31 October 2006

Back with Baby Pics!

I got to spend the weekend in Pittsburgh with my son and his family this weekend. The baby is beautiful and learning so much. Six months old, sitting up, smiling and laughing, eating some solids and soaking it all in!

And did I mention he's beautiful?

tags: family / grandboy / life

26 October 2006

I Am So Proud

...of my home state of New Jersey! They did the right thing on Wednesday!

"New Jersey Court Recognizes Same-Sex Unions"

::tears up::

tags: civil rights / gay marriage / glbt / life / marriage / New Jersey / sexual orientation / social justice

God, I Wish this Woman was Still Around!

Ann Richards, former Governor of Texas
9-1-1933 to 9-13-2006

25 October 2006

Olbermann Special Comment: Bush on Terror

Is it any wonder I love this man? He says everything I have spent the last several hours / days / weeks thinking, and in a much more succinct manner. And, oh, that enunciation!

The real terrorists here, people are our current president and his crew. If, legally, we cannot remove the incompetent megalomaniac from office for over two more years, our only alternative is to create a roadblock for any more of Bush's "progress" in the form of a Democratic majority congress...House and Senate.

Go vote on November 7th. And when you do, think about how you feel. Have the last six years increased your confidence that your grandchildren will live in a world free of the fallout of a nuclear holocaust? Are you more or less certain your grandchildren will be alive at all in ten, twenty, thirty years? If we avoid the near complete destruction of the planet, whose bills will those grandchildren be working so hard to pay off? Their own? Ours? Or will it be the debt of the wealthy corporate executives in the cloistered, sometimes gated, communities in the rich sections of your town?

This president is raping our constitution, compromising our security and endebting generations of Americans to come...you children, grandchildren, etc., etc. Someone has got to bring some balance back into our government. The best choice for that task, flawed as they may be, are the Democratic congressional candidates.

Please care. Please vote.

tags: Bush / failure / national security / Keith Olbermann / terrorism / US politics / "war on terror"

Afterthought: You'll note that I've included the word "failure" in my tags. That term is meant to represent the current president of the United States. However, "failure" is a relative term. George W. Bush is a failure only if what he intended to deliver to the American people were unity, security, prosperity, justice, respect and decent foreign relations. If his intention included the seizure of as much power as he and his friends and allies could, disruption of international relationships on all fronts, near-complete isolation of the United States, increased risk of terrorism threats and attacks, lucrative contracts and expanded portfolios for America's wealthy citizens, the disenfranchisement of the poor in the US, grossly widening economic disparity in America and the whittling away of the very freedoms our forebears fought and died for over two centuries then I guess we'd have to concede he has been a rousing success.


(Also posted on No Ordinary Princess.)

22 October 2006

Slayer Reviewed by Paulist

Yes, you read right. There is a review of Slayer's latest album, their first in five years, Christ Illusion on a website run by the Missionary Society of Saint Paul the Apostle.


The site is called Busted Halo and is geared to attract "spiritual seekers in their 20's and 30's. Well, hrumph! Do I feel left out?! The review can be found here. It's interesting. It exhorts Christians to consider why an album which paints such a brittle portrait of the evils done in the name of Christianity has gained such popularity. (The article reveals Slayer's latest album had reached Billboard's No. 5 spot.)

The Inquisition. The Crusades. Now the crusade inside the heads of three megalomaniacs in DC. They've got a valid point.

I'm not recommending the album nor the band. I wouldn't know Slayer if I tripped over them in a crowded subway stairwell. But the review gives one much to think about.

tags: Catholicism / Christianity / jihad / music / progressives / religion / Slayer / spirituality

20 October 2006

I Want

I want...

Despite the fact that The Manolo calls them a horror.

tags: clogs / earth shoes / life / shoes / shopping

19 October 2006

The Madness of George II

Three minutes until shower time.

I stayed at work until 3 AM last night. I don't know what possessed me...they were short because someone called out but, still...I don't usually do overtime. So it's been coffee for brunch (Green Mountain French Roast decaf and BloggersFuel Blogs of Bravery...very tasty) and off to work in a moment.

I discovered I can have more than one blogroll at Blogrolling so I've been trying to categorize the sites I have in my current blogroll as "feminist," "political," bloggers," etc. It's hard to fit some of you into just one category. I'd like to create a "Bloggers of Color" blogroll yet BlackAmazon, Blac(k)ademic, thefreeslave (who is, sadly, on hiatus), et al are so much more than bloggers of color. It's a quandry.

Anywho...I had to visit a few of the sites to refresh my memory and found something very interesting at Not the New York Times. There's a video posted there which was produced by AdBuzz. I'm posting it here for your consideration:

Interesting stuff, I tell you.

I had a patient in my Psych Nursing rotation who suffered from organic brain syndrome from years of alcohol and drug abuse. He was schizophrenic as a result. No, he was not naturally inclined to psychosis. His disease was directly related to years of substance abuse. Has to make one wonder if Bush's degenerating speaking skills are a result of his, admitted, years of alcoholism, hmmm?

tags: Bush / dementia / organic brain syndrome

16 October 2006

A Quickie

Work is calling so I must be brief. Luckily, I've showered already so I have 15-20 minutes to spare before I have to hike to THAC*.

In reading my Philly Inquirer this morning, two artlcles particularly caught my eye. One, you will have to wait until I get home from work to read. The other is about alternative nursing home care, which I'll post here:

A healthier take on the nursing home

"Green Houses" are smaller, have satisfied staff - and happier residents.

By Michael Vitez
Inquirer Staff Writer

Linda Johnson is never going back.

After 14 years as a certified nursing assistant - the bottom of the food chain in the nursing home culture - she has tasted the future.

She is now a "Shahbaz" in a "Green House" - a respected worker in a new model of caring for the frailest elderly.

"I love it," Johnson said. "It's not a rush anymore. We get to spend quality time with [residents]. They think we're family. And we are."

Imagine a world in which the nursing home idea is turned upside down:

Just 10 residents live in a house, rather than the standard 120-180 people, and despite their dementia and infirmities, they're happier and healthier.

Nursing aides, with their new titles, are empowered and love their jobs.

Despite more personalized care, costs are the same or less than in nursing homes.

The Green House was conceived by Bill Thomas, a pioneer in long-term care.

The first cluster of six Green Houses opened three years ago in a continuing-care community in Tupelo, Miss. Based on their initial success, three more groups in Mississippi, Nebraska and Michigan have moved nursing home residents into Green Houses.

Green Houses are also being built in central Pennsylvania, in Palmyra and Mechanicsburg.

The differences between a Green House and a nursing home hit you first from outside. The two Redford Green Houses, opened in August by Presbyterian Villages of Michigan, look like new homes on a residential street, with pitched roofs, shutters and garden. To enter, a visitor rings a doorbell.

"Hi!" says Johnson. "Welcome to our home."

The front hallway feels like a home, with a vase and flowers on a small table. It opens up into one large room with a living area, open kitchen and skylights.

Adjacent to the cooking area is a long, informal wooden dining table, big enough for all 10 residents, the two Shahbazim, and any visiting family.

Along three walls of the house are 10 bedrooms, each with a bed and bathroom.

Residents are just as frail, sick, old and foggy as in any nursing home. In fact, residents at the Redford Green Houses moved in from the nursing home across the way.

Thomas, who last month was awarded a $250,000 Heinz Foundation humanitarian award for his work, first made his mark in long-term care in the early 1990s with the Eden Alternative. This idea was to bring life back to sterile nursing facilities - birds, plants, gardens, dogs. Nursing homes all over the country have embraced the Eden Alternative.

But almost as soon as it caught on, Thomas knew it wasn't enough. The nursing home needed to be abolished. The entire premise was wrong.

Americans should not be looking for the most efficient way to care for sick old people, he said. They should be asking, how do we give our old people the best experience in their frail days?

"The Green House starts with a positive vision," Thomas said during a recent visit to Philadelphia. "How to give the best elderhood possible. It doesn't define their lives in terms of medicines and treatments."

Thomas took the lowly nursing assistant - typically poor, minority and female - and made her the anchor of the new home, empowering her. He so wanted to destroy the old stereotype of nursing assistant that he came up with a new name - Shahbaz - a Persian word meaning "royal falcon."

"They will sail the skies above this land, seeking always to protect, sustain and nurture the people," Thomas wrote in his book, What Are Old People For?

By lifting her up, he elevates the health and satisfaction of all who depend on her.

A challenge in long-term care is attracting and keeping nursing aides, said Robert Jenkens, working with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation on its $10 million commitment to establish Green Houses in 50 states.

Even nonprofits, he said, have a turnover rate of 70 percent. For Green Houses, the turnover has been around 10 percent, he and others said.

The Shahbaz "gets to know the resident in a very multifaceted way," said Jenkens. "If they do the laundry, they can see an issue with incontinence. When they do the room, they can see if they're hoarding or some indication of dementia."

The results have been dramatic. Some residents who were hand-fed in nursing homes have begun feeding themselves. A few who only sat in wheelchairs have begun to use a walker.

"We are just stunned," said Mariellen Davis, executive director of the Village of Redford Senior Living Community, part of Presbyterian Villages of Michigan. "A switch goes on. The residents discover this is something worth being engaged in."

"I love the meals," said Doris Dalianis, 83, a stroke victim. "Thank God they have gotten around to weighing me."

In the Green House, residents go to bed and wake up when they want. Dalianis, perhaps the most coherent resident here, stays up each night to watch her beloved Detroit Tigers baseball team.

One significant endorsement of the Green House has come from Rosalie Kane, a University of Minnesota professor working to improve long-term care. After spending two years comparing outcomes at the Green Houses in Tupelo with traditional nursing homes, she concluded that residents, families and staff are all happier. Residents gained weight. Staff turnover plummeted.

"This is so dramatic, so radical, it pushes the extreme of what's possible," said Kane, whose findings are awaiting publication in a medical journal. "People would say you can't just have ordinary kitchens in a nursing home, and have residents going in and out of them. You can, and the Green House proves it."

Each Green House in Redford cost about $1 million to build. Supporters say that construction costs are no more per bed than for new nursing homes. And operating costs are also comparable, or less, with medical staff available, as needed, under state law.

In Tupelo, Green Houses have operated in the black for three years with 75 percent of residents on Medicaid, and 25 percent paying privately - a ratio common in nursing homes.

Nearly 1.6 million Americans live in nursing homes, largely built in the 1960s and '70s. Thomas, 46, is confident they will be replaced with Green Houses or other innovative ideas yet to be conceived.

"I hope I live long enough," he says, "to see a bulldozer knock down the last nursing home."

Contact staff writer Michael Vitez at 215-854-5639 or mvitez@phillynews.com.
Yeah, this is what I'm talking about...valuing humans in all stages of our lives.

Another important point not to be missed in the article is the treatment of the caregivers for the elderly. Nursing Assistants really are the bottom of the health care food chain, the most powerless and often, in my area in the northeast, poor, inner-city, black and female. It's about time they were given some credit, respect, accountability and power...and they're liking it, based on the turnover rates in these new elder care centers. I only hope that the increased power and respect comes with a true living wage for these people, primarily women. You can give me all the glory you want but if I have to work two jobs to feed my kids, how much does that show you value me?

Still, this seems a step in the right direction and I'm hoping it's something that will catch on nationwide. We don't allow families the ability and opportunity to take the care of our older family members we'd like. Let's set up facilities where our oldsters can be cared for in much the same way they would be at home, with us, where they want to be.

tags: aging / elderly / health care / nursing

I'm sure there are other tags but I simply don't have time to think of them right now. Duty calls. You know, really, all I want is to be "kept" for sex and not have to work for a living. Is that really so much to ask???

14 October 2006

These are Priceless!

Check out the lineup at Accoutrements.

What fun!

<--- You can get your Jesus Regular

or Deluxe --->

I found it through Vonnegut's Asshole, which I found by way of Kristin at go, go, bimbo!

tags: blogging / humor / Teh Internets


I am lonely, a state which I perpetuate.

Why is that, exactly?

Are there others out there like me? Are the Internets really populated with lone isolationists? Are we all becoming a people who only really communicate via machinery? It's like some fierce Bradbury tale, made all the more frightening by its reality.

I spring from a deep well os social isolationists. We are, none of us, successfully gregarious. Any outgoing bahavior is well-crafted and purposeful...that purpose being to expose ourselves as little as possible to the slings and arrows of the outside world.

My mother would happily live in the bosom of Teh Family forever. I cannot find the same solace there. Though I believe and expect I will be well cared for by my son and daughter-in-law should it ever come to that, I'd much rather form a circle of close friends; probably prefer that to be a group of women or young people, in which to grow older. I love my son but really don't want to make my life's work about him.

So I stand at the crossroad, though there is no demon here offering me eternal damnation in exchange for worldly gain, or is there? Is the devil the lure of ease, the false god of the path of least resistance and risk?

I went to the African-American bookstore just over the Delaware line down I-95 today. I had gotten an "e-vite" to a book sale to benefit the family of a premature child who died last week due, in a round-about way, to the complications of his prematurity. He was two years old. I got some details from the girl at the counter...something about his trach tube getting "tangled" and the mother being questioned by the police and the 'nurse' not accompanying the child in the ambulance or not being there at all and the baby "45 minutes" without oxygen.

I have enough medical knowledge to recognize a touch of hyperbole or exaggeration in the tale, but still...you have to wonder how different things might have been if this had been a white child from the suburbs rather than a poor, black, inner-city baby. Would the care have been different? Would the home health workers have been more caring? I don't think the emergency response would have been any different, at least I'd like to believe my colleagues in the emergency medical professions would rise beyond petty bigotries.


We all know it's different, don't we? Here in the Northeast the difference is divided by towns, roadways, color lines, municipalities. In the rural middle South, the divide is not so much color as $$$. Trailer park trash. Kentucky and Tennessee are unique, I think, in the ghettoization of whites...Appalachia and all that. In the deep south, well that's a whole world unto itself now, ain't it? Whole counties, parishes. Deeply entrenched in Jim Crow. Areas and states where the old ways are so deeply ingrained that only in the largest, most metropolitan or academic cities are people fully aware that things don't always have to be like this.

How did I get on this tangent? I started out bemoaning my lonliness.

I've made a friend in a young girl who until recently waitressed at my diner. I opened up enough to give her my cell phone number today, though I told her she'd better not be callin' me all day, every day! I am a cheap, old, white fart of a woman. She's a really good kid who has some growing up to do. She has three kids. She does well by herself and her children...I just hope she's not hanging onto the idea of a man and marriage as a panacea. I've encouraged her to get herr ass in school. So far she still seems mostly interested in men / boys / sex.

That's why we get along so well. I've told her about my Bajan fling. She tells me about the sex she's having with her ex-fiance. I give her advice. I tell her not to be stupid by thinking about trapping this man to get him back! You want a real relationship? You've got to be real.

It was a step for me to share things with...shall we call her Angela? For me to actually allow her access to personal information like my cell number...well, that's unheard of for me. We'll see.

The young woman at the African-American bookstore remembered me. She commented about my not bringing my friend (Tam) with me this time. I've walked by on many occassions since Tam and I went there in, what, March? I've not had the courage to go in by myself until today. It's only felt safe to be there with the safety cushion of my friend.

We talked a bit about the tragedy. She smiled a large and genuine smile when she bid me good-bye. You see, it's not that I don't hang around with people, whatever their color, because I dont like them or I'm afraid of them. I don't hang out with people because I'm always so afraid they will not like, accept, tolerate me. Or that I will say something to show what a complete ass I am.

Thursday night, toward the end of my shift, a nurse I work with at THAC* practically begged me to go have a beer with her and a few others from the ER. I really like this nurse, too. She's often in charge and is very fair and helpful in that capacity. She's a damned good nurse from what I can see. I should have gone. While it was true that I'd been yawning since I walked in the door, I could have managed to muster the energy for a single beer. They were going to a nearby pub I've wanted to investigate, too.

But, instead, I made excuses about not having my car and having to take care of the dog and being dog-tired. Then I came home and stayed up until almost 4AM anyway and slept until noon the next day. What a fucking waste of my time. And I really would have liked to go.

Most of the women I work with are younger than me...probably most in their late thirties, a few in their twenties and another couple of old farts like myself. Yet they/we seem to interact without many of the barriers differences in age can present. Okay, we're not talking about intergenerational age differences but, still, there can be a world of difference between someone born before 1970 and someone born afterward with no memory of the days before the Women's Movement.

Yet, despite the fact that they seem like a great group of women (it's primarily the women who go on these social outings) and despite the fact that I am becoming so tired of sitting here sorting through my psyche alone, I still bagged it.

Next time. I'll go next time. I hope it will be back to that quieter drinking hole they went to on Thursday and not to Barnaby's or the sports bar.

Has anybody ever dealt with these types of social anxieties? I keep hoping that as I learn more about myself and become more accepting of me as who I am, the fear will gradually lessen but it doesn't seem to be the case so far. Or maybe I'm just not far enough along yet. Or, just maybe, Rome wasn't built in a day and I've only worked there for a month (yesterday) and I'll just have to cut myself some slack and work toward the future.

See, I'm really very good at giving advice to others. I'm just not so accustomed to taking it.

On another note, my heat problems seem to be all fixed. I have a working thermostat and have it set, comfortably, at 66 degrees. Everywhere I went today, everything was overheated...the diner, the mall with the bookstore. We went down into the low 40's last nght and everybody's freaking out! Geez! Some of us are peri-menopausal! Can ya put a sweater on until we really need the heat, huh?

tags: anxiety / bitchy / family / friends / isolation / life / lonely / nurses / online therapy / race / racism / self-awareness / work

Too Good not to Share

I was just rummaging through MadMom and Mutt for an old post about me and my friend, Tam when I came across this joke I posted there in April:

The CIA had an opening for an assassin. After all the background
checks, interviews and tests were done, there were 3 finalists...
2 men and a woman

For the final test, the CIA agents took one of the men to a large
metal door and handed him a gun. "We must know that you will
follow your instructions, no matter what the circumstances. Inside
this room, you will find your wife sitting in a chair. Kill her!"

The man said, "You can't be serious. I could never shoot my wife."
The agent said, "Then you're not the right man for this job. Take
your wife and go home."

The second man was given the same instructions. He took the gun
and went into the room. All was quiet for about five minutes.
Then the man came out with tears in his eyes. "I tried, but I can't
kill my wife."

The agent said, "You don't have what it takes. Take your wife and
go home."

Finally, it was the woman's turn. She was given the same instructions
to kill her husband. She took the gun and went into the room. Shots
were heard, one shot after another, eight in a row. They heard
screaming, crashing, and banging on the walls. After a few minutes,
all was quiet.

The door opened slowly and there stood the woman. She wiped the
sweat from her brow. "This gun was loaded with blanks," she said. "I
had to beat him to death with the chair."


Never put a woman to the test.

I thought it was too precious not to share. Again.

tags: bitchy / humor / lazy

The Witch Hunt Begins

And so close to Hallowe'en. How convenient!

I got the article you found/would have found if you are/were smart enough to click on the title, above, via AlterNet.

tags: bitchy / Foley / GLBT / "religious right" / sexual orientation / social conservatism / US politics

13 October 2006

TGW Does it Again

The picture is what did it:

I've labeled it "Liberty Loves Justice," though it gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, no?

The pic is part of a post about the rise in same-sex households documented in the latest census data (2005). The article Egalia referenced is from ABC News.

I have no idea where the picture came from but it might just have to become my new profile pic!

Go read the article and show the Tennessee Guerilla Women you care.

tags: GLBT / homophobia / sexual orientation / US politics

Playing with my template and twiddling my sidebar is fun!

12 October 2006

George W. Bush

Hear this, Mr. President!

This is what the American people **don't want** and what we **do want**:

The American people **don't want** to be led into a war with Iran.

The American people **do want** the rhetoric with Iran to stop.

The American people **do want** our diplomats and State Department officials to commit to bilateral talks with North Korea.

The American people **do want**
negotiations with Iran to resume to lay to rest any thought of nuclear weapons and their use.

The American people **don't want** to die as a result of a nuclear holocaust.

The American people **do want** our government to enter into fully cooperative partnerships with our allies around the world, including all members of the European Union.

The American people **do want** good relationships and mutual cooperation between the US and all other countries of the world.

The American people **do want** the destruction of all nuclear weapons on earth, achieved through negotiation and skillful diplomacy.

The American people **do want** to abide by all provisions of all treaties, conventions and international law.

The American people **don't want**, by and large, the US to become an island unto herself.

The American People **do want** to be members of a global community.

In case that was a little difficult to decipher, here is a simpler version:

Stop talkin' trash.
Talkin' to that Kim fella "man-to-man."
Talkin' to Iran.
Playin' nice with our friends.
Playin' nice with the rest of the world.
Gettin' rid of all the nucular weapons.
Honorin' our contracts and obeyin' the law, even international law.
Bein' good neighbors to all.

Talkin' trash about Iran.
Talkin' trash about North Korea.
Talkin' trash about anybody else, too.
Fightin' Iran.
Fightin' North Korea.
Fightin' anybody else.
Dyin' in a nucular winter...we really don't want that one, Sir.
Isolationism. Isolationism is bad.

(Mr. President, you could cut that out, laminate it and keep it in your wallet for handy future reference!)

Blowin' us all to Kingdom come, Sir, is a really, really bad idea.

Gettin' rid of all the nukes on earth...priceless!


11 October 2006

Decency in America

Good interview today on AlterNet with Frederick S. Lane, author of The Decency Wars: The Campaign to Cleanse American Culture. Fascinating stuff, really.

It can't be denied that America in the last 30-40 years, and particularly in the last 20, has shifted dramatically to a much more fundamental and puritanical view of "decency," read: anything having to do with sex, sexual choices, sexual freedom or enjoying sex as you wish is immoral. Mr. Lane discusses this and the imperative for a social decency which involves inclusion and acceptance.

Hear! Hear!

Lane comments on the impact of the Mark Foley Congressional page scandal and how the war in Iraq relates to the concept of "decency."

For me, decency involves helping other people, providing for the common good, providing for those who cannot provide for themselves, economic, social and legal justice, acceptance of all people regardless of their race, religion, nationality, gender, etc.

Decency does not involve forcing our political agenda on other sovereign nations, denying appropriate health care aid for a continent struggling to survive AIDS, refusing to bolster the nation's minimum wage unless there's a rider attached eliminating taxes for dead rich people.

For me, it's a no-brainer. There is decency which insists everyone must be decent in the same way and to the same degree and there is decency which allows adult humans to make their own choices and supports them in the life they choose as right for them as long as no one else gets hurt in the process. Which America would you rather live in?

Visit Alternet for more great stuff about America and her culture. The interview was conducted by Celina R. De Leon who is a contributing writer for WireTap magazine, and Interviews editor at Feministing.com, another great place to visit.

(Also posted on No Ordinary Princess.)

tags: American culture / Christian fundamentalism / Christianity / decency / morality / sex / US politics / values

09 October 2006

The Amish

I've been reading a lot about the Amish lately. It's no wonder. Lancaster County, Pennsylvania is, in a stretch, within the Greater Philadelphia area. Some of the land of the "Pennsylvania Dutch," more properly called Pennsylvania Germans, is well within the sphere of influence of the Philly metropolis.

My father was born in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania in 1932. His father was a coal miner who died from black lung in his 40's. My grandmother was a very staid, stoic woman who loved but never knew how to display that. We are Pennsylvania Germans.

My maternal grandfather was raised by a abusive mysogynist who beat his children. His Jewish wife (my great-grandmother) divorced him in the 1930's. (Middle to lower-middle class women did not divorce in the 1930's.) My grandfather took the bastard back in at the end and the prick died in my grandfather's home. My grandfather was gruff and unyielding but tempered with a love he could never fully allow himself. We are Pennsylvania Germans.

I've seen this heritage play itself out in both my parents, on both sides of the family, in my father's mother and my mother's father, in myself. I've seen it play out in the Philadelphia Inquirer in the last week, too. And in the faces seen through buggy windows. And in the words of those who would burn down the one-room Amish school house.

There are two themes I keep returning to related to the Amish school shooting tragedy.

The life of the Amish: I've read a lot about the response of the Amish community to the school shooting. It is amazing. Repeatedly, the Amish say they have forgiven Charles Roberts. If you know anything at all about the culture of the Amish and other Pennsylvania Germans and/or Anabaptists, you know they are speaking the truth. They have forgiven him. They attended Charles Roberts' funeral Saturday. The Amish community, which has been receiving funds from all over the world to help with medical expenses for the girls who survived the attack, asked that a fund also be arranged for the assailant's family.

Pennsylvania German culture and my heritage: As I've read of the stoicism, the pragmatism, their lack of pretense and ostentation, I've seen the commonality of our pasts, the common Pennsylvania German traditions. These are people of stiff upper lips. One of my father's favorite sayings was, "What's the use of being Dutch if you can be dense." Along with, "stubborn Dutchman," in reference to himself.

Yes, we are stubborn. And righteous...modern Dutchies are self-righteous...the Amish find their righteousness in God. And empathetic. Pragmatic and realistic, perhaps sometimes bordering on fatalistic. Utilitarian. We are useful people. We derive our sense of who we are by our ability to give help, or to accept it, which is often the greater gift.

I can see the faces of my family in the bearded men and bonnetted women. Especially my grandmother, the young, Christian wife who became an old widow by the time I got to know her, ten years or more after her husband died. No, there was never a buggy. Yes, my grandfather was an alcoholic. My grandmother was the woman who held them together as a family.

All three of her children were alcoholics, my father's sister, Grace, who died when she fell down the steps at age 55. She'd either had an aneurysm burst and fell or fell and caused a bleed in her brain. Either way, there was a brain bleed and a fall involved. There was probably alcohol involved, as well. She died in November or December of 1972. My grandmother followed her in February 1973. I could not attend my grandmother's funeral. She may have been brokenhearted. She'd always lived with Grace and Lee since the family moved to Camden, where his father died, when my dad was 14.

My Aunt Dot married men. I like one man she once married named Walt (also my dad's name). I can never remember Walt's last name but he had a great house...on a lawn... and played the most wonderful music like Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer by Nat King Cole; Ray Charles' Hit the Road Jack and, maybe, Georgia; Chubby Checker's The Twist; Bobby Darin's Mack the Knife. And my favorite...Roger Miller! Anything by Roger Miller but especially King of the Road.

Aunt Dot got married again, after the divorce of course. I missed Uncle Walt's low, white house with green awnings, his wonderful taste in music and his fabulous lawn of green grass. Aunt Dot married Jim, a worse alcoholic than she, and they moved to Virginia. Jim never quite warranted "Uncle" status. I don't really remember much about him.

We went to Virginia once, when I was 8 and had a pixie haircut which I hated. My mother made me get it so they cut off my beautiful, long, dark brown hair. That trip to Virginia was the first time I saw what would become a love of my life...mountains. They were purple off in the distance and, to me, they were majestic. I was in love.

Aunt Dot was in love, too, with a man who was a more intense alcoholic than she. They lived several years partying, binging and generally boozing it up, I'm sure. Then Aunt Grace started going to church. Then she found God...and stopped drinking.

Jim didn't stop drinking and, ultimately, they divorced. Jim died rather young (late 50's, early 60's) from, surprise, complications of the drink. Jim had a Dutchie last name. I wonder if alcoholism is rampant among Pennsylvania Germans who are not part of the Anabaptist tradition. Aunt Dot died at 72 or 74 of cancer, lung I think but it was fairly brief and moderately painless. She bequeathed everything she had to the church. Our family was able to remove perrsonal belongings and family memorabilia.

She worked until she was 70, I believe. My body looks most like hers of all my female family members except my butt and my legs (to the knees) are a little stouter. I loved Aunt Dot when she was a drinker. I loved her when she was sober even though our beliefs were worlds apart. I was happy for her that she'd found a community in which she felt she belonged and was happy there. I didn't love her any less because she belonged to a church that was not accepting of gays and were staunchly "pro-life" and believed in proselytizing. I loved her despite the fact that our spiritual paths had largely parted and despite the fact that her pastor, whom we met when Aunt Dot was in the hospital near the end, looked like a bad televangelist/used car salesman. I loved her because she was my aunt and flesh of my father's flesh.

We are alike in many ways, we modern-day "psychological cannibals" and the Old Order Amish. Our staunch ways, which are all black and white. Our stoicism and the stifling of our deepest feelings for the sake of remaining stoic. Neither group wants to be in the spotlight, either as a group or as individuals...the Amish because they don't want to put themselves forward; the modern Pennsylvania Germans because of our fears. We are no longer able to see the world of the black and white and are swallowed up by the grey uncertainty that life among "the English" provides.

I wish the rest of us could learn some of the lessons of the Amish. The forgiveness and thoughts for other who are also suffering. The empathy. The care.

But this Pennsylvania German woman can't live a life devoid of self-examination. Somehow, I think that's frowned upon among traditional Anabaptist cultures. Similar but still worlds apart.

Some of the other articles I've read in the Philadelphia Inquirer in the last week:

Grief and horror bond a shocked community

Victims' families showed the best part of humanity

Amish vendors awash in condolences

Amish prepare for final rites

Mourning in Paradise: 4 Amish girls are buried

Radical Baptist group drops plan to picket Amish funerals

Funds to aid Amish families and gunman’s kin

A father of three, a killer of schoolgirls

Man kills children and himself in Amish school

In my searching the web for information for this post tonight, I happened upon the following, wonderful sites:

Schuylkill River National and State Heritage Area

and, on a completely unrelated note:

Philosophers' Playground which is just what it sounds like.

tags: Amish / Anabaptist / Christianity / morality / Pennsylvania Dutch / Pennsylvania German / philosophy / religion / spirituality

Terry Gross on Ex-Gays

Philly's own Terry Gross (Isn't she cute???) aired an episode of Fresh Air today featuring pros and cons of Christian ex-gay ministries in the US.

"Pro" on the program was Alan Chambers, president of the ex-gay ministry, Exodus. (Link to the Alan Chambers interview.) (An interesting side note is that Alan Chambers' blog has primarily been active only during the months of September and October for the past three years. Hmmm...)

The "con" was provided by
Shawn O'Donnell, who spent eleven years in Exodus before he decided to leave and live his life as a gay man. (Link to the Shawn O'Donnell interview.) (I found a Blogger blog for Shawn O'Donnell, though it has no activity since early August. Another Google bit led me to an AOL Hometown page for him. And here's something interesting about his photo continuing to be used, against his wishes, in an Exodus advertising photo.)

Also featurerd was Tanya Erzen, author of a book entitled, "Straight to Jesus: Sexual and Christian Conversions in the Ex-Gay Movement." (Link to the Tanya Erzen interview.) The book highlights an organization in the San Francisco Bay area called New Hope Ministry, a resedential program for Christian men struggling with homosexuality.

I try not to struggle with my homo- or bi-sexuality or whatever the hell you want to call it unless, of course, my partner asks me...realll nice-like. ; )

Of course, as a lesbian, I do not agree with the stated purposes or goals of ex-gay ministries, or with their practices. I also happen to disagree with the programs as a Christian. Each person must live his own life and, although I would love nothing more for everyone in the world to live their lives according to principles which I perceive as Christ-like, that's not for me to decide. Forcing my spirituality upon another is in direct opposition to my beliefs and I don't feel is reflective as a true Christian spirit.

Which leads us to my recurring lament...why can't we all just live as we wish and let others do the same as long as nobody gets hurt and everybody is of legal age? Live and let live. Turn the other cheek.

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Gracias to Ex-Gay Watch for so many great leads on this one.

Interesting post just came up on Ex-Gay Watch about Alan Chambers' interview on Fresh Air. Thanks again!

(Also posted on No Ordinary Princess.)

tags: Christianity / ex-gay / Exodus / religion / self-awareness / sexuality / sexual orientation / spirituality

06 October 2006

I Am Sick and Fucking Tired

I'm moving to Canada. Really. Or some little sliver of land in a vast ocean somewhere. Anybody got an island up for sale in the $250,000 US range?

The cause of my rage tonight? Wal Mart.

I went to the grocery store this evening. The rain was stopping and the sun had just set when I came out, $130 US poorer but rich in cheese, crackers, fruits and veggies, cereal, TP. You know, the staples of life. It seems such a small thing but, when you've been in the pits as I have been for the past few months, even grocery shopping has a certain allure. Just making it to the store is an accomplishment. Finding the motivation to actually go grocery shopping is a refreshing change of pace around here.

Sorry I was away so long. I spent a couple of hours unpacking the groceries and making a "hamburg-noodle stew." My mom made hamburg-noodle stew when I was a kid and it was one of my favorite things on earth (nothing more than peppers, onions, ground beef, tomatoes egg noodles and spices. I decided to put a packet of Sazon in, which is used in Puerto Rican cooking and includes saffron. It has a very distinctive flavor. When I first smelled my concoction, I thought I had made a grave mistake but, now that the seasoning has soaked into the beef and noodles, there is just a hint of Sazon left. It really is very tasty. It felt good to chop and sautee veggies again and cook something.

Anyway, I got home and checked e-mail and such and found a Paul Krugman article on Tennessee Guerilla Women about "The War Against Wages." I read about the decision the National Labor Relations Board made this week with regard to employees who sometimes function in a supervisory capacity. The case involved nurses.

You see, nurses are put in the position at times of being "in charge" on their unit. This happens especially on off shifts, when management is home in bed. The nurse in charge really has no power beyond his/her 4 or 8 or 12 hours in the role.

All charge means is that you are the person on the floor who will decide which nurse gets the next admission from the ER or which district in the ER will take the next ambulance coming in. It means you are the one who calls the housekeeping supervisor to get the damned bed cleaned up on 8 South so that frigging admission in bay 11 can finally get upstairs. You are the one who's called in to smooth over problems with difficult patients or dissatisfied family members. You are the person who makes sure the code is run as well as you can until the code team gets there. You are the person who tries to come up with solutions for all the petty little problems that can arise during 12 hours in your own, personal hell.

In my experience, hardly anybody really wants to be in charge. I used to enjoy it as an OB nurse because we had such a small staff and unit. It was also always a given that I was charge because I'd been there forfriggingever and nobody else wanted to do it. I enjoyed being in charge in the little ER in Reading where I broke my Emergency Nursing cherry. I grumbled and could be a bitch on wheels when in charge but I did it well, I think. I didn't play those petty power games, I liked the challenge of meeting difficult situations and surmounting them. I liked the creativity and innovation needed to see outside the box to the solution. I am a scientist at heart.

In my last place of employ, I was able to skirt having to be in charge for three whole years. The fear of charge there was another impetus to move on. I did not want to be in charge, not there. Not with all those grumbling old hags and buggers! They were all soooooo miserable there. I let them have their fun with their power-tripping when in charge. I gave them the desired rise in blood pressure and facial coloration. I knew that being in charge there would, eventually, destroy me.

Power corrupts and all that.

But I'd like to, eventually, be in charge at my new ER at THAC*. This is a good group of people. They basically like each other. They get along. They work well together. They don't power-trip. They're not burnt out.

After I've gotten my feet wet, gotten my feel a bit and am not quite so wet behind the ears there, I'd like to try my hand at charge again. "Charge" is not, nor has it ever been, management. At least, not until this week.

The NLRB ruled this week that nurses who regularly supervise others are management and not entitled to union organization. In going to the source (pdf) now, I realize this is not so dreadful for nursing as I have known it on the East Coast of the US. The ruling calls for nurses who are "permanent charge nurses" to be considered management. Well, yes. In those places I've worked where a nurse was always in charge whenever she worked, she was either an Assistant Nurse Manager or a Shift Manager. And they have, in all three hospitals, been considered management.

But, does this mean that because slug nurses like me regularly direct others (Patient Care Assistants, Housekeeping, etc.) to perform tasks are we also considered "management?" If this is the interpretation then every nurse who works in a hospital is management. We all have to point the Environmental Services person into the room where we need to move a patient. We all give the PCA a list of vital signs which need to have taken at midnight. That's called delegation. It's not really us who prescribes the care, we just give direction on how to provide it in a given situation.

Does this mean that every factory worker, few of them as there are now, who directs Environmental to clean up a spill next to the line is now management? How about when he calls maintenance to fix his machine, which is malfunctioning? And every teacher who asks the janitor to clap the erasers when he cleans this afternoon? And every cashier at the grocery store who directs a bagger or cart boy? All management now?

You can see it now...everybody suddenly getting fancy, schmancy new titles...Assistant Managers sprouting like fall alfalfa. 130,000,000 chiefs over 570,000 Indians. Everybody's got a piece of the management pie now. We just don't get health insurance. Oh, and overtime? It's paid at straight time now and it's mandatory. But we've all got shiny, new tin badges. Jes' like deputies.

It's horrific enough, what Bush has done to this once great country of ours. We are probably held in the poorest regard we have ever experienced in the eyes of the rest of the world. We are seen as bullies and hypocrites. The gap between the very wealthy and the very poor is probably nearly as great as in the feudal times in Europe. The corporations are calling all the shots and raking in freight trains of cash in the process.

Now we are going to reduce a large percentage of the workforce to a position of even more powerlessness? What is wrong with this picture? What happened to the government which was truly interested in the wellbeing of the majority of American citizens? What happened to the country that opened her arms to the rest of the world, took them in and made them her own?

Where has my America gone?


The part of the article which pissed me off most was the one about Wal Mart. I looked over at the Wal Mart sign as I pulled out of the grocery store today, the last light of the day fading behind the building and the stark letters cold and white in the gathering dusk. I felt a shiver of revulsion. This was before I read about Wal Mart's most recent stragety to maximize corporate profits:

Wal-Mart already has a well-deserved reputation for paying low wages and offering few benefits to its employees; last year, an internal Wal-Mart memo conceded that 46 percent of its workers’ children were either on Medicaid or lacked health insurance. Nonetheless, the memo expressed concern that wages and benefits were rising, in part “because we pay an associate more in salary and benefits as his or her tenure increases.”

The problem from the company’s point of view, then, is that its workers are too loyal; it wants cheap labor that doesn’t hang around too long, but not enough workers quit before acquiring the right to higher wages and benefits. Among the policy changes the memo suggested to deal with this problem was a shift to hiring more part-time workers, which “will lower Wal-Mart’s health care enrollment.”

And the strategy is being put into effect. “Investment analysts and store managers,” reports The New York Times, “say Wal-Mart executives have told them the company wants to transform its work force to 40 percent part-time from 20 percent.” Another leaked Wal-Mart memo describes a plan to impose wage caps, so that long-term employees won’t get raises. And the company is taking other steps to keep workers from staying too long: in some stores, according to workers, “managers have suddenly barred older employees with back or leg problems from sitting on stools.”

It’s a brutal strategy. Once upon a time a company that treated its workers this badly would have made itself a prime target for union organizers. But Wal-Mart doesn’t have to worry about that, because it knows that these days the people who are supposed to enforce labor laws are on the side of the employers, not the workers.

Hire temps. Hire part-timers. Discourage anyone from remaining until their benefits kick in. Take away stools from old people with bum knees or backs who will now be forced to stand for their entire shift. Does it get any lower than that? Why don't they just go to their damned senior centers, anyway, you ask? Because their pensions all fell through and they can't afford their prescriptions, that's why! Workers, the kind of workers Wal Mart wants, are nothing more than a commodity, like the cans of soup on the shelf. And they have a defined shelf life. And they are as easily disposed of as an outdated gallon of milk.

The almighty dollar finally trumps basic human decency and any sense of fairness in America. I feel sullied and ashamed to say this is my country.

The religious claim there is an afterlife and a hell? Maybe, maybe not...but the corporate culture and their Rightwing pals are creating our own little slice of hell right here on earth.

On a lighter note, I found this interview with Stephen Colbert on the Paul Krugman NYT page. Do they not tell these guests that Colbert is, umm...not serious??? For all his worldliness, Krugman seemed completely non-plussed at times. It was terribly funny...somehow, I thought he'd think on his feet better.

Here's a great site I found to find Colbert and Daily Show clips.


(Also posted at No Ordinary Princess.)

tags: consumerism / corporate culture / economic justice / law / NLRB / nursing / Republicans / unions / US politics / work

05 October 2006

In Which Cheryl Thanks GOD (again) She's not a Texan!

I love Molly Ivins! I used to read her semi-religiously when I lived in South Jersey and she was in the Courier-Post. Well, now she's doin' video!

In my AlterNet Peek this morning, I found a snippet about the Texas dildo ban. Seems that if you own "six or more obscene devices" you are "presumed to possess them with intent to promote the same." And sex toy stores are not allowed to sell their products as, well, sex toys. They are "educational devices" used in "safer sex" demonstrations. Plus, if it's phallic-shaped, i.e. "representational," it's not allowed to vibrate. If it vibrates, it's not allowed to look like a penis.

So that's the reason for those silly little faces on the Pearl-type vibes!

Hey, I got your safer sex demonstration right here, Baby!

The Ivins video is posted on Feministing and you can get to it here. It's as hilarious as Molly always is. Check out the cute butch dyke talking about "losing her audience" during the safer sex demonstration she has planned for the strap-on and harness she's purchasing!

I wish I could find the video myself to post it here but a search of YouTube did not produce it. But, hey, go visit Jessica and the crew at Feministing anyway...and root around a bit. Good folks there.

tags: anal sex / dildo / lesbian sexuality / safer sex / sex / sexuality education / sexual orientation / "sodomy" / Texas / Texas politics / US politics / What lesbians do in bed

Foley is "Gay"

Egalia has a great post up over on Tennessee Guerilla Women about the significance of Mark Foley and his attorney claiming Foley is "a gay man." For me, a real "gay man" is not someone who is primarily interested in peripubescent boys, but, whatever. Great post, great site. Go check out TGW!

Well, didn't we all know it was going to happen? Here's what I had to say to Egalia:

Oh, you knew darn well it would come to this, didn't you? My first thought was, "He's going to claim he's gay then the gayness can be the scapegoat." Because if you can get the people fired up about the abuses of a gay man, it's not quite as outrageous as the abuses of a "normal" man. I didn't know he'd throw in alcohol and priest abuse as well.

The thing that scares "the people" most is the thought of gay people. That's why they were out in droves in 2000 and 2004. That's why I thought it was such a grave mistake for GLBT groups to push for marriage equality in 2000.

So, if you blame the gayness then that explains why he was so evil and devious, devious enough to hide the cruel facts from his bosses. You know how those fags are.

I knew it was going to happen but it still makes me sick.

And, yes...what other purpose could this "list" of staffers and aides who are gay serve?

"It's the gays! It's the gays!"

Mmmm...yup. That pretty much sums it up for me. This whole affair has me feeling on the verge of vomiting for days. The stench! And it takes a lot to gross out an ER nurse.

I have stolen baldfacedly and shamelessly from the marvelous Egalia so do me a favor, will ya? Go read her, and read the rest of TGW. And please think about supporting their efforts.

(Click the pic! Click the pic!)

tags: Foleygate / Tennessee Guerilla Women / US House of Representatives / US politics

(Also posted on No Ordinary Princess.)

Locations of visitors to this page

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