Medical Bills

August 11, 2022

America…the greatest country in the world run by the wealthy. There is anecdotal evidence that otherwise law-abiding people have become engulfed by debt because of unpaid medical bills. We all want to do the right thing & pay what we owe, but how many of the bills we get are legit? The doctors are not billing us—their staff is billing us.

I have an ongoing dispute with NorthShore University Health Systems. On the bill there is a date with a line that says ‘Previous Hospital Visit Balance’. That’s it. When I looked at my appointment book, I saw I had no appointments on that date, so I had to call the billing department. Laughable? They ‘only’ want $75. One of the 3 doctors I visited at this hospital had this on her reception wall:

Who ever heard of such a thing?

So I called NorthShore, and was told it was for ‘borrowing’ the CPAP machine for a sleep test. For $925? For about half of what the CPAP machine costs to buy?

So I called AETNA, my Plan B provider, and they had to call me back after calling the provider at Northshore. I was mistaken. The bill of $925 was not for use of the machine. That was free. The charge is for reading the computer printout of my breathing.

The Rent is Too Damn High

August 5, 2022

I’m not a very good capitalist. I’ve tried to not charge ‘market rate’ for my rental flat, because I’ve always wanted good stable tenants. Since the rent includes heat, water, and a parking space, as well as half the property taxes and casualty/liability insurance, and I’ve paid off the mortgage, but need to have a ‘reserve’ of about $30,000 for a new boiler, porch and roof repairs, and other issues related to taking care of the building infrastructure, my current tenants believe they are getting a good deal at $1238,

However, things have changed. Although my property taxes are locked in at about $275 per unit, water and garbage pick-up have doubled in the last 10 years. The gas bill (to heat the building) went up 80% two months ago. No joke. And I would not be surprised if the electric bill goes up, too. I’ve been told the homeowners insurance will go up between $200 and —300 a year. Thus, I have to raise the rent to break even,

I feel terrible about this, but my elected officials don’t believe the public utilities are making windfall profits.

The only way to keep rents relatively stable is to make what are now private businesses into public utilities, so no profit is expected. Also, to make urban land leasehold rather than freehold. Oh, you don’t like that?

Right. Capitalism is based on who controls the real estate. The British Commonwelath counties usually make urban land leasehold to stop speculation and keep real estate relatively affordable. If you own a condo on Native American land, you ‘own’ your habitat—but not the land it sits on.

& this addresses public housing for people who just don’t understand how capitalism works. Our churches—in the USA they pay no property taxes—could develop land trusts and affordable housing, but they don’t. I may be wrong, but I don’t think so—they are ‘investing’ in missionary activities AND in the case of the Catholic Church, defending pedophiles. If this ass-backward ‘investment strategy’ upsets you, tell your elected officials that everyone should pay property taxes and using a God as a reason to not pay your fair share isn’t cool.

Are Kids Learning Real American History? Book Review:Killers of the Flower Moon: the Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI

July 28, 2022
Published in 2017, written by David Grann, very well researched.

I know the earth with be uninhabitable before we deal with taking the steps we need to : limiting the number of children we have, planting more trees, not using so much non-renewable energy, recycling. We are losing so many species, and we are allowing religious fanatics to make the rules and destroy our earth. The religious fanatics also think that teaching real history is Critical Race Theory (does this include the history of Native Americans?) and is a revision to make white folks look bad. Funny thing: the facts DO make us look like idiots, brutes, and people with no integrity at all. That’s what you get when your religion says you can be a liar, a cheater, a murderer, and all you have to do to get into heaven is ask Jesus to forgive you.

Sure, there are two ways of looking at the facts. As anthropologists say, there is the etic response, which is how I look at another culture through my eyes and norms, and an emic response: where I look at my own culture and recognize the norms or my own culture. What has happened here is a factual view of how whites were put in a position of being guardians for native American wealth, because the powers that be (white men) deemed the Native Americans too irresponsible to manage their own affairs—based on the color of their skin, facial features, and different language.

This book, subtitled The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, is very well written and researched, and so difficult to read. But then, when it came out in 1970, I read Dee Brown’s classic, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, and I wondered if my whole primary and secondary school education had been a bunch of lies to keep white people feeling superior.

We broke every treaty we made with Native Americans. We killed them, lied to them, took their land, and remain defiant that ‘we’ did the right thing. Horrifying.

What happened to the Osage is, after giving up the land they had lived on since the beginning of time, they were moved, by the U.S. Government, to Oklahoma Territory. These people had been hunter/gatherers, and Christian Americans wanted to civilize them and make them farm. The white Americans were so sure that the land they gave the Osage, in Oklahoma Territory, was unfarmable, too. What happened was that oil was found on their land, and, in a nutshell, they became rich, and white folks didn’t like that, so they started murdering them. In some cases they were shot, some cases poisoned, and in other cases, their homes were blown up. But not just that. Some insinuated themselves into their families, so they could be beneficiaries when their new relatives died. Yes, the Osage became wealthier than the whites, and whites didn’t like that, but there was a legal way to get their money: the white folks were appointed guardians of individual Osage, because, you know, whites were sure non-whites were too stupid to manage their own wealth.

By a twist of fate, a half-Osage man was elected to Congress, and he asked the federal government for help in solving the murders. It so happened that J. Edgar Hoover was ready to manage and develop the FBI. He recognized that their was a lot of corruption, and he meant to end that. So, this story is not just about how the native Americans were screwed, but about the history of the FBI.

Sarah Vowell has also written several books of American History that address what really happened, yet we are still teaching children that the Indians welcomed the Pilgrims, and that Washington chopped down the cherry tree—& that’s our story and we’re sticking to it.

Well, none of this will matter soon. 10% of Americans are concerned about climate change and environmental degradation, and the other 90% are concerned with who will win on Big Brother or the Bachelorette.

Book Review: At Home in the World by Joyce Maynard

July 21, 2022

Joyce Maynard lived with J.D, Salinger for 11 months. He pursued the relationship. He knew she was a teenager. At the age of 17, she won a writing contest for Seventeen magazine, which led to a gig writing for the New York Times Magazine...and she became famous. Salinger wrote to her. She went on to write a lot of published work. I found this book very readable and relatable, but I believe people will pick it up for how she describes her relationship with Salinger.

Critics have given Maynard a hard time, many claiming she would have had no career were it not for the relationship with Salinger and others’ curiosity about it, but that’s not true. They’ve also said she invaded or compromised Salinger’s privacy. That is also not true.

Her mother was a writer, her father an English professor, and she had a good start and took advantage of opportunities. Also, Salinger was obsessed with privacy, He apparently wrote to make money, and when he made the money, he didn’t want to be famous. He could have made more prudent choices, but he seduced Maynard with his letters.

What I got from this memoir is that Salinger groomed her, and she was too young to understand this at the time. They were both half Jewish, and Salinger felt this was important, for some reason. That they were landsmen. Kindred spirits, in so many words. They both had come to explore their own circumstances. Part of the problem was that her father was about 20 years older than her mother (Salinger was 35 years older than Joyce) In fact, he has a thing for little girls. I wouldn’t say he was a pervert, but if you’ve read his short story, ‘For Esme with Love and Squalor’ the pieces start fitting together.

There is no doubt Salinger was an eccentric, but he was also a self-centered man, and Maynard was, though from an emerging feminist era, still caught up in being in love and the dynamics of how things were. She went on to a horrible marriage, but got three kids out of it, and made a good career for herself. I read a lot of literature by women writers, and what I saw was a woman who allowed herself to be manipulated and made compromises.

However, if you read this book to learn how to become a published writer, you’ll see it pays to be in the right place at the right time, for editors to take the time to talk to you and request pages. If you read this book to learn about Salinger, she paints an honest portrait. #bookreview #JoyceMaynard #relationships #JDSalinger

How Does My Choice Affect YOU?

July 14, 2022

Almost 50 years ago, I met my first transgender person. We lived in a high-density urban area, now known as ‘Boystown’, and this was around 1974. Our neighborhood was very diverse. I was about 21-years-old, and although a man dressing as a woman was odd to me, it didn’t affect me aside from wondering why this person was being attacked, At the time, in my mind, I said s/he was a transvestite. I’ve since become—as they say—woke. My boyfriend and I were out walking my dogs, at about 10:P.M. and someone attacked her, about 20 feet in front of us. These were the days before cell phones. The police were doing a patrol(luckily) and stopped, and arrested the attacker. We told her—and the police, we would testify as witnesses. We showed up in court, but the attacker—out on bond—did not, and that was the end of that.

I was raised as a secular Jew, and I was odd. Not in the Chicago area, of course, but as I traveled to more rural areas of the country, I was coming to learn many people had never met a Jew. As I got older, I was often asked what I believed. I believed in trying to do the right thing and act with integrity. Christians, trying to ‘save’ me, told me that I would not get to heaven unless I asked Jesus to forgive me. I had to accept him into my heart. My former mother-in-law was really on a crusade to convert me. It pained her that I wasn’t saved.

The trouble was, that I had no idea of why I needed to be saved. My upbringing was about connections to my community and being altruistic. When I asked my parents about Christianity, I was told that we’re all God’s children…and we don’t believe in virgin birth.

I just don’t get their obsession with trying to ‘save’ the world, and how they feel when they think they’ve saved someone from damnation. Now, I wonder why they are so obsessed with things they can’t do anything about: gay people & abortion. Gambling destroys more families, but they no longer address gambling. Drugs and alcohol also destroy families, but it seems that, for the most part, they’ve given up on banishing these evils. Gender nonconformity and abortion—things that other people do…why do these things bother them so that they spend time trying to curtail my rights?

How does my abortion, or who I love, affect them personally? We are not making them do anything. We are just asking for privacy, and for them to MIND THEIR OWN BUSINESS.

Do they realize that we see they are not adopting children in foster care? That they are ambivalent about assault weapons? I think, if we are expected to all get along, we have two choices: to ask these crusaders, one to one—how my choices affect them personally, and how they manage to sleep at night not being able to really control other people.

Why Didn’t someone DO SOMETHING?

July 7, 2022

I spent several years of my childhood in Highland Park, Illinois. The rest in Deerfield, the next town over. It became an upscale community in the 1960s. The town is at least 30% Jewish. If there are any minorities, they are either servants living mostly in Highwood, just north of HP, or very wealthy entertainers and sportsmen. Michael Jordan lived in HP for years (or at least built a huge white elephant there)—down the street from where my uncle lived.

Yes, a bunch of lakefront liberals: over-educated, genteel, everyone gets along. So, how is it that

Robert Crimo III, a resident, decided to shoot random people on July 4, 2022?

After all, police had been called (by his parents?) to his home in 2019 because he threatened to kill them—& found knives and daggers—and confiscated them. And returned them, because having knives is not illegal. Keep in mind, that it’s not illegal to own knives and daggers. It’s also been discovered that he’s been posting on several social media platforms about violence and murdering people for several years. That’s not illegal, either. It’s free speech.

His father, Robert Crimo, jr, ran for mayor of HP, on a platform opposing restrictions on owning weapons—all weapons. & even after his son threatening to kill him, he sponsored him for a FOID(gun ownership permit). Can you say totally f**ked up?

So—who should have called whom? No crime was committed until he started shooting. He bought his assault weapons legally. Shouldn’t we hold his father responsible? How?

When you were a teenager, did your parents search your room? If they did, after the argument, what happened?

There’s been a lot of response to this on Facebook. Some people think he needs Jesus. For all we know he went to church every week.

Do you know anyone who grew up in the foster care system? People who know Jesus, but can’t read or write?

How about people who grew up without a father?

It seems that many of these young, macho, testosterone-fueled shooters grew up in 2 parent homes, so lacking a parent couldn’t be it.

Many were considered loners in high school. I was a loner. but then, I wasn’t testosterone-filled.

I was mentally ill, but I wasn’t angry, just frustrated. I begged for help, and my parents relented, though they were embarrassed. Back in the 1960s, mental illness wasn’t considered neurological, but a failure of personality.

Now, in Robert’s case, we may all agree that something was not right in his head But do we know anything about his parents’ mental health? or their marriage? Do we need to?

How about we take the simple, obvious, LOGICAL SOLUTION and ban not just the selling of weapons of war, but ammunition. Certainly, we can ban the sales of ammunition first, right?

I hope everyone reading this will forward it and also send postcards to the Republican politicians who refuse to ban the selling and ownership of weapons of war. Thoughts and prayers are not going to help anyone.

Entitled?

June 30, 2022

For those of you reading this who live outside of the USA (or, if you’re younger than 40, and don’t realize the American history you’ve been taught is mostly bs due to who writes history)…America has a history of institutional, government-sanctioned racism. Thus, we have a huge segment of our population—easy enough to spot because they are NOT WHITE PEOPLE who, for the most part, have had trouble making their way economically. They’ve been barred from educational and employment opportunities, from securing credit, even though they are creditable,and it’s still happening. For all the politicians running for state & federal office: education policy & curriculum are mostly set by local school boards. In any case, it remains a problem (I mention this because we have many conservative whack jobs who believe the Christian Bible should be taught in schools).

It’s not just race, but class that is a bar to improving your family’s economic status. Isabel Wilkerson’s book, “Caste” addresses this, and so does Fiona Hill’s recent book, “There is Nothing for You Here.”

Progressive politicians have attempted to address this via school busing (giving everyone an incentive to improve all schools) and by subsidizing housing for low-income families.

For public housing, you’re supposed to submit an application, and those on the public housing ‘authority’ board select who gets the subsidy. The problem has always been…there isn’t enough housing. But there is another problem: once you qualify, partly due to mismanagement of those in charge and partly due to these who qualified gaming the system….you never become unqualified. Your kids grow up & move? Who’s to know?—& soon enough those kids come back with grandkids. Do you get a better job? How would the authority find out? You have the subsidy indefinitely, There is no incentive to improve your lot.

A Chicago Alderman, Jeanette Taylor, created quite a stir with a recent Facebook post saying she was on the waiting list since 1993…& she just got a letter (29 years later) that they can now process her application.

My gut reaction is: she never moved in all that time & the letter got to her? But wait: as you read the story, you see she was offered housing in 2008 (granted —15 years later!). HOWEVER—-her teenage son—who was NOT IN SCHOOL AND NOT EMPLOYED could not live with her (& why was he neither in school or employed? He had just graduated, & the housing authority wouldn’t give them time) & the housing offered was 60 blocks (several miles) from where she was living with her mother, sister& her 3 kids & sister’s child in a 1 bedroom. Now, I’m thinking they’ve chosen to live together in this 1 bedroom, but I’m sure I’m not the only 1 wondering why the father of these children is off the hook for supporting them. In jail? Disabled? Dead?

There are over 32,000 families on the waitlist for subsidized housing. So—where are they living? In shelters? Or market-rate housing? & so—for almost 30 years. Ald. Taylor made do.

Capitalism is not such a great system as the playing field isn’t level. If you’ve been denied education and employment opportunities, you’re f**ked. That’s for real. Yet, so many of these disadvantaged people support religious institutions—mostly Christian churches—that not only don’t pay taxes, but could use the money they collect to build and manage affordable housing. We know the Catholic Church is paying off all the people that priests molested, but there are other denominations that could develop affordable housing, and don’t.

Now, ironically, Ald. Taylor makes over $100,000 a year as an alderman. She has some interesting ideas…but the fact is, as long as the disabled are not offered accessible housing first, and everyone else can overstay and not find ways to earn viable incomes….nothing changes.

What Does the 1st Thanksgiving Have to do With Integrity?

June 23, 2022

I collect & send books (through 2 small nonprofits( Bookfriends International and the African Library Project) to Africa. There’s a ‘book famine’. It’s just not economically viable to publish books there, though I have to give Heineman & Longman their props.

I came across a small book, published by Scholastic in 1973, called “The Pilgrims; First Thanksgiving”. It was written by Ann McGovern, beautifully illustrated by Elroy Freem, and meant for 8— 10-year-olds. It describes how they left (England) because they could not pray the way they wanted. They get to America, work hard, pray a lot, met a (native American) named Squanto…then it glosses over how they became ‘friends’.

In fact—none of that happened. We kept telling ourselves lies, ignored the fact that white folks took land that belonged to other people, and in 1789, our politicians decided to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. If you wonder what REALLY did happen, I suggest getting a copy of “Lies My Teacher Told Me,” by James Loewen.

What is the main idea of Lies My Teacher Told Me?

Image result for lies my teacher told me summary

Lies My Teacher Told Me critiques the way that history textbooks systematically avoid representing controversial topics or stories that show Americans doing wrong. The book seeks to understand why, according to the author, high school students in the US are so disinterested in their own history.

The truth is embarrassing to white folks, which is why across the USA, parents are organizing to make sure our history is not revised to tell the truth. We wouldn’t want children of Trumpers and Holocaust deniers to feel guilty.

Upon learning real history, my take is that we have to teach it so we don’t continue to be racist and sexist, and so learn to respect everyone. It’s why I’ve embraced the Sikh religion. But Christians see it differently. They are absolutely sure their way of worshiping God is the best way, especially since you can sin all you want (being an imperfect human, as we all are), but—if you ask Jesus to forgive you, your sins are cleansed from you and you go to Heaven. You must believe in heaven, or, what’s the point of living?

I think the point of living is being part of a community and taking care of God’s Earth. But, no, I’m wrong. If we make the Earth uninhabitable to a few creatures, and cause extinction, it’s because—-even though we know better—-we’re imperfect & Jesus will forgive us and we’ll get into heaven.

I have to ask the most important question: is integrity important? I was raised to think it was, but, ah. no, apparently I’m wrong. Apparently making people believe that Christians should be in charge of everything is more important than integrity.

Without integrity, we can’t have an economic system. We can’t trust each other. There is nothing. but I’m told I’m wrong. This is what we have to look forward to in America: some of us knowing the truth of our history, and many of us believing our true history is a lie made up to embarrass white folks.

Book Review: There is Nothing for You here: Finding Opportunity in the 21st Century, by Fiona Hill

June 16, 2022
There Is Nothing For You Here: Finding Opportunity in the Twenty-First Century

It is by chance I got to hear Fiona Hill speak at Northwestern University. Here’s a woman who took advantage of every opportunity she could find, and in spite of many obstacles, made a career for herself.

Her father, a coal miner turned hospital orderly, told her she had to leave because the economy in northern England was in such a sorry state (during the Reagan/Thacher years) that there was no way she could succeed by just living. She sought our scholarships and internships, lucked into a scholarship at Harvard, and ultimately found herself employed by the U.S. federal government in foreign policy analysis, working for the National Security Council. She served under three presidents: Bush, Obama, and Trump. Along the way, she learned Russian and wrote a book on Putin. She was a professional—not a political appointee.

What she learned was that she was really a victim of a very socially stratified educational (and cultural) system in England, and faced class discrimination there. When she got to the USA, she discovered she was facing sexism as well. Yet…she persisted. She was, of course, fired by Trump. There have been many books now written by people who served Trump in professional capacities. All the writers say pretty much the same thing: he was egotistical, arrogant, sexist, racist, and didn’t listen to his own advisors. He loved dictators and bamboozled his followers (who still believe he walks on water). This book is not about Trump, but about trying to be a professional when your work is sabotaged or belittled.

The last part of the book is about what people can do to level the playing field. I wish I could give a copy of this book to every girl leaving primary school and thinking about what they want to do with their lives.

This book would be a great gift for a college or high school student (especially female)…any who thinks all that is behind us. It isn’t.

Small Dick Syndrome

June 2, 2022

Gun control is not a top priority for me—or it hasn’t been. If you’ve been checking out my blog posts, I’m interested in dogs, annoying things, foreign policy, and stuff that doesn’t make sense…but now we have a minority of old, white men (and a lying Catholic self-righteous Supreme Court justice) who believe they are acting in all our ‘best interest’. What hubris: they all know better than the rest of us because they’ve been appointed to positions of power.

I’ll get right to the point: why the hell does anyone need an assault weapon? I can understand a pistol or a hand gun—or a rifle for hunting (although in this day and age, I don’t see any achievement in killing a wild animal just because you can).

I know we’re not going to outlaw all guns—but come on—how can anyone defend the ownership of a machine designed to kill MANY PEOPLE quickly?

& look who are going for these things: teenage boys (ok—a few in their early 20s). the whole mental health issue is bogus. All teenagers are either going through some angst or in denial….but the testosterone surge in teenage boys causes a good percentage to do outrageous, anti-social things. Are they all mentally ill or is this the norm? Obviously, not all are killing—but how many are overpowering women & claiming consent? “Boys will be boys” is what the old white men—& the women whom they control say. I don’t buy it.

The only excuse I can figure that would make these arrogant macho assholes make any sense is….small dick syndrome. They won’t come out and say they have small dicks. No. The size of their dicks is none of my business. The way they deflect is by making laws that control women’s access to health care, claim it is religion (tell me where in the Christian Bible it says abortion is murder—& we’re not all the same religion—hello!!!), and by not acting to ban the sales of assault weapons.

There’s a meme trending on Facebook regarding how women have to be counseled before getting an abortion, see gruesome films of aborted fetuses, and be given ‘alternatives’. This is all for women minding their own business…whose abortions do not affect anyone else. But assault rifles? Making guys have to go through training, a waiting period, getting referrals from others? That would be an invasion of their rights: their right to carry a weapon to take everyone’s minds off their small dicks.

Bad Behavior is Not Illegal: Sexual Abuse

May 26, 2022

Back in 1969, when I was a teenager, I became friendly with a girl who was a new neighbor, who was just about a year or two older than I was (15). Jill had a ‘reputation’: she had run away from home when her father married her stepmother (her own mother had died). But now she was back.

She seemed mature to me. She wasn’t, but she was adventurous. She had met these two Italian guys—I have no idea where, and asked me to double date with her. Well, it wasn’t exactly a date—it was to ‘hang out’. I consented, even though I had a boyfriend in another state, because it wasn’t a ‘date’. The BF would be coming to visit me in a few days.

So, we went to the beach, & Jill and one of the guys went off, and this other guy wanted to make out. I didn’t. I didn’t know him, but he was all over me. I did all I could to fight him off, and he ended up giving me a hickey on my neck. I have no doubt that he would have raped me if I hadn’t fought, but you know, he wasn’t a ‘stranger’ attacking me. In any case, when my boyfriend saw the hickey, he accused me of cheating. I just didn’t have the words to say that this friend of my friend attacked me. I felt I shouldn’t have been in that situation.

Several times over the decades I have been ‘attacked’ this way by men I knew whom I did not want to have sex with or date, but they knew other people I knew. I jerked a couple of them off to avoid being raped. Why didn’t I call the police? I wasn’t raped. What would have come of it, anyway? That I put myself in bad situations?

In the past several years we have women posting #METOO. Some women have been raped, no doubt, but in some cases, women just didn’t speak up for themselves. If a guy felt my breasts or put his hand between my legs, for sure I physically fought back. Men have told me how attracted they were to me, and I just deflected them when I wasn’t interested. Thankfully, this only happened in work situations a few times, but I felt it was how things were. I had a friend who told me, “He’s the type that will call you ‘honey’, ‘babe’, or ‘doll’, but he doesn’t mean anything by it. It still gets my guard up.

So here’s what I say to girls: don’t be nice. You get nothing from being nice except being taken advantage of. You have to stand up for yourself. If it seems uncomfortable, don’t deny your discomfort. But if there is no physical evidence of penetration, you’re looking for more aggravation than it’s worth. Nobody you don’t know ‘loves’ you. He/they might respect and admire you, but they respect your space and don’t ask for money.

What are the Statistical Odds of Something Bad Happening?

May 19, 2022

When you start learning environmental science, you learn mathematical concepts that have to do with calculus and population density. In America, for the past 40 or so years, yu also have to unlearn the marketing that has influenced you.

Nov.2021. Travis Scott , a rapper (performer), plays an event with 50,000 people in attendance. There was a crowd surge, and then a stampede, and 8 people were crushed. Horrifying.

I’ve been writing about a character (fiction) who is also an acoustical engineer. He begins to realize that when a ‘room’ gets to be over about 1,000 people, the sound gets distorted: you are no longer hearing the actual music being played, but sound system. This is a dilemma for him.As his musical group gets more popular, they have to play to larger audiences. The audiences don’t seem to mind, but the character feels dismayed that, in order to make money, they have to play to large crowds to keep ticket prices down and compromise on sound quality.

It used to be that people would pay for a concert ticket and get a seat, but that is happening less and less. For a performer to make money on performance (due to high costs, including insurance), you have to get as many people to the performance as possible.

When you get more than a dinner table full of people together, the odds of an incident grow proportionately. These were not violent people at the Travis Scott performance, but these were highly energized people, and …things got out of control.

It’ ‘s 1 thing to be part of a march of 50,000 where people are moving in a somewhat orderly fashion, and quite another where that many people are standing, and a few strong people start to move. Are we going to quit allowing large crowds to stand? I don’t think so.

That weekend, I was going to work for a client. She told me I had an extra half hour to be at her place, but since we were 20 miles apart, it was a weekend, and I had to travel past a large university that was having a football game, I decided to take a circuitous route. Usually, the route involved no traffic lights, but towards the middle of the trip, I decided to go to the interstate. I only had to be on the interstate for 1.5 miles, but it would have saved me 10 minutes. I got on and immediately traffic was stopped for an accident. I could have understood had there been vehicles blocking the road, but ah, no—it was a gaper’s block. A gaper’s block is when drivers in vehicles slow down to gape at—what? a crushed car? Blood? I actually let a driver from the left lane cut in front of me, We started to move, and he inexplicably slowed to a crawl.—-clearly—to gawk. I honked at him & sped around him—& saw in my rearview mirror others who had to gape and gawk. There is no excuse for such juvenile behavior. I got to where I was going in time, but I told my employer I played the statistical odds. Those odds of something happening increase by the time and distance you have to go. I’m sure people studying calculus can come up with numbers.

Climate change is in the news. When polar bears can’t find ice, you know the earth is not going to exist much longer. The politicians are trying to slow global warming—not reverse it. I’ll bet that most people believe that greenhouse gasses are mostly from running vehicles, heating our homes, and that’s it, but when you can’t even convince people to bring reusable bags grocery shopping, you know that life as we know it is going to decline, I’m happy for the Christians who believe they are going to heaven, in spite of their wicked, selfish, greedy ways, but for the rest of us, this is sad.

I believe most of us in America believe free public education is a good thing. It’s a good thing for young people to learn to respect other humans and top cooperate. However, we are doing a terrible job of preparing our future citizens to understand their place in the world. We are still teaching fairy tale history (the Indians welcomed & helped the pilgrims, Washington chopped down the cherry tree, the native American ‘Indians’) weren’t utilizing their land..) and not teaching basic environmental concepts and mathematics to ourselves. As a result, most of us believe ‘facts’—ideas—that are not true, and even dangerous.

COVID happened due to population density: too many earthlings living on earth and not stewarding our resources. If we won’t stop bringing new humans into the world, nature will take care of us. Replacement—zero population growth—is 2 children per couple. What about all the dead from COVID, etc? Clearly, not enough of us have died yet. but as things are, the earth will probably only be habitable for another 30 years. Your children will thank you.

Is nature God? Maybe. God gave us the means to figure out what we’re doing, but unfortunately, things got out of whack due to Christian misinterpretation. Good luck to us!

Book Review: Primates of Park Avenue, by Wednesday Martin

May 12, 2022

When you move to a new community, how do you make friends? How do you make friends when there is a definite caste system, and different social cues?

The gist is…you have to find an ‘influencer’ who accepts you, and that person may not be part of a clique, but has influence in the clique. You wouldn’t necessarily understand that, however, if you hadn’t studied anthropology.

Wednesday Marin studied anthropology and comparative literature and somehow met a wealthy man who moved her social status up a notch (no mystery, actually. Google her: She’s a pretty blond). If you don’t live in a large urban area that is extremely socially stratified, you might not grasp this, but some cities have enclaves of uber-wealthy people.

Because she wanted her son to have a social group, Martin had to find a way to acceptance, and it obviously helped that she understood the history of anthropology.

My undergraduate degree was in anthropology. I chose that field purposely because I am ‘on the spectrum’ and was baffled by how people make decisions. I was drawn to this book, initially thinking it was fiction. it isn’t. She cites several studies of primate groups in the wild. She doesn’t miss a social cue.

Also, when she loses a 3rd child in her 6th month of pregnancy, she addresses how this helped her bond with other mothers who had lost young children.

Very well written, very useful, especially if you’ve got children and move to a new location and have to enter a new social group.

A Variable Annuity is a Legal Scam

April 28, 2022

My father believed in insurance.  He doesn’t trust his own math skills, and granted when you have small children, life insurance is important.  You don’t want your kids destitute if  you die.  So we all believe that is what life insurance is for:  the family you leave behind.  It’s a gamble,  but responsible. 

What kind of parent buys life insurance on his kids?  His explanation:  if we lived, we’d have money for college. Fair enough.

When I had just left home, without a thought about going to college, my father bought a $5000 life insurance policy for me.  He had been led to believe the policy paid 4% interest, and after 5 years, the dividends would maintain the policy. If I added to the policy, I would get  4% interest.  I was skeptical, and asked what State Farm invested in.  My father got angry with me.  He trusted State Farm agent, Bill Apostolakis, and had no idea.  At the time, due to inflation, banks were paying over 6% on savings accounts, and you could get 17% interest on a CD.  My father was exasperated by me. How dare I question.

He apparently took out a $100,000 on my brother, and on my brother -in-law,  Bill Meyer, he took out a $150,000 policy. My sister and brother-in-law had 2 little kids. This was, again, the early 1970s.  We lived and lived.   My youngest sister,  upset that she had no policy, became a co-beneficiary of my sister’s policy on her husband.  My father continued to hound me about adding to the policy.   In fact, I had about $5000 which I trusted him to invest with a friend of his, and…not having any idea what this guy was investing in, but that he was paying 9%, I let that ride for a good long time.  Again  perplexed by the lack of transparency, I moved the account to a Calvert mutual fund. That was the start of my learning to invest and  to know what to look for. I am by no means an expert, but I  am confident about the odds.

My father meant well, but he just couldn’t relate to us kids as adult people.  Part of the problem is my brother has severe Asperger’s, and part of it was my Dad himself.  He was always trying to give us stuff.  He had a small chemical company, and usually he gave us  soap.  Hand soap, detergent that will destroy your clothes (—no joke), or dishwashing liquid.  As he got older… grocery bags full of napkins.   We have no idea where he gets them from, as there is no packaging. I don’t get it, I have a lifetime supply of paper napkins.  We all do, and give them out to friends.

We lived some more….40 or so years more.  I went on a trip, and upon my return, my youngest sister  had emailed, “Bill Meyer died.”  It took me a few seconds to process this.  He died in a freak accident:  he fell, hit his head, and went into a coma.  The sister married to Bill, the guy with the life insurance, was now on her third husband.   In any case, my 2 sisters are splitting that $150,000 policy.

Meanwhile…I had my taxes done, and , for some reason, I had to pay tax on the dividends of $150 or so my  life insurance policy. Nobody can tell me why this is NOT an unrealized gain.  At one point, the policy was worth over $21,000, but due to some murkiness on  State Farm’s end, it dropped to $13,000, & was ‘worth’ $8300.  Yes, it lost value, and I was paying taxes on it.  My father reminded me that it was paying 4%.  I did  the math. Even if it paid 0%, and my father had put just $25 a month in a non-interest bearing account, I would have had over $21,000.  I called Bill Apostolakis. He calls you honey, babe, and doll. He does not respect women.  I tell him I want to cash in the policy, as it is costing money, not making money.   HE starts with the spiel that if I  had only added to it.  I ask him, “did you tell my father that if he had just put $25 a month into a savings account, I would have had more money?”   He hesitated, “Yes…I did.”  “No, you didn’t,” I responded.  The fact of the matter is:  my father paid State Farm to, essentially, keep $5000 in a non-interest bearing account.  Like paying a bank to keep your money in a savings account.

I had to wait a few weeks to get the actual policy, as my father was wintering in another state,and the policy was in his safe deposit box.  He was SURE it pays at least 4%, maybe 9%, he tells me.

My father returned.   He gave me the policy. Wait—there are 2!  One has a face value of $10,000.  I call Equitable Life on that one.  It turned out my father cashed it in 1994.  It is worth $0.00  After taxes, (yes, there are still more!) the State Farm policy was worth about $6,000. IT IS A VARIABLE ANNUITY—where you pay them to ‘manage’ your money.  It’s a legal scam.   There is no indication in the wording of the policy that it ever paid any amount of interest.

This is a legal product. There is probably some disclosure in the legal mumbo-jumbo, but the only beneficiary is the company offering the policy.

I’m not sure how many people remember, but after Donald Trump was installed in office, 1 of the first things he did was do away with the law Barak Obama signed, to make it legal to NOT be a fiduciary. now you have to ask. why would Trump do this? He knows who his supporters are. I mean, the people who give him money.

As my  roommate said, “It looks like the napkins are worth more than your insurance policies.”  No kidding.

Defund the Police? What a Poor Choice of Words

April 21, 2022

Only white, middle-class people believe that the police are their friends. Most places in the world, people avoid the police. We can’t tell the difference between paramilitary and what planners characterize as constabulary duties.

The police do not protect us from crime. In fact, in many low-income communities, they make crime worse, because one tactic of policing is to allow anti-social/illegal activities to exist so they don’t spread to nicer neighborhoods. They deny this but ask people who live in low-income communities. The police either don’t respond to calls or respond with guns drawn.

Several years ago, we had an incident (not atypical), made worse because our mayor, Rahm Emanuel, attempted to cover it up by not immediately addressing what went down.

Someone reported a black teenager, Laquan McDonald, behaving erratically. We never know why this happens, but several police cars showed up, and one cop, Jason van Dyke, ordered McDonald to halt. He didn’t. He was carrying a knife, and not only did not approach vanDyke, but had turned away. VanDyke shot him 16 times. An ambulance was not called immediately, but he would have died anyway. What makes this sensational is that more a dozen police witnessed this, and either said nothing or corroborated vanDyke’s story of McDonald threatening him.

Maybe McDonald was a punk. Maybe he had a police record. But this night, he was apparently having some sort of mental or emotional episode. It was ‘covered up’ and nobody noticed until community activists made a huge issue and then there was an investigation.

The police are thugs with badges. They are a self-selecting bunch who like being in charge. They treat us citizens as a nuisance, and often in a condescending manner. This is life in the inner city.

There’s talk now of creating another branch of government to deal with mental health crises. However, as of now, the police shoot first & ask questions later, and usually the person shot is not dangerous, just in crisis. The irony, of course, is when the families of these dead people sue the city, and win—it comes out of my tax dollars. We lose twice & the problem is not solved. #defundthepolice #police #racism

What is a Hybrid Dog Breed?

April 14, 2022

This is a misused term by unethical marketers/breeders who know people are stupid, Really.

You’re breeding a dog to a dog—same species—they are mixed breeds. Call them designer dogs or hybrids—they do not breed ‘true’:  you won’t know how big the dog will be, coat type, or temperament until the dog is mature. This  is why we breed purebreds; PREDICTABILITY

They are all dogs. Traits?  Dog traits. By helping unethical dog breeders NORMALIZE their lack of integrity, writers are doing nobody any favors.  In fact, They are helping to mislead people. How ethical is that?

What people should know is that they’ve fallen for the marketing and are being bamboozled.

They should prepare themselves to be disappointed.

I have spent over 50 years in the pet industry, working for pet shops, veterinarians, boarding kennels, and as a dog groomer. I have titled dogs in conformation, obedience, rally, and lure-coursing. i am telling you what is real.#Doodle #Purebred dogs

Do Your Feel Sorry for me Because I’m not Saved? Book Reviews:

April 7, 2022

I’ve been writing about a character (fiction book) who is Sikh, because I know what it is to be an other. I wanted to learn more about what I believe is ‘God’, and I found both books helpful. The Language of God was written by a scientist, and his explanation was compelling. The problem I have is…when he decided he has ‘faith’, he was automatically Christian, with the overlay of everything Christian.

Same with Holy Envy. Written by an Episcopalian minister who took on the task of teaching private school students about religion, and even recognizing how offensive Christians are to people of other religions, she maintains her faith by being a Christian.

I’ve heard it all: “We’re not like that. All Christians are not like that, I find comfort in the Bible (no matter how fantastic or contradictory)…” & yet, these Christians continue to support organized Christian churches and missionary work that destroys societies.

They allow lawmakers to make laws that impact the rest of us, and in their heart of hearts believe it is for our own good. Of course, the abortion ban is probably the biggest issue, but so is saying Christian prayers in public spaces, and believing people who believe in God or not have to be ‘educated’ in how the best way to believe in God is.

I am more concerned about a Russian madman having access to atomic bombs (& believe me, I was very concerned about Trump having the same access), and that the Earth can no longer recover from the environmental degradation we humans have allowed to occur…but clearly, the Christians I have to live among have more important, philosophical issues to deal with.

Is teaching real history ‘cancel culture’? In high school, I accidentally learned that Africans had many cultures and didn’t live in trees. It took guns to enslave them. I later learned how missionaries burned down their churches and houses in Africa when the Africans were slow to worship under the guidance of white people. It baffles me that I know so many black evangelical Christians who ignore their own history, and continue to proselytize.

Book Review: Inappropriate Men, by Stacey Ballis

March 31, 2022

In the late 1990s, early 2000s, Stacey Ballin was the director of community programs for the Goodman Theatre in Chicago. She says she’s been a writer forever. I always wonder how writers come up with stories, especially when writers write about romance.

The title got me immediately, because how many times had I gotten together with guys who had proved to be inappropriate.

In this story, Sidney, the heroine, goes to a movie by herself. Her marriage is ‘meh’, but that’s only partly an issue. At the movie, a colleague of her father’s recognizes her. He starts flirting with her, one thing leads to another, and Sidney becomes involved in a torrid, discreet affair. Things go well, but as time goes on, she wants more.

Things go along because this is the best sex she’s ever had, but as women do, she starts falling in love when she knows this man is not going to leave his wife. Also, for those of us who have been there, good sex is important, but it’s not a relationship. There are strict boundaries.

She starts confiding in a few people and decides to explore her option. more inappropriate men, but we learn why they are inappropriate. Ballis does a great job of describing how she meets men and how she finds whether they are appropriate or inappropriate. Sometimes it has to do with shared interests but no sexual attraction.

In any case, I found this story totally believable and very funny. It’s still available on Amazon.

Not Everybody Likes You

March 24, 2022

Is this a big shock? It shouldn’t be. I’m sure there are some places in the world where all the children are friends, and friendly, but I am also sure America is not one of those places. My early schooling was at a very small private school, mostly girls, and everyone was, if y not overly friendly, cordial. When I went to public school, things changed…and they changed more and more as I got older.

I started attending a public school after a move, in 7th grade. I must have been about 12, so right at the age when girls are thinking about boys and being attractive, and that some girls share their ideas and some don’t. I was not one of the ‘cool kids’, and for a while there, many of the kids were really hurtful. Thankfully, we transitioned into a much larger high school, and social dynamics changed again.

There are so many reasons people might not like you. It might be because of something you said, or the way you act, but it could also be because of gossip, and what others say about you to others who don’t know you.

Whether you decide to befriend someone might have something to do with race, religion, or economics: who has money. In the junior high where people were mean, there was a crowd that went skiing in winter. I just knew I couldn’t ask my parents for skiing instruction and equipment. There was a crowd that auditioned to be in the choir. I had no interest. Most of the cool kids and some of the not-so-cool took dance lessons. I did not want to spend a minute longer with those people.

In high school, I started out in newspaper club, but a very snotty girl joined, and she was very condescending to me, so I ultimately dropped out. I got a boyfriend (by some miracle), and although he moved away 3 months after we started seeing each other, we wrote to each other at least once a week. That was my high school life.

I learned to groom dogs because I come from a family of artists, and it was a way to be creative and work with dogs. The thing is, especially in small businesses, you’ve got the personalities of other groomers. I became friends with a few, but at many places, there was always a girl who felt threatened. Why? I have no idea. People are people.

I decided to blog about this because a friend told me she had a serious problem because of me, and she wanted ME to do something about it. The problem she has with me is that I say what I think. but the 2 instances she brought up I don’t think really happened.

1 instance…she said we’d gone out with some other people, including X. She says I told X to ‘shut up’. Not only do I not remember going out with X , if we did go, but the conversation at the table would also have been impossible for all of us to hear because of acoustics. What I believe happened is that X didn’t hear something, and the person sitting next to her, Y, told her I said to ‘shut up’. Y now had dementia, so we can’t ask her, but as much as I find X annoying, I wouldn’t have told her to ‘shut up’. I wouldn’t have said anything, but let her slide.

Instance 2, my friend tells me B was late for brunch, and he claimed public transportation was late, and he claims I told him that he should have left earlier. I would never have said that, because I have been either on or waiting for public transportation many times, and I know how it is. I DO remember an instance where he showed up, and our mutual friend was late, and I’m sure I said something about her always being late. B got up, I thought to go to the bathroom, but he left the restaurant, and later told our friend I had offended him.

If I had been told about these instances when they happened, I would have addressed them However, I kbow that either of these happened, if they did, over 2 years ago (due to COVID)—possibly even longer.

Now friend has to decide who to invite to dinner—Passover, Actually, she WANTS TO INVITE THE PEOPLE I OFFENDED, BUT SHE WANTS ME TO APOLOGIZE. X is not Jewish, and B has been invited several times & not shown up. Not canceled —just not shown up.

It’s ok if they don’t like me. I worked for several people who didn’t like me. Yeah, I was making money for them, so they didn’t fire me, but they didn’t like that I called them as I sees them. In fact, when I told one of these women that several prospective clients went elsewhere because they didn’t like HER, she was shocked! #friends #society #snobs

Book Review: Jewish Girls Gone Wild

March 17, 2022

Have you heard of Skokie, Illinois? From the 1950’s until very recently, it was a predominantly Jewish community because there were no ‘restrictive covenants’ on Jews owning land. Thus, many Jews, after WWII, bought homes there. Now, there are more Asians of various ethnic backgrounds in Skokie, but still, a lot of Jews. They’ve come because Skokie is relatively affordable and close enough to Chicago and O’Hare airport) that the location is considered convenient.

Linda Pressman’s parents were Holocaust survivors—-a special class of Jews. The Holocaust survivors on both Linda’s, mother’s, and father’s sides of the family ensconced themselves in Skokie and built middle-class lives. Her parents have 7 daughters, with Linda being the 2nd to youngest. Linda has asthma, and a doctor suggests they move to a dryer climate. Her parents, who own a small business and an apartment building, sell it all and move to Scottsdale, Arizona in the early 1970’s, when Scottsdale was barely a place. Thus, the story begins.

Her father buys a failing grocery store which continues to fail. Linda is a teenager, who, with her sisters, has to work in the store when they aren’t in school. Linda is coming if age, trying to find herself, acting out, being a teenager, and her father dies of a heart attack and leaves no life insurance.

Her mother, Helen (who later goes by ‘Helene’) is a smart cookie, and decides to sell real estate. That keeps them afloat, but Linda is still a teenager, goofing around, hoping for a boyfriend, trying to find her way. One summer, she returns to Skokie, planning to stay with a friend for a few weeks, and it doesn’t work out. She contacts her father’s family and is warmly welcomed, and starts to think about all the things she’s been told about both sides of the family. Some are religious, and she starts learning about what it really means to be Jewish. This is important because, for many of us, we’ve been raised secular. We know we’re Jewish, but it is manifested in us not fitting in to a Christian environment.

Linda matures, and the book ends with her going to college in Arizona and again having to adjust.

This book will resonate not just with Jewish girls, but with, particularly, teenage girls who wonder how to manage their lives when they are still living with their parents.

Who Are We, Really?

March 10, 2022

When the news of COVID was first reported, I almost regarded it as a joke. Most of what we were learning was anecdotal. Nobody knew what the new disease was. Lots of sore throats, fevers and coughing. So? Well, it turned out a lot of people felt hardly anything and were better within a matter of days, but so many were dying.

I had never lived through an epidemic. Had any of us? We heard about the Spanish Flu during the early 1900s, and I even had relatives who died. I remember hearing about measles and had chickenpox. I even got German Measles during that epidemic in the 1960s (and although I had a rash, I never felt sick), but this new thing, was sort of scary.

So I got the shots as soon as I could, as did most of my friends, but…I had one defiant friend who is a conspiracy theorist.

Jan voted for Trump because she was sure the Clintons were murderers. She didn’t trust Hilary. I mean, really—Trump had proven himself to be a liar and a cheat, but I guess men get a pass. Women are scarier when they are devious.

In any case, not only did Jan remain defiant, so sure that we were being injected with microchips to track us (never mind she uses a cell phone and computer—& never saw the irony), she’d share her conspiracy theorists’ friends’ emails, so full of bullshit.

I tried to understand her behavior and reasoning in my mind. Don’t we all try to justify how a person can be a friend, have so many good qualities, and yet be not just ignorant, but dangerous?

One way of trying to understand was knowing she was raised Catholic, and although she might not consider herself Catholic/Christian now, that kind of cultural inculcation stays with you. You might not come out and say it, but in the end, you/they will ask Jesus Christ to forgive them, and go to heaven. It is not an imaginary place for them. If it was/is, you have to develop a different mindset of what integrity is.

Is that her ‘excuse’? I don’t know, I had to stop talking to her. She would not stop talking about how we were all being watched and manipulated. I had had too many other bad experiences with her, and I couldn’t go on.

COVID is subsiding now, but it will be back in some form. We are going to have more environmental disasters (of which I think COVID was a response to too many people on Earth not respecting the natural environment, living too close together out of necessity.

Yes, apparently we’ve destroyed the earth so much with deforestation, poisons, and not replacing water as fast as we use it, we are in for the fire and brimstone, “God’s Wrath” as it were. I don’t believe we are being punished for being gay or raping angels. No—it’s just for simply destroying our (God’s) resources. I can only think people choosing to have children now are ignorant, and believe, ultimately, ‘God’ will save them.

But look at our choices now? Putin has invaded Ukraine, is destroying what’s there, and what will he win? Land? Minerals? We all know he can’t be trusted. Sanctions? What a joke. the wealthy aren’t using Russian banking. Most of them hide their wealth either in Europe or the USA. Only pensioners in Russia will suffer.

The excuse for not killing Putin (as we managed to ti kill Osama bin Ladin and Saddam Hussein) is that we risk nuclear war. Either way—we ar fucked. We either risk it now or just sit on our hands as he slowly destroys the world a bit faster than environmental degradation is occurring. Not much of a choice, is it?

Who’s The Daddy?

March 3, 2022

I realize that morality has changed in the past 50 years or so, but even in cultures where multiple partners are the norm, unless a woman is gang-raped, we tend to look askance at women who have no idea who the father of their child is. Maury Povich has made quite a career of convincing mostly young, unwed women with multiple sex partners to appear on his television show and address the fact that they do not know who the sire of their child is. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFIWJF6bFuE(this is from 2017) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0CuD-X062uw a compilation)

She’ll claim she was with a guy, either they had a fight or broke up, and she ‘hooked up’ with a friend, or a guy in a bar, got pregnant, and now wants child support, Since all the guys she’s accused (I’m always surprised that she even knows all their last names), agree to come on the show. Maybe they’re paid. I don’t know. But they agree to a paternity test, and some shnook is then on the hook. As he should be.

AIDS has been around since the early 1980s, and other venereal diseases have been around for centuries, but nobody thinks of using a condom. This is an ‘act of passion’. Clearly. nobody involved in these acts of passion ever thought about bringing a life into the world.

I’m really surprised by the people who seem to accept this behavior as normal, and that ‘these things happen’. A television series has run about teenagers being pregnant and having and keeping their children. I’ve been told that this serves as a lesson to naive girls who might consider having unprotected sex. I just can’t imagine NOT being embarrassed at not knowing who the father of my child is.

You know how it is: nobody can judge but ‘god’. but the rest of us pay for not being judgemental. I guess I c shouldn’t be concerned because the Earth will not be habitable in about 30 years. We’ve gone past the point of fixing the environmental damage we’ve caused.

A Circuitous Route

February 24, 2022

Chicago is laid out on a grip. “0” is State & Madison downtown. I live about 7 miles north of downtown in the 49th ward. there are 50 wards ( I was unable to copy a 50th ward street map, the 50th is just west of the 49th—both wards are at the northern city limits). I live right around the corner from a CTA ‘Red Line’ stop, which connects to a one that goes into Evanston (Northwestern University) to Wilmette, and downtown the other direction and beyond. I am 3 blocks west of Lake Michigan.

Chicago is flat, for the most part. The terrain does not vary in elevation more than 20 feet all the way west to O’hare Airport and beyond….except for the ridge—where Ridge Rd. runs, about a mile west of me. The Ridge defines what was a prehistoric lakefront, and runs from about two miles south of me into Evanston, where the ridge flattens a bit. Our hilly parts are the moraines: ravines in the area of Highland Park, about 10 miles north of me, and a small section called ‘Beverly Hills’ closer to Oaklawn.

My friend, Karen, lives about five miles directly west of me, in Lincolnwood—as the crow flies. In reality, to get to her house, I have to either go down to Devon (about a mile south)or 3 blocks up to Touhy, rather than take a street 2 blocks south of me (Pratt) straight across. Why? The Sanitary Ship canal, which we all refer to as ‘the river), but signs posted say it is the ‘North Branch of the Chicago river.’

This canal has an interesting history. In the early 1800s, when waterways were the coming thing in transportation, canals were dug—by hand—in several locations east of the Mississippi.; The Erie Canal was one of those, the Ohio/Wabash was one, and ours was also dug. It runs from Lake Michigan in Wilmette down to the Chicago River several miles south.

The bridges over the river—at Devon and Touhy—are bottlenecks. Yes, they are four lanes each, but due to traffic lights, trucks, beggars, and often, roadwork on the bridges, traffic gets backed up.

Even though Touhy is closer, I hate Touhy. Touhy is one lane going to the bridge over the river, amf then the bridge is two westbound lanes, and after McCormick (names after the guy who invented the mechanical reaper—a bit of Chicago history there), you are in Lincolnwood, and Touhy opens up. The problem then is lane closures for whatever reason, and people turning left.

Devon. Devon is one of the most successful retail streets in Chicago. it is mostly Asian businesses, but there are Middle Eastern and Russian businesses as well: clothing, bookstores, restaurants, bakeries, jewelry stores import/export, dollar stores. People come from all over the Midwest, and on Saturday, you’d have to be crazy to try to get anywhere on Devon.

So, what I had been doing was taking Lunt, a residential street, west to Kedzie (the street by the river) and either going north to Touhy or south to Devon, cross the river, and head to Karen’s (If I take Devon, I go west to Lincoln, which goes on a diagonal to Pratt, and over to Kilbourn, Karen’s street) If I take Touhy, I go west to Kilbourn. Karen’s street, which was mostly developed in the 1960’s, so all the houses look alike (except for the new McMansions), and I have to look for the shape of her windows and some landscaping).

I got used to taking Pratt as far as the river. but recently, so I can check out the ‘Little Libraries, I was taking Lunt (1 street north of me). ‘They’ have been working on the Lunt and Morse for over six months. Just past Ridge, Lunt was closed at Seeley, so I could take Washtenaw south to Pratt, but then they closed Lunt at Hamilton, and that didn’t save me any time at all.

I was taking Morse, the street directly north of my house, and I could check out a Little Library, just east of Paulina, and I could take Paulina down to Pratt, but then they started working Paulina just south of Morse. I could turn left on Ridge, but that is almost impossible,.I use the UPS idea of driving to avoid turning left on busy streets with no traffic light at the intersection.

For the foreseeable future, I will just have to forget about Lunt and Morse, and take Pratt as far as Kedzie, then go down to Devon. I wish there was a bridge over the river at Pratt, but there isn’t.

Book Review: My Education, by Susan Choi

February 10, 2022

Because I write erotic content, several writers suggested that I read this book. It was also recommended as an excellent example of literary fiction. Choi won a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner award for this.

The genre is literary fiction, because of not just her character development, but the fact of the matter is that Choi uses similes every chance she gets. Her sentences tend to be extremely long, and although she uses a lot of words most people don’t use (grad school words), sometimes you have to read her sentences over several times. Using so many words adds nothing to the story.

The gist is: Regina Gottlieb gets into grad school, (English literature, poetry) and is chosen as a teaching assistant by a professor who teaches 17th century English lit. His seminars are very popular but somewhat incomprehensible. Through an odd twist of fate, Regina ends up having a torrid affair with the professor’s wife, also a professor. Their marriage is on the skids anyway…but I notice how many ’emerging writers’ write about their college situations.

They keep the affair a secret (her professor, Martha, isn’t ready to come out), and most of the book is about Regina’s torment, loss of focus, drinking, and getting drunk with various people. She takes a job as a research assistant for another professor and doesn’t have much to do, so she has plenty of time to drink & suffer angst over Martha.

Suddenly, after a drunken week or two, where she has an affair with the professor she originally assisted (her lover’s husband—remember?), we are catapulted 15 years and she has married, has a toddler, and is expecting again. Everyone has moved on. Regina has written a best-selling book. We don’t know what the subject of the book is. I would have thought that was important, but that’s me. Also, she’s married Matthew, but we have no idea how they fell in love and it’s obvious the sex with him isn’t as wild as the sex was with Martha. But we do learn that Martha had an affair with Regina’s former roommate, Dutra, who went from being a drug addict to being a surgeon. He has become wealthy, had an impulsive marriage that failed quickly, and towards the end of the book, he has sent Regina (and another friend who has come out), a check for $10,000.

Regina’s husband is miffed, and the subplot is an undercurrent of not trusting this friend. The end of the book is plausible enough, but maybe it’s just me. Was this considered great literature for the big words she used, or for describing lesbian sex? Or, because Regina describes her angst at Martha not loving her the way she wants to be loved? A reader told me that there was a well-drawn rape scene. Since it isn’t consensual sex, we learn that a pick-up tied her up, raped her, and left her.

Agents and writing instructors have told me that ‘literary fiction’ is about character development, not plot, and this is a perfect example of this. the plot is amorphous; that she survived grad school by dropping out? survived a torrid sexual affair with an older woman and still considered her a friend?

Choi has written several other books. I may read them, but I don’t like to have to try so hard to understand what’s happening.

Coffee: A First World Issue

February 3, 2022

I was born without a cooking gene. If people ask if I can cook, I respond that I can keep from starving. Is making coffee…cooking?

I never liked coffee growing up. I didn’t like milk, and there seemed no point in drinking two beverages that had to be fixed with sugar.

It was on my first trip to Africa, in 1985, which was a camping safari in Tanzania, where I really got into the experience. We were served coffee with cream…and sugar, and it tasted like a candy bar in a cup. When I got back to the USA, I started having a cup in the morning. In 1987, I had the best coffee I have ever tasted (now, over 35 years later) in Nairobi at the Kenyan Coffee Board. The aroma was intoxicating, I bought a kilo and brought it back to Chicago.

I didn’t really know how to prepare coffee. My parents drank commercial coffee—Maxwell House, mostly, which they prepared in a percolator. It was always bitter and smelled bitter, even burnt. It didn’t seem appealing to me.

I got a small drip system.

it wasn’t until I went to Costa Rica, and visited a coffee plantation, in 2015, that I learned the nuances of preparing coffee. You’re not supposed to use boiling water. After your water boils, you’re supposed to wait a minute before pouring it through the coffee. You pour the water slowly, and let it steep for a few minutes. In fact, I decided I rather liked having French Press for this reason. I like my coffee to smell and taste like coffee.

The coffee connoisseurs tell us Philistines that the experience of coffee IS the aroma. You can’t really appreciate the flavor without the aroma. However, since I adulterate good coffee with milk and stevia, I wouldn’t really know.

Or, would I?

I write this because of my roommate. He’s Japanese. He’s the most reliable man I’ve ever met, patient, kind, and in the 20+ years we’ve lived together, we really don’t argue. He’s a perfect example of being able to live with someone you don’t love. Our disagreements are petty. He thinks toilet paper should be placed with the paper going over the top. I think it should come from under, but that’s a small thing. We load the dishwasher differently, but is that important? No. The main disagreement is preparing coffee. He believes you use actively boiling, sputtering water, and filling the carafe until it is full. He doesn’t think it’s an issue if you can see through the coffee. He claimed that Nestles developed instant coffee specifically for the Japanese market. I can believe it, but he will use the same grounds for the entire day. he’ll just keep pouring boiling water. There is no flavor or aroma. It’s just colored hot water.

Because I drink only 1 cup in the morning, I feel that’s his business. I might consider flavored coffee (I really like hazelnut), but to him, flavored coffee is the biggest sacrilege.

So, just warning you. If you come to my house and want coffee, ask me to make a fresh pot.

Nobody Really Cares About Climate Change

January 27, 2022

I just don’t get it. It’s as though people view climate change in an abstract way.That either it isn’t affecting them, or violent weather and drought are merely acts of God with no scientific cause. I would have thought when Hurricane Katrina demolished the Gulf Coast, people would have started addressing why this suddenly was happening.

In 1983, with other ‘hippie types’, we founded one of the first community-based recycling centers (for household packaging waste) in the USA. We got seed money to buy a plot to operate on from the Redemptorist Fathers, who were Catholic. They did it to provide work opportunities for southeast Asian immigrants, mostly Viet Namese, Lao, and Khmer (from Cambodia). The refugees would be ‘alley entrepreneurs’ and collect what they scavenged. Most could barely speak English, and many were not even literate in their m9othr tongues.

The ultimate goal was ‘import substitution’ for remanufacture, but this was decades off. We were a demonstration project, very small scale. In fact, we asked the City of Chicago for seed money. This came out of the ‘streets and sanitation’ budget ( garbage collection) because we paid for landfill space by the cubic meter. That’s right. You need to prove you are addressing the problem in a physical way, and so we got money for every ton of waste we ‘recaptured’ and prevented from taking up space in a landfill.

Just a few years before, President Nixon, who went down in disgrace for lying about Watergate, signed into law the Environmental Protection, Clean Air, and Clean Water Acts. Nerdy activists were addressing how much energy we in the USA used and wasted.

It helped our cause a bit that OPEC (the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) had us, American consumers, by the short hairs. We Americans felt then (as many do now) that all the fossil fuels in the world were ours, polluting or not, and we allowed those companies that imported & sold those fuels to us to let us believe the availability of renewable energy was decades off. Never mind that they did everything to thwart the development of the capture of solar and wind. I remember when President Carter put solar panels on the White House, and President Reagan had them removed. Why? I think he thought they were ugly, but more, he was telling us he was on the side of the energy sellers: they had to know what was best for us, right?

We, do-gooders kept pushing…on making everything less energy wasteful, from energy star appliances to insisting our American automakers increase fuel effiency standards (and actually, it was the Japanese, with energy-efficient cars from Honda, Toyota, and Subaru, that put American automakers to shame. Apparently this is how capitalism is supposed to work).

We got energy efficiency standards for buildings into law. We fought more for protecting wild lands. We got the Endangered Species Act passed.

The only thing we didn’t do—the ‘third rail’ of how to be good environmentalists—was make it policy to suggest people not have so many children: to have smaller families.

Now, we still have journalists and economists boosting the b.s. notion that if our population falls, our economy collapses—that we don’t have enough taxpayers to even support….SOCIAL SECURITY. It’s as though having fewer people paying higher taxes on higher earnings is not an option. It’s as if we don’t know how other countries, with either stable or falling populations, manage. The Bahamas isn’t growing. Singapore and Hong Kong aren’t growing. Monaco and Lichtenstein aren’t growing. How do their governments support themselves?

I don’t have all the answers, but we have to look at several important facts; they don’t maintain militaries. That’s a huge chunk of the budget of the USA. They don’t pay their politicians as if they are royalty and deserve more. They don’t give our foreign aid.

Foreign aid—poor people in rich countries giving money to rich people in poor countries—is a big issue to me, but I digress. In the USA, we do not fund education or support environmentally sound policies if they infringe on the rights of elites and polluting industries to easily make money. Simple as that.

Do people care? We’re more concerned with our local sports franchises (which we do not own—they are private businesses) than we are about a sustainable earth. How ironic that people continue to have children with no thought about the world they will live in.

Participation in recycling, the first thing households can do to show commitment, is not growing. We use more and more items that require replaceable batteries (and even items made to dispose because they are cheaper to buy new than repair). We recently had to pass a law banning restaurants that provide carry out service from automatically giving out plastic dinnerware and packets of condiments which are usually trashed.

Thirty years ago, I wrote my master’s thesis on implementing appropriate environmental science education in primary schools. What I found was that if a local school board isn’t proactive, the school principal isn’t on board, and if teachers balk at changing their lesson plans…parents don’t have enough clout.

Do you pay for your child’s private school because you believe they’d get a better education than at a public school? Then, do you arrive 20 minutes before school lets out and allow your car to idle so your child doesn’t have to walk two blocks?

Congratulations! You don’t really give a shit about climate change & don’t care at all that your child is in for a hellish adulthood due to water shortages, excessive heat, and influxes of refugees fleeing habitat loss.

Long Term Effects of Covid

January 20, 2022

If you know basic environmental science, you can understand what’s happening now as ‘population crash’.  Look it up.  Too many of us living too close together when disaster strikes.  Add to it human hubris, scientific illiteracy, and defiance—perfect.  Same with the weather extremes and wildfires.  The earth IS overpopulated.  It is not a matter of human distribution, but access to fresh water and taking out more than we put back in.

This is not going away. Or, I should say, it will keep evolving until we kill off enough humans to get back towards environmental/ecological balance.  Of course, this should be a concern (if you haven’t seen “Don’t Look Up,”  now might be the time—-as well as Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth”).

Part of our problem, in America, is we indulge the uber-religious who believe God is punishing us for—what?  Homosexuality?  Spouses cheating?  Not honoring your parents?  What other of the 613 commandments are we being punished for?  They don’t believe it could possibly be  for the scientific reason of not respecting the earth and nature—as so little attention is paid to it in our Judeo/Christian/Muslim scripture.

Please let me know if other scientists who respond come up with a better explanation. BTW—you may notice, of course, that geographic areas with smaller populations aren’t suffering as dramatically. Nor are homogenous communities—where people are all of the same ethnic group.

It’s not just economies that are now going to be all out of whack and pretty unpredictable, but social relationships are now what we may have feared them to be: shallow. We may be finding many of our friends are off the depend. defiant, keeping the environment open to even more variants.

For people thinking of starting families: think what kind of earth your kids will be living on. Is that what you want?

She Bites

January 13, 2022

People, particularly Americans, seem to get a lot of their ‘information’ from TV. I think we believe that ‘the government’ would protect us from untruths & BS. Apparently not.

Having worked in the pet industry, mostly as a dog groomer, I have frequently heard from dog owners that they can’t brush their dog because…the dog bites.

I used to have a dog that bites, and I’ve had a few who were almost chronic biters. This is what I’ve learned from dog trainers and animal behaviorists.

There are only 2 reasons a dog bites: the dog is either fearful and trying to protect him or herself, or the dog was bred with no bite inhibition and is grappling for control.

I’ve had a couple of my own dogs who grappled for control as maturing puppies, and I dealt with the behavior immediately and let the dog know I was in charge. I didn’t have to beat the dogs up, but I had to outwit and outmaneuver the dog. I have never owned a dog who bit from fear, but I’ve groomed many.

Whether people want to believe this or not, temperament IS genetic. Some breeders take this very seriously. They’re involved in competition, and they need not just conformation, but a temperament type. Most dogs are not bred for any other purposes than because the owner was lazy and would not control their pet’s fertility, or they wanted to make money selling puppies. Sad but true—and these pet owners do not give a rat’s ass that they are breeding dangerous dogs.

When it comes to correcting bad behavior: biting, most dog trainers and behaviorists agree that you can communicate with most fearful dogs, and if they are with a consistent owner, biting can be reduced or eliminated. Biting a can sometimes also be eliminated if a dog biting to establish dominance. I’ve done it by rewarding good behavior and curtailing bad behavior.

I do know that most people won’t take the time to correct bad behavior and just ignore it. You go into their homes, and there are a bunch of rules about interacting with the dog: don’t try to pet the dog. Don’t try to be friends with the dog. Don’t make eye contact, don’t touch the dog’s (ears, withers, feet…)

I find it shocking that most people with bad dogs don’t realize their children are in danger. Sometimes, adults just don’t want to believe that there are bad dogs. They can’t all be pets. Just because they are domesticated, it doesn’t mean they belong in a home with a family. Shaping the dog’s behavior will help, but it doesn’t solve the problem of genetics.

Are More Pets in Shelters Than in the Past? What are the Stats?

January 6, 2022

I am a retired dog groomer & volunteer & network with ‘rescues.’

Keep in mind, a pound is a city-run ‘shelter’ which may or may not cooperate with a ‘rescue’.

I was afraid, during the start of the pandemic, that there might be more adoptions & returns, because shelter/rescue personnel just want to get animals out of the ‘situation’ & don’t ask enough questions of adopters…& people lie. They lie about how much time they have, how much research they’ve done, their living situation.

We really don’t know if more people are breeding their pets (face it—if a pet is not neutered, there is over a 50/50 chance of that pet procreating—particularly cats left out). We live in urban environments now, Fewer pets are roaming, There are no accidental breedings—just irresponsible pet owners. &—as long a the ‘adopt don’t shop’ crowd continues to focus on ‘breeders’—whether they be commercial (puppy mill) breeders supplying pet stores & shipping to whoever sends credit card info,  or hobby breeders breeding for the betterment of their breeds, allowing the  “I’m not a breeder my dog/cat’ just had babies’ off the hook…here’s the problem.

How to solve it?  This probably has to be done on the state level; for every puppy/ kitten advertised  (Craigslist is a favorite) we need to send a ‘humane inspector’ to chip those babies!  Then, when they end up in a shelter, we know who to fine—& we must make those people responsible. I’m sure commercial & hobby breeders won’t mind—they’ll tack another $20 onto the price of the dog—& they want those dogs back!

There’s an App for that (of course)

December 30, 2021

I really hate cell phones. I never liked anything that required batteries, but the feeling that you are in danger if you don’t have your cell phone on you is not making life easier. Also, these days, so many scam phone calls: refinance my student loan (I never had one), help me sell my timeshare (for real), and YOU have a better Medicare Part B plan than have now…as if.

My phone is a necessary evil. I wouldn’t think of staring at my phone while walking my dogs (one of them is very dog aggressive). There are at least a dozen apps on my phone that I never use, and they draw power if you hit the phone a certain way. I don’t have Facebook on my phone because it draws too much energy.

So—I’m an old lady,and everyone thinks I should upload an app for things I don’t use on a regular basis. usually, I can get around it, but you have to wonder who’s steering the ship and how much they are paid.

Progressive Insurance managed to snail mail me an insurance policy, with at least two pages intentionally left blank. yep—2 pages of—nothing, But they couldn’t manage to include a ‘proof of insurance’ card. I went to the website, and it wanted me to download an app.

Here’s the thing: the last time I got pulled over was over 8 years ago. & why? A cop honked at me, I pulled over, and he gave me a ticket for being in the bike lane. I have gotten a ticket since then for a red-light camera. I didn’t run the light, but since I was over the line (Rt.22 & Rt. 14 in Barrington, IL—careful!). I did NOT run the light.

In any case, I called Progressive, and their very nice customer service person told me to download the app. I don’t want to do that. One reason besides I don’t need it is that if I’m stopped, I’ll be so flummoxed that I would not be able to find it on my phone. So, I asked her, “Can you email me a pdf?”

She responds, “I can fax it to you!”

What is this? The 1990’s? Who has a fax machine anymore? “You have my email address, why can’t you email it to me?”

“Well, I can snail mail it,” she responded.

“This is ridiculous! Ok, snail mail it,” I said. She asked me if there was anything else she could do for me. huh?

Minutes later, a miracle occurred, and the identification card was emailed.

I called to complain to my sister, and when she answered the phone, she told me she had the worst day. She was going on a cruise in a few weeks, and Princess Cruises wanted her and her husband to download apps that would sinchronize to badges they’d wear. The reason for this is so you don’t have to pull out your credit card for every drink (and find out in real-time what your tab is!) Due to her husband not keeping up with software improvements, the app wouldn’t load & my sister had to take the phones to the Apple store.

So, the apps were loaded, and she finds, from all what Princess sent her, that if she didn’t like the default photo on her badge, she could customize it for $5. Also, if she didn’t like the plain white lanyards they’d give her, she could get something fancier for $7, Welcome to the 21st century!

Why Are So Many Dogs in Harnesses?

December 23, 2021

About 10 years ago, I wrote about people using prong collars inappropriately. Prong collars have pins—blunt wedged, but no matter, they are designed to poke into your dog’s neck. If the dog walks normally, the pins just rest on the skin. If the dog pulls, they pinch into the dog’s neck. So many people who weren’t training their dog used them & claimed these things slowed their dogs down & they walked better. Yes, they did—until the collar was removed. The prong or pinch collar didn’t work on all dogs. They barely made a dent on dogs with thick hair—a ‘mane’—around their necks. Some dogs pulled harder to get away from the pain, and some dogs became inured to the pain.

My question was, why would you want to cause pain to your dog? That is not training.

I now have a dog who seems to be inured to pain. She knows basic commands: sit, stay, down, and come when called. When it comes to walking on a leash, in the 2 years I’ve had her, she’s been in a hurry to get….somewhere. I only use a martingale collar, and I will ‘string her up’ if she pulls, but unless I have a treat in my hand, she’ in a hurry.

More and more, I am seeing people walking dogs that are in harnesses. I’m sure the reason is that they don’t want to hurt the dog’s neck if the dog pulls. I’m also sure that some idiot at the pet shop steered the owners into a harness because they played on the owner’s emotions. The people selling these things have clearly never trained a dog and don’t really care. They sell what their bosses tell them to sell.

Here’s the thing about harnesses: they are designed for your dog to pull you unencumbered. This is why sled dogs and guide dogs wear harnesses—-to not be restrained. They won’t ‘hurt’ your dog’s neck, but can do a real job chafing armpits and shoulders. Also, if you have a soft coated, non-shed dog, they will either wear away hair or cause static electricity and matt it up. If a dog is being walked in a harness, it is supposed to be removed when you take the leash off. Most owners do not do this, and the dog is in the harness 24/’7. Why anyone would think any of these results are positive is beyond me.

People have been using buckle collars and martingales for centuries. They work. Don’t trust the guy at the pet shop. Use a buckle collar or martingale and teach your dog to walk on a leash without pulling, You can find many videos online that demonstrate this if you aren’t ready for a dog training class.

Act of God: Tornadoes Devastate Kentucky, etc.

December 16, 2021
AN Inconvenient Truth: The Crisis of Global Warming by Al Gore - Used (Good) - 0670062715 by Penguin Publishing Group | Thriftbooks.com

 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Horrible, wasn’t it? Of course, this is described as an “Act of God’, and for most homeowners, insurance won’t cover their losses. That’s right, Read your policy. Unless you have wind or storm damage, you get crickets.

Here’s the thing: Why did this happen? I’ve been reading the Judeo/Christian Bible (trying to understand the old Testament—what my ‘people’ call the Bible—everything after is commentary.

God smote the people of Sodom (except for Lot’s family—and why were they spared? That’s not explained. Oh, right! he protected the angels(presumably male) from being sodomized). But there still isn’t a real explanation. For all the miracles God wrought—why didn’t he just kill off those people who wanted to rape the angels? He managed to warn the Israelites in Egypt to mark their houses so their male children would not be killed—why not the innocent people of Sodom? The handicapped? The children? What loving God kills off everyone? Well, he did it a few times, and still—-he sent messengers (prophets) to explain to the humans what HE wanted them to do.

Sort of confusing really. In the Old Testament, dietary restrictions. In the new, they are gone. We keep telling ourselves it’s because people disregard the Ten Commandments…..but what about the other 603? Do we have to be scholars to learn what they are, and if we don’t….. oh, well?

Or, could it possibly be that we tell ourselves these stories because we want to believe, and don’t really understand how God works?

Sikhism began in the Punjab in the 1500s. The original gurus felt that God acted in a different way than the Moslems believed, and they were sure a single God didn’t respect ‘caste’. In Sikhism, men and women are equal. Our scripture, the Adi Granth, is a 1400 page poem. There aren’t a bunch of arbitrary rules. However, there is no heaven or hell as described in the Bible or Koran. There are 8.4 million iterations in our souls being reincarnated. So, essentially, nobody is coming back as yourself.

Sikhs believe in keeping God in mind in every action and thought, in being altruistic, and in giving back to the community. Simple. Our explanation of what happened—these horrible storms, is more e scientific. We did not respect our environment, which God created. We destroyed it by greed—Maya—a desire for things. By destroying the physical earth, we disrupted weather patterns. It is addressed in Gore’s book and movie. Very easy to understand.

We don’t think this happened because too many people took God’s name in vain, because people committed adultery or coveted their neighbors’ wives. We know he didn’t do it because we killed, stole, or didn’t keep the sabbath day holy. It’s because of what we’ve done to the earth.

Book Review: High Price, by Dr. Carl Hart

December 9, 2021
High Price: A Neuroscientist's Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know about Drugs and Society by Carl Hart - Used... by

Because there is a drug addict in my family, I decided to check this book out to see what a guy, who grew up low income in an inner-city neighborhood, had to say about not just drugs but learning how to cope and become culturally aware. This book is phenomenal.

The other appealing thing about this book (subtitled: A Neuroscientists Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society), for me, is that it is a coming-of-age story, an autobiography, about how a kid from the ghetto managed to overcome being a regular, goofy kid to becoming a scholar. Because his field is psychology, he frames the story on how he made lucky choices, was lucky to be a good athlete and recognized what we call ‘cultural deficits’ he had to overcome.

Although I feel this book would be a good gift for a teenage boy, along with Claude Brown’s ‘Manchild in the Promised Land’ (which also describes growing up in the inner city and what drugs and racism did to his community), this would be a very interesting read for anyone concerned about ‘critical race theory’ and how racism is manifested sociologically, and why, if we want our communities to have less crime and addiction, we must understand the importance of what schools do—or don’t do, and how we must be honest about ways to fix the harm we’ve caused.

Just as we, in the west, have given ‘aid’ to less developed countries and have nothing to show for it…and—in fact—have made things worse for most humans because we’ve enriched the wrong people, we have to understand how our education and drug policies have been failures. Hart goes into great detail about how our laws treat the usage of both crack cocaine and crack powder, and how devastating the results have been to minority communities—even 30 years later.

Clearly, how we deal with drug use now doesn’t work at all. Isn’t it time to explore ways to deal with drugs and poverty in a new way?

Book Review: White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good, by William Easterly

December 2, 2021
The White Man's Burden: Why The West's Efforts To Aid The Rest Have Done So Much Ill And So Little Good By William Easterly - Used (Acceptable) -...

Foreign Aid is poor people in rich countries giving money to rich people in poor countries. Easterly has the stats to prove it.

Let me start by explaining what I first witnessed with my own eyes upon coming into Malawi:

malawi_urban_housing_sector_profile.pdf (unhabitat.org)

This document— a very dense read, is about UN-Habitat developing much needed housing for the emerging middle class in Malawi, in 1990. I arrived as a Peace Corps Volunteer (town planning) in 1992. An outgoing Peace Corps Volunteer told me to ask my driver to take me to see this scheme. Hundreds and hundreds of houses of burned red brink—the size of what in America we’d call a single car garage. I was able to get out of the car and look around. Each house was actually about two rooms. The buyer was expected to pay for not just an electrical link to the grid (which at this time, did not exist), but to ‘build’ a lined, pumpable pit latrine for sanitation. No water infrastructure was put in. Was it because GTZ refused? Or because the World Bank didn’t even consider the possibility? Or because people were also supposed to buy water tanks and have it delivered?

Nobody could answer my questions. You can see in the document, however, the housing would be distributed via ‘Press Holdings’ (Hasting ‘Kamuzu’ Banda’s personal company) or by Malawi Housing Corporation.

Even had there been amenities, the housing was way too small for a couple with even 1 child, let alone 4 children.

This was a huge project, and it baffled me, but soon enough, Mrs. Kaunda (my counterpart) had me busy citing plot holders who had fences that were too tall, or made of grass.

We allowed our American government to convince us we were fighting communism in Viet Nam—and learned nothing. Funny (irony) really, that if you go to Viet Nam—which considers itself a socialist country, you will probably find a higher per centage of micro capitalists than you would in America.

Easterly writes about not only the history of foreign aid (as we know it in the USA) but of colonialism and European interference from the beginning. With hubris, Europeans always felt that they knew more than people with darker skin. He cites many examples of Europeans ‘helping’ and making things worse.

My only quibble with the book is how he describes what went wrong in the Middle East. Where—-as he puts it, Englind promised the same land to three different t entities: the Arabs, the French…& of course, the Zionists. He has Mark Sykes meeting with Emir Hussein ibn Ali al-Hashimi. Hussein didn’t message or meet with Sykes. Hussein met with T.E. Lawrence, who conveyed the plan for Arab independence to Commissioner McMahon via his superiors in the army. At that time, the British were LOSING THE WAR (WWI) to the Ottomans. There was no way they could have secured the territory of Palestine without the Arabs fighting. In fact, Hussein had no issue with Jews moving to Palestine as long as they didn’t want political control. but I digress. Easterly’s point is that the British in England—far away from the battlefield, had Sykes meet with the French guy, Picot, and WHEN the was won, the French would get Syria. This is documented in several biographies of T.E. Lawrence. Yep—what the British had done was promise Palestine to the Arabs, the French, and the Zionists. When Lawrence accompanied Hussein to peace talks in Paris after the war, they were ignored. Winston Churchill asked Lawrence to take a greater policy role in government, but Lawrence, embarrassed that his government had lied to the Arabs, refused. The gist is that the British caused what we now have in the Middle East, and for some reason, they are totally off the hook. Because of Zionists in the USA using anti-semitism to embarrass our government (and because they are such huge donors to both political parties)—we now have given and will continue to give billions of dollars not only to Israel and Egypt, but the PLO as well.

I would suggest readers go to Egypt. Go as far south as at least Luxor. You will find many buildings that look half-finished. People are living in them, but there is always a ‘terrace’ that is clearly not finished. When I asked a guide why this was, the answer: “You don’t have to pay property taxes on a building until it is finished (& you get an occupancy permit).

This is how it is in Greece, too. Bunch of whiners. The government doesn’t care about corruption. It’s every man for himself. They don’t collect taxes, allow squatters to take over buildings, and then whine that their government is in a state of collapse.

Easterly cites schemes where local ‘actors’ (citizens) have worked with nongovernmental (aid) organizations to enact schemes that really do benefit people. I’ve seen some of these small-scale schemes work. But mostly, I witnessed treasuries being looted and my government saying—in so many words, “You squandered it? Have some more!”

This attitude irks me because here in America, we still do not have Medicare for all. We claim we can’t afford this or that (particularly, Republicans) & yet, they easily take the advice of lobbyists & big shots—& we got over a billion dollars unaccounted for in Afghanistan, supported the wrong people, and left a failed state.

Althought this book was published in 2006 (we are about to go into 2022), it is as relevant today or more so than it was. Close Instagram and TikTok and take a moment to research why we keep electing jerks who look good in business attire and don’t have the curiousity to fix what doesn’t work

2Views of India Fiction & Nonfiction

November 18, 2021
The Golden Son by Shilpi Somaya Gowda - Used (Very Good, ex-library) - 0062391453 by HarperCollins Publishers | Thriftbooks.com

My geographic ‘areas of interest’ are subSaharan Africa and India. In primary school, I learned nothing about the people of either continent, and both have rich histories and many ethnic groups. Because I’ve been writing about a Sikh character adjusting to life in the First World, a fellow writer suggested this book. The main character is Hindu, and his reality is somewhat different from what a Sikh would experience.

This book is fiction. Very was well written by Shilpi Somaya Gowda, who was raised in Toronto. She chooses Anil to be from a Gujarati family in northwest India. He is the only one in his family to have gone to college, and he is pursuing a medical residency in Dallas. He is conflicted by obligations to his family, still in India, and caste and social dynamics are addressed realistically. I found this difficult to read, at first, because the main character goes through so much, including a racially motivated attack where a friend is severely injured, but this is a book worth reading if you are interested in India.

The next book is nonfiction. Holy Cow is by Sarah Macdonald, who has a background in journalism. She had visited India and had a terrible time(often, being a single female can be harrowing), but becomes, essentially, a ‘trailing spouse’ when her fiance/husband takes a correspondent job. She has plenty of time to contemplate and decides to go on a spiritual journey, She visits ashrams, mosques, and retreats, and encounters Jains, Parsis, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, and Sikhs, as well as the large community of Christians in southwest India. Considering she is not an anthropologist and is trying to describe to other westerners what she experienced, it would be a good read for anyone considering trying to understand all the religious groups active in India.

An Old Lady With First World ‘Problems’

October 7, 2021

My TV stopped working. One minute, I was watching the news, the picture froze (often does—as I have antenna TV). Then, it went black.

I changed the batteries in the remote several times, but , ah, no. The TV was broken. My last TV was an old clunker that lasted over 30 years until the sound went out. In fact, I joked with an insurance salesman, who wanted me to insure the contents of my house for something like $50,000. I told him the only things of value were the computers, and if someone broke in and stole my TV—(huge, got picture in picture for when we wanted to watch more than 1 NBA game a a time), and carried it down the stairs, I’d be overjoyed. The guy laughed and replied, “Yeah, and since we replace like with like, and they don’t make them anymore, YOU get a flat screen TV!”

Well…the sound went out. It was the end. You know, they don’t repair broken appliances anymore—only if it’s the controls. That’s why we hold onto the damn things until electronics recycling day. There’s going be an end to how much landfill space we want to take up instead of actually maintaining our natural environments—getting quite precious.

This flat screen wasn’t even 5 years old. My sister had given it to me. She gave me another TV (my father’s—he died last year & she had it). Good news—it worked/bad news, she lost the remote. Well, it’s easy enough to get a universal remote, right?

So..I went to Target & got a cheap remote. Under $7. But then, I had to program it. I followed the instructions, and it was a bitch, because I didn’t know there might be a 1 minute delay before it showed on the TV screen.

Ok, it’s programmed now. How do you change channels? It won’t let me press a channel number. Or actually, I can, but nothing happens You have to press ‘On” then ‘Menu’ then ‘Ok’, then scroll. It tool me forever, but then, if I went passed a channel, it wouldn’t go back. I had to run through all the channels—-slowly—until I got to what I wanted. I decided this was ridiculous. I went to trouble shooting, & the instructions said, “Not all (buttons) work on all TVs.” What?

So, I ordered a new Toshiba remote off Amazon. I really hate using Amazon because I prefer to keep local store in business (& although Target is national—they employ local people) (so does Amazon, for delivery—but they do a horrible job—just tossing packages at o doors knowing damn well they might be damaged or stolen). Well, at least I didn’t have to reprogram the Toshiba remote…and I can scroll backwards.

The Rest of The Story….

September 23, 2021

https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/criminal-justice/ct-chicago-sports-gambler-guilty-fraud-20200205-j2cpkbegbvfjhpxdtk3spti6la-story.html

The headline was that a New Trier grad (New Trier is a high school in an elite suburb north of Chicago) pleaded guilty to ripping off ‘a single investor’. Right. The guy, Robert Gorodetsky, is apparently a professional gambler. The charges he was found guilty of were wire fraud and filing a false tax return. He can get up to 6 years in prison for that. Oh, and (although he ripped the guy off for $10 million) he has to pay back $7.2 million. Who wouldn’t?

How did he do it? Convince 1 guy to part with $10 million? Well, starting in 2014, he was able to get $953,000 from ‘Victim A’ for the purpose of investing in the stock market…. Gorodetsky used the money for his lavish lifestyle. He told ‘Victim A’ that his investment had grown to $2 million, and ‘Victim A’ gave him more money. In the age of the internet, you’d think ‘victim A’ could have looked this up.

Incredible. & ‘Victim A’ believed it when Gorodetsky told him that he’s get even greater returns by wagering on sports. Riiiight.

Ok. In spite of Trump rescinding the law that says people who invest your money have to be fiduciaries (that means investing in YOUR best interests), for the most part, LICENSED INVESTMENT ADVISORS are pretty honest. Not all, but if they are with a company like, say TD Ameritrade, they are being monitored. Individuals who tell you they can do better are not monitored..

Since the American stock market came into existence, average returns over decades, due to horrible years, have averaged 8%. Several years ago, Harvard fired their entire investment department because they did worse than the index. Yet, this guy, ‘VictimA’ believed that Gorodetsky could do better. Was he just greedy and stupid, or was Gorodetsky that good a talker?

Does anyone remember Bernie Madoff? He convinced 4800 investors that he also could do better. His was a Ponzi scheme (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernie_Madoff). I could see giving someone 10% of my wealth if I was really that wealthy….but all of it? Yes, he was licensed, but if any of you saw the move “The Big Short,” —or read Michael Lewis’ very well written book, you know the SEC is not paying attention. LET THE BUYER BEWARE. You’d think, at least according to ‘Adam Smith’ that capitalism would really need people with integrity to make things run smoothly. Ah, no, and now that Trump is president, all bets are off, What is legal is what you can get away with.

I guess ‘VictimA’ goes by this pseudonym because he doesn’t want the world to know how greedy and stupid he was—and probably still is. Gorodetsky hasn’t been sentenced yet, but I bet he goes to a country club prison.

The Pet Industry Would Have you Believe That There is a Shortage of Dog Groomers

May 13, 2021

I retired at the end of 2020..from grooming dogs. But, being a dog person is like being an artist: you don’t ‘retire’ from being a dog lover. So, I responded to a few ads for’ wanted: dog groomer’. The wording seemed flexible. They’ll take full or part time. They want someone who knows breeds, traditional trims, and who can talk to dog owners.

The problem is….these businesses are owned by people who are first, entrepreneurs, and second—-know nothing about animal husbandry, dog psychology, or ‘the fancy’. When I describe myself as a fancier who learned how to groom from other dog fanciers—-breeders—-that seems to be a big turn-off. You see, they want you to know how to groom, they just don’t want you to a have a philosophy or ‘point of view’ about it.

Many claim to be dog lovers, and support ‘rescue’, but are not intrested in solving the homeless pet problem. Worse, they believe—-with no evidence, other than what someone else has told them,, that breeders are the reason that our shelters are filled with unwanted dogs. Yet, they refuse to make the people who bred those dogs—pet owners who chose to allow their dogs to breed, responsible. Who should be responsible, if not the breeders of these dogs?

Here’s where the rubber hits the road: You won’t find Salukis , Briards, or, for the most part, Giant Schnauzers in animal shelters unless they become lost. What you will find are many smaller breeds and dogs that the “I’m not a breeder, my dog just had puppies” dog owner sold to people who really weren’t prepared for a dog. Those dogs are mostly Pit bulls and American Bulldogs.

I can’t tell you how many questions I’ve been asked by breeders who took dogs that they’ve sold back, because they really didn’t want the dogs to be boomerang dogs. Some were returned because the owner suffered a medical crisis. Sometimes, due to job loss and other issues. The breeders didn’t want these dogs to go into animal shelters. They asked if I owned a home with a fenced yard, if the others in my household wanted the dog—and could they meet those people. They asked if I was working, and how I planned to have the dog cared for when I was at work. All sorts of questions.

No matter: the dog lovers who believe conformation shows are beauty contests seem to think I’m too eccentric, and not a dog lover. I’ve had this happen several times, pet owners who I’ve formed relationships with, have my text number, and they’ve followed me where ever I’ve worked. Business owners don’t like that. In fact, many of the chains have you fill out a non-compete contract, and they would rather lose a good client than admit that the client came for the groomer.

I still have a few private clients, but I am very happy not grooming dogs all day every day. I feel bad for future dog owners, because they are being misled about how to care for and handle their dogs, and about where to get good information. We fanciers are retiring and dying off. You are no longer called a dog owner, but a ‘pet parent’, and that changes the dynamics…and the truth.

Book Review: Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows, by Balli Kaur Jaswal

May 6, 2021

Several people have asked me why the main character in my recent book is a Sikh guy. I made him Sikh for several reasons.

The first reason is that Sikhs are a minority religion. Everywhere they go, they are others. The men, because they usually wear turbans to cover their hair, stand out, and are often thought to be Hindu or Moslem, as though that should make a difference to anyone. A belief the Sikhs have—depending on how ‘religious’ they are—-is to disavow vanity; you are fine the way God created you. Thus, they don’t cut their hair or shave, or tatoo themselves, or circumcise.

Sikhs use many Hindu holidays as their own —a convenience to the dominant culture (Hindus) but—very important—they don’t recognize caste. I didn’t know, until I worked in India, that even Jews and Moslems are part of the caste system. How much? I don’t know, but actually, all societies are socially stratified.

They believe in one God. My minor characters are secular Jews and a lapsed Catholic. They feel that religious mandates are often contradictory, as are the people who express profound faith.

I was acculturated to Christian society very young, as my parents owned a home in a religiously mixed (white) community. The Christians were very tolerant of us. Most of us were secular Jews with no outward signs we were Jews by our dress (compared to the religious: men with skull caps or hats and payots; women with long dresses and wigs. Our families withdrew us from public schools on ‘high’ holidays, like Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, but they had no qualms about us being taught to sing religious songs in music classes (as an aside: the song “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer was written by a Jew, and Mel Torme, a Jew, wrote the very popular ‘Christmas Song’). It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realize that we Jews were tolerated because we were white. When Moslems and Hindus started moving into ‘our’ neighborhoods, there was unease. As for Sikhs? They were always regarded as Hindus or Moslems because they were Indians.

Unless we go out of our way to learn the New Testament, we Jews and others know nothing about how Christianity is manifested—except when we are proselytized to. We know you all believe you can not get into heaven unless you admit to being a sinner and ask Jesus to forgive you. We don’t really have a concept of heaven—especially not we secular Jews…and certainly not Sikhs, who believe in reincarnation. When people start joking about believing in reincarnation, as though you return as a worm or a bird, it’s ridiculous, because that’s not how we believe. Is the idea any more ridiculous than believing in a place nobody has ever seen, but told is magnificent—and all you have to do is ask Jesus to forgive you? Even if you knew you cheated people, were adulterous, unfair, hurt people…you could ask forgiveness and —-POOF! You go to a nice place. Even if you are racist and sexist, and hate people not like you—you’re in? Why would I want to go there?

I’ve taken to writing out my fantasies, and that’s what fiction is: Not real. I chose a Sikh boy who is barely Sikh, but knows why his parents became Sikh. They are not Punjabi, but they choose to be culturally Sikh to be part of a larger community. In fact, that’s why a lot of people join churches: for the sense of community. My character knows virtually nothing of Christianity, and when he goes to school in Europe, he is questioned constantly by well-meaning Christians who know it is their mission to save the ignorant from damnation. He doesn’t let it bother him until he marries and finds his Sikh wife covertly teaching their children about Christianity as she was inculcated. He then realizes their differences involve more than religion, but are tied to beliefs: that servants are not respected as equals, and that you are better because you have more money and choices.

This is a long explanation about why I love EROTIC STORIES FOR PUNJABI WIDOWS. The gist: European-raised Nikki, a culturally Sikh woman, takes a part-time job teaching a group of women, many of whom are illiterate, at a gurdwara (Sikh temple). Due to one of them seeing a book of erotic stories that Nikki bought for her sister, they start telling stories. Realizing you start learning literacy from the point you are at, she asks the illiterate women to tell the literate women their stories, and the literate write them down. Some are based on their lives, some are fantasies. Of course, there is controversy. Rumors start flying. There is a fear a group of young men who believe it is their mission to keep women in line at the Gurdwara, and other facts come out: a young bride, Maya was murdered, but an older widow claims it was a suicide. The old widow made a business of blackmailing others in her community to get what she wants. Some women claimed to be widows, but their husbands had left them, some women were widowed at young ages. Nikki lives in another part of London, so she wasn’t privy to the local gossip until she starts teaching this class. When she stumbles over some evidence that Maya was murdered, she becomes a victim of the murderer. It all works out in the end. Plus, for those who don’t know anything about Sikhism, it’s a good introduction. One thing Sikhs do is feed the hungry, so many Sikhs go to the Gurdwara for evening dinners. I don’t know if this is true of all Sikh temples in the USA, but almost all have at least a weekly meal. Arranged marriage is still very common in many Sikh communities, but love matches are just as common.

All immigrant communities tend to stick together. All have their secrets and their commonly held beliefs. All fear their children will discontinue their practices and beliefs and be absorbed by the broader, Christian communities.

Because we become secular, are we not part of the larger community? Am I what I am because I do not believe in virgin birth, or that I need an intermediary to get into heaven I don’t think exists? when questioned, I say I do the right thing because it’s a matte of integrity. We all need our communities. How do we fit in?

https://www.facebook.com/robyn.michaels.9/

Book Review: Such a Fun Age, by Kiley Reid

April 22, 2021

When someone is paying you to do work, work that either they don’t want to do or don’t have time to do, can the employer and the employee be friends? This is what’s called, sociologically, a ‘transactional relationship.’

I’ve been in work situations like this—transactional, but except for being invited to a few parties, a social intimacy never developed. I’m friendly with many clients, but not the type of friendship where you’d consider calling and say, “Let’s go see a movie or out for a drink.”

We know the dynamic. In this novel, the employee, Emira Tucker, is a black college graduate who can’t find what she wants to do and pieces jobs together to get by. Her health insurance ends on her next birthday. One of those jobs is babysitting Briar, a sweet three-year-old. Her employer, Alix, has always been a privileged white girl, who has made a ‘career’ out of being an influencer and asking for what she wants (including free merchandise). She marries a guy who is a news anchor.

At the start of the novel, Alix and her husband’s home seem to have attracted what might have been a racist attack (they are white in a transitioning neighborhood): a rock is thrown through a window, and Alx calls Emira on a Saturday night—while she’s out at a friend’s birthday party, and asks her to do emergency babysitting for Briar. Emira needs the money, so she leaves the party and they go hang out at a boutique neighborhood grocery, where a security guard accuses black Emira of kidnapping white toddler Briar.

Neither of these people would consider themselves racists, and bend over backwards to not be exploitive. A bystander films the encounter on his phone and offers it as ‘proof’ to Elmira. She is humiliated, but this is par for the course for many black people, and she chooses to ignore the incident and move on. Later, she and the filmer, Kelly, a white guy, meet on the train. She still doesn’t want to pursue action against the guard or the store, but he transfers the video to her phone. How this story evolves is a lesson to us all. I’m sure many of us have been in a situation where people we trusted took an action that didn’t really help us, “for your own good.”

This is a really well-written book, very fast-paced. The dialogue is spot on. I don’t doubt that many people will find how this played out controversial. I gope to encourage everyone to get a copy.

Book Review: Tales of a Female Nomad, by Rita Golden Gelman

April 15, 2021

Published in 2001, by Three Rivers Press, I’m sure it is out of print, though you might find it on ABE or Amazon. The gist: Rita knows her marriage is ending, around the age of 50. She has done the work for a Ph.D. in anthropology and decides to travel: learn Spanish and maybe some other languages, and start traveling on her own. She has a degree in anthropology (as do I) and she’s also written children’s books.

I love travelogues, especially by women who’ve traveled solo. In the 1980s,when her marriage broke up, RGG decided to do what she always wanted to do: travel around and learn about other cultures.

She started in Mexico and learned Spanish by living with families, and traveled to Guatemala and Nicaragua. This was of particular interest to me because I had friends who, with the Nicaraguan Solidarity Committee, volunteered to help the Sandanistas and their revolution during the Reagan years (in fact, the reason I have an FBI file) . She witnessed rural communities who were very much encouraged by the ‘Sandanista’ revolution. About 40 years later, Daniel Ortega is again president (his wife apparently having extreme influence) & corruption has returned, albeit a new set of politicians benefiting. But I digress.

Being Jewish (secular, but still), she also spent time on a Kibbutz in Israel. She always wanted to go to the Galapagos Islands off Ecuador, and managed to do that.

She returned to the USA, then spent several years in Indonesia, off the tourist path. She had a brief encounter with the primatologist Birute Galdikas and hoped to write a children’s book about working towards saving Orangutans with Galdikas, but it never came to pass. She also spent time in New Guinea and learned how the Indonesians treated the natives much as we in the USA treat our Native Americans. She returned to the USA to be close to a her adult children, then went again to Indonesia, to New Zealand and Thailand.

She wrote a number of best selling children’s books, which funded her travels. This is important: she had an economic base and relationships with publishers.

RGG really wanted to know people, and spend a lot of time learning languages, and the nuances of culture. RGG was extremely lucky, being in the right place at the right time. She also tells us of some of the issues she encountered.

I don’t know that a man would appreciate this book, but women who are interested in traveling will. It’s worth looking for.

 

Book Review: The Commitment, by Dan Savage

March 25, 2021

Dan Savage is a blogger and he writes a regular column about sex that runs in regional, mostly ‘alternative’ papers. Dan Savage happens to be gay. If there is anyone who can and does destroy gay stereotypes, it is Dan Savage. He’s down-to-earth, does his research, and has an excellent way with words. I find him incredibly funny.

In this book, published in 2005, he takes on the subject of marriage.

The book starts out with him describing a car trip with his partner, Terry, and his four-year-old son who has told him that he can’t get married because boys have to marry girls. Girls can’t marry girls and boys can’t marry boys. Where has he learned this? From a little girl in his playgroup.

Not that Terry and Dan are planning on marrying, but wouldn’t it be nice to have a legal next-of-kin who might be called to make end-of-life decisions for you if need be?

They are on their way to an annual family reunion where he, his mother, stepfather, and several siblings plan to party for 2 weeks. He describes the relationship status of each of the sibs and their explanations for why they are or are not married.

He also goes into detail about the marriages of his great-grandparents and grandparents who, for years, owned a house in the neighborhood I live in now.  He comes from a Catholic family, and people were married until death.  It didn’t matter how good or bad the marriage was.  Back then, Catholics did not get divorced.

I was married to my high school sweetheart, and for about a decade, we thought nothing would tear us asunder. It was marriage and law school that did us in (and I could go into detail about all the things that affect relationships, but that’s not the point). I would be hard-pressed to marry again. As my grandmothers told me to do, I am looking for a man who can keep me in the style to which I would like to become accustomed.

How to Know if Your Child is Ready for a Dog?

March 11, 2021

Notice the Afghan Hound taking her half out of the middle. What do you think the Whippets are thinking?

Friends often ask me about specific breeds of dogs and if they are good with kids—then they ignore me and go out and get a Bulldog, Frenchie, or Doodle.

The kids have been begging for a dog and are interested in (Doodles) because their friend has a (Doodle) and they want a dog just like that one.

Where to begin? First, I’m happy for their friends, but nobody breeding designer dogs, and very few breeding the popular breeds who are not involved in a dog club or conformation showing have any integrity. They are only breeding dogs to make money. When you skimp on genetic testing, it’s easy as long as the dam (mommy dog) doesn’t need a C section.

They’re known as ‘hybrids’, but they aren’t; they’re the same species. They are mixed breed dogs. They do not breed ‘true’. You really won’t know what you’ve got until the dog is at least 6 months old, or older.

Also, very important: do YOU—the parent—want a dog? If you’re acquiescing to whining children, and aren’t ready for a lifestyle change yourself, this is a recipe for disaster.

There are over 200 breeds of dogs available in the USA (some breeds have a very small gene pool, and they don’t breed ‘true’). Get a book (yes—a BOOK—with pages) and read about breed histories and what a parent club says about their breed. The parent club (American Maltese Association or Afghan Hound Club of America) is the ‘sponsor’ of the breed to the American Kennel Club. This is a bunch of formerly normal people who became obsessed with their breed, but agree on a general description of their breed, and also sponsor research into genetic issues the breed has. Not all breeds were developed to be pets. In fact, most breeds were developed as working dogs first, and how good they are with children was never an important issue. For those who think that they are no longer bred to do what they were originally bred for…I beg to differ. True fanciers are proud that the dogs they breed can still do what they were originally bred to do.

Some protective brees like Mastiffs and Great Danes, are generally good with kids, as are Pulik. I wouldn’t get a Boerbul or a Malinois for young kids. On the other hand, often Afghan Hounds, Siberian Huskies, and Greyhounds are good with kids but need exercise.

Most of the cute, cuddly breeds are not good with kids. Either they are very small and easily injured, so they assert themselves.. They have to be feisty, or they’d die.

There should be no rush about this new family member whom you hope will be with you for 12+ years. Talk to dog groomers and trainers. Chances are. if your veterinarian doesn’t breed or show dogs, s/he’s only has experience with dogs at their worst: fearful, nervous, in pain.

My first breed was actually a Miniature Schnauzer because my mother wanted a small, non-shed dog. I love the breed, but I, as a dog groomer, found the grooming onerous, and then only ‘in coat’ for at the most 10 weeks. When we saw a photo of an Afghan Hound, my family got one of those, knowing nothing about them. We were told they were impossible to train. Not so—not if YOU have a brain (as an owner). Groomers who groom show dogs will tell you an Afghan hound is easier to put into coat than a Miniature Schnauzer. As a teenager, I found the independence and aloofness of the Afghan, their quiet dignity, wonderful.

Breed personality is something most pet seekers don’t take seriously enough. I had a couple come to me for consulting because they thought their mixed breed was part Saluki. Very unlikely, but it’s amazing what the rescues post on PETFINDER, hoping to entice new owners. From the dog’s physical appearance, it was remotely possible, but the dog’s behavior was what they had issues with: she was not cuddly; she was not affectionate like a Golden Retriever. That’s what they wanted, without spending the money for a purebred dog. I believe they returned her to the shelter.

Americans! You can’t always get what you want just because you want it. I had a client who bought a St. Bernard for her four-year-old son. She allowed HIM to choose the breed because of the Beethoven movie. Mom had only seen photos, and she bought the dog on the internet. She brought the four-month-old puppy for a bath because she didn’t like the smell. Then, again, two weeks later. She had no idea whether it was a rough or smooth coat…or that it would slobber. The dog grew enormously every day. Finally, she told us she didn’t realize the dog would be so large, smelly, and wasn’t interested in paying someone to train the dog or in training it herself. She told us she had no interest in the dog at all and planned to resell it. No happy ending for that pup.

I’ve had people bring in Yorkie and Lhasa Apso pups, and always showed them how to get the dog under control, line brush the dog, and how important keeping the dog clean was if they wanted hair, and getting the dog on a regular grooming schedule. I was always dismayed at the many owners who claimed they could not control the puppy, so they couldn’t brush the puppy, and it bites. This basic dog care should have been explained and demonstrated by the breeder/seller. If you buy a dog off Craigslist or another internet site, or even animal shelters…well…who should be responsible for making surer you know what you’re getting into? Shouldn’t a dog owner have this information before buying a dog?

If you, as a parent, have no interest in taking care of a pet, don’t get a dog. It doesn’t matter if your child is ‘ready’. if your child lives with you, the dog is your responsibility. You are going to teach your kids the concept of delayed gratification. You can also guide them to ways they can satisfy their need to be with dogs. They can research local animal shelters that need volunteers to walk, train, and play with dogs. Perhaps they can find a dog trainer who needs assistance. My first grooming ‘job’ was with the Miniature Schnauzer breeder bathing her dogs. By working with fanciers, you learn a lot about dogs that you won’t get from reading books.

So…the short answer is:  when your kids do the research on their own and show reliability in other areas of their lives without being prodded.

What about poor, discarded dogs in rescues and shelters? Yes, it happens that old people have to go into nursing homes & give up their dogs. If they got those dogs from breeders, the breeder will take the dog back. In fact, when a good breeder sells a dog, they will often have you sign a contract that the dog returns to them. but dogs get stolen, lost, and the many are from owners who allowed their dogs to breed, claim they are not breeders (even though they allowed their dog to breed), and take no responsibility. Unfortunately, most of the dogs in shelters came from unethical breeders who didn’t bother to screen a family to determine if they knew what they were getting into. they just took the money and told them to have fun.  These owners thought the dogs would housebreak and train themselves. Nobody in the home took responsibility. If you’ve done your research, go for it, but you probably will have to untrain some bad dog habits. Let me remind you that the older the dog is, the more likely you have a good idea of exactly what you’re getting. You can’t save them all. Save yourself, first.

 

 

A Good Idea on Paper & Why it Didn’t Work: Ujamaa in Tanzania

February 18, 2021

If you’re not interested in Africa, or Tanzania, none of this will make any sense to you. If you are interested, this is an abridged history of what took place.

I remember the magical feeling of riding from the airport in Arusha into town, seeing the fields of sunflowers, and thinking, ‘This is where human beings come from.” At the time, Arusha was still a small town. Our tour guide advised us to go to the bank to change money, but to beware, and showed us what currency should look like, as the country was undergoing a currency change. Why?

Due to high inflation (not yet hyperinflation, but close), people were hoarding currency, and the exchange rate on the black market was about 500% more than you’d actually get at the bank. We were warned to not even try the black market because chances were we’d get old bills, which vendors were now being instructed to not take.

 It was a bit over 20 years since independence, and Nyerere was still president. He was a diehard socialist. He had a socialist vision for development because he did not want neo-colonialists causing economic hardship among the people.   He sort of had a plan, and, amazingly, he was encouraged by the World Bank. Good intentions…..

At the time of independence, Tanzania was reported to have  a 90% rate of literacy (An interesting story.  Missionaries who opened primary schools all over the country taught in KiSwahili because it was a lingua franca, and the missionaries didn’t want educated Africans competing with Europeans for jobs).

Nyerere had a master’s degree and was known as Mwalimu—the teacher. He translated Shakespeare into KiSwahili.   But he was naive about economic development. Back then, in the 1960s, not much was known about economic development, because, globally, it occurred ‘organically’: the wealthy invested and got more, and the ‘peasant’ class farmed.

Nyerere, and TANU (Tanzania Africa National Union) the political party, hoped to get citizens involved in the development of the country and producing cash crops for export to earn foreign exchange. They did not want capitalists to buy the land, do commercial farming (think tea and coffee estates, but cotton, peanuts, sunflower oil, and pyrethrins were also cash crops) start mining, exploit the citizenry, and export profits. Sounds fair, right?

Goran Hyden’s book, Beyond Ujamaa in Tanzania, is the history of the policies and what went wrong.

The gist is, that although Nyerere & TANU, did bring free primary school education (when fee-based was still the case in most other African countries), water services, and health care to rural farmers, as well as giving them machinery so they could till more land, the peasant farmers didn’t have enough labor to till more land, and didn’t see the incentive when the return was so meager. Nyerere and the TANU party also believed that if people lived closer together, especially near relatives, they would be more inclined to cooperate, This cooperation would spill over to providing extra labor for farming.  What the party didn’t take into account was that many farmers had been on their land for decades, and knew that land. They were not given comparative land when asked to move into villages.  Also, they had lived without modern development for all their lives, and for the most part, didn’t recognize the ‘value’ that the government was providing.

I know the feeling. As a dog groomer, I could groom 5 or 6 dogs a day if I bathed my own dogs. If I paid a bather, I could groom 8 dogs, but by paying a bather, I still netted the same amount of money at the end of the day. What was the point of doing more work?

What Nyerere and TANU really got wrong about socialism was that the workers are supposed to own the means of production and make decisions about policy.  This was still very much top-down policy implementation.  Also, the concentration on agriculture as a capital earner. the only people who make money off farming are middlemen and end processors/sellers. Farmers rarely make money.

At the time, there was little mining going on, and very little manufacturing.  In 1985, Philips and Colgate Palmolive were the two large manufacturers in Tanzania, and they were only profitable because of their distribution network throughout East Africa—and the low wages they paid.  There was a tourism industry, but barely, as it was not supported the way agriculture was.

The irony is that due to TANU pressure on farmers, they became either more politically involved (or fled to remote areas of the country to be left alone as subsistence farmers, which worked for them), and people working in manufacturing in urban areas started forming unions.  TANU morphed into another entity:  Chama cha Mapinduzi.  Banks remained nationalized until 1991, and gradually, mining permits were granted to private enterprises.  Nyerere resigned in 1985 and Ali Hassan Mwinyi took over. There have been peaceful transitions of power since then, and the economic policy is still socialism. What that mostly means is that in urban areas, land is not freehold, but 99-year leases. That is not unusual in many places in the world, and it is done this way to discourage speculation, which drives inflation as much as energy scarcity. Israel, Viet Nam, and most of Europe is socialist in this regard, yet you still find plenty of capitalists.

Because there is so little infrastructure, but the country is not landlocked, tourism 8is still a huge capital earner for Tanzania, and more and more tour operators are promoting environmental conservation and getting local people involved in tourism.  Would an American notice the differences between Tanzania and her neighbor to the north, Kenya? I’m not sure.  Kenya is more densely populated, partly because of refugees from Uganda and Somalia.  thus, there seems to be more economic activity.  Does a lot of economic activity mask underlying policy? I’m not sure.

 

Book Review: From Condoms to Cabbages, by Mechai Viravaidya(with Thomas D’Agnes)

February 11, 2021

Topiary and horticulture are skills that you can make a living doing!  Bangkok

In 2005, about 6 weeks after the Tsunami that devastated so much of South Asia, I took my first trip to Thailand. So many Americans, who are too lazy to look at a world map, asked me if I was still traveling, Of course, I was! The  Tsunami had hit the south. I was going to the north.  Tourism was drastically cut. So many had canceled their trips. It was wonderful, for me, as a tourist. Our guides (I traveled with Gate 1—look them up—-fantastic travel values!!!) were incredible and mentioned Mechai Viravaidya, who started the family planning ‘revolution’ in Thailand. He had gotten prostitutes to own a cooperative restaurant if they wanted to leave sex work.  Je actually did so much to make Thailand a healthier place.

For those who have never traveled to Thailand, or have only gone to the beaches, you have no idea what you are missing. Thailand is ‘set up’ for tourism. There are many historic sites, going back over 1000 years. So much culture. Thailand is an economic development success story. The downside  is sex tourism.  it’s also a large part of the economy.  Thais regard sex as recreation.

If we address modern development which occurred after World War II, you realize all ‘3rd world countries were in pretty much the same place in terms of social indicators: infant and maternal mortality were high, as was the birth rare. The communications infrastructure was almost non-existent. Literacy rates were low, and college graduates were rare. Then, in Thailand, due to a series of fortuitous meetings, and the involvement of Mechai, family planning took off in Thailand. Use of modern family planning methods went from almost nothing to 30%, then, in less than 20 years, over 70% and in a short period of time, social indicators improved. The improvement in social indicators led to the improvement of economic growth that benefited more of the population, which led to a viable middle class.

Mechai came from a mixed-race family, His father was a Thai elite, sent to study in the UK, where he met his mother. Both were physicians, who returned to Thailand. Mechai was given an elite education, He wasn’t a good student, but he persevered. When he returned to Thailand after university, he sort of lucked into a job with the government, evaluating development schemes. He remembered what his mother had told him one day when they saw a very old woman carrying a heavy burden through city traffic, and cars honking at her.  She told him that if we don’t help the poor, who will?  He kept that in mind when he traveled all over Thailand trying to learn what the Thai people actually wanted. He recognized that not being able to do birth spacing, burdening families with children they could not feed, was a major issue.

His life was a bit more complicated. He found he enjoyed the work and started writing about it. He was asked to escort Miss Universe, a Thai national, in 1966, and due to a situation, was photographed with her and became an instant celebrity. He got a radio show, and also became a well-known television actor. I’m simplifying, but he used all this to promote his platform of making family planning services available all over Thailand.  Population growth immediately slowed.

Where was the FBI When ‘Patriots’ Stormed the Capitol?

January 14, 2021

This story, I would have thought would have begun with my protesting the Viet Nam war, but no. It began when David told me I had nothing to lose, and I should keep them —the FBI—busy. 

It was because of David Gassman I even considered applying for it.  David, whose parents were bona fide Communist Party members ( he was known as a ‘red diaper’ baby—but in actual fact—as he has informed me—there is speculation about whether both his folks were ‘card carriers’), knew a couple of people who I knew.  At the time, I was really not ‘active’ in any radical political organizations. David knew my roommate, Gloria Smith, through SANE/FREEZE, the nuclear weapons-free area campaign.  David also knew Judy Freeman, who got me to be a board member for Uptown Recycling Station, one of the first community-based recycling stations in the country.  This was started by Ken Dunn of Resource Center (RPCV Brazil).

It was 1987, but we had known each other for several years, via both Gloria & Judy.  I don’t remember how it came up in conversation, but David told us he had requested his FBI file, to make the FBI do something for all the money they got.  He suggested that both Gloria and I send for our files.

I didn’t think I had a file.  If there was anything, it would have been because my former husband, D.Craig Ledford, was General Secretary-Treasurer for the Industrial Workers of the World, and I owe my membership in the IWW to journalist Abe Peck, whom I met at The SEED underground newspaper.  He also taught me how to use an IBM SELECTRIC, one of the first ‘computer’/word processors. Anyways, that is just background. I was in arrears after I bought my first dog grooming business, and stayed in arrears after we got divorced.  I couldn’t imagine what the FBI would want with me.  David admitted that there might not be anything, but he helped me file the Freedom of Information Act request, and we had to file several requests.

I didn’t really think much would come of it, but after several months, I did get a packet from the FBI.  It turns out I DID have an FBI file!  It had nothing to do with my ex-husband, and it appeared they had been spying on me quite recently!

Apparently, they were actually interested in Gloria, who lived with me at the time. Gloria had been to Nicaragua with the Nicaragua Solidarity Committee, providing technical assistance to the Sandinistas.  Back in the 1980s, during the  Reagan Administration, we weren’t at ‘war’ in Nicaragua, but Reagan used his ‘discretionary funding’ to provide support for the CONTRAS, who were fighting socialism.  He called them ‘freedom fighters’.  Never mind that there probably were over a dozen political parties in Nicaragua at the time, & Daniel Ortega had won a ‘free & fair’ election.  Our ‘American’ attitude was that the Nicaraguans had voted in the wrong guy and the wrong party!

The spying on American radical activists was a carryover from Nixon (apparently, there were so few criminals for the FBI to spy on, they had to spy on people doing nothing illegal). It was quite controversial.

So, anyway, Gloria had gone to Nicaragua and was now living with me. According to the non blacked out parts of the file (it’s really heavily redacted), a couple of guys were watching the house.  How would we not know this?  We lived in west Lakeview at the time, before it became Yuppieville, and wouldn’t have noticed a strange car on the street due to all the activity What is particularly funny about this is that they didn’t have photos of us, and they followed my tenant. We’ll call her ‘Susan’.

Susan was a figure model (as was I. That’s how I knew her), an art student, and delivered singing telegrams for extra income.  According to the FBI notes, they followed her from the house, dressed as a clown,  carrying helium-filled balloons, down a circuitous route to where she was going–thinking SHE was ME.

WE had a good laugh over it, & I believe I wrote to the FBI & told them they followed the wrong person, but I never heard back from them.  I still have the papers in my file cabinet.  Gloria never did file the FOIA request for her file.

Even though I had to be fingerprinted to get into the Peace Corps, and told them straight out that I had an FBI file, it didn’t matter at all.  One branch of the government rarely speaks to another branch.

So—that’s what the FBI is doing. THE employees of the FBI are overwhelmingly white men, so they decide on their own, or with some direction from the White House, who should be considered subversive. So now. it’s Jan. 6, 2021. The ‘Patriots’ and their ilk had been posting on social media that they are going to meet in Washington,D.C., and overturn the election because everyone they know voted for Trump, and there is no way he could NOT have won…unless there was fraud. never mind that he didn’t win the popular vote in 2016.  Never mind no other Republican on the ticket says they didn’t lose fair & square.THIS time, he had done such good stuff (started building an ecologically damaging wall at the Mexican border & putting refugees fleeing violence in cages; promised us ‘Better than Obamacare…of course, there’s nothing; decimated our enviromental laws; claimed Climate Change is a hoax; banned Muslims from certain countries from coming to the USA (unless they were rich Saudis…); claimed COVID19 was no worse than the flu; defended police brutality, particularly towards racial minorities; was heard on recorded phone calls attempting to bribe the president of Ukraine, was impeached, and his politcal party voted in lockstep even though we all heard the evidence; was then heard to strongarm the attorney general of Georgia into commiting fraud; he was heard making many speeches calling the election rigged and calling for he is supporters to stop it; even though there was a lot of evidence that he refused to pay people he contracted to work for him, he still managed to get more flunkies and syncophants due his bidding (even though they knew the liklihood of him humiliating them).

We know that the FBI monitors social media. The FBI employees had to know the possibility of violence and insurrection. Why didn’t they do anything? Warn DC police, the attorney general, and the vice-president?

Because they were in on it…or they followed orders…..

 

Has That Emotional Support Animal Made you Anymore Emotionally Secure?

December 10, 2020

Me doing a grooming demonstration for the North Central maltese Rescue annual gathering in southern Wisconsin.   Not an emotional support animal!

I have been mentally ill, on and off, with depression. Now, we know it’s a neurological issue involving brain chemistry, but when I was a child, it was considered an attitude issue. No matter. I was still able to be creative and function through my tears over…nothing. It also was, apparently, related to hormones. When I went through menopause, poof! Episodes pretty much disappeared.

I have to say this because I’ve worked with psychiatrists and psychologists. Actually, group therapy helped a lot—but in the end—it was drugs that got me ‘normal’.

Being introspective, I have, briefly, considered majoring in psychology when I ultimately went to college. I didn’t (I chose anthropology because I was interested in how people and their communities made decisions). The one reason I didn’t choose psychology is a textbook. It is Understanding Human Behavior, by James V. McConnell: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_V._McConnell. Originally published in 1986, it was in its 5th edition by the time I took a self-taught course in 1986! His chapter on psychotherapy is very good, particularly his description of R. Bruce Sloans’s conclusions on behavior therapy.

In any case, before the INVENTION of the ‘Emotional Support Animal’, if people felt emotionally fragile, they’d take drugs like Valium, or ask friends to accompany them, or, work with a psychologist on altering their behavior and responses to triggers.

Suddenly, actual therapy was off the table. Get a dog.

I currently have a dog—a gorgeous dog, who was a bona fide rescue from a hoarding situation. She’s very smart and is generally well behaved, but she can’t contain her excitement. Worse, she stalks other dogs. She is what we used to call ‘high strung’. I am providing more emotional support to her than she is to me. I continue to work with her on her triggers, but I can just imagine the counterfactual condition:   what if she had been posted on Craigslist, and some emotionally frail person decided she didn’t need psychological help and decided to buy her & turn her into an ’emotional support animal’? I can imagine the chaos that would have s ensued. & that is exactly how most self-absorbed flakes got their ESAs. Not with the help of an actual dog trainer, or a psychologist who told them what kind of pet to look for. Need a letter on letterhead?  Pay me, and I will state (with no proof of anything) that you NEED YOUR PET TO ACCOMPANY YOU IN PUBLIC PLACES.   In fact, go on-line and buy a vest for your dog that says ‘service animal’.  Capitalism at its finest.

Did I miss something? Since it was so easy to game the system, people were able to get letters on letterhead (fake or real) for chickens, alligators, snakes, etc, etc, as well as the little poofy purse dogs.

Service animals are trained to provide a SERVICE, and the owner can tell you how the service animal provides the service. Some sniff for biological changes in the owner/’handler. Some recognize behavioral changes in their handlers and respond. What does an ESA actually do?

This is something that should have been nipped in the bud when it started, but due to our politically correct cultural mindset, we allowed empathy to override common sense. Worse, we allowed these untrained animals to attack us, inconvenience us, interfere with bona fide service DOGS, and allow the neurotic among us to consider themselves entitled. It’s an offense to all of us, particularly people who really need service dogs, and to the trainers who train and evaluate them.

This could have been addressed early on by the American Kennel Club. The AKC has so many certificate programs. if you have a modicum of control over your dog on-leash, you can get a CANINE GOOD CITIZENSHIP certificate. Several of my dogs have attained this easily (not my current nut case dog—but that’ just it—she’s ‘unstable’). but the AKC was too busy fine to tuning judges’ education and defending commercial breeders of puppies—who seem to make up a significant percentage of AKC income.

So finally the FAA has said ‘enough is enough. As I’ve said many times, if these people who feel they need an emotional support animal had just TRAINED THEIR DOGS (OTHER PETS…), the dynamic between them and their pet would have been behavior therapy for the owner, who would have gotten the courage and emotional strength from the success of having a responsive dog. No joke.

I feel the psychological industry owes us all an apology.#EmotionalSupportAnimal #Dogs

Book Review: Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

October 29, 2020

Prototype cover without the dogs & title. /for Polyandress: available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Itunes….

I’ve always liked Aziz Ansari. Funny guy, adorable. I found this book in a free library and had no idea what to expect. I guess a bunch of anecdotes about meeting someone and falling in love. Actually, the book is about how we meet in the modern world. This book was published in 2015, and he did not write it alone, but with a sociologist (Eric Klinenberg), and also interviewed other sociologists and anthropologists, including Helen Miller Fisher. They also held focus groups in several countries.

This is a very well written, put together book. Aziz starts out with a focus group of people my age (boomers), or possibly bit older, and asks how people met their partners. Most said either in their neighborhoods or at work. I know proximity is everything. You can’t really tell a lot from a photo (except possibly physical attraction),  and you have to have  regular interaction… and it’s so logical that people used to meet via connections with others.

That’s not how things are anymore. Because so many men are ‘woke’ to sexual harassment, you probably would not meet at work, and many workplaces have rules about relationships.

So, there are bars, churches, sports teams,  and internet’ dating sites’ . We all know how fraught dating sites are. But he has done focus groups with singles in several places in the world. The Japanese are loathe to touch or even get involved, At the other end of the spectrum, are Brazilians, who seem to always be looking for hook-ups. In between, are people like the French, who tend to polygamy and are ok with it. We also know that in many parts of the world, your parents arrange your marriage, and those marriages are often more successful than the ones you foen with the guy you met at a softball game or a bar.

He devotes several pages to texting and how texts can be misconstrued, and worse, how bad men are at trying to attract women.  I don’t think he really knows how many dick pictures guys sent, but he does know their texts can  be both stupid and gross.

The most important idea he addresses is what you want from a partner, and if you’re looking for a soulmate or a partner to have kids and develop a family.

I think of these things often when I find a man attractive,  Is he looking for a nurse and a purse, a hookup, or does he really want a woman to spend time with and share?  You really have to talk with a guy and delve deep.  So many guys are so shallow, they fold immediately.

I just read a story in a newspaper about how a woman was scammed by a man she had actually met and developed a relationship with. He was good looking, charming, outgoing, and he had several businesses. Something didn’t add up, but he always had an explanation for why he drove a beater car, and why he lived in a small apartment  He got this woman to invest most of her life savings in his ‘business’, which turned out to be a Ponzi scheme, and she lost everything. I’ve blogged about this before. Do you have to get a credit check and hire a private investigator before becoming intimate with a man? How about meeting friends and family?

So Aziz and Eric address whether you want to get married, if it really makes sense.  The statistics they’ve gathered do make sense, but this book puts ideas out there, and the bottom line is:  spend time to see if you want to know someone.  It is too easy to miscommunicate with texts.

I’d suggest this book to anyone who feels it’s difficult to meet a romantic partner.  I’d also suggest you binge-watch Anz sari’s TV show

on Netflix, “Master of None.”  it’s about him dating and finding a partner, and very well written and acted.

 

1968: You Mean it Wasn’t About Communism?

October 20, 2020

I’m a native Chicagoan. I had just completed my freshman year in high school. My father, who really hated being with us kids for any length of time, decided to take us up to Wisconsin Dells for a four-day vacation. Partly, this was a test trip, to see if he could stand being with us for two weeks, but partly, my folks were alarmed by the news.

Even though we lived about 20 miles from downtown Chicago, Martin Luther King, jr. was holding demonstrations about desegregated housing (my parents called him a trouble maker and my mother said the negroes weren’t ready to —in essence—be full-fledged citizens), and there were riots, and buildings being burned…and then, the Yippies were in Grant Park and there was the Democratic Convention at the International Ampitheatre at the Stockyards (this no longer exists).

Now, in theory, because Grant Park is along the lakefront, and the Ampitheatre was at least five miles from there…two separate gatherings of people, the problems—well, there were several. The Democrats were mostly in the Blackstone Hotel, across from Grant Park (& actually, not exactly across, because there were the train tracks and then Michigan Avenue).

But Hizzoner Mayor Richard M. Daley, who made sure JFK had been elected earlier and was a real power player, wanted to show force and strength, and he had the police attack the wild but peaceful demonstrators in the park. He is shown on film, flummoxed, saying the police were not there to create disorder but to maintain disorder. What a Freudian slip!

Who were the demonstrators? Mostly anti-war (Viet Nam) protesters, but also people involved in the civil rights movement. Later, the Kerner Commission (Kerner had been a Democratic governor of Illinois, and was later implicated in a scandal: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otto_Kerner_Jr.) called what happened a police riot. Yes—the police attacked the demonstrators. In any case, from all this hullabaloo, we got the Conspiracy 8 trial (later, when Bobby Seale was removed from the conspiracy the Conspiracy 7 trial).

Who were these guys? Bobbie Seale was a Black Panther. The Panthers were fighting racial discrimination. In Chicago, they had a free breakfast program for kids from one of the poorest neighborhoods in Chicago, Now, all poor kids are entitled to free breakfast and lunch in school. It was considered a socialist idea at the time. David Dellinger, an old anti-war activist who had actually served jail time for refusing to be drafted during World War 2, John Froines and Lee Weiner—academics, Tom Hayden, an anti-war activist and later a congressman from California (also married to Jane Fonda, the actress), Rennie Davis, also an anti-war activist, Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman who were also antiwar activists. You have to remember that most Americans really believed we were fighting communism in Viet Nam. In fact, what we taught ourselves in primary schools was that capitalism equaled democracy and socialism equaled dictatorship. I am afraid we are still—-50 years late, teaching this.

One thing you have to understand is—-we had been fed the idea—by the United States Government—that we were fighting communism. There was no internet. For all we believe about a free press and fourth estate, our American journalists took press releases from the government. Neil Sheehan didn’t publish “A Bright and Shining Lie” until 1988. It was the anti-war activists swimming upstream against mainstream media, all the while being characterized as dirty hippies, communists, and anarchists.

I was not even 15-years-old, and I echoed my parents. Then the Conspiracy 8 trial started, and although I could no go downtown to the trial, it was being reported on the local news because it was a really big deal. Did the defendants (particularly Rubin and Hoffman) disrupt things? For sure, but they were on trial for—the charge was: CROSSING STATE LINES WITH INTENT TO INCITE A RIOT. How do you indict people for a state of mind? Worse, the judge, Julius Hoffman, was biased against them. He should have recused himself, but no matter.

Bobbie Seale did not want the team lawyers (William Kunstler and Leonard Weinglass) representing him. He wanted to represent himself.   He wasn’t even in Chicago.  His lawyer of choice was receiving medical treatment.  Yet Judge Hoffman refused to listen to Seale. Indeed…these guys barely knew each other before the trial. There was no conspiracy. In the end, the government could not prove their case and they were found not guilty upon appeal.. Go to Wikipedia…but check out Aaron Sorkin’s movie.  In the movie, Judge Hoffman would not allow former Attorney General Ramsey Clark to state why he refused to indict these guys.  It was a waste of taxpayer money.  Also, during the trial, State’s Attorney Ed Hanrahan murdered local Black Panther Fred Hampton in his bed!  He tried doing  a re-eneactment of what went down on local television.  it was clear his  men busted in and execjuted Hampton.

But more importantly, we Americans were NOT winning the war in Viet Nam. We were bombing the bejesus out of Laos and Cambodia (ignoring the Khmer Rouge and what was happening separately from us in Cambodia), our young men were dying (but hey— war is a type of birth control—especially when you don’t allow birth control or abortion) and being maimed. Soldiers were coming back fucked up—mentally ill, addicted to drugs, asking people, “What are we fighting for?” & they were not able to beat the guerilla army of disparate (yes—until Ho Chi Minh—although the ‘country’ spoke Vietnamese—there were about 20 different ethnic groups, most not in touch with each other, trying to get rid of the French colonialists, whom WE—the AMERICANS—supported!!!)

Muhammed Ali, the fighter, went to jail for dodging the draft. He said, “No Vietnamese ever called me nigger.” & it was partly racism, minorities showing they supported the United States even though they were still legally discriminated against in schools, housing, and jobs.  Yes, my young friends—we maintained an underclass and Black Lives Matter is no mystery—because legally, they didn’t matter.

During the trial, Rennie Davis was invited to Highland Park, an upscale suburb about 20 miles north of Chicago,  to talk about his opposition to the Viet Nam War, and my mother and I attended his lecture. He was very compelling.

So, I want you to understand I had graduated 8th grade a mere couple of years before, and had to study the U.S, Constitution, and capitalism. I lived in a white suburb, where just a few years before, a so zoning change to permit high-density apartment building was voted down by the community because that would have allowed poor (black) people to move in. The only black people I really knew were maids.  These were not stupid women.

My mind was opened up. But there was also the election. Hubert Humphrey was no match for Richard Nixon. Nixon was a racist, anti-Semitic, probably sexist, and he said he’d end the war. What he did was declare victory and leave—in a matter of days. There had been a lot of refugees. it wasn’t so ‘cut and dried’. Check out Le Ly Hyslip’s book, “When Heaven and Earth Changed Places”(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/When_Heaven_and_Earth_Changed_Places).

Nixon…Google Watergate.  The public relations/advertising industry slowly started putting minority ‘talent’: actors, into TV shows and commercials.  There was affirmative action, meant to counter employment and educational discrimination.  Yet, schools in minority communities were still underfunded.  Many white Americans still didn’t know any black Americans (or other minorities) socially.  The  Republican Party , really big on  fiscal responsibility and state’s rights, transformed itself into having a policy that any social program (which would partly be considered Keynesian—look it up) benefited not just minorities, but criminals gaming the system.  In the meantime, they, during the Reagan Years, cut takes on the wealthy and supported a ‘covert’ war in Nicaragua based on the same lies we told ourselves about Viet Nam(Google George Crile, and get his book, “Charlie Wilson’s War”).

Because of the GOP, we have over a billion dollars unaccounted for in Afghanistan (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Forever_War_(Filkins_book),  countless American lives lost—-& democracy is still nonexistent there…but a whole lot of military contractors made a lot of money off of us.  Yet now, the GOP would have us believe that Qanon should be taken seriously because the REAL PROBLEM is …Democrats who support child trafficking rings and pedophilia.

We have an election coming up in a few days. Trump—who has been caught lying about everything and discounting scientists (we’re still in the COVID catastrophe due to his ‘leadership’), vs. Jo0e Biden—a decent guy who Trump says will make you give up your security in the suburbs, destroy the economy, etc, etc.  How does he get away with it?

We Americans are still terribly uneducated.  We believe anyone who says they are Christians, and that anyone challenging a Christian has been sent by the devil.   So many people still don’t socialize with anyone not of their racial or ethnic group and don’t trust science. Yeah, that’s how it is.

 

Trying Times: Cost of Fuel, Food, COVID Still, A Degrading Environment and a Woman who Writes about Grief

June 9, 2022

I’m retired , and got rather used to no-inflation all through the Obama years into Trump. I would not go out of my way these days to go to local food pantries, but that’s partly because we have a d good network of volunteer do-gooders who do their best to see that everyone has access to what’s around.

Often all they have is USDA surplus canned or dried goods, but they also get fresh vegetables & day-old designer bread in addition to the odd bakery or candy items. It’s great getting eggplant, squash, and kale, and our diets have improved. But a few weeks ago we got these packets of a high-protein ‘mac & Cheese’ with soy that, well, I can imagine everyone would find it filling. I added a chopped zucchini & a can of tuna, but that hardly improved it. I don’t know if I’d prefer it out of a box of mac & cheese. But it was free, and it’s fine.

But also, via a Facebook ‘Buy Nothing’ a neighbor gave me a box of spices and several high-end baking items, as well as Japanese condiments that I knew my roommate would appreciate.

One of the items was a bag of candy. The candy is a jelly sweet in a large thimble size cup, and apparently it is a leading cause of death by asphyxiation of old people choking on this thing. Do they laugh and accidentally swallow it? In any case, my roommate was advising me of this (since I am an older person), and showed me the warning on the bag. No ‘skull & crossbones’ or !–(exclamation point in a triangle: If you choose not to take heed—you’ve been warned)& KN also remarked how the choking person had those regrets in the last few seconds of life.

In any case, the woman, Shelby Forsythia, is a neighbor, and I asked her what she did. She told me she was a writer, 1 thing led to another, and I visited her website to learn more about her: https://www.shelbyforsythia.com/permission-to-grieve

My gut reaction was a tough subject. I hadn’t grieved since my mother died, and that was due to a complicated family dynamic. I am still grieving my friend Janie Wondergem, who died suddenly and quickly of aggressive lung cancer. We shared so many interests. Even with my dogs, I am more accepting of loss. I can understand how people would be torn apart. I think it’s because I’m ‘on the spectrum’ that I’m not too close to too many people. My roommate, KN, is probably the person I actually trust the most. I digress (as I am wont to do). Shelby did 2 amazing things: 1. she researched a subject that she was passionate about to find a way to help others. We Sikhs appreciate altruism and giving back to the community), but she also managed to turn this into a business that supports her and helps so many others.

My grief is more general. I know we humans aren’t doing enough to stop climate change and how it’s manifested: environmental degradation. I don’t have children, but so many people do, and want grandchildren…for a planet that will be hard to have a good quality of life on. COVID will keep evolving—or a slightly different virus will come along until enough of us are killed off. It’s called population crash. It happens to many species that overpopulate an area. Google “The Wolves of Isle Royale”. Fresh water is starting now to be a crisis. Things ain’t good.

& clearly, the male segment—-particularly the teenage boy cohort, but may be also the small dick cohort who crack under the weight of their testosterone-fueled rage & NEED TO OWN ASSAULT RIFLES…& THE ELECTED OFFICIALS DEFENDING THIS MADNESS….how can nobody see this? Or do we not believe in science? that testosterone surges are linked to rage?

YEAH, I’M YELLING. THE VERY IDEA THAT YOU GET COMFORT OWNING OR TOUCHING A WEAPON OF SUCH EVIL AUTOMATICALLY INDICATES YOU ARE MENTALLY ABERRANT.