This is what the NRA and its followers say every time any regulation of gun ownership is proposed.  First let me say that I have no quarrel with gun ownership by competently trained, mentally stable, law-abiding citizenry.  I happen to feel the need to own a gun myself.  In 59 years of living, going all over Houston and the country, I have never felt the need of a gun to protect myself, even when one was pointed in my face.  Since I didn't get shot, my verbal skills were apparently enough.  To be fair, I don't drive a flashy car, wear a lot of expensive jewelry, live in a house that looks filled with ripe pickings, or tell people I have my millions hidden under my bed (as if I had millions..there might be a quarter under there.)

The reason I was moved to write this blog was a recent case I saw on TV in which a guy with a history of mental issues bought a gun and killed some people.  The specific case doesn't matter.  Have you ever googled "history of mental illness bought a gun killed?"  You will get back a long list of cases to peruse.  While federal law mandates that the mentally ill should not be allowed to buy guns, most states have hobbled the databases gun shop owners can check for disqualifying information by prohibiting the sharing of this information from the medical community to the gun databases.  Histories of domestic violence, felony convictions are also not put into these databases.  My question is this: why does the NRA fight against such things.  They do.  They fight any movement to keep handguns out of the hands of people with histories of mental illness, citing privacy.  This leads me to ask "How many NRA members would be excluded from gun ownership if these checks were made?"  

I have lived in Texas almost all my life.  I've known a lot of gun owners, some of whom surprised me. Most of them didn't give any clue whether they belonged to the NRA or not.  Without exception, and let me repeat that, WITHOUT EXCEPTION, the only people I have personally known who ranted and raved about gun ownership and assaults on it, were alcoholics, durg abusers (including prescription drugs), clearly mentally disturbed (whether they had ever seen a mental health professional or not), men with misogynistic/abusive tendencies, or racist paranoids.  All of these, in my opinion are people likely to kill other people with guns if they have them.  I have the case of a drunken Houston man who shot and killed a young Scotsman who was trying to get help after jumping out of the car of two people who, in his own inebriated poor judgement state, had offered him a ride but clearly intended to harm him.  The young man was trying to get over the fence so they couldn't see him if they drove by.  Probably not the wisest move, but he'd pounded on the door screaming ""Help!" only to get no response.  It was late at night, but he was still yelling for help as he climbed over the fence, where the man was sitting drinking.  I don't know about you, but my response to that young man would not have been to shoot him, but to ask what kind of help he needed.  Had I owned a gun and had it by my side, I might have pointed it at him until I was satisfied he was no danger to myself.  I might even had told him to stop right where he was, and gone and locked myself inside while I called the police.  I'm pretty sure that if I had heard a Scottish accent, I would have believed that he had no idea where he was or how to get back to his hotel.

What I would like to see is the NRA propose some legislation that would EFFECTIVELY screen prospective gun owners to root out the ones who are most likely to kill others, instead of looking like they are willing to put guns in those hands willynill
 
 
This may seem a silly thing to be thinking about at 5:39 am on a Sunday morning, but I have a mind with a few little unique wrinkles.  My way of saying I'm a little weird.

There's an idea that's been knocking about in my head for a few days.  I generally rely on motorized carts to get me around stores.  Anything larger than a typical convenience store, and my knees and hips, sometimes my ankles start hurting so badly I want to scream or cry.  On at least one occasion I did cry from the pain.  when stores don't have them, or don't have enough of them, my husband has to push me in the wheelchair, with me pushing the shopping cart, which is hard on him as he is aging and has high blood pressure and a bad knee which was repaired poorly after and ACL tear.  So I favor stores with a fairly large supply of shopping carts:  Randall's, WalMart & HEB come to mind.  Kroger sometimes has enough, sometimes both of them are gone.  ALCO has one, and I almost always can count on getting it.  If not, they have a wheelchair with a basket, which has to be pushed.

One of the major disadvantages of the standard motorized cart is that eye level is about the second shelf from the bottom.  With bifocals, reading labels, prices, etc. on the higher shelves requires a neck contortion I can not do.  I'm not sure a person without RA could do it either!  Maybe that TV ad character with the flip top head could.  

A few days ago, my husband and I stopped into a WalMart at Wirt and Long Point in Houston.  Sitting in front of our parking space was a cart clearly designed for a child, but what appealed to me was that the seat was large enough for an adult and up high.  So I climbed on for a test drive and my husband pushed me into the store, intending to return the cart to its storage spot and get a motorized one.  However, as soon as we entered the store, I discovered a huge advantage to this cart for me. I could see the upper shelves!  I could also see the signs over the aisles sooner.  So we conducted our quick, and fruitless (they didn't have the product I wanted at that location) trip with me in the kiddy cart.  Of course, there a few disadvantages.  The seat was really too flimsy for an adult weight.  There was some steering problem which might have been related to this weight issue, or might have been related to the problem one often has with older carts where the wheels twist around and stick in a non-optimal position as it ages.  At any rate, I started dreaming of the "ideal" cart.

I found some great things on the web, like this bicycle shopping cart, but no image of the cart I rode in at WalMart.  I guess I'll have to call up there and get some information. or go up there and take pictures.  I've never seen anything like it anywhere else.  With a few modifications, I think it might be the ideal shopping cart for the disabled AND children.

A couple of remaining problems, after the seat height issue, are the controls.  Unless you turn them off every time you stop, if you lean forward to put things in the basket, or rearrange things in the basket, you end up leaning against the controls and making the cart move.  I've goosed another shopper or two this way!  the second is that when you're shopping, you're facing the end of the aisle.  Twisting in the seat is not always a good option.  perhaps the seat could be set to face the aisle shelves, or the seat swivel 180 degrees?  The final problem is no place to put a coupon notebook; perhaps an attachment similar to those standup plexiglass cook book holders, wide enough for an open notebook OVER the controls could solve a couple of problems...
 
 
If you have been reading my blog, or any of my pages, or my Facebook page, you know that I have SLE (Systemic Lupus Erythmatosis).   What you may not realize is that this is primarily "a woman's disease," as 90% of the patients are women.  Most of them are 15 -45, the childbearing years.  For some enlightening information about pregnancy and lupus, please read this study in Japan about pregnancy outcomes and lupus  .

Women of color, across the board have higher rates than white women.  I once had a former Texas benefits evaluator tell me that "lupus is a made up disease by people who are too lazy to work."  To me, it was clear he was referring to Black women.  Black women have higher death rates from breast and cervical cancer, higher rates of STD's and teen pregnancies, higher infant mortanlity.  SOURCE:  Debunking the myth.  Black women, Hispanic women, Native American women all have higher rates of lupus.  Black women have more severe outcomes more often.  Poor women without health insurance have a harder time getting the help they need to treat lupus.  SOURCE:  Lupus Fact sheet

For some information about lupus symptoms in general, please read this article about two lupus patients.  

My diagnosis was originally made by a gynecologist to whom I had gone for a simple pap smear.  At the time, I had health insurance.  I no longer have health insurance, and my best option for pap smears is Planned Parenthood.  Read one woman's story about not affording to go anywhere but Planned Parenthood.    

Please make yourself aware of two FACTS:
1.  NOT ONE TAXPAYER DOLLAR GOES TO ABORTION.  That has been prohibited since the 1970s.
2.  Abortions are only 3% of their services  FACT SHEET HERE

Finally, let's talk about SOCIAL SECURITY and Disability and Social Security Supplemental Income.  I worked from age 15 until about 40.  I've been fighting to get SSDI so I can get Medicare to cover my lupus medications.  First they told me I ought to be able to work (in 1995) because I am educated.  Know many employers who want employees who fall asleep on the job, or who miss work frequently because they cannot drag themselves out of bed and stay awake long enough to bathe, dress, and get to work?  Or who catch the flu and the miss weeks because the immunosuppressant drugs they take for lupus don't fight the flu well and leave them with bronchitism pneumonia and a lupus flare in which their joints swell and cause agonizing pain?  If so, please send those employers my way!  I'd love to work, use my brain again for pay.  Of course, it has to be low stress and pretty free of deadlines, because stress makes my lupus worse, and I never know which day I'm going to wake up and be unable to stay awake -- which makes it difficult to meet those deadlines.  See this blog for another person's perspective.

The next time I applied for SSI/SSDI  they told me my $3000+ savings account made me ineligible for  SSI and I no longer had enough qualifying quarters for SSDI.  I appealled and they told me I wasn't disabled!  NOIT DISABLED?  I cannot shop without either my husband pushing me in the wheelchair or an electric cart.  Some days my knees hurt so badly the 8' from my bed to the toilet  has me in tears.    I cannot stand in lines for more than 30 seconds without the knees and hips begging me to sit down. That's not disabled?

Now their story is that we cannot prove I was disabled WHILE I STILL HAD ENOUGH QUALIFYING QUARTERS.  THEY have the 1995 records with the doctors names, but OOPS  I can no longer get those records because the doctors who made the disagnosis, and who treated me, destroyed the records 10 years after my last visit.  I'm SURE those records are in the SS records;  they just demand that I produce them, knowing I can't.  

So now I'm still 5 years too young for SS and Medicare.  What if they raise the retirement age?  First how will we tap into our retirement accounts without penalty to pay for medical expenses?  I will NEVER see my SS money that I paid into the system all those years I worked (sometimes at 2-3 jobs at a time!).  I WILL NOT LIVE LONG ENOUGH!

Let me repeat that  I WILL NOT LIVE LONG ENOUGH!  I can no longer take Methotrexate because my platelet levels drop too low and I am in danger of bleeding to death internally.  The prednisone I have been on for over a year now will, according to my rheumatologist "take five years off your life."  It also induced Type II diabetes, which is implicated in heart disease, even if I didn't have the extra clotting factor from lupus.   The Hydorxychloroquine (Plaquanil) no longer controls the disease by itself.  I also cannot take aspirin, NSAIDs like ibuprofen.  So I take ginger and turmeric for the constant pain.  Some days it works, some days it doesn't work so well.  I need Ben Lysta, according to my rheumatologist, but she's not going to administer it.  It's about $2000-$3000 a pop.  I think it's once a month.  I tried to get onto a drug trial, but the diagnoses (both of which I think are wrong) the county hospital gave me of non-alcoholic cirrhosis and heart failure keep me out of the trial.  I need a liver biopsy to rule out the cirrhosis, and an echocarcdogram for the heart failure.

My only hope is Obama's health care plan, because I could not be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions.  If I cannot afford the private health insurance or the high risk pool insurance, I could, as I understand it, get Medicare without having to be on SS, SSI, or SSDI.  So think twice before you pull the lever for someone who wants to repeal Obamacare;  that lever pull will be a death sentence for me and many others with my illness or others like it.  Of course, it you want to be a good, compassionate Christian, you can send me money at PayPal to help with my medical expenses. Leave a comment on this website and I'll send you my email.  They are. or would, if I were seeing the doctors I need to see and taking the meds I need to take run from $3000 in a good year for routine meds and visits and tests to upwards of $24,000 if I had to be hospitalized.  My brother is currently supporting us and paying our medical expenses.  He's nearing retirement age.  He spent years paying for our mother's needs because her SS didn't cover the utilities, food, out of pocket medical expenses.  Now he has us, and his own family.

SO please look into your heart and see if you want to pull my plug by voting to kill "Obamacare
 
 
Language is almost the first skill humans acquire, absent some physiological impediment.  Most children utter their first words around age 9 months.  Research now suggests that the best time to teach second languages is while the child is still in the womb and the first year of life.


As I look around at the growing number of people who barely speak English, and I am NOT referring to immigrants here, but American citizens, while demanding that immigrants learn English, I am appalled.  I am especially appalled when one of these people proudly announces they never learned a second language "beyond what I was compelled to take to graduate."  [I resist asking them when they are going to learn English, because I learned long ago that people complaining about others do not like having their own faults pointed out to them.]   I do think that if you cannot speak your own language properly, and you have limited experience with learning another language, beyond struggling through the required courses, you are arrogant to demand someone else do what you will not, have not, and by your own reports cannot.  I have a test:

Im hear too c there nu baby.                  If you don't cringe when you read that sentence, you are illiterate in English.  LEARN IT!

I understand there are people with learning disabilities.  I don't fault them for having trouble with remembering when to use "too," "to," and "two."  I fault them for griping about  immigrants not speaking English, not learning English.  

I know something about learning languages.  It's a hobby of mine. I know it's far easier to learn to understand the written and spoken forms then it is to actually speak it.  Even if you have learned the differences in pronunciation, often involving repositioning of the lips and tongue, you find yourself groping for the correct word to use in the context.  I studied Spanish from age 7 through 17, and into the University Level.  I can listen to Spanish language movies and TV shows without getting lost.  Oh, sure there are words now and then I don't know, or an idiomatic expression I don't quite understand, but I get the gist of it. When I try to speak Spanish with neighbors and fellow Houstonians, I'm amazed at how often words I know just can't seem to come out of my brain to my mouth!  Part of that is just memory.  Part of that is self-consciousness, fear of saying the wrong thing. Sometimes I just never learned the word.  After all, no matter how many years you study a language, you won't learn every single word for every context.  When I had my dead pines cut down last November, I realized I didn't know and had never learned the words for "Limb" "lumber" "stump" "grind"  "mulch" "saw"" etc.  So when I speak to a Spanish-speaking person, I have the courtesy to respect the effort put into learning what English he or she does know, and I give them the respect for being human and having to deal with that pesky memory thing and the fact they haven't ever heard some of the words they want to use.

I have also seen how delighted people from other nations are when I speak even a few words in their native language.  Their eyes light up and everything gets friendlier, usually.  There is the rare person who seems to think I am implying they cannot speak English and who answers me frostily in English.  Recently, I smiled sweetly and said to one such person "I spent so many years learning Spanish and I love the opportunity to practice it and not lose it."  Her face went from frosty to warm in a split second and we had a nice chat in Spanish.  It doesn't take much to learn a few words or phrases, and what do you know?  Most people think it's a sign of respect for their language and culture.  

If you don't even respect your own language and culture enough to learn it properly, what gives you the right to demand someone else learn YOUR language before you treat them with respect?  Now there are good reasons to have a common language -- disasters, emergencies, and the like.  Of course that presupposes you want to help each other understand the situation.  
 
 
Once upon a time, there was a little girl who liked everybody.  She quickly learned that not everybody liked her.  Sometimes it felt like nobody liked her.  she spent a few years trying to do things that would make people like her.  Her first lesson was that once someone decided they didn't like you, they rarely changed their minds.  

As she got older, she realized that a lot of the reasons people had for not liking her were, basically, silly.  They didn't like her because she was fat.  They didn't like her because she got better grades without studying half as hard.  They didn't like her because she didn't like what they liked or want from life what they wanted.  

Finally, she said "Aw ***k it!" and she did what she wanted to do.  Now there were even more people who didn't like her.  She just didn't care any more.  After awhile, she started having people come to her.  They seemed to like her!

Mostly these were men.  They didn't like her as a girlfriend.  They liked her as a friend friend.  Now she was not so little, and sometimes she wanted them to like her as a girlfriend.  She quickly learned that many of the reasons men liked women "that way" were also, basically, silly. so finally she said "Aw ***k it" to that too.  Almost as soon as she did, someone began to not just like her, but love her "that way."

Here's what she has learned about being liked.  Some people will like you for your looks.  Some people will like you for what they can get from you.  Some people will like you as long as you meet their expectations.  Some will like you because you make them laugh.  Some will like you because you listen to their problems.  These people will all desert you if your looks go, you quit giving them more than they give you, you fail at something, you get serious, or you have the audacity to want them to listen to your problems.  ~You can probably guess what I have to say about these people. :)~~

It is the rare person who likes you for who you are.  Even rarer is the person who likes you for who you are when you're different from them or what they think you should be.   I think this is true for men as well, but not to the extent it is true for women.  I have come to believe that what people want from women is that you make them feel good about themselves, no matter how they make you feel about yourself. 

I have never mastered the art of living with myself when I'm stroking the ego of someone who wants my admiration and wants me to respect them while they never give a thought to reciprocating.  I've watched other women, and I've heard what they say when the person they've just been buttering up walks away.  I watched women at work flutter their eyelashes and talk subserviently to some man who has authority over them but basically sees them as a piece of furniture, sometimes a step ladder.  This is one of those "people skills" I lack.  

As a young adult, I thought education, competency at my work, and civility would carry me through.  I quickly learned it would be better to be really pretty, act a bit dumber than I am, and make all the men feel big and strong and desirable, and make all the other women feel pretty too.  That made me barf.

So now I can say that it has been close to 25 years since I've made a really close female friend,  when my friend from childhood died about 9 years ago, that was the last living female friend I had with whom I had an equal exchange of confidences.  The last close female friend I had made after age 18, as I approached 30, betrayed me in ways it is still painful to think about.   There are a lot of women I like, but until very recently, I have not allowed any to get close enough to ever do damage to me   That has been made easier by the fact that I haven't worked in a long time, due to SLE, and I didn't have children.  Still, I would say this to any woman.

Like your self, and protect yourself from being used.  Beyond that, don't worry about whether others like you.  If you really like yourself, it doesn't matter whether anyone else likes you.   People who do like you when you aren't worrying about who likes you are people who are most likely to hang in there when things get rough, and when you get rough.
 
 
"I love America!"  We hear it all the time.  I see flags up and down my street.  "I support our military."  Is that all there is to patriotism?

In case you're wondering what set me off on this tangent. I watched The Sharks last night, a repeat, where one of the guys pitching his product was Donny McCall of Sparta, SC who had invented Invis-A-Rack, a cargo rack for pickup trucks that folds down out of site when it's not needed.  The Sharks were assailing him for his insistence that the product be made in the USA, not in China, although that made it perhaps twice as much as what overseas manufacture would cost.  Donny wanted to bring jobs back to his hometown, even though he had made no profit so far.  I couldn't believe my ears!

Here was a man with a proposal that would be at least part of a solution to our economic situation, with a viable product, and these folks were castigating him for wanting to keep jobs in the USA.  If I had a pickup, I'd buy one!  

This nation owes China huge amounts of money, and they are building up their military like nobody's business.  Who else would they need that kind of power against?  I guess they figure if it comes to war with China, they can haul their butts to some neutral nation for the duration and keep doing business with China!  They care nothing about the people who needs the jobs, nor the customers who want something that will hold up for the lifetime of the truck, nor their nation's economy.

Patriotism is more than serving in the military, waving the flag and voicing your love of America.  I'm sure every one of those Sharks would say they love America.  They'd be lying.  They love money.

Patriotism is more than party, religous beliefs, ethnicity, race, gender, or profit.  Patriotism is a strong nation able to defend itself, finance itself, and act as a giant billboard for its values.  It is a concern for the people that make up the nation. It is a concern for the beauty of the nation.

Yes, I'm a liberal who does love America.  This is why when I answer to polls, as I did this morning, that I believe this nation is on the wrong track., I'm NOT talking about who is in the White House.  I'm talking about the incivility between the parties and their voters and the ugly things we say to one another.  I'm talking about putting belief in the Bible ahead of science when science and technological superiority is going to make the difference over the next few decades at least.  Putting entertainment above learning, and, yes, self-indulgence above having a society that wants to lift everyone up.  It's self-indulgent to believe each of us got here on our efforts, and to believe that those who failed to achieve material success did so through "poor choices."   It's self-indulgent to want to tell others how to live because of what we believe about God.  It's self-indulgent to conform to one set of beliefs that doesn't fit all. Especially if we are not going to pay for "choices" we make for them.

Patriotism is the commitment to protect freedom for all Americans.
 
 
People, I have observed in my almost 6 decades of life, run from boredom in a variety of ways.  They drink too much.  They take drugs.  They drive too fast.  They take up risky sports.  They shop too much and spend too much.  Ad nauseum.

Merriam-Webster's free online dictionary defines boredom as "the state of being weary and restless from lack of interest."  As a child I complained about being bored.  Then I discovered reading.  The closest I have come to thinking I was bored since was my episode of clinical depression in the early 80s.  In reality, that was not lack of interest.  It was the inability to feel pleasure in any activity, even those I had always enjoyed.  Fortunately, I took imipramine for about 18 months or so, along with therapy, and never has the condition recurred.  I do often feel weary, but that's the lupus assaulting me.  

Escaping boredom -- the real thing -- is actually very easy.  Get interested in something.  Now this might not work for people with really low intelligence, I don't know.  I do know that even people with intelligence levels below "functional" can find things to be interested in.  My brain damaged cousin surely does.  So my suspicion is that the biggest impediment to finding interest is lack of effort. So here are some things to get interested in; pick one or two.  It's not an exhaustive list.

Acting.  Community theatre is a great outlet
Animals.  Adopt,. foster, volunteer at a sheter.
Art -- doing or studying its history.  Youy don't have to be good at it.  IF you enjoy it, DO IT!

Birds -- watching them, learning their calls, volunteer for the annual bird count.
Canning and Preserving
Children.  Tutor, teach them something you know
Community Service
Cooking
Dance.  Ditto
DNA
Elderly. Volunteer in a nursing home.  record their stories of the world when they were young.
Gardening
Genealogy
Geology.
L:anguages.  Try out a few on the free sites.
Music.  Ditto
Needle arts
Other people.  Talk to them.  Help them.  Share what you know.
Photography.
Politics
Reading.  About ANYTHING.
Sports.  If you can't play, coach,  volunteer to drive the team, anything.
Travel.  If you can't afford the real thing, do armchair travelling with books and films
Writing.  Ditto

If none of this helps, try yoga, meditation, psychotherapy.  Love yourself.  Guess what?  The more interested you are in your life (not your SELF), the more interesting you are to others. Whch brings us back to the beginning, in a way.  If you are bored (as opposed to depressed, frightened, tired, etc.) , you're pro