals.

Maybe this is a sentimental longing for "the good ol' days," but I was raised with this subconscious belief that honesty and fair-dealing were embedded in our culture. Sure you might run into someone trying to con you every once in a while, but the vast majority of us believe in those values. Then I thought maybe that's just me being the one who always tries to spot that flash of silver in the black clouds.

But when I started rereading Double Star from my Heinlein collection tonight, I was reminded I was not alone in thinking that there were indeed those good ol' days--that we Americans had adapted the concept of noblesse oblige to everyone instead of just those of higher class or standing. He published this story in 1956, and below is one of his main character's thoughts:
"Noblesse oblige.

I decided that notion could be generalized into any occupation. 'Value for value.' Building 'on the square and on the level.' The Hippocratic oath. Don't let the team down. Honest work for honest pay. Such things did not have to be proved; they were an essential part of life--true throughout eternity, true in the farthest reaches of the Galaxy."
Over fifty years ago Heinlein imagined that freedom, honor, kindness and generosity would be values held by humans far, far into the future. Well it's the future, and while I still believe we have the potential to achieve those ideals, I think our moral compass has gotten off kilter these last few decades.

So everybody, take a few long, slow breaths and just let your mind savor those ideals. Let them trickle through your thoughts and into all the swirls of your imagination.

Do you see that bright and shining place? It may never be perfect, but I'd so very much like to live there: where respect was earned by our ethical actions--not what we look like, how much money we have, where or how we live, or who we know.

Each and every one of us can choose every day whether to make that place a reality, and as far as I'm concerned, "The more, the merrier!"

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Grayson Not Backing Down: "I Apologize To The Dead"


I'm glad to see someone standing up for We the People instead of the big corporate interests involved in the health care bill! Thank you, Rep. Grayson!
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Fix-It President Hits a Wall -- and It's Us

I just responded to a commentary by Deepak Chopra:
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

After some further thought, I realized that this article from a professor of UC-Santa Cruz may interest you: http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html?goback=.nvr_2180528_1

It provides detailed data of the distribution of wealth over time in the US; compares statistics between the US and other democracies; and describes the dynamics of wealth and power. For example: In 1960, the ratio of CEO pay to worker pay was 42:1, yet by 2004 that ratio has reached 411:1.

So perhaps this is another reason why the success of the health care bill is not certain. From a diversity perspective, it is understood that when a group has power, the group dynamic is generally to work to maintain and grow that power, which seems evidenced above by the extreme disparity in the pay ratio that has occurred over time. Perhaps those with the power are exerting all their influence to insure they retain said power?

I am seeking to create a discussion group for a frank, authentic and ongoing conversation about the concept and issues related to class, especially in the United States and Canada. If you or anyone you know is interested in participating, please reply to this posting or contact me at TMPayne1@c­omcast.net­.

Have a lovely day and thanks for your time!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Break for multi-tasker = Big Sigh

I'm so used to being the "independent cuss" my Mama always said I was. I'm a fabulous caregiver... but I have to admit, it seems the saying about doctors being the worst patients applies to me as well. After a slightly disastrous episode of scalding soup and tired hands, I've been ordered by my family to take a break today. To not lift my finger even. Okay, I'm allowed to use it on the remote or keyboard. I'm allowed to use my brain all I want, but not one iota of physical labor.

It's driving me batty.

Anyone who knows me knows I don't take orders well--kind requests, yes, but orders tend to stiffen my back into one huge ball of stubbornness... one of the reasons I didn't go into the military, but that's a different tale.

But for today, I'm honestly trying to adhere to this particular demand because I know it's coming from a place of love and concern and is in my best interest. When your hand just doesn't want to hold on to the soup bowl and decides of its own volition to drop it right onto your chest, you've been working too hard... Don't worry, mild first degree burns that are okay today, but please believe me on this one and don't learn from experience as I did. Try and stop before your body makes that decision for you.

But now that I'm here resting, my brain is racing through my permanent mental to-do list and my fingers are just itching to strike a few more things off of it. Couldn't I just go do one load of dishes? Nope, not allowed. sigh

So I guess distraction will be the word of the day. I think I might catch up on a book or two I've been meaning to finish, or perhaps watch a few of my girl shows on the DVR.

Psst... By the way, I just snuck into the kitchen to microwave a pasta dish... I'm such a naughty rule-breaker. Oh well, I'll try to be better the rest of the day. Distraction, that's it Tams... Distraction!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A good kind of tired

The flood waters have abated, and I am bone-tired... Even with all the moves I've done before, and there've been a lot of them, this one within my own house was particularly exhausting. Maybe it's the adrenaline of making sure precious things are kept safe from harm, but now that we've had a reprieve, my body is heartily complaining about its recent mistreatment. But simultaneously I'm also incredibly happy and so very proud of my family.

We are a family of procrastinators... well, we were, and perhaps a part of us will always be, but that all changed when mother necessity reared her head. We took care of our flooded basement--moved things hither and yon and back. And the great part is we did it all without any fusses. Maybe a teeny bit of irritation here or there, but the entire experience was amazing. It taught me more deeply about why family is so incredibly important. When the need arises, family is there for you. No questions asked, just do what needs doing to make things right again.

So while I don't think I can describe how very tired I am, it's such a good feeling to know that I am blessed with the perfect family for me. I hope everyone gets the chance to experience that feeling. Have a great day!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mixed feelings about the Baucus bill

While I've not learned enough about the regional non-profit co-ops mentioned in an AP article I read this morning on the Baucus bill, from what I've heard I'm not completely opposed. I do have to share that I participate in an electric co-op currently.

I do like the idea of mandating that preventative and mental health services be included in insurance plans and that only US citizens and legal immigrants will be able to access these services. My heart goes out to the plight of many illegal immigrants, but if you choose to be in a country, you should do so legally. I believe our current immigration policy also needs to be completely overhauled, but that's a topic for another day.

But, if this is the bill Congress plans to try to push through, then I've got to state some hard and fast objections to a couple of the provisions:

First of all, one of the platforms Obama campaigned on and one of the biggest reasons why I supported him is that he did not want to require people to purchase insurance. He simply wanted to make it available to people who wanted it through a public option that was similar to the insurance our government already provides to our elected officials, federal employees, veterans, etc. If the co-op idea can provide the same kind of service, I won't be opposed provided it is affordable and provides the care those of us who are living paycheck to paycheck need.

But the idea of our government ordering me to support an entire industry that I already think has a lot of crooked shenanigans or paying a fine if I don't is completely an invasion into my personal life.


In addition to it being an invasion in my personal liberty, I also think this is a completely classist provision. There is no guarantee that this bill will make health insurance affordable. So when the government says buy insurance or you have to pay a fine, I have a problem for the millions of us who may not be able to afford it.

One point of the article struck me:
"Not carrying insurance could result in a steep fine, as much as $3,800 per family, or $950 for an individual. People who can't afford their premiums would be exempted from the fine."
However, after further research, I found a WSJ article that linked to a summary of the proposed bill which shared some info about the exemption:
"An exemption from the penalty is permitted if coverage is deemed unaffordable – defined based on a circumstance where the lowest cost premium available exceeds 10% of a person’s income. Exemptions from the penalty are also allowed based on hardship, for Native Americans and for individuals below 100% of poverty. Additionally, in 2013, individuals at or below 133% of poverty will be exempt from the penalty.

For taxpayers between 100-300% of poverty, the penalty for failing to obtain health coverage is $750 per year with a maximum penalty per family of $1500. For taxpayers with incomes above
300% of poverty, the penalty for failing to obtain coverage is $950 per year with a maximum penalty per family of $3800."
Now after doing the math, I've determined that I'm definitely paying more than 10% of my income on health insurance premiums... to the tune of 16% of my income and that doesn't even include all the copays for prescriptions and office visits. I'm hoping this means the changes they're proposing will actually work and reduce prices on insurance.

My next objection is that this bill refuses to allow federal funds to be used for abortions except in the case of rape, incest or the life of the mother (not health of the mother). Let me be plain, I am personally against abortion for myself. I've never had one and never will; although I have to admit to a scare one time that made me do some hard thinking about it. I've also had friends who have had abortions, and while I wish they could have made a different decision, I supported them and helped them. According to the AP article I linked above, insurance plans can include the option, but the woman would have to use her own money to pay for that coverage. This again is a classist provision and will leave many women without the ability to choose, which last I heard was still one of our rights.

To have an abortion is a difficult decision for anyone, but if the government is going to stick its nose into my body's business, it should do so fairly. As it stands now, I'm feeling a lot of hypocrisy in this provision.

If the Right to Life value is so important to our government, then why have we been responsible for thousands of deaths (our soldiers, their soldiers, enemy combatants, and innocent foreign citizens) in all the wars and military actions we've waged during my lifetime?

Why is Right to Life always defined as an unborn child and not all the perfectly wonderful living people who are already here? Why can't Right to Life actually mean right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Isn't that what life's supposed to be about?

So here's my response to this one... If federal funds may not be used to provide legal abortions to women in need of them, then federal funds should not be used to cause the deaths (especially of innocent people) in any military action. A life is life, is it not? And from what I heard from several Right to Life acquaintances of mine, "Every life is precious."

Last but not least, I'm also confused by this provision in the summary:
"Employer Responsibility. Employers would not be required to offer health insurance coverage. However, employers with more than 50 full-time employees (30 hours and above) that do not offer health coverage must pay a fee for each employee who receives the tax credit for health insurance through an exchange. The assessment is based on the amount of the tax credit received by the employee(s), but would be capped at an amount equal to $400 multiplied by the total number of employees at the firm (regardless of how many receive a credit in the exchange). Employees participating in a welfare-to-work program, children in foster care and workers with a disability are exempted from this calculation.

As a general matter, if an employee is offered employer-provided health insurance coverage, the individual is ineligible for the tax credit for health insurance purchased through an exchange. An employee who is offered unaffordable coverage by their employer, however, can be eligible for the tax credit. Unaffordable is defined as 13% of the employee’s income. The employee would seek an affordability waiver from the exchange and would have to demonstrate family income and the premium of the lowest cost employer option offered to them. Employees would then present the waiver to the employer. The employer assessment would apply for any employee(s) receiving an affordability waiver. Within five years of implementation, the Secretary must conduct a study to determine if the definition of affordable could be lowered without significantly increasing costs or decreasing employer coverage."
Why is insurance considered unaffordable for a penalty exemption at 10% of one's income, yet unaffordable is defined at 13% when it comes to employer-provided coverage? And how does this change in employer-provided insurance comply with Obama's campaign promise that those with employer-provided care would be able to keep their insurance unchanged?

I know I've mentioned several different issues. I'd really love to hear some other perspectives.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Down with the drama of extremism!

Whether it be the right, left, religion, politics, race, ethnicity, class, etc... Extremist fanaticism has just got to go, and go far, far away from our culture. I don't know why we humans are prone to such extremist natures at times, but when belief in whatever cause you're passionate about keeps you from hearing and understanding actual, factual truth, then the problem is with the believer and not the facts of the situation.

Facts are facts, and regardless of whether one side or another has just tossed those facts in a spin cycle, we should use our possibly god-given gift of reason to sort things through. Fortunately, today I don't feel alone in my struggle against extremist viewpoints. My friend George said something this morning that was the catalyst for today's post:
"Nothing in our country is any different than it was a year ago. Saying Obama is a socialist is about as accurate as saying Bush was a nazi. Judge the situation by what happens, or what has happened, not by what you think might happen."
So regardless of what side you think you're on... Shouldn't we all be respectful of each other and remember that our country, our world even, needs us to calmly discuss our differences, learn from each other and find the best way forward on whatever issue happens to confront us these days???

Journalists... do your jobs and report "Just the facts, ma'am" and please make sure you get all of them and you share all of them. It's not your job to form my opinion. It's your job to present information in a fair and honest way so that I and my fellow citizens of the world can form our own opinions.

And to everyone in our world... Take the time to look at all the facts, not just the ones you like. And ask relevant questions related to those facts... Not the "if yes, you're with us, if no you're against us" kinds. As we've seen from recent history, following a demagogue and listening to just that one side's facts has wasted BILLIONS of US dollars and equipment in Iraq alone. This is not a red or blue statement... It's just a fact.

So based on that fact (Billions of our tax dollars has been misplaced, wasted, lost, etc.), you'd think there'd be a lot more people demanding our government do a better job of keeping up with our resources. Those Billions sure could have come in handy during this latest recession...

So here's me, a proud US citizen, demanding that we do have better accounting of what our money is being spent or lost on.

I also respectfully request that we all start treating each other with respect. Not to beat a dead horse, but a member of Congress calling The President a liar in the middle of a speech to Congress is just plain disrespectful and does not and has not lead to anything but more drama. What I'm referring to is called emotional intelligence, and it's something I hope we'll all practice a little more of.

And please don't misunderstand me... I'm not bashing belief in causes, religious or otherwise...

Personally, I happen to be a firm believer that we should all try to make our world at least a little better than we found it, that common courtesy is the grease to the wheels of society, and that love makes those wheels turn a whole lot better.

But guess what, if you show me facts that disagree with my above-stated beliefs, I'm not going to lose my temper, call you names or raise up a fanatic army of common courtesy and love supporters to bring you down. Instead, I'm going to sit here and consider the information you share with me, do my own research from multiple sources, and if you've got a real point based on all the facts, I'll probably agree with you.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Hooray for modern medicine!

So I am in a much better frame of mind these days, and, I have to confess, I owe this newfound peacefulness to the wonders of modern medicine. I'm not freaking out too often about what will happen when my severance and insurance runs out. Instead, I've been able to turn it from nervous panicky energy to productive work.

Whew, I'd almost forgotten what that felt like.

It's so nice that chemical imbalances in your brain can be fixed if you happen to get lucky and find the right medicine that works for you. It is such an amazing sensation to be able to finally take grasp of my ability to focus and keep it on something long enough to accomplished it.

I can tell that today's been the first of many exciting days to come. I'm so looking forward to discovering where my life's path's leads me next.

Have a wonderful evening everyone!

Friday, September 04, 2009

Weirdness

So this will be my first Labor Day since joining the work force that I don't officially have a job. I've always been the responsible one; the one who takes care of everyone; and the one that tries to make sure everything is okay. I guess that also makes me someone who likes to have everything handled and under control. I have such a sense of confusion and weirdness lately.

This time last year, I knew what my next 5 years was probably going to look like... Resigned to some boredom, but in a stable place that I knew frontward and backward. Now the world is my canvas, and there are so many colors that I don't know which to pick first. I'm excited and worried all at the same time. Hopefully the right color will pop up sometime soon. If you're trying to find your color, I hope it finds you.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Phoney protests are baloney!

When will this country be able to have a real debate on the pros and cons of the health care reform issue instead of being overwhelmed with propaganda and fear tactics? Here's another story about health care protests being funded by people who are heavily connected with the insurance industry:

More than 70 percent of the American public agrees that a public option for health care is a good idea. That fact is terrifying to insurance companies that have hustled billions of dollars out of a dysfunctional health care system for decades. The insurance industry is so worried that they now have phonied up protest groups showing up at town hall meetings to disguise the fact that 70 percent of Americans want a choice between private insurance and a government run plan.
When did greed (whether it be corporate or personal) become the prime motivating factor in doing business?

What happened to quality products and services for fair prices?

What gives?!?!?!?!?! Wait, I know... the economy, that's what... and it's given until it's plain tuckered out. Sigh.

Stepping off the soapbox now and would really like others' opinions on this one.

Monday, August 24, 2009

This one's for you, Mom! Poetry from my college days...

a box of strawberries

her unruly brown halo
bounces in the wind as she bustles
the groceries into the house.
limbs tired from exertion, she sinks
into a chair and asks me to bring...

the box--a wondrous vessel!

full of speckled plump strawberries
she dips them in fluffy white powder,
juice drips from the corner
of her munching mouth.

i sit gazing at her... she offers me one
i quickly take a bite and swipe
the sweet sticky liquid from my chine.
for a moment,
tasting the aroma of love,
berry sweet and pure as powdered sugar.

sighing...

the strawberries have disappeared.
energy renewed, having had a respite,
she again takes up her rags
and her Pledge,
trudges almost hesitantly to the dining room
and circles the dust from the table.

--Tammy Payne, Spring '93

dedicated to my Mom

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Happy Day to all... A collection of some of my favorite quotes

"Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see!!!" -- Jovanna Alex Sidney

"Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage." --Lao Tzu

“Love is like a piece of art work, even the smallest bit can be so beautiful.” --Stacie Cunningham

"Life is the flower for which love is the honey." --Victor Hugo

"Those who love deeply never grow old; they may die of old age, but they die young." --Sir Arthur Pinero

"Love is a promise, love is a souvenir, once given never forgotten, never let it disappear." --John Lennon

"Love is like pi - natural, irrational, and very important." --Lisa Hoffman

"When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace." --Jimi Hendrix

"Just because you love someone now doesn't mean you're meant to have them in your life forever. So treasure and appreciate the now with your loved ones and in the future, whatever it may hold, you'll have no regrets." --me--

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Freedom of Information: Debate of facts vs. fiction in healthcare

This morning I planned to discuss how the current debate on health care in our country seems to be a farce versus a real discussion of the actual facts. But before I waxed indignant about it, I discovered that my friend Chuck already had on his TERRIBLEMINDS site:

Let’s see. It’s early. I’m only halfway through my coffee. I can’t quite herd my stray thoughts into a straight line.

Perfect time for a spirited debate about health care!

Except, the debate has been rigged. Public opinion against the public option is a paper tiger, yet it’s a paper tiger that we’ve been led to believe has real teeth and an angry roar. We believe this because we’re at least a little bit stupid, and because the media has approximately zero interest in doing its job.

I recommend you give him a full read, but be warned, he's a lot more raw on this topic than I would have been. I think it's a necessary intensity, though, in this frustrating stage of the non-issues debate, and I'm glad he was able to go where my manners wouldn't have let me. Here's another point he made as an example:

Hitler? Hitler. Hitler?! Really? Comparing Obama to Hitler is easily, handily, totally the most ludicrous goddamn notion this side of a faked moon landing. Actually, it’s worse. You’d be smarter thinking that you can eat dog shit for dinner and poop out pennies. I don’t even want to refute it, because then I feel like I’m somehow giving the argument credence.

How on earth people can actually believe that Obama is like Hitler is beyond me. I have tried, but I just can't wrap my head around it. I don't know whether to be sad, completely outraged, or laugh at the complete hypocrisy of those who are behind this imagery. When the comparison was first made, I just shook my head and thought "Wow, that's too crazy for anyone to take seriously." And then it was.

When did we become a nation of sheep to be led around by our noses by people who don't know what the words honor or truth really mean?

There was a long time in our nation's history in which your word was your bond and having a reputation for honesty meant something. I think that all changed the moment that journalism became a business for shareholders instead of a business to give people real news. Now it seems we've returned to the good ol' days of the robber barons and yellow journalism.

When are we ever going to learn from our history instead of repeating it?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Freedom of Information: About Your Doctor!



Patrick Malone and I must be on the same wavelength... His article on HuffPost captures exactly why it is so very important that we as consumers be able to learn more about our doctors.

I know I've mentioned some of my family's experiences about unnecessary doctor visits, misdiagnoses, etc., in previous posts. For anyone in Atlanta, let me know if you're investigating neurologists, there's a couple out there who are absolutely horrible, and I'll happily share their names with you offline so you don't have to bother seeing them.

But getting back to the article at hand... Malone makes a great point about something he calls:

"no patient left behind" -- a simple report card system to give patients a heads-up about their doctors' credentials and safety record, something almost impossible to get now.
I think I've finally found a good neurologist for my family, (fingers and toes crossed), but in order to do so, I had to:
  • get lucky enough to find a very caring employee at my insurance company who went through the entire doctors' list looking for the information that they had on the doctors... where they went to school, when they graduated, where they did their residency training, etc.
  • call all the offices to see which were accepting new patients
  • talk with people who worked there to get a feel for how skilled the doctor was, would the staff actually go see him/her for their problems, etc.
All in all it took me a few days to get all this researched. And even so, there are no guarantees. So I'm in a wait and see mode at the moment. Here's hoping that our doctor who trained at Emory lives up to the hospital's reputation.

As for Malone's "no patient left behind" idea. I think it makes nothing but common sense. We can all go online and look up reviews on lots of different products and services that we may or may not need. For something as important as our personal health and well being, we should at least be able to look at a safety record.

I think the reason I am most passionate about this idea is that I lost my Gram to an unsafe doctor a few years ago. Her mom (my great-grandmother) had died just a couple of years earlier, so based on my family's health history, I honestly expected her to be with us for at least another decade. Unfortunately, the doctor did not follow Mom's instructions (she had medical power of attorney for Gram). The end result was that Gram had to live the last year of her life suffering from the effects of stroke and congestive heart failure. And just when we thought she was going to get better, she didn't.

I have missed one of my truest and best friends ever since.

If we had had access back then to more information about her doctor, including his safety record, Mom and I would have known to take Gram to a completely different doctor, instead of the one who made such bad decisions about her care.

Now I know that some who read this post may say that knowing more info about the safety records may lead to more malpractice suits... but I think it would actually cause the opposite to occur.

If we knew the skills and abilities of our doctors, then supply and demand suggests that we would go to the better service... given that those doctors are in our insurance networks. Those better doctors would probably have more accurate diagnoses, resulting in prompt treatment of conditions and fewer unnecessary visits to a whirlwind of specialists. Bottom line, health care and malpractice suit costs would be reduced, not increased.

Your thoughts?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Being productive

I have very much enjoyed my vacation time, but it's now time to get serious about what my different options are for work and career. In a few short hours, I'll have my orientation session with the career transition service my former company provided me. I know I'm lucky to have this benefit, and I plan to take full advantage of it.

I'm worried about how productive I'll end up being, though. My problem is that my brain has gone in a million different directions and I'm struggling to figure out which choices to focus on. But the one thing they all have in common is that I would prefer to work at home at hours that I can set around the needs of my family.

Here's hoping my confusion will clear up a bit with my orientation later. Good luck to anyone else who's also trying to find their way in this new economy of ours.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Rest in Peace Les Paul

Thank you Les Paul for your gifts to music and the world. You are honored and will be missed.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Health Care Debate--I'm frustrated!

As an addendum to my previous post about health care, I found a great article by Brian Unger on NPR that seems to sum up a lot of my feelings about the current health care discussion:

The health care debate is toxic, revealing a lot about us as a nation. And it feels embarrassing — like the whole world can see our underpants. Or hear us fighting in the kitchen.
I wish our leaders would recognize and address the hypocrisy of the whole "government health care" is socialism fear tactic and actually do things that don't solely help big business. I agree that a strong business sector is a very important part of a healthy economy, but I am so tired of short term gains being the focus of business, who have lots of powerful lobbying efforts, which in turn can cause our own government to look at short term benefits instead of long-term benefits.

Shouldn't both the short term and the long term be taken seriously?

Any others' experiences or thoughts are welcome!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Healthcare frustrations

I've ended up having quite a few discussions on the topic of health care recently, and the bottom line from all the discussion is that while some may have it better than others here in our country, we still have a long way to go before we get it closer to where it needs to be. Now many people have their ideas that they passionately believe when it comes to health care. Some are worried about socialized medicine... i.e. government run health care... Isn't that what Medicare is?

And the one chorus I've heard from lots of seniors is "Don't you mess with my Medicare!" So if this government run plan is what so many people are scared they're going to lose, what's the big deal with providing another government run option for all the people who are not lucky enough to work for a big company that provides healthcare?

When I worked for a big company, all I was concerned about was that I'd be able to keep my own health insurance and that the government wouldn't take away my freedom to choose.

Now that I've been laid off, I'm really interested in that possible government plan b/c I'm not sure I'll continue to be able to afford to stay with my current insurance provider. And if I switch, then there may be a whole lot of pre-existing conditions that might not be covered anyway.

One of the things that everyone talks about is problems, but not solutions. I think one solution is to get the insurance companies out of the doctoring business. My doctor should be able to tell me what is wrong and not have to wait for an approval for an insurance company as to when and how to provide treatment.

Another problem we have is that often, your primary doctor may not be able to diagnose the condition because they're often not allowed to run the right tests and then you have to go see specialists... Well, if enough prep isn't done on the front end as to what type of specialist you really need to see, then you could go to one pointless doctor appt to another to another and still never find out what is truly wrong with you.

This has been a personal experience of mine. A few years ago I got Very sick... It was kind of like mono, but worse for me, and I knew it wasn't mono because I'd already had it a few years earlier. This particular virus made me so tired it took all my strength to climb up 6 stairs. No one could figure out what was wrong. First I went to my doctor, then an ENT. Nothing they did helped, so after a few weeks, they sent me to an infectious disease specialist. By the time I got to the right specialist, the virus had almost worked its way out of my system. Then I had to fight with the disability insurance people because they didn't want to cover my time away from work because the diagnosis of the infectious disease doctor wasn't absolutely certain. Ugh! Finally won that one, but I shouldn't have had to fight at all.

So both the insurance companies and I were stuck with paying useless bills and copays until I got to the right specialist. That was 3 or 4 visits that could have been avoided. If my primary doctor had had the time and support behind her from the insurance companies to run the right kinds of tests in the beginning, those useless visits could have been avoided, and I might not have gone through the terror of wondering what was wrong with me for over a month and would I ever get better.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Broadening my horizons...

I had the most wonderful visit today to a Hindu Mandir (temple) here in Atlanta. It was absolutely gorgeous and the meditation room was awe-inspiring. This was actually my second visit.

When you first enter the temple, you have to take off your shoes. When you get into the meditation room, it is like a light blue/white glow emanating from the area.There is no talking and cell phones have to be on silent. The first time I entered, I was so stunned by the sight that all I could do was gaze in amazement at the beauty and peacefulness. And then I started slowly walking through the room and almost every space was intricately carved in white stone. It is so interesting how there is this theme of similarity and difference within the meditation area. The same stone, but so many details.

It was such a beautiful experience. I sat and meditated in under one of the large domed areas and I felt so unstressed when I was done. I'm so thankful I was able to experience such a wondrous place.

Monday, August 03, 2009

What does the word "diversity" mean to you?

Sometimes the same word can mean different things to different people. I think diversity is one of those words. Some think of it as something we have to do for the sake of political correctness, other's are so passionate about the idea of it, they have made it their full time jobs. [For the sake of transparency, I have to share that I'm actually considering trying to make it a full-time job.] There are websites and discussions devoted to diversity, and there are lots of consultants who help companies develop their own diversity goals/programs/initiatives. Some think it's the latest flavor of the month in the business community; while others believe it is the key ingredient for success, especially in the economic downturn.

When I first heard the word diversity, it was actual from the original Star Trek TV series. IDIC stood for "Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations" and so my first thought was appreciation for things different from me. Then we started doing diversity training at work and I learned all about bias (whether on purpose or subconcious), group identities, that some groups have more power than others, and all sorts of specialized diversity vocabulary to understand the dynamics of power in the corporate environment.

I was skeptical at first, but in the midst of it, I realized that from my perspective, here was a huge company doing the right thing and trying to make sure that all its employees were valued and appreciated. It didn't always get it right, but the leaders were truly trying to make a difference. So I did a lot of learning about diversity because I thought that would be one of the greatest things in the world, to help everyone be understood and valued for their contributions and the content of their character instead of some group they happened to be a part of.

And during my learning, I figured out how to listen without judging first. I learned to talk about things that used to be very uncomfortable for me. I think this work is about respecting people first... that you have to truly listen to someone and speak from your own point of view so that both of you can learn to understand each other. Yes, it's also about learning how to avoid bias and oppression. But I think political correctness takes it too far. That's why some of my favorite shows (Mind of Mencia, Southpark, etc) are horribly politically incorrect... but they do so to everyone. There is no target that is not off their radar. In fact, in one of Carlos Mencia's specials, he discussed a show he did for a disabled audience. And he started doing all of his jokes except for the "deet ta dee" ones. He tells how he got called out by an audience member about not telling the jokes, so he started doing them a little here, then more and then the full repertoire. The audience was laughing so hard at the end. During that show, he had an ah hah moment: If he couldn't tell those jokes in front of that audience, he would have had no business telling them at all.

Doctors have said that laughter is the best medicine. I think we should learn to laugh more at ourselves. For me, diversity is about trying to understand other people, to work better with them at home, community and/or work, but I think it's also about learning to laugh together.

So that's what diversity means to me. How about you?

Continuing information on infant DNA collection

We started an interesting conversation yesterday about the collection of infant DNA without parental consent. One of my readers asked some questions about use and oversight. Right now it looks like all states collect a blood spot to test for genetic diseases in babies, but what happens after the blood is tested varies by state. Here's another blogger who has some more information.

From a research perspective, I encourage you to read the comments on the link I've provided, they come from an actual researcher who shares how anonymous the information is. This makes me feel better about the idea, but I still feel that parents not the government should be the ones to give consent about the use of their baby's blood.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Baby DNA gathered without parental consent

I watched a special on TV last night that mentioned there was a law that our former president just signed into law last year. Every newborn's DNA can be collected by hospitals for a government "bio-bank" without parental consent. And then earlier this morning, I did some more research and discovered that Bob Barr had also discussed this topic in the AJC:

Once it is collected, the DNA is considered government property. I have a huge problem with this ultimate invasion of privacy. Using this, the government can know information about not only the baby, but the parents and ancestors of the babe. That is way more information than I think the government has the right to collect without my consent. Again, I wouldn't protest this so much if we had the option to give consent... and even to revoke that consent later if we find our data is being used in ways with which we disagree.

Don't get me wrong, I can see the benefits that having access to such a database could provide scientists. I think it could help them solve many sorts of genetically passed diseases. No human is perfect, which means no government is perfect. Some horrible things that, in my opinion, tarnished our nation's reputation have been done in the name of our national security. These things were done without my consent as a citizen, and I had no power to keep them from happening. However, one of the traditions of our country is that to do anything with one of our children, you MUST have the consent of the parent(s) or guardian(s).

My DNA should not be government property without my consent, and now if I decide to get pregnant, I don't have any choice in the matter. In my libertarian leaning heart, this smacks of government invasion into my privacy, and I'm completely unhappy with the idea that I have no recourse other than to file an expensive lawsuit to challenge this law, which is something that, unfortunately, I can't afford these days.

I would love your feedback on this topic, and from many different perspectives, especially if you disagree with me. I'm still forming my opinion about this one, but my gut instinct is that my potential baby's DNA should never be government property without my consent.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Cycles within cycles

So I'm at a point of endings and new beginnings. There are cycles of change that are definitely in the air. I have a few strings from the past that have been dangling for years and they're getting built back into the weave of my life. There are so many people I'm back in touch with after a long hiatus. With some, it's like we were never apart, with others, we may not still have that same kind of comradery, but it's still good to have them in my life again. And there are new people that have come into my life recently that are also becoming precious and special.

I spoke earlier of appreciating those special ordinary moments. While your job is a part of who you are, it can't be all of who you are. Sometimes you get lost in the process of providing for your family and then you're not able to be there for the people you'd like to be, whether it's good times or bad. In my personal hunt for a new way to help provide for my family, I'm not going to let this valuable lesson leave my mind.