Monthly Archives: March 2010

Earthquakes, storms, grasshoppers (?) Oh my!

I can possibly see why some people would want to join a militia. There certainly seems to be a seemingly endless stream of unusual activity brewing in our lives these days.

If you’ve been watching the news the last couple of days, you will have  heard that the number of militias in the US has been growing exponentially by 244% of patriot groups since 2008.. The people who are attracted to such groups are those who live in fear. That fear is cultivated by the extreme rightists in our government who stoke the fires every election time to get the hatred brewing. They used these military groups to vote their fears to keep the incumbents in power. Now, the military groups are growing in numbers. If they are not reined in and defused by these same leaders, things might get a little edgy. But the leaders are standing on balconies, egging them on.

The staid solid Midwest is a home to many of the militias. The states of Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan are gaining numbers by the month. These are the same states, by the way, that used to have (don’t know about now) large numbers of KKK members. They might call themselves patriots now, but they are just younger generations from the same grandparents. However, even the KKK is growing once again. They may have gone to sleep for a while, but immigration issues and gay rights issues are stirring the sleeping giant right along side those who consider themselves patriots and are desiring to protect themselves from the “government”.

Of course Texas, California, and Alaska are right up there with them. Every time the topic comes around to guns around me in Fort Worth I find more of my friends who own them. There’s the lady who can see Russia from her front yard gaining momentum leading the pack with her own agenda followed closely by Glenn Beck, Huckabee, Hannity, and Limbaugh, just to name a few.

The economy, the hatred of anything smelling vaguely liberal or socialist, the view of being caught in the middle while those “less deserving” (I actually saw that phrase) are taking advantage of them…all of these things are adding dry kindling to an explosive bonfire ready to be set off. And somebody has the match.

Along with them come those who are looking for astrological and physical signs in nature that the end of the world is approaching. Supposedly, the battle of Armageddon is not far off. The most recent time we were to have been prepared was Y2K. Obviously nothing happened. Now we are revving up for 2012. The doomsayers are revitalized once more.

People are paying closer attention to the number of earthquakes, floods, gigantic snow storms, etc. saying these are all “signs”.

Now I read that grasshoppers are coming back strong in Wyoming and other states in the West and the Plains. The prediction is for at least 48 million acres of infestation this summer. The young grasshoppers are due to hatch  around May and June. The farmers and ranchers are praying for a cool, wet spring while those in the Northeast are praying for a warm dry one.

It is a frustrating time. Fear and uncertainty fuel adrenaline. Adrenaline stokes the fight or flight response. There is no place to run so many are turning to the idea of fighting. They are not planning to fight some foreign power who is invading our country. These militia, a group we learned to praise during our studies of the Revolutionary War, and priming up to fight fellow citizens.

I am not ready to die, but we all must die sometime. If I make it to June, I will have lived longer than my father who died three months before his sixty-fourth birthday. I have a fear of guns and will never own one. If some rabid “patriot” reads my thoughts and deems I am too liberal too live, (I do honestly try to be a fence-sitting peace maker), then I hope the bullet aimed at me is from the gun of a sniper and I don’t hear the shot. Loud noises disturb me.

My prayer for today is that we all stand down, take a deep breath, and realize we are ALL Americans in search of answers. Violence has never been a good answer, but violence seems to be the way that empires have always been brought down. Unless we are in a time warp and we have been transported to Egypt and the grasshoppers are just signs of one more plague before the “people” are set free. My only question is, “What happens the next morning after we achieve this “freedom”?  Namaste. Attic Annie

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Is nothing held sacred or is nothing revered any more?

Perhaps I am just plain out of touch with the reality of the modern world. Every day we seem to hear of people doing whatever with no social boundaries. The news tonight featured the story of Erykah Badu and her guerrilla videotaping of her singing and stripping in downtown Dallas in front of the Texas Book Depository in Dealey Plaza on March 17. For those of you too young to remember, this is where President Kennedy was shot in November of 1963. The area was turned into a national monument. Thousands of people visit the site yearly. It is almost always crowded. The day was slightly cool. I am sure there were dozens of witnesses. She claims she prayed that no children would be traumatized. In the video when she finishes stripping, a gunshot is fired and she falls naked to the pavement. Then she ran like hell.

She obviously did not apply for a permit. Unless the police can find a witness to testify to what she did, they cannot arrest her for this misdemeanor charge even though they showed the video on TV, blocking a few obvious areas of her body.

In her words, a guerrilla videotaping is “one take, no closed set, no permits, two minutes and run like hell.” This taping took place in the middle of the afternoon in front of children who were visiting the plaza. Supposedly she was making a statement against “groupthink” whatever that may mean.

It doesn’t matter what  you thought about President Kennedy. The first wave of baby boomers were seniors in high school when he was assassinated. To many, the 1960s are ancient history. Some people today still were happy the day he was killed. That is not the point. My point is that I question, “Have we lost all sense of decency? Do we not hold anything worthy of esteem?”

In a similar act, the theater group at Tarleton State planned to perform  a play, Corpus Christi,  that portrayed Jesus as a homosexual man. This play was not meant for the public. It was an in-class project. The public was somehow  informed, and it stirred up a controversy that caused the professor to stop the production. Before all the dust settled, there were even threats of bodily harm. It kind of reminded me of the cartoons of the Muslim Prophet in Denmark. Some people just don’t really know how to judge the depth of people’s feelings when it comes to straying from the Written Word in portraying Holy Men around the world. (edited 3/31…originally it was for viewing by more than just the class. When I became aware of it, it was to be a private showing. Please explore the link for more information.)

Tarleton State was planning to allow the play to be presented in the acting class. They stated free speech amendments as a reason to let the play continue. Now I’m all in favor of free speech but where does common sense come in? You just don’t play around with the image of Jesus in this overcrowded bastion of Christianity called Texas.

Texans have a motto, “Don’t mess with Texas”. An unspoken addendum in this neck of the states is “Don’t mess with Jesus”. I know first hand where that can lead. When the DaVinci Code was released, I was exploring the idea of Jesus being married to Mary Magdaline. To me it was an idea of interest. It doesn’t change my idea one bit about Jesus whether he was married or not, gay or not. I made the error of inviting a Baptist friend of mine to a workshop where the idea of Mary as the Holy Grail (mother of Sarah) was being explored. She went ballistic on me. She couldn’t even begin to entertain the idea. Unfortunately,I haven’t socialized with her since that conversation. She wrote my off as a friend after about ten years of friendship.

The same thing holds true for portraying Jesus as a homosexual. Some people just can’t tolerate that idea. In the name of Jesus, they’d just as soon smite those who might even suggest such, in their eyes,  an abhorrent aberration.

Now in my opinion if certain Christians don’t cotton to that idea, they don’t have to watch it. It would have been over and done with in one day. All their protesting just raised the consciousness of the situation and showed them as the intolerant beings that they are. It was a private class. Even if it were a public performance, Jesus has been a big enough guy for 2,000+ years to withstand the slings and arrows of outrageous fortunes in the past. We’ve seen many such plays and movies come and go in the past and I don’t think many Christians were corrupted in the long run. It is more difficult to corrupt those with closed minds.

But when one is dealing with beings that are held sacred, and places that are revered, I think it is best to be conservative and consider the people around you. There are just some things you’d be better off not messing with in Texas. Jesus and Kennedy’s Dealey Plaza are two. The first is considered sacred, the second is revered. It is best to tread lightly. Namaste. Attic Annie

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ATT DIRECTly sold me a “bill of goods”!*

When the well runs dry, there ain’t no use throwing down the bucket. This has not been a very productive month for me. When I first started blogging, my readership slowly built up to between 200-300 a day. I was able to blog on something every day. I skipped from last Thursday to today this week and the same days last week. There was nothing of interest for me to write about. Actually not much of anything was interesting to me. I didn’t even bother to sit down at the keyboard.

As a result, the hits to my blog have plummeted. I have to decide whether I want to take breaks or build up a readership. I started this blog as an “electronic journal” but to tell the truth, I like the idea that people are actually reading what I have to say.

I get that way. Some people may think I get depressed. I just prefer to think of it as unload and recharge time. My mind takes a break. I crawl into my den and stay there as long as I can. There is very little that interferes with this quiet. Then I snap out of it.

I am proud of myself today. I actually complained about something a few hours ago. I doubt anything will be done about my complaint, but I felt proud of myself for standing up for what is right instead of letting it just pass.

* I had called AT&T billing last week to ask a question about my DISH satellite charge. I was told that for $34.99, I could get comparable service with DIRECTV PLUS I would get three receivers, HD TV, and HD DVR all for 34.99 for the first year. That was about $23.00 less than my charges for DISH.

Now I’m aware that there is a lot of competition between DISH and DIRECTV going on right now. I thought I was getting one hell of a deal for that first year. The installer comes out on Saturday, March 20. Everything is fine. HD is somewhat sharper than the regular channels but not by much. I am satisfied with my service.

Saturday, March 27 I get a bill from DIRECTV for $91.90. Excuse me????

Either the ATT customer service agent was brand new, or he didn’t know what he was talking about, OR he is working on some kind of incentive program and wanted the sale…badlly enough to lie or at least have his fingers crossed when he talked to me. I can’t remember if he was committing a sin of omission or just a plain ol’ lying sin. Since I’m not Catholic, I don’t always know. Besides, “bearing false witness against a neighbor” is not the same as just plain lying so he wasn’t really breaking a commandment.  I think it was the Church who made lying a sin. Personally, I think that commandment should be rewritten to say, “Thou shalt not lie”. It makes things plainer that way.

I don’t care what it was. $34.99 is significantly lower than $91.90. I didn’t get my mail until late Saturday afternoon and didn’t feel like dealing with it then or on Sunday. I called today.

I was so proud of myself. I realize it is not the fault of the person who answers the phone, so I at least remained civil. Actually I received two letters on Saturday. The first letter was dated March 18, the day I placed my order. It seems there is a rebate. If you redeem your rebate BEFORE the installation of your equipment, it goes into effect immediately, otherwise it takes 4-6 weeks to process the rebate. Excuse me? I order on the 18th, they install on the 20th, and I’m informed there is a rebate on the 27th? No civil comment comes to mind. In two more bills, I should see a lowered amount.

When I talked to the DIRECTV customer service agent today, I canceled the HD DVR. That was a charge of $7.00. The HD charge was $10.00. I was told that I could have up to 5 receivers for free. I don’t have guests very often but I thought it would be nice to have service for my son who is visiting in June. Since it was “free” I had one installed in the guest bedroom. What the ATT rep didn’t say was the INSTALLATION was free. There’s a $5.00 monthly charge for every receiver. For the package I bought the price was quoted by the ATT guy as $34.99. I was billed $63.99. That’s before the rebate. Now mind you, several times during my conversation with ATT guy, I repeated, “And all of this is for $34.99 to which he replied “Yes, ma’m!”

Supposedly after the rebate goes into effect I will be paying $41.40 a month. I’m not sure what that extra $5.00 is for but it is still cheaper (except for this month and next) than the $57.00 a month I was paying for DISH.

My neighbor across the street still has an antenna. If things keep going up, maybe I’ll just go back in time and dump all the cables and dishes.  i can remember the time when we first had two channels, then three, and at last four channels to watch while I was growing up. If I was satisfied back then, I should be satisfied again, don’t you think?

Would you believe when I looked up the phrase “bill of goods” an advertisement from Directv was shown on the same page?  That is just too funny for words. Caveat emptor, folks. Namaste. Attic Annie

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Calling all seniors to volunteer

Do not go gentle into that good night

Old age should burn and rave at close of  day

Rage, rage against the dying of the light Dylan Thomas

It seems that baby boomers are beginning to heed the call of this young man who died in 1953 at the age of 39.

Actually, I am finding that those seniors born in the thirties and sometimes even the twenties have been doing a good job of staffing those organizations that couldn’t exist without them.

On Monday I attended the first volunteer auxillary meeting at the hospital where I decided to volunteer about seven weeks ago. If you want to feel like a young kid, that’s the place to go. There were approximately 25 volunteers in the room. I would estimate that maybe four were younger than I. The rest of the volunteers range from being old enough to be a much older sister to being someone old enough to be my mother…and not a teenage bride either.

As in many hospitals, once you have volunteered x number of hours, the volunteer gets a pin. For every 100 hours after that, she/he gets a bar to attach. After so many of these, the bars come less frequently. I guess that’s so they don’t trip on the bars while doing their jobs. Some of these women had at least 12 to 15 bars.

Some of them are now in wheelchairs. Some walk with canes, but they keep on coming to do their jobs, putting in 20 or more hours a week.

The hospital built a new part of the hospital which has only been opened about a year. I was very pleasantly surprised. I wouldn’t mind being a patient in this new section.
The volunteer auxiliary  five years ago pledged to raise $1,000,000 to the new pavilion for the purchase of whatever it was decided the individual floors needed. They are in the process of preparing to pay the last $100,000. I am impressed. To me that is a mighty big promise to fill and to do it in five years seems outstanding.

The volunteers raise the money through sales in the gift shop and hosting vending sales. That’s a lot of gifts in five years.

Baby boomers are being targeted as they begin retiring in order to swell the ranks of volunteers in America. In 2005, 33.2 % of baby boomers volunteered for formal organizations. The majority of baby boomers aren’t even set to retire for at least another year when they begin reaching 65.

I had hoped, when I retired, to get a part time job. Because I can’t speak Spanish, my computer skills are only average, I was an elementary school teacher, and I’m way over 50, I was unable to find a job. I didn’t even look the first two years. I finally accepted the fact that now was not a good time to look for a job.

I only volunteer two mornings a week, which is much less than some of these senior volunteers. They are there trucking away a minimum of 20 hours a week. I admire them. I have some new role models in my life. These volunteers certainly have earned the respect they deserve as they live fully the rest of their lives. None of them show any inclination to sit in a rocking chair and wait out the rest of their lives. Unfortunately, in the US, seniors do not receive the respect to which age and wisdom entitle them. As more of the baby boomers retire and give of their time and talents, maybe they will earn the respect that so many older folk deserve. The hospital auxiliary certainly has mine.

Namaste. Attic Annie

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Are health care protestors protesting the right issues?

It looks as if health care reform has passed. I have friends who are shouting hurray. I have friends who are just plain shouting. There is much as yet to be done to make this a good bill for everyone concerned.

This bill brought out the worst in many American citizens. Racial and sexual preference  epithets and spit were hurled at members of Congress by protestors over the weekend. Much to my approval, anyone receiving such disrespect ignored the situation. They vowed to keep this volatile issue strictly about health care. I heartily approve the right to dissent, but I truly believe it must be done with decorum and not disgrace.

It seems members of the Tea Party have become quite vocal in their opposition to this bill. The main goal of the Tea Party, as I understand it, is to get Congress to quit raising taxes. the party was formed as a response to the stimulus bills in 2009. They have taken to the streets with their protests.

What bemuses me about all these protests is the fact that I have heard very little about the cost of the wars we have been waging since 1985. Some of us are yelling from the rooftops about not helping out our neighbors who have no health insurance at all while they remain mute about the trillions of dollars that have been spent spreading death and destruction in the past twenty-five years.

Nor for that matter has the crucial concern been the well-being of the average American. One former Defense Department official has estimated that it cost U.S. taxpayers about $47 billion in 1985 alone for military expenditures related to the Persian Gulf;[24] former Secretary of the Navy John Lehman put the annual figure at $40 billion.[25] What could be worth these staggering sums?

The United States, the United Kingdom, and Saudi Arabia became major financial contributors, the United States donating “$600 million in aid per year, with a matching amount coming from the Persian Gulf states.”[57] Afghanistan

WASHINGTON — The cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could total $2.4 trillion through the next decade, or nearly $8,000 per man, woman and child in the country, according to a Congressional Budget Office estimate scheduled for release Wednesday. This excerpt was written four years ago.

There is a running total of the cost of wars since 2001 on this web site. I would quote a figure but the cost tally is running so fast that by the time you would read it, the sum total would be wrong. Hopefully, it will still be only $974 billion by tomorrow. Costs in 2006 were running at 200 million dollars per day.

When one reads that the true benefactors of most of this war time turmoil have been the oil companies and those who are stockholders, it is a little hard to swallow. We are spending trillions of dollars not to make the United States safer but to make world corporations wealthier.

Of course the other main benefactor of constant war is the military industrial complex that provides the ships, the planes, the vehicles, the tanks, the uniforms, the robots, the this, the that, the this, the that…ad infinatum ad nauseum. I can’t even begin to find out how much those corporations take in every year. The amounts must truly be staggering. And the Pentagon goes to Congress every year for more and more.

America, for at least the last twenty-five years, has had priorities all discombobulated as far as I’m concerned. Where are the Tea Party members who are vocal about the true costs of war?

They are vocal about health care because they can be. This bill has had one focus and has been presented pretty much in whole. The expenditures for war have been more stealthfully withdrawn from the seemingingly bottomless pockets of the American taxpayer…all because we are kept unaware of how much military pickpocketers have been spending.

I would not protest the training and use of the National Guard if it were indeed what the name implies…troops who guard the nation. Our nation. I see the role of the national guard as participating in ways to help citizens in times of violent unrest (not like Kent State, however) to keep civil obedience in check. I see them called in times of national disaster. I think they should be ready to serve anywhere within the United States and should not be required to be on the front lines of any war outside the United States. They are citizen soldiers and should be held in reserve for just that. Instead they are being used as regular soldiers to fight wars in countries where we have no business fighting for reasons we have no business having. I would not mind my tax dollars going to a National Guard being used in that manner. Their own website claims they are to protect their nation whenever they are called. I don’t see what they have been doing is protecting our nation.

I realize that my blog is not read by many people. It still is, overall, my thoughts in a mostly daily journal. I don’t expect many comments about what I have written today, but I’m hoping to find a few kindred persons who agree with me about my priorities.

I’ve mainly written to express my frustration over Americans willing to view health care as a privilege rather than a right and a willingness to deny people coverage if it can’t be afforded. Too many Americans have died for lack of healthcare. Many of them because they can’t afford it but have an income above what they can make for Medicaid. Many of them have died because insurance companies deny them coverage. I heard a story on NPR last week about a woman who, two days before her mastectomy was denied coverage because she had not declared at one time she had acne. There are too many horror stories to even begin.

Yes, health care costs, but like basic education, there should,in my opinion, be a basic floor. I would much rather see American people healed than people around the world destroyed in war. What is your opinion?

Namaste. Attic Annie

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Let’s hear it for the whistleblowers!

A couple of months ago I read an article in the paper about a nurse in west Texas who reported a doctor to the state board whom she viewed as not practicing good medical procedures involving prescriptions and surgical practices. She was taking her vow of protecting patients from unsafe practices very seriously and doing exactly what she was supposed to do.

The doctor happened to have a very good friend who happened to be the sheriff of the county. The nurse, along with another officer in the hospital were charged with misuse of official information. Their computers were seized.

When they reported the doctor, they did not sign the letter that was sent to the board, but the doctor found out anyway. The two women were indicted and scheduled for trial.

I was incensed that these charges could be filed and more incensed that these women could be brought to trial. (That is, as incensed as I ever tend to get.) I was going to blog about this matter when I first saw it, but I never did get around to it. Just as I was beginning to wonder whatever happened, a second article appeared in the paper. The headline read “Whistle-lower nurse is acquitted.” (Star-Telegram, Feb. 12, 2010.)

The case of the hospital officer was dropped, but the nurse actually went to trial.

I was very pleased to see that headline. When the lives and health of patients are at stake, somebody has to stand up for them. She was simply doing her job according to the law. The hospital fired both women for doing what they were supposed to be doing. Nurses are taught the code of ethics in nursing school that it is their duty to report unsafe care regardless of whether is it a doctor, pharmacist, or whoever.

Fortunately, the nurses associations, both the Texas and the American,  stood behind both of them and supported them. It’s easier for someone to stand up and do what’s right when she/he have those who believe in what is being done. More details can be found in the Winkler newspaper highlighted above.

This situation was made even more difficult by the fact that the doctor and the sheriff personally know each other, The sheriff happened to sell a nutritional product that the doctor prescribed. How much of a coincidence is that?

Of course, according to the sheriff, the two are not in business together although the doctor did introduce him to the supplement selling program. Now let’s see…small west Texas town, in all probability the sheriff is the only supplier, doctor recommends the supplement…hmmmmmmm. What is the natural thing to think? Kind of has shades of Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane written all over it, seems to me. For those of you not familiar with old American TV shows, he was the sheriff of Hazzard County who, along with his partner in crime Boss Hogg, the county commissioner, always schemed to make money any way they could.

It seems to me that the two of them decided to use “the heavy hand of the law” to intimidate these two women and thereby get rid of the problem. That didn’t happen.

The two women, one with the dropped case and the other having been acquitted of any wrong-doing, have filed a federal suit alleging illegal retaliation for being a patient advocate, and violation of civil rights and due process. Not only are the sheriff and doctor named, the lawsuit names the hospital, the county, the hospital administrator, the district attorney, and the county attorney.

Now I’ve never been to this county, nor do I have any particular burning desire to visit. Winkler County with the biggest town of Kermit, population about 5700,  is not on my list of vacation sites. The county is less that 850 sq. miles with a population of a little more than 7,000 inhabitants.

I’m guessing that when this is all over, unfortunately, the two nurses would probably be better off moving away from Kermit. Some people have long memories and a lot of patience, and 840 square miles of absolutely nothing is a lot of area to search for missing people.

Namaste. Attic Annie

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Errors to laugh at…we all need a break !

I think I finally found a way to transfer pictures from my email into my blog.

I think I’ve seen some of the following information before, but it is always worth a laugh…especially on a day that is supposed to be the last blast of winter here in Fort Worth. Enjoy!

I think there is supposed to be some kind of Darwinian law about culling out the species who writes newspaper articles like this, but they keep popping up, don’t they? Have a nice Sunday wherever you are. Maybe you can make one last fire in your fireplace. The top one was on a friend’s site on facebook. Namaste. Attic Annie

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