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IdaBriggs

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Gender: Female
Hometown: South East Michigan
Home country: United States
Member since: Tue Jul 27, 2004, 01:19 PM
Number of posts: 7,790

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Got an awesome email today, and it made me cry happy tears.

Is there a smilie for that?

Just wanted to say that CHILD looks the best ever ............even today............ three days after a 7 hour operation on both of her hips to put them into sockets........... tuesday......... she got released on the time frame of a "normal child" not a medically fragile child on a vent........ she needed little to no pain meds and she is as up and about as you can get in a spica........... she looks awesome

all that have seen her over the last two years and even those who told me she would not make her first and then her second birthday were surprised!!!!

(snip) she is eating a little food and getting real drinks through her tube........ so thanks for everything and making me do what I knew best!


So, to recap, THIS MOM does all the work of taking care of her child, and she takes the time to say nice things TO ME in the middle of dealing with a child recovering from surgery.



I am so happy for her - she told me she lost count of the doctors who told her there was no hope. And I didn't even *do* anything (except running the Project, but seriously, that is NOT as much work as parenting a child with special needs, even though I probably whine more).

Awesome parents make me happy. And I cannot tell you how happy I am that this little girl is doing so well!!!



Earlier I was growling about infant mortality and measles and the impossibility of life in general. Now I am feeling hopeful again.

I think I figured out to help fix heart failure. I deserve an attagirl.

I told my husband, and he said "well, duh!" He didn't even seem that impressed. I think it is kind of a big deal.

Meanwhile, as the brainstorm hit, I let loose a string of obscenities because HOW COULD I NOT HAVE FIGURED THIS OUT ALREADY???

So, here it is: one of the factors we can't control for heart disease is "heredity" - in other words, if you have a family history of heart disease, you are at increased risk for it. (Duh.) Things you can control include your diet, your weight, your exercise level, smoking, etc. (Yes, everyone knows this.) But everyone agrees you can't control your family history - it is what it is.

Now, the hypothesis we have been investigating is that certain forms of neuromuscular issues, including cerebral palsy and sensory processing issues, are caused by micronutrient deficiencies either caused by prematurity/IUGR, maternal deficiency, exposure to teratogens and/or childhood absorption issues during periods of rapid growth. Bluntly, it looks like there was some confusion as to which came first in the classic "chicken versus egg" issue, and it looks like the micronutrient deficiencies occur FIRST (before the "brain damage"), and the "symptoms" include hyperspastic / hypotonic symptoms, developmental delays, sensory processing issues and failure to thrive (among others). More importantly, correcting these deficiencies (really easy to do and cheap - NO I DO NOT SELL THIS STUFF) for four out of five children appears to result in dramatic improvement / reduction of these issues, with added bonuses of improved cognitive and communication skills, too (and ADD/ADHD symptoms reportedly decreasing in many cases).

There is more to all of this but I am trying to explain it all in its most basic terms, which comes to this:

Nutrition matters, especially when pregnant; the guidelines include "healthy food" like spinach and eggs and lean meats NOT just because of the calories, but because of what is in them - the vitamins *and* the minerals. (But sometimes it doesn't matter what you eat - see IUGR; not trying to "blame" anyone for anything here - the baby needs what the baby needs, and if they don't get it, bad things happen.)

So I am mentally working on my presentation which I have to do soon, and I start thinking about "other applications". The kids who are improving are seeing increased strength (it begins with head/neck and trunk, then spreads to extremities). With the babies, it is easy to see because *everyone* knows the order of milestones, so when a baby *isn't* meeting them (reaching out, supporting head, sitting up/turning over, etc.) it is obvious, and an immediate cause for parental anxiety. Plus "failure to thrive" is *really* an easy thing to identify, and I am trying to put stuff together in a coherent way to show how easy zinc deficiencies can be tested, and politely point out if a child won't eat (usually zinc) and is on medications that cause problems (miralax and antacids) with absorption, then odds are good they aren't ONLY deficient in the ONE or TWO things they were tested for because they are probably deficient in a whole bunch of OTHER things too (because that is how these things work). Anyway, for the children who respond, the babies are usually quick with gaining healthy weight and milestones are great measurable, while the older children (pre-puberty) who also respond see the same pattern of bowel change/appetite increase/weight/strength/etc. When it works *really well* the "symptom" of "weak muscles" goes away. (Example: one child at age five required assistance going up and down a flight of stairs; six weeks on the protocol he was climbing the monkey bars - it doesn't work that fast for every kid, and it doesn't even *work* for every kid, but -- I digress.)

So, I am mentally working on the "other applications" for future research *if* this continues to pan out the way it looks like it is going to - trust me when I say this level of breakthrough is a big deal, and the amount of skepticism and double checking that *needs* to happen is well warranted and beginning. It can get frustrating at times, but ANYWAY --

Muscles get stronger. THE HEART IS A FRIGGING MUSCLE!!! And we know (as well documented in the veterinary research) nutritional deficits during pregnancy impact two generations down in health.

So, if "heart disease" runs in families, that probably means the "families" all eat the same types of food from the same regions (which may or may not contain all of the micronutrients required for optimal health depending on the quality of the food supply available). And we also *know* that the ability to *absorb* some of these micronutrients decreases with age / quality of intestinal flora, etc. which means the ability to *absorb* the micronutrients from the food supply is impacted, too.

Which means if we "know" there is a family history of heart disease, and someone has a "weak heart" and if micronutrient deficiency issues really *ARE* involved (because I could be wrong), then correcting the deficiency *may* increase the strength of the heart muscle Just Like It Is Doing For (83% of) My Neuro Kids.

It isn't just the calories. It is what is IN THEM that counts. Food matters - and the food your grandmother had access to may account for "heart disease" -- and *maybe* if we identify and correct these deficiencies (which can be helped by looking at "family history") then *maybe* we can help fix heart failure.

It may be a "duh!" moment to my husband (who has been forced to listen to this stuff for the last several years!), but I think I deserve an "attagirl."

Yeah, me!

Sigh. I do not have time for this. Back to work....

And I just blew my stack at an old friend about the Zimmerman case.

My old friend is a Libertarian. He was a "Reagan Republican" but recovered during the Bush years (who he hated). He is an equal opportunity politician hater, if you know the type. He is a good guy, and he delights in intellectual arguments. We've clashed before -- we do NOT discuss guns -- and we've been on the same side about a lot of other stuff, with abortion and gay rights being top on the list.

Today he posted an idiotic facebook thing about "Trayvon Martin" versus "Marley Lion": both 17 year old teens killed while engaging in innocent activity by opposite race men.

Trayvon is black. Marley is white.

The facebook thing stated Marley didn't get any press coverage, and asked "what's the difference?" with the clear implication race was the issue. My old friend then followed up the discussion with comments about how liberals weren't outraged over Marley, and MSNBC talking heads didn't cry, and how the President didn't talk about Marley (while he talked about Trayvon).

And I blew my stack BIG TIME.

I found two articles without even trying (blunt lie about no media coverage right off the bat) about how the police were actively pursing the murder of Marley (as opposed to treating Trayvon like he deserved it) and posted this

http://www.abcnews4.com/story/18829994/he-was-a
"Chief Mullen said that while they know Lion was at a house party earlier in the night and apparently drinking, that is not their focus as of now. He says they are doing everything they can in the police agency to solve the murder of the recent Academic Magnet graduate and bring the shooter to justice."


and pointed out the DIFFERENCE in reaction to the black boy ("deserved it" and Zimmerman hailed as a hero to some) while the white boy had police wanting to "bring the shooter to justice".

I got madder, especially after I found this:

http://www.charlestoncitypaper.com/TheBattery/archives/2012/07/31/four-arrested-in-marley-lion-murder
"Charleston police have arrested four people in connection with the June 16 shooting of 17-year-old Marley Lion in a West Ashley parking lot. The arrests came Monday after a six-week investigation that involved surveillance video enhancement from the Secret Service and an undercover gun-buying operation with help from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives."


I told my old friend if he didn't understand the difference in the two cases, he was part of the problem. That it was PURE RACISM, and his little picture trying to pretend the two were the same was insulting as all hell. And I told him to back off.

We were both typing so quickly, we probably didn't even have time to respond to each other before the next comment was made. He really felt the two were the same, and then he said Trayvon was a criminal when he started bashing Zimmerman's head into the cement, and I said I believed Zimmerman had the gun out already, which meant Trayvon was defending himself, which is what DECENT people believe, and I wasn't going to tolerate RACISM on my page.

For the record, my old friend has NEVER displayed a racist temperament EVER. For him, I really think he was just indulging in an intellectual exercise, and not understanding just how much of a BEYOND push button issue this is for me. Plus, Zimmerman was found "not guilty" so Trayvon must have deserved it, right?

I'm white. I am so freaking white, I practically glow in the dark. But I have a "mixed" nephew who is 15 years old, and a "mixed" niece who is 8, and I love them, and if Zimmerman had killed one of them, the trial would be mine because I would kill that son-of-a-bitch in a heart beat, and then dance on his blood splattered body while cursing his name to the heavens.

And yes, I know that isn't a nice thing to say, and I pray for the love of all that is holy I *NEVER* have to deal with this type of a situation, but you kill a kid - MY KID - and you god damned DESERVE the crazy.

Trayvon could have been my family member. I am still in mourning about this. Hell, I am still in mourning for a list of children this country seems to have mostly forgotten who went to kindergarten one morning, and never came home because they were in body bags by the end of the day, but that perpetrator is dead. Trayvon's killer is still at large, and this MATTERS because he wasn't the first, and he isn't even the last.

Something has to change.

As a society, we have made a bargain: I give up my right to a blood feud, and my community ensures justice on behalf of me and my loved ones. I am not as strong as a man - it is a reality - and I am not a violent person (despite the imagery I invoke in hyperbole). If I had to kill the meat I eat, I would be a vegetarian; yes, I know it is hypocritical, but welcome to my world. I have to trust the system.

When the system fails, it has to be fixed.

Pretending a dead white boy whose killers will be sent to jail is the same as a dead black boy whose killer is being hailed as a hero are the same thing -- it offends my sense of honor because it is a lie.

They were both boys. Neither should be dead. Both should have justice.

And it shouldn't happen to another child.

But we all know it will.

I call them my "Moses Moments."

The times when I feel completely overwhelmed, frustrated, ineffectual, and whiny.

"Why me, God?" (Yes, I believe in an entity bigger than myself who has an amused awareness of A Grand Plan, and I don't want to argue about it on this thread.)

"Why ME?"

(Yes, God gets a lot of my whinier moments. If you want perfect, this isn't the thread for you.)

"Couldn't you have picked someone better qualified for this?"

(Sometimes I feel like an idiot who just likes to bang her head against a wall in a very ineffectual manner.)

"I am VERY BUSY - I am OVERWHELMED - I don't know how to climb this unclimbable mountain to complete this IMPOSSIBLE task!"

(Apparently I believe God needs to be lectured sometimes, because God needs things like this explained.)

"What were You thinking when You plopped this situation into my lap? I am not rich, I am not powerful, I am NOBODY in the grand scheme of things, and I think maybe You Screwed Up when You decided I could handle this! I mean, do You just ENJOY watching me jump through hoops? Is that it? Is watching me FAIL at something this important just some kind of character building exercise?"

(I do not always think God understands just how challenging my life is sometimes; I am not always convinced "omniscient" applies when it comes to my life.)

"I am doing the best I can - or really close to my best - oh, God, I think this IS my best, and I am SCREWING IT ALL UP! I don't know what to do! AAARRRGGGHHH!"

"Help, please."

I have "Moses Moments" on a regular basis with a wide variety of topics: my parenting, my spousing, my job, my volunteer work - you name it, and I have whined about it. Frankly, I am sometimes unsure of how I manage to stumble through a day sometimes, but honestly, I have been blessed with so much in the way of opportunities and choices, I am simply in awe of how amazingly lucky I am. My children are healthy, my husband is loving, my job is interesting, my volunteer work is rewarding, I have food, shelter, a running vehicle, and education.

Seriously, I still whine, even though I don't have a lot of "real" problems to whine about.

It is kind of embarrassing.

Ramadan begins soon; I will be fasting for thirty days while working to keep "an attitude of gratitude" for the many good things I have in my life. I will be feeling hunger as I drive by restaurants and grocery stores filled with an abundance of food, feeling thirsty in buildings where clean water comes from a tap, and spending time with people I love and care about daily.

I will also be whining because this year's "sunrise to sunset" fasting means getting up for breakfast at 4:00 am and eating supper after 9:00 pm which is going to be a very long, challenging thirty days.

It is going to be HARD, and I am not sure I can do it. It is summertime, and it gets hot out there. Plus I *hate* getting up early. And besides....

I warned you this thread wasn't full of me being perfect. I will be praying my favorite prayer a lot:

"Help, please."

On Being Useful & Employed (long, blunt)

There is currently a great deal of angst floating around about the revelation "the government is tracking the communication of its citizens." The camps are divided amongst "yeah, whatever, it has been going on since Bush Junior" and "heavens to betsy, it is time for an uprising because our civil liberties are being trampled!" Throw in some common sense paranoia - "a high profile journalist dead in an odd car crash" and those of us able to wrap our heads around "The Bourne Conspiracy" or the plot lines of "Covert Affairs" or the politics of "The Network" (or Aaron Sorkin's "West Wing" series - remember how politics was played there?) get ... nervous.

Not that we are going to do anything except talk, of course. We are very busy people. Plus, what can we really do?

Realistically, people should be nervous. Money was funneled into employing people into "anti-terrorist" jobs, and if the "terrorists" go away, so do the jobs.

Think that one through folks: most people have ZERO incentive to work themselves out of a job. Do you really think this surveillance is going to go away? Or ever *NOT* be "necessary"?



That is not how life works in the United States. Everyone from social workers (who are chronically over worked and underpaid), to police officers, to prison guards, to physicians, to federal agents, to anti-terrorist folks -- ALL of these people want something called "job security" and the best way to get it is to make sure your skills are "needed and necessary."

The United States has declared failed wars on everything from Poverty to Drugs to Terrorists -- and smart people might notice none of those things has really gone away. Why?

There is no incentive to work yourself out of a job. There is plenty of incentive to be doing something "necessary" and "important" (like deal with hunger, poverty, drugs, poor health, and the ravages of age); we *need* those things, and the people who are "helping" with them. NOTE: I am not talking about normal life cycle things like teachers who get a new crop of children every year, or folks who deliver babies - I am talking about the "never ending jobs" that simply don't go away, even though we spend tons of money trying to make positive things happen, and yet FAIL every time, for "unexplainable" reasons.

Have you ever noticed people spend their lives in their careers, and apparently, those careers are so blazingly unsuccessful they keep getting paid to do the same things over and over again?

Let us use simple examples: has your local town/city/village ever hit a point where they said, "you know, this is a really safe neighborhood, so we really don't need all of these folks working in law enforcement - maybe just three or four to handle the occasional cat stuck in a tree, and pick up a few drunks/remind the neighborhood kids to be careful when they are playing kick the can in the street?"

Odds are good you've never spoken to a law enforcement person who said, "man, we are so bored out of our minds - we offered a couple of guys early retirement!" Instead, these folks keep *very* busy, and oddly enough, the more crime they look for, the more they find.

Their paychecks depend on it.

I am not picking on law enforcement; the same thing can be said of the need for fire departments. Seriously, this is the 21st century, and for some reason, we still don't know how to build "fire proof houses" -- don't even go with the "it is too expensive" because this doesn't look like it is that complicated, so why isn't it available at your local paint store as part of every paint can we sell? http://www.onecoatfireproofpaint.com/ -- and I adore fire fighters, for the record, but I would prefer they NOT be as busy as so many of them are.

Let's talk poverty: the people who "help" poverty stricken people have been "helping" for decades. Education has been blamed, laziness has been blamed, a lack of child care, a culture of dependence, blah, blah, blah -- and we still have homeless and hungry children, and a whole army of people filling out forms trying to get them services. To the despair of the helpers, they have permanent job security: it looks like there will *always* be poor people needing help, and people filling out paperwork to get it to them.

Have you ever been involved with a "big charity"? A tremendous number of them - March of Dimes is a pet peeve of mine, but there are others, including those affiliated with Heart Disease, Muscular Dystrophy, Cerebral Palsy, and ten types of Cancer -- raise A TON of money, most of which goes for employee salaries. Bluntly, if any of these folks actually *solved* the problems they purport to be raising funds for, their would be *a lot* of unemployed people. And don't even get me started on the researchers who depend on grants from these organizations - seriously, the squabbling that goes on in the scientific community, while entertaining, is really about scrambling for the limited dollars which equal wages/salaries for the people working on the never ending list of problems associated with the health of this nation.

Disclaimer: The Shriners. Those guys who work for free managed to help eradicate polio, and when they didn't need to raise funds to help children stricken with it, they expanded into burn care and free health care for children. I kind of adore them.


Now take our armed forces - we need them to "be ready" to defend us -- but against what? The armies of other countries, of course, and the space aliens who might be attacking on the Fourth of July (per the movies). Will the need for armed forces ever go away?

Here is a clue: if it does, then people will lose their paychecks. The people who wear the uniforms and fire the weapons are supported by a whole host of other jobs (and yours might be one of them): if you never fire bullets, then no one needs to make new ones, which means the factory workers won't stay employed....seriously, how many people were killed by our military forces with bullets last year - two hundred? three hundred? - and how much money did we spend on guns and bullets, and how much money was spent on training/firing those weapons so that it was NORMAL at a psychological level? Tens of thousands to train to "kill" a couple of hundred?

Seriously, if you have mice in your house, do you buy one or two containers of mouse d-con, or a hundred? If we use the same level of math: (250 people killed) / 10,000 bullets bought = 97.5% bullets "wasted just in case" -- does it make sense to you, if you were paying the bill personally? (And NO, I don't want them to bring up the "kill" ratio to justify more bullets - in a sensible world, bullets would be a rare thing!)

The people in the FBI, CIA, TSA, HSA, and a whole bunch of other acronyms I can't be bothered to learn about, are filled with people who want to keep collecting a paycheck. To justify their jobs, they are going to have to both "look busy" and be able to report results (which will explain to anyone interested why they shouldn't be laid off). There will *NEVER* be a point where someone is going to say, "you know, I've spent the day here playing solitaire on my computer - maybe my position isn't really necessary" because that is NOT how people work.

We want to be useful. We want our employment to make a positive difference in the world. And we also want to be able to take care of our families by providing them food, clothing and shelter courtesy of the contributions we are making in society, and the rewards we are given as a result.

Very few people work themselves out of a job, and then go on to another one/problem to solve.

So, yes - when it comes to "spying" on Americans, I join the ranks of the "duh!" and shake my head at the foolish folks who think it is going to end. We have created an endless war, and the soldiers in the ranks must be paid. They are good people, and they will find things to fuss about, because there is *always* something to find and fuss about if you look hard enough.

There is no incentive for any of these people to want to join the ranks of the unemployed. They are hard workers, and they are doing the best they can. Most depend on people "up the chain of command" to evaluate whether or not they are doing something wrong, and trust their managers when they say "push this button, and then do this" because that is how it works in the American work place.

None of us are really different than the workers in the garment factories who noticed the doors to the fire exits were blocked everyday, and didn't raise a fuss because they didn't want to lose their jobs. After a while, it becomes normal. Your mission, after all, isn't to "solve a problem" but to do your job. What are the odds the building will catch fire, right? Isn't somebody else paid to worry about stuff like that? Don't you have enough to do with your work load, instead of looking for "more work"?

One hundred years ago most of us were working on farms to make sure their was enough food to feed the country. Those jobs aren't necessary anymore, and we are creating new ones to keep busy.

What you do is important: it defines who you are, and how you take care of your family. But if you cure cancer, a lot of people will be out of work - you don't really want to do that, do you?

Now, stop playing on the internet, and get back to work. What you are doing is super important - people depend on you.

And so it goes....

I haven't deleted them yet: people I've lost still in my email/phone lists.

I am going to name names because I want everyone to "know" and remember these people, even though they have passed. I know it sounds stupid, but I still haven't deleted them from the address book in either my phone or my email (depending). Seeing them there always makes me think of them, even if only for a second.

Andy Stephenson: An activist who became a personal friend during the craziness of Election Investigation 2004, Andy Stephenson became a close friend over multiple phone calls during an intense time in our lives. We talked through the New Hampshire recount, his tales of "of course this computer isn't connected to the internet - we just use that phone line to get our email!" and the Great Garbage Bag Debacle (hint: when screwing with an election, bad practice is to have evidence in garbage bags at the door where you are meeting the election investigators!). We heard "click" sounds when we were being "tapped" on phone calls, and would giggle hysterically as we would shout "Agent Mike! We could use some help here!" Later, when my father was dying of pancreatic cancer, Andy listened to me; I was devastated when we later lost him to the same disease. A DU person helped me get to his funeral, for which I will *EVER* be grateful. Andy is still in my email address book, and I still remember him when he pops up. You can read his words of wisdom about keeping elections fair and honest here: http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=389x7521581

Greg Piasecki: An amazing and talented man who worked in local theater circles, Greg also created beautiful works of art in stained glass and carpentry. He was a great big bear of a man, gentle and fierce, who loved garlic and had an amazing sense of humor. His brain cancer was discovered when he had a seizure in a restaurant while getting set to dine with friends - he shared that the last thing he remembered was ordering the "grilled" fish meal in order to be healthy, then was being asked "how often do you have seizures, sir?" (Answer: Never?) by emergency personnel in an ambulance, and joked that he should have ordered it "fried" instead. Prior to his illness he was *extremely* active in the Oakland County (Michigan) NORML group, and helped get "medical marijuana" legislation passed in Michigan. http://oaklandnorml.org/cms/index.php?name=News&file=article&sid=467

Melissa Owlsely: Still too new, as she just passed Saturday, May 4, 2013 from complications from cancer, my friend always used her Pekingese "Smokey" as her avatar. She was a crafter who loved knitting and card making, and she really shouldn't have died because she still has a ton of unfinished projects left. She was witty and wise, full of insights that helped me look at my life differently. Our friendship was cemented by mutual support of our infertility battle (I won, and the twins are six), and we cried together when her pregnancy miscarried. Her ovarian cancer was discovered during what was supposed to be a routine D&C for endometriosis, and she woke instead to a full hysterectomy and a battle with cancer. She beat it, but it snuck back. In the meantime, she created amazing and beautiful things - pot holders in shades of purple, scrubbies for bathtub play that looked like sea creatures, and cards that made me envy her talent. She was an excellent writer with a low tolerance for stupid, which made her a Flaming Liberal; her thoughts on insurance/medical stuff could make you weep with laughter as she turned her rage at an idiotic system into humor. An avid reader, I will miss our discussions about "vampires versus werewolves" and why feisty women heroines were the best. Miss her - keep reaching for the phone to call and discuss this sucky situation with her. How can I delete her name from my phone? Answer: I can't. http://pinterest.com/mloknitting/

Do you have people you haven't/can't/won't delete? Please share a little bit about them in this memory thread.

Thank you for reading.

How do you respond to stress? (Introspective.)

I have been watching a silly television show I am too embarrassed to name as it is a "reality dating show". (Yes, I admit it - sometimes I like "mindless" entertainment.) Last week one of the "experts" dissected a situation that really struck home for me and I've been chewing on it ever since.

One of the women was "uncomfortable" in a challenging social situation (completely reasonably, I believe), and she reacted by distancing herself, being a tad snippy/rude, then made obnoxious comments about the other people in the situation who were handling things a little more gracefully.

The expert called her out on her not-so-impressive behavior; she defended herself by saying she was *really* uncomfortable, at which point the expert pointed out we *ALL* get uncomfortable/unhappy at times, and it is our *DEFAULT* reaction that really shows the type of people we truly *are* - and hers was apparently "if I'm unhappy, I'm going for obnoxious/not going to suffer in silence." (I automatically went sympathetic - I am not big on suffering in silence myself! Lol!) He pointed out this should be a "red flag" for a potential mate (dating show!), because we all have tough times in life, and instead of instinctively trying to make things "better" for everyone/be supportive to the other participants in an awkward situation, she went straight to pouty/pissy, and who wants to be married to THAT when times get tough (which, life being life, is bound to happen)?

Ouch. Especially when you find yourself being "sympathetic" to someone!

So now fast forward to "real life" - I have a niece who has been going through a very challenging pregnancy, and her "default" is to be Obnoxious and Nasty to the people who love and care about her the most. As her stress levels have ratcheted up, her behavior has gotten worse, and she has sent vicious text messages to her mother and grandmother saying horrible things to them (completely unprovoked). Both of them will forgive her, which is part of why she has felt 'safe' to treat them so badly, but at the end of the day, their behavior had nothing to do with hers; they have just become her whipping boys, and the less they tried to react (out of concern for her health), the worse she got.

Well, her baby came yesterday - a little boy, two pounds, ten ounces - and the road ahead is going to get worse before things get better; as any parent can tell you, a "problem pregnancy" is stressful, but the NICU changes the entire definition of "stressful" (at least for myself, and every parent I have ever known who lived through a visit there!). And that means my niece is probably going to become Even Worse for a while - which is sad, but really makes me think the "expert" from the show was incredibly insightful.

It is always easy to see things in other people (and my niece and her son are on my mind at the moment), but as I said, I have been chewing introspectively; I am *amazing* in a crisis. I go all "calm" on the outside, and default to my Red Cross training, "order" people to do stuff ("call 911!"), and then completely fall apart later. With long term crisis (illness), I am the "practical one" who makes sure there is food and people eat. My tendency is to go "logical" on a situation, and "problem solve" it. I am certainly not EMT/Police/Fire/Military/Medical "crisis" trained, but I do have "basic first aid" training, and I mentally kind of go there/hide my panic and shock. In hindsight, probably why I was an early fan of (Dr.) Howard Dean - he seemed completely "trustworthy" in a crisis, if you know what I mean? Also, I "worry" over things a lot, including things I really can't control (like my niece - sigh).

I look for these things - the "how do you respond in a crisis?" - in my leaders: I was able to support John Kerry for President because, frankly, his military experience told me he knew how to react "calmly" in a crisis. Junior, on the other hand, just looks panicked on the videos of him on 9/11, and luckily nuclear warheads weren't raining down on us, because he didn't know how to respond to "Mr. President, the country is under attack!" Cheney was just a freaking moron, along with most of the rest of the idiots-in-charge in that administration. Their version of a "crisis" was all about money, instead of lives, and how they could get richer, instead of how they could save people (see "New Orleans"). And a bunch of the Republicans seem to immediately default to "LIE LIKE CRAZY" even when lies aren't necessary; "I didn't say that!" when the video is pretty obvious.

It might seem rude to some folks, but yes, I do judge the political 'multiple (three or more) divorce/marrieds' somewhat harshly when it comes to leadership roles; if they aren't able to deal with "normal life crisis" (Gingrich and his first wife's cancer) without "running away!" when it comes to "leadership" - if the people who know you best can't trust you to be there for them through good times and bad, or to work things out when things are "tough" and everyone disagrees about seemingly everything, odds are good I can't either. (No, I do not apply this same standard to my friends, but I am also not trusting my friends with millions of tax dollars, the codes for the nuclear arsenal or with the lives of the men/women in my military; my social circle is not in the "political elite" circle.)

I am *exceedingly* pleased with Obama's "crisis" leadership thus far (not saying I am happy with him 100%, of course - I want my pony!). I trust he is NOT going to blow up the planet, and frankly, the last morons with their hands on the buttons scared me senseless (especially after *edit: Rumsfield! went on the television talk shows shortly after 9/11 and was discussing justification for nuclear weapons use - shudder!).

In the end, it always comes down to the personal relationships, even the "imaginary" ones I have with my leaders. Who do I trust? Who *don't* I trust? Can my family trust me? How do I handle life's little crisis? Will my children grow up feeling secure and safe? Will they *know* I love them, even when I am stressed out? Do I support my spouse, my children, and my friends in ways that make all of our lives better during times of extraordinary stress?

My mother (in her 70s) told me today she loves and appreciates me; then she listed several of my character traits she says make her incredibly proud of me. It was an unexpected gift, and it meant a lot, especially as I know she is doing her best to keep an even keel emotionally with the niece/her granddaughter situation. In times of stress, she is a "giver". I told her I love her, too.

Life is short and naturally stressful (at least for me). I hope my default is "kind".

Easter is hard on me. (Not April Fools)

Reason #212 why I can never run for political office.

I am not a Christian, although I respect the teachings of Jesus. With that being said, I was at church with my family yesterday (long story), and it was HARD.

In Ida-Ese, Jesus said, "BE NICE TO EACH OTHER - TAKE CARE OF EACH OTHER - FEED THE HUNGRY, HEAL THE SICK, AND CARE FOR THE WIDOWS AND ORPHANS."

At which point they nailed his ass to a cross because he was "dangerous" -- !!!

The story of the "sacrificial king" goes back thousands of years, and honestly, I have a problem with it. Anytime someone says "let us kill your kid, and good things will happen" I like to think my bologna meter would be going off big time.

I am a Mom. I don't want TO sacrifice my children. I want to sacrifice FOR my children.

But here is the reality: parents have been sacrificing their children for the "good of the community" for thousands of years (and I'm not just talking the Aztecs). The big "not secret" that has killed millions involves sending our children to war. It is considered a valuable career choice, and a necessary, honorable profession.

- Napoleonic Wars: Three and a Half Million Dead.
- American Civil War: Half a Million DEAD.
- World War II: Sixty Million People DEAD.

Let me repeat that: we, the human race, willing send our children into the armed serves where they will be trained in how to KILL EACH OTHER, while other people try to KILL THEM.

To, you know, PROTECT US from the other people who are doing the same crazy thing.

We dress it up with "patriotism" and appreciate their sacrifice - their lives, their bodies and their souls for our "safety" and "protection" - and we particularly ask/demand that they put their opinions aside politically because they need to "trust" that the leaders we elect - both Democrat and Republican - will guard and value their lives, and use the coin of their blood sparingly.

And here we get to the rub of it, don't we? For whatever reason, we have children - OUR CHILDREN - sacrificing their lives. We don't know their names (be honest: name the last ten soldiers who died in Iraq or Afghanistan - can't do it, can you?) and I am *NOT* convinced the world is better off without them growing up, getting married, and eventually dying of old age after long and happy lives. I find it impossible to believe any women who risked her life to give life to a child - "walking through the valley of the shadow" - would believe that them dying of anything other than old age is a good thing.

I wonder *if* we quit thinking of "human sacrifice" as an honorable profession, or simply the price of doing business, whether or not we would be better off as a species. I wonder, if instead of arguing about the right to "keep and bear arms" we spent the same amount of ink discussing how to make sure everyone on the planet was able to to exercise their right to "eat" and "drink clean water", whether or not we could turn our "swords" into "plowshares." I wonder if we trained our armies to build instead of destroy, and spent those funds feeding, clothing, educating and creating, whether we would get closer to having "heaven on earth" instead of hell?

I think of Mary, mother of Jesus, and every mother who has grieved the death of a child, and I do not find myself willing to join their ranks.

I am a mother. I don't want to sacrifice my children's lives, or their health, or their happiness, for any reason, especially for rich old men to get richer.

And I don't think any other mother should have to, either.

I do not accept the necessity of sacrificial killing. There are better ways.

I don't want your children dying for me. I sure as hell don't want mine dying for you.

There has got to be a way to problem solve on this planet that doesn't involve killing each other.

I think we should start with that age old advice: "BE NICE TO EACH OTHER."

It seems like reasonably good advice, doesn't it?

Then again, they nailed that guy to a cross.

I hate Easter.

"That's a pretty stupid idea, John. I'm afraid I'll have to kill you."

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Gillmania-American-Greetings-Stay-Employed-Stupid-Idea-Kill-You-Coffee-Cup-Mug-/281079157781?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item41719f9415

This cartoon, which I first saw on a mug that also shared the pithy advice of "Stay Awake, Stay Employed", completely encapsulates the idiocy of trying to change people's minds by killing them.

While amusing on the surface, it just flat out doesn't work.

Which, in my opinion, is why the very IDEA of a "War on Terror" is STUPID.

While killing people with "stupid ideas" may sound like a "brilliant" idea (in that it gets them out of your hair while you figure out what to do with them), reality (that bane of political conservatives everywhere) invariably shows that "short term stupid ideas" like KILLING PEOPLE don't fix "Big Problems" like opposing views on equality, opportunity, or social justice, to name just a few.

"Good ideas" will occur to more people even if you kill off the first few people who come up with them. Example: Think "racial equality" and Dr. Martin Luther King for an example of this (or any of the civil rights workers who were lynched before him). While some holdouts still exist, the vast majority of the country no longer accepts "racial segregation" as APPROPRIATE behavior.

At the end of the day, if you want to "win the war on stupid ideas" you actually have to do something harder than "kill people" - you have to Think Up Smarter Ideas, and then find ways of COMMUNICATING and IMPLEMENTING THEM.

Sometimes that means actually THINKING about why someone would think a "stupid" idea had merit. Example: Think "don't let african american men play football" -- since they were deemed "inferior" (per movies about early integration efforts), the only way to dispel that type of misinformation was to have excellent african american male athletes DESTROY teams of caucasian male athletes, thus proving that athletic ability was not a skin color issue.

In the above example, even though anyone with half a brain *should* have been able to figure out that "skin color" and "athletic ability" weren't related, people actually had to THINK about the problem to solve it, which meant considering Other People's Points of View - even the LAME STUPID ONES.

They had to be taken seriously so the stupidity could be shoved down the throats of those practicing it hard enough to choke on it.

This concept - THINKING - is one many of us might find benefit in using. When, for example, one has a knee jerk reaction about someone else's religion ("EVIL!") perhaps THINKING about the GOOD (feeding the hungry, caring for the homeless, offering support services to victims of domestic violence, providing aid during natural disasters, etc.) that many people do as they attempt to walk their faith might be a demonstration of wisdom. One could then THINK about ways of not throwing the proverbial "baby out with the bath water" approach to blanket shouts of "EVIL!" This is just one of many examples of how THINKING can help make the world a better place, and there are others: not all gun owners are murderous scum, not all rich people are spawns of satan, and men who open doors for women aren't trying to turn them into swooning morons. And, although it pains me to admit it, not all "Republicans" are empty-headed nit-wits bent on the destruction of the human race, not all "Libertarians" are self-involved hypocritical parasites, and not all "Democrats" are wise and benevolent caretakers of the public good.

But THINKING such thoughts is hard work; in truth, it is right up there with "showing respect and courtesy" which many people have a challenging time grasping the concept of, and the LAZY among us usually prefer to demonstrate boorish and ignorant behavior because it is EASIER.

In those cases, perhaps the metaphorical bullet is appropriate: public scorn, shame, and a swift "stop being an asshole" boot-to-the-head? (Maybe there can be a smilie icon made for this?) At the very least, they will amuse the rest of us.

Perhaps these actions can knock some sense into the senseless; they are less messy than other, more permanent solutions, and pre-suppose that PAINFUL STUPIDITY is a temporary condition that can be treated with large doses of education and good sense. I am, by nature, an optimist. I could be wrong.

But I don't THINK so.

I need to talk about my (dead) sister.

She died from complications from Multiple Sclerosis in 2003 at age 39.

Because this is a "political" message board, I am going to share some things about her life that tie into the current discussions about Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid and the people who use and/or "abuse" them.

My sister was on Social Security Disability, and she scammed the system by not reporting when she made money.

She had a type of Multiple Sclerosis called "relapsing/remitting" and it SUCKED. Sometimes she was almost fine. Sometimes she wasn't. Family frequently questioned whether she was "faking it" because when she wasn't suffering from an attack, she could function at a pretty normal level, but when she was "having a spell" she would be almost incapacitated. The attacks could hit suddenly: one day she would be out mowing the lawn, and the next, she would be in a wheelchair. (In hindsight, yes, the correlation seems obvious.)

She received approximately $9,000 a year in income from Social Security Disability; she also received money for her children (with two, probably about $850 a month?), and her live-in boyfriend also received money for taking care of her (I have no clue how much).

When she was doing well, she would work under the table (full time, sometimes more). We knew she was still collecting money from the government while this was going on, and to be honest, there was not a lot of respect for her because of it. I asked her about it once - one tries not to interfere in other people's lifestyle choices - and she explained that it was more about the health insurance than the money; it had taken several years to get approved for SSDI when she was diagnosed in her early twenties, and there was no way she could afford the the medical bills when the next inevitable attack came without assistance, let alone the roof over her children's head, without it.

They lived well most of the time - cell phones (back when they were an uncommon luxury), new clothing, nice cars - in a nice neighborhood, in a house that they were always working on "fixing up." Financially, their life style seemed impossible, especially because her "caretaker" went through several years of chronic unemployment. We suspected that drugs (illegal, and selling her prescriptions) were used to supplement the family income; this was confirmed by her children after her death, but she also shuffled credit cards like crazy, and left behind a ton of unpaid and noncollectable debt because of it. (Not a criticism, by the way.)

Multiple Sclerosis consumed her life; when she was well, there was a near feverish desire to "do as much as possible" for and with her two daughters. When she wasn't, she kept the house dark. Each time she came back from an attack, she was a little "less better" -- the numbness always grew. She had nightmares. She was scared. She was angry. She was defiant. She was hopeful.

And then, three days after Christmas back in 2003, she was dead. She got a cold (just like she always did multiple times a winter) that turned into pneumonia. She died on her way to the hospital, leaving behind two daughters age 20 and 18.

We had all gotten so used to her constantly being sick that I didn't believe the initial call that she was gone. It was too sudden - we had seen her at the family holiday party, and she was fine. We had talked a few days later, and she was fine. Then she was gone.

Yes, she cheated and scammed the system; she played it like a fiddle sometimes. Most of what she needed was the medical care, but the two - health insurance and income - came bundled together. When she was well, in the early years, she could have worked a full time job that wasn't under the table, but if she did, when the "next attack" came, she would have had no income or health insurance. The system really isn't set up for "okay, sometimes I will need some help, and I won't be able to wait two years for you to figure it out, but I want to be as independent as possible, so ...?" It is set up as a "yes/no" and as a taxpayer, I can look at it, and see that it costs *way* too much money, including in personal pride. (She was proud; she knew she was scamming sometimes, but she felt like it was the only way to survive, and by God! she was a survivor!)

Multiple Sclerosis is a terrible disease. She was so scared about being trapped in a body that she couldn't control -- we still lost her too soon, but at the same time, we didn't have to deal with some of the options she discussed about "when the time comes" - and yes, she talked about being control of when the battle ended. It turned out not to be an issue; we all thought there would be "more time."

This week (March 11 - 17, 2013) is national Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week.

My sister was more than a person on Social Security Disability. Yes, she scammed, and I won't pretend she didn't, but I understand why, and it wasn't because she *wanted* to - it was because she had no choice if she was going to make sure her family was taken care of. She was also more than that:

She was funny. She had gorgeous long thick hair that she was ridiculously proud of. She was skinny, and would freak out when the medications made her "puffy". She worshiped the sun, and was always tan. She liked to roller skate when she was young. She loved animals. She was worried more about being a friend to her daughters than a disciplinarian. She loved pretty jewelry. She was good with plants. She was a survivor of an abusive relationship with her ex-husband. She spent eighteen years with the love of her life, who raised her daughters as if they were his own. She was a complicated person. She didn't always make good choices. She loved her daughters, and would do anything for them. She could be the Queen of Bitchy. She could be your best friend. She was my sister, and she never got to meet my children.

She's been gone nearly a decade; there is still no cure.

Jeannette: May 12, 1964 - Dec 28, 2003 (age 39)

This week is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week - http://www.nationalmssociety.org/index.aspx
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