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Profile Information

Gender: Female
Hometown: South East Michigan
Home country: United States
Member since: Tue Jul 27, 2004, 01:19 PM
Number of posts: 10,559

Journal Archives

3 Strange But True Facts About Me.

1) I was once fired from a role as an African American psychic on a ghost hunting reality show before filming of the pilot began, and no, it wasn't because I am a corpse white Caucasian - I wasn't taking it "seriously" enough. (They were right - I wasn't. )

2) I am mostly responsible for a new theory about the possible cause, prevention, and treatment protocol for pediatric neuromuscular issues including cerebral palsy and sensory processing which is currently benefiting 83% of the children using the protocol.

3) I won a foreclosure battle against my bank!!! <== Yes, this is the one people will probably disbelieve the most!

Although the first two are fun stories, this post is really about the third.

We bought a house in mid-2008 right as the market started crashing. We used a "203k" construction loan to rebuild the worst house in a good neighborhood, with the expectation the loan would be refinanced when the construction was complete. (The construction interest rate was several points higher than a traditional mortgage, and standard practice involves refinancing when complete.) We went over budget, and depleted our financial reserves / went into substantial "unexpected debt". When we finished the construction, the bank delayed the refinancing for six months until the GM/Chrysler bankruptcies of Spring 2009 ended up with my husband being laid off for two months, which meant we no longer qualified for the refinance.

We began the "Loan Modification Process" in August of 2009. Yesterday - October 10, 2013 - I received the papers from the bank showing it was finally completed.

Our house was officially foreclosed incorrectly TWICE during this process, and reversed both times. We attempted to negotiate in good faith, spent over $36,000 in attorney fees, won $1,500 for them destroying my husband's credit, and had an idiot judge tell us there was nothing she could do to help us.

The *only* thing that saved us from being homeless was that I am an Anal-Retentive Detail Oriented person who was able to document over 275 communications between them and us, provide written proof of our veracity, and when I didn't get what I needed (them following the rules), I escalated.

Oh, and our case was identified by a HUD Auditor in December of 2010 who contacted us/documented the bank's "severe non-compliance", and we "blind cc'd" the faulty instructions to her for the next several months.

In August of 2012 the bank was instructed by FHA to halt all legal proceedings against us while they investigated. (We had sued them, and they decided to foreclose during litigation because we OBVIOUSLY weren't going to win.) The bank decided to ignore the FHA folks, and foreclosed on us a few weeks later. The bank was repeatedly instructed to provide documentation about our case, and they ignored it. We correctly concluded they were waiting for the "six month redemption period" in Michigan to elapse so we would have no legal standing.

Our attorneys told us repeatedly to "walk away" because no one *ever* beats the bank.

In December of 2012, in a final desperate bid to save our home, I sent 21 3-Ring Binders with documentation of our complaints to every single vice president of the bank in question, all attorneys involved, and all the way up the chain of command from our "FHA Housing Specialist" to the Assistant Secretary of HUD in Washington.

In January of 2013, the bureaucracy moved - not, I am convinced, because we were being screwed over, but because the bank was "ignoring" the people who were supposed to be overseeing them, and THAT was unacceptable.

(I'm good with that! )

In February of 2013 the (second) foreclosure was reversed with apologies for having been done "in error" and in April of 2013 the findings came back that there were "servicing errors identified."

FHA spanked the bank HARD. We didn't get a free house (we weren't trying to get one), and the fuss I raised did end up making a difference that I hope will help other home owners.

Oh, and they have to clean up my husband's credit, which is HUGE deal for us.

I was repeatedly told "no one had ever seen a case so well documented" - and yet, we still came within weeks of losing our home.

We weren't special. The screwing we were getting was standard procedure. We actually had the money to fight, the skills to document the situation, and the wit to know when to escalate.

The bottom line is that the bank only did the "right thing" because the government regulators forced them to do it.

We were lucky. I have talked to dozens of people who gave up, lost their homes, had their credit destroyed, and finally walked away because there was nothing else they could think of to do, and they needed to move on with their lives.

We came so close to that - and even at the end, it almost got screwed up.

Last month we sent in our final notarized paperwork, and the week we did that, the bank "outsourced" their loan modification process, which meant anyone who knew anything about our account was no longer employed, and our paperwork was in a box on the desk of someone who didn't work there anymore. (I felt bad. Oh, and they couldn't find my "authorization to discuss" again either, which is a whole story in itself.) Fortunately a little pressure from our Not Happy FHA person (did I mention the bank was instructed to comply in April and we were now in late September?), and things smoothed out fairly quickly.

I have the bank notarized completed paperwork next to me. It has a cover letter that is definitely personalized. The last two paragraphs say this:

...Your concerns have enabled us to update procedures and practices ensuring a better relationship with our customers now and in the future.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us directly. <== their underline

It is real. I beat the bank.

(Thanks to the government regulator who is currently on furlough because the government is shut down.)

It is over. We won.

I beat the bank.

Four days is about right. The math is working nicely. (No, it isn't secret.)

Remember this? "12 victims slain in Navy Yard shooting rampage; dead suspect ID'd" http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/16/us/dc-navy-yard-gunshots/index.html

It was Monday. I posted a thread on Tuesday with the subject "Another mass shooting? Yawn." http://www.democraticunderground.com/10023682882

In that thread I said this:

Condolences to the victims and their families. Prayers for the next ones - because based on the current realities, I predicate another "mass shooting/killing" within the next ten days or so.

(Look! I'm psychic! I can do math! 272 days since Newtown / 29 incidents of 4+ killed = average of 9.4 days! )

I *should* have predicted today's shooting, though. In the 272 days since Newtown (at the time of the post), there had been 84 incidents of "4 or more people shot" (which is the definition of a mass shooting).

272 / 84 = 3.238 which is basically four days.

One of today's headings is this:

"Boy, 3, among 13 injured in Chicago park shooting"

CHICAGO (AP) ó Thirteen people have been shot at a park on Chicago's southwest side, including a 3-year-old boy who was in critical condition, in what authorities say was likely a gang-related shooting.

Now, who will win next Tuesday's lottery? Based on the current math, it should be a big one, with at least four dead.

Will it be YOUR town?

Public Mea Culpa: I now support the NRA.

Specifically, the BLACK NRA.


With a goal to "arm every young black man in the country, so they can do normal things like wear hoodies, walk in the rain, and buy Skittles," how can I NOT support this fine organization?

Seriously, HOW could I have been so wrong for so long?

Bravo, Sara Silverman and Black NRA. Bravo!

Another mass shooting? Yawn.

With respect to the most recent victims (and appropriate condolences, of course), these "isolated incidents" are becoming so common place that the "once a month crime spree du jour" is becoming a staple of the news media.

Everyone is SHOCKED - simply SHOCKED - because it happened AGAIN.

Where *is* the fainting couch?

Remember this, back oh-so-long-ago in December, 2012?


Sixteen US Mass Shootings Happened in 2012, Leaving at Least 88 Dead

Todayís nearly indescribable tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, where twenty-seven people, including eighteen children, were shot to death inside an elementary school, is at least the sixteenth mass shooting to take place in America this year. The death toll is now at eighty-four.

Here is a list of every fatal mass shooting thatís taken place since January 1ódefined as multi-victim shootings where those killed were chosen indiscriminately. The tragedies took place at perfectly random placesóat churches, movie theatres, soccer tournaments, spas, courthouses and, now, an elementary school. But given the frequency of these awful events, perhaps in the long view their occurrence isnít so random after allóitís predictable.

(then lists sixteen of them, ending with Newtown, CT)

Well, it was NINE MONTHS AGO - and lots of things have changed since then, right? Except they really haven't.

Over on Reddit, they have a list of 246 mass shootings (defined as "4 or more people SHOT" so far this year, but personally, I think a "mass shooting" should only get counted if people get killed, which brings the "number of times four or more people were killed" down to 29 mass shootings in 2013. If we think of it as "only 29 so far" instead of 246, then we only have to worry about 137 dead people, instead of 327 dead people, and we can totally ignore the 857 people who were "just injured."


The most obscene gun related killing surprisingly often doesn't make the mainstream news at all.

The only requirement is that four or more people are shot in a spree. This may include the gunman himself (because they often suicide by cop or use a gun to kill themselves to escape punishment), or police shootings of civilians around the gunman. The reasoning behind the latter being that if the shooter is arrested, he will often be charged with injuring people the police actually shot, as that is a foreseeable result of a shooting spree.

We count the number shot rather than the number killed because people are still shot by a gun whether they survive or not. The gun lobby benefits from our ability to save those who would otherwise die, even though those gun shot victims will never be the same. The NRA exports their medical costs to society which often pays the costs for the medical care of the wounded. We refuse to ignore the victims of gun violence who survive shooting sprees.

Obviously the number of "mass shootings" has nothing to do with the weapons, right? Because only a fool would think giving someone (usually a man) the ability to KILL LARGE NUMBERS OF PEOPLE WITHOUT RELOADING was a "bad idea" -- heck, if you ask the NRA or their supporters, they would point out that knives and baseball bats kill more people, and everyone should be able to defend themselves against crazy felons with guns.

I have been an office worker since 1984. Earlier this year my workplace - for the first time *EVER* in my career - had me participate in a mandatory "Active Shooter Event Safety Training." My six-year olds have been in "school lockdown" more times than I can count to the point where we don't even notice anymore, and I don't *ever* remember dealing with that while I was growing up. Tornado drills, fire drills and pop quizzes - yes. "Mandatory School Lockdown" situations - no.

So, pardon me if I yawn through the tragic news reports of the latest one du jour. Most of them don't even seem to get any attention unless they shoot in the double digits (7 so far this year!), and the gun nuts think the second amendment gives them the right to roam local department stores with AR-15's strapped on their back (remember this thread? http://www.democraticunderground.com/10022218233), so UNTIL WE DECIDE TO TAKE AWAY THE ABILITY TO FIRE MORE THAN A FEW ROUNDS AT A TIME (and I will let the gun nuts earnestly explain why that isn't possible or necessary), instead of the breathless ratings driven television reportage, I'm going to re-watch the helpful hints in this old thread:

"RUN. HIDE. FIGHT. Surviving an Active Shooter Situation." http://www.democraticunderground.com/12623980

Condolences to the victims and their families. Prayers for the next ones - because based on the current realities, I predicate another "mass shooting/killing" within the next ten days or so.

(Look! I'm psychic! I can do math! 272 days since Newtown / 29 incidents of 4+ killed = average of 9.4 days! )

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

"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:

"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.
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